Friday, September 25

What's LOVE got to do with it????

A few weeks ago I felt like I went through a week of chastisement…not from my husband, but from God. He talked to me about several areas in my life, one of which was…LOVE. I read through 1 Corinthians chapter 13, what is commonly known as the love chapter. This chapter is familiar to me; I’ve read it countless times. However, this time was different. The first few verses seemed to come alive for me. I felt like I understood them, not just in my head, but in my heart as well. The Spanish language has two words that mean “to know”. The first, saber, means you know the facts on something, the data. Your head knows it. The other word is conocer. And this means you intimately know somebody or something; your heart knows them. For instance, I know (saber) about Antarctica but I don’t know (conocer) Antarctica. There are lots of people that know (saber) about God, but don’t know (conocer) Him as their Father and Friend. I felt like most of my life I had known (saber) the verses but never known (conocer) them.

I heard God tell me, “It doesn’t matter if you attend a million-member church, or wear designer clothes. If you don’t have love, then you have nothing.” It doesn’t matter if I am a supermom and can bake all kinds of goodies, home school seven children and keep a nice garden…if I don’t have love, than I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I move half-way across the world to become a missionary and minister to the poor….if I don’t love, than I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I am a pastor or an amazing speaker and people want to read my books or blogs…if I don’t have love, I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I have a business, serve on several committees and have appointments every night of the week….if I don’t have love, than I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I’m a worship leader or travel the nations and lead healing and deliverance teams…if I don’t have love, I have nothing. God was telling me that none of my efforts really matter if I don’t love or have love. Like the Bible says, if I know and understand all mysteries, but have not love, I have nothing. If I have prophetic powers and have faith so as to move mountains but have not love, I have nothing.

So of course I asked God, Well, what is love? And I only had to continue reading a few verses down to see that

Love is patient,
love is kind
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude
Love does not insist on its own way
love is not irritable or resentful
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
Love never fails

God also reminded me of what 1 John chapter 4 says about love. Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. If we know God, then we love Him and He abides in us. But if we say we love God but hate our brother or sister, we are liars. So John was saying that we can believe in God and be saved, but still not love!

God showed me how I “hate” my brothers and sisters in my own life. Every time I gossip about somebody, talk behind their back or criticize them, I am not loving them. Every time I don’t give them the benefit of the doubt or am not patient with them, I am not loving them. Every time I am angry with somebody and don’t try to reconcile with them, but let my anger turn to bitterness or resentment, I am not loving them. Ouch!

I felt so convicted, and I realized that I have not fulfilled the greatest commandment…To Love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. “but God,” I said. “This seems so impossible. Loving people that seem so unlovable is…hard!” and once again, God gave me the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew, “With God, all things are possible. Do you believe this?”

Indeed…do I truly believe this? Do I believe that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, can help me to love people unconditionally, no matter how many times they hurt me, criticize me, gossip about me, ignore me or make fun of me? I took a big swallow, croaked out a Yes! And took God’s hand. Suddenly, my view of the world changed…people are no longer nosy, abusive, critical, or liars. They are wounded, afraid and deceived, in need of a healing Savior. God sent His son Jesus to die for them, just like He died for me. And they are all God’s children.

Friday, September 18

Hanging around the house

Just a few odd and end pictures of us around the house. Also celebrating some of Seb's latest achievements...sitting on his own and finding his feet!

Farm of Juan de Dios

A few weeks ago we were fortunate to go visit a friend's farm outside of Matagalpa. We enjoyed the peace and quiet as he showed us the dairy cattle and 100 yr old house. We enjoyed a light fare of freshly made corn tortillas with some of the best cuajada we have ever eaten. The boys enjoyed running around the "yard", whacking trees, digging up dirt and swinging on the hammocks. The best part was when we got to ride the horse. Zachariah wasn't too sure until Nathaniel went for a ride...and Nathaniel wanted to take off down the road! I told him next time :) This was Steve's first time getting on a horse, he enjoyed it, although he had saddle butt the next day!

Wednesday, September 9

Tour of Steve's project

Last week we were graced to host a few MCCers that wanted to see Steve's project: Mark Epp, director of Latin America, Angela Opimi, country rep for Nicaragua and Costa Rica and David, who works for MCC out of Managua.

They arrived Thursday evening, and after a pleasant dinner at home and light conversation, they retired until the following morning. They left bright and early the next morning and were able to see most of Steve's project. Several communities are not reachable at this point due to work on the road. The only way in is to walk, and it's a long hike.

Below: Nacho's new pila (or rock storage tank), made possible by materials that Steve delivered. Nacho (at left) and his son Uriel (at right). These pilas are made from cut rock, rebar and cement. These are the "norm" when it comes to water storage; however, notice that there is no top, leading to contamination and mosquito problems. However, several people in his project did not want the ferrocement tanks, even though they cost less, are easier to build and are more sanitary. Change is hard for some people.

David (in background) looks at some of Lesling's (another of Nacho's sons) rabbit houses, made with materials donated by Steve's project.

David, Angela and Mark joke around with Uriel (sitting).

Mark looks at the goat house of Maria Concepcion.

The ferrocement tank at the school in Yucul, constructed in July.

Sergio (at left) explains to David his design for a combination chicken/goat house. Sergio is also the mason who has helped to construct several ferrocement tanks in several communities.

