Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fiestas Patrias 2017!

It's hard to describe the festivity surrounding Fiestas Patrias--the celebration of Nicaragua's "Independence Day" each year on September 14 and 15. So rather than try to describe the event in words, here are some pictures and videos from Nicaragua Christian Academy's celebration this past Wednesday. A lot (though not all!) of the photo credits go to NCA photographers. . .we lifted them from NCA's Facebook page. Enjoy!

The morning of Fiestas Patrias always takes some extra time to get ready and for the family picture session! This year, Ruth learned how to cut Andrew's old (though clean) socks to create instant hair buns for the girls. 

The men from the annual "Teacher Dance"
Watch the infamous teacher dance by clicking here.
The whole teacher crew. . .

You can see Mae's class dancing by clicking here

Can you spy the Ippel?
 Mae and her classmates memorized quite a long poem in Spanish. Check it out here.

Mae's class watching high school presentations. 

The Homeroom Mom Dance--first annual event! Ruth probably practiced more than any other family member to get ready for this big day:)

 See Ruth and the other homeroom moms killin' it by clicking here. 

Watch Charlotte and her kinder friends singing here!

In addition to dancing, each classroom prepares a drama regarding Nicaraguan history and culture to share with parents and other grade levels. Henry was a colonizer from Spain. 

See Henry and his classmates presenting here. They had a popular presentation because they handed out candy afterwards. 

We hope you enjoyed the videos and pictures! The only better way to experience is to come down and see the events for yourself:) Happy Independence Day, Nicaragua!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Staying for the Summer

We just spent our first summer here in Nicaragua.  This was the first time in four years that we did not travel back to the US for June and July.  There were several reasons for this choice… Andrew had a class that he needed to attend, we had travelled to the US for Christmas, and we had visitors who were excited to come see us in the summer months are some of the main ones.  

I was a little nervous about staying here, mostly because I have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and hated to think of all the family and friends we were missing out on seeing, and all of the fun things they were doing without us.  Now that the summer is done, though, I’m glad we stayed.  There are certainly pros and cons to staying, and I’ve listed some of them below in case you are wondering what they are (listed in no particular order):


  • We were able to continue in some of our ministries throughout the summer (Andrew at Tesoros de Dios, and Ruth at House of Hope). 

Relay Day at House of Hope

  • We didn’t gain the 10 pounds that we normally gain in the US every summer.

  • We were able to create a summer/more relaxed routine for our family, including sending our kids to summer camp at NCA.

Our family Summer Plan

  • We had our neighborhood to ourselves. We did miss having our neighbors around, but is was also nice to be able to walk outside in our PJs and let the monkey run free.

  • We were able to explore more of the beautiful country we live in, and our neighboring country, Costa Rica.

Family jump at Laguna de Apoyo
Exploring Somoto Canyon with friends

Exploring Costa Rica with Grandma and Grandpa

  • We didn’t have to figure out borrowing a car for the summer.

  • We didn’t have to figure out 12 places to stay as we travelled across the country—we got to sleep in our own beds!

  • Andrew was able to prepare for the upcoming school year with a more relaxed timeline. 

  • We didn’t have to try to buy everything we need for a year and fit it into 5 50-pound suitcases.

  • We didn’t have to worry about everything in our house growing mold.

  • We didn’t have to find someone to watch our monkey, Dexter.

  • We didn’t have to stand up in front of churches, though we did miss worshiping and fellowshipping with our home churches in the US.



  • We ended up pet-sitting for all of our friends who did go back to the US for the summer (this could maaaaaaayyyyyybbbbbeeee be listed in the PRO section as well, since our kids did enjoy having extra pets around).

Charlotte and her new BFF, Buddie

  • We didn’t get a chance to do our US-shopping for the year (we’re REALLY looking like “missionaries” these days!)

  • We didn’t get to see our family, except for a few visitors.

Our summer vistors: Laura, Michael, and Micah

  • We missed out on fun American summer activities—camping, celebrating the 4th of July, eating berries, VBS, reunions.

  • We didn’t really have much of a complete break from “ministry” life in order to be refreshed for year 5.

  • We didn’t get a chance to connect with our many, dear friends.

  • We missed out on meeting our 4 brand-new nieces and nephews (and since they are so cute, here they are): 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Costa Rica!

Our family did not travel back to the US this summer. . .but we did have a chance to travel a little more "locally!" We spent the last week with Andrew's parents in the country just south of us, Costa Rica. Only a 30-minute flight away, we are so grateful for the opportunity to see a new part of God's creation just a little beyond our own backyard. It was fun (though strange) to be tourists in Central America, in a country that certainly caters to tourism (and charges for EVERYTHING). We are very thankful for the chance for rest, repite, and relaxation before a new busy ministry year kicks in very soon (in reality, the ministry year never really ended this summer, as we were able to continue with some of our commitments in June and July). The best gift of all was certainly being with relatives--Henry, Mae, and Charlotte's "Ippel grandparent time" was invaluable and needs to sustain us for the next year or so!

Here are a few pictures to make you jealous:)

Poas Volcano area (cloud forest, waterfalls, strawberries!):

Feeding a sloth

Exploring the "big" city of San Jose (Taco Bell, amusement park, traffic, zoo!):

There were about 100 places to do "canopy tours" in Costa Rica. We chose the mall.

Caribbean Coast (snorkeling, dophins, deserted beach, small fishing town, coconuts!):

Volcan Arenal (hot springs, windy roads, volcano vistas, more waterfalls!):

Obviously NOT the hot springs

Now that we are back, it is time to think about preparing for the new school year, which will begin for Andrew in about a week (students begin in two weeks). Pray for that tricky transition back into work mode after a great, needed break!