Friday, December 18

Happy Birthday Zach

We had a fun time celebrating Zach's 6th Birthday. We invited Roberto's family over, with a 101 dalmation dog pinata (with graduation cap, too cute!) and a pirate themed caked and paintings.

I tried my hand at a pirate cake and drew some of the Veggie Tales pirates from the movie, the Pirates who don't do anything (if you haven't seen it and need a good laugh, this is a good movie for you!).

The morning started out fun, with Zach opening up his present from us...a sword that he has been asking for ever since he saw it in a store a few weeks before. I bought it the day before his birthday and tried to smuggle it into the house, but he saw it in the bag and followed me, amidst shrieks of glee and the question, Is that my sword? Is that my sword? I told him he had to wait until tomorrow, but of course, he said, I knew it! I knew it! Well, at least he was excited.

Zach and Nathaniel eat their rice and beans, plus a baked macaroni and cheese dish that Zach asked for specifically. Isaac, who turns 2 in Feb., digs through our toy box.

The ladies of the family, from L to R: Damaris, oldest daughter of Roberto. She has 2 little boys, Everth (6 yrs) and Isaac (almost 2). Everth and Zach are great friends. Zach slept over at Everth's house last weekend and LOVED it! We went to pick him at 10 am and he was still in his pj's, and didn't want to leave. So we went back around 1:30. Ruth, next daughter of Roberto, holding Sebastian. She has 2 kids, Robertito (4 yrs) and Rutcita (3). They keep her busy and are fun to have around. Jacqueline (niece) and Candida, wife of Roberto.

Zach hits the coveted pinata. When we first came, he was very shy and wouldn't hit them, but now he lets loose!

To see more pictures, click on the link at right.

Monday, December 14

Random Pictures of Life here

I've been taking some random pictures in the city of Managua. We've gotten so used to the sights here, sometimes I forget how overwhelming and strange it all seemed when we first arrived. But with the imminent arrival of some family members, I've been trying to look around and remember what I first noticed and here's what I came up with...

People live in these shacks in Managua...made of plastic and anything else they can get their hands on

A famous reads "only the workers and farmers will go on to the end"

At intersections around the city, you can buy fruit such as oranges, mangoes, bananas, etc. as well as lawn chairs, car parts and other assorted items.

Hitching a ride...the Nicaraguan way

A truck on the PanAmerican highway, filled with firewood, headed for the city of Managua.

Thursday, December 10

MCC team meeting

Last week we had our quarterly MCC team meeting here in Matagalpa, a time to get to know each other a little better and also discuss business.

We spent the first day at a small recreation center a few kilometers outside the city, called Roca Morada (Purple Rock...I have no idea why they call it that, but hey, it's a pretty name :) We enjoyed the kiddie pool, although the water was a bit cold since it had been raining for a few days. But by lunchtime the sun was out and we moved on to the big pool and a sumptious lunch of chicken or beef, rice and salad.

The next two days were spent on the business items and discussing the future of MCC Nicaragua. We look forward to meeting a new long-term member in January, while we say goodbye to two long-term couples at the end of next year.

Zach's Graduation

We're so proud of you Zach!

Zach stands proudly with his teacher and daddy, holding his diploma

Zach's final math exam. He seems to have a good mind for math...hmm...I wonder if having 2 mechanical engineers for parents has anything to do with it??

Zach's graduating class...can you pick him out?

It's hard to believe our firstborn son has graduated from kindergarten...where has the time gone?

It's been such a blessing to watch him grow in his Spanish language, his confidence with his friends, and joy in learning new things. We are so glad we decided to put him into school has helped his confidence and language in ways that never could have happened if we had kept him at home.

Before we came here, our plan had been to completely homeschool him, but it was quickly apparent that he needed the social interaction with his peers, and not knowing Spanish was very frustrating for him. The first few months were hard, since nobody at his school speaks Spanish, but within a few months of starting school in 2008, he was conversing like a pro! God created children with such amazing minds!

Monday, November 30

Let is Burn, Let is Burn, Let is Burn

Seems sort of surreal…listening to Christmas music, seeing the lights and decorations go up, and then heading to the beach in 90 degree weather.

All in all, we had a good time at our beach getaway 2 weeks ago. We invited our Nicaraguan family along and the kids really enjoyed themselves. The food, weather and beach were spectacular. We enjoyed watching the waves crash on the shore at dusk, picking up starfish and feeling the squishiness of shells as they peaked their toes out. The kids enjoyed “chasing” the waves, only to have the waves chase them back!

After several applications of SPF 50 and SPF 70 sunblock, we all still managed to get a decent sunburn, especially Zachariah. He has a raccoon sort of look on his face and a nice shade of red on his back. Hopefully the burn on his face will clear up in time for his graduation this coming Sunday.

