Back to School 2017

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The alarm clock blast goes off at 5:00 am.  How many times can we push the snooze and still make it on time?  We have been back into the swing of school for just about 2 weeks and while the early wake-up call isn’t always that great, Susan and the kids are happy and excited to be back to class.

Julia is now in the third grade and has many of the same friends in her class as she did last year.  She is enjoying her teacher and the activities that third grade kids get to do.  Landon is a big kid now in first grade.  He too has many of the same friends in class from last year and enjoys some of the new specials and activities that first grade students get to do.  We are so thankful for a good start for Julia and Landon.  They amaze us in many ways with their positive attitudes towards school, even though it is different from what they’ve experienced in the States.  They are brave in situations where they still are the new kids doing school in a Nicaraguan style school.  Both of them are kind and accepting of other kids and have made new friends.  They are learning to take some risks and trying out new things that they might fail at.  Which I believe is a great life skill.

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Susan is teaching English, full-time at NCA Nejapa.  Her class load includes two second grade classes, a 5/6th grade combo class, and a 7/8th grade combo class.  She is enjoying her new students and is glad for the half-year of teaching last year where she was able to get to know some of the NCA students and staff.  Susan has also been working with her English teaching team to plan out program goals for students and English standards of proficiency that the school would like learners to achieve.  She’s also been doing a lot of collaboration with her team on teaching practices and strategies that are the most effective for their setting at NCA Nejapa.

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Lucas is enjoying his three mornings at his daycare.  It has been good for him to be able to play with other kids and have a change of routine.  He is also starting to pick up Spanish which is cute to hear him say a few words here and there.  Lucas and I have a great routine at home and we enjoy working in the house together and meeting our neighbors on our daily walks.  I use the mornings he’s away to work on ministry related tasks like letter writing, blog posts, and other communication.  I also schedule meetings which relate to my work with the ANCA board, or NCA Nejapa administrative team during that time.  Which works out very well.

We thank you for your prayers and support as we serve.  I can’t express enough how much your partnership means to us!

Prayer Items for the month:

  • Thanks to God for providing us a great, new housing option beginning in July when our sublet here in Becklin is up.
  • Prayers for our immigration process and residency.  We have our residency appointment on March 14.  Please pray that everything goes through.  Immigration processes for foreigners is not easy.
  • Pray for the ANCA board as we are searching for a new Director for NCA Nejapa.  The previous director took a leadership role in his church.  We are thankful for a great interim director who was willing to fill in for the first semester.

Thank YOU!

 

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You are amazing!  Your faithful prayers sustain us.  Your cards and letters bring joy.  You have taken time to call, Face Time, Skype and seeing your face and voice brings our two worlds closer together.  Your ministry support each month guarantees that kids at NCA Nejapa will receive English classes taught with a Christian perspective, and the ANCA Board will continue to make faith filled decisions for the direction of three impactful schools in Nicaragua.  Each month we are blessed to receive our monthly giving statement with names both familiar and new who choose, in faith to support and partner with us as we serve at Nicaragua Christian Academy.  Thanks.

As we move forward into 2017 we are encouraged and motivated by all the ways you partner with us in ministry.  Our hope is to continue to communicate with you by various means so you see the impact your prayers and support are having.  We serve a wonderful God who is greater than anything we could ever imagine.  May we all seek to be his hands, feet, and heart each and every day.

Please pray for our family this month:

  • As we start the new school year on Feb. 1
  • Susan begins working full-time at NCA Nejapa
  • Julia and Landon join new grades/classes/teachers
  • Lucas starts his preschool play group
  • Jared working with the ANCA board on school decisions and plans
  • Driving safety as we are on the road often between school and home

End of 2016 School Year

We are back in Nicaragua after spending three weeks in Michigan over our Christmas break, but before I post about our time in Michigan and what’s been happening in Nicaragua, I wanted to write about what our family was up to at the end of the school year.  Our school follows the Nicaraguan school calendar (February to November), so Christmas break is actually the long “summer” break.  The end of the school year is busy since it includes Christmas celebrations as well as the usual end of the school year busyness like graduations, exams, report cards, and cleaning up classrooms.

