Friday, May 27, 2016

May 2016

I started off May in Rogers AR and got to have a wonderful adventure for the first week.  My niece and her husband bought me a ticket to fly to Indiana to visit family.  I hadn’t been there since Feb of 2015.  Since I was in the states for 2 whole weeks, it worked out perfectly to spend part of it in IN.  We decided to keep the visit a secret for Mothers’ Day for my Mom and sisters.  Stacey and 2 of her kids picked me up from the airport on Monday night and we arrived at my sister’s house at 11:30pm.  We just walked in and I said hi.  She was shocked.  It was so funny and fun!

We surprised my Mom on Tuesday morning.  I got to have lunch with my other sister and bro-in-law on Tuesday, too.  I then spent the afternoon at Mom and Gary’s house.  Pam and Rob joined me and it was a very meaningful visit.  I got to see one of my great-nephews play basketball.  It brought back memories of watching my niece play on a traveling team since she was 10 years old.  Fun!

While in the mid-west, Stacey, Sandy and I made a roadtrip to Fairbury IL to visit with a fellow missionary, Jeff and some of the ladies of Tapestry of Love sewing ministry.  It was about 4 hours each way in the car, and a couple of hours visiting and having lunch.  It was fun.  I was so glad to have Stacey and Sandy with me that day.  We loved the tour of the TOL ministry house.  God has blessed that ministry so much!  And it was born out of a visit to Nicaragua.  Now people all over IL are being ministered to by these ladies.  Not to mention, the ladies here in Nica.  I’m so thankful to be networking with Shinging the Light Ministry and Jeff and staff.  God is good!

I had really tight layovers flying back to AR from IN.  both layovers were under an hour (that’s on paper, in reality, it’s just minutes).  I had prayed for travel mercies and God made every single thing that could be a blessing happen on those flights.  It was great!  He even made things smooth where there was no need.  He spoiled me that day for sure!

I hit the ground running when I got back to AR.  I had 4 days to finish accomplishing all on my list.  Most got done.  Mother’s Day was that Sunday and I enjoyed church services in both languages at FBCR Olive Street.  That’s also the day we moved everything between storage units.  It started raining as we finished the second load.  Then we had a great dinner at Smokin’ Joes.  One of my favorite restaurants in Rogers.

When I returned to Nica this time, I was accompanied by Acadia Kimball, a college student from my home church.  She was super busy with finals and RA responsibilities while I was in AR, so we didn’t see each other until we got to the airport on Wednesday morning!  She was a great travel companion.  She is staying with us for one month.  She will interact with our classes, as well as, help with kids in my friend’s ministry.  She will also get the chance to see what real life on the mission field is like.  She will get a little chance to rest, too, after such a crazy semester at college and before she heads back to the states for a crazy month of working on the east coast.  It’s so good to have her here.  She has met some people who are learning English and they get together to practice.  She speaks some Spanish, so she goes out a lot on her own to explore the city.  She also knows some people from here in León and Managua, who studied at her university in AR.  She has had the chance to catch up with some of the them, too.  It’s been so nice to have her with us.  V loves her and Sofi is having a good time with her, too.  We’ll be sorry to see her go on June 9.

Sofi and V went to a baby shower (which lasts for hours, like the birthday parties), and they had a great time with friends.  I was so glad to see her get the chance to get out.  She and V were so beautiful in their party clothes.  Acadia treated me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, and I introduced her to the Chinese restaurant and another chicken restaurant. 

Sofi and V went to Managua for their monthly visit to see family.  Acadia was doing her own thing.  The time went by so fast.  With the exception of missing my cuddles and kisses from V and having our prayer time together with Sofi, I almost forgot that they were in Managua sometimes!  They came home exhausted, but happy to be home. 

A friend and assoc pastor of his dad’s church, Jeremy, called to see if he could bring by a couple of ladies to meet me and hear about the ministry.  Madge and Lynn, are part of a church that has been sending workers to Nica for about 8 years.  They are starting to delve into the sewing ministry.  Since they only come once a year, they are looking for someone to network with to keep the education going year round.  Jeremy thought we would be a good match.  Veronica came over for the meeting.  We enjoyed meeting them.  And we look forward to how God will bring our hearts and skills and resources together for year-round classes for their ladies and also, workshops when they bring a team of ladies down each year.  God is so good!

Sofi is doing so great at school.  I so wish she could have been getting this caliber of education all along.  She got all 80s and 90s on her tests this month.  She was very proud of all of her hard work.  She was always told when she was a young girl that she was stupid and wouldn’t amount to much.  I’m so glad to see her getting away from that kind of thinking.  She is a wonderful child of God.  I’m proud of her.

I don’t leave the house much and wish I did.  I have so many responsibilities here, and so much to do (much of which I love) that my time out and about is limited.  I used to go for long walks each morning and I need to get back into that habit.  I did get out a couple of times to run errands and I loved it!  Sofi takes care of most of the errands and shopping for the house.  Part of her job is to run the house and she does a good job.

