Emily & Andrew’s Peace Corps Adventures: Every Nica Cloud has a Silver Lining

Doña Nubia, Daniel, myself, and Maria Los Angeles

by Andrew Nilsen
Re-blogged from: May We Suggest

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have opportunities to travel to many countries. Invariably I hear, and even find myself participating in, some form of this conversation:

Local: “How do you like our country?”

Tourist: “I love it! The people are so nice!”

The tourist in this instance is almost always alluding to how much nicer the people are in X country than they are in their home country. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of these conversations because not only have I heard this from U.S. citizens traveling in other countries, but also from tourists visiting the States. Is it true that people are just magically nicer in every country but our own? Or is there something in traveling that pushes us out of our cocoon of familiarity and into interaction with strangers that makes us realize that, on the whole, humans are a whole lot better than we give them credit for?

That being said, the people here in Nicaragua are super nice. So much so that I’ve developed a new favorite hobby: getting caught out in rainstorms.

Although I’m sure it wasn’t a factor in choosing which part of the year to hold training, the rainy season in Nicaragua has been great for cultural integration. I have found the barriers to interaction between strangers to be so much thinner here than in the United States. A drizzle is excuse enough to be invited into a house, or huddle together under the awning of a business, and in the shared experience of escaping from the rain conversation blossoms. This was how I came to experience the most beautiful moment of my service yet: becoming friends with Doña Nubia and her family.

Back on September 11th two of my fellow trainees (Conor & Daniel) and I were on our way to the soccer field in town to use sports as a means to integrate into the community. When we reached the field the locals were disbanding due to the ominous clouds forming in the sky that we happened to overlook on our walk over. With the rainy season in full swing, we knew that we’d better not mess around and find some cover quickly. Although the coffee shop/cyber café was only a few blocks away, the clouds moved faster. Before we knew it we were caught in the middle of a torrential downpour. We found some trees to stand under, but they weren’t doing us much good. I looked up at the nearest house to see a little grandmother waving us into her house from her patio. Daniel, Conor, and I looked at each other for a second, wondering what to do, before we climbed up the steps to the patio, not exactly sure what we were getting ourselves into.

Forty-five minutes later we had become friends with Doña Nubia, her daughter Maria Los Angeles, and her niece Johana. We shared about where we were from, why we were in Nicaragua, and of all the delicious Nica foods we had tried already. In turn they told us of other national dishes that we must still try, taught us that the best vigoron and chicharones in the country come from the markets and bus stops of Grenada, invited us to come back to chat and drink coffee whenever we wanted, and exchanged phone numbers so they could invite us over and cook us delicious Nicaraguan food! I was deeply touched by this priceless display of Nicaragua hospitality and warmth, and felt such gratitude for the opportunity to be working for an organization where this kind of genuine human connection is what we are actively encouraged cultivate.

Over the seven weeks in my training town I returned several times to Doña Nubia’s house to delight in conversation. Through chats with her and her family I learned about the history of their family, the history of Nicaragua, their view on the current political landscape (specifically regarding the Grand Canal project), and the struggles and hopes they have for their country. I introduced them to Emily, and they showered her with compliments and asked her to tell them the truth about what kind of a guy I am. They called us a “beautiful, incredible couple”, and assured us that we would have gorgeous babies. They admonished me to continue learning about the Nica culture, but that I’d better not become machista, because if I stopped treating Emily with respect they’d come after me! I learned to time my visits for when Johana & Maria Los Angeles returned from their pastry baking class, and therefore became their most enthusiastic taste-tester and supporter. Although our busy training schedules didn’t end up allowing for us to share a meal with them, when Daniel and I said goodbye to the family on Thursday evening they made us promise that we’d visit when we returned to our training town, and assured that we had a place to stay at their house if we ever visited overnight.

The month of November marks the official end of the rainy season here in Nicaragua. I may not have the excuse of a thunderstorm to push me into conversation with potential friends, but from my experiences in my training town I’ve learned that they excuses may not even be necessary in Nicaragua. The people here are just that nice  :)


logo_sized_downThe Journey House Campus Ministry Center in East Lansing, Michigan is looking to hire a part-time campus minister.

