Friday, August 26, 2011

We're Having a Baby!

So, someone gently pointed out to me a few months ago that we haven't mentioned a word about the coming addition to our family on this blog. I'm not sure if this will be news for many of our faithful readers, but I am in the final weeks of what has been a fairly smooth pregnancy. The due date is September 8th, but of course babies come on their own schedules. Quinn arrived 8 days "late," and even then was induced.

We're planning to have the baby at the Hospital Metropolitano, just a few kilometers from our house. We've each been to the ER there once with illnesses that inevitably appear on the weekend. On our first visit, we were struck by how it's like walking into the United States -- it looks just like a nice hospital there. And the maternity wing looks a lot like the one at the hospital in Virginia where I gave birth to Quinn.

Quinn is quite excited about her new brother or sister (we're waiting to be surprised by the sex at the birth), and becoming a Big Sister. She's been a little stressed in the last month or so by the fact that I can't pick her up anymore. A couple nights ago, she said "I'm so excited you're going to be able to carry me soon!" She also likes to talk about what the baby will be like when it comes -- we got a huge stack of big-sister-themed books from my awesome cousin, and she has really enjoyed those. Also thanks to those books, she has determined that she prefers the word "womb" to "uterus." Can't say I disagree! :)

We're looking forward to meeting this new person. I'm doing fine, just large and sweating a little more than normal, but I'm starting to feel ready to not be pregnant anymore. We've just started this theology program in the churches, and I am hoping to get to teach about 5 classes (2 down!) before other people have to start covering for me, but I'm also aware that my preferences on the baby's arrival date don't really count for anything. ;)

The baby will be eligible for Nicaraguan as well as U.S. citizenship. Tim, Quinn, and I are still working on getting everything we need to get our Nicaraguan residency -- we got some bad information about a couple of the pieces of paperwork (and in general, a comprehensive list of what we actually need is sadly lacking). It's nice to know we won't have to go through all that again for the new kid.

My doctor tells us she expects the baby to come early rather than late, so we'll see. We've got family with us now and will have various members here for the next four weeks, so we're feeling ready. :) Stay tuned --we will be sure to post the news once our new baby arrives!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

San Juan del Sur

While we were in El Salvador, my cousin Jamie and his girlfriend Ariane came to Nicaragua for a vacation. They went to an ecolodge on one of the Isletas de Granada, tiny islands in Lake Nicaragua. When we came back, we all met up in San Juan del Sur, a beach town that I've been wanting to visit since we got here. Visits from family and friends always give us a nice chance to take advantage of some of the cool stuff we just don't get to otherwise.

Tim, Jamie and Ariane took surfing lessons

while Quinn and I collected shells, watched crabs, played in the waves, and tried not to get *too* much sun.

(That last effort wasn't really successful, despite hiding from the sun in the middle of the day.) We all got the chance to relax in hammocks and eat some good food as well.

For Quinn (and me!) one of the highlights was the pool at the place we stayed. It had a nice large shallow section that was just the right height for Quinn to stand with her neck and head out of the water. She bounced and danced around, delighting in all the things she could do in the water because, as she said, "I'm big now!" I just enjoyed the neutral buoyancy of the water. :)

Ariane had to go back on the Friday, but Jamie stayed with us through Monday, getting a little glimpse of our daily life in Managua, entertaining Quinn during a big planning meeting for the ministerial formation project, and even helping Tim teach English right before heading off to the airport! He also cooked really great meals for us and read Quinn a lot of books (future visitors, be inspired! ;) ).

El Salvador

Our friend Nick Green just finished his term as a Global Ministries missionary in El Salvador and is heading back to the States to start his studies at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He wrote a lovely post about the "hermandad" that is developing between La Iglesia Misión Cristiana, the church we work with here in Nicaragua, and the Lutheran Church of El Salvador, the church he worked with there.

It was really fun for us to have a role in this developing relationship.  Last month, we went for a very quick visit -- driving to San Salvador on a Saturday, spending two full days getting to know some of the churches and their projects, as well as a bit of Salvadoran history, and then driving back to Managua on that Tuesday.

The highlights were:
Tim, Quinn, and I, along with Sonia and Claudina representing La Misión Cristiana, worshipped with the Ríos de Agua Viva (Rivers of Living Water) Lutheran Church in San Salvador. I was invited to preach (my second sermon in Spanish!)

...and Nick and I both assisted Pastor Vilma in communion.

The service was very different than La Misión worship services (no electric guitars) -- it had a liturgy that felt very similar to U.S. Lutheran churches I've been to. But the one thing that was just like many of the congregations here is that it was over half children and youth.

