Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nicaragua Part III - Keeps Gettin' Better!

I have SO much to write about and I'm not sure where to begin.  Let's just begin by saying that Nicaragua has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life - no exaggeration.  It's incredible how in one week you can take in so much, learn so much about yourself and others, and reevaluate goals and your heart.  I'm consistently impressed by the actions of others and all that they do to become better people - to help serve and love others around them.  It could be something small, like getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning everyday to make tortillas for your family.  It could be getting a soda for the bus driver because we're so thankful for all he's done for us.  It could be the hug an old man gives each individual who attended his lecture in hopes to change their hearts and refocus their minds on service... It's all of the things and so many more that I have seen this week, which have changed my life in one way or another.  I feel revitalized and rejuvenated.  I feel more on track and driven... I already feel more joy.

Now, the specifics...

After hitting up a GORGEOUS, new hotel in Matagalpa, we spent the morning looking at the gardens and eating a nice breakfast with some amazing fried plantains.  I'm positive those are my favorite things in the world right now... They're half good for you and half terrible for you, but I love them regardless.  Anyway, we had a bunch of mini-photo shoots around the hotel, in the gardens, and overlooking the mountains surrounding the city, then hopped on the bus and headed for the hills.

We headed to a small co-op in La Reyna (in San Ramon) where they live a modified version of the law of consecration (everyone gets what they need and has nothing set as theirs specifically) as they harvest and prep coffee to be sold.  It was SUCH a cool place to visit.  We had the opportunity to pick some of the coffee "pods," which I had no idea previously were bright red and hid the coffee bean (originally white) inside, and stay with local families.

We visited the school there first and saw how the teachers and students have no technology and do everything by hand, but seem to have a lot in common material-wise as to what they are learning.  It was fascinating to me in many ways... They had two students do traditional dancing for us and then turned to us and said, "You're turn!"  Haha!  We had NO idea and had prepared nothing, so everyone turned to me and said, "Sing for them or dance!"  I guess I am the performer... but awkward!

Fun fact #837 - I HATE being put on the spot to perform.  It's not cause I don't like to perform (I love it!), or because I'm unprepared.  I can typically whip something out quickly, but I feel really awkward because it feels like showing off to me... and my brain just freezes.

Anyway, I had everyone join me in singing Jingle Bells for them and then Camille, Leigh, and I got up to do the "Boot-Scootin'-Boogie" for everyone!  Haha... It was simple, but they thought it was fun and it was cultural - esp. in Utah and the surrounding UT states.  We talked with teachers about the challenges they face and opportunities they've been given, as well as the training they have received and their style of teaching.  It was amazing how teachers are starting to become more progressive and lining up in our style and catering to the learner and exploring different ways to assess or teach information.  I love that...

Sidenote:  I was making faces at one of the little boys and one of the teachers caught me and we started laughing pretty hard... no one knew why at first and it was a good moment. :)

After the visit to the school we headed down to the little "village center" (a little covered hangout) to eat lunch and chill out for a bit.  One of the little boys was there and we played tag for about 45 minutes eventually ending in high-fives and hugs... very adorable. I have four different people ask me, "Why aren't you teaching elementary again?!"  Haha - What can I say?  I adore my teenagers. Truth is - I like the application level of thinking and the deeper level of learning the "why" behind something.  The initial light-bulb turning on is cool, but it's going beyond that which really fascinates me.

Lunch was incredible and authentic - amazing meat/veggie mix, rice, tortillas, veggies, and orange juice - and afterward we were ready to put on stomach baskets and head out to pick some coffee beans.  I had a slightly, unfortunate accident stepping in a HUGE puddle of foot deep mud and completely running my sneakers, but otherwise it was an amazing experience.  Haha!  And that crappy moment didn't slow me down - I went on to pick coffee and learn the ins-and-outs of the process with a smile on my face.  The sneakers I brought had holes and were already going to be left behind in Nicaragua, but it was good to leave them in the mountains rather than the city because they'll probably be used.  I washed them off and gave them to a leader of the co-op.

After picking the beans, we took them to the plant processing building to watch how they're shucked, washed, dried, and prepared to send to a sellers plant.  What's really cool is that the beans producing something called "honey water," which can be used to make methane gas!  Meaning, homes in the co-op now have a source of electricity.  How amazing is that?!  I think these people are just so inventive, intuitive, and hard-working to create new things.  It's pretty amazing to see...

We split up shortly after with our host-families and headed to their homes.  We had a great time visiting with the 21 year-old son about his religious views (he brought it up again and again), and loved how in-sync our ideas and values were in reality.  I think he was coming into the situation looking for an argument to defend his faith and was slightly shocked when we agreed with all his points.  We do need repentance and the Savior in our lives.  We do know the second coming is just around the bend, and the natural disasters testify to that point.  We do know that faith is not enough, but that they must use works to reach salvation to it's fullest end.  We agreed on every point... Haha!  It was kind of cool to see our religions inter-weaving.

The mama of the family made us a great dinner of fresh eggs (some of the best I've ever eaten), rice and bean mix, and thin, fried plantains (my favorite thing I've eaten so far), but they didn't eat with us... It's a respect thing, but it was a bit bizarre to me.  They gave us the best of what they had and then ate in the other room - what they ate, I don't know.  We were left to visit for about an hour as we ate and then the 11 year old came in to chat with us for about an hour.  I got a bit brave and tried to use more Spanish, and though it was pretty bad, I realized I know more than I thought I did.  I should be willing to try using languages more... it's how you really learn them.  I kept talking in Germish - half German, half Spanish.  Haha!  It's just natural to go to the language you know that's foreign outside of English.  I would say, "Yo es viente sieben.... viente siete!"  or "Yo liebe... Mi gusta..."  Haha!  It's funny how that works, but those who visited with me were super patient.

We got ready for bed, climbed under our mosquito nets and sleep-sacks, and chatted for a bit before I dozed off rather quickly....

That was day #3 - get ready for day #4 (plus pictures) tomorrow! :)

Song of the Day: I'm lovin' on this song right now and since it's December 1st, I felt a Christmas song was completely appropriate. Thus, here is Dave Barnes with "Family Tree."  Enjoy!

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