Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Masaya Market

Today we decided to take life by the tail and have an adventure. What a glorious day we enjoyed with our new friends Marlene & Luis.

We met up at 8 am near town square and promptly spent the next half hour trying to find the bus station. My leg has been seizing up so walking was difficult (but as the day wore on it let up considerably). We eventually found the "bus station" which is actually more like a deserted parking lot. Bus reps were yelling out their destinations and Luis (ever our faithful guide) was able to figure out which of the mass of buses we needed to take to get to the markets in Masaya. It was a little pricey though.....C$9 each.....actually works out to about 45 cents! Now remember, you get what you pay for as we quickly found out as we climbed aboard the ancient school bus which then proceeded to stop ever two blocks to try and get additional passenger, with the rep leaning out the back yelling out our destination to any passerbys. It was hot and sticky and eventually standing room only. But the windows were all down and the scenery beautiful. For a people watcher like myself, this is heaven! We drove by a group of at least 20 witnesses walking along the highway preaching.

We got to the market in about 45 minutes (we likely could have walked faster) where the cleaning staff were apparently on strike! Mass garbage around the floor to walk over. Fortunately this was not the part of the market we were shopping in, so we climbed over the piles and headed toward the indoor local artisan section. What an exciting, vibrant place. And the money I could have spent! Bargaining was fun. From this market we ended up with a handmade hammock which we paid C$180 for ($9!!) And a beautiful wooden salad bowl with six serving bowls for C$250 ($12.50). We then grabbed a horse and buggy to take us to the "old" market which is housed in an old castle. Much cleaner, less congested and much pricier, this market was nice to look at but had much less to offer. Nikki bought a lovely scarf and a set of little ceramic animals with a wooden bowl to keep them in.

But the fun had only just begun, from here Luis with his fluent Spanish & local looks managed to get us all a cab for C$60 ($3) to Catarina for lunch. This was a 15 minutes drive, straight up. This town sits on the edge of an dormant volcano that now houses a lagoon of chrystal clear water with apparent healing properties. The view was extraordinary and this is the dry season so things are not overly green. On the way to the restaurant Gary finally managed to find himself a "sombrero" for C$100 ($5) which he looked quite dishy in if I do say so myself (well someone has to!). We ate at a local restaurant that was more pricey than good after which we shared an ice cream cone with a street dog that I would have loved to bring home!! More to come on the Lagoon as we are heading there for the day on Friday for swimming and I’m hoping a massage!
We were all now toast, literally, as it was a very hot humid day and so we dragged ourselves back through town back down to the main highway where we waited for a bus to come by for Granada. No real schedule, just when ever it comes...this is Nicaragua after all! The bus came by about 20 minutes later and perhaps we should have waited for the next one! The driver was crazy! At one point he cut off a transport truck who then promptly came back around him and pushed the bus off the road. We leaned precariously over for a moment but the driver pulled us back onto the road. It all happened so fast, it was more exciting than scary! He speed along at speeds that no rickety old bus should do and eventually wheeled us into Granada with a few extra white hairs, but all in all, exhilarated from such a lovely day!

So that was our first day out of Granada. We loved it and look forward to the next trip to Masaya. We are also really excited about Friday and going to the Lagoon on our own for the day. We are slowly finding our feet. Tomorrow is a service day so we will need the reward ;) We saw a dead rat on the street in town the other day and a dead bird the day before. And some of the street dogs we see are heart breaking. But over all, life here is much the same of anywhere else. People struggling to survive and do the best the can with what life has given them.

So I’ll sign off for now. We are still looking for new digs but are confident that we will find what we need. I’ll update you about that as things progress.

P.S. I started my first study in service today (now the next day) very exciting.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Looking for a Place to Call Home!

Over the weekend, we spent some down time trying to catch our breath from the week before. The heat seems to get a little more intense everyday as we work our way toward the rainy season. Every day a few more clouds gather and the humidity seems to grow a little heavier. On the upside, true to the works of our friends the Maracles in Dundas, we seem to be adjusting slowly to the higher heat. We are sweating less profusely and now the cold shower & pool seems freezing instead of refreshing. Each day we seem to adjust a little more to this vibrant foreign country. Our Spanish is growing too although to be honest, it´s not so much what we know for words, it´s being able to understand the local when they talk. It´s SO fast and hard to distinguish the individual works. We need to get the mental picture of the sound structure so that we can follow it.

