Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

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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