Tuesday, March 17, 2015

highlight // meet caroline

In Honduras, whenever someone stays in your house they are often referred to as your "kids" -- especially if they are the same ages or younger than you and especially if they need to go home in your car with you. It doesn't really matter if it could have been physically possible for you to have a child their age... ;)

With that in mind, we'd like to introduce you to our "hija" (Spanish for "daughter".)

There are lots of things that someone could say about their kid that we would say about Caroline, our intern. She lives in our home, we feed her, and we are generally responsible for her well-being (though we hope we've taught her to make her own good decisions!). She constantly brightens our lives and makes us laugh, and we're really glad to finally have more than just two players when we play games. She is a better surprise than we even thought she would be! (See what I mean about that daughter thing?)

All joking aside, our intern is actually just a few years younger than us. She went to Virginia Tech and New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) just like we did. We are thrilled to have her here and we feel like she is the perfect person to be helping us with both of our social projects.

Meet Caroline Stephenson!

1) Tell us more about you.

I was born and raised in Fairfax Virginia. I graduated from Virginia Tech this past December with a BS in Biology. I have three older sisters, two step brothers and a step sister. I like reading, outdoor activities, cooking... EATING and traveling. I especially love everything science/biology related which includes animals and creepy crawlers.

2) Have you ever had any other international experiences? Can you tell us about them?

I studied abroad my sophomore year in Quito, Ecuador. I lived with a host family and attended La Universidad San Francisco de Quito. All of my classes were taught in Spanish and I was able to take Ecology, Ecuadorian culture, Spanish and Andean Archaeology. The greatest experiences I had abroad was when I was able to visit Machu Piccu and the Amazon. While in the Amazon I touched a wild anaconda and a tarantula!

3) What are you most excited about for your time in Danli, Honduras?

I have two things that tie for what I'm most excited about. First, I am excited at the opportunity to build up the kids at the CDI. I have been lucky in that my parents and teachers have always been incredibly supportive of my interests and education. I would love for the kids of the CDI to be so poured into by us teachers that they have confidence in their own abilities and that they believe in themselves.

Second, I am thrilled to be a part to the health promotion classes with the water project. I have long felt a pull toward international health work and this is an opportunity to gain experience in the field. I can't wait to see the water project progress in the Urrutia community and to be able to see God's blessing happen before my eyes.

Picking Caroline up from the airport (left); Introducing her to Honduran pupusas (right). 
4) Tell us about something cool that has already happened or that you have learned about.

This past week we had a visiting mission team from Virginia Tech. I went out evangelizing with them and spoke to an amazing woman named Leticia. Her daughter wasn't able to live with her because the child's father was dangerous and threatened to take the girl away. Leticia now lives with her new husband and fervently prays for a way that her daughter can return safely to live with them. Among all the trials in her life, Leticia's faith is strong and she seeks to give thanks to God every chance she gets. This kind of thanksgiving and faith was amazing to witness and such an encouragement to me. I have so much to learn about finding my joy in Christ amidst any circumstance.

5) What's your favorite thing about Jamey and Lesley?

My favorite thing about Jamey and Lesley is that they seek to make me feel welcome every chance they get. Whether that is inviting me to play card games, introducing me new Honduran places or checking to see how I'm feeling. I feel supported and cared for while living here because they go out of their way to make sure I'm doing well. Oh and they're hilarious...

6) How can we be praying for you personally?

I would love prayers for God's guidance in my life and that I am sensitive to hearing His voice. I am at a place now where big choices need to be made about my future career path. For that reason, I want to make sure that God is at the center of my decision and that I'm following His call.

Hear more from Caroline personally about her time here on her blog.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

mission team // nicaragua emi project trip

The next few weeks are so are definitely going to liven up the blog as we have, and will have, plenty of “the interesting stuff” to write about. We have officially started our mission trip schedule for 2015 – first, with a trip that we went on!

