Monday, December 31, 2012

Where in the world are Pat and Debbie?

looking up the Rio Escondido in El Rama - Nicaragua

During our Circuit Assembly last weekend we discussed with Brother Schleper where there was need in Nicaragua. One area that he mentioned was the Atlantic Coast - Bluefields and Pearl Lagoon. Since our lease on our apartment is finished at the end of February we thought now would be a good time to check out the area so that if we think it is an area we would like to move to the timing would be right. Of the two areas we decided to take a look at Pearl Lagoon.

How do you get to Pearl Lagoon? Well, for those of us on a tight budget it means taking public transportation from León to Managua. In Managua you need to go to the Ivan Montenegro terminal where you can get a bus to El Rama. The bus we took left Managua at 9:15 p.m. and arrived in El Rama at 3:15 a.m.

Some travelers went in style and had a nice comfy bed for the entire trip. The rest of us had to endure typical bus seating - at least the seats reclined a little!
bus companion on the trip to Bluefields

Once we arrived in El Rama it was necessary to travel by panga (small boat) to Bluefields and then take another panga to our final destination - Pearl Lagoon. Pearl Lagoon is a small community with less than 9000 inhabitants (as of 2005).

view of Pearl Lagoon as you arrive on the panga

Here are a couple of Lora's that live at Casa Ulrich - the place that we are staying at for 3 nights. On Wednesday we will be moving to the home of a sister for the rest of our trip.

Lora's at Casa Ulrich - Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua
We have already been able to attend the Sunday meeting and we were out in service today. We need to develop an ear for the language here - they speak English in this part of Nicaragua but it is different than what we are used to. Sentences tend to be short and not very elaborate. There is a very Caribbean feel.
meeting a return visit and sitting down to study in.....

a cemetery 
Tomorrow for service we are going to a neighboring town - Haulover. Stay tuned for more news from Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

León, Nicaragua - December 27, 2012

Many people use bicycles for transportation here in Nicaragua. Often you see 1, 2 or even 3 people to a bike. Children learn very early how to balance on the bar in front of the seat. Sometimes they are actually standing on it and you never see helmets!

Natalie and her dad Lenin arriving for the meeting

Monday, December 24, 2012

León, Nicaragua - December 24, 2012

This past weekend was our Pioneer Meeting and Safeguard Your Mind Circuit Assembly in Ticuantepe. The weather was great with a nice, almost constant breeze which really helped keep us cool in the auditorium. It takes us 2 hours to reach the assembly hall so an early start in the morning is essential - 6 a.m.

On the day of the Pioneer Meeting we also had cleaning of the assembly hall, so we were able to sleep in a little - the bus picked us up at 7 a.m. Once the cleaning was completed we were able to enjoy the company of other Pioneers that had arrived early. Although there are only 53 pioneers, and 2 special's we had 88 pioneers attend the meeting - visiting pioneers and some brothers who support Spanish Congregations were also allowed to attend.

Some stats that were given during the weekend: There are 220 English congregations in our District with 3 new circuits added this past September. Also, there are 5,870 bible studies being conducted. (These figures are from August 2012). It was mentioned that Central America is a hotspot for English speakers - even more than Mexico - because many American companies have set up Call Centers where English skills are needed.  The highest attendance that I recorded for the program was: 337. There were two baptized.

early risers waiting for the bus

still waiting (the bus was late)
Ashlee has been studying with Thalia, a young woman in our congregation. This was a special day for Thalia because she dedicated her life to serving Jehovah and symbolized it by being baptized.
Thalia, Lily and Ashlee

Thalia getting baptized
Many in our congregation had parts in the meetings as speakers or participants in demonstrations. We were a busy bunch!
Desmond and Shannon with their  "son" Moises

Erica and Fanny
The weekend was a time to renew friendships and to meet and make new friends. Here is a picture of us with a couple who are serving in a Spanish congregation about 15 minutes away from the Assembly Hall. Charlie and Rachel also produce a blog about their adventures here in Nicaragua.  You can read it at
Charlie, Rachel, Debbie and Pat

Sunday, December 16, 2012

León, Nicaragua - December 16, 2012

We had a party last night..... I know what you're going to say, (is all you ever do - party??) but this one was for a good cause. Every year the Mexico branch sends out a letter inviting people to participate in "La Ruta". La Ruta is like doing unassigned territory. You can sign up for a period of 1-6 months (from January to June) and you must either regular or auxiliary pioneer for this assignment. This year we had two of our publishers sign up for La Ruta - Fanny Morán and Sergio Espinoza.  They both signed up for a period of one month. Last night's party was for Fanny since she will be heading out for her assignment in January. Sergio has to wait until February for his party since his assignment is for March!


