Friday, March 29, 2013


Me, Shelina, Andrea, and Kim.  Andrea has been here since November or December helping in Sign Language.  She's our neighbor and we love her!!

Just wanted to post this cute pix from last Friday.  We're still in the middle of pioneer route here (until June). For those of you not familiar with includes every country under Mexico branch's supervision and is very similar to seldom worked territory campaigns in the U.S. but more involved.   A publisher can sign up to spend 1-6 months in an assignment either within or outside of their country.

The little Asian sister in the picture is named Meung-eun Kim (I hope I spelled that right!).  I met her because she's spending a few days in Granada before going to her assignment in Malacatoya.  We had her for lunch and then did studies together.  She is just sweet sweet sweet and probably the first native-born Korean I've met.  She speaks like 8 languages fluently among them Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and English.  She really encouraged us talking about the young men in S.Korea and how they cope going to prison at age 18 for their Christian neutrality.  Three years ago, she moved to Mexico to help start a Korean group in Guadalajara.  After her pioneer route assignment, she'll head to Managua where she'll help in the Chinese congregation.  I know they'll be thrilled to have a native speaker.

My favorite part of the picture is how Cookie (Shelina's dog) snuck in.  Her legs are in the background but she kinda looks like she's hidden up Andrea's skirt with her legs dangling out. Hahahahahah!!!  That's just the kind of mess she'd get herself in too!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Little girl, Jandra, me, and Pilar.  I found my dress at a second-hand shop in Masaya market for  a little over $3!

I hope all of you had a beautiful Memorial this year.  This year was much like last in our setup.  We were the 2nd Memorial again starting at 7:15pm and had seating both inside and outside.  We were able to see and hear the speaker thanks to a projector.  Here, the sun sets year-round at 6pm (thanks to being so close to the equator) so we're able to get started pretty early.

The weather was a little better this year although I certainly wasn't expecting that.  Around 3pm I was in my room sweating and noticed my temperature gauge said 93 degrees.  I moved it into the living room, and it went up to 95.  I moved it outside and it went up to 97.  With about a million percent humidity.  But I endured!  I didn't put on the A.C. and by the time I went to the Memorial, just as it was starting this amazing breeze started up, and it was actually really comfortable.

I wasn't able to help with set-up or cleaning this year because I've been sick the past few days.  I have barely a voice and when it's early in the morning or late at night, it's really painful to talk and swallow.  Apparently, it's allergies.  Again.  Thankfully, I was so busy with the campaign I already had my hours last Friday so I was able to take some time off to recuperate guilt-free.

Best news to report from the Memorial?  A student of mine came!!  Three of my students said for sure they wanted to come and lots more from rural.  But rural couldn't ever work out transportation, and I feel sick about that.  However, my student, Hazel, came with her brother-in-law, Roberto.  It was her 2nd time to a KH and his 1st.  They said they wanted to come back for the Special Talk!  I'm so happy because I was really praying for my students to come, and in general it's been a struggle to get Hazel to come to a meeting.  She's my most progressive of all my Bible students and an absolute gem.  She came over to the house when my parents were here, so they got to meet her, and she felt so happy getting to know my house and family.

Hazel, Roberto, and I

All in all we had 294 in attendance from our 99 publishers.  Best report I heard came from Malacatoya.  It's a group, not a congregation, just a little further out than our rural territory.  They have 18 publishers and had 179 in attendance including 1 deaf they interpreted for!  Isn't that amazing?!  There's still sooooo much work to do here.
Brett & Kathy, publishers from Illinois that now serve in my sister congregation, Granada Norte.  Norte hosts Malacatoya group.  They also are the only foreigners in their congregation so have been a great support to me especially when it comes to getting a hold of English literature.

Monday, March 25, 2013


It's officially summer here now.  We've had about a week of 90+ temperatures during the day and about 87 or 88 at night.  It will continue in that same pattern until May when the rains come.  These moments really test my patience especially as it's falling during Semana Santa (Holy Week) here.  

So tonight, as a lit-up neon Jesus rolled by in a massive procession with a live band, how did I cope?  Three words....A.C., chocolate (thank you, Miia, for remembering me when you went back to Finland!), Alias re-runs :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013


So I just wanted to give a quick update to my former post "Rural Rant."  I told you guys I have some new return visits out there.  Well, we just did rural again last Sunday, and it was a hit!  I was able to call my return visits ahead of time and prepare them for the visit, and they were all waiting for me; it was great!

