Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It has been three months since my last post and every month I think about things I want to share, but don't take the time to type it out. I have never been a faithful pen pal nor have I kept a journal or diary for more than a week vacation or mission trip. I thought I would change just because I would be in the mission field and would have more time....  Time passes by here just as it has passed by the first 44 years of my life. It is amazing to me how involved and busy we have become already. Mind you, it is a good busy. More on that topic later. I would like to give a brief summary of life since Christmas.

Christmas in Nicaragua was fascinating to me. I am happy to say that there was only one night that I didn't like and was a bit depressed thinking about home and family -Christmas Eve. I am always thinking about family, but on this night I was focused on what I was used to doing and what I was missing out on in the States. I wasn't living in the moment and celebrating the the meaning of Christmas and our service here. With prayer and the presence of new friends, I was able to move into Christmas morning with a feeling of peace.  Things I missed: baking cookies with family, traveling to see family, snow, caroling, opening presents together. New things I experienced: fireworks after our Christmas Eve service and again at midnight and a large, bright, and loud display of manger scenes set up on both sides of the street for about half of a mile in downtown Managua.

On New Year's Eve, Katie joined us and we were able to experience fireworks at midnight again. Watching fireworks in Managua is very different from the 4th of July celebrations I have had. Both times at midnight we drove to a scenic view overlooking the city and at 12:00, the entire city begins to shoot of fireworks and it twinkles in flashes of color for about 10 minutes. Nicaraguans buy their own fireworks and everyone shoots them off at the same time. It is pretty cool and hard to describe. The pictures really don't do it justice. We also visited Laguna de Apoyo and the Messiah Volcano while she was here. It was just wonderful to have her around even though it was only for a week.

As we moved through January and February, we learned of the new friends who will not be returning next year. I knew this transition was coming, but was caught off guard at how disappointed  and sad I felt. Most of you know that I am the daughter of a military chaplain, so we moved every two years and our neighbors on base were coming and going. After marriage I didn't stop moving, so change is part of my life and I look forward to it. At least I used to feel that way. It has been fascinating for me to process these new feelings and reflect on the impact it has on me. The next school year could bring several changes and I try to focus on the new friends I have yet to meet rather than on the goodbyes, but  I will especially miss my neighbors!

So what is keeping the Nica Faber's so busy????  Stacey is busy with Young Life and presented her    testimony at the last meeting. She attends the church youth activities as well. She is part of the Ultimate Frisbee team and manager for the boy's basketball team. Her patellar tracking, moving knee cap, has been painful and kept her from playing basketball. Stacey loves it here and is thankful we moved. Branden is playing basketball and was a stagehand for the musical at school. He also attends Young Life and church youth activities. Branden likes it here, but given a choice, would prefer to be at SFC. Rachelle is playing soccer and is just starting to be involved with an elementary musical about the Tale of Three Trees.  She attend some of the church youth activities and goes to Girl Scouts at the US Embassy. She is also loving it here and is glad we came, but does miss her friends at SFC. Jeff is coaching basketball and attending two Bible studies. I am trying to start a running routine and am involved in two Bible studies. (This last paragraph kinda looks like a Christmas family update letter).

I struggle with use of time, busyness and trying to find a balance. I thought moving into a missionary setting, that we would have more time, but have not found that to be true. Life is changing and busy in a different way. But, it is important to stay connected with people and to be involved in life. One of my studies is on sacred friendship and through it, God is teaching me that we need to stay connected to each other especially living in a different culture. But not just connected, we need to pray together and learn how God is moving in our own lives, but more importantly in the lives of our friends. I have also learned that it is normal to go through a time in the first year of feeling isolated and not sure how God is using and moving in our lives in this new venture. There is comfort in numbers.

 While thinking about my activities, I also ponder about my job and the impression of friends and supporters that I am just teaching missionary or wealthy Nica children. I am not in the barrio trying to reach the poor or needy children. Can I truly say I am a missionary? I know NCA is an important part of this community and do not questions my calling from God to be here, but I do find myself thinking about this quite often. In my personal devotions for the lent season one of the days focused on our eagerness to please the Lord and being involved in many kinds of ministries. John tells people to do the small but important things that you do for Christ. One of the readings for that day was Luke 3:10-14. I know I serve a purpose and I am furthering God's kingdom when I touch the lives of the precious 4 and 5 year olds in my class, but it is nice to hear affirmation from God's Word. I need to do my job to the best of my ability, love on these beautiful children, and block satan from distracting me with confusion.

