Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Clutch. Shift. Clutch. Break.

I had my first lesson in driving a NON-AUTOMATIC car today. We went to a nearby neighborhood that has a road that runs a "loop". I managed to get from a stop to first to second and back to a stop in neutral without stalling or grinding the gears. My backseat audience was patient and quiet. Noah's only comment was that I was a "funny driver." I suppose that is better than a "bad driver." You gotta love being in a place in life where you have to learn to speak and drive all over again!

posted by bethany

Friday, December 24, 2010

Our First Nica Christmas

There are certainly differences in the practice of celebrating Christmas here in Nicaragua. We are learning to mix the old and the new, and still keep Jesus "in the manger." We'd like to share some aspects of our first Nica Christmas with you.

The kids found some beautiful elements of God's creation (red honeysuckle and peach hibiscus flowers) to lay before the King!!

Products and goods disappear quickly in the stores (we've been told to 'buy it when you see it'). Thus, we have had difficulty finding Christmas wrapping paper.

So, we are going "green" and using newspaper!

To prepare our hearts for Christmas, as a family we have been reading through the book One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham. It tells the story of God's plan for redemption from Creation to the Ressurrection. We use ornaments to symbolize some aspects of the story. Noah's Ark is one such symbol (the faithfulness of Noah). The boys worked on making an "ark" out of a natural resource found in our backyard.

The Coconut Ark

It is a tradition in our family (inherited from Bethany's family) to squeeze fresh orange juice for Christmas. Noah and I (Bethany) worked on this ahead of time (although we will squeeze some more on Christmas morning!) We used the oranges we received as "payment" from Jeff's first tropical surgery!

Following the advice of 'buy it when you see it', we did purchase a little Christmas tree for our family to use this year and for our future Christmases in Nicaragua! It is a cute little tree!

There is no doubt that God's creation exhibits His Glory. There are beautiful examples of that here in Nica...like the wild poinsettia plants growing in the yard.

It isn't always easy to embrace change, but God has provided some wonderful things to help us celebrate His Birthday in a new place. Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas to me.

I (Jeff) had the pleasure of being able to do surgery after a 7 month sabbatical. A new friend from our church wanted to have his dog spayed, and I jumped at the chance. "ooh - ooh, me - me, pick me". After a quick discussion about my credentials and a perusal of my license and diploma, we decided on a day and payment - lunch for the family :) The experience was a little different from what I have grown accustomed to in the U.S., but the differences were enjoyable. I loved the open air operating room and only a few leaves fell into the operating site. They were from a sterile tree so it was OK.

The operating table was portable and made out of stacked cinder blocks and a 1/8" piece of door skin. Notice below that my patient is smiling. She smiled throughout the whole surgery. You couldn't ask for a better patient.

My friend thought ahead, and invited a local pastor (who is also a veterinary technician) to join us. He is interested in learning to do more surgery himself, so I had the luxury of 2 assistants...

...and one great looking nurse! I kept asking for more suture even when I didn't need it. If I have the courage, I will ask her for her number next time.

I found another use for duct tape. There are many here in Nica. I find myself using it on just about everything.

All in all, we had a great day and we had the added bonus of being tipped with stalks of sugar cane, a bag of oranges, a bunch of bananas (not like a 'bunch" from the store...like a bunch right off the tree with 40 bananas on it), and a bunch of plantains. Good times! Surgery has never been so much fun!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Christmas Greeting

In your imagination, pretend that you are getting this Christmas card in the mail!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feeling Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you? This question is one that I've been challenged with over the last several weeks. My "good Christian answer" is that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth. Sadly, what I've discovered, is that for me Christmas means special foods, pretty decorations (that match my decor), twinkly Christmas lights, cold weather, and a pretty Christmas outfit.

Being here in Nicaragua has stripped me of most of these things. I have struggled with "getting into" the Chrismtas spirit. Granted, this is our first Christmas not celebrated in the States...and we are still in a season of adjustment...but, the conviction remains. What does Christmas mean to me? Is it the pretty decorations or is it truly the celebration that Jesus--Emmanuel--God WITH US-- was born in a manger to later die for my sins (and yours), and be raised to life that I may be adopted into the family of God?

