Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I just had to share this pix from tonight.....best...dinner...ever!  The excitement comes because of the dill pickle (thank you Pricesmart, I'll never forget you and your fabulous imported foods) and the cherry Coke (just started to be sold here).


At the last minute I found out that English was having their circuit assembly this past weekend, so Shelina and I arranged everything quickly and hopped on the Granada bus to go.  I'm soooo happy we did!  I haven't attended an English assembly here since the post you saw from October 2011 during their district convention.  It was so good in so many ways.  Not only is it seeing Jehovah's beautiful international brotherhood in action, but you're hearing talks from the best speakers in the country.  They had a peak attendance Saturday morning of 348 and 2 baptized. 

I met Australians, Romanians, Welsh, English, French, Italians, and Canadians.  I even met some fellow Missourians :)  On top of that, all of our Nicaraguan brothers from Pearl Lagoon, Bluefields, and Corn Islands were there.  The eastern coast of Nicaragua shows, like many other Caribbean countries, a history of the slave trade.  Everyone there is black, and they speak Creole English.  It was really beautiful to listen to their parts and experiences but hard to keep up; they're fast talkers and have a Jamaican-like accent!  The experiences after lunch on Saturday belonged to Pearl Lagoon sisters.  Three of them discussed sacrifices they made to pioneer last April during the 30 hour reduction.  One sister recounted how she woke up at 5am to work a few hours and cook breakfast and lunch before she readied the kids for school and got them going....all of this before preaching at 8:30!  It featured a single Mom, a widow, and a sister with an unbelieving mate.  I can only imagine their hard work to pioneer that month, but you could tell they were so proud of themselves and grateful for the reduced hour requirement that gave them the opportunity to experience pioneering.

I also got to meet the new C.O. and D.O. for English.  Wow, these brothers are amazing.  Not only are they FABULOUS speakers but from the moment you greet them, you feel you're friends.  And talk about hard workers...the C.O.'s territory is all of Nicaragua.  Just to give you an idea, just to go from Granada to Pearl Lagoon is about a 13 hour journey.  And the D.O.!  Their territory is every English congregation in Mexico and Central America.  Can you imagine?!  We really need to keep these self-sacrificing brothers in our prayers.

Let me share with you a beautiful experience a new friend Heather who's serving as a special pioneer in Pearl Lagoon told me.  Her husband George studies with a local man in Pearl Lagoon.  This student had a desire to go to the circuit assembly but no money.  So what did he do?  He peeled and grated 200 coconuts then pressed them for the oil to sell locally.  Those 200 coconuts only made 2 gallons of oil but with the money from those sales, he was able to attend.  How beautiful to see how this student saw the need and value of our Christian meetings :)

And here's my favorite illustration from the assembly....it has to do with the emperor penguin.  You know, the one from that movie "March of the Penguins."  If you'll remember, it's the male who protects the egg with his fatty paunch during the coldest season on the coldest country on earth.  Temperatures can drop to -98F.  How do they survive?  By grouping themselves in a turtle formation.  They constantly alternate their circle to where any one penguin is never either freezing on the outside or toasty on the inside too long.  The speaker pointed out that if a penguin were to separate himself, his death is guaranteed--not just his but that of his little chick too.  Our congregations are our penguin turtle formation.  Sticking close to the congregation is the ONLY way we can survive the hostile climate of Satan's world.  And isolating ourselves is certain death not just for us but for our precious babies too.
Our two new sisters Talia (Nica) & Libby (Canadian) making their vows to Jehovah

Old and new friends:  Sis.Schleppert (c.o. wife), Sis.Tovar (d.o. wife), Krystina, me, and Jadwiga

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I've been wanting to do this post for a long time and I finally have all the components here in the house to do it.  So, let's say you go to the market and you want to buy oranges.  At home, that's pretty easy, right?  Not here.  There's multiple varies of oranges and citrus in general and frankly, I can't tell apples from oranges *hee hee*.

