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.