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!