Sofi’s brother Eddy came by to check out our kitchen lights, which quit working while I was in the states.  We thought it might be wiring.  The bulbs were fine.  He checked the switch and found that it was the culprit.  It only cost $1.50 to fix.  Thank You Lord!!!  While Eddy was here, we had him do some honey-dos, and that also allowed me to give him a good day wage.

Sofi has been keeping busy doing pedicures this month to make money.  She has some beautiful jewelry for sale and we are trying to figure a way to sell it on facebook.  She and Acadia (and V) have went to the beach a couple of times.  They take a taxi to the bus stop on the west side of town, and then the big bus to the beach.  V loves the water.  They have had great times.

Our friends, Jill and Robin, from Empower Nicaragua ministry, came by for a visit.  We always look forward to seeing them.  They brought their kids with them this time.  Robin’s daughters might join us for an extended time while working with Empower.  You never know what the future holds and how God will bring people together.

Judith is still in the states, awaiting surgery.  But she plans on being back in June.  Yay!  We miss her so much!

There’s a young lady from my home church who is thinking of coming down on her vacation to experience the ministry.  I look forward to spending time with her.

Also, there are a couple of senior ladies from my home church, who would like to come down to work along side of us.  I can’t wait to have them here with us.  It will be such a blessing for the ladies here and a huge blessing to me.  I’m thankful for all of God’s encouragement through people.

We’ve actually had some rainy evenings in the last weeks.  So thankful for the respite from the heat, even for just a few hours.  We have all kinds of leaks in the ceilings, but that’s part of living here.  Maybe they will get fixed this year. 

Mother’s Day is celebrated here on May 30.  We will have a special celebration in the skills classes that week.  We are planning special food and Veronica has been making some beautiful foam roses for the ladies. 

Sofi and I are having her grandmother over for a Mother’s Day lunch on the Monday before.  We are excited to make a special cake and have some good food.  Sofi asked her what she wanted to eat and she said to fix my favorite food.  How sweet!  I have a card and a special present for Sofi from V.  And Sofi always has a surprise for me.  We don’t celebrate expensive, but heart-felt.  I love it.

We are ending the month of May as we always do, super broke financially, but rich in blessings from the Lord.  He is so loving!  And we are so thankful to have each other and this life.

April 2016

April Fool’s Day is not really celebrated here on the 1st.  They have an ‘Innocents Day’ another time of the year.  I didn’t even pull any pranks on facebook for my US friends.  But I was on guard for any pranks pulled on me. 

Sofi and Victoria returned from their family visit to Managua.  They are always happy to be home.  And I’m always happy to have them back. 

Our new 8 week old kittens, Rut (Ruth) and Ester (Esther) arrived!  Our landlady & neighbor, Danelia, had a litter to give away.  I originally only wanted 1 female, but at the last minute was talked into getting 2 so they could play.  I’m glad we got 2.  They are hilarious to watch playing.  They are both black.  One has a tiny bit of white, but I have to have them side by side to know which is which.  Sofi can kind of tell them apart on the run.  They are very timid and we keep them in the kitchen for now.  Hoping they will become good ‘mousers’ in the future.  Or at least that their scent will be a deterrent to rodents.  We’ll see.  Victoria is very interested in them.  We’ll see who is boss between the kittens and V.

I sent out over facebook a request for plane ticket help.  Two dear friends responded right away.  God is awesome in how He prompts people to provide for us.  Sometimes I feel oppressed by the constant need to raise money (and the awareness of the need).  But I know that God uses this as a way to get other people involved, too.

Sofi’s brother came and cleaned off our tin roof and gutters, getting ready for the rainy season.  He also took care of some honey-dos for us.  He is going to build a set of rough stands to put my bedside tables on.  My bedframe is tall (so I can store stuff underneath), and I would like to have the tables the same height.  Also, it will be taller than V and that has its advantages.  Our friend Denis came and cleaned out our bodega (shed) and organized everything once again.  Not too many critters had taken up residency this time.  Labor here is cheap, and when I can afford it, I like to give people work.  I’m thankful for both Eddy and Denis for working for us.

Sofi’s maternal grandmother and half-sister came for lunch one day.  They were very honored to come.  I was glad to have them here.

A missionary friend, Scott, looked at Sofi’s computer.  Turns out the keyboard doesn’t work anymore.  So he set it up to use an on-screen keyboard and we just point and click to type in the passwords to get to the links we want.  We mostly use it for youtube videos for V and for Netflix for me and Sofi.  She uses her tablet for internet searching.  We were very thankful for Scott doing this for us. 

