Sunday, May 29, 2011

Farewell for Now

As I was saying my goodbyes to Pastora and her family, I said there might be a possibility I could come back with the women's team and for my birthday. Pastora assured me we'd have a big birthday party with a pinata. It would be pretty amazing to celebrate with the women I shared life with in Los Cedros! I'd like to fly a few folks from up here for that party.

I think it would be very impactful to do
the story ropes with the women who would attend the women's conference in
September. I hear up to 200 women attend the conference. That's a lot of story and a lot of "rope!"

I am praying for direction on my return visit time wise. I love everyone there and wish they could all be my real neighbors.
However, there are so many exciting opportunities for using art with story telling.

The last night I was there, I took Pastora and her family to dinner at Pizza Hut. It was a huge splurge, but the AC and icy drinks cheered everyone - even this slightly wilted Americano. (See Photo)

Saying goodbye to my Nicaraguan family was hard! I have also posted a photo of "Mama" who is Pastor Manuel's mom, but I get to share her. She is on the left. She played a few pranks on me, so I figured out early that she has a great sense of humor. The woman on the right shared her story with me through making art. I am awed that she trusted me, and more importantly, she trusted God - that it would be good and healing to share her story. It was hard to say goodbye to both these special ladies.

For a final activity related to all the collage-making in Nicaragua, after returning
home, Vickie, a dear friend, and I collaged/mixed media Zephaniah 3:17. I just loved making art with Vickie. And it is especially rewarding to incorporate Scripture with the art. Vickie did an awesome job!

I'm off to another couple of countries, and another
couple of art adventures. Email/facebook if you want the link for my next adventure. This one has come to a happy close.

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
-Zephaniah 3:17

Vickie's is the one with the eagle. I think she got essence beautifully!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Art and Faith

I've tried this once already, the power went out, and I lost it all. I am hesitant to try again, because it is a stormy day here in Nicaragua, so any second it can all be down as far as power is concerned. I'll just publish as I go.

Today, I have written down, in another place, much of what I remember from my time making art with the women here, so I have exhausted most of my writing energy. And, I am packing to head out tomorrow after church, to the Best Western in Managua, and then fly home early Monday morning.

What I want to remember is how powerful the making of the art was in sharing our stories and faith. As my translator said to me in English, "I did not know art could be so powerful in helping someone to share their life story and in healing hearts."

It's amazing, and we both saw it unfold together.

These women were really taking risks in being transparent and in making art because they have very little experience in both areas. One was especially worried that she could not do the art, but she prayed and made a beautiful book she entitled, "Life is Art."

They all wanted a grade on their art! I said they all had A +s because of all they had done. No, they really wanted a grade. That would not do. So, I said Jesus earned them their A+ and just trust all was well with their art.

Women shared stories of sexual abuse, rape, loss of loved ones early in life, infidelity, shunning and shaming. The art helped with getting the stories out and relief for the hearts of the women.

There were many moments of prayer and then more sharing. The time was sacred with these special women. I was undone in my heart several times and wept just like Jesus wept over Lazurus's death.

I hope to share more with you all in the days ahead, but that's a wrap due to power shortages in 3rd world countries. :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Final Days in Nicaragua

Today was a day full of activity, beginning with the bird concert from 4:20 am to 5:40 am. Then, it was back to sleep for me followed by a quick shower and a dash over to Pastor and Pastora's house. We had planned a trip to the Masaya market in a town southeast of Los Cedros. There would be one stop at the school where the Bustamonte's had placed their children. I think it was a meeting of heads of school.

The day was stiff and hot, so the air conditioning was amazingly cool. I hadn't had a time with AC in quite a while, so my body was a bit taken aback. And then spoiled. I knew I'd be back to sweating after our adventure, and boy, was I right. When we returned, I sweated buckets...but that's skipping to the end.

We headed into Masaya before I knew it, but closer to lunch than breakfast time.

So, with hunger (hambra) setting in, we headed straight to a lunch joint. It was clean and refreshing, and the fried fish was actually quite tasty. What was even better was all our leftovers were passed right along to 3 young men who sat down quickly next to us. They looked dirty and tired and they thanked us.

I was so happy to have been a part of spontaneous food relief grace moment without food police or paperwork. It was one of the sweetest moments of my time here.

Selah, Pastora's sister, Anna, Pastora's daughter and I slipped off to enjoy the market. We saw all sorts of cool arts and crafts, but I know my boxes in my garage have plenty of knick knacks, so I refrained from buying more. I did find the artist who makes flowers out of corn husks and bought all her flowers. She gave me her phone number - I guess I'm an amiga now:-)

I also bumped into a woman who makes many different items out of paper beads, and I bought a bracelet and asked to have a photograph with her. I couldn't believe she made baskets and picture frames out of beads! I am so happy she is selling her beautiful things.

