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!