In the afternoon, we visited an agricultural project outside of the city.  The church and project there are both called Fe y Esperanza (Faith and Hope), and they're in the first year of a new initiative called La Mayordomía de la Creación (Stewardship of Creation).
A group of campesinos and church folks is working with an agronomist to learn techniques for growing food organically without chemicals.

We spent a lot of time learning about and looking at organic fertilizer,
which does involve a lot of cow poop!
They have some special mixtures for making organic fertilizer, and they sent us home with a couple bottles. I am very grateful the bottles did not open in the back of the car on the way home!!

It was exciting to see a motivated, informed group of people working together to educate themselves and grow lots of great food.

We were inspired for our own work with the Nicaraguan church's agricultural projects, and to give more thought to integrating our food security projects with the one Tim is developing on care for the environment.

We also visited the chapel where Oscar Romero was assassinated.

It was a powerful experience for me -- I have wanted to visit El Salvador ever since I took a class on liberation theology in college.

My professor had been a journalist in El Salvador during the civil war, and I found Oscar Romero and the liberation theology movement very inspiring.

The church also runs a house called Casa Esperanza, where they support people in a variety of ways. Every day, they provide lunch for people who live on the street -- a scene that was remarkably similar to soup kitchens and lunch programs we've visited or volunteered at in the States. We met the small group of single mothers who cook for the lunch program and are housed there. We visited the tiny medical clinic and very nice classrooms where they hold their after-school programs. Quinn and I really liked the wooden toys and the books in the room for the smallest kids. The church also trains young people in the traditional painting style and we got to see some Salvadoran artesania being made.

We, Global Ministries missionaries and representatives of La Misión, were received with warm hospitality by the Lutheran church.  We look forward to more opportunities for developing this friendship between two churches that have been long-standing Global Ministries partners meeting critical needs in their respective countries.

Quinn was a trooper on the loooong car ride.  She memorized two of her picture books on the way (after having them read to her what seemed like a dozen times). She also enjoyed our time in El Salvador, especially seeing her buddy Nick again, staying at the "hotel" (the Casa Concordia guesthouse) and making friends with Alma, who manages the guesthouse.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Soy Migrante

I wanted to share this video by the Nicaraguan singer Moisés Gadea.  It's a song about migrant workers and the video has some nice shots of day-to-day Nicaraguan life.  (Via Josh Berman.)  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Down on the Finca

For a few years now, la Misión Cristiana has been developing a farm it owns in the northern region of Nicaragua, near a community called Kusulí.  The grand plan is to transform the farm into a small dairy operation that will provide jobs, food and some cash inflow, both for the church and local families.  But it has been a slow process.

This March a small work group from the Southern Idaho region of the Disciples of Christ visited to help la Misión advance a little further toward that goal.  I've already blogged about an earlier preparatory trip with Santiago (a.k.a. Jim Piper) and Nick Green to visit the farm -- this time they came back with reinforcements: David, Michael and Marisol (visiting with Nick from the Lutheran Church of El Salvador) -- along with Sonia, Ruth, Anita, Edgar, Hector and Doña Pilar representing la Misión.

We headed out to the farm for a solid week of work and ended up having a fun time.  Our task was to tear down the old, existing milking barn and build a bigger and better one in its place.  With the help of two expert carpenters (both local church members) we managed to raise the roof on the milking barn, although the concrete floor, the cistern and the water line from the local spring were completed after we headed home.  In its current state, all the farm needs now are the cows!

As I mentioned before, the northern region of Nicaragua is extraordinarily beautiful and very hard to get to.  However, between the time of our previous trip and this one, electricity had very nearly come to the farm (thanks to a local hydroelectric project).  The road was now lined with street lights and although it hadn't been turned on yet, there was a cable connecting the farm house to the grid.  It was kind of cool to see the actual march of progress.  Anyway, here are some photos.

The hill behind the farm affords a spectacular view of the northlands.

We got to ride around on top of trucks!  Here's Ruth, Marisol, Nick and some local kids helping transport sand and rocks.

"Emerald green like none I have seen, apart from dreams ... that escape me..."

The forest mists in the morning, while we dry our clothes in the sun.

Our fearless leaders!

The local chainsaw maestro was hired to create a feeding trough directly from a tree trunk.

Michael and others shifting a ton of river rocks (which will later make up the foundation of the dairy floor)

Santiago returning from a visit to the other part of the church's property.

Mixing cement.

The two carpenters did amazing work and all without most of the tools we would have on hand in the states.  Here he is carving a joint in the wood ... with a machete! Totally hardcore.

Revdo. Orlando in front of the (mostly) finished dairy roof.