Tuesday, December 30
The barber waves goodbye!
Here she is! This wonderful contraption is what took us to the beach, and other places since then. Around the beginning of December we seriously started contemplating buying our own personal vehicle, due to our growing family and the amount of travel we have in the next few months. Plus, we hope to see more of Nicaragua, and several hours by bus can be, shall we say, a bit tedious with 3 little ones? So we bought this the week before we went to the beach, and we are quite happy with her.
This is something you will hardly see in the States, like many of the vehicles here.
Okay, all you car enthusiasts...can any one guess what it is? (and you have to say more than "Toyota")
Specs to follow later...
Friday, December 26
We were able to get a decent family shot...I think self-timer shots are the greatest addition to cameras!!
Mommy and Nathaniel enjoying the waves. There was a bit of riptide, so we weren't able to stay out in the big waves to our heart's content, but I think Nathaniel will take after his mommy and be a beach bum :)
The boys were impressed with the large nativity scene. Here, Nathaniel is giving a pat on the back to one of the wise men. Zachariah was concerned about baby Jesus, and wanted to make sure he was in his bed.
The boys had a good time digging a hole and putting daddy in it, although Nathaniel was a bit concerned when he saw Steve's toes coming up through the sand.
A view of the beach.
We had a marvelous time at the all-inclusive resort. The food was buffet style and were impressed with the variety. We were able to sample foods that we haven't seen since coming here, oh the cheeses, vegetables (like green beans!) and desserts...Mommy really enjoyed all the cheeses, especially the Swiss cheese! Not everyone shared our enthusiasm, however; Nathaniel stuck mostly to what he knows...rice and beans and plain chicken :) He has no idea what a green bean is, or cheddar cheese or apple pie!
We started out our days early...after all, vacation with kids means getting up at the crack of dawn so as not to miss anything!! We were up at 6 am, had a hearty breakfast, then spent most of the morning at the beach. Chairs were strewn around the beach by the resort, which was relaxing for mommy and daddy. The boys loved the waves, running and jumping.
Around 10 am, when the sun became too strong to handle, we headed to one of the kiddie pools and got a few drinks at the nearby snack bar. Then off to lunch, a quick nap, then back to the beach for the afternoon. We spent some time at the kids area, which included ping-pong tables, pool tables and an assortment of games. The kids played on the jungle-gym while we sipped our fruit juices and occasionally ran after them.
The history is interesting. The last dictator, Somoza, had built his personal private beach resort here. But when he was overthrown in 1979, it went downhill, until Barcelo Resorts bought it and renovated the area.
We had a wonderful time and hope to go back next Chrismtas...Zach is already asking when we can go back!
Tuesday, December 16
Now that Nathaniel can get out of his playpen by himself, he loves to come visit us during his naptime or as we are going to sleep. Last night, we heard the warning squeaks of his escape, and waited a few minutes to see what would happen. A few minutes later, our curiosity got the better of us and Steve went to check on him.
Nathaniel had crawled up into Zachariah's bed and was getting all snuggled in! Zachariah was fast asleep and hadn't woken up during all the moving (no naps means he passes out in record speed at night). I guess Nathaniel really missed Zach and wanted to be with him! Either that, or it's time to get a toddler bad....
Thursday, December 11
When I look at the stars in the sky, the works of your hands in all creation, I wonder, What is man that YOU are mindful of him, the son of man that you take notice?
Then I remembered that God loves me so much, He sent His son, Jesus, to die for me. He created me just for Him, and made me unique and special. I slept well that night.
Wednesday, December 10
Chocolate and caramel covered apples....I robbed a bank to pay for the apples, but they were worth it. But don't ask me how many teeth I have left!
Elf cookies, from the VeggieTales movie, Lord of the Beans. A basic, rich cookie dough, cooked in shapes then with crushed hard candies put inside them. They are baked for a few minutes, then done! A nice combination of heavy cookie dough with sweet candy. Zach enjoyed making shapes with the dough.
Nathaniel was a little unsure about the pinata, but he valiantly tried a few whacks. However, any movement by the pinata sent him running...it seems he thought the pinata was "alive". We tried not to laugh, but a few giggles managed to escape.
We were thinking that this would be a good therapy for anger management class. Zach certainly expended some energy trying to break the pinata!
Zach could hardly open his presents fast enough...
Here he shows off the chocolate cake he picked out at the local bakery...as soon as we got the cake out of the box, he had run his fingers across the top and swiped a sizeable amount of frosting off. He was so engrossed in licking off the frosting, that we never made it to the candles part :) I don't think he noticed.