The Christmas program at NCA Nejapa is a huge event with a lot of effort put in by teachers, administrators, and students.  Here are some pictures of the night:

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At the beginning of December, Landon graduated from kinder 3.  At our school preschool is divided into three years, kinder 1, 2, and 3.  Kinder 3 is the equivalent to kindergarten in the states, and since it’s the end of preschool, there is a big graduation.  Landon didn’t quite understand what all the hype was about, but he had fun getting dressed up and celebrating with the rest of his class.

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Jared’s parents came to visit for a week in December.  We had a great time showing them around and the kids loved taking walks, playing games, and hanging out with their grandparents.  We were able to go to the beach for a few days and the big kids loved boogie boarding and swimming in the huge waves.

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Fiestas Patrias and Bible Day

It’s been a while since we’ve updated, but we’ve enjoyed some special days both here at home and at school.

In October, my mom came to visit during Fiestas Patrias.  Fiestas Patrias is a holiday that celebrates the independence of Central America from Spanish.  It involved three days of celebration at school as well as three days off of school.  The three days of celebrations at school include dramas, eating typical food, classroom mural presentations about a certain area of Nicaragua or Central American, and dances by each class.  We had a great time with my mom and loved showing her around our new home!

 

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Julia before her class folkloric dance.

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Julia’s class during their mural presentations.

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Landon’s class during their mural presentations.  He’s dressed as one of William Walker’s soldiers.  You can google the story if you are interested.

 

Last week our school celebrated Day of the Bible.  It commemorates the anniversary of the Bible being translated into Spanish.  Each grade did a presentations of a song, drama, or poem.  Lots of kids also dressed up as different people from the Bible.  It was great to see the creativity of the classes and see a day dedicated to celebrating the Bible!  Here’s a link to Julia’s class reciting a poem for the celebration.

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The Highly Anticipated Kinder 3 Video

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This picture has nothing to do with the video or school.  It’s just cute!

I couldn’t let our oldest child have all the spotlight from my last post.  So follow the link below to see the boys from NCA-Nejapa’s Kinder 3 Class do their dance during chapel.  Our little Dutch boy has a few moves.  Well… I’ll let you decide.

Kinder 3 Boys Chapel Dance Link

Thanks for following our story and staying connected!

One Month… Already!

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Landon, Lucas, and Julia are doing a family JUMP picture at Volcan Masaya

We are jumping for joy in that we’ve been in Managua for just over a month this week!  In some ways it is hard to believe that a month has gone by already.  Each day we are learning more about this wonderful place and we are feeling more and more settled into our home.  However, living abroad is often a life of contrasts and comparisons.  Just when we think we have something figured out or we feel one of our assumptions is correct, the next day it changes or is proven wrong!  Just the other day I said, “there really doesn’t seem to be too may people who use strollers outside of our neighborhood,” then on a drive, we passed two families pushing babies in strollers down the street.  There are days we wake up and say, “Wow, it feels really cool outside.”  Only to be dripping wet with sweat an hour later.  Or yesterday one of us said, “it looks like the mosquitos aren’t as bad now as when we first arrived in July,” to then later look at their arm with 5 huge, red mosquito bites.

I’m making adjustments too in my role here in Nicaragua.  In the last week I have made quite a few comparisons to what the month of August has looked like the past 13 years to what August has been for me this year.   While I haven’t been busy preparing for a school year and double checking lists, tasks, and emails, I have been learning the ropes at this stay-at-home parent gig.  I have a new found appreciation for all of you parents who have chosen to stay home with your kids or have watched ours while Susan and I have been at work.   Preparing Lucas for the day and keeping him safely occupied takes up the bulk of my time along with, driving the school shuttle, working on communication to our supporters back home, and checking off the list of Spanish verbs to memorize.

