Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lazy Summer Days.

Ah, the joy of summer. Unhurried mornings, long leisurely evenings and everything in between.

So yesterday we made plans to hit the beach at Whiterock for a day of sheer summer laziness. The anticipation of warm sunshine, a balmly ocean breeze and little girls happily playing made me sing as I packed the cooler with goodies for lunch. Loaded up the van, and off we went.

We hauled our stash onto the sand. Set up the chairs. Laid out the blanket. Lathered on the sunscreen. Donned the shades. As I eased myself comfortably into my beach chair, I suddenly realized that this preconceived balmly ocean breeze was not to be. Instead was an uninterrupted chilly wind that yielded goosebumps in all their glory. Brrr. But the sun shone while the girls ran merrily around and swam in the warm ocean. They said it was warm, anyways, I take their word for it. Happy as larks they were, building sandcastles, combing for crabs and searching for all manner of beach debris. And I sat parked. In my beach chair. Goosebump clad. Perservering.

What a sunburn I got! Yikes! Funny that I spent almost three weeks in the tropics of Nicaragua, but never burned once. One day at the beach on Canada's west coast and I'm lobster-like! Even have the dreaded racoon-face, to boot! Awkward. Wish my camera was working, so I could show you. Haha. As if. But you know me and my Irish skin. Pink today, white tomorrow.

And tomorrow is a special day. The littlest lady's birthday. Glad she's feeling better... apart from a persistant cough, she's definitely more herself again. Tomorrow we'll celebrate... eight years old.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Blueberry season.. the most wonderful time of the year. Picked up our first flat at a local farm on Saturday, absolute melt-in-your-mouth blue sweetness. Now we're onto the blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, blueberry shakes.. and a new recipe.. blueberry upside down cake. Y.u.m. A keeper for sure, judging by the way it's disappearing from my kitchen!

The weather's been wonderful here since we got home from Nicaragua.. sunny and warm, beautiful blue skies. A real Canadian summer. Filled the girls' little pool (blue!) in the back yard for some cool-off fun. Fun and more fun.

But sweet little Kayleigh has the blues too. She was fighting a fever yesterday, which appears to now be a sore throat, runny nose and general lethargy. What a good little patient, though, she doesn't complain much. Hope she feels better soon!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Home. Sweet Home.

And that's precisely what the girls were shouting out, skipping into the house this afternoon as we arrived home. They did SO well on this trip, were amazing little travelers. Thankfully, we mostly managed to stay bug-free. It was a wonderful experience, stirred so many inner emotions that no words could ever really describe. I'll miss so much about Nicaragua, the never-ending warmth, the beautiful tropical flora, the cute little faces, the contented christians, the simplicity of life.

But it's good to be home, too. Back to our moderate climate, smooth concrete highways and basic 5-star civilization. I just hope that I've come home a better person, more thankful, more grateful, more contented.

Thank you Nicaragua for a wonderful introduction. We'll be back to see you soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DAY 17.

Our last day in these tropical temperatures of Nicaragua. And such a sunny, hot and humid day it was, with the most gorgeous clear blue skies.

This morning we paid the local hospital a visit, to hand out layette packages which had come from Canada, and also delivered other hygiene packs in the various wards. These were handed out with Seed Sower bags, and Nubia recorded names and contact information for follow up. We began in the maternity section, where Alana and Kayleigh asked the mothers if the baby was a "muher" or "baron" to identify whether to hand over girl or boy loot. The new moms were quite humoured by these little white girls giving them free stuff, and were pleased as punch to have their pictures taken with them! The hospital staff were quite enthralled with the girls too, calling them "benitas".. loving their strawberry blonde hair and pale skin color.

But me, I was oohing and aahing over all the little Latino babies, their dark skin and full heads of jet black hair. I wish I could take one home to Canada with me. But I can't. Because you have to live in Nicaragua for a whole year before you can adopt. And I know for sure I wouldn't last a month, never mind a year.

