Friday, January 30

Animal Delivery

We had an interesting day yesterday. In preparation for the group coming to see Steve's project on Monday, Steve has been pushing to get some worms and rabbits out to a few farms, to get his project going.

Last week, he traveled to Managua, and met up with a campesino (farmer) to buy some worms. Steve then delivered them to a farmer named Juancito (little John, so named because although he is an adult, he is tiny!). He bought them for $12 a kilo. As the worms reproduce, Steve plans on giving a certain amount to the beneficiaries of his project. If people want more worms or compost, then they will have to pay Juancito, which will be a nice little business for him.

Yesterday, we traveled down to Masaya (2.5 hours south of here, just south of Managua) and met up with a man who raises and sells rabbits. He raises several types of breeds, but the only one I recognized was Lop. After some discussion, Steve decided to buy 2 female rabbits, already bred and due the week of Feb. 4th, and two females who still need bred. He also bought a male to start the breeding process. We hadn't brought anything to transport them in, so the seller put them in burlap sacks. Unfortunately, the male became quite excited about being in the bag, and after only a half hour after leaving, the male died.

Today, Steve went out to deliver the rabbits, 2 females for 2 farmers. We've been looking around the last few weeks for rabbits a bit closer to home, but without luck. Hopefully we can find a male rabbit to start breeding the other females, without having to travel back to Masaya again.

Monday, January 26

Baby Shower

Yes, the above is actually a game, done for fun! Various concoctions of food is mixed and then smeared into a diaper...can you tell what it is? I couldn't get close enough to the diaper...too many years of changing the real thing!

We spent January 17th in Managua celebrating the imminent arrival of the Classen-Thrush baby with a grand baby shower. The arrival of the baby will mark the end of our solo reign as the ONLY family on the MCC Nicaraguan team. Now we will have other parents to laugh, compete and yes, commiserate with. Many of the attendees were neighbors of the couple, Alan and Beth, who live in Managua.

We enjoyed many riotous games, several of which I videotaped and will hopefully have posted in the near future. One game consisted of 2 women racing to put cloth diapers on 2 gigantic boys (aka men). Another game involved two women bottle-feeding their baby man, bottles filled with Coke. Drinking from a bottle is harder than it looks!

Our SALTer Matthew tries to feed his "baby" a jar of baby food, while blindfolded. They won!

The race to finish the bottle of coke...Beth gets some practice by feeding her husband, Alan

Tuesday, January 20

MesoAmerica Retreat

Whew! We are finally on the tail end of an extremely busy travel time for the first half of January. After we celebrated the New Year, we headed off to Managua on January 6th for a 4-day retreat with all the MCC volunteers in Central America (around 70 in all), called the MesoAmerica retreat. This retreat happens every 2 years and is hosted by a different Central American country each time. Nicaragua was responsible for the logistics, and the Mexico MCC team was responsible for the retreat sessions.

I (Colleen) was responsible for the Children's Programming, along with Issela (Nicaraguan who works in the MCC office in Managua). There were 12 children in all, ages 2-7. Overall, the children seemed to have a good time. I was only able to attend one of the sessions due to handling details of the program, but I was blessed to serve other parents in this capacity. We also enjoyed a few rare moments catching up with other MCCers with whom we had met in orientation. Unfortunately, my camera battery died after taking only 3 pictures, so the below is all I have to offer over 4 days.

(from L to R: Matthew, SALTer on our team, Issela, and David, Nicaraguan on our team who works with churches throughout Nicaragua)

(from L to R: unknown fellow MCCer, Greta and Rachelle, both SALTers on our team)

At the end, we were fairly exhausted, but were glad to see and hear what other MCCers are doing throughout Central America.