We had several friends say to us, “What? Missionaries on a mission trip?”. But yes, that’s what we did. Jamey joined the team of an Engineering Ministries International (eMi) project trip last week and I (Lesley) more or less tagged along as his wife. When we attended their annual conference back in November to learn a thing or two, we heard about the trip and decided we’d like to see what project trips were all about since we would only be one country away. And before we knew it, off we were to Nicaragua! 
Mountains of Nicaragua
We stayed in the mountains in a place called La Finca, which is close to Matagalpa, and is at a higher elevation than we are used to. It was COLD! I mean, the emails warned us that it could get “cool” but we barely saw the sun that week and we all constantly kept on hoodies, fleeces, and jackets. Thankfully we each had one warm item a piece with us here in Honduras to take with us… but with all the shivering I did, I honestly would have loved to have had more. We stayed in the cabins of a Young Life (or “Vida Joven”) camp where the team was working.

The La Finca Vida Joven Camp
Over the course of the week, three separate teams to our group tackled their various projects that we would be doing in order to help out the camp with their upcoming expansions. Jamey was on Team Stormwater, and they were tasked with assessing the water sources on property and giving a report of recommendations for stormwater management, both short and long term. The team of architects creating renderings and designs to help model what the proposed expansions would look like, and the bridge team assessed the bridge need, decided on a bridge type, and designed the bridge needed all in the week we were there. Collectively, we are very proud of the work the whole team accomplished and pray that this will greatly help the Young Life camp, will assist the staff that constantly works so hard there, and will bless the youth that will be attending the camp, and hopefully through the camp coming to know Christ in a more personal way.
Tour of the camp grounds /project sites
Makeshift "central office" set up by the eMi project team

Now, you also might be wondering what a non-technical spouse might be doing on a trip like this? Well, originally, we (another wife and I) had hoped that we would be able to get to know the people we were doing the project for while the engineers were busy plugging away on their computers in a time crunch. But, as there were no campers on site at the time we were there, we were only able to meet the camp staff and staff that works with their coffee production. So, Alli (the other wife) and I went to work at the most useful place for us that week – to roast coffee! We helped Isa, a woman who works with the coffee, to roast, weigh, package, and grind 300 pounds of coffee. It was awesome and Isa was so kind to us. (Unfortunately, Alli did more roasting than I did, because for a day and a half I was stuck up in the cabin super sick!)
My coffee roasting buddies, Isa and Alli
During our time in Nicaragua, there were also a few times where we left the over 120 acres of camp property and got out to see more of Nicaragua, which we absolutely loved. We got to go to Matagalpa, a nearby city, to attend church (which was a wonderful and uplifting service!) and then when out for pizza. The restaurant gave our huge group of the team, local missionaries, and Young Life staff, the top floor and we gulped down the tasty natural juices that were available there. Lesley's favorite: orange carrot juice! It was excellent. On Wednesday night, we had the opportunity to go to a Young Life club in Matagalpa and get some amazing homemade ice cream after. Then, to wrap up the trip, on Friday we had our adventure day. 
Pretty drive to Managua 
View from the pizza restaurant in Matagalpa 
For that day, we did probably one of the best canopy tours in Nicaragua. Not only was in beautiful, had lots of lines, and was a long course, but it also included the best guides ever. They were making the funniest jokes, earnestly helping us have a great time, and took our cameras to take our pictures for us so we could enjoy the experience. They also encouraged some crazy moves on the zip lines to like "Superman" (head first with another rider holding your feet behind you) and "Freaky Monkey" (upside down with your legs crossed and arms out). It was a blast, which was followed by a visit to the local artisan market, lunch at the pupuseria, and a wrap-up session at our hotel in Managua before everyone flew out the next morning. 
Canopy Tour!
Our friend Jamal doing the "Superman" -- his arms are so long
that he did hit a few trees along the way!
Watching the magic at the pupuseria.
Thank you to everyone who knew about our trip ahead of time and prayed for it and our travel. It was our first time crossing the border by bus, but it went very smoothly -- with the exception of a quick taxi hop to make our bus and Lesley having to hold her bladder for 6 hours with no bathroom! Normal for Latin America :) Thanks to eMi for letting us expats, and another local missionary Brian, join on the team with you all. We loved it!