Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Nicaragua video collage

12th June 2011

This post has a bunch of videos, so if you are reading this on facebook you will need to view the post on our blog in order to see the videos. Here is the link:

Here is a collage of videos from our trip … enjoy! But before you watch our videos, you should watch the first video below which explains the work of Nuevas Esperanzas in the community of El Ojochal.

Here are all of our videos with descriptions ABOVE each video:

This is a video of a short segment of the road to the El Ojochal community. The road is extremely rugged, but the Toyota Landcruiser is able to make it up and bring supplies for building rainwater harvesting tanks and other projects.

Andrew explains the view that we are seeing around Volcan Telica. The communities of Agua Fria and El Ojochal are high up on the volcano. Agua Fria was temporarily evacuated after the recent eruption. Hopefully it has settled down, but there is no evidence that the magma activity has subsided.

A gecko grabs a moth off the wall right outside our room. These geckos make a sweeting kissing sound when they are calling to each other. They are lightning fast and catch all kinds of insects – if only they ate mosquitoes!

Andrew explains some of the views from our vantage point on a hillside summit overlooking the crater of Volcan Telica.

A member of the El Ojochal community explains some of the challenges with the reforestation project.

Horseback riding from the lower part of El Ojochal to the very top. The road built by Nuevas Esperanzas stops at the school, which is the central part of the community. To get to the highest houses, you have to hike or take a horse. We chose to take a horseback ride up the steep mountain.

Members of Nuevas Esperanzas see one of the bee hives up close. Amazing that team member Erica (in the white shirt) didn’t even have gloves on!

Enrique from the Nuevas Esperanzas team explains to us the gardening project.

El Ojochal preschool (3-5 yr olds) kids welcome us with a short song.

More video of the drive up to El Ojochal on the road built by Nuevas Esperanzas.

A collage of videos from the arsenic project in the communities of Nuevas Amanecer and La Union.

Video of the school in the community of Nueva Amanecer – plus view of the El Ojochal hillside.

Riding in the back of the truck to Nueva Amanecer and La Union.

Anna plays a very large game of hopskotch after church.

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Nicaragua good-bye for now!

9th June 2011

If you had told me last week how much we would accomplish in our short visit to Nicaragua, I would not have believed you! What an amazing visit this has been seeing this beautiful country, seeing the impact of Nuevas Esperanzas on the communities of El Ojochal through the effective long-term development strategies being implemented in projects as diverse as rainwater harvesting and beekeeping. Yesterday was a special opportunity to worship alongside most of the entire Nuevas Esperanzas team during Friday tea (moved to Wednesday to accomodate our tight timeframe). With Leo on the guitar, Andrew on the trumpet, and Emma on the flute it was a special time of reflection thinking of what we are thankful for and for what we would petition God for Nuevas Esperanzas.

Before the photos, some maps of where we went on Monday and Tuesday … on Monday, we spent the day in the communities of La Union and Nueva Amanecer

Tuesday was our day full of hiking, horse-back riding up a steep volcano hillside, beekeeping, and meeting people from the community of El Ojochal.

Only a few more pictures to post from our day full of meetings and reflection yesterday including a very early bike ride to the beach. I’ll be posting several videos over the weekend.

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Nicaragua Day 5

8th June 2011

What an amazing day today was at El Ojochal del Liston on the side of the Volcan Telica here in Nicaragua. We saw firsthand all of the project work that Nuevas Esperanzas has been doing in the community – road building, rainwater harvesting, gardening, beekeeping, and reforestation. It was quite the adventure as told by all the captions in the pictures below!

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Day 4 pictures

7th June 2011

Yesterday, we had a great day visiting two communities at the base of Volcan Telica. Then we came back to the main offices of Nuevas Esperanzas and had a couple meetings reflecting on how the organization has gotten to where it is today and how everything fits into the strategic plan for the future. A common theme was how it is easy to see the hand/guidance of God throughout the entire process.