I and Abby spent a good 2 hrs riding the waves and talking…and I have the sunburn to prove it!

There are lots of things to do on the beach! Play in the sand, build sand castles, sleep...

I was also able to brush up on my basketball skills again and did a decent job of not looking too shabby for not having played for over 10 yrs.

The only tough spot was that Sebastian was sick and had a fever with cough the entire weekend. Our first day back we brought him to the doctor and she promptly diagnosed him with bronchitis. So he’s on his first round of antibiotics and seems to be on the mend, slowly but surely.

Monday, November 16

Work, Work, Work...all we do is Work!

The above picture is the guys "working"...actually, they are taking their lunch break in one of the many places they've stopped over the years.

Looking over the last several blog posts, someone might be tempted to think that all we do is party around here! So in order to clarify, I’ve decided to talk about some of the work that we (well, mostly Steve) has been doing around here. My work at the office is pretty fact, I think my work at home is a lot more exciting, so I'll just keep my office work to myself :)

These last few weeks, Steve worked on putting together a botiquin (veterinary supply box) for each of the communities. This included researching common diseases and their medicines for both the rabbits and goats, buying and testing out a tattooing system, visiting a few veterinarians here in the city for some suggestions, buying all the medicines and vitamins and boxes to put them in and then finally distributing them after recommending to the farmers that they organize themselves in how they are going to use the boxes. It is meant to be a sustainable box, meaning that every time somebody buys a vaccine or vitamin, payment is received and then used to buy more of the same.

We shall see how it goes. One of the issues that we have struggled in learning to deal with here involves the management of money, or shall we say, the lack thereof? The majority of people have the mindset of, We’re eating and drinking today, for tomorrow we die. And if we don’t die tomorrow, then we borrow on credit whatever we need because we might just die the next day. And so on. As you can see, there is no consideration given to savings or future planning. This has been tricky in several areas of Steve’s project and we still struggle with knowing how to handle this wisely.

Taking water samples from sources in the communities. All of the water sources came back positive for fecal contamination.

Steve has also spent several days out in the campo visiting families, looking over their animals and talking with them about any issues that may have come up. Getting out to the campo can be an adventure in itself. This past Friday, the mud was so deep, he had to jump off and literally walk it up through the muddy trail in order to reach the farthest community. He enjoyed himself, but was pretty sore the next day.

Visiting a house in the campo. You can see the one wall is in the process of construction. Mud and cane are used.

We’ve also done some brainstorming sessions on how to better use Abby’s time wisely (Abby is the short-termer here with us). She is finding out that anything that you try to do in the campo invariably takes twice as long as it does in the states, or even here in the city. She has a lot of interesting and wild stores about life in the campo, you can check her blog at right.

Friday, November 13

Nathaniel´s 3rd Birthday

C´mon! You´re going to have to hit it harder than that to get the candy out!!

So many candles, so little air!

I love the Spanish name for´s literally translated ¨motherinlaw tongue¨, haha!!

So here is my 3rd cake as a professional cake maker :)
time to make...4 hrs
time to eat...15 minutes

Here are a few pictures from Nathaniel´s 3rd birthday. It was fun to have everybody over and I enjoyed testing my new hobby skills as cake decorator. The kids especially enjoyed the pinata..I´m thinking I might have to learn how to make them so we can continue the tradition in the States!

Tuesday, November 10

How Beautiful is The Body of Christ

We really enjoyed our time at church this past Sunday. As overseas missionaries, we feel truly blessed to find a church where we can relax, feel encouraged and challenged. It can be very difficult to find a church group where you belong, where you can not only give but receive as well. It hasn’t been easy. Not that we’ve always seen the great need to go to church. This is a tough stage of life. Having young kids makes going to church particularly difficult. It’s easy to say, “I’m so tired, the kids are grumpy, and it’s just so much work to get everybody ready to go.” Plus, I spend the majority of my time taking care of the kids…doesn’t really seem worth it! I will admit there have been a few seasons in my life when I thought that church was a conspiracy to gather all the believers and kill the joy and passion for God. A place where judgmental hypocrites came together, sang a few songs, gossiped about each other’s clothes, their houses and kids and then invited one another over to tea, where God was relegated to a place far away and out of reach. One certainly didn’t talk about Him outside of church. There were times that I felt like my relationship with God only needed to be fueled by quiet time with Him, and then if I found time to be with other Christians, great, but if not, I didn’t lose too much sleep over it.
But things have changed. I am beginning to see even more clearly the need to come together with other believers, to worship with them, to hear another’s perspective on God’s word and to pray with and be prayed for. What about alone time with God? It is a definite must. God wants a relationship, a personal relationship, with each and every one of us. Not 1 hour on Sunday, not 1 hour at small group. A relationship. And a relationship takes time. Nothing can replace that. However, there is also something quite special, uplifting and encouraging about being with other believers. When we were worshipping and singing this past Sunday, there were moments that I felt I was standing at the throne room of heaven…my spirit was so filled with His presence. Hearing the pastor talk about Jesus as the true vine and remaining in Him, it was a good reminder to me, to not lose heart, to not just “do the minimum”, but to stay connected with Him. And when a young lady came and prayed for me…the encouragement I felt is something I cannot get sitting in a room by myself.
Is going to church hard? I will be honest, yes. It has been a hard journey. It is hard to walk into a church where you know nobody, everything is strange and the language is different. I probably only hear about 10% of the entire 2 hour worship and sermon. The rest of my time is spent watching the kids, keeping them in their chairs, helping them go to the bathroom and nursing Sebastian. But God has really blessed me with those few precious moments…15 minutes out of 2 hours seems like enough. And there is such an amazing spirit, standing in a room full of believers, all singing their hearts out to God. I dare say the angels look down in awe.
I’d like to share a particularly meaningful song that brings me to heaven in an instant.

