Posted by: colettee | March 23, 2010

A Blessing From God

March 12, 2010

Friday

This morning about half our group left to head back to the states. It was strange seeing them leave. Then knowing today was our last full day in Jinotega made the morning kind of rough. I went back to the special school to play with the students while other people finished the kitchen/cafeteria area. We got to the school earlier than before so the students were still in class. We went to one of the classrooms where the children with autism were dancing. [This type of learning style could be called choreography because the steps were planned and practiced in advanced.] The students were having a great time as shown by the smiles and laughter that beamed from them. They wanted us to dance with them… so we did. You can’t say no to a precious child of God who asks you to dance with them! Seriously! So three of us had a very good workout dancing with God’s children. We visited with a few more classrooms then it was break time-which included lots of sliding and basketball and skipping. Some of the students remembered us from earlier days in the week and that made the morning even more special. God has made beautiful children all over this world, and it was truly my pleasure to meet his precious children in Nicaragua. We enjoyed a quality ham and cheese lunch (thank you Anna) with our leftover family still in Jinotega. After lunch the plan was for Julianne and I to go to Casa Materna and sew with the women staying there. Casa Materna is a special house for women who live in the mountains of Nicaragua to come and wait during the last few weeks of their pregnancy. The advantage of living in the Casa and being close to the hospital is huge for these women. The death rate of infants in Nicaragua is very high. It’s heartbreaking that the women don’t name their babies for almost two weeks or until they know the child will survive. This place has had my heart and my prayers since the first time I heard about it in the summer of 2007, and I was trilled to have the opportunity to go visit. Well as things progress, “monitor and adjust” became the key phrase to remember :) The end result was a translator and the preacher’s wife (love Sandra) and I visiting the women for about an hour just sharing stories. It was such a blessing! Between the compassion of Brenda and the love of Sandra, the women felt comfortable to share their life with me. But the biggest blessing came from Brenda’s tenderness. She connected with one of the women (a single, 20-year-old woman who had a big, beautiful nine day old baby boy) and both of the ladies ended up in tears. The experience sparked a wonderful conversation between Brenda and I. This day is one that will stand out in my mind from the quick time here in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Those women have such strength to carry that many children and many of them raise them on their own. Thankfully, God provides everything we need, even when we don’t know we need it.

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Posted by: colettee | March 13, 2010

Moving Forward

March 11, 2010

Thursday

The morning began a little earlier than most. I needed time to process my feelings and thoughts from the day before. Wednesday night Baker asked what about today would we never forget? I couldn’t answer due to the fact tears were pouring out of my eyeballs. But there are a couple more things I needed too say that I couldn’t last night. The day truly was life changing for me. The day truly was one of the most encouraging days I’ve ever experienced. It was a day that I will never forget!

Now for Thursday… the plan: go to school in the morning and work at the special school in the afternoon. I have been to other schools this week but this school was the first one-room building I had visited. There was one Profe and two teacher’s assistances and about thirty children! Busy place to be. The sung a couple songs for us and then we were asked to teach them songs :) Thank you, Molly McCoy! I had no idea what song to do but Molly came up with four right there on the spot. Ladies and Gentlemen… the bestest Kindergarden teacher ever… Ms. Molly McCoy! The kids really enjoyed it. They were smiling and laughing as we sang together. Then the Profe put them in groups and we began coloring time. Some of the kids are future artists. After talking to them about colors (part of my limited available conversation topics), I got Dr. Seuss book: One Pez, Dos Pescas, Pez Rojo, Pez Azul. I had one boy who was finished coloring, Walter, so he sat while I read because he said he couldn’t read. Some of the other ninos were listening and two of them very intently. They moved to sit next to Walter and me. When I asked them to read a page, they got excited and shy all at the same time. But eventually the two girls did read, and they were excellent! I was very impressed. We were about half way through the book and in a good reading pattern when it was time to leave. That meant I had to take the book away. They seemed a little sad, but I was devastated. All they know is the mobile book set that comes in and out once every few months. I hope one day, each school is able to own a set of books to keep in their classroom! Note: by this point in the day, I had already become a broken record in my own head “I will love with all I have, play as hard as I can, and serve God’s precious children.” A quick drive back to the mission and it was time for lunch.

