Monday, April 30, 2012

León, Nicaragua - April 30, 2012

Well, we've hit the two month mark living here in León, Nicaragua. Last night at supper we discussed what the past two months have been like - the challenges and the highlights. There have been many in both departments.

The ministry continues to be one of the greatest highlights. This past weekend I was invited to go on a return visit with a young woman. It was explained to me that this woman had trouble with her vision and that she wanted a copy of the "What Does the Bible Really Teach" book so that she could scan it. When we arrived it soon became apparent to me that this woman was actually blind - I'm guessing from birth. She has a special type of scanner that scans written text and then translates the written word into speech so that Eveling can understand what it says. So, as we were introducing the book I was asked to explain the information on pages 4 & 5 where there are a number of illustrations along with bible texts that explains some of the changes that God will bring about on the earth. The third illustration is of a man who is obviously blind walking with a cane and then the same man removing his eyeglasses. The scripture text is from Isaiah 35:5 which reads "The eyes of the blind ones will be opened". You can only imagine the reaction she had when she realized that this would directly impact her - that she will actually see what we see. It was a real thrill for me to share this information with her.

Pat continues to receive many privileges in the congregation. This past Sunday he was asked to conduct the Watchtower Study and he continues to update the large number of territories that we have. In May we will be heading to Chinandega so that Pat can give the public talk.

We are both thrilled to be conducting regular bible studies and have a number of return visits.

One of the challenges that we have faced has been the adjustment to the climate. No doubt about it - it is hot here! We try to go out in service on Wed - Sat mornings because the arrangements start at 8:15 (8:30 on Sat.) and we are finished by 10:30/11:00. On Wed and Thurs nights we also go to the 5:00 pm arrangement because by this time the temperature has cooled somewhat. We are hoping to build up our bible studies for the afternoons so that we aren't out on the streets during the full heat of the day.

We love our Nica house but it has also proved to be one of our challenges too. With it having the open widows this allows not only the rain to come in but also the bugs - particularly mosquitoes. Pat doesn't think the mosquitoes are all that big of a problem - this is because they don't like him and eat me! He will have 1 bite to my 30! So, we are continually working on this problem and it is getting better and hopefully we will have a handle on it before the rainy season and the mosquitoes breed...  Our shower curtain in the window has improved the situation with the rain coming in so we are happy with that arrangement.

We both feel that we are getting healthier. We are both losing weight because of all the walking we are doing  as well as the healthier diet. The fresh fruit and veggies are delicious and very inexpensive so there is no reason why we shouldn't eat better.

Mondongo Soup
We love the fact that all of the local women like to share their cooking with their neighbours. It allows us to try new foods without putting in the work and since we bring it home if we don't like it we don't offend anyone by not eating it. We have tried some more of the local "delicacies" i.e. Mondongo Soup. Well, this was not one of our favorites and I won't be making it any time soon. This is a soup that includes tripe as one of the ingredients.  For anyone who would like to make it at home - here is a link to a recipe: Mondongo Soup
Enjoy it, but please don't invite us to share it with you....

We continue to work on our little garden and actually have some plants coming up - we still don't know what they are but they are growing. We do know one of the items is a broad leaf cilantro which will be great for cooking - the other plants are a mystery to us so if anyone can identify these plants then let us know. They are either - peppers, cucumber, watermelon or tomatoes.

The resident cat - which has been named "Otis" by one of our friends has become a little more friendly with us. Pat says that he has found her sleeping on our bench when he has got up to take out the garbage at 5 am. Lets hope that she doesn't decide that our house is an ideal place to have her kittens. Yep, Otis is a girl - so I would appreciate any suggestions that you have for a name because Otis doesn't work for me.... She actually came into the dining room and let us pet her so I think she is definitely looking to move in..... isn't she cute?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

León, Nicaragua - April 26, 2012

This has been a very quiet week for us - well at least since Pat got sick on Saturday and I came down with the same thing on Sunday. No, we didn't lose our voices but the virus sure knocked us out for a few days. Pat seems to be over the worst and I'm getting back to a normal routine too. Being sick now is a little different than when we were at home. Since we are unemployed we don't worry about loosing time from work and loading down our coworkers with extra stuff because we can't come in - it's very liberating.... I guess there is an upside to everything.

Pat has been assigned an "out-going" talk in Chinandega at the end of May so we will be able to check out the English congregation while we are there. We already met an Australian sister from the congregation who is here until around December, so it will be nice to get reacquainted.

We almost got a headboard for our bed last week. It is being custom made but when the carpenter brought it he had made it King sized and our bed is only a Queen. Poor fellow must have lost the paper he put the measurements on.  He told Pat that he would fix it up and we hopefully will get it this week or next.

We took some pictures from around the neighbourhood to give you more of an idea of what León is like.

Sign on door says the house and property are for sale - anyone interested?

Notice the bird?
sidewalks with overgrown flowering bushes
Watch your step

Friday, April 20, 2012

León, Nicaragua - April 20, 2012

What do these two things have in common?

