Archive for April 2012

The heat is on

April 30, 2012

It is not a coincidence that a year and 10 days ago, I posted this Letter to the Sun.

Life here in Nicaragua is once again a hot and sticky mess. It is that awkward time between dry season and rainy season.

We are experiencing the time of the year that locals compare to a pressure cooker – the pressure builds and builds until it explodes into a thunderstorm.

Unfortunately it has been 8 days since the last thunderstorm and the pressure continues to build daily.

Necessities:

1. A daily “heat escape” plan

Our favorite escapes include McDonalds, a fresh juice place, Pizza Hut, the mall, the grocery store, the movie theater, etc…

2. At least 2 showers a day

This is an ironic necessity because this is also the time of the year with the most water shortages.

3. Carrying a hanky with you to mop the sweat off of your forehead

The hanky doubles as a fan!

4. Ice

Ice water, iced coffee, ice cold coke…

5. Hourly cloud analysis

Are those huge white clouds going to turn into thunderheads?!

What keeps us going?

The hope that comes with the 10 degree drop in the temperatures right before it rains

The fun Russian roulette of: will I get soaking wet on my way home or not? Should I take my umbrella or not? Should I bring the laundry in from outside?

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The Good Samaritan

April 23, 2012

The Good Samaritan retold – Nicaragua 2012

The following story is true except for the parts that I’ve made up:

One Saturday night the members of a church small group were discussing the Biblical commandment to love one’s neighbor. Everyone heartily agreed that loving their neighbor was an essential part of being a Christian citing the story in Luke 10 where Jesus affirms that loving others goes hand in hand with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

However, some people in the group were having a hard time picturing what exactly love for one’s neighbor looked like and who should be included in our definition of “neighbor”. The small group leader began to tell them the following story:

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived in Matagalpa, a city located three hours by bus from Managua. The woman had been abused by her husband and kicked out of her house by her family. Her new born baby was sick with respiratory problems and desperately needed medical attention. Not knowing what else to do, the women gathered her belongings, what little money she had, her new born baby and her 10 year old son and headed for the capital, knowing that at least there she could find decent medical attention for her suffering baby girl in one of the public hospitals.

After spending 24 excruciating long nights and days in the hospital, all three crowded into a small room that they shared with another patient, the doctor gave her the joyous news that her baby girl would be ok. He then let her know that they had to leave the hospital immediately because there were others who needed the hospital bed more than they did.

The young mother left the hospital joyful but scared with basically no money and no where to go. She sat on the curb outside the hospital watching people busily pass by going about their business. As she rested there and took stock of her situation a feeling of dread washed over her and she began to cry.

As she was crying a young missionary couple passed by the hospital. They saw the mother and her two children with hungry, blank stares on their faces and said to one another, “This woman and her children need help, we should go see what’s wrong.” But then they quickly realized, “Even though we have an extra room in our house we couldn’t let her stay with us. We both have important jobs to do and are gone from the house all day and we can’t leave her alone in our home.” They quickly passed by on the other side of the street.

A little while later a church leader passed by and saw the family still sitting by the curb looking hopeless, tired, sick and hungry. The church leader felt sorry for the family and asked what was wrong. When the mother explained the families situation the church leader exclaimed, “Ay pobrecitos,” and gave them 50 cordobas. Feeling good about herself for helping the poor and needy she left for her Tuesday night Bible study.

Around 8:00pm that night it had already gotten dark and the mother was terrified contemplating spending the night on the street in a city that she knew was dangerous, especially after dark. Just as she was losing it and starting to sob a black man from the Atlantic Coast who was one his way home from work stopped and asked her what was wrong. At first she was petrified, she had heard many stories about these “Negros” all saying they were dangerous and could not be trusted. Not knowing where else to turn,  she  began telling her terrible story to the stranger.

The man, who had two small twin children at home was moved to tears with compassion for the woman. He hailed a cab, gathered the mother and her children inside and headed for home.