A group of about 6 of us went back to the special school to improve their kitchen. It was good to switch things up for a bit and work a little. I left the school looking like I had been up a chimney-which was almost true as we sanded soot off the walls next to the fireplace. A little trim paint later, and our job was finished for the day.

The survey we made on Monday was used tonight after church for about 15 teenagers at the church. We still have to get some more surveys before we have any results, but Holly, Alicia and I are excited to start going through them once we have all the surveys.

Group debriefing was done in small groups tonight, and I was so encouraged by everything that was said. I love the group that came down. I will really miss seeing everyone so often in this incredible place that is worlds difference from Searcy. But hopefully we’re able to take our story and our growth and our experience and our love back to Searcy. Buenos noches.

Posted by: colettee | March 11, 2010

Precious Children of God

March 10, 2010

Wednesday

Today was a rollercoaster for me. We were moving at high speeds. I had surprises around every corner. I was definitely thrown for a loop. I love rollercoasters normally… but not so much today. On a rollercoaster you have to surrender control. You are not in charge of the speed or the direction or the thrill. But you still have a choice. You can enjoy the ride, or be sad that you were flipped upside. You can laugh when something unexpected happens, or you can cry because it’s not how you though things would turn out. Maybe your expectations for a fun and carefree ride weren’t met. You found yourself not only caring but also loving the ride and not wanting to depart the cart.

Today was filled with so many conflicting emotions. I played with children who had special needs for almost 3 hours. Then, I held malnourished and neglected babies for another hour. On one hand, I loved skipping around the playground while holding the hand of a precious child of God; on the other hand, it was so hard to just play with them and leave. In Matagalpa at the malnutrition center, I held another precious child of God with legs that were  abandoned and was in Matagalpa’s version of foster care. I wondered if she was going to get all the love and attention a baby should to develop physically and intellectually.

I am a helper. My personality is to try to meet the needs of others, and today I feel like I didn’t meet their needs. But worse than that I felt I couldn’t meet their needs. The other part of my personality wants to understand the big picture. But I could not do that either. I know the facts: I am not God. I can not be in control. I can not be in the know. I can not fix everything. I will not understand why life has such drastic differences that form us into the precious children of God. But my job is to “glorify God with everything that I do.” So, I will love with all I have, play as hard as I can, and serve God’s precious children.

Posted by: colettee | March 11, 2010

What do you see?

March 9, 2010

Tuesday

So without the howling wind the temperatures for sleep was perfection. Cool but not freezing but the wakeup call was the same :) I really am used to it now, but it’s still just totally different for me. Coming from a college campus where people don’t appreciate you talking to them until after 10 am, hear people halfway through their day at 6:30 am is slightly shocking. Another tasty breakfast, packed lunch later and we’re on our way to our sites! With Harvey and Carlos directing our van, we began the trek to the school in the mountains. It was further than Apanas but in the same direction, North of Jinotega. After beautiful scenery, an hour in the van, about 15 minutes walking up the steep part of the hill, and a flat tire, we made it to “la escuela.” The kids were playing handball, climbing on the swing set, and in class. Sandra, a Nicaraguan with two adorable boys, came up there with us. She talked to the teachers and all the students lined up between the two buildings (with two classrooms each) to sing some new songs. The one that directly translated was Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes [Cabeza, Hombrio, Rodilla y Pias]. The kids had a lot of fun doing the big goofy motions and learning the songs. Their faces were filled with smiles that covered their whole face, and their laughter filled the air. We pulled out books next and got in little groups to sit and read with the children! I had a group of eight 6-8 year olds= precious. A couple of them could read really well, and the words they couldn’t read they knew how to sound out. A couple other ninos were hanging on each word I tried to pronounce. Then a few kept pointing to animals or things in the pictures. There was one who just lost interest- not everyone can love reading. We read books about Hector the Tractor, Ramona (a monkey who I think fell in love), Aristocats, a mermaid book, and Huevos verde y jamon (Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess)! It was a very nice mix of reading material. The older kids told us the sweetest goodbye. Thanking us for coming and spending time with them. We responded by saying “Thank you for letting us be with you today, we love you and will not forget you!” After painful goodbyes, we headed back down the mountain to Jinotega. We got back to the mission a little early and had time to catch up on sleep, showering and blogging. A little down time is always good. We had supper together then went to church. Benny has been teaching on Tuesday nights for a while so we had an English lesson- pretty exciting. He was asking, “What we saw?” And saying that it depended on the eyes we were looking through. Ours, 4-year-old Nicaraguan’s, translator’s, God’s? Our group debriefing time was special tonight. Talking with the many fabulous people on this trip about their experiences and the impact it had on them is moving for me.

