Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rain Dancing Cannucks.......

In Canada I had at times referred to myself as the Queen of Make Do (I'd rather of been a princess but for obvious reasons it just didn't work). Now I realise that I was only in training!

The new house loses water from 5 pm - 5 am. In theory. We have since discovered that this is simply the times you can count on....other than that, it's a gamble. You feel like you've won the lottery when you turn on the tap and water actually comes out! Today, we were desperate, we woke up to no water before the meeting, so we used the last of the water we had saved yesterday before 5 to flush what needed flushing and wash the bare minimum that needed washing. I'm not going into specifics! We had an awesome meeting and then went for lunch with the visiting speaker and the friends that had come with them. We walked about 5 km after lunch to the grocery store only to find it closed and then headed another km for the bus stop. By now I had blisters (I was in high heels as we hadn't planned to be walking) We got home literally plastered with our own sweat.....turned on the tap, NO WATER! I wouldn't have believed how demoralizing that can be if I hadn't experienced it. We knew at this point we wouldn't have water until 5 the next morning....and that's only if we won the lottery!

Our unwashed dishes were all the sink from the morning, our house was sweltering, our hands and bodies were in desperate need of washing and we were completely out of water! We wandered outside as it was a little cooler and started joking about rain dances, I mean by now we were really desperate. We decided to laugh rather than cry, we'd had such an encouraging lunch and meeting we didn't want to lose the joy. So we did silly rain dances (fortunatley we live in the country). Within an hour it was raining (I think it was the extra sound effects that Gary threw in his dance that did it). Nikki & I stripped down to our undies and did what I've always wanted to do, shower in the rain. Torrential rain! Cold & gloriously wet. We shared our shower with a giant toad, but who cared, we were actually cold & finally clean. It was a beautiful moment. We stuck some buckets outside and can now flush & brush before bed!! Life is good!

We experienced a wicked lightening storm this week. Nikki & I were home alone from the meeting (with horrible colds) when it hit. It was severe and power was on and off for most of the night. Then lightening hit a transformer in the field beside the house, we saw it happen right out our living room window. There was a sudden, earth shattering crack and a brilliant burst of light, then sparks, and then pitch blackness! The dogs we are baby sitting went nuts, the baby kittens started to panic and Nikki and I scrambled to calm everyone in the dark while searching for our flashlights and lighting candles. In the meantime, we forgot to shut the windows and by the time we remembered, the beds were soaked and the floors flooded! We have no dryer, so everything had to be hung up and strung over furniture with fans on them....when the power came back on! Not to mention matresses that needed to be dried and floors that needed mopping (by hand, we have yet to buy a mop, try bringing one home on the bus). What an adventure!

Our speaker, this week & his wife were a beautiful couple from the States (Arizona) who were very encouraging. He took early retirement and at 62 years of age, he and his lovely wife sold their home and all the goodies they had collected over their entire marriage and came to Nicaragua. He said at the time it was very scary but once they were done, felt incredible & free. They are now learning Spanish and planning to spend the rest of their life here if possible. They have been here for 9 months and loving it. In fact their daughter and son in law have since come here too!
We are learning to reassess what is normal, what you need to be happy and what things are really important to us. For example.....I haven't had a Tim Hortons coffee since we arrived, and I'm fine! Really....!Some days these changes and adjustments are painful and other days they are freeing. But even when we struggle the most, we can't see ourselves returning to "normal" life in Canada any time soon. There is too much good here, too many wonderful things we want to see and do, too much satisfaction in our ministry. The opportunity for growth is too great.

The vehicle search is in full swing and we are very excited to get be free to explore! To be able to drive into town for!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our New Home

Here is a picture of Nicaragua's national bird (notice the long tail) who lives just outside our bedroom window...and something that a bird did on me in service!

Welcome! The door is always open and the views spectacular. As are the Mojitos!

Here is the front and rear of the new house

Dragon Fruit....

We were so excited to try this gorgeous fruit as it came in season. Apparently it is more flash than flavour! Bland with a interesting texture. A mouth full of two was all we couuld handle. It's interior colour reminded me of beets and was just as prone to staining. The little seeds reminded me of Kiwi. It cost under a $1....but was not worth it ;)

A Trip To Managua...

