Summer Recap

Summer is a confusing word for us here in Nicaragua.  June, July, and August are not the hottest times of the year (March and April are) and we don’t have a big summer break since we are on the Nicaragua school calendar (February through November).  I (Susan) sometimes find myself having no clue what month it actually is since there aren’t such obvious weather changes with each season.  However, we do get three weeks off between the first and second semesters at our school, so that becomes a summer break of sorts for us.

We started off the month of June by moving into a new house.  The house we were in was a year-long sublease from a Canadian family who was gone for the year, so we always knew we would be moving at the end of our first year.  Thankfully, we were able to move into the house of some friends who were moving back to Canada and they were nice enough to sell us all of their furnishings and appliances as well.  Moving from one furnished house to another is nice since we didn’t have to worry about moving much furniture.

 

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Moving clothes out of the old house

 

Soon after we moved, my mom came to visit us.  After classes ended for the kids and me we were able to spend a few nights at a house on Laguna de Apoyo.  It was a nice way to relax after a busy semester and before heading back to the states.

My mom flew back to Michigan with us where we spent a wonderful two weeks catching up with friends and family, speaking at our supporting churches, and enjoying the wonderful Michigan summer.  Some highlights were spending the 4th of July with family, celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday, meeting my new nephew Jack, and seeing cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

We are so thankful to everyone who helped us during our time in Michigan.  We don’t know what we would do without the people who let us borrow their car, live in their basement, eat and swim at their house, and who pick us up and drop us off at the airport.

Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to Nicaragua.  We have been back in school now for a month, and have enjoyed not feeling as clueless as we did at this time last year.  There is still so much that we don’t understand or know how to do here, but we definitely appreciate not feeling so “new.”

 

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The kids with their newest cousin Jack

 

 

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The girl cousins on Susan’s side

 

 

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The girl cousins on Jared’s side

 

 

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The boy cousins on Jared’s side

 

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School Science Fair

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Don’t you wish you could sport a white lab coat as well as this NCA student?  On Thursday the elementary students at NCA Nejapa held a Science Fair.  The students in grades 3-6 worked in teams to present their selected topic to a panel of judges and parents.  Julia’s group project was on the skeletal system and bones.  She worked with 5 other students, three presented to the judges, and two presented to students and parents.  Julia presented to the judges and was very proud that she was able to memorize her portion of the presentation.

 

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Here are the three students from Julia’s group who presented to the Judges.  (Not sure why the tough-guy look from the doctor in the middle?)  You could tell that all of the kids in the gym were so excited to show what they had created by all of the nervous body movements, pacing, and frantic last-minute applications of grey duct tape.

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Two sides of the gym were packed with foam boards, posters, displays, and kids.  It was fun for me to be able to attend the event and also meet a few other NCA parents.  I was impressed by the creativity, depth, and understanding that these elementary students displayed.  The classes are now anxiously waiting to hear the results of which team won.  The prize is a pizza party for the entire class of the winning team.

Time to Celebrate!

DSC_0263.JPGOur “baby” turned three this week and we celebrated.  Ignore the messy, orange pop stained t-shirt in the picture but it’s hard to find this kid in clean clothing at any point of the day.  With this guy’s birthday we have now marked the point in time where everyone in the family has “celebrated” a birthday in Nicaragua.  With each celebration we have been blessed to have our “family” join us.  This usually this will include the kids’ aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends, all of whom we are not related to.  We also have our real family who visit these celebration days via technology.  While we always do something for each birthday, it has been interesting to see how changing the “normal” routine and country in which the birthday celebrations take place has affected each of us during the last year.

For the youngest his birthday was exactly the way he remembers it from past.  A day filled with presents, food, cake and friends.  Running around the house as the star of the show.  For an older one it was so different from the past experiences that it was hard to know how to feel.  Since it wasn’t how it was done in the past let’s just hurry up an move on with life.  For an even older one the limited selection of places to go out for birthday dinner forced them to choose pizza.  Which is always a good option.

We are grateful that with technology many of our family and friends connect with each of us on these special days.  We even had video text messages of our kids’ friends singing Happy Birthday!  That was very special.  We are thankful for the great community of friends who have become our family over the last year and with whom we do life together.   We are anticipationg the days when we will travel to see loved ones and celebrate in the joy of just being together once again.

But what I’m beginning to understand now that we will be moving on to our second set of birthdays abroad, is that as long as we are all together as a family that is what’s most important.  Our style of celebration, location, food, and guest list may be different from in the past, but as long as our family of 5 is there the world is all right.  It’s cool that we are doing life together in this unique way for this time that God has us in Managua.  The bonding that we are able to do and the unique stories we’ll one day share will be a true gift.

We look forward to sharing more of these stories in some way or another.  Blogging is a bit challenging.  I think that is true for most missionaries on the field.  We’re doing all the normal life things, ministry, and then we need to carve out time to write, call, and communicate with many people back home.  I’m sure many of you understand this.  I hope you also see what we’re doing on by way of social media too.  Thanks for reading and following our journey.

 

 

 

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!