I love all of the kids here. I feel like everywhere I got I get embraced with hugs from random kids. They like to be tossed in the air, spun in circles, and tickled. The children here are so precious. I am so blessed to have them in my life. Its fun to watch them make toys out of random things and entertain themselves. The older kids take care of the younger while the parents work. I have two young kids of about 2 who sit in one of my english classes each week with their older siblings. When I go to San Antonio to visit, there is one little girl who always seeks me out to hold my hand, and asks to be picked up. I am so excited for others from my church to come this summer to meet these kids and their families.
For the past few months I have been part of hosting an English Bible Study/ book study at the English Academy. Each week we get together with a number of students from the Academy, as well as English speakers around town, to talk about one of the chapters of “The Purpose Driven Life”. Last night we had a conversation about spiritual matters. Eric Harbinson led us in the questions of: What if any spiritual beliefs do you have?, Who to you is Jesus?, Do you believe in a real heaven and a real hell?, and If you died tonight would you go to heaven?. We gave everyone a chance to share about these questions in English, and had a great discussion with them afterwards. We learned that eternity is forever and ever and ever and ever, or siempre y siempre y siempre y siempre. We also talked about how no matter how many good works you do you can never earn your way into heaven. Afterwards we all headed out to the Pizza restaurant to continue some of the conversations and have a good time of fellowship. We also taught the new word of “Y’all” to the group. An important English word since most of our team comes from the southern part of the United States and use that word in every other sentence. Next week we will be talking about how to draw closer to God and have a more intimate relationship with Him.
One of our desires in Nicaragua has been to reach out to the youth. We have noticed that there is nothing to do most evenings in Matagalpa, so we decided to start up a youth group. These pictures are from our second meeting. We meet every other Saturday night in the English Academy. The first week there were about 65 people gringos and nicas combined. We did a scavenger hunt which basically amounted to a rousing game of “find the gringos”. In groups of four people ran around the city trying to find each of us, translating their clues and practicing their english, to get our signature. Afterwards, we practiced some English and Spanish songs. This past weekend we decided to do an activity that was a little bit more relaxed, aka no running, so we had a just dance competition on the Wii on the big screen. We also taught everyone to sing “lean on me” in english. The best singers, as well as those with the highest score on the Wii got a chance to shoot a basket out the academy window and into a giant inflatable hoop for the chance to win $20. We had two winners this past week to split the pot. We are excited to see what God does in this group and for him to open more doors into the youth’s lives.
Today I had the opportunity to teach English in a few different locations. I began my day teaching out in Lucinda Matilla, one of the communities neighboring the garbage dump that I teach in every week. This week I had 10 students, a few were unable to make it. It was just me teaching today, which is a fun challenge, because they are still in the beginning stages of learning English, and I am still learning Spanish, so they spend alot of time teaching me as well. We were working on adjectives and opposites today, and had alot of fun acting out the ones that I couldnt remember the Spanish word for. Afterwards we played a game to practice our vocabulary. I think that these kids are the most competitive that I have ever met. They yell at the top of their lungs every round, and I had one of their brothers, who I believe is about 2 1/2 now, running around shrieking. It was slight chaos, but we had fun. Afterwards one of the kids brought me back to the main part of the city. For a long time he was one of the kids that struggled the most in the class, and I had a hard time engaging, but it seems as though the language is starting to click more. He also has a job now, hes 13, and works at the cyber cafe after school each day. It is awesome to see how much he is growing and starting to talk more to other people.
Afterwards I went to meet my friend Jairo. Last year he was one of our translators, and he just got a job teaching English at one of the Universities in town. He asked me to come with him to help out this week. He has about 50 students, that are all beginners. It was funny, because once we got there I ran into two other teachers that I know as well, one from an English Bible study, and one who teaches at our academy. I also met the director of the program. About two minutes after meeting him he offered me a job teaching classes at the University. I politely declined, this is about the fourth time this week I have been offered this type job. So I went upstairs and helped Jairo teach his class, today we learned numbers, days of the week, months of the year, colors, and personal information questions. We were just getting ready for the next topic when the director came in and asked me to come and meet his class, of 90 students, also beginner. So I talked to them for awhile, and they were appalled when I said that I didnt root for Barcelona or Madrid specifically, at that point in time there was a huge match going on and the whole city was watching it on tv, people here are very attached to their teams, but we had a good time anyways. Then he brought me downstairs to meet the advanced class and talk some to them. It was like “show off the gringo” day. All in all lots of fun, I met some new people, got to talk up our activites at the academy, and share with them why I am here in Nicaragua. Hopefully God uses this to open some more doors.