This blog is more a place of updates and journaling. I hope you enjoy the content and don't mind my simple to the point writing style. I have never enjoyed writing, but want to keep you all connected to our lives here in Nicaragua, so I write what comes to mind. Just saying this so you know it is intentional that this is not a blog that is well organized and profoundly deep every time. I love you all and we feel your prayers. Please keep praying!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Reflections on the First Five Months

We are coming to the end of the first semester and we are all surprised by conflicting feelings: we have only been here five months yet it feels like we've been here much longer vs. we have just gotten here and half of the school year is almost over.

We are so thankful for the International Christian Fellowship (ICF) and the Nicaraguan Christian Academy (NCA) families. They have welcomed us in and have quickly made this feel like home with brothers and sisters in Christ surrounding us and loving us. So I would like to share a little about these two organizations.

First a description of ICF from its website: "The International Christian Fellowship is a ministry to the English-speaking community of Nicaragua. The Fellowship is Christ-centered, Bible-believing, interdenominational group of Christians who seek to follow Jesus Christ as Lord, live according to His will and minister in His name".  But what is ICF for us? It is a family atmosphere where we have been welcomed to join in Sunday worship, sunday school, youth groups, men and women's bible studies, small group gatherings women's and men's fellowship and retreats, potlucks, communion and of course fellowship.

Likewise NCA from its website: "NCA schools partner with Christian parents in forming active disciples of Jesus Christ, equipped to impact society through the development of their spiritual discernment, moral courage and academic excellence".  For us it a place to share our love for God and our subject matter with students, to watch our children find a place among friends in and out of school, and to love our colleagues who have become friends.

Now that you know a little background to our new life, here is a summary from each of us as we answer the questions: How was your first five months? and How are you feeling about Nicaragua?

Rachelle:     My first few months living here have been great. I've made so many friends at school, ICF, and my neighborhood.  They  have been very kind and welcoming to me, but I do miss my friends from SFC. I love the temperature because I can swim any time, but really miss the snow. I really hate all the bugs, tarantulas, ants, cockroaches etc. I've been doing sport camps like volleyball, basketball, and soccer that are fun. I can't wait to see Katie. I've missed her so much! That's a bummer too, being away from everyone. I love swimming in the ocean and hiking volcanoes.

Branden:       Living here in Nicaragua has been very fun. I have made so many new friends. Some things that I have been doing with them are soccer, ultimate frisbee, swimming, Minecraft and just hanging out and talking. I really enjoyed hiking in the mountains and seeing howler monkeys and agouties. I also really enjoyed juggling in the talent show with bean bags, rings, clubs, and fireballs. I am excited to see Katherine again at christmas.

Stacey:      My first few months have been a blast. I have made several friends. My favorite class is Outdoor Survival but sadly that is only one semester. I have enjoyed being involved with sports here. I played volleyball and am on an ultimate frisbee team. When I think about leaving, I am really sad because I have not been here that long and I love it here. For that reason I have chosen to take a gap year and work at the school next year. I will be volunteering and helping in the special education program. I am very excited for this opportunity to stay here and become closer with the community here. 

Christy:     Hot, exciting, beautiful, fulfilling, and rewarding are just a few words to describe my first five months. I love teaching preschool and have a great team to work with in my class. The growth in language and learning is amazing.  A Bible study on the Armor of God, stretched me and brought me closer to God. Seeing the ocean, volcanoes, mountains, flowers, birds, and monkeys has me rejoicing in the glory of God and creation. My biggest struggle and frustration is the language barrier and learning Spanish is slow and tiring. I am concerned the heat at the hottest part of the year (Apr./May) will be unbearable, because I'm finding the coolest part of the year warm. I love Nica and am at peace that we have followed God's leading. I also miss Katie and Joel, but am happy they have family close by to love on them and that God has given them each other!

Jeff:        I have really enjoyed my first 5 months in Nicaragua. Getting back into the classroom and coaching have been wonderful. Getting to know my family in a different way by participating in different sports activities with them has been an unexpected blessing. Playing volleyball with my wife and Stacey, playing ultimate frisbee with Branden and Stacey and starting to play basketball with Branden are the high points of my time down here. Computer class has stretched me a little but has been going well. Teaching math again has been rewarding and fun as I have Branden in my class. Another highlight was going to a men's retreat in the cooler temperatures of the mountains. It was great to dive into scripture with the guys and get re-engaged in my walk with the Lord.