The hospital dynamics were interesting. One six-bed ward housed up to 12 mothers (most of them husbandless teenagers) with their newborns. Beds are shared in these muggy rooms with paint-peeled walls. No special incubators or baby cribs. And no-one complains. In the C-section ward, allocation of space was slightly better. Only one patient per bed, but still five or six beds in one tiny, little room. Oh, and on these beds, the babies are born. You can easily tell, too, because the birthing blood stains on the "bring-your-own" linens (if you'd call them that) tell all.

But to observe these new mothers, so grateful to receive a Seed Sowers text and thrilled with a little package of baby necessities, I was almost reduced to tears. Lord teach me that, "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Because I complain way too much sometimes. These people have nothing, absolutely NOTHING compared to me, and are SO content.

Ate lunch at Papa Johns (yet again) with all the Clingen crew...

...then back to El Valle for a little afternoon siesta. Also managed to catch the ice cream man who ding-a-lings by Kyle's place every day at 2 o'clock.

Cheap ice cream bars, too. Five cords is about 25 cents.

Had supper last night at Mark and Brenda's place. Good food, gorgeous view, and lots of interesting conversation.

Tomorrow we head home. Unreal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DAY 16.

Wow. I can' t believe, as I'm typing this, that on Thursday which is tomorrow we fly back to North America, land of civilization, glorious and free.

Day 16 began with a visit to a local market, where we purchased some gifts to bring home. Quite the sights there, and the smells too. We weren't there too long, as after about an hour we started to feel nauseous and claustofobic. But this experience gave us a real sense of Nicaraguan culture.

There were literally thousands of shoes for sale at the market, and they were cheap, cheap, cheap. But on close examination, I noticed that most of them were plastic. The reason for this is the rainy season... plastic can withstand the water, leather can not.

Some nice Latino art for sale. Anyone??

The afternoon was spent with some very lovely christian friends in the little town of Dolores. It was special for me to visit this place, since this is where Kyle and Mark made their home when they came to Nicaragua some six or seven years ago. We drove by the little house where they first lived, went to meeting at the hall, and met some of the christians for whom we have prayed. Walter, Irene, Nereyda, Eveling and Rosa, who is now Walter's wife. How precious to see them going on for the Lord in their lives.

We, sort of self-invited, had supper at Flett's place... a delicious North American meal that I enjoyed, right down to the Snickerdoodle cookies. Thank you Tony, Danelle, Amy, Brenda and Craig. You are a truly beautiful family, and we will continue to pray for you all.

Monday, July 19, 2010

DAY 15. The Bug File.

A melange of pictures, especially created for my favorite WA buddy and bug-loving amiga. Click on the photo to supersize it.

Don't worry, DL, I don't plan on bringing ANY of these home!

And last but not least, the charging roach.

DAY 14.

Today is Sunday. No sunshine to be found anywhere on this SUNday... nothing but rain, rain and more rain. This is by far the rainiest day yet. It woke me last night, smattering on the roof, like a thousand hammers on a tin can. I lay wide awake, praying that this time it wouldn't come inside the house, or wake the little ladies asleep in the other room. Thankfully, neither happened.

Both little ladies were up at 8 o'clock and in fine form this morning, with no stomach cramps or upchucking or diarrhea or earaches immediately reported to the Complaints Department. Good and good.

Remembered the Lord this morning again at El Valle, with the little group of christians that I have come to love. Even with my limited understanding, I can relate to their thankfulness to God for His Son. They worship with such heartfelt expression. Most of them can't sing worth peanuts though, bless their hearts, but they shout it out with fervour and passion anyways! When meeting is over, everyone goes to each around the group with a "Buenos dias" and shakes hands... such a friendly gesture. Oh how I wish I could just have a basic conversation with some of these lovely christians. Black coffee, leftover gallopinto and bread were served during the break. No sweet bread today, much to my dismay. Hermano Dan was on deck yet again for ministry meeting during Sunday School, and I spent the time flipping through John's English/Spanish dictionary to see what I could teach myself in the space of half an hour. Which wasn't much.