When they arrived at home the man’s wife greeted them with a worried look on her face but after hearing of the family’s situation she knew just what to do. They shared a simple meal with the newcomers of rice, beans, and fried plantains and after supper tucked their exhausted guests into the only bed in the house while the family slept on the floor. The black family assured the young mother that she could stay for as long as she needed until she was able to get back on her feet.

When the leader finished the story the group sat in stunned silence, scandalized. Why would their leader tell a story where a black family who probably wasn’t even Christian where the heros? The leader ended by asking, “Who showed the best example of Jesus’s  love in this story? We should go then and do likewise.”

Central American Anabaptist Youth Convention

April 16, 2012

Since August of last year, Adam and I have had the priveledge of working on the planning committee of the annual Anabaptist youth convention that was held last week here in Nicaragua. We welcomed 85 youth from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico! It was such a blessing to see all of our hard work come to life.

Here’s how our week broke down:

Sunday, April 1st

  • Hosted a participant from Mexico

Marisa and Elisa during the cultural night

  • Went to Masaya to buy typical shirts for the staff to wear during the event
  • Went to church
  • Ate a typical Nicaraguan dinner of carne asada, gallo pinto and tajadas

Delicious dinner shared with new friends

Monday, April 2nd

  • Worked and worked…

Marisa's plan for registration. Marisa was in charge of logistics for the event.


Tuesday, April 3rd

  • ADAM’S BIRTHDAY!!!
  • After a long day of work, we slipped away to our favorite Italian restaurant to celebrate

Wednesday, April 4th

  • 1am – Adam arrives at the bus station to wait for participants from Guatemala and Belize
  • 4:30am – Adam falls into bed
  • 7am – time to get up again and start final preparations!!

Decorations for the main meeting space.

Preparing name tags, room assignments, workshop passes, etc. before the arrival of the participants.

Thursday, April 5th

  • Start of the Convention!!
  • Marisa in charge of the registration tables – everything runs smoothly!
  • Opening session, first round of workshops, delicious lunch
  • Cultural Night that included a fair and presentations from each country

Costa Rican folkloric dance presented during the cultural night.

Puerto Rican dance at cultural night.

Friday, April 6th

  • More sessions: Anabaptist Identity, Interpersonal Relationships
  • Continuing the workshops
  • Pool time!
  • Formal night with final worship service

"Friendship Groups" met four times during the convention for Bible studies and other activities designed to get youth reflecting on God's will for the church and for us as individuals.

With our friend Alex from the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary in Guatemala who led a plenary session on "Anabaptist Identity".

All the youth gathered in the pavilion in front of the pool during the "Formal Night" where youth were called to make a commitment to serve Jesus by continuing his work and ministry.

Saturday, April 7th

  • Session on Christian sexuality
  • Last workshops
  • Assembly to make decisions for future conventions – 2013 Convention will be in Costa Rica!
  • Trip to an artisan market with the Hondurans in their school bus!
  • Crash….hard:)

"The Human Knot" game illustrates possible responses to conflict during the Conflict Transformation workshop.


Presentation during the "Worship Music" workshop.

Partipants learn pantomime and acting techniques for use in worship and evangelism during the "Prophetic Expression" workshop.

We cannot express our gratitude to all our friends and family who made donations to make this event possible. It was truly a blessing to have participated in the planning and execution of the event. The experience has been one of the highlights of our time in Nicaragua so far. We believe the event was truly life-giving for all those involved and hope that everyone who attended left with a stronger commitment to serve God, each other, and their communities.

The following is a quote from a youth serving and working in Honduras with MCC who was able to attend the convention:

“I had the immense privelege of attending the JUAMCA (Young Anabaptist Mennonites of Central America) retreat during Holy Week, a gathering of about 70 from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica that may have been the best retreat of my whole life.  It was at a beautiful hotel/camp near Managua, Nica, had great food, amazing planning and staff, super-relevant seminars, intense bible-studies in mixed groups, workshops in worship, leadership, and prophetic drama, recreation, blessed worship and preaching, and a night where we all shared from our cultures.  No one went away without being freed, blessed, and having a deepened sense of what it is to be the international body of Christ. Wow.”