Archive for March, 2011

Midweek Report from Nicaragua

Here we are in Masatepe, Nicaragua, at Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Horizonte (New Horizon BC). We are half way through the week of teaching English. We have about 150 students with classes at 3-5:30, a realquickmeal, and back in from 6-8:30. They are of all ages.

Today is the first day for the clear presentation of the reason we are here besides English, so pray for us, for Jody Kennedy who will do the main speaking, and for each teacher to be able to give a clear testimony of their experience – we can only do this if our class requests it – “Please, Teacher __, tell us your story….”

We each pray for our students by name, and we are told that most of them have never had anyone pray for them by name. Many of the students in my classes marked their registrations “no church,” which translates no relationship with the One. So the next 3 days are crucial – that they come to class, that their hearts are open, that they will “hear,” and that Life will find them.

You may wonder at my obscure references in this blog. These students, though they live in the country in a small town, are very computer savvy. It is likely they will discover things like our facebooks, our websites, our blogs, etc. So I am purposely discrete,  so as not to offend in any way.

Jody met a man last week in Managua on the street who was a former student. He remembered the face but not the name. It is significant what he said to Jody. He did not say thank you for teaching me English, but he said, “Thank you for showing me J.” Jody said he was pretty much a puddle after that. We all hope that is our real effect here.

Another student recently wrote on his final survey after classes were finished, “Thank you for teaching me English and showing me J. I prayed the prayer. I did it!”

That is why we are here.

No More Posts for a While

Unfortunately, we will probably not be able to continue the daily blogs from here in Nicaragua. We are leaving Managua in about 40 minutes and heading to the airport to pick up our next group of teachers from Texas, and then we are heading for Masatepe, about 2 hours out of Managua. It is very unlikely that we will have internet access in Masatepe. We will be staying at a church there, literally sleeping in a classroom.

So, look for more reports in a week as we come home on April 4. Please pray for us this week. We could have several hundred students coming from the region around Masatepe for English lessions.

Hasta pronto (see you soon.)

The Real Story

We are here in Nicaragua to teach English, of course, but a greater drive grips our hearts. We love the Nicaraguan people and want to share with them the greatest gift we have to share which is Jesus Christ. We had 78 students enrolled in our classes this last week. That may not seem like a lot, but we only had 4 teachers and two sessions, meaning we each taught two classes, so that was about 10 students in each class. Gail had 19 in one of her classes.

In this brief 5 days we hope to form enough relationship and trust to earn the right to present our gift on a take or leave it basis not to the heads of our students, but to their hearts. We know we are not best friends after 5 days, but we are at least friends – we have journeyed through vocabulary and verbs together, we have laughed, we have struggled to express ourselseve on both sides, sometimes successfully, some few times not so much. We have wrestled with the great Opponent, Language Barrier, which for us is an inconvenience and a novelty, but for many of our students is the pathway to a better job, more opportinity in a difficult economy and , and to a better life.

So when we have 54 ¨decisions,¨ from college students, we are deeply humbled by the process we are caught up in, for these are the leaders of business and government of tomorrow. These will be the educated leaders who take Nicaragua and Central America into the 21st century. So, yes, we are humbled. Thank you for your prayer and financial support. Believe me, we together have made a difference this week.

Well, we have completed our 5 days of Spanish classes this morning. I think I have made progress. Once I got past the terrifying double “to be” verb thing, I began to realize how useful this could be in practice. For instance, you can say almost anything in Spanish with one of these two verbs, and many of the words in Spanish are similar in English.

Here are some examples of my new facility with the language: if I want to say I am intelligent (something I want to say a lot down here, because the evidence may be to the opposite effect, and I don’t want them to get the wrong idea just  because of the language barrier), I can say, yo soy inteligente. This isn’t so different from my own native tongue, so I can make myself understood in many situations this way. Some more examples: in my native tongue becomes en mi tongissimo nativo. See how easy that is?!!