The best visit was this pair of sisters-in-law named Angelica and Ligia.  They had their patio set up with chairs, their Bible and tracts out, and as soon as we came told us, "We've been waiting for you!  We thought maybe you forgot about us today!"  They sat us down and gave us fresco and we had a great chat.  We explained the who is Jehovah and Jesus using Psalms 83:18 and Luke 1:31,32 and then explained their roles for the Memorial invitation.  After our conversation they told me they were really happy with our visit because no one had ever explained that information to them before about Jehovah and Jesus.  Ligia told me she cleans the house of some older Belgian nuns, and she told them she was studying with Jehovah's Witnesses.  Get this....they encouraged her to continue with her study acknowledging that we are very knowledgeable about the Bible.  Then they sent me home with a cantelope which was delicious!

Friday, March 22, 2013


In February 2012 I did a similar post after spending about 5 months here.  Well, now I've been here for a year and a half and wanted to do a 2013 update.  Here we go....

1.  PEE...I'll sum it up by relating a recent conversation I had with an older neighbor as I walked Ollie.
Her:  No, no, don't let her go here.  It's dirty.
Me:  She's already went, don't worry.
Her:  Oh, I didn't know.  It's just that everyone with pets lets them go here on the lawn (not her lawn, by the way; community property).
Me:  I'll tell you what.  When you can train your men to stop peeing on the street, we'll train our pets to stop peeing on the grass.

Yep, that's what I'm dealing with every day.  Men hiding in corners in the middle of populated areas, little boys whipping it out right in front of me to go in the gutter rather than run in their house to the bathroom, and the faint whiff of acidic urine every time I open my front door.  We ladies can hold it until we get home, why can't they??!!
2.  THE GRINGO HUSTLE...I understand it's a part of life here but I'm so tired of trying to find out what's the real price of something vs the price they're charging me.  
3.  NOISE....I swear EVERYTHING here is made to make noise.  On a regular morning, starting at 6am, here are the things I hear:

  • bus passing screaming "Managua, Managua, Managua"
  • fruit person/people yelling out what they're selling
  • La Prensa (newspaper) belting out their advertisement song
  • multiple 18wheelers and motorcycles that never had a muffler put on
  • neighbors greeting each other (everything Nicas say is done as a scream)
  • dogs barking
  • roosters crowing
  • church bells and/or the "We Love Mary" song (if I'm lucky, this starts at 5am instead of 6)

The baseball game lets out?  Honks, screams, noise.
Religious celebration?  Fireworks, honks, screams, bells, noise
The lights just came back on?  Screams, noise

Are you seeing a pattern?  I swear I'm coming back to the U.S. deaf.
4.  BEGGARS....I'm at my wit's end.  I don't give anything to anyone ever and yet on a daily basis someone is asking me for money because I'm a gringa.
5.  MUSIC...In normal circumstances I love music.  But when it's played from multiple homes at the same time at a decibel level that allows the ENTIRE neighborhood to "enjoy" it, it gets really annoying.  Really fast.    Yes, I am now that old lady the yells out, "Keep it down over there, will ya?!"

1.  THE EGG LADY....I know it's shallow but I love the fact that a block away exists a little old lady that sells farm fresh eggs for 40 cordobas cheaper than the grocery store.  Plus, she's sweet to me and has an amazing little bulldog she lets me play with.
2.  MOMBACHO...I mentioned this last time, but I still love and am amazed at the fact I can walk out of my house every morning to see an a rainforest volcano staring back at me
3.  THE MARKET...Yes, it's dirty.  Yes, it's stressful because there's a million people all yelling at you at once to buy their stuff.  Yes, you have to negotiate your butt off the end of the day you can come home with an entire bag full of fruits and veg for NOTHING!
4.  MY STUDENTS...when I wrote this post last year, I didn't have any progressive Bible students.  I guess that was a lot to expect in just 5 months.  But now, 18 months in, that has definitely changed.  I have quite a few students whom I truly look forward to seeing every week.  They're regular, they prepare, and while they're not going to meetings they are making progress in various ways.  How?  Here's a few things they've said lately:

  • You taught me how to use my Bible.  Now, when I see a Scripture, I know how to look it up.  My church never taught me that.
  • Changing is really hard.  But I see that when I apply Bible principles in my family, they're happier, and I am too.
  • I know Jehovah expects me to teach my child about Him.  Will you show me how to do that?
  • For the first time in my life, I'm talking to God and reading the Bible.
I literally had goosebumps writing that and remembering how happy I was when they told me :)

5.  CHEESE AND SALAD....Yes, I know that last year cheese was on the hate list.  However, I found a good cheese supplier and a type of cheese I like and now, yes, I'm addicted.  And the cabbage slaw they put on everything?  Bring it on!  I had to learn how to make it because I was craving it all the time.  Hey, it's healthy, cheap, and easy and makes for a fast dinner with melted cheese and a tortilla :)
* You want to learn how to make it too?  Check out this Familiar Foreign video.