Today I had to go to the capital city, Managua, to extend my visa. Here in Nicaragua you get a 90 visa and you can renew it for up to 90 additional days for a nominal cost before having to leave the country. My last attempt to renew failed because despite my directions, and asking numerous people how to get to the immigration office, Melissa and I could not find the office (however we did locate and shop in Pricesmart). So this morning I got up at 4:30, walked down my hill and met up with Erick to catch the 5:10 bus to Managua. We were able to catch an express bus, and due to the country wide celebration of Semana Santa last week, the bus was pretty packed. We got there just as it was pulling out and two hours later arrived in Managua. We then caught a taxi across town to immigration, and arrived about 30 minutes before they opened, and joined the line outside. Once they opened up, they refused to let Erick in with me, so I proceeded to move from one window to the next, waiting in various lines, ventured outside to consult Erick a few times for translation, like when they didnt take american money and I had to figure out where to change money, or what parts of the application to fill out since everyone gets the same application no matter why they are there. About 45 minutes later, we finished, caught a taxi to the bus station, and hopped on the bus back to Matagalpa just as it was pulling out again. Once we pulled out we realized we were not on an express bus, so we stopped 2-3 minutes to let people on and off. At each stop vendors would get on and try to sell various food and drinks, squeezing up and down the aisles that were already full with people. I shared a school bus seat with a lady and her 7 year old twin daughters. For awhile next to me, was a family with three kids under the age of five, and i bonded with their 6 month year old son, letting him play with my hair and sunglasses. At one point during our trip, we deviated from the highway and started along a road that runs next to the river, a different way then I have ever taken, and I leaned across the aisle to ask Erick where we were at. We concluded that this was where they drove out to the wilderness to kill all of us. Fortunately we were wrong, and after a 3 hour trip of sharing a bus with about 100 people, yes I counted, and I was at 114 at one point, but it was hard to keep track with people getting on and off. So I am now ok to stay in the country until I go back to Pennsylvania for my sister’s bridal shower.
Ever considered what your life would be like if you did not have ready access to water? I have gotten just a small taste of that, since they shut off my water every evening until the next morning and any water that I want to use comes out of a bucket. I have it easy. I can fill up the buckets earlier in the day from my sink and only have to walk 10 feet with them. Project 127 is working with two communities who are in desperate need of clean drinking water. In these communities clean drinking water is not 10 feet is not 10 feet away, but the only running water demands a long walk in the hot sun.
In San Antonio the river is about 1/2 a mile down a steep hill. This river is sustaining the village of about 200 people. They do their wash in the river, bath in the river, and get any drinking water from the same river. When I say river, it is more like the creeks that we have in the United States. The government in the La Dalia, the city closest to the community, has begun the project in bringingcleanwater straight into the community by bringing it down from the mountains via pipes, this is a common method for diverting water in Nicaraguam, however the government ran out of money part way through the project and has asked us if we can come alongside of them and help them. They estimate the rest of the cost to be about $3000 and this would allow them to bring water to each person’s home.
The other village that we work with is Delirio. This village is located at the top of the mountain. In fact the small road that goes up to the village is not really even passable by truck so when we go to visit, we hike up the mountain about 1/2 a mile. The closest water source for this community is a 2 mile walk. The other problem that both of these communities is that we are currently in Nicaraguan summer and dry season, which means that these water sources dwindle and dry up. The government told this community that they would have water by this past February, but after talking to them, they have told us that they are out of money. For this community we are interested in drilling a well, with a machine that we already have here in country, and building a cistern to hold water for the community. In order to do this the cost is about $3500.
