Nov 30, 2009

At Home in Nicaragua

I grew up a military brat, more specifically, an Air Force brat. My early claim to fame (so I've been told) was being the first boy born at the new hospital on Dover Air Force Base. Supposedly, my mom beat the odds and won $50 from the OB nurses (seems all previous births had been girls). We lived for a short time in Lewes Beach, Delaware, a quiet coastal town connected to New Jersey by the Cape May Ferry. 

Like most military families, we didn't stay long in any one place. Dad was transferred to Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio, Cigli Air Station in Izmir, Turkey, Langley AFB in Tidewater Virginia, and Andrews AFB in Maryland. Being good troopers, we fell in line behind the Colonel and marshaled on.
Stacy grew up a nomad as well. She was a computer brat (yes, a made up term). Her dad was there during the halcyon days of office computing, when computers filled entire rooms and the United States landed a man on the moon using the total computing power of a five-function pocket calculator.
Various sales positions with companies such as Singer and IBM moved them from Cherry Hill (NJ) to Cincinnati to Moraga (CA) to Atlanta. Stacy's family finally settled in Houston where her dad opened his own computer company just before the dawn of personal computers.
Houston is where Stacy and I would meet, fall in love, and get married--all in very short order. In our first 12½ years of marriage we moved from Houston to Stockton, CA to Brea, CA to San Antonio to Austin to Chicago. We would often joke that after six months in a new place we longed for the smell of corrugated cardboard and the sound of box tape!
During the second 12½ of marriage we have lived in one house on one street in one community in West Michigan. Our friends who visit from other cities call East Grand Rapids "Norman Rockwellville." Truly it is a great place to live and an even greater place to raise a family. Very soon it will be the new home of little Rebeca and Rosalinda.

We expect that the transition will be overwhelming at times for the girls. Stacy and I can kind of empathize. On a much smaller scale and for a much shorter time, we have been transported to and transplanted in an unfamiliar country that has a unique culture where people speak another language. New smells, tastes, sights, sounds, etc. It's not bad... just different.
If our short time here has convinced us of anything, it's that our girls need to experience Nicaragua (their current home) before beginning a life in the United States (currently our home). Moreover, we know that our three biological children need to visit the homeland of their sisters. I fly home soon but plan to come back with Kate and Sam in May, joining Stacy and the girls closer to the time the adoption is hopefully finalized.

Our oldest, Ryan, already spent a week with us here in Nicaragua over his spring break. The night before he returned to Miami, he commented that his stay here was different than taking a vacation. A big reason was the time he spent in the orphanage with his little sisters and the other children. Ryan played the role of big brother well, demonstrating the patience of Job and the playfulness of Tigger. Another reason was that he lived, shopped, conversed, and (most importantly) ate "como Nica."
Stacy and I have agreed that we must come back as a family, early and often. We can easily see ourselves spending a month here each year or every other year. We love the people, the culture, the land, the history, and the food. Most importantly, part of our family is from here and that makes it a little part of all of us.
About the author:
Bill Oechsler is the principal for Xler Consulting, a marketing and brand consultant firm based in Grand Rapids. He lives in East Grand Rapids with his wife, Stacy, and their five children.

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