3 years. That has some kind of a solid feel to it. Seems like the more time that has gone by investing in life in Nicaragua, the better it fits. We have been able to find our 'niche' in this no-longer-new place and are blessed to see some marks of making an impact... and certainly being much impacted ourselves!! So some specifics of how all our people and their various projects are going:
Lucas is growing much more fluent in Spanish and able to understand and partake in most conversations. This is no small accomplishment and makes a big difference in our family's ability to function smoothly here! His computer programming business also seems to be stepping into a new arena lately. We've added employees (contractors actually) slowly, and now there are 7 people learning great job skills, contributing to the open-source programming community, and earning a living in our office (8 if you count Lucas!). We've recently added a part time 'office manager' of sorts which frees Lucas to dedicate his time to more hard-hitting technical problems and helps things run more efficently. After an initial phase in which our contractors have been in a more protected, learning state, we've implemented an incentivised pay-scale which allows us to pass along more of people's actual earnings to them and spurs along great personal development. Good steady clients are also helping things to grow stronger and more stable at MTech, our business.
I (Melissa) am finding myself in what feels like the 'expanded territory' Jabez prayed about -- although I don't think I prayed that prayer, it scared me too much!! And it IS a little bit intimidating to be the central element of such a large household. Lots of things to manage!! But, with God's help, I hope to do it well. There is homeschooling, preschooler training, baby loving and logistics, and house-help-management, laundry, groceries and meals times 7 people. I am often thankful for the blessing of house-help! And yet, there is still only one 'Mommy' ;) I do love to see that the kids are bilingual, and seem to be growing up loving each-other and aware of the things of God. After spending several months in the US to avoid the Zika virus and it's potential harm to our new baby, it has been a joy to come home and have our family together again. There are always bumps in the road and living far from family and in what some would call a 'hard place' is by no means heaven-on-earth, we are doing life together again and that is something I don't take for granted!
David is doing well in 2nd grade so far. We started our school year with the Nicaraguan schedule which runs Feb-Nov, so it's still a new thing for us. His great joys in life include abundant conversations and getting his many questions answered, time and company for building projects, be they legos in the house or his 'choza' (=playhouse) out back, and reasons to run, climb, or use a machete (I think he get's that one from his Dad). All in all, he's a pretty neat almost-8-year-old to hang out with.
Elsie just turned 6. She is starting 1st grade work in school and takes great joy in drawing on her math lessons (thankfully they're very mathematically-related drawings!). She's also starting to learn to read which is fun to see, especially when she brings me books unprompted so proud to point to the words she finds that she can figure out! She was a bit of the "social coordinator" on the playground in her preschool class last year and continues that role in her play at home with her siblings.
Lucy is a bright-and-bouncy 4 year old. She is Peter's best friend, Elsie's cohort in all-things-girly, and my little sweetie. She has become quite fluent since we've made the jump to having a nanny part time (which we started about a month before Lewis was born and continued to facilitate homeschooling). She loves to color, do puzzles, take care of her baby-dolls, listen to books, and be included in he big brother's and sister's games.
Peter is 2 and a half and if you happen to lose track of where he is in the house, he's probably exploring the hair gel or something else equally problematic! He sure keeps us on our toes, but he's just a darling when it's time to hug or take a nap! I love to hear his emerging language in both English and Spanish. He's the first of our kids to learn them both at the same time and is still learning to differentiate them. The linguist in me is totally captivated by his toddler phrases!
Lewis just turned 6 months old and I really can't believe that! He had pneumonia at 2 months and it seems to have put him back on growth and development quite a bit. He is slowly catching up, though, which is good to see. He is a sweet smiler, and a very easy-going baby. He finds all his sibling's faces so fascinating and smiles up at strangers and charms them all. Nicaraguans love babies, but then, don't we all?
In the midst of all the things we love, raising our family and growing our business in a foreign land is by no means easy. Some prayer requests for us include:
- Lewis' continued growth and development - specifically that he would keep eating well and gain muscle strength and be able to sit up soon
- Good work load for the office, enough but not too much - those logistics are tricky for a new business and we support a lot of people's livelihoods. That responsibility weighs heavily sometimes!
- Our Church - The rented building where we meet has been broken into 3 times recently as the location isn't secure enough. We'll be meeting at our house starting next week. We are totally looking forward to hosting, but don't know what the long term will hold for this body of believers and would aks you to join us in prayer for God's direction and will.
- Alejandro - Our cleaning lady, Elisabet joined our household because her husband, Alejandro broke his leg and he couldn't work for a while. Well it didn't heal right because he just couldn't take the time off for it to heal correctly. We decided to raise some support to cover his surgery to put in a screw for it to finally heal as well as replacing his salary for the 6 weeks it took to heal. In two more weeks he'll be ready to transition back into his job and supporting his family again. Pray for all to heal thoroughly and the transition to go well.