Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cupcakes, Parasites, and Sunshine

Warning: If you're squeamish or say "TMI" a lot, you may not want to read this post.

It's been a crazy month with lots of good and not so-good things. As you guys know, my grandmother unexpectedly died a month ago. A week later I left for Nicaragua for two weeks. While I was in Nicaragua, I was sick for three days with diarrhea, and my grandfather (the widow) was admitted to the hospital and ultimately placed in cardiac ICU. When I returned from Nicaragua I tried working for two days, accomplishing little with constant calls and updates about my grandfather (and I drafted a will and various documents for him), so I headed to Macon to spend two nights there and be with my mom and aunt and visit with Papa. It was wonderful to be with them, and although I'm not paid when I take time off from work, I am so grateful to have a job where I can take time off to take care of much more important things. As for Papa, long story short he ended up having open heart surgery (and surprisingly surviving it thus far) and is currently stable.

My birthday: When I left my loft at 7:30 I found flowers and a beautiful box of a dozen cupcakes from my favorite bakery--Gigi's which just happens to be two hours away in Nashville--outside my door. Delighted, I headed back inside to begin tasting the assortment and packing up a few for my office. That evening Clay gave me a card and gift card to a spa; needless to say he really helped start my day off right. That night some friends, Clay, and I had dinner, then joined another friend on my roof for a delicious dessert she'd made for me, complete with singing, candles, and a Spanish birthday card involving a hamster.

Unfortunately my birthday marked the day the Nica sickness returned in full force, and I've been pretty constantly sick since then. Last night was so miserable that I made a doctor's appointment and am now doing a three day stool study, which is every bit as fun as it sounds, to determine if I have a parasite or bacteria. Please pray that it's bacteria because a parasite will be much more difficult to treat and get rid of (plus it's super gross to think about).

p.s. I am thankful for my Dad who I didn't do a very good job of celebrating this year but love very much. I'm also grateful for sunshine and the above-ground pool on my roof. It's such a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Birthday Girl

Hi everyone— I am Ally’s friend Allison, also known as A2, and I am hijacking Ally’s blog to wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I knew that all of Ally’s faithful readers would want to know that today is her birthday and have a chance to leave some fun birthday comments.

Ally is a dear friend of mine. I have known her for about a year and a half, and I am so thankful that God brought her into my life. I admire the way she lives out her faith every day with sincerity and enthusiasm. Ally has a love for life and people. She lives with an energy and spontaneity that draws people to her. As you all know, she is an excellent communicator. Her blog posts always bring a smile to my face.

Ally, thanks for being an amazing friend, blogger and person. I know that God has great things in store for you this year. I love you—thank you for being my friend!

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

P.S. Ally usually ends with a “grateful P.S.” On that note, I am sure Ally is grateful for the fun birthday surprise left at her doorstep this morning. I will let her share more about that later…since I want to hear the story too!

Monday, June 15, 2009


I wish life had a pause button, so I could have ample time to reflect and process without missing anything new. I've yet to take the time to adequately formulate my thoughts on my time in Nicaragua. I know I'm glad I went, but I want to think through some things before I say much more than that. My grandfather (who was widowed a few weeks ago) has been in the hospital in Macon since last week and is in intensive care, and I returned to work today after being gone 15 days...and am contemplating heading south to see him. Life feels really busy...and full...and good. God is providing all around me, and I'm grateful that I see that.

On Friday each child received a Jolly Rancher, and the little girl in the photograph with me came running to find me--and handed her Jolly Rancher to me. That may not sound like a big deal, but in this community children never receive candy (or much of anything material). She was so glad to have something to share, and it made me wish that I had a heart of that sort of gratitude, rushing to share something I've received instead of holding it so closely--finding more joy in having something to give to others than in possessing something new.

This is the pastor of the local church and his wife Lorena; this is how they get to the closet town with a store. Their daughter often rides on the same bike with them.

p.s. I'm grateful for friends...friends who welcome me back so warmly, who want to hear about my experience, who take papers to the hospital for my grandfather when I can't, who ask me personal questions because they care and want to help my grow in my faith, who text me randomly, and who obviously love me.

Friday, June 05, 2009

One look at you and I can't disguise....

Child's Day was a lot of fun, and the children begged me to take their photographs. I was happy to oblige. They're beautiful, especially when dancing (and man, they can shake it) and hitting the pinata.