Birthday party

Last week we celebrated Candida's birthday (thought about asking how old, then thought better of it :) Most of her family was there, including Abby and ourselves. We enjoyed a light dinner of tacos (rolled, fried tortillas filled with shredded chicken and veggies), sang a few songs, watched the kids run around the play and enjoyed some good conversation.

Candida's son's girlfriend takes a turn at holding Sebastian.

Candida's daughter, Damaris, with several granddaughters.

Candida's husband, Roberto, holds Sebatian while belting out a tune (they have several songs they sing at birthdays, not just Happy Birthday)

The birthday girl herself! (to her left, son-in-law Joel, starting at her right is the pastor of the church, other son-in-law Macdonald playing guitar, and then some strange white guy showed up :)

Tuesday, September 8

collector's item? By Steve

I enjoy following the Philadelphia Eagles, so Saturday when we went out for ice cream I couldn't resist this unique piece of memorabilia. A street vendor walked by selling blow-up balls and other trinkets that I was not interested in, but I immediately noticed that he was wearing this hat. I didn't immediately ask him to sell it to me, but after thinking about it a bit I figured I would never have another opportunity to buy one so I chased him down and asked him sell me his hat. He looked at me a bit strangely and said, "no". I returned to the ice cream shop figuring I had tried and failed. After about 5 minutes he showed up outside and waved for me to come out. We negotiated a bit and I eventually bought it for $7.50. Granted it's not new, but I doubt whether you have one.

Monday, September 7


After scouring the country these past two months, Steve finally found his prize: Good quality milking goats. A broker of sorts spent a few days gathering a herd of 13 goats and Steve took the 1 hr trip down to Cuidad Dario to check them out. For the most part they looked good, two were already milking and most were pregnant, so Steve bought the lot (you can only buy lots of animals here). The man offered to bring the goats up to the communities for a small fee, to which Steve readily accepted (he wasn't about to load 13 goats into the back of our Jeep!)

The man called the night before and said he would be leaving at dawn (around 5 am) from Dario, and would meet Steve at the entrance to Matagalpa. So we got up around 5 and awaited the phone call to say he had arrived. 6 am came and went. 7 am came and went. Around 8 am, Steve called to see what was up. The man said a goat had gotten caught in the fence and died, and then he had some engine trouble on the way up and was awaiting parts. I wanted to throw up my hands in exasperation but just shook my head. Such is life here.

20 minutes later he called to say he had arrived. We hurried out the door and met up with him. After checking out the goats and paying up, we headed over to get into the Jeep to show him the way when he casually mentioned that he and his buddies hadn't eaten yet and were going to grab some grub. What happened to leaving at dawn, I thought? This is so typical for Nicaragua...I just chuckled.

An hour later, we are off! Dropping off the first goat. Vicente walked an hour to pick up his goat and the people waiting at the local bus stop stared in fascination. Goats are hard to come by in Nicaragua. Here, pigs and meat sheep are the major animals.

Maria Concepcion holds the rope to her first milking goat...she seemed a bit hesitant, but a big smile lit her face when Steve grabbed the goat's teat and a spray of milk came out!

Ah...after a long day of bumping and rocking down dusty roads...heading home.

Click on the link at right to see more pictures.

Corn Fair 2009 (Feria de Maiz)

Welcome to the Matagalpa corn fair 2009! Held during the height of the corn harvest, this fair boasts all kinds of food and drink made from corn, as well as music, flowers and artistic commodities for sale. Yes, it is possible to eat an entire meal made from corn. Start with a piece of guirila (a tortilla made from young sweet corn, has a nice sweet flavor), topped with a piece of cuajada (soft and salty farmer's cheese), tamale dulce (corn dough with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top, wrapped in a banana leaf) and wash it down with a corn drink.

Below: walking to the fair. This year there was an area just for kids, with two jumping houses and small rides. $.50 bought the two boys 10 minutes in the jumping house. They had a blast jumping around and crashing into each other.

People await the famous guirila, cooking on a hot griddle.

Tuesday, September 1

San Rafael del Norte

About two weeks ago Steve and I took a vacation day and decided to strike out and head north to see what else Nicaragua has to offer. We heard rumors of a dam built in 1964 that created a monstrous lake...and offered great swimming and huge fish. So with great excitement we headed off. Our only constraint was that we had to be back by 4 pm, when our housekeeper heads home. So we took a new "highway" towards the city of of fresh vegetables, coffee and beautiful flowers.

Below, the city of Jinotega in the distance.

After riding the bumps on the highway that winds past the city, we soon found the well as men fishing from what boats similar to canoes and cows serenely walking through the shallow areas.

After a while we headed into the town of San Rafael and found a beautiful cathedral, considering the size of the town.

We watched some boys playing soccer for a bit, ate some lunch at a tiny comedor, and then headed back towards the lake to find the dam. After asking several people for directions (although later we realized only 1 knew what he was talking about), we found ourselves on a bumpy dirt road that gave us glimpses of the lake through vine-infested trees, coffee shrubs and the occasional cow. After 2 hours of following the lake, we saw no end in sight and decided to turn back. All in all, it was a good day; we enjoyed the relative peace and quiet with the wind rushing through our hair (or should I say, my hair?). Sebastian was a good sport, as usual and kept us grinning.