Masaya Volcano is still active and sends constant plumes of smoke & sulfer into the surrounding air. You drive by it on the highway between Granada & Managua. Bethel is not far from here. On the opposite side of the bus is a distant view of the Lake on which Managua sits.

While in Managua on this particular trip we got caught out by the rain. We really hadn't had much in the way of day time rain so we were not prepared! Suddenly the sky darkened and within minutes the heavens opened and let loose! Gary assured us it was just a passing shower (!) but an hour later it was coming down just as hard. We stood waiting for the bus on this highway you see in the picture. The water was splurting up out of the sewers!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Laguna Du Apoyo....Breathtaking!

We have yet to make it for a swim in pristine Laguna but we were able to enjoy the incredible beauty again yesterday at a restaurant overlooking it. The friends we were with suggested we go for a days relaxation and swim there this week coming so we are really looking forward to that. The restaurant we ate at was "wall-less" and had a thatch roof. We all had lovely chicken dinners starting with salads and then with served with rice and homemade salsa's for about $4 US each. I'm not sure I can cook for that....not sure I want to :)

Before going for dinner we had spent the afternoon at Masaya Market, which really is a facinating exciting place (where we had lunch at a vendor for our first time. A fried chicken meal for under $2). We were picking things up for the new place (yes, we moved again. Don't ask! This IS that last time......). The deals to be had are incredible. Hardwood stools, handmade, 2 for $12! A collection of 6 handmade baskets of all different sizes and styles $5. Nikki got a turquoise necklace for $2. We also bought, which was actually my main goal, two large "sling chairs" with wooden frams for $18 each. Hand crafted. I picked up a couple pieces of ceramics which Masaya is also famous for. All in all, it was a really fun day shopping. Bartering for the best price is at times, half the fun! On your bad days, it is extremely annoying!

The water in our new place turns off at 5 in the evening and isn't back on again until 5 in the morning. My first job when I wake up is to fill a load of buckets with fresh water for the evening ahead. Some days it feels like we've gone back in time 100 years. I do now have a washing machine so after a month of handwashing, I feel like the richest woman in the world. And smell better too ;) Our first morning here we awoke to the load sound of Mooing. A herd of cattle had gotten loose and made themselves at home all around the house. It was quite the spectacle!

We continue to have great success in the ministry although much to my chagrin, most of my good calls are with men who I then have to turn over to Gary. One of the ones we reached when we first arrived is progressing really well and attending almost all the meetings. He even commented the other night at the book study! It seems that in the English territory, we find more men that speak English than women, apparently due to the better education available to them. We catch the bus into the service group now at 7.30 am for the 8 am group. Today we must have walked at least 10 kms in service. I had to get groceries on the way home and Nikki and I carried them all the way back home on the bus while Gary went on another two studies. Life is never boring! The bus driver misunderstood me (my poor Spanish) and dropped us off at least 1 km from the house. It was a challenging walk home on the side of the highway :) I imagine we looked quite the sight!

And so, as you can understand.......we are now on the hunt for a vehicle. They are pricey here and usually in really rough shape so it is likely to prove to be quite a challenge. Big surprise! We are confident that it will fall into place though! I'll keep you updated!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Latin Nights with Cheap Drinks...& Adventures!

I had a study this week with a woman who lives outside of town, down by the waterfront. This is not considered a safe area for foreigners although it is very pretty and during the day is generally fine. I took a taxi and the driver was great. He wouldn’t let me out to the cab until he knew for sure it was the right address (I wasn’t sure as it is a study I was doing for a missionary sister who had gone home for the international convention). We sat on the front verandah in wooden rocking chairs with horses wandering around through the property and a gentle breeze keeping the bugs at bay. I felt like I was in the deep south of the States instead of Nicaragua. (see the picture of the road it was on).

Coming home was a little more of an adventure. I had to walk out to the main street and try to find a cab in a somewhat remote area. One came by almost immediately (going the wrong way ) and the three male occupants all gestured wildly and called out (thank goodness I can’t understand Spanish). Wisely, I decided to give it a pass. I walked on for about ½ a kilometer and then finally saw a cab coming, I flagged it down only to realize too late, that it was the same cab as before, now going my way with one less occupant, and they were already leering. Nice! I swallowed my fears as cabs really are safe in Granada and jumped in anyway. Thankfully, within seconds a family of four flagged down the cab and jumped in also. I say thankfully, but under any other circumstances I would have been horrified, there were now 7 of us in a small compact car, 5 in the back seat. This is a whole new lesson in person space for me!! We were sharing sweat through our clothes!! But at least I made it back to town, wrinkled and sweaty but unmolested! What an adventure.

