Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflection and Looking Forward

It's New Year's Eve. Something about this day makes you reflect on the past year and think more deeply about the coming year. Thinking about the past year here in Nicaragua, the relationships that we've started, the adjustments we've made...the mountains we still have yet to climb...I started to evaluate it all. If things dramatically changed (which we are not planning on or hoping for)...what would I miss about my life here in Nicaragua. Somehow, that gets me thinking about what I miss from the States. The water starts to muddy and I find myself asking the "why" questions...why are we here, why I am I not fluent in Spanish already, why can't there be a Target in Managua...??? But then, I hear that unmistakable voice of God in my soul...the answer to your questions, Bethany, is obedience. Obedience demonstrates Love. Love for God, God alone. That's where it starts and it spreads out from there. So, looking ahead at 2012...haven't got a clue...but I know that my "resolution" is to continue in the path of obedience.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Celebrating Christmas!

Our second Christmas in Nicaragua. The songs may be a little different (especially the ones that start at 4:30am every morning the week prior to Christmas...blaring loudly from a nearby church), the fireworks are still surprising, the warm weather is something to get used to...but we had a wonderful Christmas! Old and new traditions. Good friends to help us celebrate. Fun times opening gifts on Christmas morning. Joy in our hearts that God came down and dwelt among us.

Here are some snapshots of our Nicaraguan Christmas morning.


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...that was given to us for Free! By the way...notice that the gifts are wrapped in 'real' wrapping paper this year...not newspaper like last year.



The Traditional Making of the Fresh Orange Juice (had to add about 2 cups of sugar to get it sweet...but the kids enjoyed the process!)



Andrew received a "real tool box with real tools".



We did most of our shopping for Noah at the hardware store and the office supply store. He got several varieties of tape, PVC pipe and joints, post-its, paper, etc.



The kids know...the best gift for Papa is CANDY.



All Ella wanted was a baby doll for Christmas. Can you see the look of delight!?



Andrew also received a guitar. Tool boxes and guitars...big boy toys!



Ella gave Andrew a "futbol jersey" for Christmas. (For the soccer fans out there...yes, this is Barcelona.)



Aaawwwwww. Hugs for Christmas. We opened our kindle (gift to each other) about 2 weeks ago.



The best thing about the warm weather...being able to walk right outside to use your new sidewalk chalk.



Homemade Cinnamon Buns (aka Sugar Bums) for breakfast.



Three Happy Children on Christmas Morning.



Even Luna got a gift...a new collar.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vacation

I (Jeff) will start by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I am sure that Bethany with post something soon about Christmas, but I wanted to write about my vacation.

Since graduating from veterinary school in 2001, I have not had the academic type of Christmas vacation until now. Let me tell you, it is sweet! I gave the final exam to my students on December 15th, I couldn't grade all of them right away because one student didn't show up to take his exam, he was "stuck with his family in an interview at the embassy"...yeah sure...likely excuse. I hadn't heard that excuse before, but around here it is legitimate and believable. I had the exams graded and final grades entered by December 19th, and I was officially on vacation!

I have read 2 books, and am in the middle of 3 others.
I have played board games with the kids.
I have helped paint half of the house.



I have eaten countless Christmas cookies.
I have watched more football than my wife is pleased with (yes, I can watch American football online for free...it is very small, very pixelated, and stutters, sometimes showing 1 frame for every 10 frames it drops, but for an addict it is a fix.

And then, just this morning, Andrew and I were thinking up plans for an addition to the tree-house that the kids and I built last month.



I am still kind of the 'on-call' veterinarian for the missionary community, so I get the random calls...like a few nights ago for the dog versus porcupine mishap.
(note for the squeamish, picture is graphic, so scroll down with caution)


Watch out!!! Here it comes...





[Call me crazy, but I enjoy this kind of "work" so it doesn't feel like it is spoiling my vacation. ]

I am giving myself until the beginning of January before pursuing the next phase of "employment". For now, I am just enjoying the academic calendar and the vacation that comes with it. It is a good time to vacate!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lost in Fiction

Again, we've allowed a big gap in time between our posts. We could blame it on the busyness of the Christmas season. Yet, while we have a few more social events, we are not overly busy. It is more likely that we could blame it on the kids being on vacation from school. However, since I am the one who posts the majority of our blogposts...I'll tell you why we have been blogslackers. The reason is: I get lost in fiction. It's true...I pick up a good book and forget that the world is still turning. My kids have to beg me for their meals, laundry is left in dirty piles, blogs go un-updated, Facebook falls low on the list...

Last night however, having stayed up too late (again), I finished The Help. Great book. The story struck me in a way that wouldn't have happened if we still lived in Delaware. Because, now, living here in Nicaragua, I have "help." While there are huge differences between the atmosphere and events of the 1960s (when the book takes place) and the present day -- still, there remains a thread of similarity. That 'thread' is one that I will continue to ponder, process and lift up in prayer.

It was a good book to get lost in...because it not only entertains...but gives reason to reflect and think. Still, for the sake of meals and clean socks, I am going to guess that my family is glad that I found my way back.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Under the Mango Tree

Tonight, for the second time, we enjoyed attending a Nicaraguan house church. It meets at the home of one of Ella's classmates which means that the kids have fun running around and playing (Noah likes this kind of church). Tonight, we took advantage of the mild temperature and cool breeze by sitting outside for "church" under a canopy of mango trees. There were the usual yard dogs meandering about and a few horse carts clopped by along the road. In some ways, it is a stretch for us...not so much because of the 'life' that continues to go on around us while we 'do church' but rather due to the language gap. Both Jeff and I were asked to read a verse or two (in Spanish, of course), as well as, pray in Spanish. Andrew said we did a pretty good job. Yet, despite the differences and struggles with language...we feel welcomed and loved...and that's what matters, right? We may not conjugate our verbs correctly...but we share the commonality of being 'forgiven' and 'adopted' into God's Family. And His family is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural family...it is a privilege to get a taste of that kind of fellowship this side of Heaven.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things that go "Bump" in the night

Last night as I (Jeff) was trying to fall asleep, I remarked to myself... "Self, there are some different sounds out there that you are gradually becoming accustomed to." Here is a list of the things that I have heard recently between the hours of 10pm to 4am. Keep in mind the hours I just mentioned as you read the list, and that our windows are never closed...we couldn't even close them if we wanted to.

-Roosters crowing (all night long)
-Dogs barking
-Insects buzzing (sometimes in my ear)
-Babies crying
-Table saw whirring
-Arc welder crackling
-Jake brake pounding
-Hammering
-Tractor trailer diesel trucks passing by
-Roosters crowing (they sound like they are right by my head now)
-Bats scurrying and squeaking in the ceiling above my head
-Large tree falling (it shook the house from 100 yards away)
-Coconuts falling with a thud!
-Crickets chirping
-Car alarms sounding
-Neighbors cooking (dinner and breakfast between 10pm-4am)
-Neighbors' conversations
-Fire works (different than fire crackers, these are the big ones)
-Cats fighting
-Fans spinning
-Guards using their whistles while doing their rounds
-Birds squawking
-Geckos chirping
-A certain 5 year old coming in and asking if it is Christmas yet?
-Varying livestock passing nearby
-Did I mention roosters crowing (they seem to be getting closer)?
-After I hear a quick scuffle, the rooster stops crowing...is someone cooking dinner? Nothing smells better than grilled chicken at 12am! Now I can get some sleep...ohh, but the smells...that would be a different post.

The truth is, that as I get accustomed to all of this, I probably couldn't sleep soundly if I were back in suburbia with windows that could close. It is becoming my new definition of white noise.