I'll help you.  What you're looking at left to right is:

  • pink grapefruit
  • naranja para chupar (sweet eating orange like we have at home)
  • naranja para fresco (orange that's not ripe yet so you use it to make a fruit drink mixed with sugar & water)
  • naranja agria (bitter orange; you can use it like lemon in recipes)
  • mandarina (clementine; here sometimes they're orange, sometimes they're green)
  • lime

I didn't have limon dulce (really ripe lime that's yellow on the outside and orange on the inside) but that's about the only one that's missing.

Now you understand why the market ladies and I have an intimate relationship....I have to completely depend on them to tell me the difference between what I'm seeing and what I want to buy.  And you know what?  They're ALWAYS right!


Hi, everyone!  My friend Flecky recently introduced me to a great website that I wanted to share with you.  If you're as much of a reader as we are, I know you'll love it.  It's called Goodreads.  You rate books you've read and link up with friends to get recommendations on future books to read.  I personally love it because, believe me, I've definitely spent too much time reading marshmallow fluff when I wanted to be reading steak. Plus, you can tell which of your friends has the closest reading preferences to yours to know whose recommendations to take seriously.  For example, my friend Flecky and I are *ahem* 80% compatible when it comes to reading.  And it's true!  I've already read some of her suggestions or her 5-star ratings and I love them too.  Why don't you sign up and become my Goodreads friend?  Here's the link:


Monday, December 17, 2012


I'm going to come clean right up front and admit that this post has nothing to do with my life in Nicaragua.  But something exciting has happened to someone I love dearly and I wanted to share it with you guys since I know we're always thinking of goals, right?  Well, my sister, Adria, and brother-in-law, T.J. have been taking Arabic classes for about two years and with a small group of friends, trying to meet the needs of the Arabic community in St.Louis, MO.  Well, I'm happy to report that they were recently recognized by the Society as a formal group being hosted by the Affton Congregation (also St.Louis).  That means that they can now have friends switch publisher cards to their congregation and are having one meeting a week.  Maybe just maybe they can have a formal class soon.  Ever think about learning Arabic?  Oh, and in case you're wondering, the word above means CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

My sis is in the pink flowery dress.  This was a group of us in service one day doing Arabic territory

Iraqi couple Mahmood & Majida.  They're a Bible study in St.Louis and incredibly hospitable.  I enjoyed the day I got to observe their study.  They kept commenting about how the Bible and the Koran have so many similarities.  I saw that as a good thing--something to open their eyes that the Bible isn't a bad book.

Hakim teaching Arabic class in a private home this summer


The first weekend of October we had our District Convention in Ticuantepe....Protejamos el Corazon (Safeguard Your Heart).  It was a whirlwind of a weekend and frankly, the 3rd time I had attended that assembly, but I still enjoyed it and was able to make new friends.  Thankfully, it wasn't too hot and everything with the bus transport went well.  We had a fairly small convention; peak attendance of 2591 Sunday afternoon with 27 newly baptized friends!  Everyone reacted to the drama like it was a soap opera...they were on the edge of their seats and totally caught up in the romance of it all.  It was really beautiful to see how many little ones already knew the words to the Kingdom Melody on the new video.  It's still hard for me to hear that without tears springing to my eyes!  Hey, did you guys catch the video on http://www.jw.org/en/news/events-activities/video-clip-2012-annual-meeting-program/ showing the annual meeting?  If so, you can meet the kids who sang in English up close and personal :)

Jandra, me (with my new haircut and straight hair), Pilarcita, and Alixe on Sunday

The teens of my cong with their new video

This is a family that is studying from my congregation.  Jose Maria (who was announced as a new unbaptized publisher the other night!!), his wife Kenya, their son Jose de Jesus, and their new baby Emily.
I just had to add this....my nieces in July after receiving their videos in English.  Sooooo cute!