Wednesday, December 3
Steve recently started a main part of his project, building tanks to hold water. He decided to go with a ferrocement tank, instead of the normal block tank they generally build here, due to cost, skill required and just the sheer fun of trying something new! A ferrocement tank uses a strong mix of concrete, sand and water on top of a chicken wire mold, which means most tanks are cylindrical in shape. Steve wanted to try something a little different, called a Thai water jar. If you want to see more photos, click on our link to the right. an inside view of the tank
mixing the concrete the old-fashioned way
Monday, December 1
November 19th, Zachariah graduated from 2 level pre-school, congratulations! Here is a picture with his diploma and his teacher. He had a great time at school, and I give it most of the credit for his language progress. Next year, he goes into 3rd level pre-school, then 1st grade after that.
Below, some of his classmates recite a poem in traditional Nicaraguan dress.
For us, it means lots of baking! I tried out my hand at truffles the other day for the first time, and from what I heard, they were good. (I'm not a chocolate eater, just a chocolate sniffer :) I think my boys, big and small, ate them in record time!
Also, if you look really close, you can see our little baby peeking out from my belly (I think he or she wanted a bite!). I will be posting more pictures as we both grow!
Wednesday, November 26
One morning, a young woman came to my door, looking younger than me, and she carried a 4 month old baby on her hip and had 2 small children standing beside her, both younger than 4. They were all dirty, with unkempt hair and rags for clothes. Even the baby had only a rag for a diaper and slept peacefully with a dirt-streaked face. She asked me for $0.50 to pay for her trip back to the countryside. I told her to wait a moment, and as I walked to our change jar, my conscience pricked me. How could I let her walk away with only $0.50? It was obvious they needed some food and clothes.
So I quickly walked to the kitchen, filled up a plate of food, a bag with some water, and raided my closet and my kids’ closets for some clothes. I returned with several bags and quickly handed them through the door. The kids looked up at me silently, waiting, their faces not revealing the joy and innocence of other children their age. I asked the mother if the father was helping her at all, and she replied, No, he is not around. She thanked me profusely for the food and clothing, and as they walked away, I felt empty. What had I really done for them? They were still totally poverty-stricken, with no education, no work, and no chance for a better life for her or her children.
But it’s at times like these, when it feels like my presence here is making no difference at all, that I remember a bulletin my church sent back in August, which hangs in my room. On the back is a litany, and the ending prayer states,
Send us, O Lord, to speak of your peace, to show your mercy, to conduct ourselves in a right spirit that is true to your message. May your word and your Spirit transform us from seeing how lost the world is, to having a vision that believes all can be saved. –Kenneth L. Thompson, Bronx, New York
And I am encouraged. God isn’t asking me to save the world, but only to do my part, His will, and He will do the rest. I need to lift my eyes from the circumstances and keep them on God, to remember that He is God and that nothing is impossible with Him.
Thursday, November 20
Saturday, November 1
We decided against inviting all our friends to keep it more low-key. Steve made brownies and topped it with normal candles. We thought we had birthday candles from last year, but when we opened the package, it was empty! But he didn't seem to mind, he enjoyed huffing and puffing on the 2 fat candles.
We were planning on cutting his hair, but with work and MCC stuff, we haven't made it there yet. Someday...
Tuesday, October 28
Yes, Nathaniel is actually trying to ride that little bicycle. I wonder how far he will get? He's a pretty determined little guy.
I grew up riding a Harley motorcycle, so naturally, while I realize that overall, motorcycles carry a bit more risk than cars, they aren’t something that I fear. Healthy respect and knowledge goes a long way. And this is what I want my boys to learn, to not be afraid of things they don’t understand or have no knowledge of, but to learn about them. So we encourage our boys to sit on the motorcycle and try out the buttons and of course, wear the helmets. We do occasionally take the boys out on the bike, but only around the city. Here, Nathaniel tries on the helmet, which I suspect is about 20% of his weight. He barely manages to sit up and walk without toppling head first, but he loves the challenge. He loves to sit and pretend he is riding.
The churches decorate vehicles, the children are dressed up as Bible characters and animals, and there are of course, lots of balloons. The whole idea is to celebrate the anniversary of when the Bible was translated into Spanish, which was the 439th year this year. The boys had a great time helping decorate the truck and motorcycle and being a part of the parade.
Friday, October 10
Here a few of the events that have transpired recently, as we near the mayors elections in November:
1.The candidate for an opposition party was removed from the ballot by some technicality.
2.The government supported mayors’ candidates continually utilize government property for propaganda activities and post their posters on government buildings.