My teacher and I had my lesson in the afternoon and traveled by miserably hot public bus to Playa del Coco, which was so beautiful that I managed to get over the hour long ride. I must admit that I've wished I were home. I am pretty exhausted most of the time--probably from the constant heat and sweating. With that being said, I think coming a week early and learning about the culture, history, and language of Nicaragua was a good idea...for the most part, and now that I'm with my team I feel renewed. I'm sure my first shower with hot water in over a week helped...and bed with non-scratchy sheets and just being able to leave my valuables unlocked in my suitcase. I'm excited about meeting the folks in the village who we've been praying for and wanting to meet for months. Today we're visiting an orphanage, which is a first for me.

In case you're wondering, I'd recommend Nicaragua for an adventure but probably not for a vacation unless you want to shell out a good bit of money for American-priced hotels and transportation. Of course, if you're with other people, it's much easier to afford since you can split the costs, etc. It's definitely not for the faint of heart.

Happy domingo amigas!

Today's lyrics are courtesy of the Managua airport, which I sat in for about 6 hours yesterday waiting for various team member flights and readaing Blink.

p.s. I'm happy for huge waves, avocados almost as big as my head, chubby babies, and all the other beautiful things created by God.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"It's been seven hours and fifteen days since you took your love away"

Yesterday I completed my very first Crossfit WOD (workout of the day) at the nearby gym Buena Vida Fitness Centre, which has no a/c and rendered me a completely sweaty, red-faced mess (Cici my face was redder than yours has ever been!). I bought a three day pass for $12, which is a bit expensive, but I really miss exercising and feel like running on the streets here would garner even more unwanted attention. Plus I've seen that crazy guy twice and don't want any more run-ins with him. Despite the heat, the gym seems great, and the owner walked me through the exercises, which was super helpful since I likely would have flaked out without the attention.

San Juan del Sur has ended up being a great little beach town to spend this week (sort of the third world version of Tarifa, Spain), and I´m grateful for the hours with my tutor and to do homework and relax by the pool.My tutor has continued to inform me of all sorts of things, covering sex, among other things, today. Tonight I ran into my Canadian friend at a restaurant on the beach, and we enjoyed some Nicaraguan dancing and music. Tomorrow morning I´m going with my teacher to the local public school for a celebrate Child´s Day (sort of like Mother´s Day I guess), then I´ll try to sit through three hours of tutoring; but the heat is so intense that you really need to be near a fan or a/c, which my school doesn´t have, or in the swimming pool. Maybe I can convince my teacher to join me at the pool. Hopefully this week will prepare me for next week (when we´ll be outside all day in a small village doing everything from construction to playing with children).

I´ve been thinking about my favorite things about Nica, and the colorfulness of the buildings--and even garbage bags--sticks out. I mean why have a brown garbage bag when it could be hot pink, right?

In other news, Clay and I have been g-chatting and emailing every day, and I miss him. Thankfully he won´t be gone the week after I return after all, but it looks like he´ll be in Asia for most of July. Oh well, absence seems to be making the heart grow fonder.

Remember today´s lyrics? Sinnead O´Connor brought to you courtesy of a pizza place here in San Juan del Sur.

p.s. I´m grateful for the delicious shrimp ceviche I had for dinner. It´s Pedro´s, the boy I sponsor through Compassion International, favorite meal, so I wanted to have it Central American style to get a better idea of what he loves so much.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"Honey came in & she caught me red-handed"

Tutoring began yesterday, and it was a lot of information! I am enjoying learning about Nicaraguan government, history, and culture. I spent two hours doing homework yesterday...only to learn this morning that I'd done my homework for the entire week! Oh well...fortunately I brought a great workbook.

Entonces yesterday I made a brilliant discovery! There's a really nice, expensive hotel here called Piedras & Ojos that stands in sharp contrast to my hotel--Hotel Joxi,which costs $15 a night and includes a private bathroom, bed with scratchy sheets, insects, and fan and a/c. Unlike my modest lodgings, Piedras & Ojos has a pool or three. So I climbed up the hill yesterday to check it out. I felt obliged to buy a Coca Cola Light and spent two hours at the pool. I headed back today for my first good meal since arriving here (most of the restaurants here are catering to cheap tourists and serve nachos, pizza, etc.) and spent almost four hours beside the infinity pool. It's clean, safe, and I don't have to worry about waking up to find a man standing above me, trying to sell me stuff. So yeah for relaxation!

Today's lyrics are from Marie's Bar where I had the worst nachos of my life. Marie's Soda, however,makes their tortillas on the spot, thus serving some super yummy nachos. I've yet to find my beloved plantains but vow to do so before leaving San Juan del Sur.

p.s.I am so grateful to have three hours a day with a Nicaraguan tutor. I can (and have) asked her all sorts of random questions. I learned today,for example, that the president's wife does not shave under her arms and has quite a bit of hair there--and that the machistos really like it. Tomorrow she's taking me to the local school to check it out, and I'm taking them the supplies my mom bought for me to share. Fun!