Wednesday, August 28

Life in Managua

Sometimes I get to go on wonderful adventures during my time here in Nicaragua. Here are some pictures from a trip to Costa Rica I just took with my fellow Mission Intern, Sarah Fraizer. We went to Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula and then visited Scott & Linda McAnnally in San Ramon.

However, most days I have been working in the office just like many of you all do each and everyday. Here's what my average day looks like.

7:30 am I wake up & escape from my mosquito net which snuggly surounds my bed. 

7:32 am I jump into my cold morning shower- I actually really enjoy cold showers now a days. 

7:50am Eat breakfast- for a while I was really obsessed with making smoothies each morning, because fruit is so readily available and cheap. 

8:15 am I leave the house unlocking and then locking behind me the the front door and two gates. 
I walk about a mile to get to my bus route. (If I am running late, feeling lazy or taking my computer to the office I will grab a taxi.)

I've become accustomed to taxis honking in order to try to give me rides, picking up dust on some of the pathways, men making kissing sounds and yelling out "chela!" (white girl), and passing many other people during their commute to work & school. 

8:45 am On Mondays we have morning devotionals but otherwise I greet the "vigilantes" that guard the entrance to AMC and head to my office. 

8:50 am I always greet and catch up with my co-worker Dina & supervisor Dr. Francisco when I get to the office. It is always important to greet one another properly in Nicaragua before getting to work.

9:00 am I start checking emails on my computer and working on a new team budget or logistics.

10:00 am We can turn on the air conditioning in our office. The cost of electricity is horrible here.

12:00 pm I usually immediately stop what I am doing to enjoy a yummy lunch cooked by AMC's cooks. Sometimes I bring my own lunch if Doña Chelita and Doña Maria Eugenia are not cooking or walk down the hill to a nearby gas station to purchase a sandwich.

I spend lunch sitting in the nice eating patio and chatting with other co-workers at my table. Everyone relaxes and spends about an hour chatting and resting. No one sits in the eating area if they need to talk about work.

Not often, but sometimes I join some of the guys in the office to play a quick game of ping pong. I suck compared to everyone else.

1:00pm I head back to my office and continue working.

2:30 pm Stop for a moment to listen to a joke from Dr. Francisco or he tells me about something interesting that is happening in the news/ health care in Nicaragua.

3:00 pm Time for coffee. Sidenote- I never drank coffee until living here. Now, I love it.
I learned how to pick coffee on Josimar's farm with Sarah and Jossimar. 

4:00 pm For a while, I taught English classes to a small group of students twice a week at this time. It was fun to sit on the front porch with the white board and my students- sometimes different people would pass by to observe and try to use their English as well.

4:30pm During rainy season, it begins to rain around this time almost everyday. The skies do not give you me notice, either.

5:00 pm I wrap up class and grab my things to walk down to the bus stop.

5:15 pm The bus arrives, after some waiting, to the bus stop and I hop on with a few of my co-workers.

5:20 pm I get off the bus and wait with the masses to board a new bus.

5:30 pm  I board bus 119 and squeeze towards the back door. When we arrive closer to the stop, I pretty much have to shove my way to the door in order to escape the bus on time.

5:40 pm During my walk home,  I walk in front of one of Managua's shopping malls and say "adios" to several of the guards along the way who I have befriended.

At night, I sometimes go to a dance exercise class with my friend Jessena, I cook for myself or with my roommate, read or watch a show or two on my Netflix.

After a year of living here in Managua, I can say I feel really comfortable and at home. There are other days when I get to participate in birthdays, Nicaraguan holidays, interesting workshops, etc. but for the most part I have accompanied Nicaraguans and AMC through my work in the office.

Next week I depart for the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and will live in a very rural project site. My new role will be to conduct interviews and document human impact stories. I'm sure I will also have average, everyday moments, yet they will probably be completely different than my time here in the city.

Friday, August 23

"When a Five Year-Old Tells You He is Hungry" By Cassie Zonnefeld

A couple of weeks ago we were working hard in the kitchen, preparing a nice dinner for some friends and getting ready for a seminary lunch that we were hosting at our house the next day. Kevin walked across the street to buy some dish soap and pop (you can't have people over without having pop and/or juice) when our five year-old neighbor boy Pablo (name changed for confidentiality) told Kevin that he was hungry. He asked if he could come over and climb up our mango tree to pick some mangoes that he and his family could have for supper. Kevin welcomed him over and they worked together to collect a bag of mangoes for Pablo to bring home.

I stood at the sink, washing our dishes with our newly acquired dish shop with tears in my eyes. No child should go hungry, no adult should go hungry. Here we are right in the heart of it, needs all around us, but our kitchen always seems stocked and our bellies always have more than enough.  I put together a little bag of bananas and other fruits that Pablo could bring back to his house.  And yet, I knew that we aren’t getting to the root of it.
Pablo and his family live in the corner "house" of our street. "House" doesn't really give justice to what they live in. Basically it is a room for rent system. Families who are moving into the city generally rent a room until they can find a more stable place to live. There are dirt floors, a shared bathing area and a very primitive kitchen (no fridge, no stove, firewood for cooking). They share their home with ten to twenty other people, depending on the day.

As I continued to reflect I began thinking of a birthday party that we attended back in December.  Pablo was invited to the party, but his family was not.  The party hosts were serving Arroz a la Valenciana, a special Nicaraguan dish.  Pablo had a plate in front of him, but insisted that he was not hungry.  After a while, when nobody was looking, I saw him run his plate of food over to his dad who was standing out in the street.  It seemed like they had a mutual understanding of what needed to happen.  A couple hours later, when we left with a plate of warm leftovers, Pablo was standing outside.  I offered him what I had and he gladly took it.  I hope that it filled his tummy that evening.

When Kevin and I discussed the situation after he and Pablo picked mangoes, he reminded me not to feel guilty, but to act, to remember why we are here, to share and love those around us.  There are people hungry and hurting in all of the corners of this earth, and though you most likely do not have a mango tree growing in your front yard, I am sure that you can find a way to offer your blessings and gifts to those around you.

Cassie Zonnefeld is a fellow missionary working here in Nicaragua with the Mennonite Christian Committee. She and her husband Kevin teach at a local seminary and Cassie also works with AMC, too. Check out their blog.