We have found a delightful apartment around the corner from where we are that we think may suit our needs perfectly at least for the next six months. It is within an open complex hidden behind the walls of a plain looking colonial home. Inside are a number of apartments surrounding a pool and cabana area. There is a locked entrance and a night security guard which really puts my mind to rest at least until we know a little more Spanish. The woman who owns it has a beautiful chocolate coloured Doberman Pincher named Pachino that Nikki promptly fell in love! We are still looking, but this seems like the best option so far. We looked at a typical Nica home yesterday on the way to the meeting. $300 a month (thanks for the tip Debbie) It was in an okay area closer to the hall but had a completely open metal roof, was dirty and had big piles of poop on the floor from some sort of rodent. I could of cleaned it but there was no way to stop things from coming in and so I couldn´t see us ever feeling secure there. Onward.

We were able to see the Missionary home on Sunday after the meeting. It´s not typical, a little more high end than normal, as it was build with a donation from an Scottish Brother who wanted it to be a little nicer than perhaps normal. It is more like a mini bethel. One of the local Missionary Sisters who is originally from New Jersey was telling Nikki that she moved with her parents to serve in Guatemala when she was the exact same age as her. Pretty cool.

We came into town on Saturday and were inundated with people asking us for money. it must be a big day for tourists and so beggars. It was the first time we had really been hit with it. It is difficult as you know how much we have compared to them, but you can´t really help them or support the activity. Worse when it is children in rags. We saw a young boy around 7 sleeping on the concrete in the town square in the middle of the day and he was still there when we walked by hours later. He was filthy! My heart hurt from the site, but again, what can you do?

We are off to look at another property and to look around a museo. It is very hot today so we will limit how far we travel!

Love to all!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Comfort Zone Now in The Rear Veiw Mirror!

Last night was our first evening meeting. In Canada, no big deal, here....a whole new adventure. We are way outside our comfort zone here and the imagined reality is undoubtedly very different from the actuality.

It gets dark here, solid darkness, around 6 pm. Leaving the house, with all our belongings in it (especially with it being an open design) was honestly a huge challenge. Our 6.30 meeting is a good 15 minute walk away, through what looks to a newly arrived Canadian, like a very rough neighborhood. We walked very fast! We looked even greener sine Gary kept looking at his map to ensure we were on the right road. Dogs run everywhere and most families sit outside their homes or congregate on the street as inside is so hot. Everyone looks at a well dressed foreign threesome walking down the street dodging the puddles of suspicious looking fluid. Occasionally I call out "Buenos Tardes" but then Gary scowls at me so I try to not make too much eye contact. To our relief we eventually heard a call "gringos" behind us, it’s Tim the missionary brother on his bike returning home from service. We then know we were at least going in the right direction.

The meeting was great. Gary took the Book Study and the English group (of about 14) had the school and then joined the Spanish congregation for the service meeting. What a hoot. Spanish sounds so different to seems much more mono tone and as there are so few hard sounds, they all seem to run into each other. I can read a growing amount and understand it, but all I got out of the service meeting was a couple Jehovah’s and then a Jesus Cristo. We made a couple of wild guesses too based on the Missionary Brothers gestures!

After the meeting was a whole new adventure awaiting us. We had planned to grab a taxi, but even that was a little worrisome to us (talk about paranoid). Thankfully a local sister offered us a ride in her truck.......sounds good right?? It was a pick up truck and we were in the rear! What an awesome experience, hurtling down bumpy roads passing by groups of staring Nicaraguans with the evening breeze rushing past us as we held on for dear life. We wheeled into the street with our fancy villa, while a group of teenage boys playing ball looked on, jumped out of the back and said goodbye & a big thank you to our new friends! Only in Nicaragua! In Canada we’d of killed Nikki if she did anything like that!