New friend!  Jeri Higgs.  Her family is from OK and been here serving in English a few months.  They came her, her husband, and 3 girls. They just moved to a surfing town, San Juan del Sur, to start an English group.  It now has official status and she reported this week they're getting an attendance of about 30 every Sunday.  Watching Jehovah make it grow yet again!


You sure you don't want to visit me?!  Beautiful, huh?  This was taken a little north of Matagalpa after the wedding.  The area's called Selva Negra (Black Forest).  It was settled by Germans and they have a little settlement there with German architecture where they make sausage, cultivate coffee, make cheese, and even have strawberries!!!  The first I've seen grown here!  Oh, and by the way, you know how I'm always complaining about the heat in Granada?  It was about 50 degrees here and we were freezing to death in our sleeveless dresses.
La Calzada at sunset with Central Church in the background (Granada)


Saturday November 24th Ervin Castellon married Eunice Jarvin in Matagalpa.  Ervin is the youngest member of the family I used to live with here.  I finally got to see a Nica wedding!  It was small and had a lot of the traditional features you see here.  The main difference is that here, a civil ceremony in front of an attorney is required while a religious ceremony is not necessarily.  We just attended the religious part at 2pm although they did the legal part at 10am the same day.  Eunice is now living here in Granada and a new member of Granada Este congregation!  The reception had delicious food and we shook our tail feathers as always.

With my former Nica family Carmen (sister-in-law of the groom) and Alicia (mother of the groom)

Reception site.  Her color was teal.  We ate chicken cordon bleu, herbed potatos,  and salad.

Eliam (nephew of the bride) and Jandra (sister from my cong) showing how to use the glow sticks we were given as wedding favors

The happy couple.  Ervin's face is red bc he was crying during the  song.  She cried during her vows.


When my friend Nikki was here we went to visit the local volcano and had a blast no pun intended :)  Everyone says it's dormant but there was definitely some heated activity happening up there letting me know not to trust what people say about volcanoes.  It was really pretty though and fun to switch up the view--I always see the volcano from my house and now I can see my house from the volcano! Click here to see what the volcano looks like from Granada.

The guide has us put a hand in this hole (that never turns out well under any circumstance, does it?).  Piping hot steam was coming out.  There were quite a few of these on the summit and most smelled like sulfur.  Dormant my eye!

A view of Granada, Las Isletas, and Lake Cocibolca from the 1st crater of the volcano

A perezoso (sloth)!  I was so excited to see him even though he never moved for us to get a good shot.  They told us in the beginning of the tour that we'd either see sloths or monkeys.  I'm glad it was a sloth bc I've already seen plenty of monkeys here.

A bird of paradise.  Note:  not a bird, a plant.  The guide needs to be a JW because he was describing about how balanced nature was and how with the destruction of just this one flower how multiple species would disappear.  Apparently there's only one type of bee that pollinates it and one type of butterfly that eats its nectar and one type of bird that then eats the larvae of that butterfly so on and so forth.  It really made me see Jehovah's wisdom in creation.


Calling all coffee lovers!  A few weeks ago my friend Nikki from St.Louis was here visiting and part of our sightseeing adventure was to take a tour of Volcano Mombacho.  That's the big volcano you can see from Granada and is featured in a lot of my blog pictures.

There's a lot of cool stuff you can do up there.  There are 3 craters to tour, a coffee plantation, and zip lining. And it's a really beautiful volcano--more rain forest than desert.   We got a VERY detailed tour of how coffee beans are cultivated and ultimately end up in your morning mug.  We even got to eat the ripe coffee beans.  There's a sweet fruit around it and then the bean itself tastes a lot like a peanut.

Mature coffee beans plain and with their fruit on the outside
Up close and personal with a Cafe Flores coffee plant.  When it's all red, it's ripe for picking.  We came just as the harvest started (November) and they told us it will end around February.

