Thursday, September 27, 2012

Side Story

Tuesday was hilarious!  It all started when Camille and I thought we could walk Applonia to her training at the Beet Farm which is about 2 miles from where we are staying.  The problem is: we have never walked there before.  Her training started at 4pm.  We start to leave at 3:30pm, we actually leave at 3:45.  OBVIOUSLY we arrive late, at 4:19pm.  We felt so bad, but the thing is the smoke stacks weren’t as high as they were before and I couldn’t see where to walk.  And AGAIN we didn’t use the hand-drawn map.

The insanity doesn’t end there however.   We follow the directions of a 10 year old and get completely lost and double the time it takes us to walk home.  But as a result we took these awesome pictures in the parks, grass and underpasses that we walked through.  Enjoy!  

No More Beets :-(

So I’d like to explain why we’re even doing the Beet Harvest.  A little birdie by the name of Kim Murphey, her blog is here, explained that to support her full-time service in Nicaragua that she would travel back the US to do the Beet Harvest for a few weeks.  The thing is, I completely dismissed this idea.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that Camille mentioned it again and that a couple that used to be in her hall that are from CT but serve in Nicaragua as well were going.  Then I jumped on board.  I haven’t completely decided where to serve, but I have my sights set on Italy!  It makes sense given my circumstances, but is as we all know, quite pricey.  So with the Beet Harvest money I intend to stash it away and proceed to finally accomplish my goal of serving in English in Italy.  For more info on the Sugar Beet Industry click here.

Back to beets, so you can imagine our dismay as we learn that due to the unusually beautiful warm weather, beets can’t be piled because they will go bad.  That means that we can’t work.  L  So we go out in service instead J.  The territory here has been encouragingly responsive and generally pleasant.  There was emmense support on Wednesday morning.  There were over 20 that showed up for service at 9am.  That in itself was encouraging.  Through-out the day, which ended around 5:30pm we met pioneers, mothers, MTS grads, children and even one of the anointed in our productive day of service.  The next day, I encountered a Nepali family who wants to learn about the bible but don’t speak English well.  Appolonia finally kept one of the 3 return visits that she set up while preaching.  The service has just been amazing and I am glad that the Harvest hasn’t started!

After service, has been just as fun.  Today we prepared a dinner for our host family and enjoyed association with them and yesterday we went to Ground Round which features a happy hour like I’ve never experienced.  Buy a $3.00 Margharita and get a FREE taco bar!  That’s a pioneer’s dream! (Or at least mine).  This morning before service we visited Crookston and used self control to not buy the antique jewelry that we saw.  This trip has just been amazing!

But at 8:58pm I received a call to go into work tomorrow.  Now the fun starts!

Beets Beets, and more Beets

So, remember I mentioned those lovely little sisters of mine?  Yeah, 7:20am they re-revealed their presence before they left for school.  This started our day Monday.  By 9:30am we were at the Sugar Beet Hiring Center filling out paper work and meeting our potential work mates.  In the waiting area we met a couple from Minneapolis who serve just outside of Leon Nicaragua in a semi-rural Spanish congregation on the beach.  I actually met them when we stayed with Krista (refer to Blog posted dated Feb. 21, 2012).  We had separate “interviews” and watched a safety video.  Did you know you could DIE working in a sugar beet factory!?? Well I didn’t either!  I am so happy that we are all working inside and nowhere near Bobcats and huge trucks. 

Our training was at 4pm the same day, so we went to Sam’s Club and bought food to eat during “supper break” and through-out the week.  At $16 each I think we did a good job.  (I think it’s hiliarious that we literally bought cheese for DAYZ, more specifically 7 pounds!  At 3:30pm we got picked up to head over to the plant.  At 3:50 we’re panicking because we can’t find the location, we definitely should’ve paid attention to the hand drawn maps provided at training.  At 3:58pm we pull in. 

Our jobs are so simple it’s not even funny.  Camille and I switch between scrapping beet mush into cups and blending it and placing it on a carosel for the next worker to take a teaspoon sized sample from, and manning the computer station.  The other couple ended up on the other end of the line: loading the scales with the initial dirty beets and counting the actual crowns of beets after they have been washed.  Next the beets get chopped up into the mush that I scoop.  After the sample is taken, solution is mixed in and a machine calculates the Sugar, Amino Acid and Potassium content.  These figures are entered into the computer and at the end of the line I verify that no beet samples have been lost in the shuffle and the truckers are paid based on the sugar content of their loads.  Sounds complex, but it is actually quite simple.

After 7.5 hours we head home literally beat and hit the sack.  I am ready to start this harvest!

