Monday, September 26, 2011


So I've officially survived my first outdoor assembly....barely. I woke up Friday morning with some creepy bug bite on my leg which has now grown, spread, itches, and turned the skin hard. Alicia says that if it doesn't get better by tomorrow, we're going to the doctor. The problem is that EVERYTHING here bites....ants, mosquitos, worms EVERYTHING! There are no benign animals here in the tropics apparently; most of which I've found out the hard way of course.

Then on Saturday I woke up with a crazy stomach and spent the morning at home. Crazy stomach day 3 and I'm going today for an anti-parasitic drug. Hey, it had to happen at some point and what better time than the convention?!

Also, I learned that in Nica, even if you don't sit anywhere near the sun, you can be sunburnt due to "reflective light" as they told me. Therefore, although we chose seats not in the sun, I'm red as a beet.

On a happy note though, we had a peak attendance of about 5500 and 55 were baptized. It rained all 3 days and you can see in the pix how the friends react when that happens...sea of umbrellas! They would take breaks in the session when it rained really hard b/c no one was paying attention anyway trying to protect themselves, and you couldn't really hear over the rain. The assembly was in the baseball stadium here. It was pretty cramped and half the friends had to sit out in the elements, but we had a great turnout. Some things kinda shocked me like:

1) They start lining up at about 5am even though the doors don't open until 8am for seats

2) They are like cattle in a crowd...there is no "excuse me" or waiting for a group to pass before you cut in. It's just mass pushing and bodies. PS--not my favorite in 90 degree temps

3) If you breast feed here you just pop that baby cover, no nursing room...nada!

4) They could use some work on that suggestion of not talking during the session. People talked on their phones. Or they'd stand in the aisle and yell over to their friend in the middle of the row and have a conversation...all...during...the...session.

Good news! The couple you met from the baby shower Kevin & Maryoly? They got baptized together! She's actually in the hospital today having her surgery. What a happy start for them!

Also, I got to meet the couple in charge of Las Isletas (all the islands in Lake Nicaragua) and the couple in charge of Diamante. I set up appointments with them after the English assembly to come visit. Diamante sounds like they have the most need b/c they have a KH but no cong yet. They're not even an official group. They just do service there and have meetings on Sundays. Las Isletas hosts their work. There's currently no one from Granada supporting the group even though it's only about 5 miles away. The couple gave me some transportation ideas and are very excited to possibly have some help. They said it's basically virgin territory which they haven't covered in full yet and ALREADY have a waiting list for Bible studies! Sounds right up my alley!

Ervin's girlfriend came on Sunday with her Mom and sister for the convention and they're currently here at the house. They invited me to Matagalpa to see the territory there. She said they currently have lost all their foreign help and just have a missionary couple in their cong. Matagalpa is actually larger than Granada but only has 3 congs vs the 11 here. Lots to do!

So in summary, Nicaragua has finally caught up with me :( and we're making progress on finding a "permanent" home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I'd like to introduce you to a very sweet Nicaraguan couple named Yahosca & Jairo Centeno. They are on a 2 week vacation here in Granada visiting family and friends and stopped by the house last night for a visit. Their experience was very moving and I got permission to share it.

They were serving here in Granada and surrounding areas in Sign Language when they put their application in to be special pioneers. They were granted a temporary assignment in a town called El Almendro (named after trees that grow there) on the eastern side of the country. Here's the amazing part....apart from them there are TWO more baptized publishers and TWO more unbaptized publishers. They said that when they were first assigned there they had many moments like our brother in the Yearbook we read about....asking Jehovah "What am I doing here?".

Here's the good news....two years later they have over 20 people meeting for meetings (btw, the Kingdom Hall is their living room) and had over 70 for the Memorial this year. They conduct 25 Bible studies together! And this is all being done in a town where Catholics have a very strong hold on the residents. They said it's very common that after 2-3 visits with a person a group from the neighborhood comes to the person and has a "meeting" explaining what's wrong with JWs. After a year when the branch saw their results they were named permanent special pioneers. Now tell me they aren't being blessed by Jehovah!!

We just have to remember that whatever our assignment, we're NEVER alone. Jehovah is always with us. After all, we're doing this work together. And even if we're only 6 in a congregation, we have a whole brotherhood ready to assist at a moment's notice. I'm sure Jehovah will never forget the work this fine couple has done in his name. And who knows....if this system stands another few years they may be able to see those who once persecuted them or were persecuted for studying finally take a stand for Jehovah. How beautiful!


