Friday, April 29, 2011

Added Hearts

I am now busy working on a collage for Psalm 1 and a couple of cards for thank yous for some people here, but I did do a bit of work on the "woman at the well" 9 piece collage. I decided to add hearts. The hearts on all 8 parts, all except the one with living water, have stony hearts locked up. It's a "Where is Waldo?" moment as I have tucked the stony hearts, a picture of when our hearts are set against God, here and there. The new heart is with the living water. I am still working on flattening the piece in all this humidity! It is close to 100 degrees today, again.

The children are off from school today.

And, I have just returned from giving Mama and Carmen their cards. The
Spanish might have been a little off. I think they will forgive me! Please pray for Mama today, she has a sore foot.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Woman At The Well Collage

Since I was called in on a Skype call this morning, I wasn't in the third grade art class for long, but I'll share a photo from their project. It went with the book about the mouse, the red, ripe strawberry and the very hungry bear. I had brought some supplies from the USA for this one, and I had hoped to show them how to draw their own mouse, but the Skype call took up a bit of time. Maybe another day.

Yesterday and this morning, I also worked on a 9 square collage
representing the Biblical narrative of the woman at the well. I think it is close to being finished, but I am still processing it. We'll see what final thoughts I have with it. I usually end up adding a bit more with these collages a day or two after I think I am done.

The houses represent different attempts at living life apart from the "Living Water" or our Maker. Jesus told the woman at the well He provided living water, which is allegory for "real life" and living without the idolatry of our hearts - that is - living with Him. Real Life like fresh, cool water. (I can certainly understand that living here in parched Nicaragua and praying for the removal of the idols of my heart.) Refreshing, hopeful, true life. That LIFE is represented by the square in the center of the collage.

The electricity is wavering today - it is yet another bear of a hot,
humid day, so I think I'll end for now in hopes it will be posted before I loose

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Second Grade Wordless Books

Today was a busy day of prep for 19 second graders to make their own wordless book cards. Using the wordless book cards is a fun and easy way to share the gospel or Good News of Jesus' love for us. It took an hour of prep and an hour and a half of actual class time to complete the project. They now have their own set, hand painted by themselves! I used what Spanish I have at this point and the teacher helped a bit, although she gave me a few puzzled looks here and there:-)

I also acted out the "great exchange", Jesus taking our sin and giving us His righteousness, with a student who played the part of Jesus. I think the class understood what was going on.
The children certainly loved painting. I wish they could have more opportunity, but an endless supply of materials would be needed. I had trouble finding markers for them to decorate their covers for the little cards, and I thought of all the bright, new markers easily attainable back in the United States.

I am fighting a cold, and the rainy season with all its humidity is not helping my feeling of well-being. So, that's all for today.
I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve here in Los Cedros.

Animals Snoring and Art Classes

Tonight, I woke up to a cacophony of animals snoring, crowing and chirping. A cow or pig must be snoring nearby, and it's whistling, snoring awoke me at three. That's in the wee hours of the morning for some, but not for the animals. They can rest or nap anytime they want to, so stirring about now is no big deal.

I hadn't posted anything yesterday, even though it was a full day of preparing to teach, or spent teaching art. I marveled at the pace however. No one was pressuring me to do more than what was before me, and it felt good. I spent about an hour with the first grade class reading to them (Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and making watercolor butterflies. They all seemed to enjoy themselves, and I felt very much at home with them.

I think, making art anywhere in the world is a gift of time that connects us with our Maker. We reflect His creative attributes when we create. I saw students planning, making patterns, making color and line choices as I walked amongst the 29 happy students.

I spent another hour or two mounting all the work and adding the antennae to each butterfly. It will be fun to return these to the students today!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Portrait in Honduras

Honduras.... I have returned safe and sound, and a little different in my thinking, from my trip to Honduras. It was a good, growing experience. It was a time of spending more, special time with some of the ladies from Los Cedros and Pastor & Pastora's family. It was also a time to see how some people worship Jesus in a country far from the United States. Every American Christian should experience at least one cross-cultural expression of worship of Jesus.

