Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moving Day

We are professional movers...not that we help others move...we move--A LOT (technically, we've moved about 13 times this year alone!). But today...[drumroll please... we move into "our house" in Nicaragua!!!! This move, however, has been one of the most disorganized moves EVER! Fast forward a few hours from now and we will be aking each other things like: "Where did you pack my toothbrush? or "Where did you put my clothes?" or "Where is Noah?!" We have literally thrown our belongings into the very same bins that we moved here with--the bins that were so neatly packed and meticulously catalogued and each weighed exactly 49.5 pounds.

Here are a few pictures of the house...BEFORE we threw all of our stuff in!

"Our house"

Bethany and Noah sitting on the front porch

Part of the backyard...yes, it is all concrete... there is a fountain though...and a vine growing that is full of passion fruit!

The kitchen

The Living Room/Dining Room

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Caught and In "Jail"

Noah has become our critter collector. Last week, he kept two crickets in a 2-liter soda bottle for several days. He has loved the tails off of many geckos. Animals still on his list are: parrot, turtle and a baby chicken.

This week, I came home from working on the other house and Noah is proudly displaying his baby iguana that Jeff actually captured in the house where we are staying. Oh, and by the way, Noah calls any animal containment area: a "jail". He sometimes refers to the zoo as the animal jail. He named the iguana, "SAM" and Sam has a fairly decent rubbermaid-style "jail."

Sam the Iguana

Noah has been campaigning diligently for a "bird jail" in which to keep his parrot and the baby chicken that he is still trying to convince us to 'capture'. (By the way...it is possible to buy both of these animals at various stoplights around Managua...you don't even have to get out of your car. It is like a drive-thru pet store.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Being vs. Doing

My Day:

At the end of a long day, I (Jeff) just said to Bethany, "I am wiped out". But then I thought "What did I do today? As I mentally went through my day to see if I did anything measurable (my American cultural value) I thought I may as well blog about it...at least that is measurable right? So here is my day as best as I can remember, including random commentary. Warning: this blog breaks our general rule of "short and sweet". I won't be offended if you don't read it.

-After 6 hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 6:30am...Bethany never heard it go off; that is uncommon she must have been tired.

-I unlock the 4 locks on the back door (it feels like those doors you see in New York City) to let a breeze in...bummer, no breeze this morning, but there was one yesterday.

-We are a little behind ourselves trying to get out the door by 7am for school. I make a larger pot of coffee than normal because we are going to have visitors at 9am, and I start a gallon of water filtering. I make enough time to read John 19-20 and drink a mug of coffee and eat a granola bar...I leave thinking about why Pilate was afraid of Jesus, and why Jesus did not respond to one of Pilate's questions???

-To leave the house, I unlock the two locks on the front door, and the lock on the inner gate/bars...Bethany goes to open the padlock on the outer gate while the kids pile into the car (a borrowed car - I will get to that later). Oh wait...I have that feeling that I should make a stop in the bathroom before getting into the car, so I run back in. Now, a year ago, I would have been embarrased to mention to a close friend that I struggled with diarrhea all day, but since being here, I now have no qualms even blogging about it. It is not uncommon here, for a conversation to go like this:

Hi, how are you? - I am fine, but struggling with a little diarrhea. Oh, bummer is there any blood in it? No. That's good, have you ever tried antibiotic X?...it really worked well for me last time. No, I haven't...thanks for caring enough about me to talk with me about my diarrhea and suggest a treatment.

OK, OK, that last sentence is a little far fetched, but the rest is true.

-So, after a quick trip to the bathroom, and downing an Imodium, I hop in the car and drive the kids to school. We use our time in the car to recite the books of the Bible, talk about an Old Testament story (we are up to Samson), and pray for the day. The kids know the intersections of the drive where they have to stop talking so that I can focus...it is kind of funny. We get to see a tractor trailer in front of us pull down the same low lying electrical line for the 3rd time this month...it is kind of a game to see how long it stays up before coming down again.

-After dropping off the kids, I drive back to get ready for my Bible Study guests. My spanish is improving, but there are still times of frustration as we talk, especially talking about things of the heart.

-They had to leave early, but it was just as good because my new mechanic friend called me on the phone to tell me that he had the whole front end suspension taken apart and he wanted me to come look at it with him. How should I describe it...His "garage" is just like my operating room = open air. He works in the front yard with his two dogs, parrot, chickens, and geese...only one dog and one goose try to bite me. He is easy to talk to, and we talk more about life than the car. I am confident that I can trust him as I give him $400 to go to the local market (a place that is too dangerous for gringos to go to...however I bought my tires there a month ago, but that is a different story) to buy the parts. He tells me that he hopes to have the car done by Saturday, but if not, he assures me that he will work on Sunday to finish it. In response, I firmly but kindly encourage him not to work on my car on Sunday..."God designed it to be a day of rest to spend with him and family, not working". He seems to appreciate this...maybe it was because with my bad spanish I might have said "God designed Sunday as a day for me to pay you twice as much for working on my car"...I guess we will see when I get the bill.

-From there, I pick up the kids from school, and despite the Imodium, I am feeling the need to get close to a bathroom.