My room to the left and above. Yes, I realize it's messy but some things never change....

living room/kitchen/garage wash area and birds that hate me

You'll see above the infamous balcony from which Miss Ollie took her famous fall. She's fine now and the family has "Ollie-proofed" the circles she fell through by running a wire through the middle. Much appreciated being that she never learned her lesson and LOVES this balcony. It's her favorite place in the house :)

Sorry, guys, I could never get a video small enough to post here so pix will have to do.


This neighborhood chic, Cintia, came to the house to do our nails before the assembly this weekend. I got a 2 hour pedicure with this color above (notice the little flowers on the big and 3rd toe?). My feet are now like a baby's behind, and for those of you who know me well, that's no small feat. For how much you might ask? $5!!!! Something tells me this may not be the first time Cintia stops by :)


So many of you I've talked to have been very interested in the foods I've been eating here. I explained that a lot of the common cheap foods back home like corn on the cob, apples, grapes, strawberries etc are VERY expensive here while expensive foods back home like mangos, avocados, lychees, and passion fruit are dirt cheap here.

In the picture the large green banana thing is green plantain. The dark black thing is mature plantain. These two are cooking basics here and cheap like onions or garlic back home. The larger round yellow fruit is passion fruit (they call it calala or maracuya). The small green fruit is not a lime as you may's a mandarin orange. The stuff in the plastic bag is cane sugar. The purple furry thing is a lychee.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Ok, they day after I got here my hosts had a baby shower here at the house. You know all those really cheesy embarassing games they make you play in the US at baby showers? Well, I'm sad to say they've made their way down south with a vengeance!! The couple is named Kevin and Maryoli; they're a young married couple here in the KH who are unbaptized publishers. They're the only ones in their families serving Jehovah, and even though she's HUGE and pregnant they've been regular at all the meetings since I've been here. She's scheduled to have the baby next week b/c unfortunately he's sitting instead of upside down :( Hope you enjoy the pix of some of the friends in my new congregation....

Monday, September 19, 2011


1 week down and counting....and boy, has it been a week! In this week, I've been able to go in service almost every day, arranged my water supply, and gotten a little more information about congregations around me.

I'm currently renting a room from a Nicaraguan family who live in an area of Granada called La Villa. The family consists of Julio and Alicia, Edwin and Carmen, and Ervin. Julio spends about 3 months at a time in the US caring for his mother, so I haven't actually met him yet. The girls in the house are my new friends and VERY helpful and the guys provide a lot of comic breaks....they are NUTS but in a refreshing way :)

I'm serving in Granada Este right now. It's an established congregation that has experienced a lot of growth lately. Unfortunately, though, their need is for brothers, not pioneer sisters :( It's a shame b/c they're a really sweet cong and have been very welcoming to me. They have been excited b/c it's been more than 4 years since they've had a foreigner serve with them, and I'm the only one in the cong right now. They have 103 pubs, 20 pioneers, 7 servants, and 2 elders....yep, 2 elders. All you brothers reading this: if you have EVER entertained the idea of moving to serve where the need is greater you should know that 2 elders is the max in any congregation in Nica (doesn't matter the size of the cong). Some have NO elders and are being led by whatever baptized brother they might have. Please consider this the next time you put your desires into prayer.

I've found that there's a lot of rural areas around Granada that have a lot of need....just a few publishers who are very new and need a good example and someone with experience. Hopefully, I fit that description! I can live in Granada and commute there as they all are within 10 miles of the city. I've been told of Las Islitas, El Hormigon, Diamante, and Cana de Castilla. The problem with these is that I need transportation to get to the meetings for service and weekly meetings. I'm trying to make arrangements with a family here in Nica to pay for the insurance and gas in exchange for use of their vehicle....I'll keep you updated how that goes.

So overall, it's been a very productive week. I'm still adjusting to life here but it seems manageable. I feel better with the heat (it never goes below 80 and so far the max has been 91; mind you, this is their winter), I'm learning to take showers out of buckets when our water runs out in the morning, and I'm managing the rains (just a few slips in service and scrubbing of shoes when I get home). Ollie's good here too and already the congregation loves her (how could they not?).

By the way, the photo above is a standard dinner here which I have come to love. Starting top right is gallo pinto (rice with beans and veg), eggs scrambled with chorizo, mozzarella cheese, and fried mature plantain. Yum!