Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Day to Celebrate: Kindergarten Graduation

This morning we attended Noah's Kindergarten Graduation.  Here in Nicaragua, graduations are quite the event...even at the Kindergarten level.  The morning celebration included the procession of graduates, several speeches (two were given by Kindergarten students), receiving of the diplomas and several songs sung by the graduating Kindergarten class.  It was a sweet event!  The irony is that Noah will be essentially repeating Kindergarten, but as a homeschool student next school year (we follow the Nica school calendar...so school starts in February).  However, he had a good time at graduation, admitted he was a little sad to say goodbye to his wonderful teacher; yet, he is excited for this thing called "homeschooling."  Today really was a celebration of Noah completing two school years in a Spanish-speaking school.  Noah had not yet attended school in the States before we moved...so this was his first-ever school experience.  It started out with many months of tears, but ended with lots of smiles...thanks to the teachers and helpers in the Kinder and Preschool classes at school.  We are so thankful for the seemingly endless supply of patience and love that Noah's teachers poured out on him.  Yes, today was truly a day to celebrate!

Enjoy the snapshots from today!

Noah, the Graduate.
Our Red Carpet Moment
We love you Noah!
So proud of their little brother!
Noah and his 'old friend' Alvaro

Noah and Omar (Noah's very first friend at school)

Noah and his good buddy, Felipe

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Day of Thanks for a Year of Blessings

We celebrated Thanksgiving in our own little way today.  It is a bit odd to celebrate a holiday in a country in which the holiday doesn't exist.  Last year, we spent a few days over Thanksgiving weekend in the mountains in Matagalpa, hiking with howler monkeys swinging above us.  This year, we decided to carry on the tradition of hiking and so we hiked a little closer to home on the trail through an area called Las Nubes in El Crucero.  While we didn't see any howler monkeys, we could hear them 'howling' in the distance.

On the way to Las Nubes, we discussed the origin of Thanksgiving and and asked the kids what they were thankful for this year.  Andrew said he was thankful for the end of school (which was yesterday). Ella said she was thankful for family and spicy food.  Noah said he was thankful for 'homeschooling' (which he will be starting next semester...a story for another blogpost).

Being that I really despise touching raw meat and doing the whole turkey thing, we bought a rotisserie chicken, cranberry sauce, sub-rolls, stuffing and made sandwiches.  I did actually bake a pumpkin pie...so thankful for the miracle of finding a can of  Libby's Pumpkin in the grocery store along with a ready-made crust...a VERY rare find!

There are truly so many things to be thankful for...I am beyond thankful for my husband and children.  Yet, above all...I am thankful for how God loves us more than we will ever comprehend.  It is amazing.

Enjoy some snapshots from our Thanksgiving Day in Nicaragua. 

"happy thanksgiving everyone!!!"
believe it or not...there are some "fall" type leaves.
there were hundreds of hydrangeas on the property

my three little blessings for which i am thankful

beautiful blue water lilies

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Refining Through Red Tape

We recently needed to renew our residency cards at the Immigration Department.  Renewal is not nearly as difficult as the initial process of obtaining residency, however, we found it to be a "process" none-the-less.

Our lawyer drew up the paperwork and told us that all we needed to do was to submit the paperwork to the person at the desk at the Immigration Office.  Let me say that the Immigration Office looks like an airplane hanger.  It is about 100 degrees and the staff sit at a counter behind a plexi-glass window.  There is a little, tiny hole in the window through which you need to communicate.  So, we go to submit our paperwork.  There is some miscommunication and 'lost in translation' issues; but finally they accept all the paperwork and the next step is to assign to us a date on which we need to return to get our photos taken and receive our actual residency identification cards.  Looking ahead, we know that there are some days in November that we will be unable to return due to a conference that Jeff has at the university.  We get close to the itty-bitty hole in the plexi-glass window and tell the woman at the desk that we can't come during the week of November 12th.  She simply looks at us and gives us a slip of paper saying we need to return on November 13th. (Wondering why we even tried.)  So, November 13th it is.

The date approaches and Jeff alters his plans so that we can make the November 13th appointment (which left our two visitors, who are in-country for the conference, in a neighboring city alone).  The kids have a half-day at school so we picked them up, got some lunch, ran an errand (this may have been our first fatal error) and headed over to Immigration.  We arrived at about 2:15pm.  In our American minds, there are several hours left in the work day (this was probably our second fatal error).  When we arrive at the gate, the guard tells us that they are closed.  NOT a good sign. We show him our paperwork that has the infamous date of NOVEMBER 13th.  He lets us in.  We walk up to the plexi-glass window and find the same woman working at the desk.  She tells us to come back tomorrow.  "The system is closed.".  My blood pressure immediately rises. I stick my head right up to the little window and inform her that we were told back in October to come back on November 13th.  She again says the system is closed and come back tomorrow.  OK, I probably didn't conjugate all my verbs correctly...but I start arguing with her (obviously in Spanish that I didn't know I possessed).  I told her that we would not come back tomorrow.  It was the 13th and here we were to get our cards.  I told her that I didn't think that the system was closed because I could see people working on their computers.  I asked to speak to her boss and then I informed him that we wouldn't come back tomorrow.  I told him that I was sure that there was someone in the office that could take our pictures.  (At this point, I asked the kids to go sit down...Jeff vetoed my decision and told the kids that they needed to stay close to Mommy so that she didn't get 'really mad' at the people in the office.)  The boss says the system closes at 3pm. I asked what time he had....2:40pm.  Well, there you go...there is time.  So they start the process.  (I'm thinking that if we didn't have to fight it out...we would have had time to finish the process).  But at 3pm, the system "shuts down" and our cards could not be printed.  They told us to come back on Friday.  Feeling defeated, angry and exhausted...we left Immigration.  

We returned on Friday and we did successfully pick up our residency cards.

I want to say...I didn't write this post to slam the culture or the staff at Immigration.  It is far more about chipping away at the rigidness of rights and rules that I hold so dearly.  It is an example of one 'world-view' and culture clashing against another 'world-view' and culture.  As an American, I have been raised to think that I have "rights".  I suppose that culturally, we as Americans, do have certain 'rights'.  However, I don't currently live in America and I cannot transfer my 'rights' to my Nicaraguan existence. It doesn't work that way.  Not to mention that ultimately it comes down to me 'submitting' my plans, my ideas, my rules, and my rights to the Lord and letting Him refine me through the 'red tape' of life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

And The Verdict Is....

Finally, the conclusion to the harrowing tale of the gas station accident.  Yesterday, I returned to the police station for the second time (I went the day after the accident like I was asked to...only to be told to come back in a week).  I walked into the transit office (which by the way looks like one of the rooms in which Jennifer Garner was always tortured and interrogated in the show Alias)....and we sign a "guest book" of sorts.  I get called into an office, the officer takes my little card that says I was in an accident.  He finds the matching file, hands me my license, asks me to sign a document saying that I was NOT at fault and tells me to come back in a week to pick up my accident report. 5 minutes....as opposed to the 5 hours I waited the day of the accident.  Justice has been done.  

Interestingly, the gas station attendants asked Jeff what the decision had been when he went to get gas later that same day.  Jeff informed them that it was determined to be not my fault.  They were all pleased that the "right decision" had been made. (There is a whole other story here...but that is for another time.) 

By the way, here is a picture of the little 'dent'.  Please ignore the fact that our car is filthy.  We recently washed it and the dent looks so much shinier!