For the past few weeks we have been here in the U.S. enjoying a break and some incredibly sweet times with friends and family, introducing Scout to the hosts of people who love her from afar. It has been beautiful, filled with lots of smiling faces, yummy food, and hugs from dear ones.
We were scheduled to return to Nicaragua this week, after 5+ weeks away, and were planning on having a little down time before our busy summer season starts up. We were planning on getting back into the country, unpacking and putting things away. Buying groceries to restock our cupboards, and possibly getting some small tasks around our home done. Also, reconnecting with our team, and talking through what we have coming up.
That was until this past Wednesday.
Last Wednesday, April 18th, President Ortega announced new tax reforms which effectively raised the social security taxes employees and employers had to pay, while also decreasing the benefits to current retirees. All this was announced as a way to care for a system that was reportedly going bankrupt. However, the current administration has been accused of using the INSS (Nicaragua’s social security) funds as a sort of petty cash account, misusing the money the public has deposited in good faith. The changes met opposition in the form of protests. Then those protests met opposition in the form of police intervention. And from there, things have become ugly, and violent.
So far numerous people have been reported dead, and many more have been badly injured. Government buildings have been set ablaze, and the iconic massive metal trees have been set on fire and torn down. And people have looted stores and shops, taking advantage of an already very volatile situation. There was a sense of panic over the weekend, leaving many grocery stores with empty shelves, and long lines at gas stations as people attempted to prepare.
Our good friends, the Farringtons are in-country right now and have kept an update going on their blog, if you’re interested in reading more about it. We are fervently praying for Nicaragua, and are eagerly waiting for more news about what is happening there.
Due to the unrest, the airline issued a travel waiver. Essentially, if we chose to use it, we could rebook our flights without any cost, as long as we flew out of the same cities and were in the same fare class. So this morning, we did just that. As much as we desperately want to be ‘on the ground’ helping, we felt that it was prudent of us to spend a little more time letting the dust settle, before returning with our almost six month old baby. Had we been in Nicaragua when everything happened, we likely wouldn’t have left yet, but since we were here in Oregon anyway, we have decided to stay on a little longer. We are extremely grateful for friends and family who have offered their homes and vehicles to us, saying over and over ‘you can stay as long as you want.’ The entire thing has been very interesting to deal with, emotionally, as new parents. As any parent reading this can attest to, having a kiddo changes everything. So we are trying to be wise, while also honoring what we have been entrusted to do in Nicaragua.
Moving forward, we would appreciate prayer for the following things:
- First and foremost, continued peace for Nicaragua. There is a lot to work through in the coming days and weeks, so please pray the change comes peacefully.
- Our hearts/minds. This is unsettling. We recognize that missionaries around the world deal with unrest on a daily basis and we are so grateful that we have had two peaceful years in Nicaragua up to now. But this is new territory for us, and while we are trusting the Lord with each and every detail of our lives and ministry, there are times when our minds get going on the what-ifs and stuff gets scary, fast.
- Our daughter. Not only is Scout definitely feeling the effects of ‘traveling’ for the past five weeks, but it is very likely that she is in the beginning stages of teething, and has been having a hard past couple of days because of it.
- Finances. Though we didn’t have to pay for the flight changes, this extended time in the States wasn’t expected and will come with expenses. We will also likely need to purchase some things here to take back with us that we weren’t considering until now, as we attempt to be as prepared as possible for whatever may come, moving forward. (If you would like to help us financially, you can do so here.)
- Travel. At this point we are planning on returning to Nicaragua on May 5th. We are keeping an eye on things, in the mean time, and staying in contact with our friends and ministry partners on the ground. But please pray for smooth travel, when we do go.
As we have talked through all that is going on and all we are processing, we have continued to be very hopeful. We are so proud of our friends and neighbors who are standing up and saying enough is enough. Banding together and demanding change for themselves and their families. We are excited for what this will mean for generations to come. And we are expectant of what God is going to do (and is doing) in Nicaragua.