Monday, April 30, 2012

Scenic Overlook

We've all done it!   We've stopped at some spot along the highway and taken in some incredible views of mountains, valleys, volcanoes or canyon's.   Some of those views seem to take our breath away as we are struck by the beauty of God's creation.

In our lives we know that God has the panoramic view of our lives from beginning to end and how events and people mark and change our lives in both positive and negative ways.   He sees our unmasked faces, our true thoughts, struggles, joys and delights in this life.  There are moments when I feel like He gives us a glimpse of His scenic overlook into our lives.

Here are just a few of the ways I have seen glimpses of what this life is really all about from my life in the past month.

  • Sweet reconnecting with a good friend Aimee while snow-shoeing in God's striking mountains in BC Canada.  Hours upon hours of sharing struggles, thoughts, joys and prayer together.
  • Watching Corbin, my nephew, be more excited about what was in each Easter egg he encountered than caught up in the race to get the most eggs.   He opened each one to see what was inside before moving on to find the next egg.   My favorite quote from the day was from Corbin, "oh look it is a sweet baby chicken!"
  • Endless laughter with new and old friends over a game of  Who, What, Where in Seattle, Washington.   To laugh until tears are streaming down your face is a wonderful feeling.
  • Sharing a love for reading and finding good deals on books with my Mom
  • Tears freely flowing as I shared difficult moments with friends whose lives have been rocked by the death of parents
  • Breakfast with my sister that easily could have been considered lunch as well as we shared our hearts for each other and thoughts about the future and where our hope must lie, in Christ alone.
  • Seeing God's preparation in my life for this new role through long term relationships, conversations, a burdened heart and a renewed passion to work with teachers in a way that will bring honor and glory to Him instead of myself
  • Praise and worship on the beach as the sun sets beyond the ocean

All of these Scenic Overlooks lead me back to see a God who loves us and gave His Son for us to die in our place so that we can have life.

What Scenic Overlooks are there in your life right now?  How do they bring you to praise the One who sees it all?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Roadside Stats

Now anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a numbers kind of person, but I  thought I would humor some of those more numerically minded readers with some stats from my visits with Donors and Friends across the US and B.C. Canada.

Thor has safely traveled 7,390 Miles in 49 days  making an average of 150.8 miles per day.

$3.49 cheapest price for gas per gallon paid in Tulsa, OK

$4.59 most expensive price for  gas  per gallon  in Blaine, Washington

24 different homes slept in spread out over 21 States and Canada (thanks Aimee).

Longest travel day 10 ½ hours
Shortest travel day 45 minutes

Unknown number of people praying for safety and good connections with people.  (Thank you J)

Millions of bugs whose lives were cut short as they splattered across my windshield

4 audio books “read”
30+ podcasts enjoyed from various pastors around the US

All of this =’s 1 tired but encouraged Carey

Today I head back home to Nicaragua.   Thank you to all of you for continuing to pray for the ministry in Nicaragua.   It is so encouraging to know that there is a whole slew of people “in” with me on this new endeavor.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In Nicaragua, teachers make only half as much as market vendors

This article is a great picture of the challenge that education in Nicaragua is faces with.

In Nicaragua, teachers make only half as much as market vendors

Tim Rogers | The Christian Science Monitor | Mar 26, 2012

Nicaragua's Sandinista government vowed a 'battle for sixth grade' to combat one of the world's highest dropout rates. But their goals are not reflected in the budget.

