Monday, May 14, 2012

Why?! Why would you want to move there?

This is the question we are getting a lot. I have a feeling those who haven’t asked are wondering the same thing.

We can answer the why question in 3 parts:

Cultural Experience…
We live in a global community. Not only has the world shrunk through advances in communication and travel technology, but our own nation is almost as diverse as the world itself. America is a blend of so many nationalities and cultures. To really connect with your classmates, professors, co-workers, and neighbors, you need a well-rounded global understanding. What better way to understand life outside the United States than to go live somewhere else. And no, a trip to an all-inclusive in the Caribbean won’t cut it. We want to know people, see their circumstances, and understand their culture.

Learn the Language…
After each trip we have taken, the one thing we always wish is that we knew the language better. It is really difficult to learn a language authentically by sitting in a classroom or listening to CD’s, especially as an adult. All five of us have done that, and learned a little Spanish, but not enough. There is no comparison to being immersed in the language. After a year, maybe we’ll give an award to the family member who understands the most and speaks the best.

Serve globally…
This is by far the biggest draw for us. There are needs everywhere, both here in the US and abroad. We have tried to raise our children with servants’ hearts - to always be mindful of others and help whenever possible. By taking us out of the comfort of our home and community here in the busy US rat race, we will be able to focus more of our daily lives on serving others. We want to grow as a family and stretch our faith. There are going to be challenges. We expect this to be one of the most difficult, trying things we ever do. It feels like possibly the most risky and frightening and crazy thing we will ever do. But this decision has also brought us much peace, fulfillment, and encouragement. That is what we are getting from serving in the way we hear God calling us – a life full of adventure and purpose. God wants us to serve one another. Some people are led to do so across the country, some are called next door, while others feel drawn to another part of the world. After having served in Nicaragua on short-term trips several times, we have simply felt drawn back there to serve long-term.

We feel so fortunate to have the collective desire and ability to do something that is going to be such an adventure, and in many ways, so selfless. Some would say it is human nature to want to serve others. People instinctually band together and serve whenever tragedy strikes. It is something that we marvel at, and see as true human nature exposing itself. We believe that this desire has been given to us from God. It is a characteristic that should be exercised daily. He calls us to go and make disciples of all nations, to go into the world and preach the gospel. John Piper says, “to belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with Him.” Our mission is to go and show the love of Jesus through our actions. We may not be preachers or have degrees from a seminary, but we can live a life that is reflective of His goodness. We can love people as Jesus did.

Stay tuned for answers to the HOW questions… 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Love God, Love People, Serve the World. That’s what it’s all about. It’s Christianity, in its simplest form.

Everyone has their own place in this world, and sometimes it takes a while to find out where that is. For us - the Izzo family - we have been preparing for this next adventure for years.

Jeff and I have travelled on short term mission trips for almost 10 years. We have been to places like Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Belize, and New Orleans for Katrina relief. We find joy in serving others, especially those who have less. Whether it is painting shutters for a church or playing baseball with kids, we have found that the essence of our faith is at its purest when connecting with and serving others.

A few years ago, we decided it was time to bring the kids with us on a trip abroad. At the time, Sammy was 6, Nate was 9, and Julia was 11. Around that same time, we reconnected with some friends, Wyeth and Wendy Willard, who wanted the same thing for their family. With Wyeth’s family already having a ministry in place in Nicaragua, it seemed like our reconnection was more than just coincidence.

Shortly after that, we started planning a family mission trip to Campo Alegria in Nicaragua. It was amazing to see our kids hang out with kids from a different culture and language. A wise man told us that the language of kids is “fun.” That was certainly apparent when watching the boys, who don’t speak each other’s languages, collect rocks and build friendships. Who needs words?
We took a second trip a little over a year later, during Christmas break. We all put aside our American Christmas of shopping, decorations, and feasts to spend time with some families in Nicaragua who rarely get even a day off of work.

After the second trip people began asking: Where are you going next? Have you thought about going abroad for an extended period of time? The truth is, spending an extended period abroad has been a desire of ours since our first mission trip. It’s something that has always seemed like too much of a stretch from our established lives in the Maryland. But the more often we have served abroad, the more we’ve wanted to go for a longer period of time. After seeing how Julia, Nate, and Sam responded on their first couple of trips to Nicaragua, it seemed that the time was here to make a big decision.

And so it began. Often when we reach one goal, we look ahead to doing more, to extend ourselves. We learn and grow when we are pushed outside of our comfort zone. Sometimes, our comfort zone is further away, that’s why we have to keep extending ourselves. Over the past year and a half, we have had a lot of ups and downs. At times we were extremely confident in everything falling into place to make this move a reality, and other times it seemed like the bottom had dropped out, and it would have to wait for another time. But God seems to always have a way of testing and strengthening our faith in the way He lays plans for us.