That's right - a stove!  And guess what? You can't have one without the other! So, why am I even mentioning this today? Well, let's go back to last night..... We both went out in service at 5:00 pm and had bible studies last night that wouldn't be over until late so we decided that we would get some spaghetti sauce ready so that all we would have to do is cook up the pasta when our studies were finished. So, about 7:30 pm we put the sauce on the stove to warm up and set the water on to boil.  Everything is going great and next thing we know, it's time to put the pasta in to cook. When we returned to the kitchen we noticed that the flame under the water was out (the sauce had already been turned off).... that happens sometimes if there is a gust of wind - no problem, just start it up again. It turns out that we were out of gas....Hummm, what to do.... the pasta was already in the pot so we decided to let it sit there for about ten minutes and see if it was cooked enough to each - thankfully it was. So dinner turned out ok - but that meant that we wouldn't have any gas to make coffee and as you all know, there aren't any Tim Hortons in the area.... needless to say, it was a slow morning until we could make coffee and get going.

Pat has been put in charge of territories and he has found that quite a lot of the data is out-dated. So, we have been doing a lot of "census" lately. The way they conduct a census here is very thorough and it turns out that we have been using a lot more Spanish in service than we ever thought we would. The way they conduct a census here is by asking at every house in the territory if there are any English speakers in the household. When we find a house where there is an English speaker then we record the information (often taken from a Spanish speaker - hence the need to use Spanish). This has proved to be a very successful method and means that we have updated data for the territories.

Most of you have probably heard us talk about the chicken buses. Well, we finally experienced the real thing! We were coming home from service on Thursday when this lady came on the camionetta with two live chickens. do you carry two live chickens? Well, they seemed to be tied together by their feet and they were hanging up-side-down because the lady was holding them by their feet. They hardly made a sound  and didn't seem to mind the position they were in.  I doubt that they knew they were going to be somebody's dinner. I didn't have my camera, but this picture will give you an idea of how they are carried.

Another interesting thing we saw in the market this week was some iguanas for sale. They weren't for sale to have as pets but rather for dinner. I guess it is quite common to have iguana on the plate....

So, the rainy season seems to have started early here. We've had an opportunity to try out our "window covering". It works fairly well especially since Pat thought to add a few clothes pins to secure the plastic to the window frame. The rain still comes in a little a the top but not as bad as it used to.  My nice little washing machine is going to have a cover made for it. We just bought the material - the same as what we use for BBQ covers - and a sister in our hall is going to make the cover when she has some time.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

León, Nicaragua - April 15, 2012

The heat has been somewhat of a challenge this week. We were walking to the meeting the other day and remarked - "oh, it seems cooler tonight". When Pat checked his watch (you know the type with all kinds of useless gadgets on it) we discovered that it was 28⁰... we must be adjusting if we think that 28 is "cooler".

Linda Campos, our new friend from Mexico, returned home this week. We will miss her. She was a real joy to work with in service and she had some amazing stories about working remote territories on Ometepe. She plans to come back next year with her younger sister.

 In order to beat the heat, a few of us in the congregation went to the UCC (Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales) and used their swimming pool. It is only a 10 minute walk from our house so you can be sure that we will be using it frequently. Apparently, they have a monthly pass for only $10.00 US - so it might be the right plan for us!

This is Lilianna and her parents enjoying the pool.
Here is a link to a video showing the pool: UCCpoolvideo

 When you walk along the streets here, you never know what you might encounter. These two decided to take a walk and find their breakfast on their own. You would think that we are in the middle of nowhere, but, we are just a 1/2 block from the Kingdom Hall on a busy street.

Thursday night we were in service in a small barrio and one of the houses had a raccoon tied up on it's porch. It brought back memories of the raccoon we had when I was younger.

Pat gave the public talk this morning. The title was - Are you walking with God? He did a great job! I had a little video, but it wouldn't upload.... Afterwards we went to Hotel El Convento for lunch with a few in the congregation. This hotel is a lovely relaxing place for a meal. There is a central courtyard and the restaurant faces the gardens. Nice and relaxing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

León, Nicaragua - April 10, 2012

Frank and Maria (photo by: Conrod
Well, it was bound to happen - we locked ourselves out of the house! Since Pat and I are always together, we seldom both carry our keys - why load ourselves down?? So, no sooner did Pat close the lock then we realized that we had left the keys in the house.... now what to do?? We checked with the family to see if there was an extra key and after trying about 50.... there wasn't a match. Thankfully, Frank was on hand and helped us out (again). He managed to get the lock open and we were in business! So... I think it's about time we introduced you to Frank. Frank is originally from El Salvador and has been a huge help by answering our many questions and helping us to locate the things we need. His daughter Maria has just turned 3 and is slowly getting to know us and will sometimes give us kisses. Frank has started to study with Pat and Karin (Maria's mom) is studying with Debbie.

