At times, Nicaragua seems even farther away than it is from the United States. I think part of this has to do with the fact that even nature has different rhythms here. Quinn, who just turned six, was anticipating with great delight that "Summer starts on my birthday!" In this tropical climate, winter is the rainy season, which starts in mid-May and summer, the dry season, typically begins in mid-November. (Of course it rained really hard yesterday, apparently winter is lingering this year.) Also, being in the tropics, sunrise and sunset times don't vary much between solstice and equinox, so there's no need for Daylight Savings Time. This means that our time zone relative to folks in most parts of the U.S. changes twice a year, making coordinating timing that little bit more complicated.
We're looking forward in so many ways to our return to the States in the (U.S.) spring (the end of summer here). I'm also aware that just as it is still strange at times to be out of step in small and large ways with our family and friends back home, it will be strange also to move from the rhythm of our life here back into: four seasons, planning things further in advance and with less flexibility, firmer boundaries between "work time" and "family time"... and probably other rhythms of life that we don't anticipate.
Although there is much to prepare for coming transitions in our lives and the life of the church, I am also trying to be present in this season, rather than spend all my time and energy thinking about what's ahead.
In October, Elena Huegel, the Global Ministries missionary currently serving in Chile with IPC, a good friend of Magyolene, came to visit Nicaragua and give a training on Conflict Transformation to pastors and leaders of La Misión Cristiana. The training was greatly appreciated by the participants, and we enjoyed the chance to meet and get to know Elena (and she had lots of good advice for us as we approach our transition back to the U.S. -- not only as a missionary, but as a child of missionaries as well!).
Overlapping one day with Elena's visit, UENIC-MLK (the Martin Luther King, Jr. Evangelical University of Nicaragua), the university where we teach in the theological faculty, hosted a regional encuentro (meeting) bringing together leaders from Central America who are working on theological education that is committed to improving the lives of people in their countries. We got to connect with some Disciples "neighbors" from Costa Rica and, all the way from Indianapolis, Rev. Felix Ortiz (our boss) and Rev. Shernell Edney, the program associate for Advocacy and Education.
In December, we'll be helping with preparations for the Regional Assemblies in January and the General Assembly in March. We'll also be working with colleagues to make plans for the future, both
the three months of 2014 that we'll be here, and what our projects (theological education (me) and sustainable development/ food security (Tim)) will look like after we return to the U.S. And, we're very excited that (a good portion of) our family is coming down to spend Christmas with us! We're looking forward to relaxing, enjoying their company, and showing them a bit of the many things we've come to love about Nicaragua. We're hoping they'll enjoy the tropical break from a northern winter!