My mind is often thinking about education, teaching, and learning.  That is just a part of my DNA I guess and I’m sure I will use these skills in the near future.  Susan and I are learning a lot about how the system of education works here and we have many discussions about the similarities and differences we notice.  But what is true here as to back home in the states, the teachers at our kids’ school love God, love their students, and want them to succeed.  Our kids love school here.  The even have had a few new experiences such as having a weekly dance class to practice for the upcoming Nicaraguan Festival in September.  We’re looking forward to seeing our kids show off all their new Nica moves!

Each week our kids have chapel at school.  Lucas and I often stay to participate too.  Chapel at NCA – Nejapa is very similar to what Praise Assembly was like for them last year at GCS. There is often singing, the teachers tell a Bible story or do a skit for the kids.  Lots of clapping and even dancing!  We took a little video of Julia’s second grade class leading part of the chapel worship time with a song and dance.  Check it out by following the LINK.  You can find Julia on the left side.

We are so thankful for each of you who are lifting us up in prayer, sending us email, Facebook messages, phone calls, and financial support.  Being away from home isn’t always easy but we are thankful for the many ways we can still be connected from a distance.  Our thoughts and prayers are also going out for you too.  We know many of you were affected by the recent storms in W. Michigan.  We are thankful that no one was injured.  Our prayers go out to our teaching colleagues who are jumping into a new school year!  May God bless this new year as you reach the hearts and minds of your students.

 

 

 

Pictures!

We’ve had some requests for more pictures, so I’ll try to include as many as possible in this post.  We moved into our house a week and a half ago and it feels like we’ve started to settle into a routine.  It involves a lot of driving back and forth to school, but it seems to be working – especially because I’m finally feeling more comfortable driving by myself.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Jared brings Julia, Landon, and I to school at 7:00 and comes back for Landon and I at 12:00.  One of us then goes back for Julia when she is done at 2:20.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually drive the kids to school and come home around 10:00.  Jared then goes back for Landon at 12:00 and then has his Spanish tutoring at our house in the afternoons and I go back to pick up Julia.  Someone recommended a tutor who would come to your house to do Spanish lessons instead of having to go to a school.  So far it is working out great and we are so glad Jared doesn’t have to drive across town to take Spanish classes.

We are so thankful to the neighbors we have met here at Colonia Becklin, the people at NCA Nejapa, the CRC missionaries group, the families of La Veranera (the Ippel’s neighborhood), and many others who have helped us figure things out and supported us as we are learning about life here in Managua.  The Ippels lent us their van while ours was at the mechanic, we’ve been invited for dinners and Bible studies, and the kids have made friends with the other kids in the neighborhoods.  Overall, we feel like things are going smoothly, but we also know we have a lot to learn and that frustrations will surely come!  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Now for the pictures.

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The top picture is at our school looking toward the lower elementary wing.  The second is of the lower elementary playground with the gym behind it.

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Above is our house for the next 10 months.  We are so grateful to be able to live here.  We have tons of space and a great neighborhood.  The bottom picture is the view from the front door.

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Moving in

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Julia and Landon’s Room

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Living Room

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The family that lives here left us lots of fun toys!

First Week Overview

We can’t believe it’s been over a week since we’ve been here!  The last few days have been busier than last week because on Monday I started working.  Right now I’m just shadowing the teacher I’ll be taking over for, and it’s only part time, but I still come home hot and tired.  Jared and Lucas are adjusting to their time together at home in the mornings and I have to say that I don’t mind someone else doing the laundry!

The kids seem to have adjusted well to their new school and happily go off to their classes every day.  We are thankful for this answer to prayer.  It’s so wonderful to hear their stories at the end of each day.  The get home tired and still have homework to do each day, but so far they are handling it well.  We have a four day weekend this weekend, so I’m sure some rest will be good for them.

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The kids in their formal uniforms.  They wear these on Mondays and Wednesdays when the don’t have gym.

 

We are also happy to report that Lucas is sleeping much better!  He still gets up once or twice in the night, but at least he is going right to sleep at night and for his naps.  Thank you for praying for this.