Sofi got some chemistry tutoring from a friend of ours one day.  It’s so nice to have friends who are smart in different areas.  It takes a village…

After much hassle, frustration, traveling to Managua, waiting at the embassy, and praying, our friend Tamara received a 5 year visa for little Tamarita to go to the states.  She had some medical appointments to rule out some problems that she might have.  It was reason for much celebration when that visa came through.  I can only dream of getting visas for Sofi and V.  Someday…

Fridays are usually my admin catch up day.  My last chance to get things done for the week.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to skills classes.  Monday and Friday are my admin days.  As I look at my planner/journal, I can see those days filled with the items accomplished.  Even though I don’t really like to do the admin stuff so much anymore, I appreciate the time I’m allowed to get these things done.

I finally finished my tax stuff for 2015 and emailed docs to my accountant in AR.  We always file an extension.  Starting with 2016, the ministry will have a separate accounting system and I’ll have my personal one.  I fear it will be a headache, but maybe God will take pity on me and make it easy.  I hope so!

I’m still trying to find any avenue to help me with my residency request.  I get so weary of red tape and bureaucracy in any language!  But especially in two at the same time!  Haha

Our friend Enia, who had the gallbladder surgery on March 3, had to have a second surgery on April 14, due to complications of infection.  Their family had to sell their little truck to pay for it.  She is so sick and weary and depressed.  We got the chance to talk to her and pray with her on her way to the hospital/clinic.  We pray for God’s mighty had of healing for her.  We miss her so much.

Veronica had a few days of bedrest due to her chronic spinal problem.  So, Sofi and I taught skills classes on a couple of days.  A new student (who is becoming another teacher for us) helped out, too.  We were hopping!

I took Sofi out to eat breakfast on her birthday.  We planned a joint birthday party for her and V, since V turned 1 year old while I was in the states with my knee in January.  We tried to keep it as economical as possible, but it still ran over $200.  And there is no one-stop at Walmart to get everything, either.  You go to the plastic store, the piñata store, the market for candy, the grocery store and market for food, the ice cream distributor for ice cream, another store for the party decorations, another store for the party favors, etc…  Here, birthday parties are huge events and you feed the guests a meal, have a piñata, cake, ice cream, balloons, party favors, etc.  Every stays for hours.  I made 72 cupcakes in the toaster oven (6 at a time) in 90 degree evening heat.  But it was worth it for my girls.  We also had her former step-mom and 3 half-siblings spend the weekend.  That was a workout.  By Sunday, I was spent, emotionally, as well as, physically.  We’ll probably never have another big event here, but I was glad to do this for Sofi and V.  Of course, V had no idea why all these people were here and why there was so much craziness.  I think she was glad to have things back to normal, too.

I traveled to the U.S. on the 27th for a 2 week visit.  By the time I got control of the emergency money sent for the plane ticket (it has to process through my church), the costs had went up and I had to adjust my dates.  It was interesting that the sooner I traveled, the cost went down.  That’s how my 1 week visit turned into a 2 week visit.  My friend Eyner took me to the airport and I got a really good nap on the way.  He is so sweet to not be offended that I want to sleep on the way.  I think he is thankful that sleeping keeps me from throwing up in his car.  Lol

It was a whirlwind visit seeing people and getting some ministry admin stuff taken care of.  I got the chance to talk to each of the board members and we added a new person to take the place vacated by Traci when she passed away.  I stayed with my awesome friend, Nana Ruth.  It was so good to be with her.  And she was so generous with her van and also taking me places.  She took very good care of me.  I also got the chance to consolidate my 2 storage units into one.  And Cathy helped me sort and organize them into ‘yard sale’, ‘personal-keep’, and staged by priority ‘going to Nica’ piles.  Yay!  My exhusband, Steve, helped me move the boxes from Springdale to Rogers.  A task that I dreaded, but was made better getting to spend time together talking.  I’m glad that God has restored our friendship. 

I finished up April in Rogers AR, but more was to come of the visit!  God allowed some fun stuff to happen!  He is Faithful to give abundant life!  Never a dull moment!

Friday, April 15, 2016

March 2016

March brought more sickness to our household and extended family.  Lots of opportunities for prayers!

Judith, the intern with our friend’s ministry, lives with us and is such a delight!  She was planning a trip home to the states in April for visa requirements and babyshowers.  She had been a little sick in her stomach for a while.  The pain got really bad and she went to a doctor here.  They think she has a kidney stone and a gallstone.  So, she left March 1 for the states.  She doesn’t have medical insurance, so she gets a lot of runaround and let’s-wait-and-see advice from the doctors.  We’re praying for her to be healed and get back here.  She misses her life here so much and we miss having her as part of our Nica family.

Enia has still been out with sickness.  She finally was diagnosed with gallstones.  She had surgery on March 3rd at a clinic.  (thankfully not the free hospital)  It was costly, but she received better care.  She ended up having over 45 gallstones.  They gave them to her husband to keep and he showed them to us.  YUK!!  She was a mess inside with infection and all.  After a few days, she went home to recuperate.  She was out from teaching classes all month.  She would visit when she came to see the doctor.  Each time she was a little better, but still not good.  At one point, they thought she would need surgery for a hernia around her incision.  Then they changed their minds.  It was hard to see her in pain and feeling rotten.