Where we were going to church, the hours of worship in singing and dancing were very different from my experience in America. Just when I thought the singing was winding down, it would start up again with greater fury. There was plenty of time to paint a painting as a part of the worship. (I did not have any paint with me, nor was it a part of their worship.....yet.)

I sat in the back during many of the services. There, I found cooler air for
this poor, used to cool air Seattlite! I just couldn't figure out how these folks could stand and dance in the heat without passing out. I imagine some thought I was the skeptic in the back. I, however, solidly a follower of Jesus, was trying to be a little cooler and save my energy for the 4-6 hour services. If they could only know how passionately I was holding onto Jesus in my mind and heart, they would have been well re-assured.

Five women, including me, stayed in a home of a family from the hosting church. The family was very welcoming; they were very hospitable and kind to us. The rainy season was beginning during our stay, and the family tried so hard to keep us comfortable in the rain, humidity and heat. They fed us and asked continually if there was anything we needed. (AC did come to mind, but I kept very quiet.)

I asked if the shower, in broken Spanish, worked, and was assured by all it did.

The son in the family spoke perfect English, so I asked if he could show me how to turn it on. He showed me the bucket and tap above it. He said to fill it up, and then pour water over my head with the included cup. He said the shower head did not work. The cold water DID feel refreshing!

This son, Julian, asked if
I'd do a sketch of him. Of course, I said. I began sketching as he sat quietly. Soon, Julian's mom came and said dinner was ready. Well, I knew I needed to finish the sketch, so I kept going. Basically, the sketch needed to be QUICK! However, portraits, even quick ones for me, take at least 45 minutes. But, I kicked it up a notch, and finished in 20-30 minutes.

Julian carried the drawing around the rest of the evening - yep, back to church we went after dinner. He shared the drawing with all his friends. (Thus, the picture of it in church.)

Today and tomorrow, after a nap or two, I hope to finish the prodigal series. Then, the kiddos come back to school, and I will be teaching art classes for each grade level.

PS The bus ride of 16 hours going to Honduras and 15 hours for the return traveling on non-stop hairpin turns with smoking bus tires (literally) is something one can truly only understand by experience. My back may never be the same, but everyone on the Los Cedros bus knows I endured the same hardship they did, and we are better friends for it. This photo was of the Pastor's daughter. We sat together on the return, and she reminded me of my own precious daughters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Prodigal Puzzle Continues

I am going to take a short break from art-making so I can pack my bag for Honduras. It should be an interesting trip during several days of this Holy Week. However, I did complete two more squares of the Prodigal Puzzle I'd like to share here. I still have to try to figure out how I will mount the sections. I am hoping this puzzle will be more interactive than a book.

It will be fun to share with the students when they return from vacation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Prodigal Puzzle

Here are the first three pages of the prodigal puzzle. Hopefully, you can click on it and it will enlarge.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son Puzzle

I have begun making a puzzle working off the story of the parable of the prodigal son. I am going to have a total of nine squares, hopefully, to put together in order to tell the story. I think it will be fun to do with children, and I can review the story by passing out the squares to children and then, the children can retell their part of the story as the puzzle is put back together. I'd like to thank Marge for spurring me on today to continue to make art using collage in this way! It is made completely with painted papers.

Eight more to follow in the days ahead, Lord willing! I look forward to
these with children here, my grandchildren and many others.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Heat and Headache

It was really, really, really hot today, and I battled a headache all day long. I am hopeful that tomorrow will be cooler. I did quite a bit of cutting (see cut butterflies) in preparation for art classes once I return from Honduras, and then I went to bed for most of the rest of the day. Pastor Manuel and Pastora came in the evening to check on me, and they prayed for me.