The song I’ve been singing today is: “Take my life and let it be all for you and for your glory! Take my life and let it be yours!” Those lines are my battle cry for the week.

Posted by: colettee | March 9, 2010

loving the language barrier

March 8, 2010

Monday Night

Frio. Mui, mui frio en la manana! We woke up to the “normal” bus station noises (horns, people yelling, loud music…) plus temperatures that seemed to be below freezing. Mom, it was most definitely colder than the basement during winter when I don’t turn on the heat :) However, it made perfect sleeping weather. Breakfast was pancakes with peanut butter and watermelon- lovely! We had a meeting to get our assignments for the day then headed out to worksites or began planning out more of the assignment details. Holly Wilkerson, Alicia Tinkle and I worked with Erica, a translator, to prepare a survey for Nicaraguan teenagers about their spiritual lives. How ever, if you use the word spiritual, they don’t really understand it. Talk about communication problems… that’s exactly what the four of us worked through during the morning. For the most part, we all understood one another, which was helpful. We were talking about what is important in the spiritual formation and growth of a teenager’s life in Jinotega. We’ve already seen insights into the differences between American and Nicaraguan teens, and they haven’t even filled out the survey yet!

The whole group had lunch together today then split up again for afternoon assignments. I went with a group of 10 girls to see the “Pottery Lady.” She has special black clay that she gets from the mountains and makes all sorts of things with it: bowls, cups, mugs, pitchers, figurines of houses and turtles and candle holders. She has talent. The ride to her house (about 20 minutes by truck) was beautiful and like any ride around Nicaragua very bumpy. There are trees with big, deep orange blooms. When the sun is reflecting off them on the side of the mountain, the Nicaraguans refer to them as “The Fire of the Mountains.” We also got to see Lago Apanas (Lake Apanas). A man made lake used to run a hydroelectric plant. On our way back to Jinotega we stopped in Apanas. Apanas was the main construction sight we worked on the first time we came to Nicaragua back in 2007. The building has a church, an apartment for the preacher and a school. I haven’t seen it since that first year; so seeing the finished project painted and in use was thrilling. God is alive in Nicaragua, and I hope I search for his influence when we return back to the states like I’m searching here. We had a fabulous dinner from Jimmy’s wife (Dad, el hefe remembers you!) chicken, beans & rice, and “a salad concoction” :) words of the cook herself. Food has such flavor down here, and I love it! By flavor I should probably specify spice– glad I don’t have acid reflux issues. We had a little down time before our nightly debriefing. So I went down stairs to talk to Mom and Dad! Yay! Skype is fantastic! In our debriefing, we talked about highlights of the day, frustrations, something we learned, and where we saw God. It’s always great to hear about the different experiences everyone has because they are all different. And even the people who experienced the same thing, each person is impacted in a different way.

Tomorrow I’ll be with a group going to a school for the whole day. I’m excited to interact with the children and learn from them in attitude and Spanish. Thanks for keeping up with me! ‘Til tomorrow.

Posted by: colettee | March 9, 2010

Tourist for a Day

March 7, 2010 9:15pm

“Windows downs and the night rolls in, old conversations begin again… HEY everything’s right, saying everything’s right tonight!” Matt Wertz

This song is a little misleading for Jinotega tonight because the windows are definitely up, but the night is still rolling in :) I’ve never heard wind like this and have a whole new perspective on the phrase “whistling wind.”