I have been on a daily lookout for Nicaraguan bugs. I guess my obsession stems more from an inner fear of having them take me by surprise, so I'm constantly aware of the fact that they may suddenly appear. And I want to be ready. To be honest, I haven't come across anything dreadfully strange or even life-threatening. Not yet anyways. Daniel, aware of and sharing my fascination, has also been on the hunt for tarantulas and scorpions which are apparently rampant here. So far, no show. But there are some mighty disgusting crawling creepies here, which being God's creation, are also fascinating to observe at the same time. Except as aforementioned, when they suddenly appear and freak me out. Like at the hall this week in El Valle, I'm standing outside, merrily chatting after the meeting, when something black and moving catches my eye. Into view came a monstrous cockroach, yes considerably larger than any I have ever seen in civilized animal confines. And, it was charging right towards me. My vocal defenses immediately registered to this unsightly creature (did you hear me?), and I jumped quickly out of its way. Seriously, this thing was huge... his body at least 3 inches long, with feelers that were certainly another inch long, for sure. Gross, and more gross. Ewww.

Simply put, these Nicaraguan living things are another reason I do not think I could adjust to life here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

DAY 13.

Well, some sort of Nicaraguan bug has invaded, and Kayleigh's got it. Woke up around 6 o'clock this morning with stomach cramps, promptly had bodily fluids exiting both ends, and was looking as white as a sheet. Great, I thought, this is all I need. I'd much rather be sick myself than watch one of the kiddos.

We got her drinking some bottled water, gave her a pill, and now, at 10 o'clock, seems to have revived. She just declared the tummy ache was gone and downed two bowls of cereal. Let's pray the healing process continues!

Last night there was a special bible study at El Valle. A few truck loads came in from Dolores, so the hall was packed out. It's encouraging to see such a large group of new christians so eager for the Word. They served gallopinto when meeting was done... the typical Nicaraguan meal of rice and beans. It was nice to visit with Mitch and Lori Parent and meet their beautiful girls. Hard to believe they've been in Dolores for two years already. They certainly seem very well adjusted to life here.

Nicaragua is a beautiful country, without a doubt. Breath-taking scenery, daily sunshine and friendly people. But, could I live here? Nope. I don't think so. I'd miss Tim Hortons, and the occasional Starbucks. And the unending supply of hot water, coming right out of my tap. And my vacuum. Yup, I'd miss my vacuum and my carpeting. When I get back home next week, I think I'll appreciate carpet from a whole new perspective. Carpet means no hideously gross freak-me-out monster bugs.

And so I now admire, in a much fuller way, my North American family and friends who have sacrificed so much to make this place their home.

Friday, July 16, 2010

DAY 12.

Aaaaaah. My internet addiction is receiving some therapy at last!

I'm at John and Joanne's place, where I have unlimited high-speed, so I'm in my element.

I just uploaded some pictures from the past several days.

The papusas were so-so. Not saying that I particularly disliked them, but they were edible enough. A little "cornmeally" for my palate. Guess if I had to eat them, I could get used to the taste. But it was fascinating to watch them being prepared, beginning with cornmeal dough, flattened to a perfect circle, insides of beans and pork and cheese and rice added, formed into a ball, flattened again and pinched to seal the edges, all completed in a matter of seconds. They were then fried on a huge, black, cast-iron grill, and served with cabbage salad and a tomato-like sauce on top. El Salvadorians eat these with their fingers, but, honestly, with my British instincts, I just couldn't hack that. Had to use the cutlery.

Girls are doing great... no sickness or other major complaints so far, for which we are very thankful. We're loving hanging out at John/Joanne's place, where the girls enjoy Rebekah's company, so it's fun for them to be together. And there's plenty of toys to amuse around here. Like the poor poodle, who will most certainly need therapy to recover from all the jostling she has received at the hands of Alana and Kayleigh.

Here's a shot from our time in Barcelo... a little too much sun, d'ya think??!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

DAY 8. and 9, 10 and 11.

I sure miss my internet access. Seems forever since I've been on here to update.

But spending the last four days at a resort was definitely a pleasurable alternative. No complaining about that. The rest of the group were with us here for Monday, but on Tuesday headed back to their regular schedules. Stew, the girls and me decided a few extra days at this relaxing resort would be a nice break, and also give us some family time. We're glad we stayed. It was wonderful.