Hi, my name's Shawn.
Hi Shawn.
And I'm addicted to mangoes.

This year, I'm doing it up right.  I'm peeling my mangoes before eating them so I'm avoiding that crazy rash (allergy) I got last year, and I'm discovering great new varieties.  (Note:  obviously, no one eats the skin.  But here, it's common to just cut the cheeks off skin and all and scrape out the flesh with your teeth.  That's what got me in trouble last year because the skin gave my mouth and chin a huge rash.  Turns out mango is in the poison ivy family!)

The mango you see above is called mango manzana, literally apple mango.  It's yellow on the outside and bright orange inside and is FULL of flesh, juicy, and crazy sweet. I've been eating them plain, making fresco with them, and even making mango salsa.  The other day, we had these Mexican pork tacos and I made this fab salsa to go with, cucumber, onion, jalapeno, lime, salt.  Yum!

Monday, March 4, 2013


So you guys see that last Sunday, I went in rural territory.  I can't lie, this 2nd go-round, I've really had to psyche myself up to get out in rural territory.  Sometimes, after those marathon days I just want to cry when I remember I still have an ENTIRE full service week ahead of me :(

And honestly, my track record of rural experiences hasn't been so great.  Because the householders are so isolated and don't see many foreigners they are full of pena (embarrassment) with me and won't answer my questions or barely look at me!  Also, the past few times I got put with sisters who refused to talk both at the door and to me (makes for an interesting 10 hours).

So this time, I thought I'd do myself a favor and made plans with Miss Alixe who's experienced at the door and a good friend and expected the best.  So let me tell you how it turned was blazing hot, I ran out of water so had a bladder infection by the end of the day, had diarrhea the last half hour, and something bit me giving me a full-body rash I STILL am struggling with was actually the nicest time I've had preaching in rural.  For once, the householders were really open with me and we only had one person who refused to listen to us.  Because we're only able to get out there once a month, I asked my new return visits for their phone number so we could stay in touch and I could let them know when I'd be there again so as not to miss them.  They ALL gave me their number without hesitation and expressed genuine appreciation for the visit saying they didn't want to miss us next time either.  I'm actually really excited about the next rural visit.  We were generally talking about the Memorial to them since we can't get there often and many of them said they wanted to come but transportation would be a problem (there IS a bus that goes from there to Granada but it only runs twice a day at 8am and at 12pm).  When we told our brothers, they said that if 30 commit, we'd rent a bus and send it out for them.  Yeah!!!  I'll keep you guys updated as to how it turns out.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


 I had a crazy weekend and just wanted to share with those of you always asking how my life is here.

Friday morning our landlord decided to fumigate our house.  So our neighbor came in at about 9 a.m. to spray poison all over the walls and baseboards which meant we and our little fur children had to get out pronto.  We decided to check out a new cafe that's opened up on Calle Xalteva about a block from us called Espressionista.  We were able to do informal witnessing and take advantage of their WiFi.  It really made for a nice, relaxing morning.
Ollie hanging out by the front door.  Great art shot, babe!

Watermelon and ginger granita--so refreshing

Cookie checking out Auntie Shawn

Shelina chilling with her Ipad mini
 Then on the way to the market later, I met this guy selling/eating this new fruit I discovered.  It's called caimito.  It looks like a plum on the outside but the inside is this gooey, furry I don't know what.  It's interesting.  I tried it--not my favorite fruit but not bad either.
Then on Saturday night, I invited a couple English families from the English congregation to eat frito with me after my meeting.  I like this picture because it shows the food well and shows the grill in the back how they're all made.  
Vic, Hattie, and Robin...from Manchester to Granada with love :)
On Sunday we had rural territory.  The meeting for service was at 6:30 am, we drove 45 minutes out to the territory in a bus and preached from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm.  Wow, what a day!
Neftali, Alixe, and Miguel Angel in the bus during lunch

Cashew tree!! Look under the purple upside-down tulip and you'll see a green cashew growing
Finally, my weekend ended with a bang.  On Monday, Shelina and I went to Managua and saw Les Miserables!!!  In English!!!  We had sushi and miso soup for lunch at Sushiitto, saw the flick, and I even managed to sneak in an entire box of Cinnabons for friends.  Sometimes it really helps for people to assume you don't speak Spanish :)  Ahhh, foreign food and glutinous pastry.  
You see that glazed look in my eyes? That's sushi coma.

May I introduce the "Miss Nicaragua" roll