Wednesday, January 27

Poor ME!

The other night I complained on Facebook about how I was feeling. I wasn’t feeling very well. Not very well at all. It’s been 4 weeks. And it feels like I will never get better.

Later that night, as I was drifting off to sleep and ending my prayers, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Looking up, it was God. He gently reminded me that complaining was not something I should spend my time doing. Immediately, I remembered the verses:

In all things, give thanks.

Do all things without grumbling or complaining. (Boy, do I like to tell my kids this verse. But it’s hard being on the other side!)

Rejoice always; again I say, rejoice.

Now why do you think the author of that verse said it twice? Because we may not have really read it the first time, we may have just glossed right over it? Because it was SO important?

Steve and I have some sermons on tape and CD that we listen to fairly frequently. And what do you know, the one we had just listened to that night was about rejoicing! It talked about especially rejoicing in the hard times, about how rejoicing is a spiritual weapon that doesn’t give Satan a foothold for self-pity, or envy, or even pride.

And what do I really have to complain about? I have an amazing, loving husband. Three beautiful boys. Food and clothing and shelter. And the God of the universe loves ME. He loves ME just the way I am.

I remembered the little children that had come to my door that day, dirty, with torn clothing…and so young. Some as young as Nathaniel. Roaming the streets by themselves, surviving any way they can. Asking ME for some food, water, anything.

I thought of the children in Africa, orphaned or dying from AIDS.

The earthquake in Haiti.

The war in Afghanistan.

The starving in North Korea.

The persecuted church in Indonesia and China.

The drug-violence in Mexico.

The millions of girls and women in Southeast Asia who are sex slaves.

And the millions around the world who are starved for hope and slaves to alcohol and drugs.

And here I am complaining. I felt ashamed. The next time I tell my boys to do All things without complaining, I will also remind myself.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Philippians 4:6

Gallo Pinto and Rice and Beans

With only 6 months left in our term, naturally some of my thoughts have turned toward the US, wondering what kind of place we are going to live in, the change of pace (more rushed), schooling for Zachariah, what kind of work will Steve have, being close to family again, and yes, even the food.

You see, we eat a lot of rice and beans here. Daily. For breakfast and supper. For lunch we add some veggies and 3 days a week, meat.

We almost NEVER eat casseroles, because although we have an oven, it is terribly expensive to cook with the oven. It’s small and not insulated, so the heat comes right out the sides. So we don’t bake very often. And cheese here is VERY expensive. Once in a while we’ll treat ourselves to mozzarella or even cheddar (I think we’ve bought cheddar twice since we came here).

But we generally eat like Nicaraguans. And we like it. The food here is surprisingly tasty, and the boys gobble it right up. Zach especially likes the corn tortillas with ketchup on the side. His favorite dish is an enchilada. A fried tortilla with refried beans, shredded cheese, and a type of coleslaw on top. He easily eats 4, or 5, or 6 of those, one right after the other!

We usually get our tortillas from the market a few blocks down. Here you can see they make the tortillas right in front of you. There are two stations, one on the left side and one behind. The lady thought it was funny that I wanted to take a picture of them making tortillas. Cost? You can buy 20 corn tortillas for $1.

We’ve tried fish soup a few times. Here, they throw the whole fish in the pot. Here, you can buy almost all your food on the street, except beef and chicken. Starting around 6 in the morning, people carrying buckets or balancing baskets on their head, sell vegetables, milk, fruit, tortillas and fish. They yell out their wares while walking down the sidewalk. One day we heard some men yelling they were selling fish. Running to the door, we looked out and saw a small pick-up truck, driving slowly down the street while men walked beside it. We hailed them and they stopped. In the back of the truck were several large ice boxes, which contained all kinds of fish, some as long as me! They quickly drew a crowd, and after some discussion, we decided to buy just one fish for some soup. The man assured us that it was not very spiny and had good flavor. It was a beautiful fish and the man was right, the soup was delicious!



Monday, January 18

The Professional Pictures

I know, it's hard to believe, but yes, they actually have photography studios here in Nicaragua. And they do a pretty good job, I'm impressed with their work. and it's fast!!! (That's what I love most :)

So here are the pictures of my little men, Seb at 7 mo, Thane at 3 yrs and Zach at 6 yrs. (grandparents, you'll be getting a copy soon)

I know, I'll be fighting the girls off in a few more years...

Happy 9 months!

Here is my beautiful baby. Isn't he so handsome? I feel so blessed to have him in my life and he has been such a treasure and joy. His face radiates such fun and innocence, and his smile just couldn't get any bigger. He makes me smile just looking at him.

I hope he makes you smile too :)

Monday, January 11

New Years Eve surprise

Didn't do much for New Year's Eve as we had just gotten back from our travels and were tuckered out. However, we did have a surprise during supper. Zach was munching away on some enchiladas (fried tortillas with refried beans, cheese, shredded cabbage and tomatoes), spit something out on his plate, and continued to eat.