By Tim Rogers, Correspondent / March 26, 2012
Schoolchildren receive new laptops at the Municipal Stadium in Ometepe, Nicaragua, in February. Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega decreed education free for all, deployed a nationwide literacy campaign, and valiantly declared a 'battle for sixth grade' to combat one of the world's highest dropout rates.
Since returning to power in 2007, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega has championed education as a priority for his administration, and a hallmark of his government’s socialist work.
Mr. Ortega decreed education free for all, deployed a nationwide literacy campaign, and valiantly declared a “battle for sixth grade” – an important goal in a country that has one of the highest dropout rates and lowest high-school enrollments in the world.
But when it comes to paying the bill for education, the government hasn’t followed through, analysts say, and as a result education is not improving. Not only are textbooks and classrooms outdated, but standards for college admissions are falling and educators are amongst the most underpaid professionals in the country. And the low wages promised to teachers, some say, is telling of the government's true commitment to improving education.
“The glass ceiling for the quality of education is the quality of teachers. And there is no way to attract better and more qualified teachers to the profession if people can earn twice as much doing just about any other job,” says Adolfo Acevedo, an economist with the Civil Coordinator public policy and activist group.
National salaries 'biased against teachers'
“The national salary structure’s bias against teachers is overwhelming,” Mr. Acevedo says.
Not only are Nicaraguan teachers the worst paid in Central America, but they’re also among the worst paid professionals in Nicaragua. In real wage terms, an average public school teacher in Nicaragua earns less than 60 percent of the average wages for other jobs, and only half of what it costs to provide the canasta basica, a list of 56 basic food and household items needed to support an average family.
Teachers in Nicaragua earn less than miners, factory workers, construction workers, and government functionaries who stand in traffic rotundas waving Sandinista flags at passing cars, according to a comparative study on real purchasing power, Acevedo says. Most teachers earn only half as much as a market vendor.
“The average teacher is either living in poverty or right on the verge,” Sandinista analyst Oscar Rene Vargas says.
Teachers in Nicaragua earn around $185 to $226 a month, according to estimates by Acevedo and José Antonio Zepeda, president of the National Confederation of Nicaraguan Education Workers (ANDEN).
“Despite the continuous salary increases over the past six years – representing a total of 140 percent in wage increases – teachers still don’t earn enough to meet the costs of the canasta basica,” Zepeda said.
This is because any salary increase on paper has been virtually cancelled out by inflation and the increases to costs of living, says Acevedo.
“The salary increase projected for teachers in 2012 is 9 percent, but inflation is projected to be 7.95 percent,” he says. If projections are correct, the real increase in teacher salaries will be 1.05 percent. “At that rate of growth, teachers will need to wait 65 years for their salaries to catch up with the average national salary,” Acevedo says.
Actions speaking louder than words
“The deficit in education spending is not a problem that started with this government, but this government has not changed the tendency of underfunding,” says Mr. Vargas. “The situation is stagnant.”
Though the Ortega administration has lobbied the World Bank and EU for outside financing to support its education strategy – a plan Sandinista officials have quietly presented to international donors but kept guarded from any public scrutiny – the government is hesitant when it comes to opening its own purse strings to pay teachers’ salaries, says Mr. Acevedo.
Ortega, who receives nearly $500 million a year in Venezuelan aid, recently thanked teachers for their “vocation for service.” But despite his thanks, critics say the Ortega government once again did not do enough to address low salaries for educators in the 2012 budget, which was hurried through National Assembly earlier this month by the Sandinista supermajority.
The Ministry of Education’s (MINED) department of public relations said they weren’t authorized to give out information about teachers’ salaries, and also ignored written requests for information.
But some say the problem isn’t lack of funding, but how government money is spent.
For example, in the 2012 budget the government earmarked $111 million – double what it spent last year – on paying down the internal debt. At the same time, this year’s budget will increase education spending by $20 million, which means in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), education spending will be the same as it was last year: 3.7 percent. That’s only half of what the country should be spending on education, Acevedo says. “The country needs to establish its priorities.”
Poor quality of education
Nicaragua’s cash-strapped school system is amongst the world’s lowest in terms of secondary-school enrollment: Only 45 percent of students who enter primary school go on to high school.
Many of those who do make it to high school may not be learning much more than those who drop out, though. The country’s high schools only have enough books to cover 55 percent of the students, something the Ministry of Education blames on a lack of the estimated $6 million needed to print new texts. The ministry hopes the funding will become available by the end of the year.
Those who do attend high school are not held to education standards or international benchmarks. The country performed so poorly in worldwide standardized testing that it stopped participating in global testing several years ago.
And according to recent university entrance exams, only 10 percent of students pass the basic math requirements, and 20 percent pass the Spanish-language requirement. Scores were so low that the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in León last year lowered the passing grade on its entrance exam to 54 out of 100. But even then, only 68 percent of the high school graduates passed.
“There is a lot of government propaganda about education, but the quality of education in Nicaragua still leaves a lot to be desired,” says Carlos Tünnermann, the first Sandinista government’s minister of education and a former member of the UNESCO Director-General’s Advisory Group for Higher Education in Latin America.