Today we went out for our second day of service. Talk about walking....& walking.....& walking. We worked with Tim & Glorie the Missionary couple and if we thought yesterday’s neighbourhood was bad, while we hadn’t seen anything yet! The heat today was up into the triple digits so we made it from 8 to about 11 and had to call it a day. Nikki & I had feet that looked like they hadn’t seen a lick of water in years! It is the end of the dry season so the unpaved streets are extremely dry and dusty.

Adding to the adventure, loose animals roam at will everywhere. Today we saw no less than 20 dogs, a number of cats, three goats and a horse that was in the middle of a major intersection munching on some grain that had obviously fallen from a passing vehicle. The cars all simply went around him!

And I haven’t yet gotten to the insects! Did I mention that we are now up to four LARGE cockroaches that we have found dead in our casa. One was on top of my suitcase (as I pulled it out from under the bed!). Thankfully (it’s amazing what we are becoming grateful for) the large ones are outdoor ones and have fewer relatives. Whew...well that was close.....!

The Missionary home dog (bulldog mix) has just had a litter of 12 puppies that they are busy tempting Nikki with. Not a hard thing to do! We will have to wait and see where we find to live.

And for all the friends in Nova Scotia...there is a second hand store here almost exactly like frenchy's...only in cordoba's instead of dollars...and much noisier!

Today is also my first day out to town on my own (I’m at the internet café). I feel quite grown up being allowed to town alone ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Someone stop the ride.....I need to throw up :)

What a roller coaster ride this is proving to be ......

A highlight of the week has certainly been our going in service for the first time today. Not for the faint hearted.....but awesome. We meet up with the couple from New Mexico in the town square at 8 am (since we are up at 6 this proves no challenge, we still had time for a coffee on the Terrazzo & text before we headed out). This is a much cooler (relatively speaking) time of day. Since we are with the English congregation, we then set out for a area where the census of homes was complete (knew where there were English speaking people) witnessing along the way. The territory was a good 15 minute walk away. The men stopped to talk to one man who called out a greeting to them in English (he is Nicaraguan). He said he would come to the special talk on Sunday (how exciting). We eventually found our territory and did the handful of calls within it, Marlene talked to one lady in Spanish who was very depressed & crying. We ran out of territory within the hour and so as we walked back to town, hit a couple of stores that advertised English speaking. At one, a Lab, the doctor came out and chatted with us, eventually asking for some literature in Spanish to leave in her waiting room. We didn’t even have to beg :) It was funny too, she said that Nikki looked like a Halmark Card....not sure what that means but we’ll take it as a complement. I notice that people look at her a lot. Yesterday a lady even called out us to ask us where Nikki was from (what are we, chopped liver?) and then motioned to her blonde hair.
Eventually the heat became unbearable and Nikki no longer looked like a Halmark Card, more like your lawn in August, so we stopped for a Corneto like ice cream (50 cents each). Then about 11.15 we called it a day. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and look forward to going again.

A few quick comments & complaints,

My feet are KILLING me. All the time, even when I’m not standing on them!
Our skin in glowing! You end up with a fine layer of sweat all the time, so your pores are all clean as whistles!
I have given up on make-up...really, it’s true! It all sweats off and with the golden glow, who needs it? Its now just a quick layer of mascara and I’m good to go. I have not yet blow dried my hair (forget the flat iron, I’m embarrassed that I even bought it!) And with the light humidity it is curly most of the time. Kinda nice. So glad I grew my bangs out.

So now, the low light of our week happened last night. We are still struggling with the feelings of vulnerability. Mostly due to our lack of ability to communicate I’m sure. Last night, we sat down to a light dinner of beans (and those who know Gary know that this alone could have been the low light of the week.) that I am proud to say I had cooked up with a ton of veggies from scratch. Suddenly rocks, some quite large, starting being thrown into the villa, falling down the stairs from the terrazzo and some into the pool and dining area. We were horrified. Gary ran up the stairs and shouted. We then called the local property management company. We had assumed the worst, that it was someone targeting us because we are foreigners, but apparently it is a semi common occurrence. Kids in one of the houses down, likely bored and mischievous, tossing the rocks around. With all the houses attached and many open in the middle, it provides entertainment. Not for us mind you. We were reading to pack up and come home! Again, it is all part of the learning curve!