I sent some emails to a lady who works for a lawyer that deals in residency applications for Nica.  Also, we are trying to get visas for Sofi and V to visit the states with me in the future.  The visa process is like a lottery and you just go by luck.  We are going to use some prayer!!!  The lawyer cannot help me with residency, since I don’t qualify as a pensioner (have to be receiving social security from the states), or a mission organization (since LGM is not registered in Nica), and I am not married to a Nicaraguan.  We’ll have to see if we can get some special dispensation for me.  Even when a person does qualify, it’s a long, drawn out, confusing, ever changing, and expensive endeavor.  Otherwise, I’ll just continue to fly to the states every 3 months.  If God provides the money for the ticket, it gives me a chance to share about the ministry, receive donated materials for classes, take products to sell, collect my medicines, handle personal business, etc.  One missionary that lady I know of, has been traveling every 3 months for the last 10 years.

Also, this month, Yamilet’s mother had a stroke and was in the hospital a few days and then needed round the clock care at home.  Sofi and I filled in cleaning the house so that Yamilet could stay home with her.  I also gave Yamilet paid vacation for Holy Week to stay home with her mom.  Sofi, Victoria, Veronica and I went to visit them one day.  It was nice to meet her and we prayed over her.   I’m thankful that she is doing much better now.  She still has some very serious health issues, but she is comfortable and stronger.  Yami can return to work (she’s our part-time housekeeper) to support her family. 

My birthday was on the 9th.  We had a special visit from some team members working with another friend’s ministry, Restoration of the Nations.  This small group came over and prayed over the ladies in our missionary women’s Bible study class that we have on Wednesdays.  It was so wonderful to be prayed over specifically.  One couple on the team were former missionaries and know how much it means to be ministered to while living in the field.  It was awesome.

Sofi has brought a few friends over to the house to visit, but for the most part, they are shy about coming into the home of a gringa.  They think it’s weird that Sofi calls me Mom and that we are a family. 

Sofi had a few classes of English with a tutor, but the time required does not fit in with our schedules right now.  We will try to be more disciplined about learning and speaking English in the house.  I also need to study Spanish grammar.  I can communicate and speak Spanish all day long, every day.  But my grammar is horrible.  I don’t like grammar in any language, but I’ll muddle through for Spanish!  Lol

Our missionary women’s Bible study has been doing the Armor of God study by Priscilla Shirer.  It is sooooo good!  I love the times we get to study together.  It will soon be time for teams to come and not everyone will be available to study together.  We really treasure these times of ministering to each other, as well as learning more of the Word together.  We need each other so much.  No one else can know  or understand our lives here.  God blesses us with each other.

Alberto stopped by for a quick visit.  He comes to say hello when he is in town, about every couple of months.  I worked with him at a former ministry and we spent much time together.  I’ve always had trouble understanding his Spanish, but we communicate the best we can.  Lol

Sofi and Victoria try to visit Sofi’s maternal grandmother every Friday afternoon.  It’s important for V to know her extended family.  It gives them an outing once a week and gives me a change for some solitude to get some work done, too.   They also are starting to go to Managua once a month to visit Sofi’s dad and her former step-mom and half siblings.  Transportation is not very expensive, but I worry about the highways.  I leave it in God’s hands to protect them and it’s good for all the family to get together.  Sofi tells me often that she can see what her life would have been like if God had not brought us together.  She is thankful for all that God has blessed her with, especially the hope that He puts in her heart.

I spent a lot of time working on receipts for 2015 and preparing tax documents.  Ugh.  I always say that I will stay on top of those things all year round, but I’m not very good at carving out the necessary time for it.  Also, it’s physically not fun.  Very hot temps make it necessary to use fans.  Fans blow the papers all over the place.  Not using fans (or on very low settings) makes me sweat.  My sweaty forearms stick to the papers.  Ugh.  But it feels so good to get it all done!

Holy Week is a big deal here and schools are out, businesses close, people travel for vacation to visit family.  It’s a crazy time at the beach and on the highways.  There are many accidents during that week.  We let the ladies have vacation and we enjoyed working on special projects.  We made roast, potatoes and carrots in the crockpot for lunch.  I had made some yeast rolls the day before.  It was a great treat to come home from church and eat a delicious meal and take a sweet nap!  Being together as family was, as always, wonderful.

God is good and faithful and loving.  Jesus is our wonderful Savior.  We have the Holy Spirit with us at all times.  Life is sweet.  We just need to look and see and feel and celebrate!

February 2016

I began the month of February finishing up duties and opportunities in the states.  I had my knee brace and cane and was mobile!   I had mixed feelings about being in the states so long.  I was missing Nica and my family very much.  But I was so thankful for each and every detail that God took care of while I was on my extended stay in AR.  It was a chance to move forward in many areas that required my attention.  It’s hard to find time to concentrate while working in Nica.  I was so thankful for Cathy and Jack Krupka taking care of me in every way.  What a blessing!