Start of a Legend

   So we made it to Minnesota!  It was a long 2 day trip to arrive here, but it’s all been worth it!  We left at 5am from Danbury CT.  Well Appolonia and I left New Haven at 3:45am…whew( and I didn’t even attempt to go to sleep). I met my new “parents” for the next few weeks Armando and Lidi.  They served in Managua Sign Language for the last 3 years.  They are in one word AWESOME!  We took turns filling up the tank as we embarked on a journey that would take us through 9 states!  I held out until Minnesota (thinking that by waiting to the last fill-up that it’d be the cheapest) to fill up my tank, unfortunately I paid the 2nd highest in relation to everyone, $3.94 a gallon.  If you know me, I was definitely heart-broken to have paid so much when Camille only paid $3.80!  Anyways, I discovered the Sweet Deals Menu at Dairy Queen and enjoyed my homemade Nutella sandwhich and Cheese sandwhich as everyone else forked over money for Subway, Burger King and Chester’s Chicken.  We stopped over in Chicago and enjoyed Chicago’s Other Famous Deep-Dish Pizza- Lou Malnati’s (delicious especially when paired with an Orange Moon pitcher).  We spent the night with a wonderful family that we had never met.  Through a friend in Italian we found a family in the Spanish with 2 daughters in the Chinese who hosted us.  They were sooooo nice.  The next morning we all tried Cactus flower fruit for the first time and enjoyed bagels and tea.  Then we were off again!

This time we used Armando’s Galaxy 3 to play YouTube videos to sing karaoke to and watched numerous episodes of the hit TV show The Office.   Dwight’s performance in the Stress Relief episode will be hilarious regardless of the number of times watched.  We sang Mariah Carey and Luis Enrique as we passed Cheese Billboards in Wisconsin and through the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  We reached E Grand Forks, Minnesota,  where we (the girls) are staying and Grand Forks, North Dakota (where the couple are staying) at about 9pm on Sunday.  We pulled up to our “home” for the next month.  A 30 foot camper fully equipped with a bathroom, Queen sized bed, stove, fridge and microwave.  We really were blessed!  Our 2 new little sisters Kiley, 10 and Mckinsey, 7 were literally outside greeting us. 

We unloaded our stuff and I hear the girls whispering about a “surprise”.  I have no idea what they are talking about.  10 minutes in to meeting and greeting the couple hosting us, in walks a large black man with a colorful hood covering his face.  Lo and behold, what is Blake Newbon doing here!?  I had no idea that we had kicked him out of the camper and he was forced to move into the family’s basement.   LOL  Anyways it felt like a Nicaraguan reunion.  I am glad that I came here and can’t wait to start working with those beets!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Angelic Direction

Saturday we have 2 groups for field service.  We go out first in the morning with our local groups and then everyone meets at the hall at 1pm as a congregation.  In our car group on this particular day we decide to make 2 return visits before we go to our territory which is about 20 minutes away.  The first call is not at home.  We go to the 2nd and I go with the brother to call on an Italian man who expressed interest.  The brother plans to start a study in the Bible Teach Book.

We walk up the long steep driveway and a young man greets us.  He goes inside to inform his parents of our arrival.  He returns and states that his mother said we can sit at the back porch and that she'll be right out.  Note, our visit was supposed to be on the father.

We greet the woman and sit down.  She seems surprised by our presence.  In fact, she was expecting someone else, a woman from the local English congregation.  She had her Bible Teach Book in hand along with the magazines from April.  The brother and I look at each other with questioning faces.

The woman had left her home at 10:30 to unexpectedly drop her daughter off to work.  Meanwhile the English friends attempted to come by to start the study with her, but she wasn't home.  We come by a few hours later and basically give all the incentive in the world to study the Bible in order to form a personal relationship with God.

This woman has SO MANY QUESTIONS.  We're sent in 2's thankfully, because I would've tried to answer all of them.  Instead the brother took a different approach and only read scriptures to help her appreciate the importance of learning the truth about God by means of his inspired word the Bible.  Every time she went in another direction, he gave an illustration that led right back to using the Bible to answer these questions.

After 45 minutes or so, the woman thanked us and we excused ourselves on behalf of the friends waiting for us in the car.  But she was so glad that we came by.  Both the brother and I hope and pray that the English go back to this woman.  If not, we still have the intention to come back to the husband who speaks Italian fluently.  As we leave we stumble upon the husband working in the yard blasting Italian music.  It was a great way to end service!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2 Bible Teaches in One Week!

This was a really cool experience.  I wasn't planning on going out in service today because I was tired and thought I hadn't made formal plans with anyone.  However, I was awaken at 9:45am when an elderly sister in my hall called me and asked was I going out.  I said of course and managed to make it to her house by 10:05am.  We decided to do a West Haven territory that she had.  House after house was not at home.  Finally she suggests that we do a "call" of hers, basically an Italian person that she has called on for years  that she hadn't seen in months.

We walk up to the door and I say a silent prayer, because I just really wanted someone to be home.  We meet an older Italian woman but low and behold, another Italian couple is visiting.  We go in, kiss and have a seat at the kitchen table.  A few minutes later another Italian man comes over to visit.  We had a bible topic discussion for the next hour!

