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!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Ippel Zoo

It summer vacation!  And that means that most of the NCA/missionary community in Nicaragua packs their bags and heads off to the US for 4-6 weeks.  Normally, we are a part of this mass exodus, but this year for a variety of reasons, we are sticking around.  

As the "stayers," there are a few perks... each person we say goodbye to leaves us their unused food, so our cupboards are full.  The other thing our friends are leaving behind are their pets.  And we, as the stayers, end up caring for them. So, we are hosting a dog, a cat, a bunny, and a monkey in addition to the monkey we already have!  Henry will also be getting a bird this weekend.

Today is Day 3, and our kids are still thrilled to have these animals around, and motivated to fulfill the duties that are required to care for them.  They have each adopted an animal or two to feed and care for:

Charlotte and Buddie
Charlotte and Buddie (again)

Henry and Dexter (our monkey)

Mae and Sky

Micah (our nephew) and Oliver

Mae and Snow White

Soon-to-be home to Chocolotito, Henry's new bird

We are considering charging admission to our zoo to supplement our missionary support... if you are in the area, stop by and we will give you the friends and family rate!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Teaching TOTS by Henry

During my field trip, I went to a preschool called "Mis Pequenos Traviesos" or My Little Rascals. It was a small building with a bunch of kids. 

We had split in groups and practiced bible stories beforehand but this was totally different. First, we tried to get our group of kids but the kids in my group were crying like crazy. The teacher had to come over and literally drag the kids to our spot. Next, we acted out our Bible story--Daniel and the Lion’s Den. Our first question was what was what was your favorite part. Sadly, they all said nada or nothing but I feel like they did learn something. 

Then the children had a piñata they were super good at smacking that piñata with a stick. Donuts and juice boxes were the snack that followed. It was a great field trip!