Monday, March 1, 2010

Mi Familia en Nicaragua

So the most valuable part of the Nicaraguan trip is the home stay experience. I was VERY NERVOUS about this part. Basically what happens is everyone gets broken up into groups of 4-5 and sent off to cities or towns all over the country. For those five days, you are invited to "just be." Not to really do anything, but just to be with your family and experience the NIcaraguan reality more intimately.

I had heard from some former LASP students that this was the loneliest part of the trip for them. I knew it would involve a lot of down time and just hours to sit with the family. I was super nervous and really dreading it.

The night before the home stay, our professor invited the pastor/bishop who is in charge of all these Brethren of Christ churches to come speak to our group. The pastor expressed how happy all the churches would be to receive us and that we could really expect anything. Our professor added that we might be asked to preach, sing in front of the church, or really anything. Oh boy. Super nervous.

I ended up going to a small town called "Santo Domingo" about thirty minutes outside of Managua. My professor told me that the town was very beautiful and that the church was also very warm and welcoming- they were the only church in our group that had a female pastor.

The next morning was crazy. We woke up early and one by one the pastors began to arrive to take the students to their respective towns. Some people would be traveling almost five hours north to towns along the Honduran border. Others would be going to small fishing villages along the Pacific. Really people could expect to go anywhere. My pastor arrived and we were gone in about five minutes. We were allowed to take several items, like medicine, mosquito nets, soap, and water. I grabbed a one gallon of water, but at the last minute decided to leave it behind and risk it. Our prof had said that some of the towns would be totally fine in terms of water. I decided to risk it.

Of course, I am immediately regretting this decision and panicking that I would not be able to drink water for a week. So that was my first fear: not being able to drink water for a week.

I arrived to the town and was dropped off at my new home. I met my mother, who is a widow of the last sixteen years with two older sons. Her sons are 21 and 24 live at the home, but go to university during the day. Her home was actually quite comfortable- we had running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, and an indoor kitchen. I soon found out that the water was completely fine to drink.

The next five days were great. Everyday I woke up and helped my mom with household chores for about three hours. We swept, mopped, cleaned clothes, watered the garden, cooked lunch, and other things. We normally worked in silence, since it is really hard for me to multitask and speak Spanish, but I definitely felt very close to my mom. Nicaraguans do not express their affection like Costa Ricans do, so she never hugged me or anything, but she would tell me how glad she was to have me there, since she is alone almost all the time during the day.

The other students lived closeby, and one of them was actually my cousin, since her mom was my mom's sister. We would visit frequently and attend church together every other night. One day, the pastor took all the students to this volcano nearby and another beautiful town. I really felt so lucky to be where I was- I was with wonderful people and was very well taken care of.

The food was spectacular- best food I have had since being in Latin America. My mom grew plantains and avocados in the backyard, so we had those at almost every meal. I also had freshly squeezed orange juice or other fruit juices. The only thing hard to eat was the cheese... but other than that, I ate very well. Very little... it was a huge difference from CR, where I seriously eat 3 or 4 times more than I normally would. And past the point of full. There, I had really small portions, and some nights I was still a little hungry, but it was perfect.

I spent my free time during the day asking my mom and brothers about their lives in Nicaragua. That part was really cool- I felt very competent with my Spanish and able to talk about politics, issues of employment, education, and safety within the country, the Somozan dynasty, the civil war, the United States, and so many other topics. I also got close to my brothers and got to hear a little about Nicaraguan youth.

One thing I also wanted to say: before we went to Granada to meet up with all the groups, I was feeling a little guilty that my experience in Nicaragua had been so easy. Some students really were roughing it for the week and were living in much lower living standards than I was. The point of the trip was not to rough it or to live in poverty- the point was to create relations with Nicaraguans. And I definitely became very close to my mom and siblings. And the day before I left, my mom thanked me for being her companion for the week, since she is often alone. Again, because Nicaraguans are not super affectionate and lovey dovey, she just said it very matter of factly, but it meant a lot to both of us. I miss her a lot and hope one day I can go back and visit her.

Here are some pics. Thank you so much for your prayers. Really, the week was wonderful. Could not have gone better. I feel so lucky and blessed.


  1. hannah, you are beautiful and i miss you so much. i prayed for your week and am so glad you had an amazing time. i'll reply to your email as soon as i can... it's been a rough week for me. i love you! and i LOVE reading your blog. i check it everyday (or multiple times a day if you didn't update that day) =) miss youuu!!!

  2. Hannah, I love seeing your smile! And am so jealous you could have avacados whenever... one of my favorite foods!! Actually, known as the perfect food! So glad all went well in Nic... are you back in CR now? Love you!

  3. I am back in Costa Rica now. In two weeks I will be leaving my home here for a month in the country- I will be working on a farm! Woohoo!

    And Brady lady, I can't wait to hear from you and talk to you. :-) You're the best.