The Italians ask questions from the Trinity, Evolution, Sin and Death.  My preaching companion Rosa, shares loads of scriptures.  By the end of it, I take out the Bible Teach Book merely to show the man who mainly had the questions the chapter on the topic he lingered on most.  He takes the book out of my hand.  I never offer him the book, yet he takes and keeps it.  As we leave and start shaking hands, he takes the book and doesn't give it back.  That was probably the easiest book placement I've ever made!

I plan to go back with the same sister and follow up on whether he found the answers to his questions in the book.  If he hasn't I am going to offer to bring a brother back to study with him.

Yet another productive day in the Italian field, how rewarding!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Italian Service in New Haven

Hey!  So I have realized to treasure the amazing field service experiences that I not only experience abroad but also right here at home.  Serving in the Italian field in CT is indeed exciting and we DO find interest.  Maybe no one’s begging for a bible study but we still have wonderful days in service.  For instance I felt compelled to share what happened today.

I worked this morning and didn’t get off until 3:30pm.  So I am always searching for like people who are only out in the evenings.  (Note: This is the best time to go out.  Everyone’s home).  So Camille (my friend from Sign Lanaguage) joins me and we sit down and eat a quick meal at my house of Quinoa.  Then we set off to get Camille some tacos from a particular taco shop in West Haven.  We drive over and first we stop at the deli next door because she remembered that the owner was Italian.  She buys a bag of chips and as she pays she strikes up a conversation.  Indeed the man is from Italy but he doesn’t really speak.  He shares with us that his son speaks perfect Italian and is in college to become a criminal lawyer.  I leave an Italian magazine with him and Camille leaves a Spanish magazine with the man in the taco shop as she waits for her meal. 

Back in the car, an old territory falls out of my bag from last year.  Obviously it hasn’t been worked in a while so we set off to rework it.  90% of the people were home!  Half weren’t Italian and were able to cross off after literally years of them being not at home and the other half accepted literature and we were able to have pleasant conversations.  The last door we did around 6:30pm.  We go to a confirmed Italian home that was hand written on the bottom of the territory.  A Mexican woman answers the door and informs us that not only is she a sister but her husband does speak Italian.  She invites us in.  We sit down and chat about the Kingdom Hall, Mexico and how her husband used to study.  After 40 minutes of warming up to us the husband suddenly is completely involved in the conversation.  He shows Camille his dog, recounts his hurricane story from last year’s Hurricane Irene.  He even pulls out his bass and plays all his favorite Beatles songs on his bass.  Long story short, I place the Bible Teach Book with him and we make plans to all go to the meeting together after they return from their 2 week vacation in Mexico.  We leave at about 8:15pm!  What a last door!  I know I can’t serve in Nicaragua right now or anywhere else for that matter but there is interest right here and I just need to adjust my mindset and cherish the experiences I have right here in CT, in fact right in New Haven my hometown. 

I can’t wait to go back to that house.  The wife thanked us repeatedly because her husband has studied off and on throughout the years and hopefully our visit will jumpstart him back into action.  J

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Final Comments

Nicaragua was an amazing experience.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to experience firsthand serving in a foreign country.  It’s so worth the effort.  Indeed it takes a leap of faith to go against others well-meaning concern and give your all to Jehovah’s service.  I was able to serve in the English congregation in Granada.  This is a young small congregation that has a lot of rich territory.  We would go into some territories that seemed impossible to find English speaking people and we ALWAYS found someone.  Most of the times you were able to place literature and sometimes start a study.  Many Nicaraguans want to learn English or already do.  This coupled with the region’s inherent desire to learn more about God’s Word makes for an awesome preaching experience.  No more apathy and no more hunting people down for studies.  Speaking at every door affords you the opportunity to hone your skills.  Granted this is still a challenging territory due to the search and discover nature of service.  This sometimes means mornings consisting of mostly census.  But Granada is a very touristy area as well.  Many English speaking tourists frequent the area.  Although street witnessing opens you up to many varied beliefs and a variety of ethnicities, this is great to break up the monotony of the constant census work.  I have to admit that I didn’t fully take advantage of this avenue of service but it was easy to speak with tourists simply by asking what brings them to Granada and asking where they are from.  The few people I did speak with certainly were friendly.  It’s always handy to carry meeting invites on your person.

My trip also took me to other parts of Nicaragua.  I was able to sample the coast, where English is predominantly spoken as well as places where Spanish is only spoken such as Jinotega.  Pearl Lagoon is in desperate need of help.  They go overnight preaching trips in order to cover their territory and due to the religious nature of the people there, you could easily share 3-4 scriptures at each door.  I felt so unequipped, but this challenge was good because it helps you prepare for the ministry with a purpose.   Jinotega doesn’t have much territory and it gets covered every 2 weeks.   But surprisingly you meet different members of the family at home and definitely have to keep your presentation fresh.  The most shocking part is that interest is still found daily!  I spent a week there and could have had my own bible study!  In contrast, I was in Granada for 6 weeks before I found a girl who really wanted to study.  I got the information of the sister who took the study in Jinotega and eagerly wait to hear the results of my initial seed.