 All the short stubby plants are coffee plants.  They go as far as the eye can see.  They plant taller trees all around to block the wind so it doesn't blow the beans off the trees.
The best part of course came at the end where there's an on-site cafe giving Starbucks frappuccinos a run for their money.  Yes, I know I look like I'm auditioning for Rambo here but there was a lot of wind!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


So, for those of you who don't know, Nicaragua used to be a Communist country and still holds on to some communist/socialist views.  Like what?  Like socialized medicine.  Now, you are probably thinking that it sounds like a fabulous idea to have government-sponsored medicine.  It's like the utopian dream, right?  I'm sick, I got to the doctor: free.  Hospital stay or surgery: free.  Having a baby:  free.

I should've known something was up this whole time because EVERY TIME I got sick the brothers referred me to private doctors....who are cheap here by the way.  The most I've paid is like $20 for a specialist.  But I always wondered, "Why are they not recommending the miracle that is socialized medicine?!"  Well, today I found out why.

Most of you have heard me talk about my student Hazel.  Well her little girl, Nageli, was admitted to the hospital last Friday because of constant diarrhea and vomiting.  Here, that's a big risk and a common problem.  Because of the heat, a simple thing like diarrhea or vomiting can easily lead to dehydration and kidney problems.  Therefore, you often see people hospitalized for this issue.  I decided to visit them today and saw firsthand the differences.  I was also rudely reminded that yes, I truly live in a 3rd world country ("developing nation" for all you PCers).

Basically the hospital provides a bed, a nurse and doctor, and medicine.  Everything else....EVERYTHING ELSE is up to you.  Like what?  Well, I'll describe what Hazel told me today.  They had to bring their own:

  • clothes for Nageli
  • diapers/changing supplies
  • toilet paper, soap for the bathroom
  • meals/drinks for Nageli
  • seat so they could stay and monitor their baby
  • sheets for the bed
  • fan (yep; no AC)
  • wipes for bathing

What other differences are there?

  • There's about 8 rickety beds in every room and the nurse comes in only 3 times a day to check on them.  There is NO handy button in case you have a complaint or emergency; you just better hope someone is there with you to inform the nurses.
  • Cats and dogs roam freely on the property and in the rooms
  • Privacy act?  What privacy act?  Your diagnosis, name, age, and weight are written largely on the foot of your bed.
  • Spending the night?  You'll be in a metal foldout chair....that you yourself brought
  • Need a bathroom?  There's 1 per courtyard...that's right, I said courtyard, not room

Let's just say my day ended with a very long and very soapy shower while whistling the tune "just in case." The only thing that sets my mind at ease is knowing that just outside Managua there's a private hospital called Vivian Pellas set up Western-style...AC, robes, bathroom, extra nurses and all :)

Friday, August 3, 2012


Here are the long-promised photos from my weekend in San Juan del Sur.  Please just click on the photo above and it will take you to the Picasa photo stream.  Let me know if you have any problems viewing this.


I just got back from a much needed US visit on Sunday.  Apart from the friends and family, I'm sad to say the food was my next highlight.  To my credit, Latins in general do not eat outside their food box so to speak.  I live in a country where spaghetti sauce is considered exotic, you know?  Therefore, a great variety in food is hard to find because the basic ingredients either don't exist here or are super expensive.  I have always been a great lover of ethnic food, and it's something I really miss here, so I LOVED going back and eating my way around the world.  Now, my skirts didn't like the trip so much; they're putting up some protest...

Shout out to the friends who made me home-cooked ethnic food like the Gores/Flecks with their smokin' ribs (literally), the Barrons with their curry (thanks for the recipe!), and Bro.Corea who gave us down-home Mexican in his very own restaurant.

So if you're a food lover like me, you've totally caught on to the title of this blog and will enjoy the Picasa photo stream I've included.  Just click on my brother-in-law, TJ's, head above :)

Friday, June 1, 2012


A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, Krystina Tanjoco (she's the one sitting next to me), organized a group for her going away party.  Since September she's been serving in San Marcos but left last week to go home to Hawaii. About 15 of us met from different areas of Nicaragua and converged in San Juan del Sur for 3 days.  San Juan del Sur is on the southwest coast of Nicaragua and is the most well-known city here.  It has some of the best surfing in the world and has a large Jesus on a hill much like Rio de Janeiro.

