Monday, February 28, 2011

A Post by Andrew

(This post was written by Andrew and typed just as it was written.)

When I (Andrew) first started NCA Nejapa I felt like I couldn't do any thing, like talk or ask to be helped. I also couldn't make friends, I like to have a lot of friends. Plus I wanted to make friends with Nican boys. When ever I started something new, like preschool or Little Gym, I cryd, then my feelings changd and I liked it. When ever you started something did you cry or say this is hard - I can't do this? Thats how I felt, welcome to my world (bienbenidos a mi nueva mundo). So any way, have your feelings changd? If they have then that means God is giving you strength.

I can do all things through Christ who strengths me. Phil. 4:13


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fingerprinted in the Backroom

We had the unique opportunity to get an extensive walking tour of a Nicaraguan police station this well as, being fingerprinted by the police.

Before you jump to conclusions...we asked to be fingerprinted. One of the documents needed for our "Visas" is a background check from our state of residency. Delaware won't release a background check unless they have our "fingerprints." They advised us to go to the local police to have our fingerprints taken. Obviously, they have never traveled to a developing country like Nicaragua.

So, Jeff and I walk in to the police station and read from a "cheat sheet" the items that we need from the police: fingerprints, a signature and an official stamp. The policewoman proceded to walk us around the station (down hallways and into assorted offices) 3 times with a brief stop in the room where she keeps her purse, from which she pulled out a little sample tube of Olay Facial Regenerating Serum and asked me if I could translate it into Spanish. Ummm, nope can't translate "facial regenerating serum", sorry. We then followed her around the station a couple more times only to end up back where we started. Then, we followed another officer through the hallways past the same people we've now passed and smiled to multiple times and finally ended up in a backroom that looked liked something from the show "Alias." This very kind police officer fingerprinted us with great care. We washed our hands in a small utility sink with several Nicaraguans watching and wondering (only criminals and those 'under investigation' get fingerprinted here). We followed the nice fingerprinting officer to the police chief's office to get an "Official Policía Nacional" stamp on our documents...which produced a few raised eyebrows and quizzical looks from the chief and those he was "questioning" in his office.

Yet, 45 minutes later we emerged with the needed documents and a great cultural learning experience! Our only regret is that we weren't able to take pictures of this fieldtrip.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Waffling on Cooking

If you haven't heard me say it before, I can't cook. My apologies for bringing shame to all the wonderful cooks in my extended family.

Okay, fine, there may be a few meals that I can cook...not because I am good at it...but because they are the kind of meals that are inherently very "forgiving." I really should start a sidebar on this blog of the foods that I have destroyed by cooking or caught on fire.

Tonight, for example, it was my intention to make waffles. (Waffles! How hard can it just pour the batter into the waffle-iron and wait for the little light to go on, right?!) However, I am fairly certain that we will be finding burnt waffle dust in the kitchen for a few days. Seriously, only I can burn waffles to the point of incineration. Only, I didn't stop there. I thought that if I poured more batter into the waffle iron that waffle #2 would soak up all the burnt waffle dust from waffle #1 and provide a "clean slate" for waffle #3. No. This was the wrong assumption. I also discovered that waffle batter is not a substitute for pancake batter. So, for those less-ept in the kitchen than myself, don't try to cook waffles "pancake style" in a frying doesn't work.

So, "learn to cook" will stay at the top of my "TO LEARN" list...second only to: "learn a new language". In the meantime, cold cereal will remain a staple in our pantry.

Waffle #2 and The Waffle-Pancake Experiment

I had to take a photo and attempt to find the humor...and as I write this blogpost, I can hear Jeff scrubbing the waffle-iron.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Walking up to Jesus

This past weekend, our family went to the coastal town of San Juan del Sur for an overnight. This "beach trip" was the reward for finishing the second week of school. We stayed with some new friends (thanks Keith and Kelly and kids) and enjoyed the beach life for about 24 hours! In the town of San Juan del Sur there is a large statue of Jesus on the top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean--it is kind of like a smaller version of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil. The statue can be seen from the beach and the surrounding hillside. We even had the opportunity to "walk up to Jesus". Noah decided that he wanted to "make a God" at his house too. His heart is in the right place! LOL! Honestly though, taking that "walk up to Jesus" and looking out over God's majestic creation was a good reminder that we can "walk up to Jesus" anytime.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where is MY carrot?