Anyways, today was very touristy, and right away we are introduced to the “ish.” For anyone not familiar with this official terminology it is a way of defining time when one does not exactly have anything set. Ish covers 15 minutes before and up to an hour after the proposed time. Breakfast, pack, load the buses for a Mombacho Canopy Tour (aka Zip Lining). Dad: it was even better than the place we went. The runs were longer and the workers were very personable. I wanted to go upside down once, and of course I chose the longest line to do that. When we stopped, and I wasn’t sure we were going to- we being the professional holding me and me- I really couldn’t tell up from down. It was stellar! Lunch was at tip-top (chicken place similar to KFC) where we had a nice conversation with one of the translators, Harvey. Next, we headed to the market. With assistance from Tony, our personal market guide, Alicia Tinkle and I found some pretty unique items. I was specifically touched by Tony’s point to take us to places that were about more than just making money. One stand run by teenagers was impressionable. Tony explained that the owner (the father) made just about everything they sold by hand with his children’s help. Once they made enough profit to live off, they gave the rest of their profits to help orphaned children. “Some people just think more and more, these guys think of others,” was Tony’s summary. It surprises me each time how many children (like 13 or younger) are trying to sell something to help their family make a living. And the way they let you know if they need help is humbling. For me, I don’t like asking for help because I feel like I’m supposed to be able to do things on my own. And even though I know many of the people down here just ask for cordobas (same price as American nickels) because they can, it still reminds me of the principle of asking and admitting I can’t do things alone.

The van ride was entertaining and very different scenery than I was expecting. We’re coming at the beginning of the rainy season, and I’ve only been in Nicaragua during the end of the rainy season. The land is very dry and the vegetations is brown not the luscious green I’ve seen on previous visits. Through the ride we experienced a major change in temperature. After starting in Managua’s hot climate, moving to the cool, breezy climate of Jinotega was refreshing. Although, we weren’t expecting howling, knock you over type winds. We made it to Jinotega in time for church :) The singing! Love it! The congregation is so full of life. Just listening to the enthusiasm in their voice, especially when I can’t understand most of the words, encourages me like no other. I think we get apathetic about singing in the States, which is sad. Sing praises to our Father who created us and gives us every breath we take– kind of a big deal. The part of the message I understood was about God preparing a future for us. He loves us and wants us in Heaven with him so we need to be seeking his guidance. [For anyone who attended chapel last week at Harding… slightly ironic.] Dinner and our official “Welcome to Mision Para Christo in Jintoega” completed the night. Now, off to bed for some much needed rest before we begin work day numero uno tomorrow! Buenos Noches Amigas! Te amo! [Good night. Love you.]

Posted by: colettee | March 8, 2010

From Managua

March 6, 2010 10:50pm

Saturday:

Last update was supposed to be from the airport… not sure if it actually make it online though. We left Little Rock and had a short flight on a 3 seater-plane to Huston. Then we boarded a big plane to Managua, Nicaragua! AH! For anyone who knows me, I’m normally a narcoleptic in any mode of transportation, but not tonight. I sang praises to our glorious Father while working a rubik’s cube. The time was just peaceful and such a positive start to the week. Sometimes it amazes me how true scripture actually is. Friday, I was begging God for his peace, and Saturday night, I have received his peace in abundance. [Matt 22:21 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.] Back to the recap of Saturday night: made it through customs, found all luggage, walked across the street to our hotel, first Nicaragua intro (do NOT drink the water), then time for bed. Off site-seeing on our way to Jinotega tomorrow.

Posted by: colettee | March 6, 2010

Preparing for Departure

After months of excitement, March 6th is finally here! The day a whole crew of college students, three children plus two brave leaders begin traveling to Jinotega, Nicaragua! I’m  super stoked to return. The people of Nicaragua and the beauty of the country captured my heart two years ago, and I hope to come back with a bigger whole because I of the wonderful people I get to meet.

This has been an intense week  for me already. Start with a four tests, add missing family, mix in lack of sleep… that would be the recipe for stress. But God provides the needed strength and more importantly the support from the amazing people He has put in my life. Being able to literately leave all of that behind and relocate to a another country focused on showing God’s love to the people I come in contact with is the best thing that could happen! Soon the plane will leave from Arkansas soon and tonight we will be in Managua, Nicaragua… praying for a safe uneventful flight. Talk to you next time from Managua!

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