We stayed at a hotel called El Pacifico owned by a German couple and just relaxed a few days.  I know that to most people this is not a big deal but to us these are luxury items very seldom seen or experienced that the hotel had:

1.  a pool
2.  hot water (note: I haven't had a hot shower since January)
3.  AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!!!!!!
4.  free breakfast that wasn't rice & beans
5.  two fat and sassy dogs

 It was really nice getting to know new friends and a new vacation spot.  We went to a beach called Las Maderas one day.  I've NEVER IN MY LIFE seen waves so big.  It's generally my goal to skip surfing beaches because I'm more of a swimmer but that's basically all that's available in SJDS.  It was insane!!  I'd see this massive wave coming and be in awe and then just when it folded over there's be an even BIGGER one behind it!  The waves are so strong they wash up really high on the beach so they touch a rock outcropping far out.  It was neat to explore it because thanks to the salt water there were sand dollars, barnacles, crabs, and a million other things I don't know the name for but had a great time messing with.

I'm going to post more pictures soon but for now I want to leave you with a clip from a new friend I made on the journey:


Monday, April 23, 2012


Last Friday I got invited to my 1st Nicaraguan bbq. I wasn't sure what to expect but it actually turned out really good and fun. I also rode on a motorcycle for my first time here. Loved it! I felt truly Nica because my friend Roberto gave me a ride while his 3 year old son sat in front and I had 2 big containers in my hand. Sooooo Nican!

Anyway, it was Roberto with his wife Martha and son Samuel, Richard with his wife Leila and son Richard, Ezekiel with his wife Diana, Shelina, and I. We did it at Ezekiel and Diana's house.

I'd have to say it was really normal. Heavy on the meats but dessert was missing! Nica libres running freely (that's a Cuba libre which is rum and coke plus a splash of lime; but we make it with Nican rum). The best part is when we were all done eating and stuffed like pigs the general consensus was to dance off our bbq. Now, at first I thought this was a bad idea and would just result in the kids barfing everywhere but it turned out to be the best idea! We shook our money makers and Leila showed me some new salsa moves I can't wait to try out.


Here's our new brothers...Marlon, Celeste, Diana, Guadalupe (mother), Guadalupe (daughter), and Yolanda
Shelina and I. When I come back from the US in July she'll be my new roommate!!

We had our Special Assembly Day in Ticuantepe on Saturday at the Assembly Hall. It was beautiful as usual over there. There's some yellow trees in bloom that were just gorgeous. What was more beautiful was the session. We had a visiting speaker from Bethel, Armando Ochoa, that I got to meet after the session. You know what his job is? He's the overseer of the translation dept in Mexico Bethel. He's in charge of making sure 39 languages/dialects (including Sign Language) are properly translated and printed. Fun job, huh? He even included a little Sign Language in his talk to us. If you haven't had your SDA yet, heads up on the last talk. It was super encouraging at a hard time for me and literally had me in tears.
I had the privilege of helping with the baptism again and really enjoyed it. There were 14 baptized, 6 of which came from my congregation. One was the (now) sister who fed me lunch the day I went to Cana de Castilla (previous blog about that). Because the brothers from Granada Este were in charge of the baptism we were really excited about all the brothers in our congregation. It was beautiful to see everyone crying and congratulating each other afterwards.
We had a peak attendance of 1,047.

Friday, April 20, 2012


This is salpicon de pescado. Salpicon is usually beef chopped finely and mixed with onion, green pepper, and LOTS of parsley, but once in the house they made it with fish and it was super yum.
GULP....ok, this is indio viejo made with turtle. I was lured into eating this with the understanding it was lake turtle and was NOT endangered like sea turtles....I later found out they're ALL endangered. Honestly, I ate it out of ignorance! It was good, though, like seafood. PS--there is NOTHING done here to protect them. In fact, my neighborhood was thrilled to learn it was turtle season and bought many many carcasses from the fishermen. They have a creepy skeleton which Ollie also benefitted from.

