We're really excited because the literacy students in Liquia are in Book 2 (of the two-book series) and have entered the final lessons, which are the simplified Bible stories!
It's truly amazing to think that none of them knew how to read when we began over 6 months ago. Some are still struggling, but the majority are making wonderful progress. (We ask for your prayers for those who are still struggling to learn, specifically for one of our oldest students, Marina).
To encourage them to finish strong, we worked together with their pastor to hold a special service and present to them their very own New Testament Bibles (donated by the Kirk of the Hills).
Pastor Marlon (such a dear friend) preached for a good 45 minutes on the importance of reading the Bible (to a largely illiterate congregation), how it's never too late to learn, and how ignorance can hinder our spiritual growth. He spoke with such passion! He's a fireball at the pulpit for such a small, humble, and soft-spoken man.
Unfortunately, out of about 10 faithful students, only a few were present at the service that day, due to a variety of reasons, but the others will receive their Bibles at the final ceremony.
Tedd, presenting Bernardo (a founder & elder of the church) with his Bible
Presenting Omar (one of the few teens in the church and the "co-pastor") with his Bible
P.S. His photo pose is completely normal for Nicaraguans in these parts. I promise he's not upset, just painfully shy.
And this is Iris, Bernardo's daughter, who has substitute-taught for us when we've been away or when the creeks are too high to cross getting out there.
the church body praying for the students
(notice: men & women sit on separate sides of the church. I accidentally walked right in and plopped myself down on the men's side).
This particular weekend was a special one, actually, because Tedd & I were invited to spend the night at Bernardo's house that night. While the lifestyle there is very quaint, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience spending the night out in Liquia, it's also a challenge for me personally, because of the roughing-it aspect, and other discomforts.
- The majority of the folks aren't big talkers, just big stare-ers, so that's always a little awkward when trying to converse with people. I tried to do the socially correct thing and spend time with the ladies in the kitchen, but I felt like I was the only one there with a mouth, because if I hadn't talked, we'd pretty much just be staring at each other.
The same day of the service, before spending the night at Bernardo's, Tedd & I had a great adventure hiking into the jungly countryside to visit another brother's home. We hiked with Bernardo about 30 minutes up and down hills, through creeks and mud, and finally wound up at the quaintest little wooden home out in the middle of nowhere (and would you believe they have a solar panel and a DVD player!?). The ladies immediately killed a chicken for us and got to work at plucking, gutting, prepping, and grilling. It took about 5 hours. In the meantime, we talked with the family about the origins of the church, and what life was like for them during the war (back in the 80's). After dark, we hiked back to Bernardo's with our headlamps (compliments of Tedd) and we were so ready for a good night's sleep.
- There are only two bedrooms in the house, and we were 2 of about 10 people sleeping at Bernardo's that night...sooo....Tedd & I shared a room with about 4 other people.
- No indoor toilets, so being pregnant, I was making frequent visits to the "outhouse" (aka the back yard) to squat. No. Fun. And poor Teddy came down with a fever, so he had a hard night as well.
- I forget how quiet things are out in the country. I heard every snore and every creak, but I enjoyed the sounds of the frogs and I could even the rain coming from a distance it was so quiet. And the pitch black...what darkness! There wasn't a lightbulb or a candle lit for miles, just those millions of little twinkles in the sky.
- I didn't sleep much that night, and at the crack of dawn (about 5 am), everyone in the house was wide awake and talking and moving around as casually as if it were 3 in the afternoon. Whew! I don't think I'm cut out for this kind of life!
- BUT, the food was fresh and amazing, the scenery, breath-taking, the cool morning air was invigorating, and the people are just so so nice.
Yelba (Bernardo's wife) and me...again, totally normal pose
Tedd & Flavio (another literacy student who works with Bernardo) posing for a pic in the morning
It wasn't an easy comfortable time, but it was still an awesome memory-maker kind of weekend with some good bonding, so I'm so glad we stayed the night, and I know it meant a lot to Bernardo & his family.