I have been blessed with an encouraging Skype call from Judy tonight. We discussed future plans, the need for a translator to do art here, and the benefits of having more than one person ministering in a location such as Los Cedros.
I took some photos of local animals,the goat, birds, the next door neighbor - a horse - after my afternoon siesta. The kind woman who brought me lunch realized the goat tethered near my house was in the sun way too long, and needed to be moved to the shade. I cheered her on while she got him situated with fresh water under a tree.

And now, I am hopeful the house here will finally cool down, but I am taking one last cold shower to start the cooling process! Now I know why I like AC so much.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Church, Children, Butterflies

It is one hot day in Los Cedros today! I tried to take a nap in the hammock after church, but that was even too hot. I finally fell asleep on my bed under a fan, and awoke in a pool of sweat reminiscent of my childhood, hot, summer days without fans in Chicago. I have been sipping on iced coffee and taking cold showers. I totally missed spring this year, and I am looking forward to it when I return to Seattle.

This morning, I went to church with Pastor and Pastora and the family. I sat in the back, and before I knew it, a row of children from the school was surrounding me. They are so sweet, some sharing candy with me and reading my Spanish
dictionary out loud to help me with pronunciation. I took a couple of photos of the kiddos in church.

Later today, actually as the sun was setting, I did a sample butterfly for the kids to see for my art class with the butterflies. I am going to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar with the first graders, and then they are going to paint butterflies. It was fun for me, since I pushed the colors, thinking of Marge's painted papers.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lazy Los Cedros Sabato (Saturday)

I am lazing around mi casa today. I have gotten up leisurely, painted the front and back of an accordion book for my Moroccan archways, and I've had a fun lunch over at Pastor and Pastora's house today. I took some pictures at lunch because Pastor Manuel was attempting to eat a whole chicken in an enormous bowl of soap. Too funny to pass up!

I had come to lunch with several sentences written out in Spanish to share what I had been doing since I had last seen the dynamic duo. So, we had a little bit more of a conversation. I shared some pictures of my daughters, sons-in-laws, grandchildren and my Dad and Janet. They ran to show other family members.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fun Friday at Havila

Today was a relaxing day hanging out with the children in the morning. I had fun playing with them and taking pictures. Many of the kids had made chicken hats or sombreros de gallos. I finally found a chicken hat for myself and was able to hang out with the kiddos with like sombrero. What a relaxing morning.

The kids went home today for a long Holy Week vacation. They do not return until the 26th, I think. I found out today that I don't leave for Honduras until Wednesday. So, I have several days to make art at Havila on my own. I hope to do a couple of watercolors and collage. I also hope to pray through some plans for the future. I am always amazed at our Faithful God, and I am so thankful He has allowed me to make art full time and enjoy His children. He is the one true God who is the lover of my soul, and I trust and enjoy His Presence more and more here in Los Cedros.

Today, I did something I've wanted to do for at least a year. I have made paper beads for a necklace. It was fun and restorative as I listened to Tim Keller on the internet. Mr. Keller has at least one good sermon on the church and the creative arts. I enjoy his talks as I create something new and mull over new ideas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moorale Finito!

Yes, that is a wrap of the mural. With the help of a few more students, especially Jennifer once again, the mural is complete. I hope to have a final photo shot as the kids leave classes today. It was a fairly full day of putting in details. I added cats, dogs and Jennifer added flowers. Two students helped me finish the lower half in one solid color of green. I also cleaned up the blue around all the black lettering in the sky. That was fairly tedious, but it looks sharper now.

One woman named Blanca came by and mentioned a word with an "o" should really have an "a", so I got the black paint and made a line by the o so it would be an a. No problemo! This mural has been quite a group effort!

I had lunch at Pastora's house; I've paid for lunch there during my stay to be sure to have one good meal each day. I often take my leftovers and eat them for cena or dinner. I did this today, wrapping my leftover lunch in aluminum foil. I put my wrapped plate in the office, and began working. Suddenly, I heard a crashing sound, and imagined it was my lunch plate. Sure enough, a stray dog had gone into the office and stolen my lunch which was not to be my dinner.