Wednesday, January 14

PEACE in Nicaragua

Please pray for Nicaragua. There has been escalating violence, mostly connected with peaceful protests against the government. Above was the front page of the paper last week. Peaceful marchers have been attacked by people of the government with machetes, knives, guns and morters. Every day the paper is covered with images of protesters being attacked, and the government supports these attacks! Thankfully, we have not seen any violence in our city, but please pray for peace in Nicaragua.

the FACE of WAR

Friends, this is a picture of the reality of war. 3 fathers holding their children that died from the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Do I condone the terrorists from Palestine? Not at all...I don't condone violence no matter who it is. The headline reads, A War without END

One of the many changes we experience here in Nicaragua is the news coverage of the world, pictures and images we would never see in a US newspaper. We have seen a new side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it has been heartbreaking.

For many years I believed in the cause of a "just war", but in the past several years have been slowly changing my beliefs, and have now come to the conclusion that there is never a good enough reason to kill somebody. Who are we to put ourselves in the place of God and decide if another person should live or die? I would not be willing to tell the fathers and mothers in this picture that their child died as a sacrifice to peace. Would you?

There are no winners in war, only losers. Sadly, too many innocents suffer.

Thursday, January 8

Happy New Year 2009!

(bottom row, from Left to Right: Roberto Jr. (son of Ruth), Joel (Ruth's husband), Ruth (daughter of Roberto), Nathaniel, Ever (son of Damaris)
top row, L to R: Candida, Roberto, Macdonald, Damaris (daughter of Roberto), Jacqueline (niece of Roberto), Zachariah, Steve and Colleen)

We enjoyed a fun New Year's Eve. First we went to a church service from 6-8 (which means it didn't actually start until almost 7, and went until 9:30), where we had communion. I didn't partake of the wine as I wasn't too sure about drinking wine due to the pregnancy. Then we went over to Roberto's house and celebrated with his family by stuffing ourselves with Navideño relleno (a delicious mixture of shredded chicken, pork, mustard, ketchup, raisins, worcestershire sauce and bread cubes), rice and beet salad.
(Candida mixing up the pot of relleno below)

All of us stuffing our faces with the food....yum!

The kids had a good time with the hand sparklers and playing together. At midnight, the neighborhood and most of the Matagalpa sky exploded with all sorts of fireworks.

They have an interesting tradition here...many people fill up a large paper bag, in the shape of a person, with all kinds of fireworks and at midnight, light him up and run away. The streets were littered with pieces of fireworks and bags. We finally drove home around 1:30 and crawled into bed with full stomachs and lightened hearts from fun and lively conversation.

Monday, January 5

Dec 25th

We had a relaxing and fun time spending Christmas day with Roberto's family. We started off with opening up our stockings and enjoying the small treats we got for one another, or as Zachariah exclaimed to me excitedly, Look what Jesus gave me! Roberto's family started to arrive around 1pm and spent most of the afternoon enjoying the food, making jokes and watching the children play (there are 4 kids in their family).

Sorry to say I don't have more pictures...after the turkey was in the oven, I spent most of the day playing hostess, and the camera sat idly on the counter top, surrounded by mashed potatoes, carrots and stuffing. And I must say that I have a new, profound respect for the pre-stuffing mix box days...I spent 2 hours bent over the Nicaraguan-height counters making 18 cups of stuffing and went to bed with a severe ache in my shoulders, but Steve said it was the best stuffing he ever ate! So it was worth it, although I doubt I'll be doing that again any time soon :)

My ever-helpful husband preparing the potatoes.

Stuffed and ready to go!

My coconut macaroon pie ready to bake. Sometimes I have the worst time lighting the matches to light the stove!! When we walk outside our kitchen we are outside, and with 2 large windows (not glass, but with glass dampers), there is such a draft, I hardly have time to light the match before the wind blows it out.

Drum Roll Please...

This is for you Alan...You were right on about the Toyota.

4 cylinder, diesel
24 mpg
Hard Top
4 speed manual

Don't know if yours was this way, Alan, but 15 seconds with the block heater is a requirement before every start, otherwise you drain the battery. Found that one out the hard way the first weekend that I had it :)
Here are a few indoor pics, as requested. Note the lack of defrost or any type of climate controls. Everything is in km. Steve remembers riding in your Jeep, Alan, through the mountains of Tegucigalpa.

We love the cavernous glove compartment and spacious interior.