We had a tour of the islets this week too, including feeding the monkey (which was a little disappointing as you throw the food to them from the boat). It was cool though as when we got to the little island for lunch, we chatted with the tour guide, only to find out that he is a witness too. Cool! The houses were spectacular on the little islands and traditional fishermen were in the water, casting there nets. We saw an wide array of bird life and the flora was astounding.
I think that is all for now. We have been looking for a house to call home for the next six to 12 months (get us started) and think we may have found one close to the center of town. More than we wanted to spend but it is Granada and this is fully furnished and in a safe area. And we will have internet!

As always, our love to all :)

Monday, April 20, 2009


This morning we attended our first meeting in what is likely to become our new hall. This truly is a whole new world. Capturing in mere words the differences between the world we’ve come from and the one we now find ourselves thrust in, seems too much of a challenge to my overheated brain. Some good advice we recently received told us to not even try.

The newly formed English Group here in Granada meets in an older hall, surrounded by a cement wall. The chairs are plastic and are put out when the brothers arrive (I’m not sure why they’re not simply left out). Today, we discovered at a most inopportune time (crumb!!), that there is no toilet paper (or soap) in the washrooms. I’m not sure if that is normal or not. No air conditioning, just ceiling fans and I noticed that they only turned the ones on directly over the group. Keeping up with the electric bill is likely a challenge for the brothers. The English group currently has only one elder who is away visiting his family in the States, so a Missionary brother from the missionary home next door is taking care of things for the time being. There are two brothers (who I think are both MS’s) one from England and one from the US but they are both leaving within the next couple of weeks. David from England hopes to return in a couple of months. The rest of the group appears to be native Spanish speaking who are making the sacrifice to come to an English congregation. From what we understand the ministry here in Granada is most productive in the English and there is a GREAT need. At the meeting today there were about 20 in attendance. Gary did a fabulous job on his talk, adjusting both his words, his illustrations & his gestures to take into consideration the fact that for many, English is a new language. Hearing the heartfelt comments in broken English from the local Brothers was very encouraging.

What was extremely encouraging to us was that today at the meeting, another young couple (from New Mexico) came for the first time who have also been sent by the branch. They speak Spanish and have offered to help us get settled. What great timing! There is also a Bible study who is coming with her two young children (boys, 4 & 2) and a zealous 17 year old local sister so Nikki will have some friends in the hall.

On another note, Gary is trying to kill us!! No really, When we arrived here there was some ice in the freezer that we decided not to use since we couldn’t guarantee where it had come from. Since then he has been making lots of ice from purified water and keeping it in a bowl. I served freshly squeezed lime juice with lunch today with lots of ice in it to cool us down from the meeting. After lunch he came to me horrified, he hadn’t thrown the old ice out. Just put it in a bowl in the freezer!! And I used it! What he was saving it for is any ones guess but I’ve told him it’s his fault if we all die……..not that I hold a grudge of anything!

Gary had also just announced that he probably could of got away with the three or shirts people told him he would need….rather than the thirty we lugged here from Canada! It’s all a learning curve!

We notice here that there is little pretense. Simply survival. There is something brutal about that, but satisfying at the same time. You get down to the basics. People become very important to you. Lugging around two laptops seems silly. We regret not just buying a mini note book instead.

For any who are tempted to visit, we found an amazing hotel/restaurant in town that is to die for. We treated ourselves to lunch yesterday and I don’t exaggerate, it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. It’s in a grand old (and I mean grand) colonial building with a central courtyard with a fountain. The ceilings had to of been 20 feet high!! The chef wore a proper chef hat and the food was amazing! Our waiter took Nikki over to meet their resident parrot who Nikki was able to hold. We promise to take anyone there who comes! Tempted?? Not yet?? I’ll include some photos!

Tomorrow we are hoping to take a boat tour of the “Isleta’s” which includes a stop on Monkey island. Can’t wait. It is very hot so we limit how long we are out about. Gary & I don’t mind it to much, some how it is much more bearable than the humid heat we had in Ontario, but we are conscious of how wilted Nikki looks quite quickly. If this is the worst it gets (this is the very hottest month) then it is certainly not as awful as I had imagined. There is always a breeze. It much like August in Nova Scotia (you know, those two weeks where we actually had summer heat).