The Journey House Board of Directors is looking for a person who is passionate about ministry and interested in promoting mission, building relationships, and forming community with college students in the Lansing area. Employment could begin as soon as January 2015.

Read the full job description here

Change your Life. Change the World.


Change your life. Change the world. Make a difference – in who you are and what impact you leave in your footsteps.

There are changes happening all around. New ministries emerging. New visions of Community of Christ. New images. Even a new website.

Check out the new CofChrist.org website.

Have a look around. It may take a bit to get used to – but we think you’ll find it to be more up to date and simpler to find what you need!


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Things are Changing! – A Personal Note

YA Ministries friends  -

I wanted to share with you some things happening in the world of YA Ministries (and with me, personally).

As you might be aware, I have moved back to Canada, from Independence, and am working remotely from there until December 31, 2014. After that time, because of my desire to live in Canada, I will no longer be in the role of Young Adult Ministries Specialist with the church. Because of budget constraints, likely that position will not be filled for awhile (as I know more, I’ll be sure to share!)

HOWEVER this does not mean the end of Community of Christ Young Adults Ministries!!!

In the next few weeks you’ll be hearing more and more about the Young Adult Ministries Team, but more importantly, our transformation to becoming the Innovative Ministries Team (a name we feel better represents the population we work with, our goals, and purpose within the church). I am excited to continue as a part of this team even after my employment ends. This team has inspired and motivated me in so many ways, and I’m excited that you will hear more from them and be a part of our initiatives! Ben Smith and I are co-leading this team focused on collaboration, innovative and engaging ideas, advocating for needs, offering resources of support, and providing more opportunities for leadership development – for people like you!

Personally, I will be moving to a career focused on running a small coaching and consulting business out of Vancouver, BC called Steer Empowerment Consulting where I will be working with individuals and teams on personal growth and leadership development (much in a similar way I have as the YA Ministries Specialist, just as a small business rather than under church employment). I hope that as a coach and consultant, I can continue in a partnership with various aspects of the Community of Christ and I am most definitely still open to working with any of you in the areas of personal growth and leadership development you may be interested in (or interested in offering your ‪#‎cofcya‬ groups)!! If you have any questions or would like to talk about how we can continue to work together, I will always be glad to hear from you!
As always, feel free to ask any questions you have. I know this is all a bit vague and perhaps confusing? I’ll be happy to share whatever I can!

Just wanted to keep you informed!

With love,

Young Adult Ministries Specialist
Community of Christ

TODAY! YA MINISTERS’ GATHERING 2.0 – Join us in person or online!

 Join us TODAY @ 1pm CST in person (Peacemakers Room in the Temple) or
online http://www.ustream.tv/channel/innovative-ministries (live stream sponsored by Community Place+)

Use #cofcya to join the conversation/follow on Facebook and Twitter!



Sunday, October 26 from 1pm-3:30pm @ Community of Christ Temple (Peacemakers Room)

 ANYONE interested in YA Ministries is invited!
 Even if you can’t stay the whole time – feel free to drop in!



Sponsored and facilitated by the Young Adult Ministries Team

Important Update on the Leader Institute

Leader Institute LOGO -JPEGHi Everyone,

Unfortunately, I am the bearer of bad news.

We are needing to post-pone the Leader Institute program for awhile so will not be taking applications or starting a program in January as we had hoped. This is simply because there is not enough funds in World Church Ministries to run this program at this time. It is a high quality program and so the cost, to offer the program at the calibre necessary, just isn’t possible at this time.

I really hope that this program will be able to continue at some point in the near future. I think it is a great opportunity for emerging leaders of our church to be involved in (and it looks good on a resume too!).

If you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to contact me at yaministries@cofchrist.org. We will definitely make you aware when the program is able to run in the future!


needed_map_smIf you want to help our church community be able to continue offering
awesome programs like this: PLEASE GIVE! The Leader Institute is funded out of ministries supported by Develop Disciples to Serve.

The ministries of the church that benefit us, as individuals and as a community; and benefit others in what we can offer to the world – are only possible with the generosity of each of us!

Thank you for your understanding and for any support you can offer OUR church!

With hope,

Young Adult Ministries Specialist
Community of Christ


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