All in all I think everyone should have the experience of serving somewhere.  The longer you can go the better since more time means more time with your studies before you turn them over.  The cost of living here in inexpensive and the cities are safe.  There are hardly any guns in Nicaragua which contributes to the safety factor.  Travel within the country is ridiculously cheap.  I’m talking $5 to get clear to the other side of the country, how long it will take you is entirely another story.  If you can take cold showers and want an instantly productive ministry, I say go for it!  Try it out for at least 3 months!  I promise you won’t regret it!

Monday, March 19, 2012


What a joy!  This place is awesome.  I am here visiting my friend from Trinidad who lives here permanently.  Jinotega is completely different from Granada.  It’s cold here at night and in the morning.  It is surrounded by mountains and has a slight hometown feel to it.
So far we have gone in service, started the track campaign and started a bible study.  I need to move here!  Too bad it’s too cold.  There are 2 Spanish congregations here each with over 100 publishers.  Yet the meeting attendance still gets up to 188 on the weekend.  I went on 4 of the 11 studies that my friend has.  The field is definitely ripe here.  Today we met the 5pm group and preached until after 6:30pm, it was completely dark when we stopped knocking on doors.  After greeting the householders with a “Buenas Noches”  we just kept the conversation going as if it weren’t nighttime.  (Hilarious if you ask me).  The food here is the same but Jinotega boasts a couple of swanky coffee shops.  Coffee is grown here locally.

In fact we went to a nature reserve yesterday, it’s owned by Germans and serves free range and organic meat and veggies in their restaurant.  The views here, in the rural territory are stunning.  Working with Spanish-speaking ONLY sisters has greatly improved my Spanish.  Chatting with some of the sisters that have moved here from the States, Canada and Scotland has proved to me how worth it it is to take the leap of faith and to sell your stuff and just move.  I’m seriously thinking about it….

Sidenote: There’s a sister here who makes Enchiladas and sells them 2 days a week to support her pioneering, YUM!!       

SideSideNote: It was a hot mess to get here.  The bus pulls out the station and informs everyone that we need to fork over double the money to make it to our destination because the road is blocked and we need more gas to get to Jinotega and it’s going to take an extra hour due to the back roads.  Then, the bus overheats.  Then we blow a tire.  Then it straight up breaks down!  In the meantime I befriend the woman sitting next to me who low and behold speaks English.  She has the Family Happiness Book and is trying to convince her husband to study.  In Matagalpa she helps me find a bank, watches my bags and gets her buddy to give me a free ride in a taxi.  I placed 4 magazine with her, a set in Spanish and a set in English. J

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday and Headed Home

Sunday we attended the meeting.  The brother who gave the talk was from Bluefields.  But, he wasn’t BLACK.  He only spoke Spanish.  After the meeting we discussed Bluefields and difference between being in the Spanish and English fields.  His talk was about Miracles and he used many props in his lively discourse.  I sat one seat away from a deaf woman who constantly made noises during the meeting.  I found out that she faithfully attends every meeting and a special pioneer couple studied with her 2 years ago but left the island.  She has no-one to study with her but loves coming to the Kingdom Hall.  We need people down here from the SIGN LANGUAGE!! 

After the meeting we went home and prepared lunch.  We made a delicious fresco from the Starfruits from yesterday's bible study.  We then rented bikes and biked 20Km to Ojos de Agua.  We swam for a few minutes and then were joined by 8 others from the congregation.  We had even more fun this second time.  Around 4pm we took our bikes and journeyed through a short cut through pastures until we came to the main road.  We biked down to the river’s edge and ate an upscale dinner at a beautiful restaurant.  I had chicken skewers with onions, tomato, pineapple and banana!  It was delicious!  Then we biked back home in the dark.  We couldn’t help but stop and gaze the awesome stars.   I learned a lot about constellations and colored stars.  We shared our favorite scriptures and star-gazed for over an hour.  We rode home in darkness and arrived tired and sore.  I slept good that night!

The next morning we girls were treated to breakfast by the guys.  We then caught the bus to Mayogalpa.  This path was unpaved and was exceptionally rocky and the way was blocked by oxen.  A blond woman and her husband boarded the bus.  Linda commented that they didn’t seem like they were from around here.  Turns out they were new pioneers on the Route!  She was from Spain and her husband was from Mexico and they were from the English in Rosarito Mexico!  We chatted with them and then 3 more pioneers boarded the bus.  We instantly made new friends!  We took pictures at our destination and then parted ways.  We met up with a special pioneer couple for Missouri and ate a splendid lunch.  The papaya chicken salad was impressive.  The owners also roasted their own coffee beans!  YUM!  We then rushed off to catch the 2pm Ferry.  Guess what!?  The driver had a headache and decided not to drive that day!  So Efrien and I had to quickly board a bus to San Jose- the other port on the island and hope to catch the 3:20pm Ferry.  We made it in time and even had time to grab a quick Tona.  This ferry was heaven compared to the horrible contraption of a boat that brought me over to the island.  We shared pictures and stories and wondered how we’d arrive to our final destination, his Costa Rica, mine Granada.  In Rivas we learned that I had missed the last bus to Granada.  Man! So we went by a Pharmacy owned by witnesses.  She informed us how to get to the bus station where we could plot our next move and offered for me to stay the night at her place in order to catch the bus tomorrow.  So sweet!  We hurried over to the bus station and as always the bus is about to pull off and I made the split second decision to board the bus headed to Managua.  I kept alert and exited the bus in Masaya.  I then waited by the side of the road and tagged along with 2 travelers from Germany who spoke Spanish.  We found out that we were all going to Granada.  We then flagged down a yellow school bus headed to Granada and rode to the end of the line.  I then walked home and arrived by 8pm, whew what a day!

