Archive for August 2011

One year later…

August 27, 2011

On August 25 Marisa and I completed one year here in Nicaragua!  Here are a few of our deeper thoughts on this past year.

Living in Nicaragua has taught us to live life more spontaneously, to go with the flow, and most importantly to learn to be content with not always being in control, because after all life is too big and too complex and too surprising for us to need to be in control all the time.

At a Mennonite youth retreat. Pedro Luis, the guy holding the balloon is a good friend of ours.

This lesson has been learned through the various activities Marisa and I have tried to plan with friends here in Nicaragua.  Whether it’s birthday parties, watching championship soccer matches, or church youth activities our best-made plans rarely work out how we had envisioned.  However, instead of letting this frustrate us, we have learned to embrace it and enjoy the ride.  This had led to never quite knowing who may show up at the party or when they will arrive, menus that always include rice, surprise appearances by folkloric dance groups, watching a soccer game outside on our back dirt plot, and playing embarrassing ice-breaker games that we would never have imagined existed in The States.

Grilling in our back yard

The futbol fans

While these variables and surprises still cause us planning happy North Americans a certain level of stress, they also serve to remind us that we as individuals are not ultimately in control of our lives and that we serve a God who often does the unexpected.

– Written by Adam

Life in Nicaragua is full of ironies or juxtapositions. As MCCers, we feel like our “mission” is to live simply and accompany Nicaraguans in their daily life. Some days this feels like an impossible task – all I want to do is eat pizza and watch a movie. Other days it feels like the way we live our lives is so above and beyond the level of our Nicaraguan friends and co-workers. People unabashedly ask us how much we pay for rent ($200/month), and we often feel bad recounting our vacations.

Our front patio...back when it wasn't an overgrown jungle.

We have been blessed with friends who, despite our differences, understand where we’re coming from. The church has given us grace because we can’t attend all 3 services each and every week, our fellow MCCers understood when we were overwhelmed with handwashing our laundry, and our Nicaragua co-workers understand when we use the wrong word for something and have to explain ourselves.

Our friend Marcos shared his birthday party with Adam.

MCC team

We also have to give ourselves grace and recognize where we are coming from. When people see us on the street, they automatically associate us with wealth. My favorite  is seeing the looks on people’s faces when I get on the public bus. No one believes me when I say I ride the buses, and they are generally surprised when I list off the bus routes that I’m comfortable riding. No other place do I feel as connected to the average Nicaraguan as when I’m riding a stifiling bus at 5pm.

So, life here is not easy, predictable, or free of irony – but that’s what makes it interesting!

– Written by Marisa


How do you measure a year?

August 25, 2011

First day in Nicaragua - at our welcome party in the MCC office.

Things we love:

  • The rhythm of Nicaraguan Spanish
  • Cold showers. An absolute necesity after a long sweaty day. Also helps you to fall asleep in the heat.
  • A good thunderstorm

Things we hate:

  • The reality of children who beg at the stoplights
  • Machismo
  • Littering/Trash. There’s lots of it. Everywhere.

Things we have learned:

  • To live spontaneously
  • To chug water
  • Lots of Nica-slang – chavalo, chigüines, tuani, salvaje, chancha, chanchada, chunche, panza, chiltoma, chapas, chinelas, trompa, pinolero, “andás ___?” (sencillo, dinero, un reloj), peluche, vos form (sabés, pensás), “Que Dios te bendiga”, “No hombre!”

Things we do automatically:

  • Throw all toilet paper into the trash
  • Upon entering a room, greet everyone with a handshake and/or kiss on the cheek depending on the relationship. Also, often accompanied by “Que Dios le bendiga” (God bless you). The typical response is “Amen”. That took a while to catch on to – for a while we said “Gracias”.
  • Move the fans around.  Its always good to have air blowing on you wherever you are.

Embarrasing moments:

  • Being told by our host parents that in order for Marisa’s deep skin wound to heal we should refrain from certain activites in the bedroom. The wound was located on the back of her neck.
  • The first bucket shower at our host family. Marisa goes first, sees there’s only one 5 gallon bucket full of water so she just uses half of it, wanting to save some water for her husband. Adam uses the other half. Turns out our host dad bathes with 5 bucket fulls of water. Oops…
  • The first morning Adam stumbles over to the host parent’s side of the house without his glasses to ask them a question. What he saw was the fuzzy, topless image of our host mom. Or our host sister, he wasn’t sure.

Things we are looking forward to:

  • Visits from our families!!
  • Continuing to work and learn new things at our jobs
  • An article about the library coming out in MCC’s magazine.

During our anniversary trip in August 2011.