We ended our stay with freshly squeezed mango juice, and we sat and sipped happily amongst the colorful wares around us. This market was so much cleaner than the Moroccan markets, but filled with little children begging. One mom was begging with her hydrocephalic child who had a very large head. My heart was cut to the quick and Selah quietly recommended I give her some money.

I had yet another chocked-full day in Nicaragua...ending up back at school and overhearing..."IGUANA!!" and then many children screaming. I, quick thinking gal that I am, ran for my camera and dashed toward the screaming. Unfortunately, the screaming must have caused the iguana to slink away rapido as they say here.

I capped off the afternoon with a glance at my light on the porch only to discover a cockroach the size of Texas. may not be an iguana, but I did capture it on film!

Just when I thought my day was winding down, a woman from my art class dropped by and shared all the art she had made. I complemented her on her beautiful family tree made out of butterflies. We had some photos taken by her niece, Ava, and I took some photos of her art. For me, it was sacred.

I think I'll just relax a bit before I head for bed...and get a nap in before the howling starts up! Oh, I think Pastor Manuel is a very frustrated guitarist! (See photo from the market.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nicaragua Musings

You are probably juggling three or four activities right now, getting ready to drive somewhere, have two or three calls to return, need to check your phone, and you need to make dinner or go to the grocery store or BOTH! Unless you live near the equator. Life is so different there than here in Nicaragua.

Here it's hot or very hot or very, very hot.

That translates to 95, 99, and 105 degrees just about every day. Water for a "gringo" is something to think about a lot. There is much relief when one has a cache of water. Since I have been sipping lemonade at Pastor's house, I think my body is swimming with parasites, but I hope to not overdo it, so I keep buying bottled water.

I spent a large part of my afternoon walking to a place to get water, chatting with different children and moms, and goofing around with Pastor and Pastora and their family. (I haven't driven a car in 6 weeks. If I use my cell phone, it could cost $20 for one message. Thus, no cell phone use.)

Today, I had the privilege of hearing different women's stories as they shared their artwork they had made. We stopped and prayed every so often as the stories spilled out. There was much pain, violation, hidden hatred, abuse and much more. We were careful with each other. I pray these women continue to care for one another deeply in the days ahead. No matter how little or much money one has, these sufferings of the heart and soul are world-wide.

I asked the women to also make at least one page of art telling about times of grace, love, mercy and hope in their lives. The women will be sharing their final art/stories on Friday. I pray for healing, much healing and grace as they share.

And no, I did not get to the market today. Manyana, as they always say. Life is slower, slower, slower here.

I'm off to church, giving another pastor a farewell portrait. It's not perfecto, but it comes from my prayerful heart, and I pray he is blessed and encouraged through the art.

Oh, and hug your kids tonight! Many are without a mom or dad or both in this little town.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Portrait of a Pastor from Guatemala

What a day - I think it was hard because of my lack of sleep last night. I hardly slept with the constant barking, cackling of hens, then early morning bird wake-up calls and the scratching of the two iguanas. Throw in Benjamin's whistling for danger, and the night lights brightly shining in my room, and I become a wee bit cranky by 5:00 a.m. Most nights have not been quite so noisy! It's funny how some nights are just like that.

Tomorrow, I am supposed to give a pastor, one who spoke in Honduras, a portrait. I worked on it all day long, and did more erasing than I have done in a long time. Sweating from head to toe, I'd take photos every so often, trying to document the good ole process. I have stopped for today. I feel I am closer to where I'd like to be for tomorrow, and I am hoping and praying he will be blessed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Response to a Rooster or Two

Anyone who has spent any time at all in Los Cedros knows there are roosters afoot! This morning, the birds and roosters were unusually boisterous in their praising of the dawning of the new day. I decided to do a quick, acrylic painting of a type or composite of all the roosters I heard this morning. I don't do acrylic paintings, and I don't do quick.

However, times have changed, I am in Nicaragua, and I am a little more relaxed. Enjoy! I'm going to put him in my kitchen one day, and I will think of the bird choral ensemble I heard every morning in Los Cedros.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Good Samaritan

I have been busy here in Los Cedros in a number of ways. First, I have completed the mural, with quite a bit of help from many students and a few adults. Second, I have gone into each classroom, except sixth grade, and I have made art with the students. I go to sixth grade tomorrow.

I also start art book making with 9 women tomorrow. That should be an amazing experience. I am just praying hard for those ladies to tell their stories using art while having some soul searching moments.

I have also been working on art cards to tell the story of the Good Samaritan. These have come more slowly, because I went back and did 3 more cards for the Prodigal Son puzzle for children, and I had the art classes. However, here is what I have so far. I am posting between rolling power outages!

I think you can click on it to enlarge it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Labor Day - No School

Today is a day full of art-making and preparation for the week of art. It is quiet because the children are home due to the Labor Day holiday today. I have added three other pieces to the prodigal sons puzzle. Now, I can do some cutting for tomorrow's artwork and the art books the ladies will be making soon. I am excited about helping women to share their stories in the few remaining days I have here in Los Cedros.

See if you can find the three new pieces!