Beautiful Barcelo... located on a sandy stretch of Montelimar Beach with a huge pool, on-site mini golf, zoo, tennis courts (except it's way too humid to even consider playing tennis), unlimited food and drinks, people making my bed and picking up after me. This is the best Nicaraguan life, and sacrificing the internet for a few days of this is manageable.

Now we're back at El Valle, and getting ready to leave for meeting again in a half hour. Then off to Pupusa's for some El Salvadorian grub. That should be an interesting experience.

Still got to take in the market, a hospital visit and a tour of Dolores before we head back next week.

Hopefully I can upload some photos in the next day or two. Until then, adios.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

DAYS 6 and 7.

Two more busy days down, with hardly a moment to update. Lake Nicaragua boat ride, Masaya gospel meeting, supper at Papa Johns, El Valle meeting and Sunday School, lunch at John and Joanne's place, Sunday School then gospel meeting at Masaya, and just got home from supper tonight at TGIFs.

Nica Lake Boat Ride.
Monkey Island.One of the locals.
Shootin' the breeze.Ninos @ Papa Johns.
Y las ninas.

Highlights from the past two days... visited the much-talked-about Monkey Island where we personally fed the monkeys ourselves, had my first sample of Nicaraguan sweet bread which is delightfully sweet and addictive, met lots of new children and am falling in love with these darling little Nicaraguan faces.

We're off to a resort tomorrow for a couple of days. Looking forward to a day or two of down time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

DAY 5. Katarine.

Today we accomplished one thing that was high priority on our to-do list in Nicaragua.

We visited our sponsor child.

Her name is Katarine... a beautiful little 13-year-old, who was taken as an infant from her parents because of their excessive substance abuse. She now lives in Masaya with her uncle (mom's brother), aunt and two cousins, Johnatan and Raquelle. Her uncle and aunt are christians, and took Katarine into their care shortly after they were saved. We have been praying for Katarine and her family for many months now, and it was such a delight to finally meet them all in person and see visit them in their home.

We drove along the main highway, then turned off onto a side street, and again, everywhere I looked, the poverty broadsided me. Simple, primitive little houses, comprised of brick and plywood walls, and unsightly corrugated iron roofs. Some with doors, but none with window panes. Dirt floors. No running water. Dogs and chickens running around, in and out of the houses. Ugh. Smoky, putrid smells of cooking fires. At certain times of the day, the stench from these fires is overwhelming.

Inside Katarine's house were the very basics of furniture, but apparently they have more than what their neighbours would typically have. They had a stove, which is very rare, and a wooden table with two matching chairs. The bedrooms were sparse though, just mattresses, and old and what looked like well-used bedding, and rickety shelving to store their few items clothing. Definitely wasn't much in the way of sustenance either. It felt sticky and humid inside, and the stinky fire odors were drifting indoors. How do people live like this?

Setting the sights and smells aside, the family was absolutely thrilled to have us visit. We had along some coke and cookies, and the kids were buggy-eyed with such treats. We spent a short while visiting and playing with the kids. I found it a little frustrating that I couldn't communicate with Xolchi (the aunt), but Joanne did a great job interpreting. We gave the kids the gifts which we had brought from Canada and they were delighted beyond words. Katarine showed the girls around her house, pointing out the shared outhouse. I think Alana was bothered somewhat by the living conditions she saw. She had a few questions for me later in relation to bathroom activity, but I'm sure what she observed today has made a life-long impression.

We took Katarine out to a restaurant for lunch and it was precious to be with this darling little girl, about whom we have had so many discussions, and for whom we have prayed for together. I had to do a couple of Reality Checks, as the fact settled in that we were actually here, in Nicaragua, with our sponsor child, finallly able to hug her and love her, and spoil her as much as we possibly could. It was cute to observe the girls playing together, to listen to their attempts at commuication, and laugh along with them. The white girls and the dark girl... friends for life.

We ended the day at Campamento for the final night, which was supper and a hymnsing around the bonfire. Supper was delish... my first exposure to Nicaraguan food - fried bananas, ensalata, beans and rice, meat stew and fried cheese. Very yummy... now to make sure that the Dukoral vaccine does what it's supposed to do!