Would you consider joining with us to help sponsor one of these projects and make a difference in these communities lives? Any donations for these projects can be made on our website at Project127.org under water projects San Antonio. All donations are tax-deductible. Pray with us as we work in these communities. Think of them when you turn on your faucet in your home and you get clean water.
Things have been so crazy busy lately. I moved into a new apartment, got settled in, got a kitten, helped a friend fix up her house, and taught a number of classes. After moving into the new apartment, a friend of mine found out that I was interested in getting a cat, so a few days later she brought a kitten over to my house. She is the perfect addition to my house, cute and cuddly, but loves to play as well. I am still working on a name for her, but she should have some identity sometime soon. My friend Melissa and I have been comparing the number of things that we have learned how to do since moving here to Nicaragua, things that we would rely on someone else for if we were in the United States such as rewiring my shower, taking apart and moving bunkbeds, moving another bunkbed up a windy metal staircase,…One of the funniest was when Melissa and I picked up her cousin at the airport, and on the way back decided to buy a bunkbed for her house so since it didnt come apart really, we just put it in the back of the truck and sat in the bed and forcibly held the bunkbed in it all the way back to Matagalpa, about 2 hours. So this week, I have spent alot of time helping Melissa and her cousin Joe fix up her house, painting, buying furniture, wiring up electronics, it has been great spending time with some americans and getting to talk actually in english.
Every Saturday morning, I have been teaching English out in one of the poorer communities in Matagalpa. I have 15 students between the ages of 10-20 who come out each week for a few hours to learn how to read and write English. Pablo and I have taught them the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months of the years, greetings and salutations, and basic grammer such as articles, and plural vs. singular. The students from this neighborhood are so eagar to learn English. Learning english here opens up so many opportunities for their futures. At the end of each class we assign homework, and every student comes back with it done for the next class. Project 127 is currently sponsoring these classes. All of the students are actively going to one of the neighborhood churches out there, and every few Saturday nights I go out to visit their service. They worship God without abandon. My goal is to enroll each of the students who completes the course into the english academy that we run. Each of them would be able to test into the second level, and be able to get a more formal english education.
We have also been meeting lots of different gringos here in the city. We are starting a Gringo hang out night every other Wednesday, to have dinner, and fellowship together, sharing what God is doing in our different ministries, and praying for one another, and just networking. We are looking forward to being able to hang out and joke in English. We are all at different spots in our spanish learning, so it will be fun to compare notes.
I finally have internet up at my apartment. I have a portable modem, that plugs into the back of my computer, which is very exciting, because now I dont have to walk 20 minutes ot get internet. More updates and pictures to come soon now that I have internet. Also, I have alot of free time right now, hurt my knee a little bit while helping Melissa paint and after a quick visit to the hospital, I am restricted to crutches, so it is a goot time to catch up on computer stuff.
How much fun is it that Matagalpa’s 150th birthday also fell on Valentine’s Day. The past few days the streets have been filled with vendors, stages for concerts, food, and lots and lots of people. We had a great time just walking around and celebrating with everyone around us.
About two weeks ago I moved into my own apartment. I am so excited to have my own space. It is about 1/2 mile straight uphill from the center of town, but that just means that every time I want to walk home I get a great workout. It is new, clean, and has an extra bedroom that I currently just ahve suitcases piled in, but can be used whenever I have visitors (after I buy a bed for it) The view from the apartment is amazing. Matagalpa is located in a valley, and the apartment is about halfway up on one of those mountains, giving you a beautiful view overtop of the city. The best part, it is quiet. I can still hear a little bit o the outside noise, but not the type that keeps you up at all hours of the night and wakes you up at 4:30 in the morning. Also, when someone knocks on the door it does not feel like it is rattling your bones. So, while I miss spending all of my time with the rest of the team at the mission house, I am so excited to have my own space (plus it saves me a little bit of money)
I have continued to teach english classes in one of the neighboring communities. Our class seems to have leveled out now after two weeks, and we have 15 kids coming regularly. Sometime, when I am teaching, I forget which language I am supposed to be speaking. I think that this is a good sign because it shows that the spanish is really taking hold, but it makes the kids laugh alot. For example, the other day we were having a competition between two teams as they learned the numbers. I would read a long number and they would write it down and if they got it right they got a point. So I start with, “the first number is, viente y dos, cuarenta y cinco….and they just start laughing. It took me a minute to realize that I was not speaking the right language. One of the things that I like about this class is that all of the students are members of the church there, so I get to see them, not only during class, but also on Saturday nights at church. I love forming relationships with them.
