I think I have written this post about 15 different ways. Trying to sum up a year in one post is hard. 2014 was hard. As David and I drove to Managua one day recently, we agreed that it was our hardest year since we got married. Its difficult to look back on this year and remember the good stuff. The bad usually overshadows it. Here’s some of the bad I’m talking about:
- In January we were visiting some new friends at the ministry they work at (They had only been in the country for 3 days), when the ministry’s security guard came stumbling over asking for help. He had been shot twice. I left Bethany in the care of our friend (she locked herself in their room with her kids), and joined her husband to use what I have learned in first aid to keep the guard conscious while David tried to called the police. We ended up driving him in the back of a pick-up to the hospital. Long story short: the guard survived, but was later arrested for some involvement in organized crime, and I was left with some serious fear and the occasional panic attack (both have which have gotten a lot better).
- Nicaragua experienced big earthquakes, an extreme drought, and then once it finally rained, flash flooding. There were volcanic eruptions (and threatening eruptions) and evacuations all over the country. Mother Nature was a little crazy last year (I think that’s true for a lot of places), and that made life a little stressful. We still sleep with our back door unlocked (because finding the key to the padlock in the dark during an earthquake while carrying a toddler is incredibly hard; just ask David), and my heart still races a bit every time I feel any sudden shaking!
- Our seriously old, but extremely economical car had problem after problem until we finally gave up on it and basically sold it for scrap. After putting so much money into it to try to fix its 1,000,000 problems, it was frustrating when each fix revealed another handful of problems. The bright side: a wonderful friend, who was here in Nicaragua temporarily, sold us her car for a very good price. Our new car is almost 10 years younger than the old one, it’s automatic, and still pretty economical!
- I had a miscarriage in early September, and another one mid-November. This hands down was the worst part of our year. Our unwritten goal for 2014 was to grow our family, and two miscarriages bring on a whole bunch of questions and doubts (Whats wrong with my body? Are we ever going to have more children? Why is this happening? etc, etc, etc.). We plan to get some of those questions answered this year, and hopefully find solutions to any problems that arise. Grieving the loss of our babies has been an emotional roller coaster. At times I am moody, sad, grumpy, quick to get angry, sometimes a crybaby, sometimes all at the same time. We hope and pray that the end of 2014 would be the end of that chapter for us, and that this year we can get answers, and grow our family.
In my head I know that 2014 was more then just loss/fear/earthquakes/disappointment, but when I look back that’s all I seem to see and my heart hurts. So along with the bad, I have to share the good, so I have good memories written down where I can see them, to remind myself that this year was actually a good one.
So, here we go, the good stuff:
- David’s business, Estrada Language School, really took off. Our goal was 8 students a month, and from March to July he has at least 12 at a time. The final count for this year was 35 students.
- Bethany has been diaper free for most of the year. Even at night! I went the “I’ll give you candy if you go pee-pee in the potty” route, and after about a week I didn’t have to give her candy anymore. Actually, I am only responsible for the “pee” potty training. I had successfully trained her in a week, but she would still cry for a diaper when she had to poop. Then I had to go away to translate, and when I got back, my mother-in-law, Mercedes, informed me that she was officially “fully” trained. Bethany also surprised us by not wetting her diaper at night for about 2 months in a row right after she learned to use the toilet, so we decided to go diaper-free at night too!
- I started coordinating translators for one ministry, while also translating for 3 other ministries on a regular basis. Meaning that during team season I was pretty busy!
- We built an addition on our house! The walls, roof and [cement] floor are done, and we have partially moved into the extra space (there are still a few things left to do before we officially take over the space). Our house has almost doubled in size, and I love having a kitchen (even though I STILL don’t have a sink inside yet!!)
- David continued to study. He is half way through his degree in teaching and school administration.
- Bethany became “officially” bilingual. Actually, I don’t know what defines someone as bilingual, but up until last year she was primarily speaking Spanish. She knew a few things in English (like numbers, names of animals and the colours), but now she is speaking in full sentences in both English and Spanish. She knows who to speak to in Spanish, and who only understands English, and she has translated for her Mimi a few times!!
- We got a new dog! Oreo, our previous dog died almost two years ago. We had given one of her puppies to a friend, and that male puppy fathered a litter of puppies at the beginning of 2014, and our friend gave us one of the puppies! I just realized that I don’t have a good picture of our new dog, Batman, but he looks completely different than his grandmother, Oreo, but they have exactly the same personality. It’s nice to have a dog to eat all our table scraps and keep the neighbourhood dogs off our property, and bark all night long for no reason (ok, maybe not the third one…).
- I finally became a resident of Nicaragua! It only took 6 years!
- David and I ran two Alpha courses in our community, Los Cedros. From July-October we ran the Youth course, and had 130 youth show up on the first night! We finished up averaging about 80 people a week. And in November and December we ran a Alpha Marriage course for 10 couples (including David and I). It was also a huge success! David and I learned a lot about each other, and we got a lot of positive feedback from the other couples.
- I got a full time job! I am now the Volunteer Coordinator for Tesoros de Dios, just 20 minutes away from home. That means I wont be translating anymore (I’m kind of sad about that), but I will be coming home from work every night, and I have a fixed salary with health insurance… you can’t beat that.
- We made a point to spend time together as a family. We took trips to the beach, the local swimming pool, the park, and other parts of Nicaragua throughout the year.
- We made the most of our Christmas Vacation. I had two weeks off, and David only had a few classes to teach, so we made an effort to visit with people we don’t see often, have dinner with old friend, spend time with people who were visiting, go on trips with the extended family, and spend time together. It was a lot of fun, and I can’t believe I have to go back to work on Monday!
2014 was hard, but my second list proves that it was, in fact, good. I am, however, very glad to put that year behind me.
So here’s to 2015. To answers and solutions, to peace and quiet, to fun, to family, to life.
A new year, a new chapter.
¡Happy New Year from the Estrada Family!