Sunday, October 19, 2008

pizza fiesta

Last week the Manna house turned into party central – a pizza party, that is, with our Advanced English students! The MPI Advanced English class consists of about 15 “adult” students, a group of enthusiastic and sassy Nica kids who have grown to be our good friends. Because the majority of the class is our age, it has been so natural for in-class relationships to grow into solid friendships. We visit their homes and meet their families. Maddie and Christina spend hours each week learning guitar from Gabriel. Mose has a fierce chess rivalry with Fabricio. As months go on, friendships deepen. It’s incredible to see the ways that differences in culture and language fade into the background…

So, for said crazy pizza mixer, we ordered tons of Valenti’s (Nicaragua’s very-Latino version of Pizza Hut) and piled the red boxes high on the dining room table. Drinking too-sweet/too-red Nica soda and eating hundreds of Tressa’s cookies, the crowd played guitar and chatted in a hilariously creative English-Spanish lingo. I found myself astonished by the normalcy and joy in these Nica-gringo connections. The sing-a-longs, jokes, deeper one-on-one conversations… all parts of the night meshed into a beautiful picture of what Manna Project is all about: communities serving communities. Mutual learning, mutual sharing.

And of course a night so dear could only end with a little “let’s throw everyone in the pool completely clothed” fun. Basically, Nica boys are mischievous and have no concern for nice gringa jeans :)

Full of pizza and still trying to dry my chlorine-y clothes,


*Definition. Gringo: white, English-speaking, obviously foreign individual

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the land of mold and movies

Rainy season has hit Manna Project with full force. We seem to live in a constant state of moistness… our line-“dried” clothes don’t dry so well, a funny smell pervades the storage area, and a layer of lovely green mold is taking over the house (seriously! I pulled a pair of sandals out of my closet last week – completely green and fuzzy.) The bumpy dirt road we drive about five times a day to get to a program facility has recently been less of a road and more of a… rushing river. Suffice it to say, classes have been canceled various times. Not to mention that we got stuck inside our neighborhood last Wednesday night due to a small “flood” at the entrance. Our Nica world just got a little more interesting (and adventurous!) with the coming of the October rain. Yet life continues…

On Wednesday, we took a jaunt to the local movie theater with a group of children from Cedro Galan, a rural community in which we teach. The field trip was one of our monthly “parties” to reward kids for good attendance in Manna’s after-school literacy and math classes. The location of the party was a surprise, although Michael proceeded to tell them we were headed to Costa Rica (they weren’t convinced!). We arrived to the theater in our mighty white microvan… the niƱos were SO thrilled… and Michael, Christina, and I shortly learned what it would be like to parent a large and rowdy family of thirteen. We herded the children to their seats, arms loaded with popcorn kiddy packs and jackets to fight the air conditioning chill to which we’re now so unaccustomed. “La Isla de Nim” held their eyes for its full length… and taught us gringos some new Spanish lingo. All in all, success!

Weekly lessons learned: a) mold won’t kill you. b) movie theaters are wonderfully chilly...


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