Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas memories and Traditions

Spending Christmas in Nicaragua is a great time to make new memories and begin some new traditions as well. 

Last year I decided to begin a new tradition with the kids who live in my neighborhood complex.   I make loads of sugar cookies and invite all the kiddos over to decorate cookies and take a plate home to their families.   Even the littlest guys came last year and with mom or grandma's help made some cookies.   This year it was time to carry on the tradition.   On Christmas Eve morning the kids came rolling into the house filled with laughter and excitement at the prospect of loading SUGAR in various forms on their cookies.  :-)  

This year little Quinten was the youngest at 2 1/2 weeks old.   He actually hung out in Grandpa's arms the whole time while his sisters decorated cookies.

Here are two of Quinten's big  sisters.

The best was little Alicia.   I let her choose the shape of cookie she wanted to decorate and as soon as she picked the cookie up it went straight to her mouth.   She wanted to make sure they were good to eat first. hehehe!

The next tradition also began last year with my friend Alicia from Canada.  Near Christmas the two of us hop in the car and head up North where it is a little cooler and there are real pine trees.   The cooler weather and pine trees help it feel a little more like Christmas.    This year we went to Matagalpa and packed two days with great Matagalpan coffee, fresh chocolate from a local chocolate factory, crisp cooler air and a truly breathtaking sunset.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Along the Way

Conversations, relationships and real life happen along the way.  We've all heard the phrase don't forget to stop and smell the roses.  Jesus in his short time of ministry never failed to stop and engage those along his way.

As I've reflected on this in my own life in the past month or so I've been challenged to stop and really listen, live and share the gospel message with all of those I meet along the way.

In light of a very difficult year personally it has been my prayer above all that in some way I have reflected the love, care, light and life of Jesus  to others along the way.  There are many ways that the Lord has demonstrated  His power, peace, patience, sovereignty and glory to me in this past year. God’s greatness, and care for his children is very intentional and unique.   Here are a few examples of the ways that He has blessed me and others along the way this year.

One of the many things I have come to appreciate in Nicaragua is the slower pace of things.  If you see someone you know along the way it is customary to stop and chat for a few minutes and not just the cursory  “Hi” and keep walking that is common in the USA.  It is through this custom that over the years I’ve become friends with Evelying, a woman who works at my favorite bakery.  We’ve had conversations about many things but just this week she was bursting at the seams to tell me about  God’s answer to her prayer.  For the past 11 years her daughter had been estranged and she had neither seen or heard from her for a long time.  Continuing to pray for her daughter’s return and salvation she was in shock when her daughter came home last Sunday afternoon.  Singing praises to God for her answer to prayer and the best Christmas present a parent could ask for she is joyfully sharing the gospel message of love and forgiveness with those who come across her path.

Chilo is a sweet and kindhearted  women who works in several of my neighbors homes.   About 9 months ago her Mother-In-Law died.   As is customary in Nicaragua the elderly live with and are cared for by their families until they pass away.  Chilo’s family was very close to their abuela (grandmother) and have felt her absence in many ways.   We always greet each other with heartfelt hugs and God has blessed both of us with a special bond through our grief and loss this year.   Along the way each one of us has taken turns sharing words of encouragement and prayer with the other in moments and days of need.   Just as Jesus ministered to people along His way, God has allowed Chilo and I to do that not only for each other but also for others too. 

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this Christmas  season may we reflect together on the ways that we can bring the message of salvation to those along the way just as Jesus did.  May the Lord bless you richly in 2011 as you bless and minister to those along the way.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why not Tri!

NCA hosted its first ever mini-triathlon this past weekend.   It was a huge success.   The whole event took place at a crater lake about 20 minutes from Managua, Laguna Xiloa.

There were over 50 participants, mostly high schoolers and a few adults.   The day was filled with lots of fun, energy and great sportsmanship.

On your marks get set


With a few bicycle events under our belts it helped us in planning for this fun day.   There were loads of great volunteers that made it possible for all of the organizers to participate in the second heat.   Kate and Lori were awesome timekeepers and have now been inspired to start training for a relay team next  year.

Water Safety Crew

From NCA Triathlon 2010

Both Aimee and I had trained hard for the swimming portion since that is not something that either one of us excel in.   We both had a great time training and participating in the event.    Little side note.   I give thanks to God for a great friend in Aimee.   We have had so much fun training and participating in so many events and adventures during our time here in Nicaragua.   God has blessed us both with similar interests and someone to do them with. 

It truly was a family event.  Several families had multiple people participating.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Animals in Your Backyard

Some would say there are many differences between life in Nicaragua and life in the USA, others would say there are a few differences but generally life is the same.   I tend to say that there are many differences, some are good, fun, frustrating and funny.    

