Dear family and friends,
Today I'm reflecting on and anticipating emotions . . . what it has felt like to be here and what it feels like to be soon heading back to the States.
Emotions we have felt in Nicaragua:
Fear: Our arrival here was soon followed by rioting the streets which was very unsettling for us. We see men with guns every day at the bank, our guard at our gate, sometimes people just walking down the street. I recently felt fearful during a powerful thunderstorm that was accompanied by lots of lightening which seemed to be right inside our house. My Midwest instinct was to run to the basement, but we do not have one!
Closeness: Our family's life is much more simple living here, allowing us much more time together as a family and time to be with people in our home and in other's homes.
Proud: I am proud of my husband. As Dan attends administrative meetings, it has been exciting for me to hear about how his ideas are being used and implemented. One of the things that he has suggested is that administration talk with the teachers more regularly about what they need. Meetings have been set up with teachers to discuss their needs and NCA's director has commented on how much of a difference this is making. The president of the school board introduced Dan saying that he has been "a great addition to the school" and on another occasion praised him for the work he is doing with helping the teachers learn how to raise their own financial support. This piece is so important as financial stability for the teachers leads to teacher longevity and greater stability for the students. Dan is often described as a "servant" which is a very accurate description of him both at work and in our home.
We are proud of our kids. They entered school mid-year and it was a challenge for both of them in the beginning. Rebekah so often inspires me with her optimism and determination to find solutions to problems. I've watched her adjust and readjust to many changes with grace. She is also so quick to join in with other kids which amazes me because at first glance she appears shy. She is exercising discernment in her relationships with people, recognizing that doing the 'right thing" is more important than being "in". She has demonstrated this conviction by befriending a girl that everyone made fun of. I'm noticing how she is no longer a little girl, but an emerging pre-teen who is thinking more deeply about things. She has been teachable and a joy to be around.
Will also inspired us with his determination to keep trying. He had an excellent teacher who pushed him and his class to do their best. Will was often assigned three to four Bible verses to memorize in a week's time and by the end of the week he knew them. His 2nd grade spelling list consisted of words like "prehistoric" and "turquoise". And he was the only American boy in his class, the class ahead and below so time on the playground could be lonely when all that was spoken was Spanish or Korean. And now he finishes the year with an "E" (highest grade) in spelling having gotten several perfect scores and he has earned the respect of his classmates on the soccer field.
Intimacy with God: I asked Will if I could share this and he said I could. On Will's last day of school, he came home with his "memory book". In it, he shared some things that indicated how God has been moving in his heart. He writes,"We were doing a coin war (fund raiser) and on the second day, I felt God telling me something. So, I gave $25.00 (birthday money gift). The fifth day, it happened again. So, I gave $50.00 (money he was saving). Then I felt content with God. He gave me a feeling that I did a good thing, so I felt happy." He also writes, "Well, God showed me a lot of things. One week I was so discouraged. I thought the spelling was so hard, but I tried and tried and tried but it still wasn't enough for a 15 so I prayed and the next day I went to school and we had the spelling test and I got a 15! I was so happy to see that 15. I almost fainted." God has led each of us to new places in our relationship with Him this year.
Freaked Out: I've never hosted so many creatures in my house in my life. A tarantula, 2 scorpions, many huge cockroaches, disgusting big slugs, huge centipedes, termites, a plethora of different kinds of ants, mice, geckos actually, I don't mind the geckos at all because they eat bugs, but I've needed to get used to them running up and down the walls. I've made progress with cockroaches I used to scream and yell for Dan to "Help!". And now I arm myself with a shoe and paper towel get the job done.
Thankful: We find ourselves thankful for things like electricity, a warm shower, finding the peanut butter that we want at the store, that the internet is working today, for a day when we were able to accomplish the things on our list . . . just for so many things that at one time we felt entitled to.
Grief: Our student Mateo's death affected us in a way I would not have anticipated. Perhaps because we have a son, perhaps because we were reminded how vulnerable we are, perhaps because of the faith we see demonstrated by Mateo's family. His family continues to inspire us.
Hot: Last summer after my Dad's heart surgery, he needed to walk around connected to an IV where ever he went. I've decided that I've developed that same kind of relationship with our fan. When I do dishes, it is blowing into my back. When do laundry, along with me it comes. It even accompanies me to the bathroom. The other day I was so miserably hot - I actually put on my swimming suit, took a cold shower, and then did the dishes and laundry!
Surrendered: God is so wise to make His call so sure before we get to the field. There have been times when we have asked ourselves what we are doing here. And yet, we know we are simply just following what He told us to do. There is a peace that comes with that and an assurance that He is with us every step of the way.
Honored: We are so honored by those who are walking this road with us in prayer, through encouragement, and through financial support. We are amazed by the commitment of our supporters to stand with us even through difficult economic times. We do not take this for granted and are truly honored and aware of God's blessing through our support team. So many have expressed love in so many ways. I am actually still getting birthday cards the one I received today was first sent to Africa!
Emotions we experience as we anticipate time in the States:
Fear: Yes, it may seem strange but there is some anxiety about going back. Much has changed in our lives and in us. We also know that much has changed in the US and in the lives of those back home. We wonder if we will fit in. We wonder how we will react to things. Dan and I were even saying that we feel some anxiety about staying in homes in the US that do not have a wall around them or an armed guard at the gate! Dan suggested that we take our guard, Carlo, with us.
Excitement: We are very excited to see our family and friends again. We can't wait to hug everyone and just spend time together. In fact, as I write this I'm getting a little tearful!
Eager: Eager to eat foods we have not eaten in awhile. Eager to live in an air conditioned house. Eager to take a warm shower every day. Eager to ride a bike. Eager to ride on roads that are smooth. Eager to go to our favorite restaurants. Eager to go for a long walk. Eager to see lots of grass. Eager to play at a park. Eager to go to the library.
Anticipating challenges: Several missionaries have commented that going back to Western Culture is difficult reverse culture shock, as it is called is often worse than the culture shock of adjusting to the mission field. One illustration of reverse culture shock is a story a missionary friend told us. She said that after she got to the States, she went to the store to buy mustard. Here in Nicaragua there is one, maybe two kinds to choose from. She said that when she got to the mustard aisle there were like 17 different kinds of mustard to choose from. She said that she broke down and left the store without mustard. So many choices can be overwhelming.
Another thing missionaries have mentioned is that they have a reaction to American materialism and waste. And what may happen is that we react to this in ways that may be hard to understand. I remember this reaction after spending a summer in poor villages in Mexico. The gap between extreme poverty and extreme wealth is difficult to reconcile mentally and emotionally.
Another challenge is that we will be "on stage" a lot over the summer. Sometimes we can put pressure on ourselves or on our kids to perform when we are in these situations or may feel pressure from others. Please pray for us to rest in and exercise God's grace regardless of the situation we find ourselves in.
We share this with you so that you are aware that there will be challenges for us as we try to assimilate back to our home culture for the summer. We ask for your prayers and for your patience with us as we walk this leg of the journey.
Anticipating opportunities: Would you also pray that our family would use the opportunity that God is giving us to be a light to all those with whom we interact this summer. We don't consider ourselves to be leaving "the mission field". We see ourselves as moving from one mission field to another. So, our prayer is that God would use us in this mission field as well to communicate His truth and His love and His grace.
Thank you again for your prayers and for your support. We look so forward to seeing you!
Peace to you,
Dan, Lisa (the writer), Rebekah, and Will