I am getting ready to restart my spanish classes, because I still have alot of learning to do, but I will be having them with a different teacher, so we will see how that goes. I have also started guitar classes with one of the students at the English academy. We practice english during the class and he teaches me to play the guitar. My fingers hurt so much, and he just laughs at me when I tell himtaht my hands dont reach wide enough.
I have had alot of wonderful conversations lately, talking to people about their faith and about how Jesus is working in my life. I feel like I am finally being able to form stronger friendships and relationships with some of the people here, rather than just surface level ones. This is probably both because of time and also because my spanish is better and their english is better. I am so excited for some of the hangouts that I have planned with some of my new friends here this week, and the conversations that we will hopefully be able to have!!!
So much has happened over the last week and half, I apologize for the lag in communication on the blog. Sometimes I get so caught up in all that God is doing here that I forget to take the time to stop and share with everyone else. Ryan and Kristina left a little over a week ago and headed back to the United States. It was awesome having them here, both because I love having americans here that are my age, and also because they are both so on fire for missions and for what God is doing in their lives that they want to share it with everyone else. While they were here we had the opportunity to build a house, do numerous days of children’s ministry in communities including tye-dying, rock painitng and face painting, starting an English Bible study, working at the nutrition center and just getting to introduce them to the culture here in Matagalpa.
Since they left it has been an eventful week and a half. We started an English Bible study at the academy and are meeting with a group of students every Sunday evening. We are going on our fourth week now and have about 20 people coming out each week, many of whom are not believers, but are just eager to practice their english. We are reading through Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life together, doing one day a week, and getting a change to talk about what our true purpose is in life. Each week we have a few new people, the people that are coming keep birnging their friends, and right now about half of them are not even students at the academy, they are just people who want to learn more about God.
This week was also the first week of English classes that I am teaching alongside of Pablo out in a community that his parents run a church in. We are doing free classes, and were supposed th have 15 students, but it looks like we will be having about 23 all together. We are going to that community twice week and teaching English. We start each session together in prayer. These students are all from the church and we are excited to misister to them and get to know them more.
Update on the family that we rebuilt a house for: Last week the widow fell and broke her ankle. She spent a few days in the hospital (more about the hospital later) and is now back at home. We have two youth from the church coming in to help with her son each day since he is bed ridden, and a girl who is going to help with the mother, bathing, cooking and cleaning. We were able to purchase them a new cookstove, she had been cooking on a piece of tin, and only able to cook a few things on that. I asked Dora, Pablo’s mom, what the needs were to help her out, and she said the biggest thing is that she needed to pay this girl who was going to be helping them, $20 a month, since the girl would be there most of the day and would not be able to work at her regular job. I asked about food and was told that the church would handle it. This community, where every family is struggling to get food each day, will take turns getting two extra portions out for each meal and giving it to this family. This is a church that really know how to take care of their own. This is also the community that we are teaching English classes in.
I am getting ready to move to a new apartment, about 6 blocks from my current residence. It will save me a little bit of money each month, and also give me my own space to be able to work in. I am in the process of moving in right now and getting the utilities set up. Through this process, God has given me some more contacts that I look forward to getting to know better. I am also going to be switching to a new Spanish tutor, and continue with my oneon one classes to better learn spanish. I was invited to share at a church and they want me to talk in Spanish, although I might end up with a translator, so I need to get some more practice.
Pray for the people that are coming out to the English Bible study, for us to be able to develop genuine relationships with them. Pray for the ones that do not know Jesus, that they will come to see Him as Lord of their lives.
Pray for our Spanish class, as Pablo and I prepare lessons and that we will have an impact in these students lives.
Pray for me in this transition as I move and get settled in.
Pray for th groups that are coming in this summer