On Saturday we decided to do a little exploring outside of Managua and went to Laguna de Apoyo, which is a volcanic crater lake about an hour outside of Managua.  On Sunday we went to church at the English speaking church that meets at NCA International.

Yesterday we were able to go see the house that we will be moving into on Monday and we had a great time visiting with the people we’ll be renting from and learning more about the house and neighborhood.  It’s been great living here at the Ippels, especially since it’s a familiar area for us, but we are excited to move into something more permanent.

I’d like to ask that you please pray that my driving will improve.  The combination of a new place, stick shift, and crazy roads (and drivers) hasn’t been easy for me.  So far I have only driven with Jared coaching me from the passenger seat and it hasn’t always been pretty and usually involves us switching places when I can’t make it up a steep hill.  I’m really hoping to be able to head out on my own sometime soon.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement!  It means a lot to us!

First Day of School for Julia and Landon

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They both had gym today, so these are their gym uniforms.  Lucas also wanted to be in the picture.

 

Today we were up bright and early to get the big kids to school.  We arrived a few minutes late because we didn’t realize there would be so much morning traffic, but we got them to their classrooms just a few minutes late.  Julia was very excited and went right to her seat.  Landon looked a little more scared, but there were no tears and he said it went fine.  Neither of them are really the type to tell us a lot about how their days at school went, but Landon said he learned how to say “can I play?” in Spanish and that his legs didn’t get too hot even though they have to wear long pants.   Julia said gym class was fun because they exercised and played a game.  Both kids have two other North American classmates who speak English, so I think that helped them feel more comfortable.

While the kids were at school we went grocery shopping, got gas for the first time, I (Susan) practiced driving, and we spent some quality time with Lucas.  It’s not very often that Jared and I are both home without all the kids around, so we are trying to enjoy this time before I start working.

We Made It!

We are on day two here in Nicaragua and things are going well so far.  On Monday, our parents brought us and our 10+ bags to the airport.  Our flight out of Grand Rapids was delayed for an hour, but we still made it to Atlanta with enough time to make our connection to Managua.  We managed to get our bags out of the airport and find the driver who was picking us up, but he brought the wrong vehicle and our bags and the five of us didn’t all fit.  So he brought me (Susan), the kids, and most of our bags to our friends the Ippel’s house where we are staying for the next 10 days, and then returned for Jared and the rest of our stuff.  The Ippels live about 45 minutes from the airport, so Jared had quite a wait in the airport, but thankfully he found free wifi on his phone, so he passed the time chatting with friends back home.

Yesterday we worked on unpacking and organizing our stuff in the morning, and then set out for the grocery store in our new van so we would have food for lunch and dinner.  We are both new to driving manuals, but Jared gave it a try and did a great job.  It’s very hilly here, so that doesn’t make it easy.  In the afternoon we rested, continued to organize and unpack, the kids played with one of the neighbors, and we took a walk around the area.

This morning we set off first thing to go to our school, NCA Nejapa, to buy the kids their uniforms.  We made it there safely and were successful in buying the uniforms, meeting the kids’ teachers, and making sure we know what we are doing for the kids’ first day of school tomorrow.  The first day of the second semester was actually today, but we decided to wait a day because yesterday was a holiday, so we weren’t able to buy their uniforms, and also just to give them another day to rest.  They both seem excited to start, but I know they are also a little intimidated at the thought of starting at a new school.

I’ll be starting work on Monday.  I’m going to be teaching a 2nd grade English class and a 5th/6th English class.  I’ll start by shadowing and co-teaching the teacher who is currently teaching those classes, and then take over in a week or so.

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Here’s Jared with our van.  The van has been named Skippy.

 

Please pray that the kids have a good first day tomorrow and that they are able to sleep tonight.  Speaking of sleep, we could also use prayers that Lucas would start sleeping better.  He’s never been a good sleeper, but with all of the moving around we’ve done this summer, he’s gone from bad to worse and it often takes an hour or more to get him to fall asleep at night.

We’ll hopefully update tomorrow with a pictures of the kids in their uniforms!