3.An opposition political party who had planned a peaceful march was met violently by government supporters and was not allowed to march. The government supporters proceeded to threaten the marchers and burn the vehicles of various opposition leaders.
4.A group of students who were peacefully protesting in front of the government propaganda television station were chased away violently by a group of government supporting thugs wielding belts and, supposedly, machetes and knives. The first person to strike a blow against the students was a Congressman who raced out of the building and struck a student in the face. The police, who are increasingly controlled by the President, were nowhere to be seen.
This is just a taste of the seemingly daily conflicts that we read about in the newspaper. However, in all of this we thank God that His kingdom is eternal and someday, be it soon or many years from, we will be free from all of this strife.
Tuesday, September 16
Well, we just returned from a 3-day vacation at the Pacific Ocean at a nice little resort called Vistamar (literally, SeaView). It as a wonderful, relaxing time, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely. We arrived Sunday around lunch, and enjoyed a sumptuous lunch, then ran straight to the ocean. Zach was a bit timid at first and insisted on holding Steve's hand, while Nathaniel, all 33" and 27 pounds of him, walked straight into the ocean and would have kept walking all the way to China if we hadn't stopped him!!
The wide beach was beautiful and littered with thousands of perfect, tiny seashells. We now own the 2nd largest sea shell collection know to man! The hotel was divided amongst several bungalows, and we took advantage of the free room-service to enjoyed most of the meals on our back porch, overlooking the ocean and swaying in the hammock. The sunsets were absolutely breathtaking, and I had to refrain from filling up my memory card with images of God's handiwork splashed across the sky.
We also sampled 2 of the 4 swimming pools the resort had to offer. Zachariah enjoyed "swimming" on his own, while Nathaniel continued on insisting that he "do it myself!", with a little help from Mommy. Throughout the day, boys and teens from the surrounding villages would stop by on horseback and offer a ride. While Zachariah declared no fondness for horses, Nathaniel was excited to try his hand at the beast, and enjoyed a quick ride with this charming young man, only a boy himself.
This is a bit late, we went away the weekend of Sept 14th.
Tuesday, September 9
A couple days later I had an opportunity to test my faith and ask God for something that seemed impossible. I was driving my motorcycle in the countryside and in the process I lost a small notebook somewhere that contained a lot of important irreplaceable information. I thought, “Well I could try to retrace my steps and search high and low for the notebook, but that would take an incredible amount of time and it is not likely to be successful. Or I could ask God that someone else would find it and return it to me”. But I felt like God was challenging me to ask for the impossible, that the notebook would be in my pocket when I returned to the house.
I struggled with this for almost an hour as I was riding, and each time I would try to ask God for this the voice of doubt would say, “but you know that it will not happen”. I was amazed at how difficult it was to ask God for something impossible without thinking at the same time that if it does not happen it will be because it was not God’s will. I realized how little my faith really must be to not be able to ask, believing, for God to do something so small.
In the end, without looking for it, I came across the notebook in a place that I had been earlier that day. So was that God’s answer to my prayer? I don’t know, but I believe that the revelation of faith and believing were well worth the experience, and I expect God to continue to challenge me in this area.
Tuesday, August 19
We spent last Saturday with friends Roberto and his wife Candida. They have grandsons the same age as our boys, and we enjoy their company immensely. Here is a picture of Candida, in her kitchen, working hard in preparing a lunch of fried chicken, beans, rice and salad. We have decided that she is the best cook in all of Nicaragua, and are never disappointed when we eat at her place. Here is Zachariah with their grandson Evert, sitting on the rocking chairs, watching one of the VeggieTales movies that Zach brought over. Evert is about 5 months older than Zach, and they have a good time together. The other day, Zachariah whispered that he would like to sleep over at Evert’s house sometime. Sigh….already come the sleepovers, another sign that my babies are growing up!
I really enjoy our quaint, small garden, and the few flowers they produce. As I aimed and refocused my camera on the white flowers here, I remembered the words of Jesus in Matthew, “Even Solomon, with all his finery, was not dressed as beautiful as the flowers in the fields.” And then a poem that I read the other day, which was a conversation overheard by a bluebird and a robin. The bluebird says that he doesn’t understand these human beings that rush around, to and fro, with so much worry. The robin replies that he thinks humans must not have a heavenly Father such as they, to take care of them. It was such a good reminder for me, to remember that even in the midst of all our little stories and dramas, sicknesses and busyness, there is a Father in heaven is who is watching over us and every day is using our trials and circumstances to bring us closer to Him.