Oh and something large is living between the bamboo ceiling and the tiles on the roof over our heads in our bedroom, we’ll let you know when it lands on us and we find out what it is……!!

Thanks for the words of encouragement to those who have e-mailed. They are very much appreciated!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Life Continues.....

Sorry today has to be short. Gary & Nikki are waiting for me to head off from the cafe. Not having the internet at the Villa is tough! The Spanish family arrived last night for a visit. We'd given up on them. They said they were going to come at 6.....they arrived at 7. Guess we have to get used to Nicaragua time :) We had a lovely time and they provided us with a great deal of insight into the area and the Nicaragua culture.
Gary made contact with a local missionary couple yesterday.....and the next thing we knew, he was scheduled to give the talk on Sunday in the English Hall! We look forward to making that solid contact with the Brothers. It’s interesting, it is SO hot here but no air in the hall, so instead of the second congregation meeting in the afternoon, when it is hottest, they meet on Saturday morning at 10. Makes sense.
We made our first trip to the bank today. That was an adventure that we weren’t prepared for, starting with the security guard at the front door with a machine gun who stopped us and used metal detector wand on Gary to check for a gun (I must have looked safer as he just grinned and waved me through!) Inside were other guards....and the line up was horrendous. What were presumably rich Nicaraguan kept coming in and jumping to the front of the cue! We waited for at least half an hour and when we finally made it to the front of the time, were told that to change money into local currency we needed our passports!!! Drat! The teller eventually took pity on us when we protested and changed it with our Driver Licences. Thanks goodness! On the way out we chatted (in Spanish I am proud to say) with a street money changer. We will use him next time as it seems quite alright and no line up. The books all say it is safe to do so.
And before I forget, as we were leaving the bank we meet up with ANOTHER set of witnesses who were in doing some banking for the local congregation. One of them was a brother from Florida who has been living here for 7 years (just had a baby 25 days ago...well his wife did but he took the credit :D) who speaks English...hooray! He offered to help us in any way he can to. I think he is going to pop around to the villa with his wife some time soon. It’s so hard to give directions to him as there are no street numbers and barely any names!!
Anyway, this was supposed to be short. Must be off! We had moments of homesickness the last couple of days, everything here takes so much longer to do and you question yourself all the time. No food related illness yet, so we must be doing something right. I think it will grow on us!
Love to all!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

First Real Day in Nicaragua

I'm sending this from an internet cafe that makes to die for Latte's! We don't have internet at the villa. It makes us feel VERY isolated.

The villa is everything we hoped it would be....and a whole lot more. Amazing. I've told Gary that it's what I want him to build for me in the new system. Stunning. Nikki has been living in the pool!

The trip here was an adventure that I at first thought I could live without. The taxi arrived, it was supposed to be an SUV but it was instead a tiny little compact car....for all three of us and our luggage! I didn't think we would make it but he pulled it & shoved it and eventually had it all in but one large suitcase that was hanging out of the trunk tied on precariously with some string!! Nikki was having a heart attack, I said it was okay as long as it was Gary's case :)

We poured ourselves into the back seat (since the front was FULL of cases)the three of us, in almost 100 degrees F with the windows shut. I tried to open the window but it didn't work, and neither did the door when I tried to open it. My heart started racing and claustrophobia started to set in. The driver said he would turn the air on, and then we were off. The road noise was horrendous inside the car....not helping!! We kept bottoming out on bumps! Eventually I talked my panic down in my head and eventually as the air cooled down, we started to enjoy the journey. It was actually a really good road to Granada.

I have so much to say, Gary & Nikki are getting ansy....we went to the market for dinner food. Chaos. I LOVED it, Nikki found it a little overwhelming. Gary was on high alert :) Quite the adventure!

The evening set in and outside the house was loud with people in the street, kind of scary when you can't understand a word that is being said. We felt a little overwhelmed and wondered how we were going to manage. So much to learn. For the first time, we doubted ourselves. We went to bed early (as has become our routine bed at 9 up at 6) and this morning...knock knock ....Hola....the local entire field service group of them with the brother "in charge" of the group being an English teacher here! Thanks Jehovah!!!! We invited them in for a drink and cookies and spend a half hour with them. The brother who teaches English is coming back with his family this evening for a visit. He has offered to teach us Spanish (which I know is going to be the making of us here).

