Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Nicaragua FAQs

4th January 2009

Why Nicaragua?
That’s a long story.  Back in 1999, I (Kristine) came to Nicaragua with Mercy Ships to do relief work after Hurricane Mitch devastated the area.  There had been a huge mudslide on the side of the volcano Casitas that wiped out many villages, killed more than 1,000, and left thousands more homeless.  It was a life-changing experience for me, and I left after 5 months determined to come back and work here long-term.  In Sept. 2001, I returned to work with Mercy Ships  again.  This time, I worked as an admin asst for our team, discipled a group of young girls, taught English, developed a community health education course that I taught, among many other things.  We worked extensively with a group of “refugees” from the coffee crisis (when the coffee prices worldwide plummeted, many workers in the coffee plantations worked and worked for the promise of pay but never received it) who had settled on a piece of land the government had promised them called La Palmerita.  They were in desperate, miserable circumstances when we found them.  It was a long, hard process to help them go from stick coverings to plastic houses, and to get them basic things like food, water, and sanitation.  Brian came to visit me several times while we were dating, and he grew to love Nicaragua as much as I.  I loved my time in Nicaragua, and when I left in 2003 to get married, both Brian and I looked forward to when we could come back.

Where is it and what is it like?
Nicaragua is in Central America, actually due south of Alabama, between Costa Rica and Hondruas.  It’s “summer” here, which means its the dry season.  It won’t rain more than a few sparse showers for several months.  It’s hot, dry and dusty.  The landscape is dramatic, though, with a line of 9 volcanos stretching the length of the country.

Volcanos?!?  Are they active?  Aren’t you worried they will erupt?
Yes, they are actually mostly active, and you can see clouds of smoke/steam above many of them.  I’m not too worried that they’ll erupt because none did during the 2 years I was here.  If any do erupt, it would most likely be ash and smoke, and it’s more of a nuisance than a danger.

Where are you staying and what will it be like?
Our hotel, the Hotel San Juan de Leon is very comfortable.  Brian and I have one room with Josiah in a portable crib we borrowed from the Longleys.  Analise and Abigail are sharing another room.  We’ve both got a bathroom with hot water (though in the heat here, hot showers aren’t a necessity).  Interestingly, the water is heated in the shower head.  Another odd note, you can throw toilet paper in the toilet here because it could clog the systems.  It took a couple times to the bathroom to remember that!

We’ve got air conditioners (well, we do now… we just switched rooms yesterday because ours hadn’t been working) and industrial strength fans that keep us pretty cool.  There’s internet in our hotel (though there wasn’t the first couple days, and the wireless isn’t working much to our frustration.  This, though, is not surprising in Nicaragua.)

We get a nice simple breakfast of fresh fruit (watermelon, papaya, pineapple and banana), fresh juice, toast with butter and jam, coffee and milk.  Then we’re on our own for lunch.  We’ve just found a great little cafeteria with delicous Nicaragua food for about $2 a plate that will be our frequent choice.  There are other options, including Tip-Top, a fast-food chicken place, that the kids and I will do today for lunch.  There’s also a well-stocked grocery store nearby, and we can use the kitchen here, if we need to.

The streets are busy, the sidewalks are narrow and crowded with little stands selling all variety of things.  Bikes, mopeds, trucks and taxis go cruising by and fly around the corners, so you’ve got to be alert.  We’re walking nearly everywhere here in town, and we’ve learned how to navigate our little stroller over the potholes in the sidewalk, up and down the steep curbs and over the cobble stones.  If we need to take a taxi, it’s 75cents each person here in town, so that’s an easy, cheap option if we need it.

What will you be doing there?
Well, when we conceived this trip, we had lots of things we wanted to do and be a part of. But as we progressed with the planning, we really just felt God leading us to lay down our expectations and come to be used in whatever way He wanted to use us.  We’ve got to be especially flexible since we’ve got the kids with us.  We want to visit old friends, see the work of Nuevas Esperanzas, just be open to whatever might come together for us to do.  Brian’s already helping out with computers, we’re going to be visiting a well-child clinic with friends of ours who work for Food for the Hungry International, and the kids and I are looking forward to visiting Anna and Emily Longley’s preschool this next week.  It can be a little tricky to find people here, so I’m praying God would really direct our connections this next week.

Why are you taking the kids?
Honestly, we never even considered NOT taking the kids.  They are a part of who we are.  We want missions and God’s great big world to be something our kids grow up knowing firsthand.  Yes, they are young, and I’m not sure how much they’ll remember, but it is an experience we wanted them to be a part of.  Now that we’re here, it is hard at times.  Whatever the challenges of dealing with kids in your own comfortable surroundings, they are multiplied in the heat, dust, crowds, foreign language, bumpy roads, small hotel rooms, etc.  They have done really well, though, and it’s so fun to share this place with them.  Analise is learning little bits of functional spanish, and Josiah is so cute pointing things out.  “Wook!  A Mic-a-wog-wa dump truck!”  (A Nicaragua dump truck)

One Response to “Nicaragua FAQs”

  1. Sandy Says:

    Good answers to several questions 🙂

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