Here’s how a conversation might go: “So, Jose, guau eres tu? Bueno, bueno. Yo soy gladdo hearapito ito. Yo tambien soy feelamundo comfortaballo prettymuchamo. El weatheromos esta brito y claroismos muchimuchimuch (they like this word “mucho” a lot and they use it to describe many things, so I am sharing different forms I think I’ve heard with my newly sensitive ear for Spanish) y el sunno shino downo on uso (maybe nosotros means “us” technically, but I think they can understand it this way too) con raysoses de happymosmos. El dia como este makos mi feelamundo justo como singacaundro y dancepitrimusmos.”

When I say stuff like this, the native Nicaraguans smile and nod a lot, so I think I’m doing pretty well.

My Spanish teacher seemed pretty impressed with how far I’ve come. He said something like, “Usted es muy peligroso ahora.” My loose translation (forgive my clumsiness with the language) is “Your Spanish shows great promise.”

I’m pretty sure (sursimos) that I get a progress award (awardo progressivissimo) mailed to me, or something (somecosamosa) like that.

(David Middleton, don’t you have a heart attack (una attacka cardia – I never knew the word tachicardia was Spanish till I took this great course).

To Be or Not to Be

So last night, after a long day, very tired, I sat on the bed, and Gail asked, ¨So, what did you learn in Spanish class today?¨to which I proudly replied, ¨I learned the verb ´to be´.¨ This seemed a real milestone for me since to be is so basic to language and especially to espangol.

Gail replied, ¨Oh, great! Which one?¨




Needless to say, I did not sleep well last night in anticipation. Indeed, I was even grouchy in espangol class this manana…while learned all about the many and complicated differences between ser and estar. To sum up what I understand so far: I asked Gail after class today (the one with the humor mal [bad mood??]),  in the taxi on the way home,¨So, ser seems to be for permanent stuff and estar seems to be for temporary stuff, right?¨

She only said, ¨You don´t want to go there.¨




Like where? You mean acqui?

Mi Cabesa Explote

It´s obvious to me that the Nicaraguan people are very intelligent. This is obvious because they speak Spanish. So… they must be very intelligente.

After completing my third day of Spanish I asked my teacher to give me a phrase I could report home about my progress. The title of this entry is the one he gave me -¨ mi cabesa explote¨ (there are accents in there, but if I can type them, I don´t know how yet). I think this phrase means something like, ¨You are doing so well that we want to offer you citizenship.¨ I´m pretty sure it´s an honorary thing, so I guess I´m doing okay.

Some insights from my studies: there is an informal phrase for when you say good-bye that translates loosely to ¨¨Well, okay then…¨ It´s ¨Dale pues.¨ It´s pronounced dah-lay pwess. So I can say it, but everytime I do, I think in my head ¨dalai lama.¨ So, my question is, does everything in Nicaragua circle back to the llama, or what? (see previous post for this heady discussion).

My favorite phrases so far are ¨otra vez¨and ¨ripita por favor,¨ but  I´m also liking, ¨no etiendo¨and ¨no comprendo¨ and my most used yet, ¨no tengo idea.¨

Anyway, the Spanish lessons are challenging and fun. My teacher is a laugh a minute, or maybe he said that about me, I couldn´t tell. 

I´m learning so much, but mostly to appreciate what my English students are going through as they struggle to learn English from me in the afternoon, or en la tarde, as we like to say around here. I have two classes with 12 in the first and 15 in the second. And we ARE having fun, learning English, and developing that oh-so-important relationship. Please remember to pray for us and for them especially. Gail is teaching two classes also.

Speaking of Gail, she did want me to mention that I misspelled Felice in yesterday´s post – it´s Feliz apparently. But anyway, I did want you all to wish her a prayerful hapy birtdey. Well, later, or hasta luego (sp?), as we like to say around here…

You can tell from my title of this entry that I am learning a lot of great Spanish in my brief daily 2 hour morning classroom (salon de clase en la manana por dos horas). Well, I have no idea (no tengo idea) if that makes much sense (mucho sensisicosomente), and really, at some point every day my brain goes on fritz and I just start making it up. This is exactly how my English students feel, I´m sure.

BTW, Feliz Compleanos

By the way, happy birthday to mi esposa Gail today here in Nicaragua. We are about to go celebrate by teaching English at the University (UdeM). To her I say much love cara mia, which for some strange reason sounds great and romantic in Spanish, but when you translate it, you get ¨my little face.¨ Go figure, unromantic English!