Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. --Luke 1:57 (NKJV)
Well it's certainly been a red-letter year for us with an international move just a month behind us! And it's also about time for an update, huh?
Well, it certainly is different around here! We missed snow and people celebrating 'our way' around us, but it was fun to get to know the traditions and the people around us in this festive season too. The first Nicaraguan Christmas tradition we got to meet was "Gigantona," a gigantic dancing puppet accompanied by drumers and a little elfish character that go dancing and "boom, boom, boom'-ing through the streets around dusk each evening. The kids love it when she comes by our house and rush to the window to watch.
Then there were fireworks and a "halloween-esque" (but without the gore and costumes, just the asking for and giving of candy) celebration of the "Day of the Immaculate Conception" on December 8th. Probably David's favorite was the Birthday Party for Jesus complete with Pinata at Church the sunday before Christmas.
Then Christmas itself, the generally rather life-loving-noisy town was very quiet and we enjoyed the opportunity to open gifts and relax after some busy time getting moved in and making Christmas happen at our house. We also were able to spend some time with both sides of our far-away-now family over Skype which was a great blessing! ... and also a little bittersweet to think of all that we missed. I was somewhat glad when December 26th came and we got back to life and I didn't have to feel sad about missing some hard-to-define "Christmas" we somehow didn't have.
Adjusting to Life
Hmm... where to start? How about highs and lows of the whole thing?
High - being able to walk everywhere from the grocery store to the bank to Christmas shopping to housewares -- but we don't have to walk everywhere now, we've got a car - woo hoo! -- best for whole family outings since I'm still a little scared to drive, but Lucas does a wonderful job!
Low - walking everywhere with three small children -- but I've found ways to handle it; who can go on how long of an errand -- some things we all go together, sometimes I go while Lucy naps with one of the older kids and the other older one has a solo activity at home while Papi's doing work and low key 'supervising'
High - a fresh start in life -- new house (super big and airy!), car (ahh, airconditioning and the ability to go to further places!), furniture (I love picking things and not thinking we'll get rid of it in a year!), grocery stores (would you believe, the one 2 blocks from us closed 3 weeks after we got here?? Oh well, there's a better one a little further away), friends (Lots of other missionaries from the US when I'm feeling homesick and very friendly Nicaraguans too!)
Low - sometimes feeling overwhelmed by all the new fresh starts we haven't gotten going on yet - like finding Doctors (would love your prayers for that one as I don't want to wait until somebody's sick!)
High - Nice and warm, but cool mornings and evenings, even the chance to see the sunset at the beach one day and collect a ton of shells from the most unspoiled beach I've ever seen
Low - Really quite hot at lunch time and cooking and watching kids -- seriously that 11-12 hour is not my favorite one to be near a stove!
High - Confirmation that God has us here for a reason -- when people hear that Lucas want's to be able to hire and train some people to work with him, they're so positive! Jobs really are a need here!
Low - It takes time to get started and sometimes I feel like we haven't done enough -- and so much energy gets used up in everyday life! But Lucas has been working with one gentleman and it's gone pretty well... Lucas' lower ability to communicate in Spanish does slow things though so that's another prayer request. I can pop in to translate every half hour or so for a bit and he's improving all the time, but certainly a matter in which prayer is appreciated too!
High - Many opportunities to pray for and serve the people here. I find that as I walk somewhere in the morning I see many people who I can pray for -- the man searching through people's trash for things to reuse, the woman selling tortillas she baked and is carrying through the hot streets for 4 cents apiece to make a living, the woman who asks me to buy formula for her baby who is sick in the hospital, the boy who asks for our leftovers as we head home after visiting a restaurant. These things break my heart, but they would happen even if I didn't know about them; and it's good to know about them and be able to pray for them specifically.
Low - I can get discouraged by the poverty and 'in progress' nature of the city. There are broken spots in the sidewalks, even in the buildings. Those things can be sad if I think of them in the wrong terms - like it's my right to live somewhere clean and comfortable and beautiful. But, life consists in so much more than those outward things and I hope I am learning to sharpen my view of the things that God sees as beautiful.
So there you have a little update :) Life is good, life is hard. We are now foreigners in a foreign land and I'm trying to "take every thought captive" when the uncomfortable feelings that go with that come. After all, it does bring things into focus in that Earth isn't really our "home," no matter how comfortable we might find it.