We’ve had a busy month! After realizing that it’s almost October, I decided it was a good time for an update post.
Our furniture is now all in place! Thank you to everyone who helped me this house a reality!
We started September hosting a new missionary family. They came to Nicaragua to work with Nicaragua Christian Academy (the girls’ school), and needed a place to stay while locating an appropriate rental home for their family of six. For one day shy of a month, we were a two-family household of 10, which made for lots of food, lots of noise, and lots of laughter. Their oldest is in Caeli’s class, so living together provided a wonderful opportunity for the girls to bond quickly (and that they did!). This family also helped us understand how to host extended guests, by working through everything from laundry and cleaning to shared meals and food storage. It was a great trial run and we are so grateful for that time!
We’re also super excited that several homeschool families are using our pool weekly, and another missionary has arranged to teach swimming lessons here each week. And twice a month, all of the girls in Corinna’s class come over for their small group meeting. They swim, eat us out of house and home, and spend some quality time studying God’s truth for their lives. We are so honored that each of these activities calls our house their home on a regular basis.
Anyway, last Wednesday that first family moved out. They made their final trip — as house guests — through our gate just before 11am… and 30-minutes later our next guests moved in…
The second family living with us is at the tail end of their adoption adventure here in Nicaragua. The mom, Anna, was staying with her eight-year-old daughter-to-be on the property of the orphanage about two hours outside of Managua, when she started to feel really lonely. She’d made it three months but was increasingly feeling like they needed to leave the orphanage and come to Managua to start fresh together. They found us through a friend of a friend of a friend (back in the States, actually) who told them about my blog. When they first arrived in Managua over a month ago, we weren’t quite ready to host them (and had already committed to the other family). But we did help them find a furnished apartment nearby. We were able to help them, and two other adopting families from the States, find fellowship and support among the community of expats and missionaries living here.
So when Anna’s one-month lease was up at her apartment, and our home was opening up, it was a natural fit for her to come here. She and her daughter, plus her husband, who recently flew back in, are now staying with us for the final portion of their journey. On Wednesday when Anna called to arrange the move, the child grabbed the phone from her to talk to me.
“Wendy!” she blurted out. “I have new name!” [She has learned a TON of English in the past four months with her new parents!]
Before I could respond, she practically screamed it — her first name, the new middle name (Anna!) that she selected herself, and her adoptive family’s last name — back in the phone, and I finally understood. The judge had just approved her adoption and she was now officially part of her forever family.
When I picked them up 30 minutes later, the change was obvious on her face and in her behavior. I know this sounds a bit cliché, but its the best way I can think of to explain: she acted as if the weight of her past — all of the neglect, abuse, depression, and poverty — had been lifted. She sat waiting for me on the curb, with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen her wear. It reached all the way to her eyes (which sparkled) and her shoulders (which appeared weightless, like I said). And it permeates all of her interactions since then. Does she still have a long road ahead? Most certainly, but the first — and most critical — step has been taken so they are off and running.
“Avion [airplane] soon!” she frequently reminds us.
Yup, if all goes well, they will be getting on that airplane sometime this week!
Last year I told you how my daughter nominated me to coach the girls’ soccer team at NCA. Since no one else stepped in to take over, I signed on for a second year. (If I’m honest, I will tell you I was a bit surprised to be asked back, given we didn’t win a single game last year! But thankfully the athletic director and most of the parents understand the challenges our team faces, given the smaller size of our school and the fact that our girls don’t practice soccer year-round like many of the competing schools). In any case, let’s cut to the chase so I can tell you WE WON OUR FIRST GAME!
We have a fairly young team, particularly when you consider we are a team of mostly 13- to 16-year-olds playing in a 17- and 18-year-old league, but we’re learning a TON and improving with each game.
In all of the years I’ve coached, I’ve rarely had a girl volunteer to play goalie full-time. Most girls seem to shy away from it, due to the pressure they feel inside those rope walls. I spend a lot of time talking with my players about how a ball must get past not one but 11 players in order to get into the goal! Anyway, I was thrilled to find an NCA player who not only accepted the challenge but then proceeded to rise to the occasion in a most spectacular manner. She is the type of team member any coach would be excited to have and my only regret is that she will be graduating this year! 😉
I’m so proud of how far these girls have come in a year, and thrilled to be hanging out with them. Especially compared with the boys I coached in the spring — I enjoyed them, for the most part (Oh who am I kidding… I just don’t *get* boys, especially 10- to 12-year-old boys! As soon as I dumped out the bag of soccer balls, they took off in different directions with them and pretty much ignored all of my statements after that! Sorry, I digress…) but I LOVE these girls, drama and all!
Finally, I want to update you on our kid parties. When we first arrived last year, with little Spanish and few relationships, we wondered what we could do to help out in our local community. We quickly noticed there were a number of missionary couples who rarely, if ever, found time alone to nurture their marriage. And yet, isn’t this the most important relationship we’ll have here on earth? What could we do to help these parents protect their families?
How about free babysitting? The first such event was held a year ago, and attended by just three families — all of whom had already met us. I’m sure it was a pretty weird thing, actually. Some random family lands in Nicaragua and starts offering free babysitting? Strange, right? Thankfully word spread that we’re not that weird (at least, no more so than any of the other families who leave their home country to live here) and that we actually do keep the kids safe and entertained while they are under our watch (and usually fed too).
Before we knew it, we had a monthly activity parents were practically begging for (so much so that we had to enlist the help of local teens to help care for all of the kids!). The kids named them “kid parties,” and several of the little people actually tell their parents they aren’t invited and can’t pass through the front door. 😉
Over the summer, a number of you found out about these parties and gave us some stuff for the kids to play with. An elementary Sunday School class from a friend’s church sent boxes and boxes of markers and colored pencils. Another friend gave us a box of playdoh. And a mom here in Nicaragua shared some “boy toys.” (Of which I previously had none.) We also brought a pile of dress-up clothes with us, which are well loved by all the kids at our parties. Thank you so much!!!
Yesterday, we had our first kid party since being back. And man, did these kids love all of those fun items! Here are a few photos from this month’s party.