Lee's Commentary - updated 2/19/13

Service in Nicaragua

     As most of you are aware we are working with the English congregation here in Nica. In some English congregations most of the service is focused on English speaking people who have relocated to the area. Here it is a little bit different. We do preach to the foreigners, but actually find the most interest is with the English speaking Nica's. There are quite a few Spanish congregations in town, i think 16. They work the territory quite well, but each time they call on a house the same person, normally the mother, comes to the door. When we call and ask if anyone in the home speaks English they go and get their son or daughter who are in college perhaps. Now we have someone at the door who has never talked to the witnesses before! Normally we encourage people to learn the truth in their native tongue, but they want to study the bible in English. Leon is a college town, so there are plenty of youths around who speak English. Our first day out I met a very nice family. The husband spoke perfect English, and the wife did pretty good too. I pulled out my Bible and immediately he went to his table and brought back an English/Spanish Bible and followed along. On our way to service one day a young man stopped us and asked for the January issues of the magazines in English. Levi has an rv on a young man who works at an internet cafe and is supposed to start studying with him this week. I am very exited for Levi, and hope everything works out. One young man stopped me on the street and said he was Nica, but raised in Belize, so he spoke perfect English. He said he wanted to learn more about the Bible but was only in Leon for 1week. He took the Bible Teach book and i got his phone number to meet him later in the week to bring him a Bible. I was never able to get through by phone and he's probably gone now...very sad.  Friends here said to get their email, and do an email rv/bible study next time. I'm kicking myself! Jessica had 2 good calls today (1/23/13) and she arranged to go back. Levi had a good call at a butcher shop / church. Levi said the man has a small Bible study group that met there, but listened and took the magazines.
2/19/2013 Levi's study is progressing well, they have studied each week since Feb 1st. We are trying to get him to the meeting, but he hasn't made it yet. Levi studies with him in the open yard area of his home. During the first study his mother brought out two plates full of food. It was beef, with potatoes, onion and Cheyote squash served with a side of boiled yucca and fresh Limonada. We enjoyed the meal even though we had already eaten earlier. I started a doorstep style study with a vendor at the local market. He lived in California for 15 years and his English is quite good. We have done 3 studies now, but usually just 4 or 5 paragraphs there at his stand in the market.

Money in Nicaragua

     Nicaragua, I read is the poorest country in central America, but Wikipedia is often wrong. The money they use here is Cordobas or Cords for short. The exchange rate is 24c to $1. The ATM here distributes Dollars or Cords, but we always get dollars, then change some to Cords. There are guys along the streets near the banks waving large stacks of bills yelling ,"Dolla, Dolla, Dolla" they offer the best exchange rates.  We take the bus into town for service and meetings it is 4c per person. They don't charge Josie, so it costs us 12c or $0.50, then we have a 12 minute walk to the Kingdom Hall. The buses don't run past 7pm, so we have to take a taxi back from the hall or wherever in the evenings. We also take a taxi back from the grocery store when we have cold stuff. We live out of town so they charge us a little more. We have taken taxis for as little as 60c during the day to 120c late at night. Mostly it runs 80-100c or $3-$4, even at 120 it's still only $4.80.
      As is true in the states there are cheaper places to eat and more expensive places to eat. The places that serve the local food to the locals are the cheapest, the places that cater to tourists are the more expensive. We can eat at the local places for 30-50c a plate, so we can all eat for about $5.00 with drinks. We had shwarma/gyro the other day, spent about $10. Went to a very nice place called Carnivoro and spent $20, even though we could have spent quite a bit more. The funny thing here is that beer pricing varies very little. At the grocery store a Tona or Victoria beer runs about 21c, at a restaurant it costs 24-28c, no such thing as $5 beer here. The fruits and veggies are pretty cheap, the canned goods are expensive. Peanut butter is $5 for a small jar! A nice organic Nica coffee runs about $5 for a 1lb bag, and you can get a nice latte for 35c. We bought the "especial" ground beef since we were told the "economica" meat was full of bone and gristle. Guess what, so is the "especial" ! I had to go through the meat by hand to make meatball to get out the "objects", after we had made one not so good batch of chili. Come to find out they also have a "Super" ground beef, guess we'll try that one next time. They also sell ALL the parts of the cow, if you are interested in eating any of them. The chicken is about $2 lb for boneless, skinless breasts, and we think it tastes better and is more tender than the US stuff.

      In general your dollar will go a lot further here. A young brother in the hall looking for work was offered 100c a day or about $4 at one place, that seems to be a minimum wage kind of pay here. Many of the need greaters have jobs they do online or go home and work for a few months at a time. Rent for a nice unfurnished house runs $200-$300, one couple got a place for $80/mo but have to clean all the bats and bat poop out first. Furnished places are a bit more and are harder to find. Our 2 bedroom little house is $750/mo, but includes electric, water, gas, maid service, 24hr security and AC! Did I mention it has Ac? We are keeping our eyes open for a place we like better for next month, but would be fine here too. They also have 1BR apartments in our "complex" for $500/mo.

The People of Nicaragua

      As you walk the streets people are not likely to make eye contact or offer a greeting to you as a stranger. If you offer a greeting first or smile at them they most often return in kind. The greeting most often heard is "Buenas" since it's to hard to say buenas dias, tardes or noches. As you pass someone on the street they may just say "adios" just skipping the hello part all together. Most people out and about are wearing jeans even though it is 95 degrees out, some even with long sleeves. Bearing the thighs seems to be pretty taboo for the women, but the jeans can be as tight as you can squeeze into. The young men use lots of hair gel and are all wearing Abercrombi & Fitch or Holister t-shirts. I think a ship of the shirts must have sank off the coast or something. The women we see in service are usually cooking or cleaning.  People are watering the dirt roads and sidewalks constantly since it is the dry season and things are dusty. They will sweep their garbage right out into the street though. Eventually though someone sweeps it into a pile and burns it, so there is a nice smell of burning plastic most days. There was a dog that died on our route to the KH, the next day someone had tried to burn it, but it still stank. It has been burned twice now and covered with dirt as it still lays on the sidewalk. Oh and yes, it still stinks! Hey, whats a third world country with out a little stink.

2/19/2013 Speaking of stink I just found out at the meeting that Nicas think that Gringos stink. I don't know if it's from all the backpackers that come through here, the Europeans or maybe we do all smell funny. Last week we had a local family over for dinner. We told them to take off their shoes if they liked. They said that if they took off their shoes after walking a lot and walked on the cold floor it would give them arthritis. They also said you shouldn't wash your hands after ironing clothes for the same reason. They burn a lot of plastic here releasing toxic fumes, even thought there is a garbage truck that picks up every week, They think if you keep garbage that long it will make you sick, so it's better to burn it than wait for the truck. Very interesting some of the things you hear. If I knew Spanish, I'm sure I would hear plenty more.

1 comment:

  1. love this line... "young men use lots of hair gel and are all wearing Abercrombi & Fitch or Holister t-shirts. I think a ship of the shirts must have sank off the coast or something" And maybe your nose will start to get a little immune to bad smells ;-)