The maid came this morning, I hated it. So awkward. I'd rather do it all myself. She's sweet though, must be around 18.

Oh yes, and we found our first cockroach this morning. It was dying but huge non the less. Gotta get used to the bug life around us.....quickly! Loads of Geiko's here too. The streets are all really narrow which will take some getting used to.

So much to say but I have to cut it short. I will write at home tomorrow and simply up load when we get to the cafe.

So much love to you all. Being away makes us appreciate you all so much more :) And you all speak English which rocks!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Being Thrown from The Nest!

We considered chaining ourselves to the home overseer and refusing to go but to no avail! Today we are being tossed out of the nest to learn to fly on our own. Reality is at our door and it looks a little scary........

And Giekos are no longer my friend or considered cute......! We have not one but three sharing our apartment with us and they chirp so loudly that one sister said when she first heard the sound she thought it was someone at the door. It's a knocking sound and with three of them communicating to each other it was like Nikky Nikky Nine Doors here last night. With all the tales of scorpion & trantuals that we have been hearing it set me on edge for bed (Raphael was telling us that he stood on a scorpion in the shower just recently). Nikki wouln't put her feet down to the bottom of the sheets!

But it is all still good and the morning bird song and all the hugs from the family here have set us up good for the day ahead.

I'm not sure when we will next have internet. We leave here in one hour. We can't wait to stop leaving out of the suitcases for a month! Will update as soon as we can. Love to all!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Things That Go Chirp in The Night!

Today started much the same as all the days do apparently this time of year, no need to check the weather report, hot, no chance of rain with an occasional wisp of clouds.

Just before we headed to bed last night, I wanted to roll up the blinds to peak outside. Much to my horror a pale colored House Gecko rushed across the window just inches from where my hand was. Talk about an adrenaline rush! That wasn’t to be the last time they made themselves known though as they communicate to each other with LOUD chirps, all through the night. Our one consolation was the knowledge that they were eating up any little insects they found. One of the sisters told us this morning that all the houses have them in and most people don’t mind them since they do eat bugs.

I spent most of the night dreaming about scorpions & tarantulas (active imagination) and when I needed to get up mid night I refused to set foot out of the bed until I woke Gary up to get me a flash light J Nikki slept like a log, she needed it!! The heat of the day and the lack of sleep the night before had really taken it’s toll on her. This morning she is again her regular ray of sunshine (mixed with occasional thunder storm).

Breakfast was awesome (although we didn’t understand a word of morning worship). Local bananas which were much sweeter than home, then a fresh bun with a tray of Swiss cheese, onion, ham, tomato, olives & my favorite, Jalapeño peppers! My tummy is loving it! The coffee is amazing and we have noticed that they heat the milk (not cream) for it, giving you a beautiful steaming cup of strong, non bitter coffee. At the end of the meal, the Brother again came on to dismiss the meal and we heard our name and the word Canada and then a whole lot more. I asked the Brother (Moses) at the head of our table if they were saying nice things about us…..he said mostly! Anyway, they applauded heartily afterwards. A Brother we had met yesterday, Pedro, came over after the meal and was talking to Gary and Moses and told Moses that he hadn’t understood a word we said to him….and we were speaking Spanish…….back to the drawing board!!

So my day has barely begun and I have already had so much to say. Sorry. I want to have all our experiences down so we don’t forget anything. It’s like being a child all over again and everything is new and exciting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Better Write Again or I Won't Keep Up!

Someone pinch us...this can't really be happening.

It is hot and humid but not unbearable, although even the locals are saying that it is hotter than normal for this time of year. Perhaps we are still just too smitten to care, give us a month!

