Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving in Nicaragua

Thanksgiving, a time filled with turkey, delicious side dishes, pumpkin pie and of course lots of family. Thanksgiving in Nicaragua, met almost all of those goals minus the pumpkin pie portion. This is our second time spending this wonderfully delicious holiday away from Seattle, the first being our YWAM DTS's in Germany and Switzerland; however, the beauty of this week was that my (MF's) parents were able to come down and join us. Although we didn't actually get to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, it was a wonderful time nonetheless.

Feeding Isaac Bustamante his Thanksgiving dinner.

Prior to Thanksgiving, we officially ended our teaching roles at Colegio Havila. I was incredibly happy that my parents were able to see the school in session, meet all our fellow teachers, and see the amazing children we have worked with every day. My Dad had fun helping administer my English test to the 6th graders, while my mom was deemed the official grader for Josh's computer exam. The end kind of snuck up on us. I found myself unexpectedly in tears on Tuesday as the reality of the end of the year sunk in. These people are such precious jewels and as much as we've kicked and screamed at times this year, it doesn't diminish the reality that we will be forever changed by this year.

Top: Mom and me before Thanksgiving dinner with our church. Introducing Dad to 6th grade as the administrator of the ESL test.

Middle: Construction on our house begins, so we have officially moved out as of a week ago. Mom the fabulous computer test grader.
Bottom: The kids taking the practical portion of the exam. Profesor Josh helping with the computer test.

We are thankful for this opportunity to come and be changed. We are thankful for the Los Cedros community that have become extended family and for the changes we've seen in kid's lives. We are thankful for all the family and friends who came and visited us this year, as that support has been instrumental in our success this year.

Working together to grade tests. The 5th graders threw us a farewell lunch after their computer test.

In the spirit of thankfulness, we got to spend a lovely week with my parents here. We enjoyed taking them to our Gringo church communities Thanksgiving potluck...which I was personally excited for the mounds of turkey to be consumed. We were also blessed to be able to spend three days in our little spot of heaven in San Juan del Sur where we finally managed to get my parents to relax and celebrated their 30th anniversary. We read, talked, and soaked up the incredible beauty that surrounded us in the blue skies, crystal aqua seas, and delightful infinity pools with breathtaking views. It's incredibly hard to leave that portal into heaven.

Top: Our afternoon San Juan del Sur beach walk.
Bottom: Taking advantage of the glorious swimming pools. Josh posing for the camera.

Beyond all the relaxing we also had the wonderful opportunity to accompany my Dad (David Carlson) to an Agros village land signing ceremony, appropriately held on Thanksgiving Day. There were five families who recieved their land title, officially handing their plots of land and houses legally into their own hands. These are incredibly hard working people who have poured themselves into prospering their families, digging into the opportunity to change the cycle of poverty. As we have come to understand, Nicaraguans are generally very unemotional even over some of the most exciting things that have happened in their lives. But watching each of the men grasping the pen to sign their title followed by soft spoken words of gratitude was moving to all invovled.

Finally, the last big event we got to do with my parents was to attend Maria Jose's (daughter of Pastor Manuel and Pastora) quincinera. For those not familiar with latin culture, turning 15 is a big deal. It is the presentation of the young woman to the community, ushering her from status as a girl to a woman. Because of this, the celebration is a sight to behold. The party was held in Pastora's front yard, which was transformed into a lavender and white formal dining room. There were balloon archways, the cement wall surrounding the property was painted lavender, a pig was killed for the dinner, a beautiful ball gown purchased for the birthday girl, and 500 guests invited to celebrate her. It has all the sentiments of a wedding recepetion, yet there is no groom and eventually you sing Happy Birthday to the girl in the beautiful dress. It was quite the party and we marveled at the importance of this monumental occassion not only to the family but to the community at large as well.

So that about sums up November. In some ways we are glad to have our school responsibilities behind us so that we can soak up the moments we have left. We are now in our last week, so as you read this and think about us we'd appreciate your prayers as we begin the hard part of saying good-bye. We are grateful to know that our invovlement in Nicaragua is not over, the physical living part yes, but we will return which softens the blow a bit.