Sunday, September 7, 2014

Managua, Nicaragua

We just returned from an adventure in the land of lakes and volcanoes—Nicaragua.  Michael is half Nicaraguan (his father is from Nicaragua).  Michael had never been there and he had not seen his abuelos in nearly 20 years during the 1996 Olympics.  We really wanted to see them and explore the country.  Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, so it was a radically different environment than what Michael and I are used to.

Michael's grandparents' house!

For years we really wanted to connect with Michael's Nicaraguan family.  And for years, we couldn't afford tickets.  One night, our dear friend Stephanie brought up the idea of us visiting (something we had discussed many times).  Simultaneously—as she is urging us to go—we get an unusual phone call from Patrick who is calling from Nicaragua.  It seemed more like a God thing and less like a coincidence.  Michael went home to find that tickets were half the normal price.  We'd never seen the prices so low, so we threw in some of our sky miles and before we knew it, we were landing in Managua a few weeks later.

Patrick (the missionary who called us) lives in Managua and is the director of Samaritans International—which has hundreds of feeding centers.  They're spreading the Good News of Jesus all over the country.  Patrick picked us up from the airport, gave us a place to stay, transported us, and provided translators.  I don't think I've ever experienced hospitality to this extreme.  The trip would not have been possible or successful without his help!  We arrived late at night on a Saturday and went right over to Michael's grandparents' house Sunday afternoon!

 Greeting after 18 years apart!

 Michael's 93 year old grandpa—Luciano Cerna.

 Abuela Claudia ; )  They were just celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary that week!

 This is the face of a very happy Michael : )

 We were really missing Michael's dad, Angelo!

 This photo makes me so happy!

All of us (Patrick on the left)!

It was beautiful for Michael to learn about his Nicaraguan heritage.  We always knew that his grandfather was a pastor, but we never really knew all the details.  He told us how they did mission trips all over Central America.  They worked with the Miskito tribe and were also part of a Bible society.  They must have spent a significant amount of time with Miskitos because abuelo Cerna was able to rattle off lots of phrases and words in the tribal language.  Michael just started a job as missions coordinator at our church, so it's very meaningful to learn that he isn't the first person in his family to have a passion for spreading Jesus to the nations.

Michael's grandpa also said that he's not ready to stop.  He is 93 and is hoping that we will throw him a big 100th birthday party in a few years.  He's quite the character, which explains a lot about Michael's personality (and his dad's personality) ; )  Abuela Claudia was one of the sweetest, softest, warmest souls I have ever met. She was so welcoming and she thoughtfully washed a bunch of sweet fruit for us with clean water (so that it wouldn't make us sick).  Her presence was so calming.  She had hung some family photos up on the wall.  Some of their wedding (66 years ago!)  One of Michael's great grandfather, and they also had a photo with all their grandchildren—which happens to be my all time favorite childhood photo of Michael.  The funny face he is making is his response to the photographer who told him to "smile bigger."  I love it!  

Michael at about 12 years old.

This is just the beginning of our trip!  It was such a great start!  More posts to come!!!

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