Moving

In more ways than one, we’ve been moving this month.

First literally, in Spanish, mudar rather than mover.  We found our hotel becoming more and more inappropriate, and moved to a different one, the truly beautiful Las Miradas, in Juigalpa. In keeping with our apparent policy to constantly downsize, we now have only one room and are without a kitchen. But we still have our table, microwave, refrigerator, and a hot plate, so we can eat well.  We wash dishes in the hotel laundry room and feast our souls on the amazingly beautiful view.

Outside our room, the veranda looks east over farmland and then a national reserve. Here, the clouds are a little lower than the mountain tops, but in the morning, they are below the veranda and look like waves of the sea below us.

Outside our room, the veranda looks east over cattle land and then a national reserve. Here, the clouds are a little lower than the mountain tops, but in the morning, they are below the veranda and look like waves of the sea below us.

Moving was a third world experience.  We piled our food, dishes, and computer equipment into our car, and hired a man with a pickup to move the refrigerator, shelves, suitcases and other big things across town. As he was pulling out of our hotel, we spotted his very flat tire.  He didn’t have a wrench or jack, so Frank unpacked the back of our car to get ours.  He also lacked a spare tire or the means to buy another one, and we were on the point of taking him into a shop to get a repair when his friend happened along with a tire to loan him.  With an extra contribution to pay for the tire, we got moved to our new room by 1pm, with three hours to unpack and set up before we had to be at church to start piano lessons.

A man rich enough to have a battered old truck still has to buy gas, tires, and food. He asked for about 15 dollars to load and unload and move our things.

Though we were a bit distressed to be delayed and  have our belongings sitting by the side of the road in a battered old truck, our mover took it all in stride and  had us safely delivered to our new apartment in a couple of hours.

Now mover: The next morning we were moving before 4am, because we had to pack up for a weekend and make the three hour drive to Managua by 7:15 am for a mission conference. This time we feasted on the word for the day, with inspiring discourses and workshops until nearly 6pm.  Then we made a fast trip to a hotel across from the airport and rented an extra car for a whirlwind three days with visitors from the US!

My brother Bill from Texas and my sister Nancy and her family from Virginia decided to take advantage of a long weekend to see what we were up to being way from home for two years.  (This is where we admit that senior missionaries don’t have the same rules and restrictions as the young missionaries do.)

We spent one day doing all the touristy things we never have time to do, beginning with a drive back to Granada, where we spent our first year in the country.  The sleepy, but still steaming volcano, Mount Mombacho boasts a rattletrap old truck up to the peak, with views of the lake and city below, and a state of the art zip line canopy tour with a dozen platforms and the opportunity to fly like superman or hang upside down.  With limited time and two teenaged boys on holiday, you can guess which one we did.

Here we are suited up for the zip line. (It was the first time I've worn pants in nearly a year.)

Here we are suited up for the zip line. (It was the first time I’ve worn pants in nearly a year.)

Never let it be said we don't know how to show our guests a good time. Here is Nancy, looking a bit crazy. I confess, I stayed head up.

Never let it be said we don’t know how to show our guests a good time. Here is Nancy, looking a bit crazy. I confess, I stayed head up.

We took an hour to walk through the Mercado in Granada and visit some of our old friends, and then we headed to Laguna Apoyo, a crater lake in an extinct volcano, where we had rooms for the night.  We had lunch overlooking another fantastic view, then took a quick swim in the lagoon from the beach at the aptly named Hostel Paradiso.

lunch at Laguna Apoyo

By 4:30, we were ready for the night volcano tour at Volcan Masaya, about 10 miles away. Everyone agreed that this was the best ten dollars we ever spent, with a great guide, views into the sulfurous crater, night lights of all the surrounding villages, bats fluttering out of the caves, and then the flaring lava visible below only at night.

Nephew Mark in front of the steaming, sulfurous crater of Msaya

Nephew Mark in front of the steaming, sulfurous crater of Msaya

Morning found us back on the road headed for our usual Saturday morning appointment teaching piano lessons in Boaco, and then on to Juigalpa, where we involved our visitors in our lessons and a Saturday night priesthood preview program.  My nephew, Christopher, who speaks great Spanish, spoke about his experiences in his young men’s quorum, and Bill and Nancy both contributed testimonies.

Sixteen year-old Christopher talked about the brotherhood and love among the young men in his quorum, including three blind brother who have helped everyone to become more caring and supportive.

Sixteen year-old Christopher talked about the brotherhood and love among the young men in his quorum, including three blind brothers, who have helped everyone to become more caring and supportive.

The members here were amazed to see our relatives, engaged in the gospel as we are, and raising fine young men ready to bear testimony even in a foreign country.

Nancy, Ellen, and Bill, three of the Benac bunch

Nancy, Ellen, and Bill, three of the Benac bunch

For us, it was an opportunity to see our work from the perspective of our guests, who felt the love, energy, and potential for growth in the people they met.  They encouraged our relationships and efforts to train and build the future leaders of the Church here, and we were happy to show off our piano students playing the piano in church and the leaders implementing strategies we have taught them.

Sunday morning we all went to church together.  Nancy delivered a package from our daughter-in-law Lala.  She and the twins had made 40 colorful tote bags for the primary children, so they can carry their scriptures to church. We presented the first of the bags to the children of the Pueblo Nuevo Branch.

The first branch loved their scripture bags!

The first branch loved their scripture bags!

Sunday night we all headed back to the hotel in Managua so our family could catch a morning plane back to the US. We thank them for taking the time and expense to come visit us and help us look up from the bumpy roads to see the beauty and potential of this tropical paradise–and to pause in our work to just enjoy the wonderful friends we have made here. We are grateful for the support we receive from all of our family and friends–from the bags from Lala to all of your notes and prayers for us and for the people of this beautiful country.

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