"What is that?" Steve asked me. I figured it was a piece of food that Zach didn't want, for whatever reason. As I picked it up to throw it out, I was Zach's tooth!!! And Zach didn't even realize it. When I showed him his tooth, he had a look of bewilderment on his face and then searched his mouth for where it might have come from. When he found the gap, he gave me a wide smile. He's been asking when he was going to start losing his teeth, like his friends, so he was pretty psyched about it.

Travels with Jenny and Simon

Some pictures from our travels with Steve's cousin and hubby

View from the top of the volcano Masaya

At a craft area we bought Zach a REAL slingshot...he absolutely loves it! but watch out little brothers Than and Seb...

This is where the women bake the crafts and then paint them. They sell the items from their house.

The Merced church, main street and main cathedral (in background) in Granada

View from the hotel where we stayed, right on the beach. It was beautiful! You can see a natural "pool" and volcanic rocks. There were concrete steps made to get into the pool, which is regenerated every time the tide comes in.

Saturday, January 2

the Best Christmas present ever

This year, I received the best Christmas gift ever – from my husband and myself – the gift of freedom.

Freedom from the stress and frantic rush of cards and gifts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to give gifts. I appreciate receiving them but I particularly enjoy giving them, knowing that I made someone’s day. Especially when I’m walking around and I see THE perfect gift for somebody I know. I also love to make photo books and albums for my family.

But this year, instead of enjoying writing Christmas cards and making the photo books, it felt…stressful and hectic. Buying, writing and sending cards is a lot of work in the US…but here, it’s twice as hard. You have to realize how different things are here in Nicaragua. They don’t sell boxes of cards here. They sell them 2 or 3 at a time. So I have to stop by the store every day for weeks in order to get enough cards for everybody on my list. Then the writing. And then I have to make sure I stop by the post office during its few morning hours (there are no such thing as mail boxes and remember, I have to walk all this, since Steve is working and I can’t drive the Jeep (try double parking with no power steering in the city…it’s pretty tough!)). The post office is a good 14 blocks away. All of this was taking a lot of time away from my family…and one of the great themes of Christmas time is spending time with family…how ironic!

If this was the season of love and joy, why was I feeling so harried? Something just didn’t seem right. Instead of enjoying time with my family, I was killing myself trying to buy and send cards, and trying to find time on the internet to make photo books.

It was then that I realized that I had lost touch with what was important, and after talking with Steve, decided to nix the gifts and send out only a few cards to our families. Suddenly, I had all this extra time!

And do you know what I did with it?

I played tag, had dashing sword fights, screaming tickle fights, made gigantic tents and delicious cookies. I had so much fun and I think my boys enjoyed my “presence” as a wonderful present for them as well. So if you’re wondering why you didn’t receive a Christmas card from us…now you know.

We thought of all of you this season, and hope that you, too, were able to enjoy time with your family and friends. Hard to believe that next Christmas we will be celebrating with some of you, drinking hot chocolate and trying to stay warm.

Christmas Eve

Traditionally, some families here in Nicaragua celebrate by having a midnight Christmas Eve dinner. Since midnight is a bit late for us, Candida agreed to have dinner ready around 10 or 10:30 (although we still didn’t get to bed until 2:30 am!). She made the traditional Christmas relleno (literally, the filling). It’s made with pork, chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, raisins, olives, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and other things. It sounds gross, but is actually one of the most delicious foods we have ever eaten. I hope to make it back in the US for our next Christmas. It is served with bread rolls, rice and salad.

My day started bright and early. I planned to make several desserts and a turkey for Roberto’s family. The menu included apple pie, lemon sponge pie, fannie hoover cookies, 7 layer salad, and turkey with stuffing (this year, I made it out of a box…I didn’t have time to make it from scratch like last year). This was the second time in their lives they had ever eaten turkey or apple pie…can you imagine?

Getting the gizzard out of the turkey

Jenny (Steve’s cousin) and Abby came over and spent the day at my house, helping to prepare the goodies. After a full day of chopping, rolling and baking, we headed over to Roberto’s house to await the arrival of Candida from work. While waiting for people to arrive, we all napped in turn…I don’t think I EVER took a nap at 8 pm before!

From left to right: Roberto, Simon and Hector share a joke.

As the family members slowly filtered in, everybody munched on the cookies and put the final touches on the relleno.

Around 10:30 we ate our fill, lit up some fireworks (a small incident occurred in which a spark landed on Nathaniel’s tongue, giving him a nice little white spot on the tip…he is fine now), ate some dessert and opened presents.
We finally headed home around 1:30. After all that excitement, I couldn’t go to sleep quite yet, so I stayed up and read a book until 2:30 and finally went to sleep.