How do you measure a year in the life:

  • in gallo pinto: 1,349 (approximation. Eaten every morning and evening while living with host family, and since then every time we need a fast meal).
  • in bus rides around Managua: 745 (approx.)
  • in bars of chocolate received from home: at least 15. Each and every one was greatly enjoyed:)
  • in visitors we’ve had: 9…32 if you count the EMU cross-cultural group.
How do you measure a year in life? How about love!
We know, it’s cheesy – couldn’t help it.

The telephone game

August 20, 2011


There are many funny English translations we’ve seen in Nicaragua. Today we bought a new telephone and we read the manual just to make sure we knew how it worked.

It was very helpful…


The function usage of this manual explains, the real object function not necessarily has all. Regard real object as to allow.


Welcome usage this telephone, use this telephone is a latest development of, advanced the design of IC in adoption ;The function is strong and big, is you ideal choice.


1, attention:Should install in the dry and well ventilated place, avoid exploding to bask in the sun.

2, insert the plug of the telephone line rope to the electric outlet of the size of cowgirl respectively, the straight electric wire is on carrying to connect with each other with outside line electric outlet.

3, exchange the type of sytem of the machine according to the native telephone, turn the “P/T” switch to the position of cowgir.


According to the demand, please turn the P the switch of T to the position between P or T.


During dialing press this keya 3.6s pause will be inserted bet ween the two digits. This function is used to the extension dialing.


During your private conversation, by bressing and hold the MUTE button.the caller will bit be able to hear your voice.reset the MUTE button to re-normal the conversation.


Press the REDIAL. Can immediately stir just the telephone number that stired


Press the FLASH, The line will be broken for100ms (Or 1000MSs) to get the new diaing tone.


When flash is the “R” botton user can conferenco.

*transcribed directly from the telephone manual

Celebrations #2

August 12, 2011

As I promised before, here are some pictures of our anniversary getaway to the nearby colonial town of Granada.  Marisa and I have already visited this picturesque city several times and this time, instead of trekking around to see the historical and tourist sights, we were hoping for a few days of rest and relaxation.

We stayed at a beautiful,small hotel where only one other guest was staying so we really were able to unwind in a very peaceful environment.  As you will see, the place where we stayed had a great outdoor pool area, the best of any we’ve seen in Granada so far, and we spent at least part of every day just laying by or in the pool and reading.  We also rented bikes and explored new areas of Granada we’ve never seen before and on Sunday night attended the worship service of the Granada Mennonite Church, one of the four churches with school programs that participates in the Mobile Library Project.

The trip was a much needed break from work, household chores, and the heat and dust of Managua.  We returned home feeling some regret at leaving such a perfect refuge, but also feeling renewed and ready to jump back in to the exciting work we’re doing here in Nicaragua.

Great pool area with floaties for maximum relaxation.

Comfy hammock and other inviting spaces to lounge with a book.

We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, home-made muffins, and juice every morning.

View from outside our room, you can faintly see the Mombacho volcano in the background.

With our bikes in front of the old fort "La Pólvora".

Marisa with her classic yellow bicycle.

Biking down a street we'd never been on before led us to a gorgeous view of the Cathedral.


August 8, 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to know, between blog posts, emails, facebook, skype conversations, and telephone calls, the image we are portraying of our life here in Nicaragua.  While our time working with MCC in Nicaragua has, in many ways, been one of the most difficult times in our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually we have also found a lot of joy here in Nicaragua.  Despite the difficulties, Marisa and I are, simply stated, happy.  Our lives feel very full and very rich with work, friends, and daily living.  In this blog post we want to share pictures of two important celebrations that we’ve had here over the past few months: Marisa’s birthday in June and our 4th wedding anniversary last week.

Marisa was lucky enough to have two birthday parties this year!  First we celebrated with church and MCC friends at our old Host Family’s house after our weekly small group meeting…

Marisa received a special birthday serenade by Pancho as Pastor Efrain and our host mom Margarita watch.

Marisa and MCCer Laura who returned to The States in June.

Marisa, Laura, Lloyd, and Angela fellow MCC workers.

Friends from church and small group members, our good friend Pamela is the person closest to the camera.

Marisa and I with the special birthday cake made by Pamela’s mother-in-law, gotta love that shiny, sweaty glow:)

Everyone knows Marisa is a big partier 😉  We had another party at our house two days later for MCCers and other friends that couldn’t attend the party at our host parent’s house…

Pamela helped us prepare chicken tacos for the party.  You can also see the kitchen of our new house.

MCCer David and friend Pedro making their tacos.

Our friend Marcos, who always has something up his sleeve, is friends with a guy who is forming a folkloric dancing group.  As a surprise for Marisa they gladly came and performed several songs on our front patio.

These chavalos were really good!

Lovely ladies on our front patio.

Our good friend David.

Well this post has gotten really long!  To be continued with the promised pics from our recent anniversary trip…