We spent the day at Bethel. We had been impressed with Patterson....but this is paradise. A Mountain sits behind the complex while the property itself is set on rolling hills of gardens that remind me of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. The buildings are all seperate, connected by outdoor walkways. The apartment we have is at the end of one of the residence complex's which are one storey buildings with red tiled roof. The complex is surrounded by a high fence with wrought iron spikes on the top which has then had ivy & roses grown all through & around it, turning a necessary funstion into a piece of astounding beauty. Pedro, the gardener gave us a brief tour today, the advocodos are the biggest I have ever seen and the tree is heavily laden with them. We had one sliced with our lunch today, topped with a spicy homemade salsa, it melted in your mouth. It tasted NOTHING like what we pay $1.50 for in Nova Scotia!
The bethel family are incredibly friendly. They sent a lovely English Brother named Matthew to pick us up and he and his wife are "hosting" us. He stopped on the way and showed us a volcano which he explained was the fourth largest natural polluter in the world! We went down a number of roads that a lesser car would not have made it through! The homes that people live in are sad to see, but to them is apparently normal. We drove past one house where a woman was diligently sweeping the floor, despite the fact that it was a dirt one, and the roof of the house was corrugated steel roughly through over top of some wood that looked like scrap. Puts things in perspective as we worry about conserving funds!
We spent the afternoon with Raphael Martinez who is helping to settle us. He has asked us to consider two locations. One, Granada which hasa a newly formed English group in need. The other is in an area that we had not considered due to heat and distance from the capital, Chinandega. They are wanting to start an English group there but need an elder. The growth in that area is apparently outstanding, for example, at the last convention held for a publisher group of 1000 they had an actual attendance of 2900! We will visit both areas and go from there. I read in a book that the second area, you feel like a chicken being cooked over a hot rotisserie. Not too "hot" on that idea :)
So we are now settling down for the night. It is only 7 pm here but last nights adventure is catching up on us. Tomorrow we are having a tour of the bethel and then relaxing. Sounds awesome!

We Made it!!!

I could cry with joy as I write the heading to this post. This is unbelievable! The day was very long, we arrived at the Managua airport (which was surprisingly modern) at 2 am our time and were immediately rocketed into chaos and people suddenly started moving very quickly and we were pulled along with the crowd. We'd seen an American couple who obviously spoke excellent Spanish ahead of us, so we made it our goal to keep up with them (stalkers :D) incase we ran into trouble.....and thanks to Jehovah, we didn't. I almost kissed the ground when we pulled our last suitase off the carousal. A Spanish fellow had grabbed a cart for us and took charge of our luggage with without us asking so we were then responsible to tip him. Oh well, we were tired anyway.

I again gave silent thanks as we headed for customs and saw through the glass to outside, a smiling man with the name of our hotel and our names waving furiously to us. He was adorable...Anthony. We were waved through customs without a back ward glance and then next thing we knew we were hurtling through cobble stone streets (trying to avoid the dogs, one looked like Honey) weaving in around traffic and 20 minutes later.....this amazing hotel. I don't care what the bill is when we leave. This place is heavenly.

We settled into sleep around 4 am our time and were woken up this morning at 8 am our time by the bird song out the window overlooking the courtyard. The ceiling of the bathroom is glass and hanging overhead are massive mango & palm trees. We couldn't stay in bed and headed out in our PJ's to wander through the "hot house' which is what outdoors feels like already at 6.30 their time!! Like the Royal Botanical Gardens Mediteranian Indoor Gardens.

We just finished a heaving traditional breakfast of the best coffee I've ever had (Nikki had freshly made Melon Juice) Rice & Beans, Fresh local cheese lightly fried, eggs, sausage and tortilla. Even Nikki loved it. Oh yeah, and it was topped with an Jalopeno pepper.

Sorry, I have so much to say and could just go on, but the family is waiting for the pool. We will get back in touch. Oh yes and did I tell you that I just told the waiter that the breakfast was "Muy Benito" which Nikki tells me is actually "Very pretty"!! Oh well :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Here we go.....for better or for worse :)

This is a picture of My Aunt Julie, my cousin Lauren & me ready for the memorial.
As surreal as it seems, we leave for the beginning of the rest of our lives pressure or anything. We keep reminding ourselves to just view it as a one month holiday. The rest will fall into place on it's own.
The congregation here in Lee said goodbye to us at the end of the meeting today....we're tired of having to say goodbye to good friends. We are really ready to make ourselves at home somewhere. The Lee group took us in and made us feel right at home. Hard to believe we will actually miss people we have only known for three and a half weeks!
Packing is finally done. No small feat! We leave here around 10 am tomorrow. The hotel where we are staying for the first night has Internet so I promise to let you know that we have arrived safe and sound..........