What concerns me is -- will I just replace my former meanings of Christmas with new meanings here in Nicaragua? Will I look to buy Nica Christmas decorations (that match my decor)? Will I continue to make Christmas a "feeling"? What I am starting to realize is that along with putting up the Christmas tree every year, I will need to take the "things that feel Christmas" out of the manger and put Jesus in their place. Traditions are good. Celebrating in special ways is exemplified in Scripture. However, are we celebrating the celebration or the Guest of Honor? What does Christmas mean to you?

posted by bethany

Friday, December 10, 2010

Donut Day

Very early on Friday mornings, Jeff meets with a few guys for Bible Study at a nearby "panaderĂ­a" (bread/pastry shop). An American baker and his Nicarguan wife own the shop called Pan Ticomo. He bakes "American style" donuts (as well as other breads and rolls). The kids look forward to Fridays...not so much for the Spiritual health of their beloved Papa...but rather for the donuts he brings home after his time in the Word.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Little Critters

Everynight, a little gecko crawls down the screen door that is near the desk on which our computer sits. We call it the "window gecko."

The Window Gecko

We also have a stray kitten, whom the kids named "Coco", that hangs out on the property as well. Sometimes, Coco gets bold and meanders into the house (the guards dogs have yet to stop Coco).

"Coco" The Cat

Tonight, I (Bethany) went to the backdoor to lock up and I thought I saw another kitten on our patio. The "awwww, how cute" was just about to ooze out when I realized it was a opossum. Not so cute. They have long, thick, rat-like tails, did you know that? "Ewwww". We were also informed today that come spring-time, iguanas start showing up in the yard and on the terrace near where I hang laundry. Fabulous! We also have a colony of leaf-cutter ants that "cut" the leaves of the mango tree out back.

I wonder what we'll discover next!? (I think the kids are hoping a monkey will show up in the backyard!)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

As Iron Sharpens Iron

A few weeks ago, our gate keeper (Alvaro) gave Andrew a lesson on how to sharpen a machette. It begins with using a wet stone.

And for the final step, he uses a metal file to give it a sharp edge.

As I (Jeff) watched this, I couldn't help but think of Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." The next time that Andrew and I were back in the house, I showed him that verse. He was eager to share the verse in Proverbs with Alvaro.

Prior to moving to Nicaragua, Andrew had heard that we would have a gate keeper. Andrew wanted to bring down a Bible for him. We had a Spanish/English Bible that we brought with us for this purpose. However, we encouraged Andrew to be patient for the right time to present this special gift to Alvaro. Thinking that this might be that time, I let Andrew give it to him. Alvaro was amazed that Andrew had thought of him even before ever meeting him. After reading this verse in Proverbs, Alvaro began to read one of Jesus' parables. We had a good discussion about its meaning.

Alvaro has continued to read more and more. He seems to really enjoy Proverbs because it often speaks about politics, justice, and poverty...things that he greatly enjoys talking about. Having this Bible to read has even helped him practically as he continues to learn to read and write more proficiently. As an added bonus, it has also helped me with my Spanish as we read it together.

I am thankful that Andrew had a desire to give this Bible to Alvaro. We had hoped that our kids would have opportunities to open doors for the Gospel, and it has been a joy to see that happen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Random Tidbits of Life at the Moment

~We've been here for six weeks today!
~Jeff had to kill an injured bat tonight.
~We bought a vehicle this week. Now for learning to drive on Nica roads. ( It is not uncommon to pass cattle in the grassy medians, horsecarts, other small farm animals...and this is in the city.)
~Jeff and a new Nicaraguan friend managed to get the vehicle registered and insured...which took 10 hours and 6 different DMV like stops.
~Fireworks are very popular here in the month of December. I heard some at 5am yesterday morning.
~The kids have started asking for rice & beans for lunch and sometimes dinner...how's that for acclimation!
~We found out about a thrift shop here...they get the clothes and goods from clothing drops and thrift shops in the States. What do you think the chances are of me finding some things I gave away when we moved. LOL