Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day at the Gas Station

Ready for a story? Today, I had the privilege of experiencing what happens when you get in a car accident here.  No worries, everyone is completely safe and sound.   Here's how it happened...

I have a stupid phone (the opposite of  a smart phone) and needed to purchase more minutes.  You can do this task at lots of places...but I usually go to the gas station that is near our house.  I had Noah with me and we pulled into the gas station and were driving past the pumps to park in front of the little market.  Suddenly, I heard a crunching noise (metal on metal) and in those split seconds when your brain is trying to figure things out...I thought maybe I had run over something and then thought...seriously, I hit another car??  I kept driving a few more feet until I realized that I had been in an accident.  Actually, I didn't realize that I had been the one hit for about another half hour.

So the rule here is that you stay put...you are not allowed to move your vehicle out of the way (which resulted in me getting honked at all afternoon).  So I turned my car off and got out.  (Still didn't notice the dent in my driver's side door....I am thankful we opted to get the giant tank of a SUV that we have).  The older man driving the other car got out and tried to tell me what I did.  I insisted that I didn't understand (which, apparently, when I am super stressed...I really don't understand a lick of Spanish). Now remember, I didn't have minutes on my cell phone...so, at first I panicked and thought...how am I going to call anyone?  Then I remembered a nifty little trick where you can dial *800 plus the number you want to call and it leaves a message with that person saying that you are trying to call them without minutes.  Jeff called me back...I informed him that I had been in an accident...and PLEASE come down and help me!!!  Okay, keep in mind, I'm obviously a foreigner...so lots of "staring" is going on as well.  Jeff eventually arrives and the man in the other car tells Jeff that I hit him and he'd like us to pay to have his car fixed.  This is when I noticed the big dent in my door...and realized for the first time that I was not at fault.

Okay....so there is a guy that "works" in the gas station parking lot selling movies.  Jeff has spoken with 'movie guy' before and Jeff asks him if he saw what happened.  The guy off-handedly mentions that he didn't but that the gas station has security cameras.  Jeff walks into the gas station market and asks the manager about the supposed security cameras.  Jeff, the manager, and a few market employees get to watch the "movie" of  they guy in the green car driving into my car in the parking lot.  Jeff comes back out and lets me know that  "I'm innocent".  However, the green car guy still wants us to pay to have his car fixed.  So at this point, we know that the easy route is washed away and now we are in it for the long haul.  Honestly, we don't care about the dent in our car...it just gives it more 'character'.  However, this man wasn't willing to admit wrong and walk away...he wants his car repaired.  So, we call the transit police, because this is the next thing you are supposed to do after not moving your vehicles from the scene of the accident.

Now, for the next part...are you ready...we waited THREE hours for the police to show up.  At this point, Jeff has already left to get Andrew and Ella and returned.  So now the whole family is together in the gas station parking lot.  The manager of the gas station has called the police twice and we have called twice.  However, this is fairly normal.  So there is no point getting irritated at what is considered normal.  I've gotta admit, after about 2 hours I was struggling to maintain a good attitude.  When we called the police initially they asked if anyone was hurt...of course we said no...but I was ready, after 2 hours, to hurt someone if it made them come quicker.

At about 4:30 a friend came and picked up the kids (and acted as a translator between me and the police officer.)  Oh, and I want to say...the police officers were super nice and helpful.  They were also incredibly patient with my Spanish (and Jeff's...but especially mine). Now it was time to call the insurance company.  That was fun. At 5pm-ish, the insurance inspector arrived to take photos. He was very nice also and even practiced some of his English.  At this point, nearly 5 hours after the "crunch", I get to go home.

The story is not over...it is more of a "To Be Continued".  Tomorrow, I need to go to the bank and pay for an accident certificate (don't even ask...I have no clue!).  Then, I take that certificate to Police Station to retrieve my license.  Then, in a few days, we are supposed to hear from the insurance companies about who they determined was "at fault."

Here is what I learned (and it really has nothing to do with the accident)....it is incredible to be part of the community of believers in Christ here.  It generally takes me too long to ask for and accept help (my kids who sat in the car for about 2 hours waiting for the police to arrive can attest to that).  However, it was comforting to know that we have friends to call on when we need help.  [Thanks to the Edgars, Sarah, Richard W. and Wyeth !!!!]

(Tomorrow I will take a picture of the car door and let you all see the dent that caused me to lose nearly 5 hours of my day).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two Years, Four Days

I meant to post a pondering-type of blog on Sunday, the actual anniversary date of our arrival to Nicaragua. However, like many nights...feel asleep at 7:00pm while putting one of the kids to bed.   So, today will have to do...4 days late...but better late than never.