I travelled back to Nica on the 3rd.  My experience with assistance at the airports was very lacking, especially compared to my trip to the states.  But the long day of travel came to an end and I was oh, so happy to return home! 

I arrived at the house about midnight.  The ladies had made a display on half of a wall in the sewing classroom.  It highlighted a lot of the different items we make in classes.  I love the idea!  We are going to expand on that idea!  They had made 3 throw pillows for our ‘Nica daybed’ in the front room.  I loved the surprises.

I made it to Sofi’s room and we woke up Victoria.  She was half asleep and half shy.  I was afraid that she would forget me in the month I was gone.  I was sad at first that she didn’t come to me, but Sofi said not to worry.  We all went to sleep and the next morning V was her old self.  One huge surprise was that V had started walking while I was gone.  No one told me.  I can’t believe they kept the great surprise!  I was in the office and started out the door to the hallway and V met me walking!!!  I started shouting “she can walk!!!”.  Everyone was laughing.  What a great treat for me.  I can’t believe she is growing up so much!  She also turned one year old while I was gone.  We are planning her birthday party for April with Sofi’s.  V won’t know the difference, and will probably enjoy it more, since she will be a few months older, anyway.

The ministry was able to bless Yamilet, Enia and Veronica with Kindle Fires, that were on sale for $49.  I had a great time giving them to the girls!  They immediately set them up and starting looking at Pinterest for skills ideas!  I was so thankful to be able to do that!

My friend Freddy came by for a visit.  He has some cool things going on and is improving his English all of the time.  He is a hard worker and I’m proud of him.

Tamara and I had a ‘frozen hot chocolate’ date at one of our favorite restaurants.  We needed to catch up on each other’s lives and ministries.  We live only 2 houses apart, but months can go by without seeing each other.  These visits are special.

My Nica phone was an older model and I was wanting one with keys I could actually type on.  Sofi’s phone was so bad, that she couldn’t use it for phone calls anymore.  I was praying about what to do.  Her phone was the priority, and I was planning on spending about $50-60 for one for her.  Tamara sent me a link from Amazon for a phone exactly like I wanted (keyboard and dual chips and like a smart phone) for only $34 each.  I ordered 2!!!  Now Sofi and I have wonderful phones that function!  Our friends Chris and Scarlett, from Twelve Churches ministry carried them down for us.  What a great blessing!  It was like Christmas all over again!  And what a bargain!  God is so good!

I got word that my friend Traci Davis passed away from cancer.  She fought a long hard battle and praised God in every moment.  She was such a blessing to me and everyone who knew her.  She loved our ministry so much.  I feel that she is with us in spirit and it makes me smile to think she is my partner here.  She will always be a part of the work here in Nica.

Sofi started school on Saturdays at a Christian school, which only costs $10 per month.  She goes all day and we started having a babysitter for V.  But V is very attached to mamá.  After a few weeks of her crying and wanting me, we decided to free the babysitter and I would watch V every Saturday.  Sofi is doing very well in school.  Most weeks, she is the only one in her grade, so it’s like having private classes.  The school is on our block, so it’s very convenient.  She eats lunch there, since they only get about 10 minutes.  Victoria and I do fine here at the house.  The only rough spot is when she gets tired at naptime and Mamá’s breast is not here.  Once she is exhausted, she lets me walk her around and finally she passes out with her head on my shoulder.  I lay down with her on my chest (she wakes up otherwise) and we rest until Sofi gets home, anywhere between 2:30 and 3:30.  I don’t plan on doing anything else on Saturdays except watching V.  She does like to help me hang out my laundry, so we accomplish that together.  I love getting to have our special time together.  Once the naptime challenge is conquered, it will be golden!

Our friends daughter, Ilia, turned 2 years old on Feb 14.  We went to her birthday party (which are very big deals here) and had a good time.  I crocheted a babydoll blanket for Ilia’s doll. 

Sofi and Victoria had made me a surprise for Valentine’s Day.  A picture for the wall of V’s foot and hand prints and a little poem.  V’s foot slipped when making the impression and it looks like her foot is about 2 inches longer that normal.  How perfect!  I loved it.  They also made me a wall hanging in blue to go with my room.  I gave Sofi a gift and card and V got a Valentine teddy bear.  It was a sweet day.

We did a lot of cleaning and rearranging of stuff.  We have to do this quite often.  The cleaning is needed every day and the organizing and rearranging is needed about once a month.  It keeps us busy, though. 

Sofi’s half sister, Michelle, visited from the states with her husband, daughter and aunt.  They spent the day with Sofi and V and went to the beach.  They brought Sofi and V the most perfect gifts.  It was so good to meet them and I enjoyed them very much.  I’m glad that Sofi has been able to connect with this part of her extended family.

Enia was out most of the month due to sickness.  Veronica and I filled in teaching the sewing classes in her absence.  She finally started going to some doctors to find out the problem.  She was sick and sad and ready to be healthy!  Sickness is hard here.  The medical help is lacking and confusing.  All part of a third world country.