Fanny is 21 and has been baptized for 6 years. She has just completed her secular education and has been working part time teaching English. This is her first time heading out on La Ruta. Her assignment is in El Madroño which is 1 hour north of Managua heading up towards Estelí on the Pan American Highway. The congregation that she will be assisting will enjoy the assistance of 20 brothers and sisters over the 6 month period. She was told that there are a number of small towns that they will be preaching in during her one month assignment.

The evening was filled with lots of fun and some dancing. Brownies, cookies, chips and fruit salsa were enjoyed by all. A group played a crazy game called Mafia and you could hear their laughter over the volume of the music. In the end the Mafia won - the good guys will have to wait for the next time.

Here are some pictures from the evening:

Lily, Ashlee, Talia, Elfa and Erica

Talia and Lily

Talia, Natalie and Lily

Lenin, Nathan and Desmond hanging out on the front step

Hazel, Francinette, Shannon and Fanny playing Mafia
playing Mafia

Lydia and Natalie enjoying the music

Erica and Lenin

Even Pancho got in on the fun. Here is Brad coaxing Pancho into a little dance.

So, we will have a break from the parties for a while. Next week is an exciting one for us because we will have the Pioneer meeting in Ticuantepe on Friday. Both of us have small parts on the program. Then on Saturday and Sunday we will have our Circuit Assembly in the same location. This means that we will have to get up very early on all three days to be at the Kingdom Hall for the transportation that has been provided.  We are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Graduation - Sergio and Amanda!

Graduation day is an important milestone in everybody's life - Nicaragua is no exception. We were recently invited to the Graduation celebration for a young brother in our congregation - Sergio - and his sister Amanda who graduated at the same time.

We knew it would be a special event when we were handed printed invitations (we usually just do word of mouth to invite people to parties) and so we were really excited to be included.

Sergio and Amanda
Sergio, his parents and Amanda
 The family had been preparing for days. First they served everyone a delicious fruit punch while we waited for all of the guests to appear. After a prayer, the family served a plate of fried chicken, rice and bun as well as bottles of pop. Later in the evening they brought around plates of a delicious stew and rice. It was so good that I want to get the recipe but I don't want it to feed a 100!

A delicious stew for a crowd

What better way to finish a meal than some cake.....
there was a his and hers cake

The living room was all decorated and set up for the meal
Overflow seating outside

Once everyone had eaten plenty it was time to have fun.
tables cleared away for the dancing

We had a great time with Sergio and his family and wish Sergio and Amanda all the best in the future.

Monday, December 10, 2012

León, Nicaragua - December 10, 2012

We have had the Witnessing Table set up in a new location this week - across from La Merced Church. This location has proved to be even better than outside of La Union grocery store. The foot traffic along this stretch of road is phenomenal as well as the vehicle traffic - especially when things slow down. All the taxi drivers and their passengers get a good look at us. We now have a couple of nice posters that draw even more attention to our message and we are having good results. The majority of the interest still seems to be with the locals but more and more foreigners are stopping to take a look too. In our first week 4 bible studies were requested - this week we had 3 bible studies requested in one morning! We are looking forward to continuing this arrangement.

Pat and Debbie at the Bible Information Table - Nicaragua

For the last month we have enjoyed the company of 6 young ladies from the US - Skye, Callie, Cheyene, Jacklyn, Chelsea and Renee.  They have been a joy to have in the congregation. Their enthusiasm for the ministry has been infections and has set a good example - especially putting themselves out by making return visits at the householders convenience even if it is 6:30 am!

Just before they headed home this week we had an enjoyable day touring the Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve with them along with Anne and Rob Watcher. Here are some pictures from the day.

Rob, Chyene, Jacklyn, Callie, Skye, Renee

yes - he turned into a prince, but he was still crabby!

Nelson, a brother from Las Penitas was our captain
scouring the rocks for treasures

Callie, Chelsea, Skye and Renee holding baby turtles

surfing lesson

In the afternoon we met up with some others in the congregation and had a volleyball game.

sunset on another beautiful day
Final picture of the 3 sisters and Lily before Skye and Callie left for home.
Skye, Lily, Callie and Ashlee

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meet our contest winner!

Remember this picture? I asked what was different? (from our post: We got some very interesting answers - some thought it was that Pat's belly has disappeared - but no - that's not the right answer......

The correct answer was given by Anne Watcher from Clinton, Ontario. She noticed that Pat and Brad are wearing ties in service. They are following the fine example of our CO - Todd Schleper. Anne and her husband Rob arrived a few weeks ago and are staying in León until the spring. You can follow their adventures on their blog JW Journal.

The prize for the winning answer was an ice cream at Eskimo (you had to come to Nicaragua to collect). Here is Anne and Rob enjoying a cold one!