-After a pit stop back home, we head to the house that we will be moving to in 2 weeks. Yesterday, we signed the rental contract (all in spanish...I may have promised my daughter in marriage to the land lord's son...I don't know) and got the keys. This house story could be a blog in itself, but the fun for the day was a leaking sewer line in the house because they had tried to re-set a toilet without using a wax seal because they are hard to find...it didn't go as planned :) So the water is turned off to do the plumbing, but we are there to clean...oh wait, we can use the water from the reserve tank...of wait, we can't, that is broken too. Good thing we brought a ball, so we play living room soccer because there is no furniture...good fun!

-I go outside for a little while to talk with one of the guards making his rounds...it is good to be friendly with these guys...they have a hard 24/7 job.

-We are also waiting to hear from someone about when we can come and pick up a dryer from them...it will be 1.5 hours later than expected. I use the time to go visit one of the employees of the family whose house we are currently living in. She had broken her ankle 6 weeks ago, and we visit her weekly to bring rice, beans, and her salary. I enjoy catching up with her and seeing one of my past surgical patients (the animal variety) running around the yard.

-On the way back to the "new" house I stop at the local corner market to buy a drink for me and my over-heated family waiting for me. I end up talking to the guard in the store. We talk about his family, and his work. As I leave, I ask him what his favorite drink is, and I am happy to buy it for him as I leave.

-I then go to pick up the dryer from a missionary that is moving back to the U.S. I try to probe him for his thoughts and he encourages me to take intentional breaks (mini-vacations) from the culture to prevent burn out and to closely monitor how my wife is doing. We both agree that there is an odd tension that exists while living here, of feeling the reality of the challenges that come with living here, but at the same time not wanting to leave. It is odd.

-The whole family is now ready to leave and go back to the house that we are staying in, except Andrew. He is playing with a friend in the neighborhood out in the large green space in the center of all of the houses. They are building a fort, and enjoying playing as boys should.

-After returning home, I spend half an hour talking outside with our guard as the sun sets and the bats begin flying about. I excuse myself from conversation as I hear the bathroom calling me.

-This was where I came into the house and said to Bethany "I am wiped out, but I don't feel like I did anything measurable today".

-Even with all that I wrote, I left out about 1/2 of my interactions, challenges, and joys of the day. So what did I do today? I would say that I was in relationship today. This isn't any different than when I was in the U.S., but I
find myself being more intentional about it, and realizing that it is more valuable than things that I might be able to measure. I thank all of you who have helped me be here so that I have this opportunity to grow in this manner. My worth/value is so much more about "being" (how God has made me and how I reflect him to others) than about "doing" measurable things. This is counter to my birth culture, but it is part of God's culture and a bigger part of the culture here in Nicaragua.

So that was a glimpse into my day, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Su Casa...mi Casa (His house...my house)

As many of you know, we've been somewhat nomadic for a year...staying here and there and everywhere! While we have been enjoying the same house now for the last 8 months...still...it isn't our home. Honesly, I've been getting impatient to have "my own space". I find myself thinking..."it is my right to have a home."

However, yesterday God reminded me that it isn't my "right" to have a home...a house (a home) is a gift or a tool given to me from God. This gift or tool should be used to bring Him glory. A good reminder....especially because today, we are supposed to sign the rental contract and get the keys to our next "gift or tool". We are, without a doubt, excited! May we use this home as a place to share God's love with others!

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deut. 6: 5-9

posted by bethany

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We know...Window Wednesday...A Wee Bit Late

Enjoy some glimpses of God's Creation growing here in Nicaragua.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning to be Content with Plenty

One of the tensions about living in a developing country, where the cycle of poverty is tremendous, is struggling with the guilt of having above and beyond our share of 'daily bread'. Our needs (and wants) are more than covered and that creates a struggle as we drive through the streets of Managua and see the reality of poverty. Honestly, it is hard not to feel guilty. Yet, in part, this struggle is good. It helps to keep my coveting and selfishness in check. Seeing 'poverty' on a daily basis certainly makes us evaulate our stewardship (after all, God has asked us to be good stewards of the resources He has provided). However, I don't think feeling guilty for being blessed is godly. A wiser missionary friend of mine reminded me this week of Paul's words to the Philippians.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

I've always focused on the part of that verse that speaks to being content in "want" rather than the being content with "plenty". God has provided for us abundently...we have 'plenty'...especially in comparison to the people around us. So, I think the struggle should be in, not feeling guilty for being blessed, but rather--how will I use that blessing to bless others? Handouts aren't necessarily helpful...we need to seek the wisdom of God in discovering how He wants to provide for the needs of others through His gift of plenty.

posted by bethany

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Window Wednesday: Mother's Day--Nica Style

This past Monday was Día de Las Madres...Mother´s Day in Nicaragua. It is a serious holiday here. Schools are closed or have a half-day...some stores even close! Celebrating ´mom´ is a big deal. Works for me! LOL!!! The kids´school had a big celebration on Thursday last week. Each class participated by singing a song, performing a dance, or reciting a poem or Bible verse. There was a stage set up and lots of special decorations...it was an impressive event! Enjoy a few pictures of our kids participating in the celebration! (Thanks M.H. for rescuing us by taking pictures since our camera battery died that morning!)