I continued to stay at the house a lot for the month.  I was mobile with the brace and cane, but it was a hassle to get in and out of taxis and shop with my hands full.  I wore the brace most of the time and I could tell it was really helping me a lot to protect my knee from twisting.  I was glad to be out of bed and chairs and get some walking exercise in, even if it was just in the house.  Every day brought improvement!  God is faithful!

All in all, February was a good month.  The days go by so fast.  You stop for a moment and another month has gone by.  I pray that God guides me to use each moment in a way that glorifies Him and that I don’t waste any moments.

He is faithful, worthy, awesome, loving, merciful and just plain wonderful!

January 2016

We started off the first day of the new year in a very tranquil mood.  Sleepy from the overnight fireworks (and some kept going off and on during the day), we had a low-key day of enjoying our time together and taking naps and reading and computer games and netflix, etc.  I was still hobbled up from my knee injury, so it was easy to lay around.  Although, I was getting very bored from that.

Before leaving for the states on the 7th, I had a few meetings/events with fellow missionaries of other small ministries.  We network together very well and I enjoy our times together.  Jeff from Shining the Light Ministry came over to meet to catch up and brought part of his Nica staff.  We had a great time of sharing.   Allen, who is from the states and is the Agriculture expert, and Gerald, his Nica counterpart, stayed after to assess our little garden spaces to see if we could grow some of our own veggies here at the house.  (we need all the advice we can get). 

Our friend Bethany, brought over a group that was here serving with them.  We had some kits made up for them to make some bracelets and we shared about our ministry.  They were mostly older teens and were very nice.  They had spent the morning surfing the Cerro Negro volcano, so they were very tired, hot and dirty, but they enjoyed their time here and a few entertained Victoria the whole time.  They blessed us with a love offering and we were very surprised and thankful.  This was the afternoon before I flew out, so I was very tired, but I had packed everything the day before so I could enjoy the afternoon with them.  Veronica and Sofi did most of the teaching and part of the sharing.  It was a fun afternoon.

I flew to Arkansas on the 7th.  I got in to the airport about 10:30pm that night.  The airline was very good to me on my travels.  It was interesting to travel in a disabled state, even though it was temporary.  It made me more aware of what people go through that have lifelong challenges.  I so missed walking.  I was sitting/traveling from 8:00am till 11:30pm.  I was glad to get to lay down on the bed once I arrived at Cathy’s house!

The ‘Great Knee Adventure’ warrants a post all of its own, so I’ll just hit the highlights here.  It was a very interesting time for me to be so totally out of control of everything.  I’m the type to have a plan ready and even a plan B in the works.  God really used this time and experience to minister to me and teach me on so many levels.  It’s a time I treasure, even if it was not something I would have chosen. 

My original trip was for 6 days, just enough time to satisfy my visa requirements for Nica, get some admin stuff done for the ministry and to pick up refills on my prescriptions.  Having to see the doctors about my knee put the ‘out of my control’ aspect to the trip.  I went ahead and got all my most needed running around and shopping done on Friday and Saturday, so that I could see the drs on Monday and just maybe get to go home as scheduled on that Wednesday.  I was packed and ready!  But my docs thought I would probably need surgery and would schedule it after my MRI.  They did rush all that through pretty quickly and I got the good news that surgery was not needed.  Praise God!  I just had to wait to get fitted for a knee brace and then I could fly back home.  It felt like things were dragging on, but in reality, the appointments went very quickly.  Week 1 was 2 dr appointments and an MRI.  Week 2 was 1 dr appointment and a brace fitting.  Week 3 I received my brace and was ready to go home! 

In between those appointments, God blessed me with tons of activity.  I couldn’t drive, so I was limited to people driving me from one encounter to another.  They were so gracious and I tried not to be too much of a burden on Cathy, my hostess.  I was able to attend my home church at the Olive Street location for both English and Spanish services for 3 Sundays in a row and enjoy a church-wide potluck dinner!  I got to speak to a missions gathering (I was so thankful to be a last minute add-in, since I was in town unexpectedly).  I also got to visit with a ladies Life Group luncheon and a small Bible study group.  I love sharing about the ministry!!!  A great organization ministering to at-risk teens donated some supplies to us and I always love visiting with the director and teachers about what they are doing.  A couple of young ladies met with me about the possibility of them coming down to serve with us this coming year.  I got to spend 2 nights with friends at their lake house.  I visited with some dear friends (Deanna and Nana Ruth) who I miss very much.  A friend from El Dorado AR just happened to be visiting her mother in Rogers while I was in town, so we got to see each other.  Many friends took me out to eat and run errands and to appointments.  It was so nice.

