Sunday, February 04, 2007

jan 13

Here´s most of an email I sent on Jan 13

It is Saturday, and Tuesday was my first night in Nicaragua. Ten minutes after I got to my host family´s house, the power went out for about half an hour, so I got a very confusing introduction to my new home. The sun had set hours ago (around 5 or 6 in the afternoon) so I didn´t see much on my way over. The house I live in belongs to a pastor´s family and is about 20 feet from their church, which is La Iglesia de Cristo, pentecostal. I have a host brother, Isaac, who is 19 I think, and his sister Jessica is 12. It turns out that Isaac and his dad both speak quite a bit of English, but I still feel immersed in Spanish.

My first day was spent with a visiting delegation of Methodist youth from the eastern U.S., chaperoned by my friends Ted and Mary Andersen who I know from my Oberlin years. It was great to see them. We visited Granada, which is one of the oldest cities, and then went up the nearby Volcano. My first sunset in Nicaragua was over the lake, seen from the top of the volcano. Gorgeous. The next day I went with them to the beach. Some of the families from Chacocente, the community where I´ll be working, came to the beach too, so I met a few of them.

There is another U.S. expat living in the same house with me and this family. He has been working as a teacher at Chacocente for the last four months, and was living with the same family that Charito (who started Chacocente) lives with. He moved in with my family four days before I did. He is from Vermont, a recent high school grad named Topher (short for Christopher). So yesterday he took me on the 2 hour bus commute from our host family´s home in Managua to the community of Chacocente. Because I don´t have a bike yet, we walked the dirt trail from the bus stop to the community and that took almost an hour to walk. I met some more of the families and several of the children. We made it back home before dark and met the Mission of Peace group at Pablo´s church for a worship service in two languages, to send the M.O.P. group off and say goodbye. It was a very powerful experience. The sermon was all about God empowering us to love one another and serve the poor. Pablo preached about asking God to send us. Here I am, Lord. Send me. It was very relevant to me, who has come here because I felt God sending me. It´s been difficult and scary to prepare and move here, and things are very intimidatingly different sometimes, but I have come because of the power of God´s love in my life, and that same love will be all the bravery and faith and peace I need. I felt overwhelmed by love and peace and support and joy!

I think I overprepared myself for the poverty I would encounter. I found myself not blinking an eye at the Chacocente families´lack of enough beds. Even the dogs and cats around here are heartbreakingly skinny. The kids run and play and laugh and chatter, but they don´t have shoes and only half of their school rooms have paved floors and roofs. I also overprepared myself for their hospitality, so that instead of rejoicing in it I expect it. So, I have a few attitude shifts to make. But thisis only my fourth day! I have lots of time.

I rely on your prayers for me. It means so much to me that many of you let me know I´m in your prayers. I am not comfortable here yet, I don´t know how to use the buses, or the money, and I have trouble understanding Spanish that I overhear or that is spoken from one local to another. I do very well when someone talks to me directly, though.

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