Service and Food!

The next day I woke up and met with another brother staying at the same hotel as me.  He was having a bible-based discussion with a man visiting from Germany.  They were discussing everyone’s favorite subject-THE TRINITY.  The man was saying that there was some scripture somewhere in John that translates Jesus saying “I am”.  But he didn’t know where or what the rest of the scripture said.  The brother tried to reason with the man and quote scriptures , since his bible was in Spanish and not English.  I added my 2 cents and mentioned for him to look up the scripture at Acts 7:55,56 when he got a chance.  Then the brother and I ran over to the house of Linda and sat down to pancakes, eggs and coffee.  Yum!  The group for service was at 8am.  There were like 26 people out that day!  This was leaps and bounds from before the congregation got served 11 pioneers from Mexico on Route assignments.  (*Note,  the Route is a new arrangement from the Mexico Branch that is very similar to unassigned territory in the States.  Individual regular or auxillary pioneers sign up months in advance.  The assignments began in January and run through to June.  Each person can decide to sign up for a 1-6month assignment in a rural area.  Some of these people have never been preached to!  My friend Linda was on a 2 month assignment in Omentepe, the other pioneers were there was various amounts of times.  Linda was serving with father. )  Before hardly anyone would be out in service on a Friday, especially because they have no pioneers.  In fact the entire island of Omentepe only has 2 special and 2 regular pioneers living there!  We did a territory right in town and preached house over house to the locals.  We preached until about 11am.  My Spanish was horrible but I managed to place a truth tract as well as a All Suffering Soon to End tract.  My partner was nice Mexican sister from Mexico City.  We received bananas from a door that she took. 

After service we walked home and began to prepare lunch.  After all, Linda and I had to feed the brother from Costa Rica, the one from Mexico, her father and another brother, the one from my hotel who I met in Granada but lives in Canada.  After lunch we met up with 2 other sisters and took a private taxi to a lovely pool of water called Ojos de Agua.  This is a beautiful retreat that features a river that flows over volcanic rock that is natural and provides a mineral bathing experience.  It only cost $2 to get in for the entire day!  We bathed and enjoyed each other's company.  Afterwards, we hiked to the top of the hill for a great view of both of Omentepe’s active volcanos: Conception y Maderas.   After dark our taxi took us home and we prepared dinner and then went to sleep.

The next morning we ate a healthy breakfast of Oatmeal and fruit and then met the group at the Kingdom Hall.  Today we had even more people out in service!  We caught the bus to the rural territory.  This was crazy since there were so many of us and so many of the locals.  The bus was packed and we literally had to exit the bus using the back emergency door because there was no way we could get out through the front.  Then we walked another mile or so to the territory.  Then something epic happened, I discovered the Tamarid tree.  This is now my favorite treat!  I picked up the pods and stuffed them into a purse.   They have a sweet and sour tasting paste surrounding a seed.  YUM!  We preached until 10:30 .  This territory was way out and was lined with mango trees that the brothers ate from on our little sitting down break.  I got to put my knife to good use peeling the mangos.  We then went off to do a study: Linda, Efren, her dad and I.  I asked were they sure that we could bring 4 people on to one study.  Don’t worry Linda said.  We hoped to hitch a ride to the top of the long gradual incline that led to the study but NO CAR came our way.  But this afforded us the opportunity to see MONKEYS!!! There were over a dozen of them lurking in the trees on the side of the road.  Finally we reached the study.  No lie, the WHOLE FAMILY sat in on the study.  There were like 8 people present besides us.  There were 4 generations represented at the study.  Everyone who could read had their bible teach books and bibles out.  The older and infirmed ones listened in and offered comments.  I was able to participate by Linda’s dad translating my comments and questions.  It seriously was like a book study!  After the study the family gave us a huge bag of Starfruits to take home.  Then we started the trek back to the town.  This time we hitched a ride.  You won’t believe who picked us up!?  An Italian couple!  I spoke to them in Italian and Linda placed a Spanish Watchtower with them-man I knew I should’ve brought my Italian literature to the island!  We then reached the bus-stop and caught the bus the rest of the way home.  The men went off to a study and Linda and I prepared lunch.  We then ate and attended the meeting.  Afterwards we invited the congregation over and we ate Nacatamales.  (A traditional Nicaraguan dish similar to a Mexican tamale but more squishy).  After everyone left we prepare our Watchtowers together for the next day.  As we took turn reading, the lights went out and we lit candles and finished the preparation.  I slept contently that night as a party raged next door, blasting the newest Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton hits.