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Day 3 – more pics

5th June 2011

Great day today here in Nicaragua. I started out with a 45 mile bike ride, spent the morning catching up with board members who arrived late last night, and spent the early afternoon working with Leo on our Joomla vs. WordPress decision. Then at 5pm, we headed over to La Iglesia San Sebastian for mass where Andrew and Emma were playing in the worship band. The whole experience was surreal as we worshipped in Spanish in a church rebuilt on the grounds of a church that was bombed during the Sandanista revolution in the 70s. Afterwards, everybody from the board gathered at Luke and Stephanie’s house for a cookout and an excellent time of relaxing and reconnecting.

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Pictures on the way down to Nicaragua

4th June 2011

After an awesome night’s sleep, we spent a leisurely morning with Jane and Andrew followed by a working afternoon exploring the website framework options for Nuevas Esperanzas — Joomla or WordPress. Both of have great features, but which will be better in the long term? Hoping to have that question answered in the next couple days! Also, Luke and I went to the market and bought a bike. Hoping to ride out (and possibly partway up) a volcano (Casitas) in the morning.

Great flight on the way down to Nicaragua – flew over lots of really cool places – downtown Nashville, Sand Mountain/Lookout Mountain southwest of Chattanooga near Mentone, Stone Mountain in Atlanta, a nuclear power plant (I think), Cape Canaveral, West Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Miami, the Florida Keys, Cuba, and finally directly into Nicaragua (at night in thunderstorm). Here are the pics!

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25th January 2009

From my last post… Jane and I (mostly Jane!) made these beautiful silhouettes from a tutorial here.  Not a great picture, but I think they turned out lovely.  They are missing the “E” (on the left) and the “A” (on the right), because she’s waiting for me to send gold paint…  I’ve got everything to do a set of my two kiddos, as well, and now I’m motivated to get at it!

Silhouettes of Jane's little girls

Silhouettes of Jane's little girls

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Nicaragua Reflections

22nd January 2009

**Ok, I started this blog nearly a week ago, and it’s getting longer and longer, so I’m thinking I should post now and add more as I get more thoughts together.  So for those of you who are still checking our blog… enjoy!**

I’ve had more than a week now to get caught up (not that I’ll ever be!) and process my thoughts (still thinking!).  Because my amazing hubby did such a fantastic job posting pictures during our trip, it’s the least I can do to chime in with my thoughts about all things related to Nicaragua.  Warning… they are a jumbled lot!  I’ll try to bring some order, though, through my editing.

“How was your trip?” I love hearing this question.  It brings a huge smile to my face to have people remember what we were doing and want to know how it was.   And my first answer is, “Amazing.”  It was an amazing trip.  It was overwhelming and scary to have God lay it on our heart to make this trip happen at a time when finances were very tight for our family.  It was humbling to see Him provide through our friends and family in the middle of the Christmas season and financial uncertainty.  It was awesome to take my family and Abigail back to the country and people who are so dear to my heart.  It was awesome to see how God has continued His amazing work that I had the privilege of being a part of nearly 6 years ago.    It was an adventure to see Nicaragua through the eyes of Analise, Josiah and Abigail.

“Glad to be home?” It’s wonderful to be seeing everyone back here in Alabama, and quite often, this is one of the first things people say.  Yes, I am glad to be back in my home, in my own space, letting the kids entertain themselves and make as much noise as they want (both things we struggled with in our small hotel room with two very busybody kids!).  But in all honesty, I’m not 100% happy to be home.  I love Nicaragua… I love the culture and the language.  I love the people.  I’ve become very accustomed to the way of life there, so the weak tepid showers don’t bother me.  The heat wears me out, but it’s part of life.  I do like my air conditioning, but I can manage without it.  I love the work I’ve been involved in there, and if God were to call us back there to call it “home”, we’d follow Him without question.  But for now, our place is here in Alabama, and we’re challenged to keep His work there at the forefront of our hearts and minds from a distance.