Here's Alicia making guirilas. How to describe them? Think of the taste of sweet cornbread but in tortilla form and texture. They're really good. They mainly sell them in the north so if you want them here in Granada you usually have to make them at home. They're served with cuajada and crema. Cuajada is a homeade cheese here eaten really frequently. It's packed in water like mozzarella and had a mild flavor. I love it!


Sometimes here I feel really behind on things because I'm discovering all this music that I think is new and really is YEARS old. It was never really my practice to listen to Latin music in the U.S. and I'm kicking myself for that because there's really some great hits out there. Here's some new discoveries...well, at least new for me:




I've been learning new dances here too. I learned the mambo, the lambada, a little vallenato, and finally I can salsa!


I've been promising everyone a Memorial update and sorry it took so long to post it.

Our campaign went well...we covered all our town territory and even our 2 rural territories, so we were pleased.  We ended up with an attendance of 266 which I thought was a nice turnout being that we have 93 publishers currently.  However, some brothers were disappointed because last year we had over 300.  But last year was the 1st Memorial and this year was the 2nd....I personally saw some students and older friends attending the 1st one so they didn't have to get home too late.

Unfortunately none of my students came to either the Memorial or the Special Talk.  We ended up with 144 at the Special Talk.

You'll see in the pictures that we all look pretty shiny...that's because April (the hottest month of the year) started off with a bang.  Literally, April 1st was the 1st time it got over 90 degrees and it stayed there ALL WEEK.  The day of the Memorial was the hottest day to date...94 degrees during the day and about 90 at the time of the Memorial....OUCH!  Understanding this suffering has convinced me that we'll have a.c. in the new system :)

I was especially excited that after the Memorial a big group of us went to eat Chinese food.  It was the first time I had been invited with a group of Nicas to eat out.  I'm not sure if it's just not done because of budget or if I'm just not getting invited....either way I liked it!

Click on the picture above to see more....it's part of a Picasa album.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Because of all the walking I do here some of my shoes are already shot, and I needed to replace them. Plus I was DYING for fried chicken, don't ask me why. So last Sunday 8 of us piled in the pickup and made the hour drive to Managua to Galerias mall. Yes, there's a mall here. In fact, there are 2 of them both in Managua. They have EVERYTHING...coffee shop, train for kids, food court, movie theatre....it's like being at home which is why I love it.

I NEVER went to the mall at home. I had a phobia about being around all those people, but here I am obsessed with the mall. I had such a good time, and yes, I got 3 pairs of shoes and my fried chicken :)


A couple weeks ago we went to do our rural territory. We have 2 rural territories...one called El Guayabo and the other called Los Cocos. We go to each of them once a month. I've written before about walking out to El Guayabo and almost dying, but Los Cocos is a little easier. We had a short meeting for service at 6:30 a.m. at our KH and then took the bus at 7 a.m. out to the territory. We leave 3 groups in different areas of the territory and work towards each other. It's a nice territory that sits on the edge of Lake Granada and is rural in the true sense of the word. Most of the homes are very simple and the people there have a strong respect for the Bible even though they don't read it much.

I included some pix of all of us on the bus, me trying to make friends with some calves, and some sisters preaching to a woman scaling fish out on the lake. There's a also a picture of Fernanda and Pilar holding a mango and mandarin orange. Those are both in season right now and we're eating them like crazy. I haven't had to buy mangos yet because all the friends and my return visits have been really generous with me. You can buy mandarin oranges, though, for 1 cordoba apiece. That works out to 23 for a dollar. Not bad, huh?