Monday, December 3, 2012

León, Nicaragua - December 3, 2012

Look who's finally accepted as part of his family. Pancho saw us sitting watching a movie and decided to get in on the action.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

León, Nicaragua - December 1, 2012

Debbie and Lydia at the information table
During the visit of our Circuit Overseer it was suggested that we should try and put out an information table at La Union Supermarket because so many foreigners (and people and general) shop there. This week the brothers started a week long trial run. We personally found that it was quite successful and hope that it is continued. The trick will be to find the best times to have the table set up for optimal results. Both Pat and I took two shifts at the table and were able to speak to a number of people as well as place some literature.  Others have had similar results and there was at least 1 request for a bible study and a number of people interested in having someone stop by their home.

We are now 3 months along in our pioneering and are well adjusted in our schedule. The mornings are noticeably cooler and it is much easier to stay out in the ministry for longer. To our delight we are still having great success in La Paz Centro. This past Friday we had a couple of really good calls - ok, one really great call where we started  a bible study and the other one where the fellow was a little inebriated.  In regard to the first call:  we have finally started calling back on all of the interest that we found in the initial search. On Friday we called back at a Funeraria - where you buy caskets. After asking us how we got his name he remembered that we had called a few months back looking for English speakers - the next thing he asked was -  "what took you so long to get back to me?"  He had some contact with Jehovah's Witnesses in the US. We started right away in the "Bible Teach" book and were able to cover the first section in chapter one. We have added him to our regular Friday routine. The second call was a bit of a fluke. Last week we called on a fellow named Eric who is the brother of one of our regular calls. He was a little skeptical but accepted the "Bible Teach" book and said that he would look into it. Next he said - "I don't have to get baptized, do I?" - we assured him that it was a personal decision for sometime in the future. We told him that we would come back in a couple of weeks to see what he thought of the book. So.... flash forward to this past Friday... We stopped at our usual lunch spot where we have a return visit - Pablo. When we entered the restaurant who should be find but Eric, Pablo's brother...... he couldn't believe that we had come to" visit him" and found him there at the restaurant.... it was obvious that he had already had a few drinks and he continued drinking all through our lunch. However, he kept asking questions and saying how much he appreciated our giving him "that book" and that he had already read a couple chapters in it. We told him that we will visit him next Friday. Hopefully, he will remember that he has asked us to come and see him next week and that he promised he would be sober!

Pat's Fish Dinner
We had another lovely evening in Poneloya at the restaurant that one of our Spanish sister owns. The reason for the get-together was Miguel and Michele Martinez's 3rd wedding anniversary (not that we need a reason to do so). On this evening we were all given a menu and asked to pick what we wanted to eat. To my great delight she had Lobster! I have wanted to try lobster down here for a long time but I was never willing to pay the price. However, on this night it was only $180 cordobas. It was sooooo delicious.

yummm Lobster!

squishing in the truck to the beach (there are 5 of us in the back seat)

and even more riding in the back

and even more in the second truck

Lily seemed worried about the whole "safety" aspect

Sunset at Poneloya

Debbie at on the beach at Poneloya

Football on the beach
Alex and Rob

The happy couple - Michele and Miguel
Corina and Anna
The sad thing about visitors is that eventually they have to go home. Last night we had a fun party - even if it was a goodbye party - for Corina and Anna who have been visiting for the past few weeks.  We'll miss you.
Mariela, Chelsea, Callie, Sky and Corina

Gina, Elga, Thalia, Fanny and Mariela
Caleb (visiting from Missouri) and Sergio

Renee - trying to cool down from all that dancing!

Monday was really hot so we sent out a call to everyone to see who could join us at the pool. The Perez family were the only ones available - but we sure did have fun!

Natalie isn't too sure about the whole idea

she still isn't too sure......

but, in the end she had a great time - and so did the rest of us!

Bird Talk:  We are still getting used to having a bird in the house. It's a good thing we are early risers because this little guy is chirping by 6 am. I hate to think what time he will start chirping when the days get longer.... 5 am????

Pancho likes to follow us around the house - especially when we have been out and he has been left alone for a while. One time he followed Pat into the bedroom and then disappeared. A game of Marco Pancho ensued with Pat calling out Pancho and the bird replying with a chirp. We eventually found him stuck behind our dresser - we still aren't quite sure how he got there since he really can't fly very well. When we finally got him out from behind the dresser (where we never clean because it is too big and bulky to move) Pancho started complaining because he had dust bunnies on his feet and he couldn't shake them off.

We have been trying to encourage Pancho to take a bath and have provided him with a nice dish to do it in. However, below in the video you will see that he had other ideas and decided that his water bottle was the better place to get clean.