Some of the ministry admin and personal business that I got to take care of was:  working out the new process for renewing my meds with a new pharmacy, getting my US cell phone account straightened out, planning lodging for a future trip with Sofi and Victoria, meeting with CPA about the 501c3 application, meeting with Wade (Missions Pastor at FBCR), meeting with the new merchandiser for booth at Abundant Treasures flea market, tweaking some banking opportunities, coordinating with financial office of FBCR regarding donations to ministry, applying for financial assistance for meds, etc  God really put a lot together for me.  Some of these things were so outside my comfort zone (financial and 501c3) that I dreaded doing them.  But God has put awesome people in my path to help with these duties.  I’m very grateful to Him and to the people who step up and help out the ministry. 

I felt very good about the future of the ministry and all that God has planned for this coming year.  I’m also very thankful for this ‘wilderness’ experience of being out of control of my physical opportunities so that God could speak directly to my heart.  He deepened my trust in Him and my confidence in myself reaching out to Him and allowing Him to lead.  More of that in the Knee post.  J

Our God is Faithful in every single detail.  Our lives are His to use to glorify Himself.  I’m thankful that He seeks a relationship with me and allows me to come along for the ride.

December 2015

December was an interesting month.  Spending the ‘holiday’ months of November and December in another country is very different than the craziness that goes on in the states.  It’s much less commercial and rushed and stressful.  But there is a busyness and anticipation in the air that belongs to being here in Nica.

Christmas is much anticipated, not for the gifts, but for the gathering together of family and friends.  There is consumerism in the fact that, by law, workers get a bonus (the thirteenth month) of one month’s salary for the end of the year.  They usually receive this at the end of November.  The stores have tons of items for sale, the streets are more full of vendors.  There are seasonal treats available and lots of food items featured in the stores.  Even though it’s in the 90’s, the sound of Christmas music, both English and Spanish, lends to a festive mood.

Many people don’t have money to spend on gifts and there is not the gluttony of multiple gifts for everyone like in the states.  There is not the pressure to give the most perfect, biggest and best gift to someone.  Anything you give is very much appreciated, even an apple or a bookmark or a hair accessory.  We enjoyed giving baked goods on a pretty platter as our gifts.  It was fun to enjoy the low pressure atmosphere. 

Sofi and I didn’t even exchange gifts, since we were pretty much broke.  Victoria received a few items from friends and we gave her some clothes and a little plastic pink chair.  Being 11 months old, she didn’t expect a lot of toys and was very happy.  Sofi enjoyed preparing gallina rellena (stuffed hen), a stew like dish with chicken, veggies, raisins, olives, and other goodies.  It is traditional for Christmas Eve (which is when Nicas celebrate Christmas).  We ate that for a couple of days and loved each bite! 

On December 1, I feel while holding Victoria.  Since she was in my arms, I couldn’t catch myself and ended up tearing my MCL in my right knee.  I ended up on complete bedrest with an immobilizer on my leg (and crutches) for the majority of the month.  (an xray and untrasound revealed the need to see a doctor in the states when I took my trip in January).  I could still work on the computer and do a lot of the crafts from bed and from chairs.  It was inconvenient and uncomfortable, but I was so thankful not to be in constant pain.  I just wasn’t mobile.

Sofi and Victoria spent a few days with extended family in Managua the week before Christmas and then spent Christmas Eve at her maternal Grandmother’s house here in León.  I enjoyed being by myself with Jesus, which is what I usually do each Christmas, and I love it.  We had a very nice time just spending time together in a low-key manner, thankful for our family that God has brought together.

Malorie flew out to the states on the 9th, and I rode in the car with her to the airport at 3:30am and made sure she got through immigration and all ok.  Then I hopped back in the car for the ride back to my bedrest.  We threatened to hide her passport and keep her here forever, but she really did need to get back for her twin sister’s wedding later in the month.  Victoria missed her terribly and looked for her in ‘her’ room often.  We were so blessed by Malorie’s 2 month stay with us.  She wants to come back and we are very ready to have her in our midst anytime she wants. 

Lindsay was in and out a lot during the month.  She was real busy with the community that she works in and spent a lot of time in the homes of some of the members of the church.  I think she really enjoyed her holiday time with the people she works with and ministers with.

Our classes were on vacation for a couple of weeks, so the teachers came and cleaned and reorganized the sewing classroom.  They even made curtains to cover the front of some shelves.  They did a great job and they love their new organizational system.  I try not to mess things up when I need to look for things.  Lol

Even though, by law, I’m not required to give the ‘13th month’ bonus to our part-time workers, I give it when I can and did so this year.  (that’s why Sofi and I didn’t exchange gifts, we wanted to be able to bless the workers)  It’s such a nice time to show appreciation to each other from the heart and not only from the wallet.

I spent a lot of time getting things in order for my trip to the states in January.  It was originally scheduled for 1 week and geared to take care of some administrative stuff.  After my fall, I had to arrange to have doctor appointments and an MRI on my knee.  My friend and doctor, Bob Wilson, was wonderful in getting things arranged for me.  It can be hard to handle these kinds of things from another country.  God led in many ways through the whole process.  I’m so thankful.