I got to see turkeys, peliBuey (a cross between a sheep and a goat), horses, guineas, chocoyos, rabbits, cows, and much more. I had a blast. When we finished, we stopped at a local house to eat our packed lunch, and the kids swam. The owner is a worldly man whose kids at one time or another were Witnesses. Unfortunately, he's usually drunk, calls me jefa (boss), and asks me for money. Overall, though, I had a super fun time.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


What's on the radio here? Check this song out by Mana feat. Prince Royce. It's really beautiful.


And here's a catchy one by some Brazilian guy. Hopefully it's clean because frankly, I don't know what he's saying...it's Portugese. It's EVERYWHERE here though!!


Jennifer Lopez sampled from this original Brazilian song (also in Portugese) from the '80s. I never knew it either! Warning, the video features the ORIGINAL Lambada dance which I know some might find offensive, so if you feel funny, just listen to the song which is BEAUTIFUL. I never knew I could like an accordion so much :)


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Now that it's summer here there's all kinds of new fruits and vegetables to discover one of which is pictured above. Do you know what that is? It's nispero. Don't worry, I've never heard of it either. It looks like a kiwi but without the fur and inside it tastes like honey if honey had a solid form. I can imagine it would be good in a batido with milk. Carmen is eating an open one. You just slice it and scrape the inside out with your teeth. No seeds or anything. I got to try it because I was preaching to an older guy a couple weeks ago and mentioned I'd never seen the fruit on his tree. He told me what they were and gave me a few to try. They're delicious!

It's also mango season now. I...LOVE...MANGOES!!! They are my favorite fruit and I'm soooo excited to be in a place where they're so plentiful now. And there are so many types of mangoes. I never knew! The most common here is the mango criollo or mango indio. It's a wild mango that's yellow on the outside. It's really sweet but stringier than what I'm used to. My favorite is a type called Santa Rosa. It's like the ones at home...green and pink. You can buy a dozen of them here for a dollar or....get a return visit with a tree. Ahem, my new Bible student, Lanis, has four, count them, FOUR trees in her yard :)


It really does seem like a fantasy land here sometimes.

This beautiful complete rainbow decided to make it's appearance immediately following our sister Kenia Cordoba's funeral. Poor thing was a young sister in my congregation who I only got to meet a couple of times due to her health. Almost exactly a year ago her leg was bothering her and when the doctors opened her to do the surgery they found raging cancer. She lost her leg and went through a bout of chemotherapy. But right around December they stopped the chemo because it just wasn't doing any good. Then the waiting game began. She was very much so at peace with the fact she was dying and had an excellent reputation in the cong. I would have liked to have known her better...she was a regular pioneer before she got sick, and many friends said she was always encouraging them to go out with her. She had a huge wake, funeral, and burial, and although I personally did not know her well, her death was hard on many people who are special to me here. That was hard to watch.

I had some new culture shocks during this experience. I've posted before about the vela or wake that was in front of my house, but I'd never gone through the WHOLE experience before. Here, they don't treat the bodies (embalm) before burial so for instance, like in Kenia's case, she died Sunday afternoon and was buried Monday afternoon. We were at her house until about 2am showing support to the family. After the talk Monday, the ENTIRE population who was at the talk followed the horse/carriage carrying her casket to the cemetery. The cemetery is on the far side of town and no shortcuts are taken....it's all the main roads in Granada. I asked someone about that reflecting how to me, it didn't seem fair to make the family/friends walk in the heat so long after their loss. They said it's tradition as this would be the person's last "look" at their fine city. Kind of poetic, huh? The cemetery was the hardest part. I was used to the US tradition of waiting until everyone leaves to do any dirty work. MAYBE they throw some dirt on the grave for show, but that's it. No, here the cemeteries are above-ground in concrete slabs that typically hold 6 caskets per slab. It's tradition here that in front of the whole group they slide the casket in and brick up/concrete up the opening as a final "sealing." That was hard to watch for me. It just was very....final. And the poor family just lost it. Kenia's sister ended up fainting and had to be taken to the hospital.

After all that it sure was nice to see that rainbow