Last night we met another couple in town for a meal. We ate in a little street side restaurant an the main tourist street in all of Nicaragua called Calle Calzada. It was really cool. It was dark with the cobblestone street lined in lights and mature trees. Latin music blares out of the multitude of restaurants, competing for your hearing and dollars. All the tables are outside, lining the thoroughfare, which is packed with tourists and locals alike, people from all over the world, literally. Across the street from us, four Latin dancers were performing their traditional colourful dance. The street was alive and vibrant, particularly as it was a Friday night. Our restaurant was serving drinks at two for one price. We had 2 Mojitos (which I love) for C$24 ($1.24 US) Two!! And a massive (and I mean massive) burrito for C$80 ($4 US). It was a beautiful evening with good friends.

Annoying but sad at the same time, we spent half the night fighting off beggars, both kids and dogs as well as an endless train of merchants with their wares who wouldn’t take no for an answer. I actually find it fascinating, a part of the culture that I have never experienced, but Nikki hated it. I fed a little dog beside me a couple of times (until Gary caught me) and realized too late my mistake when another joined and they looked like they would fight. Nikki & I were unable to finish our food and offered it to a couple of the children who had asked for some. They took the plates to another table and shared it with their friends. They were so hungry! It hits home hard some times, just how good we have it compared to so many! The sister with us was telling us that at the convention she was eating her feast that she had prepared for lunch when she noticed some sisters behind her sharing some shriveled fruit. She offered some food to them, out of her plenty, and they gratefully accepted but then asked her if she minded if they shared it with some of the brothers on assignment who had nothing! I panic when I run out of tea! We are learning so much!

We move in two days and are very excited. Believe it or not, it took us ALL of last week to get our internet and cable hook up booked. I can’t even begin to tell you why it took that long, but it is again an example of how nothing here happens quickly or easily. We also experienced the two tier system first hand, which offends me to no end but is again a lesson. There was a great promotion on but when we went to book and pay for it, were told that it was only for locals, not for foreigners!! We ended up putting it in a sisters name to get it for the reduced rate.

We have started making plans for our special assembly day in English…which is being held on the other side of the country in Bluefields in August. It is going to include for us, a couple of hours in a small single engine plane. Gary calls it a “Puddle Hopper”. A little scary but thrilling. We are hoping while we are there to take another small plane ride onto Corn Island for a couple of nights with some friends from the group here. Apparently it is a Caribbean Jewel with turquoise waters and great snorkeling and diving. Very ‘uncommercial”. We can't wait. Even just to view the country from the air will be a real treat.

We are really seeing results in the territory and the walking seems so much easier now! The human body adapts so well….if you don’t give up. Now if only my mind would follow suit, this Spanish thing is proving to be such a challenge!

That’s all the news for today. Well, as much as I can bore you with. Love to all!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Nikki's first talk in Nicaragua.


In Service


The Granada English Group

Monday, June 8, 2009

Round Worms, Mouldy Potatoes and Beggars!

A local needs talk in our Spanish Congregation was very encouraging to us this week. The local congregation has 76 publishers, one elder (a missionary) and a MS that they borrowed from another hall. They have 136 studies. Their average hours are 22. The local need was for them to make the time to get back to RV’s as many who have interest are not being cared for. What a need! As many in the hall work 6 days a week, there are a number of well supported evening groups. Talk about appreciation!

Sunday, after our English meeting (in which a Missionary Brother gave an awesome talk on Love) a group of 9 of us went for Pizza and then walked into the territory to complete the area as there were many calls that were Sunday only. Generally by the time we have sweated through a meeting we are not in the mood to walk in the heat into the territory, especially since we are hungry. So we put forward special effort this week and treated ourselves to lunch out and then hit the road. It was very rewarding! There was a festival in town and we saw a number of groups of men sitting around drinking, literally gallons of deadly moonshine. It was really interesting to see. When life is so hard, an occasion to be wild is eagerly taken! We walked by one “house” that was simply corrugated steel sheets leaning up against each other. Music was blaring from within and from the “kitchen” area was the smoke from a smoldering fire. I thought, what do you do, get up and clean the house? Take your clean clothes out of a closet (they are usually clean looking people) and shower? Catch one of the chickens to cook up for dinner? This is such a foreign world to me. It’s no wonder they stare at us, we really are aliens to their world. It puts some of my problems into perspective for me.