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gary & Jeff AKA Jesus

I couldn't resist adding this shot. Can you see the resemblance from the Greatest Man Book?

Patterson.....& Gilead!

Words are going to fail me as I try to capture in written form, the awesome experience we enjoyed yesterday at Patterson, the education centre of Jehovah's Witnesses in Patterson New York........but I'll give it a try.......!

The facilities are impressive and extremely well maintained, beautiful. Set against the backdrop of majestic rolling hills they offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The architecture is stunning.

We arrived around 11 and after wandering around the reception area for about 1/2 hour, looking at all the displays, we were met by really, Jeff, the Brother who had invited us for lunch & a tour, is the Brother who was used as the model for Jesus in the Greatest Man book. My Aunt had worked on the project with him. He is also now in the Timothy video (I think he plays "Silas"). What a lovely fellow!

We went straight up to the lunch room for an amazing meal of chicken fajitas with homemade salsa/spanish rice/roast baby carrots/bean salad & a light fluffy strawberry milkshake! What a do all those bethelites stay so slim?? A member of the governing body was visiting (sat a couple of tables over) and we enjoyed having him direct the meal and then offer the dismissal prayer. The brother who opened the meal in prayer was awesome, I exaggerate not an iota when I say that he simply thanked Jehovah for the meal and good friends and then closed. Guess he was hungry! The entire lunch room giggled when he finished...and then dug in!

The biggest treat of the day was to come next, Jeff asked one of the instructors of Gilead if we could have a tour of it!!! An area considered "confidential". It was AMAZING! Let me back track a little here....bear with tell you of a couple we had heard about who were serving in Nicaragua as need greaters, from Spain originally and were told that if they wanted to attend Gilead they would have to return to Spain and apply from there. I don't even remember who told us about them but we had heard this some time ago.......Back to the present.....When we met up with the instructor for Gilead he told us that we had to wait for another couple from Nicaragua we were like "no that's us, we're heading there" and then this couple walk in! The very couple we had heard of, on there way back to Spain, stopping to see Gilead on their way through......what's that chances of that!!
We then were treated to a tour of the facilities and shown some of the workbooks & material that were used. Brother Max Larsden from Brooklyn (branch committee) came through while we were there, telling us that that day marked 70 years for him at Bethel!! I can't even begin to express my appreciation for this amazing privilege! For Nikki to see it all meant a great deal to us!
The couple from Spain barely spoke any English and our Spanish is apparently not as fundamental as we thought ;) but we managed to communicate a great deal and we adored them. We hope our paths cross again. They gave us some very encouraging information about Nicaragua and begged us to go to the area they just left (Leon) as they say the need is huge. We will have to wait and see what the branch says when we arrive in just over a week. They told Gary this week that there is a new need developed that they want to discuss with us over coffee when we arrive. Exciting days.
As if this wasn't all enough, we then had the joy of having a Brother of the anointed show us around the art department. He is an amazing artist who has done many of the pictures we love so much in our literature. He is originally from Liverpool England. Last name Boyle....any relation Sean & Kathy?? :)
As if that weren't enough......we then met up with a Brother who had been friends with my family since I was a child (Ed Aljan) who gave us a personal tour of his department......Writing Correspondence!
After that we got to see the rest of the normal tour, while great, paled in comparison. We felt on such a high!!
I have so many amazing pictures of the day, I had trouble picking a handful to include with this post! If you want to see any in particular, shoot me off an e-mail and I will send it to you.
We arrived home around 6 pm. We felt so exhilarated and better prepared, bolstered for our trip ahead of us.
Next week I am going to concentrate on preparing for Nicaragua. First aid kit, some clothes (believe it or not Nikki appears to have shot up again and is not fitting into many of the summer things we bought) and then trying to narrow down the must have's for our suitcases. The branch this week provided us with the number of a new hotel opened near the branch by a Witness couple so we have changed our first night reservation the there, to be picked up the next day by the branch. It is a relief as my biggest concern was that first night and getting transportation so late at night from the airport. They are sending someone to meet's all coming together!
Sorry for going on so much continues to happen.....:)