So, we’ve been in Nicaragua for almost five months and a few things have become clear:
1. We probably will never be fluent in Spanish.
I’ve met a few Americans who speak Spanish incredibly well, and they say that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. For example, here’s our friend Arlen. She’s 27 and has been working as the accountant at camp since she graduated from college. She speaks so quickly that even some other Nicaraguans have a hard time understanding her… and I can pick up what she’s talking about most of the time! I’ll start to feel confident about my Spanish and then she talks even faster. That’s when I realize, with dismay, that she’d actually been slowing down for me. We may never be fluent, but our new goal is to catch everything Arlen says to us 90% of the time. We hope 4 years will be enough to get us there.
2. We accidentally have the best neighbors in the world.
We were very lucky to find a house that came with the benefit of incredible neighbors. This family is completely supported by the grandma, Mercedes (next to me in the picture below). She’s in her early 60’s and provides for her daughter, sons, and grandchildren. We often get to talk and watch the sunset and Mercedes and her daughter, Yusette (next to Kevin), never let us leave without a plate of food. They’ve helped us shop for vegetables, explained cultural differences when we’re confused at work, and mourned with us when Arlo, our puppy, suddenly died of a birth defect we didn’t know about.
Mercedes recently got diagnosed with breast cancer, and now it’s our turn to care for them. We’re trying to ease her burden of caring for so many people by hosting more dinners at our house, and we’re going to get to spend extra time with her while we drive to her chemotherapy together. We’re really heartbroken by how hard this has been for the family, and we hope that we can help support them as they walk through this.
3. A good support system might be the most important thing.
I get to help with the Developing Global Leaders program and in April we had a retreat. This program is for Young Life leaders who are very committed to the ministry and also have a lot of potential in their future careers. The nominated teens receive a scholarship to go to college, a stipend so that they don’t have to work a job as they study, and leadership training. I think the biggest difference maker in this program is the support these kids get as they enter into adulthood. The retreat in April was such a rare opportunity to see these kids just spending quality time together without any extra responsibility. They learned about goal setting and planning for the future from the leaders of the ministry. It was really fun to get to hear about their goals and help them plan out their next few years. The girls in this picture are working toward being businesswomen, psychologists, and social workers, and are part of a support system dedicated to helping them get there!