Debbie is one sister from the States in our group. She is in her 50’s, has fibermyalgia (sp?) and is very classy. Not someone you would expect to see sweating it out in the dirt in Nicaragua. She is a real hoot and was telling me that she had literally melted a pair of sandals here. From walking and the heat, the soft plastic bottom had become all misshapen and were no longer usable. She runs a boutique back in the States selling high end bits and pieces. Her first grandchild was just born this February (she went home to visit). And yet here she is limping along (literally) in service with the rest of us. Keeping us in stitches with her humor and stories (like when she was having a bad day and yelled at the annoying aggressive beggar lady in town. She meant to yell at her “never (nunca)” but instead yelled “neck, neck neck (nuca)! To which the beggar lady apparently yelled back at the top of her lungs “neck neck neck! What a spectacle).

Some good news is that I have found my chin! It turns out it had been there the whole time, just hidden :) We have run out of food as life was really hectic last week so we have been eating some very weird combinations and concoctions! And the kittens have been drinking all our milk. Gary was complaining this morning, as he boiled a shriveled up potato for breakfast, that the kittens are getting tuna while we are eating scraps! Hehehe!

Speaking of kittens, we dewormed them again this week and I got to see my first round worm!!!! I’m still trying to get past it!!

One week and we move….lots to do this week to get prepared. Four of Gary’s bible studies came to the meeting on Sunday and two have asked to study twice a week! We continue on an emotional rollercoaster but know that it is only to be expected. Onward…….

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


We have added three new critters to our repertoire here at Santa Lucia Social Club. Two cute, one not so much! The first one is a new Gecko (see the picture above) He is much more aggressive than our normal gecko’s and won’t move even if you flick water at him (that’s experience talking). He has a orange/red head (in fact I think they call him a red head Gecko) and a grey/green body. From what I read though he is harmless, although, trust me I looked him up! Especially after he was sat on my head band and refused to move when I tried to get it! He is currently sitting in our bathroom sink….not sure what we’ll do when we need to brush our teeth for bed. He’s been there for the last hour!

The second is also cute, in fact, he has become a popular pet of late. We found a Green Iguana sunning himself on the concrete perimeter fence in front of our patio (see picture). We had to look him up to find out which of the iguana species he was. And that he was harmless! It was interesting to watch him move. It’s so great to see these critters in the wild. Not as fun when they are living above your bed in the ceiling (that is also experience talking).

The third is not really new or terribly interesting but it is a nuisance. There is a large flying beetle of sorts that seems to have come into season…in great number. Their back end lights up green and flashes, I think to attract a mate (interesting move). Since this place has no screens or air conditioning, we are open to the outside (which is why I feel like I’m on a never ending camping trip) and so we are inundated with them and they seems to like to dive bomb your head. Nikki calls them giant fleas, which makes no sense, but she is grossed out by them and spent half our family study tonight fighting them off with the fly swat!

We spent the day today taking the public transportation to the new property just to see if it was possible until we buy a vehicle. Amazing how everything here takes twice as long as you think it will (it’s true, it really does, don’t ask me why) but we eventually made it out on the bus and back again. It’s only 5 cords each (25 cents) which doesn’t sound like a lot but could really add up and is certainly not convenient. Still, it was nice to know how easily it can be done. We are closer to Managua & Masaya there too which is really nice and it is one of the busier bus routes in Nicaragua so it will be an easy spot to get in and out of.

We have priced out furniture and believe it or not, we can outfit the house with new/basic furniture and appliances for about $2500 or $3000. Most things here are imported from Asia and so are less expensive than in Canada. But also much poorer quality. You can’t believe how excited I am at the prospect of sleeping on my own mattress and with pillows that aren’t already sporting drool stain decorations from endless former occupants!!

The vehicle search is on and we looked at one wreck already this week…..more to come!!