Yo te busco, yo te busco
Con fuego en mi Corazón
Yo te busco, yo te busco
Recibe mi adoración
Te anhelo, te necesito
Te amo más que a mi ser

I look for You, I look for You
With fire in my heart
I look for you, I look for you
Receive my adoration
I long for you, I need you
I love you, more than I love myself

Saturday, November 7

What are Little Boys Made of?

Running, jumping, yelling, wrestling, tickling, baseball, cars, crash, bang, boom! When I’m not at work, these are what my days consist of…silence is a rare treat for me, and usually by the time I have found it, I am too tired to enjoy it and sleep right through it! Why did God give me 3 boys? This is a question I have been asking myself lately. I see my girlfriend’s little girls and how docile they are…they are so quiet, I hardly know they are there! Why can’t my boys just sit and color, or sit and play quietly? Do they HAVE to smash and crash everything they touch? Do they HAVE to jump off the table, the couch, the motorcycle? God has been teaching me a lot about contentment, about enjoying my kids for who they are, and how to shape the will, without breaking the spirit. It is no small task. The amount of energy they consume…and create, can be magnificent at times. Even little Sebastian wiggles and rolls and squeals every chance he gets. Changing his diaper has turned into an Olympic sport. I can already see he wants in on the action and is dying for a chance to show how fast HE can run, how far HE can jump and how LOUD he can yell. My house is a constant source of entertainment, and with the number of looks and stares from strangers passing by on the street, I’m considering charging a per minute rate. But this also has its challenges.
Being an introvert, I have found that I really need to fight for my time away, my time of solitude, my time to talk to God, to listen to His voice. Otherwise, my energy levels drop precariously and I’m embarrassed to admit that I turn into a downright grouch! My husband is great at helping me, and reminding me, of the importance of my alone time. Priorities…I can’t take care of my family if I don’t take care of myself. Strung out and living in a world of frustration is no way to live. This has been a hard, but good lesson for me. It is a lesson that I am continually learning. I once read about a woman’s perspective on this. She said, Honey, one kid will take all of your time. Two kids will take all of your time. Three kids will take all of your time. What is her point? That no matter how many kids you have, they will always take all of your time…but only if you LET them. Being a great mom does not mean that the kids have all of you, all the time. Quantity does not mean quality. After I have some “me” time, I’m amazed at the difference I feel in myself, how refreshed and “ready to go” I am. Well, it’s late. Almost 9:30…and I’m really tired. We played magical beds, with the 3 boys in and out of our bed last night. I’ve enjoyed the past half hour of quiet…and I hope you enjoy some pictures of our family below.

Wednesday, November 4

Girls Night Out...or Should I Say In?

We women have to stick a fellow MCCer, Sarah, has started up a Girls Night, in which we get together and make jewelry, paint our nails, and talk about our husbands, kids, work, or anything that happens to pop into our heads at the time.

It's usually held in Managua, since the majority of the team lives in the Managua area, but since we've added a 5th member to our family, getting around has become significantly more logistically difficult. So the team graciously decided to have the girls night at my house, while the men took the kids and went off to do whatever it is that men do.

I invited my friend Ruth to come over and paint nails, since she is a diva when it comes to creating fancy designs on nails. Most of the ladies had their turn at getting their nails done and then wandered over to the jewelry table to make earrings or necklaces...I was impressed with some of the creative designs around the table.

