Category Archives: Life Updates

May We Suggest a [blog] makeover

Good morning all!  As I write this the rain has been picking up speed and we can feel a slight chill in the air.  The sound and the cold make it a perfect time to share a mate with the family.  And if you know mate, then you might be able to guess that I’m writing  to you from Monte Caseros, Argentina.

Our post Peace Corps travels so far have been amazing!  We’ve shared, eaten, explored, questioned, and lived as deep into the experience of each day as we could.  And because of this (and not knowing when we would next have consistent Internet) we’ve been a bit absent on here.

This blog was such an important part of our Peace Corps experience and we want to keep it alive. But, as we rang the bell on March 1st, it cannot exist as it did and needs to change along with us as we transition out of Peace Corps and on to our next phases of life.

One change we are making is to our domain name – to the link you use to find us.  We never loved the .org at the end of our url, but it was all that was available at the time.  This post is to inform you of three main things:

  1. Starting tomorrow, April 9th, the URL of this blog will change from http://www.maywesuggest.org to http://www.maywesuggest.blog – check your settings to make sure you’re still following us!
  2. It may take us a couple more weeks/months to figure out exactly how we want to transition this blog.  In the near future, we’re hoping to write more detailed posts about our travels, about our transition out of Peace Corps, and out transition back to the United States.
  3. We are still alive!  If you want to follow our travels more instantly, check out our May We Suggest Facebook page and the album titled “Post Peace Corps Travels” or my Instagram @eallennilsen with the hastag #postpctravels.

We feel so thankful for the opportunity to connect with friends and family during our travels and this transition.  Adventure is out there.  And we’re finding it.

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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

12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

Two years ago, we began a tradition in our family that would allow us to celebrate the holiday season no matter where in the world we found ourselves.  After 2014 and 2015, we figured we were getting the hang of this 12 Days of celebration and fun, but this year Nicaragua threw us a curve ball.  ACCESS Camp (the annual intensive English camp we’ve helped with the past two years) dates were changed from January to right before Christmas, so we had to be creative.  Nevertheless, our 12 Days were spent remembering to celebrate the small things, to be thankful for what we have, and to invite spontaneous joy into our lives.

The 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

Continue reading 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

5 Tuani Years

Today marks 5 incredible years of marriage.  We feel so lucky to be serving in the Peace Corps with our life partner and still think Two is Twice as Tuani.  May the next 5 years bring us even more wonder, growth, understanding, and adventure.

Surprise Trip Home!

We wanted to share in our joy that was a surprise visit back to the states.  We returned to Oregon after 22 months of our Peace Corps service, and our family wasn’t expecting us to return until our service was fully completed. Mamma Nilsen and Andrew have birthdays one week apart, so while our official reason to take a short trip home was to take the GRE, we couldn’t pass up surprising family in the process. What fun!

**It totally sounds like Andrew says he’s turning 20. It was actually his 28th birthday. He might have been excited.  😉

May We Aprovechar Peace Corps

In May 2014, we used the ideas of May Day to start a new tradition in our family: setting intentions for the following year together. Just as May Day has been a celebration of spring and new life growing, we wanted to plant the seeds of our intentions with the hope that they would grow over the year to come. And grow they did!

In May 2015, we began reflecting on those intentions, taking a deeper look at our journey into the Peace Corps, Pre-Service Training, our first few months at site and into our first year.  It took a bit longer than we anticipated to reflect on those first five intentions, and we set our “May Day Intentions” a little late (in August) last year.  We chose to focus them on the rest of our Peace Corps service.

Thus, to celebrate May Day this year, we are echoing these intentions and for duration of our time left in Peace Corps Nicaragua:

May we seek to empower others so that our service means more than 27 months.

May we continue to set healthy expectations for ourselves.

May we embrace the present as our time here is limited.

May we be as intentional in our relationships as we are in our to do lists.

May we realize that our Peace Corps Experience is what we make of it.


We’d love to hear from you, too.  What intentions do you have (or want to set) for yourself?

Why Blog?

Like many newly married couples in the 21st century we have an array of media from our wedding online. We have the professional photographers’ photos, digital albums from family and friends, and shakily shot smart phone videos. We even felt like celebrities on Facebook for a bit. As would be expected, after a couple of weeks our Facebook notification barrage & social media fame tapered off. Other than one video.

With over 6000 views on YouTube at the time of launching this blog in 2014 – and for people who don’t run their own channel and only dabble casually in the social media world, that’s a lot of views– it has continued to make the rounds on the web over the years.  The video is of our wedding party surprising Andrew and singing “May I Suggest” by Susan Werner. Emily arranged it all in secret, as her wedding gift to Andrew.

Almost 5 years later it’s still an incredibly powerful, beautiful, and defining moment for us. Continue reading Why Blog?