This was an interesting trip.  I planned to leave at 5am and reach the Island by 12pm.  This clearly did not happen because I ended up on the 3:30pm Lancha.  So I didn’t leave Granada until 12pm.  I hopped on a bus going to Rivas.  This is about a 2 hr bus ride going down South.  I enjoyed views of the volcano Mamboucho from the opposite side from Granada.  As we pulled off a young Nica guy sits next to me and decides to play 21 Questions with me.  I limited my Spanish and listened to my phone for music.  Then I remembered that my friend had advised me not to ride the bus to the end, but instead to get off the bus at San Jorge.  I hop off the bus and meet a taxi waiting to escort people to the Ferry Port.  The bus driver informs me that it should cost $2USD.  Instead I end up paying $4, which is $100C, which is a lot.  I was so mad!  The taxi raced to the port only for me to miss the 2:30 Ferry.  Instead I had to take the 3:30pm Lancha.  Man what a difference!!!  I board what I thought was the waiting area for the boat.  There were wooden planks to sit on and there were metal bars around the perimeter.  A Nicaraguan man starts talking to me and comes to sit next to me.  I speak with him in Spanish.  All of a sudden the lancha takes off.  What I thought was a waiting area was the vessel itself!  The waves were insane!  The boat tilted from side to side so violently that one had to hold on to their seat or to the metal bars to avoid falling over.  I said to the man, “Es siempre como esta?  Es horrible!”  He kept talking to me and asked had I eaten and would I feel sick.  I was so sickened by the movement of the waves that I stopped talking and simply tried to keep my composure.  My stomach felt like a blender and I was so thankful that I hadn’t eaten much.  I noticed that my new buddy was laid across the seat and covering his face with his hands- hey maybe he was tired.  After 10 excruciating minutes I notice the blond on the other side of the man quickly got up with a disgusted look on her face.  I look at the man and he is puking his brains out!  I almost lost it when I saw that!  I immediately got up and almost fell onto the other people sitting across from me, since the boat was still rocking forcefully.  I sat across from my original spot and saw the orange vomit and decided to move.  I stood up and clung for dear life to the side of the boat and looked ahead to the volcano, my destination.  I noticed someone below on the deck beneath puking.  I then began to pray and breathe deeply.  I focused on that volcano for the next hour as water sprayed passengers from the unsteady condition of the boat.  I seriously thought we were going to flip over at any moment.  Finally we reached and I thankfully   walked off that darned thing and vowed NEVER to take a Lancha again at any costs.  The crazy thing is that it cost the exact same price as the ferry!  By this point it’s getting late and the sun is starting to go down.  So I rush to catch the LAST bus to Altagracia.  The bus filled up quickly and I sat on an outside seat.  A woman with a huge gut kept knocking her stomach into my arm.  Gross!  Finally we reached!  I was greeted by my friend Linda Campos, who’s on the Route from Mexico.  She informed me that there was gathering going on and that I had to stay at the Bed and Breakfast because a brother from Costa Rica was staying an extra night and there was no room for me.  $8 bought me a room at a cozy hotel right downtown.  (So cheap!!!)  I quickly showered and met her in the lobby.  We started off to the sister’s house.  On the way, we met up with a brother from Mexico who just finished his Route assignment in Costa Rica who joined us for the weekend.  The gathering was so cute!  The whole congregation was there!  Half were inside playing a numbers game and half were outside chatting.  We said a prayer and dinner was served.  The sister served us rice, carrots and chicken out of a huge bucket and bread.  The Coke also came from a huge bucket that they stocked with large chunks of ice.  But, there were no forks.  We ate with our fingers! Lol  I thought to myself, wow these friends sure are poor!  But afterward my friend told me that they simply had forgotten to purchase some and we laughed because we all thought that that was a normal part of life but it wasn’t.  After dinner, the friends gathered around in chairs and Linda sang songs and played her miniature guitar that the friends had given her as a gift.  The friends all sang along to the Spanish tunes and listened quietly at the English ones.  It was a nice way to end the night.  I climbed into bed at 10:30 and fell right to sleep.  Then WHAM!!! A mango woke me up!  They fall periodically onto the roofs of homes where the trees are grown.  Nevertheless I slept happily for I had arrived safe to the lovely island of Omentepe. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sign Language Service