Mom Fellowship One of my favorite parts of our time in Nicaragua was visiting with my friend, Jane.  We keep in close touch over email, and with 2 little ones at similar ages, we joke about our “parallel mom worlds”.  She has a different setting, but we face similar issues with potty-training, tantrums, and picky eaters.  We both enjoyed seeing our little ones together, and we had lots of time to talk about all kinds of mom things.  We even had 2 fun evenings after the kids were in bed for crafting.  One evening we made hairbows… I think we made 14 of them!  Another evening, we made beautiful silhouettes of Jane’s girls (pictures to come!).   It was fun sharing daily life in Nicaragua and getting a glimpse of what her side of the “parallel mom world” looks like.  I have new prayers for her… from 7:50 to 8:15am as the three of them navigate the 4 blocks of crazy streets, dangerous sidewalks, and crowded corners on their way to preschool; again at lunchtime as they go home; nightly bathtime (we can slide by every couple days here, but you get dusty and dirty EVERY day in Nicaragua); early morning wakeups from random fireworks and churchbells.  And on top of raising two beautiful girls in a different culture and language (which they are learning SUPER fast!), she plays a huge part in supporting Andrew’s direction of the work of Nuevas Esperanzas and managing the accounting.  Whew!  She – and my other mom friends on the frontlines of missions work – are SuperMoms, in my eyes!

Las Discipulas Bellas When I first arrived in Nicaragua in September 2001, one of the first things I was asked to help with was a Bible Study for teenage girls.  I was very hesitant.  I felt like I didn’t really know how to connect with that age, let alone in my second language!  But I started meeting with these girls every Saturday morning.  Our group grew larger and larger, and our topics got deeper and more practical for their lives.  And my Spanish got better and better 🙂  I called them my “Discipulas Bellas”, my beautiful disciples.  They grew in grace and stature with God, and week after week I was blessed to be a part of their lives.

Saying goodbye in March of 2003 was one of the hardest parts of leaving.  I wasn’t sure who would continue to meet with them.  What would happen to them?  But my dear friend Claudia took over for a long time, continuing pouring into their lives.  And then a young woman I met in California after Brian and I were married, Michelle, decided to go to Nicaragua for several months.  She stepped in as Claudia left, and she grew to love the girls as I had.  I gave her photos of our wedding and our new little baby girl to share with the girls.  When she came back to the US, I again wondered what would happen to them.  But God continued His good work… Through Michele, I heard of another young woman from another ministry who had stepped in to continue the discipleship.  Though she has since gone, someone else has continued the weekly Bible study, though at this point, it’s with almost a completely different group of girls..

It’s been nearly 6 years since I said goodbye to my Beautiful Disciples, and one thing I looked forward to most was reuniting with them.  I went back to their village wondering if I would find any of them.  After lots of knocking and asking, we came to the right house, and the reunion was tearful and sweet.  Marjorie is nearly 22, and she will be finishing her university degree in psychology this year.  What an accomplishment from a family who’s lives were devastated in the mudslides of Hurricane Mitch 10 years ago!   She has even gone on a mission trip to Honduras with her church!  Her sister, Kenia, is starting at the university next month.  Yubelka is in her last year of secondary school.  They have grown into beautiful young women.  It’s amazing and humbling… such a testimony to God’s faithfulness.  And a poignant much-needed reminder that it is not US who works, but God who works through us.  Our efforts, no matter how large or small, are in His all-powerful hands.  Seeing these grown-up girls was like a glimpse of heaven for me.

(to be continued as I continue processing…)

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The best of the rest

13th January 2009

Here is a gallery of pictures that I missed in going through the photos in earlier postings … we took 935 photos and videos on the trip so you can see how easy it is to miss a few good ones!!!

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Pictures from the trip home

13th January 2009

We are home and settling in – I am already busy with a number of work projects – the kids are already busy playing with as many different toys that they can find – I’ve resized and edited a number of pictures from our trip home and posted them in a gallery below with captions. Later today or tomorrow, I will make one last picture post with some of the best pictures from our trip that I somehow missed in earlier posts!

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