Thursday, March 28, 2013

Semana Santa

Semana Santa, that's what the Nicaraguenses call it.   We call it Holy Week.  It's the one week out of the year that vertually everything comes to a halt in Nicaragua.  The shops are locked up tight, the sidewalks are not very crowded and the traffic headed west - well, that is another story.  Everyone and their mother, grandmother, aunt, brother, sister, cousin are all crammed into buses, loaded on to pickup trucks, flat bed trucks and headed west, 12 kilometers or 7 miles to the Pacific Ocean.

Every vehicle was loaded down with people, plastic chairs, picnic stuff, and rolled foam to sleep on.  All in anticipation of enjoying the sun and surf.  Everyone is laughing, waving and calling out to friends.  Some have started to celebrate early with a glass in hand of clear "liquid" or a beer.  The traffic jam today reminded me of Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale.   There are 2 tiny beach communities that will be packed with the locals from surrounding towns and maybe the mountains.  It's tradition here to head for the beach this particular week and especially Thursday through Sunday.

This prompts me to ask the question:  What is the significance of Semana Santa if everyone is at the beach?

In the past, we asked that question to the boys that have lived with us to make sure they knew the meaning of Easter.  Well, we found out they had never heard of "Easter".  When we explained the meaning of Easter, we were corrected "oh, you mean Semana Santa".  The answers we received were very shocking and that is when we knew we had our work cut out for us in sharing the gospel and it's message for everyone's life.

The answer we received was:  Semana Santa, that is when we get a week off school and we get to go to the beach.  

Never in a million years would we have thought that people living in an evangelized nation would not know the significance of Semana Santa or Holy Week.

That one answer gave us a good understanding of what little our boys knew about the Gospel and the task we had before us.

It's been a year since we received that answer and we are continuing to teach daily the significance of Christ's sacrifice.

We are all for a good time at the beach, the people because of their hard work have earned the time to relax. So many of the families have little opportunity to vacation.  I pray that they will take a few moments and reflect on the reason for "this season".  

Jesus, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, gave His all so that we would have it all - abundant life and life ever lasting.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It Finally Happened......

It was bound to happen, it was only a matter of time.  At 1a.m. CST this morning in Leon, Nicaragua, I (Sandra) was stung by a scorpion on my toe AND I live to tell about it.  Ha-Ha.  The good news is that the scorpions that reside in our home are not deadly.  The bad news is it burns like ...........Yes, that is the only way I can describe it to you; after the initial sting, the affected area burns.  Imagine spilling a pan of hot boiling oil on to your foot.  That is the sensation I have been feeling for the last several hours.

Let me start at the beginning.  I went to bed at 11pm but was unable to sleep.  My husband is a snoring man and last night he chose to be especially noisy.  It was also a very hot night and Mordecai decided he wanted to sleep next to his mama.  No amount of talking to either Preston or Mordecai worked to get them to change positions in order to give me some relief from the noise and the heat.    I tossed and turned and punched the pillow many times.  At 1a.m., I was still awake and needed to use the bathroom.  As I got up, I was whining to PT that I would love to see his behavior the next day if he ever did not get a good nights sleep.  It was more for my benefit of relieving the frustration than his.   I  NUNCA (never) turn on the lights when I head to the bathroom, so last night was no exception.  

The following details may be a little graphic for some of you, so you have been forewarned.  I went into the bathroom and backed myself up to the toilet (we do have a modern home with a modern toilet); but in the dark, that's how I approach the toilet.  As I was about to sit down, something stung my left foot.  I knew instantly what it was.  In my shock and fear, I let out an expletive.  When I think back, it was a word that I usually did not use years ago before my "holier" days.  At this moment there was nothing holy about what I was going through.  Now, I know that as a Christian missionary this is behavior most unbecoming. However, before you get all righteous on me, I wonder what might have come out of your mouths had you been in the same situation.   So, no judgements, please!

In the mean time, I had jumped up from the toilet and ran towards the light switch.  PT and I seemed to get to the switch about the same time, because I think the expletive got his attention.  I was yelling, "there is a scorpion over there".  He ran over and stomped it with his shoe.  This was amazing because he never wears shoes in the house, unlike me, I refuse to go barefoot - our floors are always dirty no matter how many times a day they are swept or mopped.  Friends, it's Nicaragua!  And at this time of year, it is horribly dirty.  By the way, the dirt spot in the photo is not my dirty floor, it was from where PT had stomped the scorpion.  I just wanted to clarify that I am not a sloppy housekeeper.  

PT was worried and started asking me questions, there were many and I can't remember them all because the pain was really bad.  I know that he was concerned about whether we had something in the house to counterattack the side affects.  "Uh, not that I was aware of".  He then remembered that our wonderful new friend Steve Jacks had left a bunch of stuff with us after his trip last year.  PT rummaged through the stash and found a stick of benedryl.  I think a person is suppose to ingest benedryl, not rub it on yourself when you are stung by a scorpion.  But, I was willing to try anything.