When I (Jeff) encounter challenges of various kinds (Romans 5:3-5) one of my first thoughts is: "What is the purpose of this pain?" I usually ask this because I want to know if the reward for obedience, or the payoff for the pain, is indeed worth it. I do this becuase I tend to want to argue about whether or not it is worth it fair ? Or because I am contemplating disobedience. My mind naturally goes to Hebrews 12:2. Jesus endured the cross "for the joy set before him". Well then, (stamping my foot on the floor) Where is MY carrot (you know, the reward dangling at the end of the stick)? AND What is MY carrot? Jesus had a carrot, so, why don't I get to have one too? Wow, I sound just like my kids...but that is how I feel. I am thankful that God does not flare with rage at the honest expressions of my heart.

For the moment, my carrot is two-fold. First, I get to enjoy the carrot that Jesus reached out and grabbed for me (right about now I am wishing that I had chosen the word image of ice cream instead of a carrot). I have the assurance of eternal friendship with the God of this that's a carrot - I mean ice cream. Second, I have the joy set before me of "...hope. And hope does not disapoint us." (Rom. 5:5) Yet, sometimes it feels as if that carrot, dangling in front of me, is covered in a paper bag. But when I have endured, and I open that bag and receive my reward it never has, and never will, disappoint. Can you imagine life without Hope; that would be true misery, true pain. This second point sounds a little abstract, a little "pie in the sky" as my friend says. I wish I had the time and space to lay out for you how really tangible and practical my hope is.

So, whether my trials are hard, big or small--my pain is my pain. However, God enters into the pain with me and gives me the ice cream of hope. What is your carrot - your ice cream?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Week Down

It is Saturday. We made it through the first week of school. The novelty of the first day wore off fairly quickly and the reality of going to school cross-culturally has hit our entire family. There were some tears shed this week. There were times when it felt painful. There were some moments of wondering if this was worth it. Yet, in a way, it is somewhat analogous to giving birth. When that baby is in your belly, you know that birth will be painful. However, you simply cannot grasp just how painful it really is until you experience those labor contractions. Yet, the pain is worth it when you are handed your sweet baby whom you've prayed for and anticipated holding for 9 months. We knew that this would be hard; but we are still in the labor pain phase of school-adjustment. It hurts. It is hard to watch your kids struggle. However, we trust that a time will come when this trial will produce something beautiful. We hope that the "something beautiful" will be that our kids gain the knowledge that our God walks through life with us and that He is worthy of depending upon for our needs, wants and hopes. We hope that they learn to rely on God and seek Him in prayer. Our kids were able to experience the tenderness of God this week as we saw prayers answered.

Here are few:
---For Andrew, we prayed that at least one fellow classmate would reach out to Andrew. The next day, a little boy in Andrew's class invited Andrew to sit next to him during story-time and sat with him at lunch.
---For Ella, we prayed that she would have a kind, caring teacher who would help her feel safe. Her teacher greets her each morning with a hug and says, "Buenos Días, Mi amor."
---For Noah, we prayed that he would be have fun and be kind to others. He has been trying to comfort the little boy who cries for his mama every morning.

This second week will likely be a tough one. Yet, we know where our hope is and we pray our kids will continue to learn that for themselves.

Psalm 33: 20-22
We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Day of School

It is the evening of the First Day of School. By God's love and grace, our family successfully made it through this momumental first day. However, let's define "successfully": no tears (except Mommy's), no calls from the principal or an English-speaking teacher who is able to translate, 3 pleasant children at pick-up and as Andrew put it--Noah didn't hit anyone with a stick. Yes, this was a successful first day of school. We are so thankful for all those who prayed for us and our children on this step-of-faith-kinda-day. We felt enabled by God's peace and strength that was a result of your prayers. For now, we are taking it one day at time...and we'll see how tomorrow goes! But tonight, we are celebrating a good day and giving God the glory for it!

The traditional "first day of school photos.