I let him clean up the mess, and he did a really good job. The school secretary
was out, thus the dog had free reign of the office. Gosh, I Carumba! (Great Scott!) No dinner tonight.....well, there is always cheese and crackers:-) So, the mural is finished, and so is my lunch/dinner.

All in a day's work in Nicaragua!

When I get home, I want a really tall glass of iced lemonade......right by my amoka. (Hammock)

I see a collage in the making with this photo!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mural Almost Terminado!

I am getting close to finishing the mural. I think I side-swiped myself by having so many involved, but I sensed it was a really good thing to include as many as possible in the painting process. I am so very tired tonight because I went to church, a nearly 3 hour situation. Don't get me wrong; I love going to my church. The servitsio tonight was solo espanole or however one spells it. I am too tired to look it up:-)

At one point, a young artist named David decided to take over. He was having fun, so I let him have at it. Later, I down-sized some of the shoes he put on some of the children.

I finally got the command chair back and had 5 boys trying to paint. Yikes! I was laughing when one girl gave a boy a paintbrush with pink paint because she had to go do something. I caught him working with the pink. For some odd reason, this artist thought a yellow dressed girl needed pink shoes. I'm going to leave it because they painted it! It's just too cute to change.

So, enjoy the art!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Lettering Terminado!

Boy, does it feel good to have the lettering done on the mural. I am excited to think the whole thing can be wrapped up by tomorrow afternoon! Then, I will begin cutting out papers in preparation for several art projects in the classrooms. Since the students are in exams this week, and next week is Easter vacation, I assume I will make the art with the kids the week after vacation.
I am going, with 15 other, to Honduras, to celebrate Holy week and go to a conference. I'll be bringing some art along with me to share at the conference.

I hope you are enjoying seeing the unfolding of the moorale, as they say here. I have to remember to moo like a cow if I am going to say the word correcto.

I enjoyed playing with the students this morning, and I think I'll go see
who I can play with now. It is the afternoon recesso time!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Down To Brass Tacks

Writing with paint is not a career path I wish to go down anytime soon. However, while in Los Cedros, I have thrown myself into the mural with all its ups and downs. That means I even paint small words on bumpy stucco! I have to stand the whole time I am painting, so small breaks are totally in order. I get the blood flowing again while sitting during my poco siesta, then pop up again and begin painting anew.

The kids love seeing the progress. They also enjoy teaching me Spanish; they correct my pronunciation and we all laugh.

It is either hot or really hot or really, really hot here. Today it was really, really hot, so I have a headache. I'm going to go drink mochas aqua!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Early Morning Baptisms

Hoy es un lindo dia que Dios izzo! (Today is a beautiful day that God made with apologies for any mistakes.) I started the day by walking with a small troupe of new friends who were coming down to the river to get baptized or cheer on, with beautiful singing, those being baptized. It was a lovely, joy-filled experience.

I joined up with a small group of women, and one in the group was keen on helping me with my Spanish diction. I finally told her she was my personal Spanish professor! She wouldn't let me get away with any sloshing around with the verbs. And when I mis-pronounced the Spanish word for "birds" (flying over our heads) the women laughed hilariously. I had said soccer instead of birds. Whoops! :-)

The woman who is my professor was carrying her daughter who had been badly
burned. Her scars looked so painful, I kissed the little baby's leg a few times out of compassion. I guess she is doing better; it is a miracle she is alive. My understanding is the little one was in the hospital for a while.

After the baptism at the river, I headed to church and sat with Ena. Ena is a sweetheart who knows some English. She helped me prepare for when each person in the congregation shares a verse. I had John 6:29 in mind, and she found the Spanish for me. When it was my turn, after I said it in Spanish, everyone clapped. That sure encourages me to keep trying, poor diction and all!

I was invited to a yummy bar-be-que at Pastor Manuel and Pastora's house after church. Pastor's brother and whole family was there along with Pastor Hilario from Northshore Baptist, my home church. I tried to keep up with the Spanish, but I was lost half the time. I enjoyed Pastor's Mom and Carmen along with Pastor's daughters. We are becoming friends.

