Tuesday, December 31

Celebrating the New Year & 1.5 Years in Nicaragua

Today I officially have one month left in Nicaragua. I can't believe how fast the time has flown by & yet I remember moments when time went slowly. I am very thankful and blessed for the year that has passed. I have been challenged in new and hard ways this year. I have experienced God's presence in many different forms. I have fallen in love with Nicaragua. 

In celebration of 2014 & the final month of my time in Nicaragua, I want to share with you a list of things I love, things that have been challenging, things that I have learned, and the best memories of the year. 
Celebrating Christmas with Dra. Belinda & family. 
I traveled with Dr. Francisco & Dra. Alicia to Matagalpa for a few days after Christmas. 

Things I Love

  • Nica Food- gallo pinto, queso, tortillas, Indio viejo, pescado… I really do love me some Nica food & as I am closing my time in Nicaragua I’m desperately trying to write down as many reciepes as Ican.
  • Public Transportation- You can travel pretty much anywhere in Nicaragua using public transportation, even if some areas take more than a day. I know I will have days when I’m back in the States where I will miss feeling like a sardine on a bus or crusing in a panga down the river. 
  • The People- The most difficult part of leaving Nicaragua will be to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I have met. Nicaragua is filled with heart-felt people who have big faiths and strong spirits. I become overwhelmed when I think of how much I’ve been blessed by others here, even if I met someone for only a brief period of time. I will leave Nica with people in my prayers and a few Skype names or cell numbers written down.
  • The Language- I could probably include learning Spanish under challenges as well, but I also absolutely love speaking Spanish and despite the struggle I feel honored that I can speak Spanish at a fairly decent level.
  • Diversity- Many people do not realize, including many Nicaraguans who live on the Pacific Coast, that Nicaragua is a quite diverse country. Where over 4 languages are spoken and a range ofethnicities graces the country. From Mestizo to Creole to indigenous populations such as the Miskito and Rama, Nicaragua is full of many different cultures and people.
  • Natural Beauty- Nicaragua is home to many volcanoes, lakes, beaches, rivers, rainforests, lagoons, islands, canyons and many interesting insects and animals. Even in the capital city of Managua, you can come around a corner and catch gorgeous views of the lake and volcanoes that surrond the city.
  • Time- People who are not from Nicaragua or Central America might say that Nicaraguans do not make good use of their time, but for me I think they cherish time and use it in a valuable way. Families and friends know how to just sit and be with each other, people take long daily lunches and plenty of holidays which I see as good self-care.
  • AMC family-  I use the word family, because that is what many people who with AMC are to me now; family. They have allowed me to be apart of the AMC ministry and continue teaching me new things everyday.
  • AMC work- Acción Médica Cristiana is a rockin’ organization and I’ve gotten to visit almost all of our project sites and see the ground work of the NGO. AMC works with empowering youth, sexual and reproductive education, agricultural promotion and intelligence, women’s rights, basic health education, violence prevention, community pharmacies, radio programs, renovating schools, educating & supporting teachers, and so much more based on Christian faith. AMC is fighting/improving for justice issues that no one else wants to even talk about.  I pray that I can continue to do a good job at promoting and helping others realize the importance of AMC in the lives of so many Nicaraguans.

Things that Have Been Challenging:
  • witnessing unjust living conditions/opportunities
  • machista society
  • learning Spanish
  • being far from family and friends
  • wresting with my own culture & background
Things I have Learned:
  • to live more simply
  • about the diverisity that exists in Nicaragua
  • I lived in a bubble before
  • how to sit and do nothing with people you love & be content
  • the face of God may be different in each culture but God is definitely present throughout the world

Best Memories of the Year:
  • making my first friends at Spanish school
  • The river trip down the Rio Coco. The first time I learned about the Miskito culture and witnessed how different life on the river can be.
  • dancing & singing karaoke
  • my Nephew turned 2
  • teaching English clasess
  • saying goodbye to my fellow Mission Interns who left in February. It was nice to have fellow volunteers to share experiences & bestow their Nica wisdom on me. 
  • Fishing with Dr. Francisco
  • working with my first volunteer team (Medical Teams International) alongside wonderful translators & the awesome Matagalpa team
  • lunch times at the AMC central office - enjoying a long lunch with great company
  • trying to surf
  • the arrival of another Mission Intern, Sarah Fraizer, to Nicaragua and working alongside her at different times
  • my brother graduating from college & moving to California to work as an engineer
  • meals at Dr. Gerardo & Belinda's house
  • the struggles & successes of learning Spanish
  • celebrating my parents 120th birthday from a distance
  • working with an enormous dental team (Smiles for Everyone) and ending the week with lots of clean teeth and filled cavities
  • celebrating the engagement of several friends- from a distance
  • witnessing God's presence within other people, Nicaragua's beautiful landscapes, and within impoverished areas I have visited
  • the friendships that have grown
  • conducting over 40 interviews and listening to the beautiful , yet challenging stories of many Nicaraguans
  • visiting almost all of AMC's project sites in the RAAN & RAAS
  • celebrating my 2nd Christmas in Nicaragua

God bless! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 16


Before heading back to Managua, Sarita, the nanny who works with my co-workers from AMC in Kukra River invited me to eat lunch and visit her family at her house in Bluefields. 

It was a sacred afternoon- eating yummy chicken, fried plantains  and rice. Don't forget the CoCa.

I spent a month living with Sarita in Kukra River and she always talked about her family and her beautiful house.

It was such an honor to spend the afternoon chatting and munching on some delicious food.

I also concluded my time in Bluefields by spending the night at Berja's house with the two Norwegian volunteers and our friend Kesly. Berja and the Norwegians are involved in an exchange program called Communication for Change through the Norwegian Church. AMC helps support and provide experiences for these young people. Anna and Andreas just finished their 3 months in Nicaragua and Berja will leave for Norway on Jan. 1.

I flew back to Managua with the Norwegians and Belinda picked us up in the AMC "ambulance".  Belinda is the long-term United Methodist missionary who has worked for AMC for over 20 years. 

Sarah, the other Mission Intern was also traveling back to Managua on the same day, so she also joined us on the trip back from the airport.

The day after we arrived back to Managua, AMC held the annual Christmas party. It was extra pretty this year because the party was arranged outside instead of the cramped auditorium. 

Dra. Teresa Bobadilla is the big boss lady for AMC. She is the Director for the entire organization and a wonderful person to know. 
A few AMC workers had prepared a few Christmas Hymns to share at the party. 
Then, we played our secret santa game and each person had to give the audience clues as to who was their secret santas. 

Sarah left for the States on Saturday after serving in Nicaragua for 10 months. Also, the two Norwegians  left today. I will be in Nicaragua for about one month and a half longer. As I am facing this transitioning time and as we approach Christmas time, I really miss my family; however, I also feel overwhelmingly grateful. I will have over a month to reflect on my time here, remember the inspiring people I have met, cope with the challenges I have seen, and praise God for baby Jesus. 

I hope you all find joy and peace in this holiday season. 

With love, Whitney

Sunday, December 8

Hey, Ya'll! I'm doing well and still know how to speak Texan. The past 9 days Nicaraguan Catholics prepared for and then yesterday celebrated the immaculate conception of Mary. AMC in Kukra River hosted one of the novenas at our office to celebrate the holiday. On Friday, I traveled back to Bluefields from Kukra River and on Tuesday I will fly back to Managua for my last month and a half in Nicaragua. Also, my hometown in North Texas is living in a iceland for a few days now- It's been in the 20s.

I will have a longer update soon. 

Thanks for your support and prayers for Nicaragua!

God bless!