For some reason, I've been thinking about the ride from the airport to the house on the 'day of arrival' two years ago.  Due to all the luggage, Jeff and I had to split up and take rides from two different people that had graciously offered to pick up a family 5, their 10 footlockers, 10 carryons, and 1 cat from the airport.  Keep in mind, we had never met these two individuals.  Jeff and the bulk of the luggage went in one vehicle.  The kids and I went in the other vehicle.  At the moment, I don't remember who took the cat.  What I do remember is that the driver of the vehicle that I was in was a wealth of knowledge regarding Nicaragua.  This person actually taught us, especially Jeff, so much and we have benefitted greatly from his experience.  However, that said....I am not sure he realized the havoc he caused me on that drive from the airport.  Here is the one piece of advice that I remember from that drive....

'you shouldn't go around without shoes on...there are worms that can enter through your feet, travel up to your brain and kill you.'

Okay, now keep in mind...I had about 4 hours of sleep the night before, I just got off a plane in another country where I don't speak the language, I helped haul ten 50 pound footlockers off the luggage belt while trying to make sure the cat and kids stayed within arms reach, and emotionally I was a puddle of goo.  I have NO where to put this piece of information about a brain-killing worm.   (Honestly, not even sure I heard him right...but either way...it's what stuck.)

In two years, we have come a long way....granted we are on a journey...so the adventure continues and we will continue to grow and learn.  Here is a list of 10 very random things that touch on different aspects of our journey thus far.
  1. Spanish. A work in progress...but we came with a handful of poorly pronounced phrases and now we have a backpack full of poorly pronounced phrases....so we are making progress.
  2. God has gifted to us some wonderful Nicaraguan friends.
  3. Jeff is half way through teaching a class this semester, in Spanish.
  4. We've hosted a team from our home-church!
  5. I (Bethany) can drive a stick-shift.  Nothing short of a modern day miracle.
  6. We have a parrot.  An answered prayer of Noah's.
  7. Our kids are a month away from completing their second school year at a Spanish-speaking school.
  8. We found a great community in which to live...and thoroughly enjoy the felllowship within the community.
  9. We have enjoyed sunsets over the rocky Pacific coast.
  10. We've experienced the joy, strength, grace and mercy that God gives to His children.
A HUGE, HEARTFELT thanks for the support we feel from all of you.  Whether it is through prayer, email, a phone call, a Facebook message or wall post...you are part of our journey and we are grateful.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Do You Say Hello?

When you walk into a doctor's office waiting room, do you say 'hello' to everyone already sitting there waiting?   If you are an extrovert maybe you do...or if you are a stay-at-home mom of a small child and feel like you never get to see anyone from the 'real world', then perhaps you will strike up a conversation with another mom who "looks" like you feel (well, I used to do this).

This week, we learned that when you enter the waiting area in the doctor's office (in our case it was an outdoor waiting area at one-doctor clinic)...you great everyone.  [And just to clarify...we weren't ill...we had to get some certificates of health to renew our residency cards.]  Anyway, as each new patient approached, they greeted everyone with a "buenas días."  As we all had to take a number, there was some trading of numbers so that moms with kids could go in without a longer wait.  Conversations were started.  Stories were shared.  It was a great window into culture. 

So if you want to experiment a little and shake things up...extend a cheery greeting with everyone in the waiting room next time you walk into the doctor's office.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Never More Than A Spot!

Here is what I learned on Monday.  Okay, first anyone know the children's book called The Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer?  It looks like this.
(Thanks Amazon.com for this image). So if you know this book, you know the advice given by the fish salesman..."So much and no more. No more than a spot, or something may happen! You never know what!"  Okay, well, this applies to fish food and soap.  I put in more than a spot of soap into the fountain in our backyard...to prevent mosquitos from landing.  I turned the fountain on and went about my day.  At some point, I looked out the window...and it looked like it had snowed in Nicaragua! Oh, happy day!  I've gotta admit...I pondered whether I could put enough soap in to flood the back yard so it really looked like it snowed.  Noah thought it was a great idea. (I should probably hide the soap.)





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bloom Where You're Planted

We've been blog slackers. I admit it. Life has hit a busy status quo. Much of the shock of being in a new culture has worn off and what we used to notice as different has become 'commonplace.' (Although, I still find it completely amusing to see livestock grazing in the medians or along the side of the road on the major roadways.)

Lately, I've been having a rough time accepting this as normal life. It seems that along with acclimation comes the realization that this IS our life. Sounds rather pessimistic, huh? I suppose this has also resulted in a slacker blogger attitude.

I confessed to God today that I am having a bad attitude. I then realized that I am not here to DO anything. I am not here for ANY OTHER reason other than this is where God has asked us to be right now. So, I am going to rest in that and try to "go with it". Trying to fabricate purpose or over-analyze life is not necessarily helpful. What is helpful is to see this journey (life) as the process of being sanctified by Christ (a refining process) for the glory of God. My journey happens to be taking place in Nicaragua.

Using a cutesy proverb, I should 'bloom where I'm planted'. Although, Colossians 2:7 tells me: Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. So, using this as my renewed starting point at our almost 2 year anniversary of moving to Nicaragua....may I grow down into Him and may I overflow with thankfulness...regardless of location.