From L to R: SALTers Amanada and Melissa, Sarah (designer extraordinaire and donater of the majority of the jewelry), her hubby Seth in the background, Angela (our country rep), Vanessa (4 month intern) and Diana (YAMEN, from Columbia)

From L to R: Abby tries to decide which color would go best with her skin tone and match her clothes, while Beth watches Ruth paint her toe nails.

Monday, October 26

My Birthday

My birthday was full of surprises, both good and bad. I started off the morning with cream cheese stuffed french toast with an orange-guava sauce...yum! Then a frantic rush to get ready for work and Zachariah to school, all to end when my housekeeper called to say she couldn't come, her 3 teenage boys all have dengue!

Steve had planned to head out to the countryside to watch a well pumped dry and then cleaned but after talking with our boss, he was able to stay home and do some work from there.

We had planned for some friends to come over and watch our boys so we could have a nice quiet dinner together. The day before, I went out a bought a dress and some shoes to match. I think it's the first dress I've bought in over a year and a half. So before dinner I headed down the street to a salon run by a mother/daughter team in front of their house. As usual in Nicaragua, I waited about 45 minutes before pretty much have to wait for just about everything here, doctors, supermarkets, buses, etc. We had a fun time chatting...turns out the husband of the lady who did my nails (the daughter) is the nephew of the lady who lived across the hall from us when we lived in the 2nd floor apartment (did you follow all that?). He is American and she is Nicaraguan, so we had some good conversations. In the end she asked if I might be interested in teaching English to her 3 daughters during summer vacation, which starts in a month. Sounds interesting, so I might go for it.

I also had my hair "ironed" for the first time in my life. I didn't think it would change my look that much, since my hair isn't extremely curly, but I seriously did not recognize the lady in the mirror when the woman finished! My husband didn't recognize me either, and he prefers it more "au natural", but it was fun to try it out. I always enjoy trying out new things with my hair...I figure, if I don't like it, it will grow out or eventually come back to normalcy. In this case, all I had to do was wash my hair and bang! Back to me again.

You can tell I don't wear dresses much. When I was all ready to go and came out of the bedroom, Nathaniel looked at me and asked me, What was I wearing?? I told him, it is a dress. He stated that HE wanted to wear a dress too. Well, you can't, I said. Only girls wear dresses. Boys wear pants. No, he said, shaking his head. He pointed to me and said that I was a boy and HE was a girl (sounded more like "gorilla") and he wanted to wear my dress, haha!!

After a long discussion about the difference between girls and boys, Steve and I headed out to a nice restaurant in town and ate a nice quiet meal. Steve ordered the seafood soup, complete with whole crabs, fish, lobster and snails, while I ordered some lobster with cream sauce, yum! It was very relaxing and a nice end to a full day.

Jacqueline´s Birthday

We went to a birthday party a few weeks ago and enjoyed a fun Sunday afternoon.
I made my second "professional" cake last week for a friend's birthday. Decorating cakes is my latest hobby...I had to find something to do besides the kids and it's too hard to leave the house. So I bought a book and the tools and here I go!

Here is a picture of the birthday girl with my little man. Jacqueline is the niece of Roberto, the Nicaraguan family that is like our family as well.

Lunch is on, Steve and Roberto joke around while slurping down the chicken soup with corn tortillas. But you have to eat soup in Nicaragua is to eat enough soup for two meals. They don't skimp on the soup..the bowls are massive and make you sweat even more than you already are!

Zach plays with his friend, Evert (or Evercito as we like to say. It means "little Evert).


Thursday, October 15

Land of huge flowers

Steve worked a lot last week, and had a 2 day workshop for the campesinos (farmers) teaching them on how to take care of their rabbits and goats, including an 10 hr day on Saturday. The workshop went well, and the farmers seemed to really take an interest in all the information that the teacher gave them.

Upon returning home on Saturday, he surprised me with these massive sunflowers (one of my favorite flowers) from the market down the street. I have to admit, after I got over the initial excitement of getting flowers from my hubby, I was confounded in what to put them in. They obviously weren't going to fit in your average vase!! After a bit of head-scratching, Steve came up with the idea of our huge pitcher, and they fit quite nicely :)

Sebastian has been getting around more and more, and started to get up on his knees this 5 months old! He is really quite the mover and loves to watch his big brothers.

Yesterday we had a meeting in Managua, which went well. It was a long day, we left at 8 and got home at 4. Once again, it was a tough night with Sebastian...I think he got up about 4 times, but I'm starting to lose count. The nights seem to blur together and the days are getting fuzzy! But it's true...His grace is sufficient for me. I used to LOVE my sleep..if I didn't get at least 8 hrs, I was quite grumpy, nobody wanted to be around me. But I'm learning that no matter how little sleep I get, my attitude is my it's a lot easier to smile than frown!