Now, it is Siesta time for me in Nicaragua!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Lettering on the Mural

Today I focused on lettering for the mural. I only have 2 words to go, but it is time for my pedicure. Yes! A lovely woman from Los Cedros is doing my feet, and boy do they need it! Yes, women want to be beautiful the world over.

I also want to note that I was given a delicious, huge luncheon from Pastora and Pastor's home via Anna. It was enormous! I put most of it in my backpack for dinner. Well, with that accomplished, a huge gust of wind knocked over my Coke that was handed to me in a very breakable glass. Yep, the

Coke flew everywhere, the glass broke, and the local dog came and sat down right on top of the broken glass. I was all upset at this point!

I was trying to plead with the dog to go. I finally remembered, "Vamos!" and he left right away. "Go" was not working for this Spanish speaking dog! What a day! Lots of high wind, careful painting, broken glass and dogs and much too much food! I love it.

OK, I am back to work after a delightful pedicure outside. Five ladies were siting around getting their feet pretty or talking about life or helping me with my Spanish. I messed up a lot with a lack of verbs, which kept them laughing. I finally got up from my big rocker on Pastor and Pastora's porch, and went back to work.

I finished the main titles that I needed to paint. Whew. It is mue client hoy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It is Friday! Mural Continues!

I am posting one or two photos, hopefully. The internet comes and goes, especially when I am not close to the school. I continued working on the mural, and Pastora gave me the verse she would like on the banner. I tried to clean up a bit, as all the rest of the work in finer work.

My verse for today is this one:

‎"My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest"
Exodus 33:14. I've just heard that my daughter, Virginia's, MRI was clean, and she remains tumor-free. I feel very blessed tonight.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Mural Unfolds!

.....have limited internet access at the moment, so this has to be quick. I thought you'd like to see the progress on the mural today. I did the trees and some girls helped me with the sky. They seemed to have lots of fun! Marcos helped with the coconut tree!

Hopefully, there will not be too many cockroaches in the house when I go home for dinner!

Go ants, go!

Postscript. When I got home, a gecko flopped on my head as I was opening the screen door. Then he crawled into the house. I just said, "OK, come on in, the more the merrier." I've given up on being scared.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mural Painting 101

Group mural painting is really a unique art form. Especially in "relationships rich" Nicaragua. Everyone wants to help. Even if it is just to watch the art unfold with paint flying and then add an occasional "good" in their very best English. At one point, I had 4 girls painting the white, blanco, on the banner of the mural. That was serious fun. I sat in my chair and pretended to direct them.

At another point, a worker at the school decided to draw the tree representing Northshore and Seattle, a fir tree, and I let him have at it. I just love encouraging artists. I did have to erase some of it, but he had fun. He also added spear-like points on the stands of the banner. I kept those; they look very Nicaraguan!

Speaking of paint flying, the mural has now become a scene with lots of green grass under the banner to cover all the white paint the foursome inadvertently flung there. My job for a while, after the dust settled, was to reclaim the green areas of the piece. And I mean shocking green! All in a day's work in Nicaragua.

The children and adults have been so loving, warm and welcoming during my first few days. I am hearing Pastor Manuel off in the distance, playing the keyboard in the church. I was hoping to go tonight, but my body won't move from this chair. I am finito as far as doing anything else.

Trying to think and speak Spanish non-stop is really hard for me;
I am improving little by little. That process is exhausting mentally. Oh, there goes Benjamen (Benyamen). He is the night guard with lots of gold teeth. He has been very welcoming as well. And there is my neighbor, a cow. He is fairly calm and quiet as he slips through the dried grass blades for his evening cena or supper.

I came back to the project house after church, I did go thanks to dear Ena coming by and getting me, and I saw that the ants had trapped a cockroach and killed it. The ants are now my new best friends! I swept the whole pile of insects, roach with dining ants, out the front door. Now it really is bedtime!