So today I had a study to go on but there's no group for English on Thursday.  So I met with my roommates group for Nica Sign.  We went by my study- she wasn't there :-(.  So we did a few of her calls and territory.  90% of the people were home.  First we stopped by a deaf man 40 yrs old and left him his new DVDs.  He has a broken foot that he hurt by falling and them some little hoodlums dropped a huge rock on the same foot and now he has to wear a boot for a year and it got infected.  But he's sweet and loves learning the truth.  Down the street we run into a deaf woman who's a hugger.  (Im not so touchy feely, but I hugged her)  Next, we go see another call down the street but wasn't home.  We chat with his mom and show her the My Book of Bible Stories Book that we use to study with him, and offer to bring her one in Spanish.  She introduces us to a little abandoned girl.  Her parents up and moved to Costa Rica and straight up left her.   This woman isn't even related and just happened to take her in-poor thing.  Then we goto a study.  On the way at a restaraunt we encouter a deaf man who can't sign properly.  Shelina tries to teach him some new signs using the pictures in the Bible Stories Book.  We stay there about 20 min.  Next, we walk to the study.  Shelina uses the DVD, the Bible Stories Book and Drawings to teach this woman about the Flood in Noah's time.  Then we head home.  Then we decide to call one of her other studies to make sure he's home, he is!  So we walk over and study about Job using the DVD and the Bible Stories Book.  He's 17 and just started working fulltime, OH NO!  Job was the perfect story about keeping integrity under extreme pressure which is what he's going to face.  The deaf community here has a hard time with the truth because there's a deaf society that is heavily involved in politics that offers these jobs, but then they purposely discourage them from attending meetings.  So he's going to have to take a stand at work.  We stayed almost 2 hours and he signed very animatedly.  I prayed and Shelina interpreted for me.  On the walk home we ran into the other call that wasn't home originally, he was on his bike visiting the other deaf guy with the boot.  Then on our street we run into a deaf woman who happily greets us and Shelina encourages her to attend meetings.  It was an amazing way to start off the new month.
PS There are so many deaf in Nicaragua it ain't even funny.  So if you are already in sign I would highly suggest coming down here to serve, Nica sign is easy to learn esp if you already speak ASL.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It Keeps Getting Better

2 Things!

First- Last night we lost power.  Therefore we had the meeting outside!  Awesome!  It was fun, the brother brought the plastic chairs and platform and set them up inside the gate but out of doors.  We used the fleeting sunlight to cover our section of the Bearing Thorough Witness Books.  The reader was practically shouting since there were no microphones.  But miraculously as soon as the book study was closing, and everyone was using their cellphones for light, the power came back on!  IT was though being outside.  A brother pulled up his truck close(the only one we have) to help us sing the Kingdom melody in tune, without it wouldn't sounded horrible lol.  Then 5 minutes in to the lesson a truck slowing drives by fumigating the entire neighborhood!  It blew right into our faces, and we gagged and tried to catch our breath!  Inside the meeting carried on as normal since the power was back on.

Secondly, I officially have a bible study.  I studied with her twice this week and I go back on Friday!  She's 18, married and has a 3month cute baby boy.  We started out in the truth tract and now we're in the bible teach!  It's awesome to finally have a study.  :-)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Best Day in Service

Today started out like any regular Sunday.  We have the meeting at 10am and then go home eat and sleep then return for service at 2:30pm.  Instead today I went “out to eat” at Esso(Exxo).  It was good though, fried chicken, Oreo Frappes and Coke.  After I walked a visiting couple home and sat down for literally 15minutes before having to head back to the hall to meet the group.  I tried a study that my friend turned over. No esta.  After we did Sunday only calls.  After literally searching for half the people I found a girl.  Just happened to have placed ALL my Truth Tracts.  So I pulled out the Feb. WT and introduced the young English-speaking woman to the study article on Why Does God Have an Organization Today?  If it hadn’t been for the demo I had at the beginning of this month, I don’t how I would have otherwise breezed through that section.  It’s HARD!  Anyways, it’s all I had so she invited me in.  When it came time to read the first scripture she ran to fetch her bible in Spanish.  To my pleasant surprise it was a New World Translation.  She read the scripture and said that she didn’t understand anything as I asked her questions about the text.  I apologized that this subject matter wasn’t the easier to jump right into but urged her to continue and keep going into the second paragraph.  We read the scripture in Isaiah.  I prayed that she understand and what do you ya know, I asked her Why did Jehovah organize the Isrealites in the past and she actually answered correctly in her own words!  That was all holy spirit because I did nothing to help her reach that conclusion rather than have her read what was on the printed page.  We decided to meet up tomorrow after lunch and cover the next section about God’s Organization today.  Due to the difficult subject matter she agreed to read over the section ahead of time.  Whew!  The awesome thing is she lives blocks from me!  I can walk to her myself and won’t even have to meet with the group if the study becomes regular, which I hope!