After the commotion died down, neither of us went back to bed.   PT watched me and I monitored my breathing to see if there would be any adverse reactions to the sting.    If any problems developed, we had stored in our cell phone, the names of 2 taxi drivers who worked at night that we could call to take me to the hospital.  We went to our desk and got on the computers to pass time.  PT worked a couple of jigsaw puzzles online.  I did a Google search about scorpions to get some information about what I might expect. During the search, there was a story about scorpions in Nicaragua, so I looked it up.  I spent the next 2 hours reading a blog written by a couple from Seattle who left their jobs and moved to Granada, Nicaragua for a year to experience life in a poverty nation.   The husband had been stung by a scorpion; that was why it had gotten mentioned in my search.  The blog of their year of adventure was very interesting and helped pass the time.

During all the commotion, the  dogs had gotten disturbed and at first were bewildered.  They sat in the office with us for awhile until Mordecai decided he had had enough and began whining; pitiful whining.  He did not want to be up, he wanted to go back to bed.  Well, no one was stopping him.   But, where we go, he goes and he was not happy.  I finally heard enough and led him back to bed.

At 3a.m., PT and I determined that there was no danger to my health and we decided to go back to bed.  As we laid in bed holding hands, I told him that if I didn't wake up in the morning, I wanted him to know that I loved him.  He barely heard that because he had started to fall asleep.  How do I know?   He was beginning to snore again.  My thoughts wondered where that scorpion had been living prior to being next to the toilet. Had he been in our closet, in our dresser drawers, in the clothes hamper, or maybe in the towels stored in the bathroom?  He had not magically appeared, he had been living somewhere.  I also thought about Esther. She had been sleeping on the floor because it is cooler for her than on our bed; what if she had gotten stung.  Or the boys, how many scorpions are living in their room?  

This morning, during our devotion time, I shared the story with the boys.  Freddy said he had heard us and Israel said he had seen the lights on in our room.  We reminded ourselves to take time to search before sticking our hands into a drawer to get out clothing.  Turn our shoes over and tap them before putting them on.  Check the bedding before climbing into bed each night.  Precautions that we have taken for granted, but no more for me.  

I am very grateful to God for keeping me safe by not having to experience any side affects from the sting of the scorpion.  My toe still hurts, a lot, but I can endure it.   It is a new day in Nicaragua and we have many things to do as we continue on with our adventure of living in Nica.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Morning Devotions

For Preston and myself, one of our favorite times of the day is the early morning time we spend with the boys in devotions.  Right now, we have 2 boys joining us since the other 2 have already left for school.  We recently made the decision to have devotions after breakfast because Pablo is not a morning person and it takes him some time to function after waking up.  After hearing the 2 boys laughing during breakfast, we knew we had made the right decision; Pablo was fully awake and able to participate in the discussions.

We use the devotional "Jesus Calling" each morning.  It's practical and thought provoking.  We all are stretched at times to take a look at how we might "tweak" our responses to every day life situations and what it means to include God in our decisions and life experiences.

The devotional time is usually held in our room or office.  Today, since I was still sitting in bed finishing my prayers when the boys arrived, Freddy hopped up next to me.  Then Pablo jumped up alongside of him; so why not stay there and get started!

My Christmas present to me was a Kindle. This is one of the greatest inventions known to man.  We had to give away our library before leaving the states and PT and I have missed our books.  So, the Kindle is the next best thing; maybe even better. We have the Kindle app installed on all our computers, no matter where we are, we can continue reading a book that was already in progress.  (just a little plug for Amazon's Kindle) Most all the books that are on my Kindle have been free, that's the way I shop for books.  But, I do make exceptions and occasionally purchase a book.  "Jesus Calling" was one of the exceptions and we have it in both English and Spanish.

While reading todays devotion in Spanish, Freddy's voice was changing.  I looked at him, studied him hard to see what was causing the voice change.  When he finished, I asked him "what in the reading had touched him".  He grabbed up the Kindle again, turned to the English edition and began to read the entire devotion out loud in English.  As he kept reading, his voice was getting thick and broken.  At the end he took a swipe at his eyes with the back of his hand.  Something in the devotion had really touched his heart.  

For weeks, we have been talking to the boys about the power of God within each of them. The devotion today talked about God's strength and trust.  But the thing that got to Freddy was this: "I am your Strength and Song.....Remember that I am your Song.  I want you to share My Joy, living in conscious awareness of My Presence.  Rejoice as we journey together toward heaven; join Me in singing My Song."    After reading, Freddy said to me "WOW, I am His Song".   He had twisted the wording backwards, but the Holy Spirit had very clearly sent Freddy a message that he needed to hear.  
Freddy was God's Song.  

Think of it, someone had written a devotional with a message and the Holy Spirit used the message and "tweaked" it in a way that it spoke to Freddy.  Almost like a form of dyslexia in print.

When the boys receive revelation of a spiritual truth, it makes our hearts soar.  It doesn't get any better than it did this morning.  I pray that Freddy never ever forgets that he is God's Song.