In first grade at NCA we were recently learning about wild and tame animals.   We spent 6 weeks talking about all different aspects of animals.   One activity in particular struck me as I thought about a typical response for a class in the US vs. Nicaragua.    

Here are the responses to the question:   What animals do you find in your backyard?

Do you see any differences??  Angie, the aid who is new to Nicaragua laughed as she looked at our list.  :-)  Not many of you would say that you have pigs and bats in your backyard.   The things that didn't make the list because we ran out or room were: snakes, lizards, beetles, possums, and frogs.

The same week I shot this photo in my living room at home.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


 Webster defines it as the state of being grateful : thankfulness

I recently read this quote by Richard Emmons:

“The more I study gratitude, the more I have come to believe that an authentic, deeply held sense of gratefulness toward life may require some degree of contrast or deprivation.

One truly appreciates a mild spring after a harsh winter, a gourmet meal following a fast….Some blessings are not known until they are lost."

I cannot agree with this more.   As I have now lived in Nicaragua for over six years there have been many things that I have come to appreciate in a new way.  Simple pleasures like hot showers, pumpkin  pie,  consistent power etc.  Throughout the past 6 months I have come to appreciate certain things more now with the loss of my brother and sister-in-law this year certain things that I once took for granted I now cherish with a whole new sense of gratitude.
Now moments with my family, phone calls home, pictures of my nephew hold a new depth of  specialness because I realize they are precious moments to be shared and treasured because we do not know how long we will have to share them.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.

My roommate Aimee is a Canadian and I've learned a lot about a few of the Canadian holidays over the years.   Earlier this month Canada celebrated Thanksgiving.   There is a group of dear Canadians that have invited me to join them in their celebration for the past few years.   It is a beautiful time to reflect with gratitude the things of God in our lives.    I've been challenged to take the everyday moments with an attitude of thanksgiving to the Lord.    

I pray that I will proclaim His greatness demonstrated in the little things in life as well as the big ones. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rainy Day Activities

This has been the rainiest season Nicaragua has had for a very long time. Definitely the most rain I have seen in my six plus years here. Roads become rivers, potholes become small crater lakes, rays of sunshine become golden opportunities to dry your damp, musty clothes.

We've had our share of inside recess days at NCA. My class has done really well regardless of having to stay inside. The boys in my class are soccer fanatics. They go all out in the playground when they play soccer so they were starting to go through withdraw until they discovered they could make up their own soccer game.

Imagine it as a spin on fooseball! The boys love it and can entertain themselves for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile the girls play games, puzzles, color and chit chat.

Please pray for Nicaragua. Many homes are being flooded as the ground has reached its saturation point. Usually October is the rainiest month of the year. Join us in praying for safety for those whose homes are at risk of flooding, dry places for families to stay, safety in traveling on the wet and often flooded roads, protection for the crops. Some crops are at risk of being lost due to all the rain.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

WARNING! Not for weak stomachs!

Nicaragua is full of wild life! Due to the openness of building design in Nicaragua there is not a lot of wall, window or ceiling between you and the great outdoors.

During my six years in Nicaragua I've grown accustomed to spiders, geckos, ants and even an occasional bird making their way into my classroom during any given day. This week started out like any other until Wednesday. As I opened up my classroom on Wednesday morning there was a terrible smell. I could tell immediately that something had died in my classroom. The smell of rotting something was potent. I immediately opened up the windows and turned up the fans in order to try and air things out. The maintenance guys came to see if they could locate what had died and remove it for me. As they were pulling out ceiling tiles the smell got worse. Picture all of my students with their shirts up over their noses making all kinds of terrible sounds as they tried not to breathe in the wretched smell. Richard and Jose Angel decided that it had to be a dead rat but that it was in a part of the roof that they could not access to remove the dead rat. In true Nica fashion they stuffed the hole full of newspapers and then sealed it with silicone. We all could breathe a little easier after that.

On Friday my students were playing with some insects during our carpet time. When I investigated I discovered wormlike things crawling around on the floor. Having the slight feeling that they just might be maggots I sent my kids right back to their desks. We called in the maintenance and cleaning staff again. There were maggots all underneath our classroom carpet and rapidly making their way around the classroom.

We cleaned, sprayed and sanitized and yet I was still finding them alive and crawling around the classroom on Saturday. Rosita and I have not been able to figure out exactly where they are coming from. Our suspiscions seem to lead us to the ceiling where the rat died last week. I think we are both fearful of just what we will find up there.