Sofi and Victoria spent New Year’s Eve at her maternal grandmother’s house, visiting with her aunt from Costa Rica.  They got all dressed up and looked adorable.  Sofi felt bad about leaving me home alone, but I treasured the time to talk with God about the past year and the promises of the new year.  And then, of course, there were the fireworks that went on for hours and hours overnight.  So we slept in on New Year’s Day.  Lol

2015 was a crazy year alright.  Victoria was born in January and we had different experiences with health issues, including Sofi’s minor surgery here at the house, my 2 month bout with Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, my torn-up knee, and off and on bouts of the usual colds for baby Victoria.  But all in all, it was a wonderful year and we felt God’s hand in every moment.  We are very blessed to get to live here and serve God in this ministry.  He is Sovereign and Faithful and Good.

November 2015

November was filled with the usual stuff like classes, visitors, grocery shopping, market shopping, raising the baby, etc.   Our days are filled with just surviving life here.  It is amazing how quickly the heat zaps your energy and you don’t seem to get as much done in one day as you would in a climate controlled environment.  But we work hard and move forward in God’s work for us.

Marco, the doctor who has become a good friend (and makes housecalls!), opened a clinic in his neighborhood.  We made and installed curtains for the small little building.  There were no curtain rods (hard to find here), so we used a few skinny branches from a tree outside.  We prayed over the clinic and the work to be done there.  I wish we could help out more than we do, but our finances are stretched thin and we will do what God allows.  One way we have been a little bit of help is to write a letter to the American Nicaraguan Foundation to request assistance in meds and equipment for the Clinic.  Prayers are requested for future blessings from this organization.

We had a visit from Jill and Robin, from Empower Nicaragua.  I always love meeting with them when they come down.  They carried down my Christmas present to myself, a new Kindle Fire.  I was so excited to receive it!  Sofi will inherit my other one to use for herself and for videos for Victoria.  It’s always exciting to get new things!  And I use my Fire daily for ministry, research, and pleasure.  Very thankful for this gift!

I babysat Victoria while Sofi joined Malorie and Lindsay in adventures around town.  They took her with them a lot, too.  Victoria absolutely loves Malorie!  She’s like the baby whisperer!  When Zoe, Enia’s daughter, comes for class day, she spends every moment with Malorie.  We sure will miss her when she returns to the states!

During a storm one evening, Yamilet’s house was hit by lightning.  She called frantic.  It turns out that the electrical box took the hit and knocked out the power.  She had to replace wiring, but that was the only damage to the house.  My friend Tamara, and her ministry, helped with the cost of the wiring and materials.  We’re thankful for good friends, especially those with resources! 

One day, Sofi, Malorie and I went to visit our friend Bethany and meet her friend Cathy from Managua.  Cathy works with pregnant women and young moms.  We had a very quick meeting, due to one of Bethany’s youth girls going into labor.  It was a great connection for us to meet Cathy and we will be reaching out to her to help us with information sharing in the ministry to teen/young moms this coming year.

Another missionary friend, Jeff, was here from IL working with his ministry, Shining the Light.  They hold sewing classes when the teachers can come from the states.  Jeff invited Malorie and I over to visit one of the day-long classes.  It was great to get to meet Kathy and Trinka in person.  Their ministry has helped us out a lot.  We are thankful to be doing Kingdom work together in Nica.

Veronica’s husband had a stroke and was in the hospital for about a week.  Lots of prayers went up for him, and for her, too, as she cared for him.  Hospitals are no place you want to be here in Nica.  Prayer results are very evident here!

Every year, I buy a new daily journal for ministry and personal records.  I usually get them at the Lifeway Christian Store in the fall.  I had forgotten to get one while in the states in October.  My friend Kellie went to the store and took pics of the available choices.  I picked one out and she kept it for me until I could get it from her.  What a blessing!!!

We hosted a Thanksgiving dinner here at the house.  Just us, my friend Tamara and some Nica friends.  I think there were about 9 of us counting the babies.  We each made a sidedish and Tamara prepared a turkey breast in the crockpot.  I chipped in on the cost of the turkey.  Very expensive here in Nica, but we wanted it.  We all ate a lot, took a nap, then ate some more!  It was a nice day.  Tamara was very emotional because Thanksgiving is the one big holiday for her family to all be together.  Her husband and sons were in the states with the rest of the family.  Tamara couldn’t go due to ministry responsibilities and care for their young Nica daughters.  I hope that this is the only year that she has to miss out on her family gathering.  Sofi and Victoria and I took a family picture.  It turned out pretty nice.  It’s hard to get V to smile for the camera.  Little stinker.

Anibel, one of our teachers, came to pick up the very, very heavy, industrial overlock sewing machine that we had received.  He is going to overhaul it and use it from his house.  I’m thankful that he can get good use from it and I’m also glad to regain the space it was taking up in the sewing classroom! 

November was busy, challenging, happy, sad, just about every emotion you can think of.  I was thankful to be here in Nica another year.  I am oh, so thankful for my Nica family.  I am blessed beyond words by my Heavenly Father.  Thank You Lord.