So, for about a year now, we have been praying and planning with the Willards, and in July, we will be going to Nicaragua for the 2012 - 2013 school year. We love God and people, and we want to serve the world. Nicaragua is where we are called to be, and we are all so excited about this amazing adventure!!

Stayed tuned for more…

Monday, July 6, 2009

more stuff

So... I am not so good at this bogging thing. We have been home for a few days and I do realize that this blog came to a screeching halt. No worries. I will have it complete in the next week... or so.

Day 4
Today was a full day with the kids.

I taught Science.. the life cycle of a butterfly. We read the very hungry caterpillar in Spanish and English. We also did a craft project with pasta. Tiny pasta for the egg, rotini for the caterpillar, shells for the chrysalis, and bowties for the butterfly. So fun!

Jeff taught English. He covered body parts, clothes, and read a Biscuit book in English and Spanish.

We had a couple of swimming sessions. We had trouble keeping track of Sam in the water, he looked like most of the Nica kids!

There is also a playground at the camp that the kids get to hang out on. See-saws, swing, jungle gym, etc.

We watched Alladin at night and the kids loved the sidekick characters!

Julia is being such a big help, stepping up and doing whatever is needed. The girls LOVE her. They keep coming up to me saying... "You are Julia's Mom!"

Nate is hanging out with the kids and making some friends, Engel and Daniel in particular. They all like to collect rocks and are trading, no need to speak the same language for that!

Sam has also bonded with some of the American high school guys. They are playing a lot in the water and having some deep discussions in the hammocks. So cute!

We are all tired, but confident that the kids are learning and felling the love of Christ through us!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Well, It's a been a few days since I have written! Camp has been quite busy!

Day 3

Kids arrived today. I thought I was going to cry just watching them come off of the bus!
They are between 6 and 10 and absolutely adorable.

I taught the science sessions. Today was "The Planets." Julia was a big help.
Nate and Sam were in a group and rotated around with the kids. At first, the kids thought that Sam was one of them. Even the translators spoke to him in Spanish! He fits right in!!!!
Jeff did not teach, so he was on camera duty.

I am trying to learn names, but there are a lot of them!

Today we ate yummy stew with rice for lunch, rice and beans for dinner! And of course tons of fresh fruit!

The kids loved swimming in the lake. The waves were perfect for the kids, not too strong like the ocean. I had a hard time keeping track of Sam since he looks just like the rest of the kids. At home at the pool, I just look for the darkest kid. But here... not so easy.

We watched "Horton Hears a Who" and had popcorn.

It was a full day, and everyone was ready for bed!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Campo Day 2 (guest Blogger: Wendy Willard)

So today we spent some time getting ready for the campers to arrive tomorrow. We also painted the latrine (a bright sunny yellow!) and took plenty of time to swim in the lake.

I think everyone felt much better upon waking up this morning. The sun rises early here (BEFORE 5am!) which means we do too… but then it sets by 6pm. (We are two hours behind our friends and family back home.) The chickens and rooster were gracious enough to wake us, lest we might have missed the beautiful sunrise :) .

A wonderful storm blew through last night, bringing us a bit cooler weather, and wind to blow away the bugs. They seem to have returned a bit tonight, as the wind has died back down. Everyone who lives here says they’ve never seen the wind this calm for this long. Hmmm… the only downside to that is this: the normal 40-50mph winds blow away the bugs. So, can you send up a few prayers for some wind at Campo Alegria? Thanks!

Our kids really enjoyed swimming, riding the horses here at Campo, swimming, and more swimming. Tonight for dinner, we enjoyed a wonderful Nicaraguan specialty - nakatamale. It’s essentially a tamale with chicken (bones and all), potato, rice, and some other delicious extras, all wrapped in a banana leaf. It was wonderful!

Now we will spend a little more time getting ready for the kids to arrive tomorrow morning. Until then…

Campo Day 1

Well, we are here!!!

oAfter 2 airplane rides. and a long bus ride, we have arrived. We went up tp a volcano crater on our way here to the camp. Very cool, but very hard to breathe! See video below.

Jeff is in route. Because of the Dominican trip, he is coming a little late.

We are all exhausted due to very little sleep. We had leave for the airport at 3 am. The teens were out at the movies, and many adults were up getting ready. Even the ones who did sleep only got a couple of hours.

Well, I think it is safe to say that everyone is shock. With emotions running high, exhaustion set in, and the sweat pouring well need to settle in. It is the buggy season and the wind is not as strong as we expected. Our meal was yummy when we got here, but the bugs liked it too. Use your imagination!

But that's how we grow. If things were going to be easy, then we wouldn't learn as much. I think on every mission trip I have been on, I have doubted my fitness for the task. But, God knows more than me and I trust that. He has provided us with the necessary skills and we can do this!!

We just need to remind ourselves that God is in control and he will take care of us.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

... Lord, remind us that you chose us to be here and when we are doing your will, only joy can result.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I opted for no sleep

Well, I guess I'll rely on adrenaline.

Time to wake the kiddos!!!