This just goes to show you that you never know what things you may encounter while teaching in a classroom in Nicaragua.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wibbly Wobbly Teeth

Adventures in first grade are always looked upon with the innocence of childhood. Last week we had quite the day. Six and seven year olds are known for wibbly, wobbly teeth. Omar came up to me and showed me his loose tooth at the beginning of the day. He was excited because it was going to come out soon. After snack He was twisting it all around and it was ready to come out. Being a first grade teacher I have had a great deal of experience pulling teeth so naturally I offered my services. POP! It came right out. He was beaming a bright toothless smile.

Fedra saw all of this happen as she too was playing with her loose tooth. She was a little worried. "Miss Franklin, it is easier for Omar because he is a boy and it doesn't hurt to lose a tooth. But I am a girl and it hurts me." she said. I told her that if she changed her mind I'd be happy to pull it out for her. Twenty minutes later she was ready and POP! Out came another one.

Two teeth in one day makes the headlines in a small class of 20 first graders. :-) The next day Oscar came to school and told me that his tooth had fallen out the night before. That makes 3 teeth in one day. What a record!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

End of the summer Fun!

Those of you who know me know that I like to run. Call me crazy but I find it relaxing and energizing. When we returned to Nicaragua Aimee told me about a 5k that was going to happen Aug 8th. I had not run much over the summer with all of my travels but thought it would be fun. We found out all of the race info the day before and ended up having a good sized group go with us. Races don't happen in Nicaragua very often so we have to participate when we have the chance. There were 250 racers/walkers in all.

To my surprise I was came in 3rd among the women. It was lots of fun and I even won 250 cordobas $12.50 US. Now that prize money paid for my registration for a half-marathon I'm running on Aug 22.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Day of School

I promise to update from the summer soon. I've been busy and haven't had the time to do it just yet.

Monday was the first day of the new school year. Students arrived with lots of brand new pencils, notebooks and supplies. They were eager to get to class and play with their friends. I have a big class this year with 20 first graders. Eleven of them are in special English classes because they're level of English is really low. It will be an adventurous year that is for sure.

Please pray for a few little guys who are completely lost in the English. I want them to enjoy school and not feel so overwhelmed by it all that they don't hate coming to school.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Graduation Time

Well the 2009-2010 school year has officially ended. The year has been full of blessings, learning and much progress for my little first graders.

At NCA we continue one of our objectives as teachers is to help our students think of others before themselves. We strive to instill in them a heart of service. The elementary teachers organized a day of service activities for all of the students in first - sixth grade the last week of school. The kids did everything from sanding the playground equipment, picking up trash, washing chairs to painting a new mural on the playground.

This year I was able to attend the 6th grade graduation for my first class of first graders at NCA. This group has been very special to me during my time here in Nicaragua. I have seen them grow and mature into confident leaders and compassionate servants. What a special treat to have been able to see their growth throughout the years.

Graduating at the same time was the kindergarten class that will be moving up to first grade next Fall. They are an energetic group with lots of potential for learning, exploring and growing next year.

Two days later the senior class of 2010 graduated as well. Paola Fuentes a super responsible and incredibly gifted gal was part of this class. She is Alcides and Slieny's oldest daughter. Paola and I have worked together on teams during the past few years. It was a true honor to see her celebrate this special occasion. Paola graduated valedictorian of her class and has received many scholarships to study at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The RAIN has come!!

Yeah!! After a really dry Dry season the rains have finally come. They have washed away the brown dust cloud that has covered our world for a while. :-) The lush greenness has returned to the country I love.

Along with the green plant life we've also seen some other types of growth that come with the rain. Mold! Yep, it comes in a variety of shapes, colors and quantities. Below are a few pics of the mold that is growing on the grout between the ceramic tile in our house. We tried to get rid of it by scrubbing the floor with bleach water. That worked for all of 4 hours until the mold grew back again. Crazy eh!! I know that I was sure surprised by how quickly it grew. Oh well we'll keep trying to fight it off as best we can. :-) Until then we'll be amazed by this incredible phenomenon.

Friday, April 30, 2010


The High Schoolers at NCA have been working on for the past three months on a Play. Rumors by Neil Simon was the play chosen. It is a hysterical play filled with corny jokes, physical humor and a funny storyline. I had the opportunity to help out with costumes and the set along with my roommate Kate. We had fun coordinating lots of random furniture pieces, housewares and clothing to bring the whole play together.

Here are some pictures of the preparations and the final product!

Kate and I went the second hand store looking for some props we got a little distracted by the bouncy exercise thingy and the SNOWBOARD in Nicaragua.

After spending 7 hours moving, painting, creating and prepping the set and the cast in 90+ degree weather we were worn out. Good thing the Wolf slippers make a good pillow.

The finished set no that is not a bottle of alcohol on the floor it is an empty bottle of sparkling cider. :-)

The cast

The evening was a success and the cast did a great job!