But it gets even better!  The brother taking the lead mentions that he has a few studies to do.  I didn’t particularly want to go along, but I had this guy call who seemed really interested and I hadn’t seen in 2 weeks.  So we agreed I would accompany him on his 2 studies and we could swing by my call.  So I hopped onto the back of the dirt bike(that’s why it pays to wear appropriate length skirts- I just happened to have on my longest skirt I own).  Long story short, neither of his studies were home.  But my call was.   A little bit of background.  I met this guy 2 weeks ago on a Sunday.  He wanted to know the condition of the dead.  We covered that section in the truth tract.  We read all the scriptures and to check his understanding I had him repeat everything back to me in Spanish.  To reinforce everything we learned I showed him the picture in the Bible Teach Book where it shows a blown-out candle and the caption asks where the flame went.  He exclaimed that he has the same book in Spanish.  Also, he commented that the bible is quite simple.  He liked that I was patient with his limited English.  I asked him would he like to continue his learning in Spanish or English.  He said English.  So I got his number.  For the last 2 weeks, we have been texting each other and playing phone tag.  So today I didn’t call.  I just showed up.  He opened the door and invited us in.  For the next 1 hr and 15minutes we covered the next question that he had picked: How can I pray and be heard by God?  The brother I turned him over to slowly covered all that Jesus had to say about prayer in Matthew Chapter 6 and we ended with examining the Model Our Father Prayer.  At the end, the student asked where we meet and we invited him to attend the meetings.  He commented that he had stopped praying to God and was looking for answers on his own outside of religion.  But he had noticed by comparing Catholics, Evalgelicos and Jehovah’s Wittnesses that something was different about us.  We used the bible to answer everything and it made sense.  The brother used an ongoing illustration about having a girlfriend and the way you phone her to having a relationship with God and prayer is like phoning her.  Movistar(the cellphone service down here) is like Jesus, we need him to reach God.  It was better than any analogy I could’ve came up with.  So I learned a lot as well. 

So I’d say today was one of the best days in service for me because I successfully turned over a guy who is sincerely interested and found a girl close to me to cultivate.  I’ve experienced so many blessing s being down here in Granada, it’s just making it that much harder to leave.  L

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Got Robbed

Yup it finally happened.  L  I was coming home from service by myself.  I went to Pali(a local grocery store) for some items to prepare lunch.  I slipped into the outskirts of the market for a lime and some tomatoes.  On the way home a nasty looking man bumped into me and grabbed all my money out of my service bag and knocked it onto the ground.  I managed to frantically scoop up 60cords but he got away with 20.  It’s just a dollar.  What I am mad at is the fact that I had let my guard down.  I wasn’t paying attention.  People were all around.  But it didn’t matter, they weren’t going to help me.  I practically ran home and kept looking over the back of my shoulder.  The man was saying something to me about my cellphone.  I was glad he didn’t take that.  He must have watched me pay for my tomatoes at the market and followed me.  The money would have been inside my bible but instead I had hurriedly stuffed it into that pocket in my bag because I didn’t want to be handling money out in the market.  Learned my lesson: always take the time to stuff my money away!

Trip to Leon

This weekend started on Thursday.  Jamiliah and I took a trip to visit a sister outside of Leon on the beach, Krista.   She’s in a Spanish congregation. It’s still crazy to me just how cheap it is to travel around Nicaragua.  From Granada to Managua is $1, or 20cords.  Managua to Leon is 40cords or $2 and then its 50cents or 10 cords to get to the beach.  This trip took 4hrs is total.
We go straight to a brother and sisters restaurant right on the water for Fish with Garlic sauce, so yummy!  90 cords, or $4 for a whole fish dinner with plantains and salad.  The next day we go out in service.  With just 6 sisters we split into groups and walk out to the road leading to Leon.  Then we start working house over house.  The evangelistics don’t want to see literature so you can only reason with the bible and read scriptures.  (Sidenote, my friend told me that earlier that week that the Evangelic church members set up chairs in front of the Kingdom Hall in the street and proceeded to have their service during their Theocratic Ministry School- yes singing and preaching and clapping, while our 26 brothers and sisters gave their parts and studied the Acts Book.)  The sister read 3 scriptures and then we parted from the first house.  The man knew the scriptures already that she had read- he quoted them from memory.  The next house was a return visit of sorts.  The older woman was just finishing up making 100 tortillas to sell in Leon.  She can’t read so the sister shared scriptures from the Listen to God brochure that we just received last summer. On my turn I placed the brochure with a young woman about 20 years old that couldn’t read either.  We ducked barbed wire to get to one house and in front we witnessed to a man working on the fence.  He wanted to know about hell.  The sister shared a ton of scriptures on the condition of the dead and explained the word Sheol.  It was a productive but hot day.  At 10:30am we had to quit. L  There was no shade, nowhere to sit, and nowhere to take a break.  We spent the rest of the day at the beach.  On Saturday we decided to save taxi money and take a new kind of bus.  A pickup truck with a covered bench on it.  They squeezed over 30 people standing onto the back of that truck.   I honestly thought we were going to die and flip over.  Definitely not worth the 3 cords to get to the bus terminal!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nica Mosh Pit

We have been having the International Poets Festival this week in Granada.  The grand finale was a huge free concert on Saturday.  The band was playing traditional Nicaraguan music with a rock edge.  The young people were loving it.  So much so, that when my friends and I made our way to the front, we found ourselves literally in the middle of 2 simultaneous moshpits.  Go figure.  I didn’t think I was at a MCR concert!  Thank goodness we only caught the last 2 songs.  Sweaty and fatigued we slept good that night and I could have sworn that my right toe had been fractured.