Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back To Look Ahead

December 31st, 2012. New Year's Eve. In about an hour it will be 2013 here in Nicaragua.  Instead of making resolutions that I won't keep past January...I'd like to look back over 2012 and set up 12 stones, so to speak. When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River, God told Joshua to pick 12 men to pick up 12 stones and make a monument in the middle of the Jordan be a sign of God's faithfulness and provision for the people of Israel.  So, here I am on the 'other side' of another year.  Looking back, here are some "12 stones"(one from each month) from the past year.  May it serve to remind me of God's love and faithfulness and provision as we move into 2013.

December's Stone: Memories
Creating memories through traditions like  'tree-trimming'  or Friday Family Nights is something that leaves our family with a heart full of precious memories.
November's Stone: Nature
Experiencing the depth of God's creativity in nature here is amazing.

October's Stone: Community
We have the amazing privilege of being part of a greater community here.  We have the community of  foreigners who are believers AND we have an amazing community at the school that our children attend.  

September's Stone: Humor
Humor is necessary to survive...and thrive here.  This baby green iguana was hanging out on the top of my curtain rod. I am surprised my scream didn't scare him right off!

August's Stone: Fun and Family Time
We have experienced some sweet and laughter filled moments as a family here.  We are grateful for these special times.

July's Stone: Celebration and Love
This summer, Jeff and I celebrated 15 years of marriage.  What a crazy/wonderful journey it has been and we pray will continue to be as we look forward to many more years together!

June's Stone:  Provision
Just when the heat seems unbearable...the rain comes.  There are so many times when we see the provision of the Lord in our lives and the lives around us. 

May's Stone: Faith and Prayers
As you may have read several months back, this is Junie B. Cortez Blue...Noah's parrot.  He prayed for a year and a half for God to 'break a parrot' and send it to him.  His earnest prayers were answered.  Junie is our beakless parrot.

April's Stone: Friendship
We thank God for the amazing friendships that He has ordained here in Nicaragua.  We are especially thankful for the friendship between Andrew and his best buddy, Jesús.  They are a young example of "iron sharpens iron."

March's Stone: God's Above and Beyond Gifts
Our family loves York Peppermint Patties. A friend came to do some short term  work and brought us a bag of Peppermint Patties because she remembered that we all enjoyed them so much. Gotta love God's extra touches of love!

February's Stone: Adjustment and Acclimation
The kids jumped right into school this year.  They reaped the fruit of their perseverance.  This year, in comparison to last year, was far smoother in terms of feeling like life here is more "normal" in an abnormal kinda way.
January's Stone: Peace and Escape 
We found an amazing piece of God's creation on the coast this year.  It has served as a place of respite and refreshment.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Actually, I heard the fireworks and loud music on Christmas Eve around midnight.  That is how Christmas is celebrated here in Nicaragua.  Celebrating Christmas starts on Christmas Eve evening and goes into the early morning hours--which I guess technically is Christmas Day--just REALLY early. 

While we did wade a bit further into the cultural waters this year by setting off Christmas fireworks, we are a long way from celebrating at midnight.  On Christmas Eve, we did enjoy a lovely dinner with friends at their beautifully decorated home here in Managua. I even got super ambitious and cooked and baked some appetizers and desserts.  For all my foodie friends...are you sitting down?...I made fried risotto balls with mozzarella cheese in the centers, pecan encrusted cheeseball, apple pie with a brown sugar topping, and Scandinavian almond bars. (I also prepped the homemade cinnamon buns to be baked on Christmas morning).  Spending the entire day in the kitchen on Christmas Eve was a whole new experience for me. 

We have maintained many of our American-style traditions--especially our "Christmas morning breakfast" and stockings delivered to each child's bedside.  We did enjoy a yummy breakfast after opening up the stockings...warm, homemade cinnamon buns and fresh squeezed orange juice (and strong coffee for the adults).  After reading the Christmas story in The Message, we opened our gifts.  We had a simple gift-giving this year...but it was fun to watch the kids get excited to see their siblings open the gifts that they had shopped for and bought.   There were many different types of tape exchanged between the boys.  Duct tape was a popular gift this year!  Ella and I exchanged 'jewelry' gifts.  Ella also received the Spanish version of BananaGrams...she plays bilingually though...makes for a tough opponent! Fun was had by all!!!

Besides being weary from the rough night of sleep (or lack there of), we have enjoyed a peaceful, relaxing third Christmas here in Nicaragua. 

As I sat on the front porch this afternoon, I thought how Christmas gift exchanges are a great way to exemplify the selfLESS nature of Christ.  Here it is...His Birthday...and we all get gifts.  He truly did come to serve rather than to be served (Matthew 20:28)

Here are some photos of the last few days of celebration in Nicaragua this Christmas.

Thanks to the wrought iron bars on the makes hanging lights super easy!

The Fried Risotto and Cheese Ball

Our Family on Christmas Eve

The guitar was last year's gift...this year, a stand, tuner, strap and pick were added.

Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Greeting

(This little Nativity was handcrafted here in Nicaragua. It is made from an orange peel.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Girl Can Dream, Can't She?

The boys and I ran some errands (bill paying, Christmas shopping, birthday party gift shopping) on Tuesday. As a "treat" to smooth over the fact that we had to run so many errands, I bought the boys 2 mini cinnamon buns at the newly opened Cinnabon at the mall.  I feel like the presence of Cinnabon here in Managua gives me a small glimmer of hope that one day Bruegger's Bagels or even Panera may one day come to live in Nicaragua too.  I can dream, can't I?!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's My Tranquilo

When Noah first started preschool here in Nicaragua, he cried...A LOT.  Not only was it his first time at school...he understood nothing of what was being said since everything was being said in Spanish.  His teachers used to tell him "Tranquilo Noah, tranquilo."  It means: it's okay, chill out, calm down.  Noah came to associate the word "tranquilo" with feeling distressed and sad.  Even now, if we say 'tranquilo', he kinda flinches.

Tonight, feeling rather 'homesick' for a familiar landscape in nature, I looked out the window and saw a moonlit palm tree.  You may be thinking...'oh, how I wish I could enjoy the warm breeze and gaze upon a moonlit palm tree'.  I was thinking...'I really dislike seeing palm trees outside my window.'  Perhaps because it represents the familiar feeling of unfamiliarity.

Palm trees have become my 'tranquilo.'  Kinda ironic. Jeff joked that tropical vacations are forever ruined.  Iceland, Alaska, and Switzerland may end up as our future vacation destinations.