Thank you for all your thoughts, prayers and support. Part of being here is relying on others to support our mission. If you can help with a $10 monthly gift please call CRWM at (616) 224-0700 or 800-346-0075. One time gifts can be made through CRWM by going to their website at

Monday, November 7, 2016

Our first two weeks

Riding an emotional rollercoaster of excitement, nervousness, confusion, anticipation, exhaustion, boredom, and overload in the first two weeks, we tried to adjust to this wonderful country called Nicaragua. The first day, we were taken to LaUnion, a local grocery store to get some things to stock the kitchen. The biggest excitement was having two geckoes fall on our table right before our lunch. They created quite the commotion running onto one of the ladies in our group, which led to screaming, jumping, and lots of laughing!
Friday, we took the kids to see school for the first time. It was bigger than they anticipated, but the lockers seemed small. As I walked around, I was reminded of my first trip here and thinking at that time it would be fun to teach at NCA. How strange to know it was now a reality. 
Walmart and PriceMart were the points of destination the next day. We stocked the house with some groceries and basic supplies to get started. I was feeling overwhelmed with all the decisions to be made. What do we need to get set up with right away and what can wait for a few month. We purchased hangers, towels, sheets, cooking utensils, pillows, baskets, kleenex, tp and more basics. Walmart was very typical on the inside except I couldn't read the Spanish signs. The Price Mart is very similar to Costco and even has the members mark brand names. A little bit familiar in a foreign world. Saturday night gave me my first encounter with a tarantula! He was crawling on a wall right outside our back door. Jeff quickly got rid of him for me.
Church and Sunday afternoon where quiet and gave us time to relax and prepare for the week of new teacher orientation. During each day of the first full week, Jeff and I were at school and the kids slept, read, watched tv, played games, and went to the pool once in awhile.The kids were quite bored and wanted to leave the house. They did get a chance to leave at night. We were invited to supper on several evenings and were able to socialize with some of the new staff, the administrators, and current teachers. It was a wonderful experience, except for the fact that we talked about bug and spider encounters every night! There were some things I really didn't need to hear:)!
During the second weekend, we took the kids to Walmart to buy some school supplies. The kid's reactions to Walmart: bigger than expected, the products weren't very good quality and there was a small selection of things.
So I asked the kids to share their thoughts of their first two weeks:
  • boring
  • long
  • looking forward to the first day of school
  • overloaded
  • food is strange
  • milk is disgusting
  • Stacey wants to learn to drive a stick shift.
Best and Worst of first two weeks:

Stacey:    Nice people and pretty sunsets
                Nothing to do and trapped at home
Branden: Heat
                Nothing to do and trapped at home
Rachelle: Beautiful trees
                Nothing to do and trapped at home
Jeff:         People are open and willing to help
                Uncomfortable furniture
Christy:   Beautiful country and friendly people
                Not knowing the language

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The trip

Early Wednesday morning on July 20, Katie drove us and our luggage to the airport. It was a tearful goodbye and then an uneventful trip through security. Our flight to Dallas arrived at 9:20am and then we had a 5 hour layover. We walked about and ate at a Dunkin Donuts, Auntie Anne's and a Smoothie bar. After finding our gate in the International concourse, we spread out for netflix, games, and naps! Jeff, Stacey and I only had 2 1/2 hours of sleep the night before. Rachelle and I rode the train all the way around the loop and then we had Fuddruckers for supper and made some quick calls to family before boarding.

We arrived in Managua at 5:40 and were able to gather our ten checked bags with help from some local boys and get through security without a pause. We were very thankful for God's continued provision as we traveled to our new home!

We received a warm welcome and were excited to head to our new home. The ride through the city was exciting for us all. The kids commented on the horns honking loudly and the metal trees that line the streets reminded them of Dr. Seuss trees. I was extremely tired and had the only time of doubt about this adventure. I wondered what we were doing, bringing our family to this new country where we can't speak the language! I knew I was tired and it would look brighter in the morning.

The house is bright yellow and brought some surprises for us all. The first floor layout was more open than Jeff's pictures showed and there are four bedrooms not three. We are very happy in this space. We quickly chose our rooms, picked up Pizza Hut for supper and make a quick stop at La Colonia (grocery store) thanks to the help of our new neighbor and friend! Finally it was time for bed and we were happy to close our eyes.