All posts by thenilsens

Emily is a guitar picking, hug giving, volleyball spiking, star gazing, book worming, tree climbing, science experimenting, and happy dancing kind of gal. Andrew is a banjo frailing, high fiving, basketball shooting, question asking, podcast consuming, bike commuting, food loving, condiment tasting kind of guy. We are a world traveling, loud singing, tea drinking, connection seeking, life experiencing, story sharing, community building kind of couple and have jumped at the chance to serve in the Peace Corps.

Read Aloud – Spanish Edition

Read Aloud BookThanks to the Multnomah County Library (and our impending end of service language evaluation), we’ve started a new tradition: reading aloud in Spanish.  It’s the perfect thing to pass the time while one of us (Andrew) is cooking, and or the other (Emily) is doing dishes.  We can already tell our pronunciation is improving!

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Felices Fiestas from Nicaragua

Dearest friends and family,

christmas-card-2016

When we joined the Peace Corps in 2014, we never thought we’d be this comfortable and at home in a foreign country.  Yet throughout our 27+ months and extension we’ve slowly come to understand and embrace our Gringo Pinolero identities.

Like any year, 2016 brought it’s own ups and downs.

We grew closer to our friends and host families here, but we also greatly missed our loved ones back home.  So we visited home – once to IL (for a funeral) and once to OR (for a birthday/GRE).  And we hosted so many (11) different friends and family members! Showing them our Nicaragua has been an honor and we hope that they now understand a bit more why we love it so much.

We survived a hurricane, and zika, and the long recovery of chikunguyna.  Don’t worry.  None of them were as bad as they sound.

We experienced two national elections – of our host and home countries – through a lens we’ve never had before.  It was quite the experience to be abroad during an election year.

We said goodbye to our cohort since we extended our service, counseled/co-directed 4 camps this calendar year (ACCESS, GLOW, CHACA, and ACCESS again), and celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.

Gallo pinto is now a welcomed staple in our diet.  We learned a lot from teaching in a completely new setting.  We continued to immerse ourselves in Spanish and up our Nica street cred.

We worked hard and earned our keep.  One of our PC Nicaragua staff members says that the longer we’re here, the more qualified we’ll feel to dive deeper into our work.  Now that we’re almost done, we keep thinking of new projects that we could do if only we had the time.

And we’re starting to feel that pressure of time.  So we’re taking as many pictures as we can, celebrating small moments, and striving to live into the intentions we set to aprovechar our time left in Peace Corps.

Life is full of comings and goings, of challenges and lessons, of transitions and blessings.  We embrace what we can, while we can, and strive to have the lessons we’ve learned from our journey guide our way on.  That is what we wish for you this holiday season, and for ourselves in the (big transition) year to come.

Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo.

Love and light,
Emily and Andrew

No Internet, No problem

Google dino game

Throughout our time in Peace Corps Nicaragua, we’ve learned that there are varying degrees of having and not having Internet. Despite how it may appear, it’s not a yes or no kind of problem. There’s Internet that is just good enough for Facebook and e-mail, but won’t load videos or images. Then there’s Internet that’s fast enough for video chatting like Skype or Google Hangouts.  And when it’s really bad, and you can’t get anything to load, if you have just a peep of Internet you can play the Chrome dinosaur jumping game while you wait. What’s your highest score? Did you even know this game exists?

Hurricane Otto

On Thanksgiving Day 2016, a Category 2 hurricane came ashore along the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border.  This historic storm forced Peace Corps Nicaragua to consolidate all of our volunteers in Managua, as they take our safety very seriously.  Luckily, for us, it went farther south.  And since we were already in Managua, we were all able to attend a nice Thanksgiving meal at the home of an embassy or Peace Corps staff member.  For the third year in a row, we were blessed to attend the home of our second-in-command and chef extroidonaire, Miguel Lindhout.  We stuffed ourselves silly and felt at home. Hopefully it will be our one and only Thanksgiving during a hurricane.  One is enough for our lifetimes.