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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Playing Tourist & Experiencing Local

Photo by my lovely roommate Katelyn Persenaire

Photo by my lovely roommate Katelyn Persenaire

We celebrated Fiestas Patrias this week. This is Nicaragua’s Independence Day. Each class did a dance, as did the teachers. We had cultural presentations and then the dancing and dramas at the end, wrapping up the day with a traditional Nicaraguan meal for lunch and early dismissal.

My First Grade Kids Ready to Go!

My First Grade Kids Ready to Go!

It was wonderful to be a part of this, have Spanish dance lessons, and enjoy the wild cheering of my students. Looking over at them during the performance, at least three of my girls nearly had their noses on the stage trying to copy my every move. Even several of the boys told me I looked beautiful!

I’ve included the video for the teacher dance below. *The first 2 minutes are pretty dull, so if you want to watch from there, that is what I would recommend!*

Then, off for some TLC! I went to Leon with a friend for an overnight trip and did some sightseeing there.

The view of the volcanoes and city from León Cathedral

The view of the volcanoes and city from León Cathedral

A very pleasant trip. The highlight was church on Sunday – we attended a Spanish/English service that was so welcoming and fun to sing a single worship song, alternating back and forth between the languages. Communion was in Spanish, a Bible reading was in English, etc. Very cool.

The top of the León Cathedral

The top of the León Cathedral

We also visited a lake (Laguna de Apoyo) where we swam, relaxed, and listened to the parrots. Then, on our last day off we went to a beach on the Pacific. There were no trees for kilometers (if at all?) and in spite of 3 sunscreen applications in 4 hours, I got fried (blisters and all). Wasn’t a huge fan of that trip due to the lack of facilities and shade, but we did some beach combing, had what seemed like the whole coast to ourselves, and saw some wonderful little horses out for a gander.

Now back to school!

My first time SUPing at the Laguna. Yikes.

My first time SUPing at the Laguna. Yikes.

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Photo by Katelyn Persenaire

The Teachers

The Teachers

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in My Musical Learning Journey

 

THE DIVERSITY OF DAYS

River Tour

River Tour

I want to start this post by saying gracias (pronounced without the s in Nicaragua!) or thank you, for your outpouring of love after my last post. It truly made a huge impact on my first week of teaching to read your prayer commitments, kind words, encouragements, and financial gifts.

Cultural Tidbits:

– A not great day: I found (heard first, then SAW) a rat living in my supply closet at school. Worst. Feeling. Ever. My heart stopped for a solid 5 seconds. It ran out from the spot I had just pulled my hand from. Now I knock on the door before I open it to give him a little warning. I’m going for the mutual respect approach. That should work, right?

Monkey on Monkey Island

Monkey on Monkey Island

– A fun day: We read “The Cranky Bear” and talked about being cranky. I asked the kids if I’m ever cranky. They said no (sweet!). One student blurts, “You CAN’T be, Miss Van Kannel!” I asked, “Why not?” “Because of where you’re from!” he says. “Oh?” “Ya – People from Canada CAN’T be cranky – they’re too nice all the time.” Wow… Coming from a 6-year-old in Nicaragua. Our reputation reaches far.

– An interesting day: Had a pet monkey brought in for show and share. That was a first. I just sat and stared.

– A mistake: This week I made a local dish called gallo pinto for the first time. It was good, but tasted nothing like gallo pinto. I didn’t follow the recipe correctly and missed 2 ingredients and didn’t measure a third. Next time. I’m not quite a local yet!

-A struggle: I’ve lived in cities. I’ve never lived on a farm. I didn’t think I needed open spaces, fresh air, and wilderness. But I am feeling so stifled and closed in teaching on our fenced property with its high walls and iron gate, and coming straight home to our fenced property with its high walls and iron gate. I’m definitely aching for grass, air, wind, freshness, and openness. And the freedom to explore and wander.

– It “felt like” 48 degrees here for a good portion of the day once this week, and the other days were close behind. This is not my cup of tea. Gee, I miss tea. A look at a cup here makes me faint of heat exhaustion. I went for a run at 3:00 yesterday afternoon to burn off some stress and get rid of the feeling of being trapped. That was an awful idea – so, so, so hot. It took my body an hour and a half to cool down again.

– Update on Winston & Sophia the lizards: We watched Sophia (the bigger lizard) EAT Winston. There was twitching and all. We think it may have been murder of the third degree. She had the audacity to take his spot in the stairs already yesterday. I had gotten used to the little guy. So sad.

On the left - the equivalent of the White House, the middle is the old cathedral (empty as it isn't structurally sound after the earthquake), and the old palace (where the revolution started).

On the left – the equivalent of the White House, the middle is the old cathedral (empty as it isn’t structurally sound after the earthquake), and the old palace (where the revolution started).

I’ve split this week’s update into two, as it was getting quite lengthy, so read on for more info, leave now if you’ve had your fill!

 
 

FIRST GRADERS CAN FUNCTION BETTER THAN ME? A LESSON IN FOREIGN FEELINGS & TRUST

Lessons & Learnings, Prayers & Praises:

– One afternoon I overheard one of my students whisper to her friend, “We are so lucky – Miss Van Kannel is the most wonderful teacher.” Awwww… My heart melts. I am already building relationships.

– I have had a pretty exhausting, pretty challenging first month of school. Some of my students are in some really tough places, and some are putting me in some pretty tough places. I have been worn down, worn out, and frustrated. However, I am already coming to a very strong assurance: I am NOT in control. Ya. That’s a good, strong assurance.

A river boat trip we took outside of Granada

A river boat trip we took outside of Granada

I can’t be. I can’t handle it. I’m in the hands of God, and by Him, in the hands of others. I am in full reliance on Him. And I know that everything was through Him in Canada, too, but it’s so much more distinctly noticeable here. I HAVE to abandon my self-sufficient ways. It’s terrifying, but it is so purifying. I am relying fully on Him for enough money each month, for the actual provision and opportunity to get groceries, for health and safety, for patience, for wisdom, for the words to communicate and understand, for travel, for literally everything. Do the challenges bog me down some days? Yes. But overall, I’m not stressed. Anybody who knows me, knows that worry is my middle name, so this is amazing. I am doing this only through Him, and so far, yes, it’s going WELL. He gives me enough one day at a time.

I didn’t mean to leave it on a deep note, but here’s a lighter thought: spoiler alert for the next blog post – stay tuned for travelling in Nicaragua and national holidays – this teacher is preparing for a 5 day weekend next weekend! Woo hoo! One month down of teaching!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in My Musical Learning Journey