 This past week we had some surprise thunderstorms. I say surprise because it is very unusual to have rain in León at this time of year. This wasn't a nice gentle rain either - it was huge turn on the faucet type of storm with lots of thunder and lightning. We had trouble sleeping during one of the storms because all we could think about was our open "windows" and how much rain would come into the house. Well, it turns out that the window above the kitchen has a drain that takes any rain that comes in away. However, the window in the dining room is another story. Although there is a drain in the floor to take away any huge excess of rain, we don't want huge amounts of rain coming in and soaking everything. So... we put our thinking caps on our heads and came up with a solution....and of course, it hasn't rained yet to see how effective it is. What is this brilliant idea? Well, we bought a plastic shower curtain that we have installed on the outside of the window. All we have to do is roll it down when it rains.
Memorial April 5, 2012

Photo by: Conrod
It's been a while since we left you all and you might have forgotten what we look like. Here are a couple of recent photos of us. Notice how the more we spend time together the more we dress alike? It wasn't until we got to the Memorial that we realized that we were so colour coordinated.

Sunday night we went to the beach with a group of the brothers and sisters in our congregation. It is no longer a "shock" to us to see groups of people sitting in the back of a pickup truck - nope, now we can say that we have "done that". We didn't leave León until gone 6 and so it was quite dark when we got to the beach. A nice fire had already been started and all we had to do was sit back and relax and enjoy the sound of the waves and the crackling of the fire - oh yeah, and the shrieks of delight as one after another was thrown into the waves.... everyone had a great time!

We would like to thank Arnie and Pam Conrod for contributing some of their pictures from their recent trip to Nicaragua.  Be sure to check out their site at: Conrod Photography

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

León, Nicaragua - April 4, 2012

Today has been a funny kind of day - it must have been because of the big thunder and lightning storm last night. The thunder started about 11:30 and the rain shortly afterwards. Of course, once it started there was no sleeping for us because all we could think about was the fact that our "window" in the dining room doesn't have any glass and we didn't know if the rain would come in and soak the floor.... This time the rain was coming straight down so we only received "spray" from the rain which wasn't too bad. We are working on a plan to cover the window during rain storms. I'm sure there will be more on that later.

This morning was a service morning so we were up by 6:30 and out the door by 8:00.  We were a few minutes early and sat and listed to the birds and watched them fly around in the front courtyard. At our feet was a stream of large ants (not the tiny fire ants). We watched them closely for a few minutes and then realized that they were carrying their eggs to a new home.  This home happens to be under a patio stone in our walkway..... Hummmmm now we have another "ant front" to attack.  We have been diligently using our soapy dish water to keep the "fire ants" under control. Since this seems to have some effect with them we decided to try it with our new colony. So, at suppertime we took out the dishwater and carefully poured it in the area where the ant home is..... we couldn't help but laugh when the last of the water drained into the hole that is sounded just like water going down the drain in the sink.... this might be a larger problem than first thought.

Today was animal sighting day - they all must be revitalized from the rain. We saw our resident cat for the first time in days. He seems to be getting used to us living in the house and will "yowl" at us but today wouldn't give us the time of day.... he seemed to be on a mission. Then when we came home from the grocery store I heard some "scratching" on the fence next door and when I looked I saw two small iguanas climb into the tree. We had been told that there was some in the area but hadn't seen them until today. Then finally, while we were enjoying the evening routine of the many birds next door (it's an empty lot and the birds all seem to like to roost there) we saw another neighbourhood cat - a little ginger guy - who must be the one that our fellow fights with at 2 am....

Did I mention that we are preparing a garden? We dug up an area of dirt and for the last few weeks have been putting vegetable and fruit scraps in to compost.  Pat has watered a couple of times and then last night with the rain - well, things are sprouting.  We have no idea what is growing (we haven't planted anything) but it looks like we have some "seedlings" or maybe they are "weedlings". I guess time will tell but for now we will let them grow and keep watering them and who knows, maybe I won't have to buy any tomato or green pepper plants.  Maybe some of you farmers out there can tell us what we have...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

León, Nicaragua - Sunday, April 1, 2012

We have made it through our first month and are really starting to feel settled in and a part of things. We are really enjoying our new congregation and are starting to get to know the young crowd - and there are quite a few of them.

Last night we held a "Pass the Pigs" tournament. We've had this game for a long time but hadn't played in a while but since it was small and compact it fit into our suitcase. Rather than dice you have two little pigs that you "roll". Depending on how the little pigs land is how you determine the points for each turn and therefore the winner of the game is the one who first accumulates 100 points.
Pat explains the rules

This morning was a huge cleanup at the Kingdom Hall in preparation for the Memorial on Thursday. We met at the Hall at 8:00 am and were assigned the job of sanding down the window frames. It was so hot today that by 9:30 Pat and I were so hot and tired we couldn't do anymore. We felt like we had accomplished a fair amount though since we had sanded two windows.

Tomorrow is our 29th wedding anniversary and we are still in the process of deciding where we want to go for dinner. I have a feeling that it is going to go a long way in busting our budget....... though Pat disagrees with me.....