Some of you may have heard on Facebook or seen in the news that Nicaragua is in the middle of some pretty serious Political unrest. We want to let everyone know that we are all ok and nothing has escalated to a very dangerous level for most people. There are however protests going on in downtown Managua that have turned violent. So, we are avoiding those areas. The U.S. Embassy is keeping its advisories updated on Facebook. If you speak Spanish and want to follow local news here 100% Noticias is a great source and they are using FB live to get the story out. (Update: I want to add La Prensa the major Nicaragua print newspaper.)
We are staying close to home and keeping our ear on things. Please pray for Nicaragua! Here is our understanding of what is happening.
There has been unrest in recent months due the Sandanista governments lack of response to wild fires in remote regions of the country. There was clamor about the suppression of information as well. Those protestors made their way to Nicaragua to raise awareness at the end of March. It did not escalate at the time though.
This week’s unrest started on Wednesday. It actually has been an issue that has been boiling for a couple years now. The Nicaragua Social Security Institute (INSS) has been accused in La Prensa (as far back as 2009) of loaning out funds to political allies of the government for a wide variety of projects, buildings, housing developments, business building and then other more nefarious accusations. As a result of the abuse of funds INSS is on the brink of financial collapse. Over the last two years the government has raised INSS payroll tax from 16% to the current 19%. That only affected employers.
Then on Wednesday the Sandanista Government announced wide ranging INSS tax hikes that affect everyone. If I understand it correctly it will raise payroll tax to 22.5%, raise tax on employees by .75%, eliminate max salary limits on income tax, and worst of all reduces the pensions of the retired elderly by 5%. People are upset at all levels, mostly because they feel they aren’t getting the benefits of the tax, while at the same time there is corrupt use of the funds.
Protests and marches began on Wednesday. Then, government employees were sent to the street to protest in favor of the hikes. Then the police and riot police tried to bring order. Violence erupted when agitators joined into the protest and escalated things. Yesterday three people died in the violence related to the protests. The President and First Lady have called for calm, but at the same time shut down major news outlets that were covering the story. We are praying for calm but it also seems like a lot of people are fed up with corruption and they want changes. It is not a good situation.
We are praying for everything to be resolved peacefully. We are asking God to bring justice and truth to the situation and our nation as a whole.
I hope this helped inform things a little bit and thank you for praying with us!
Update Saturday Night: There has been more protesting today and sadly there are more reported deaths including a reporter on the East Coast. Daniel Ortega did speak today and call for calm and dialogue, but people are frustrated by the violent suppression of peaceful protests by his regime. It doesn’t seem it will stop and there are still protests going on tonight. Some of the huge metal symbolic trees the Ortegas put up all around the capital are being torn down.
I appreciated this video from neighboring Costa Rica…people gathered in their national stadium praying for Nicaragua. Amen.
Update Sunday Morning: international coverage NewYork Times, CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, The Gaurdian (the Pope has called for end of violence) And still the best site I have found for current videos and often a livestream on FB is 100% Noticias here in Nicaragua.
This morning during church we all prayed together for our nation as we sung the worship song “Sana Nuestra Tierra” Please do keep praying for Nicaragua.
Update Sunday Afternoon: Today has been a nervous day. There was lots of looting and rushes on grocery stores and gas stations. The looting is the scary part as many are saying that agitators are intentionally causing unrest by looting stores. Many if not most Nicaraguans are going to their corner stores and local supermarkets and defending them when the agitators arrive. Our friends Michael and Jessica Folsom live near the looting area and they shared this live video this morning. Our neighborhood has gathered at our highway entrance to stop looters who are traveling in vehicles around Managua. Below is a video of a looter being confronted with a TV he stole, caution on the language in Spanish. It is a bit violent but shows how the people aren’t allowing it.
Update Monday Morning: Yesterday President Daniel Ortega held a press conference with Free Trade Zone businesses to announce he would not implement the Social Security Reforms he proposed that started the unrest. That was a good step and the evening was calmer. But then last night the police attacked University students protesting at a state University and several students were shot and at least one reportedly died. Today there is supposed to be a major march. We are praying the government has decided to stop using deadly force to stop protests and marches. Today will be telling as to whether or not things will calm down.
We usually fast on Mondays until 5pm here with Open Hearts and would ask you to join us today and keep Nicaragua in your prayers throughout the day. Thank you.
This video is of a University student in a church where they all took refuge. The student is playing music while receiving medical attention, it is very moving. The song is a song that all Nicaraguans would recognize…
Update Monday Night: The march this afternoon in Managua was pretty incredible, there were tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets. And Praise Jesus, there was no violence against the marchers. This was a great sign and hopefully tomorrow will bring some more steps in a peaceful direction. There are still some really hard feelings among the people after all that has happened, so we will keep praying for peace, truth and justice.
Update Tuesday Morning: The night passed without any violence which is also very positive. Today we really don’t know what is going to happen, but the protests and call for regime change are still there. The march was huge and it could have been bigger if public transport hadn’t been closed down. We are praying today for more peace and always for truth and justice.
Our family is doing fine. We are keeping an eye on the news and being cautious. But yesterday was very calm. We even went out and joined the march down our highway in solidarity with our neighbors and Nicaragua. Schools are closed, but today at Club Esperanza we are planning to open the feeding center to the neighborhood and do something good in the middle of the worry and fear. Markets have been closed for a few days but nobody is starving. We just feel it is a way to help alleviate some of the pressure on people’s daily provisions in the neighborhood. We are having school at our house like normal with our kids…gotta get school done instead of sitting around 🙂
This news report is very informative…thank you for your continued prayers!
Update Wednesday Morning: Yesterday was peaceful from morning to evening. There were protests at the National Assembly building and also the Ortega Regime released some of the protesters from prison. The release was criticized because they gave each kid 20 cordobas and dropped them on a highway way out of town without advising anyone. But there was no more violence, praise Jesus! One concerning development is the government decided to cut the free wifi they previously installed at all the public parks. School is supposedly starting back up today, but it will not be a normal day considering the Ministry of Education informed the country yesterday at 5 p.m.
Krista and I went down to Club Esperanza to help serve the food and spend time with our staff. It was a nice time and everyone seemed to be pretty up beat considering the chaos of the last week. We are hesitantly encouraged and praying for things to continue to calm down! The students at the University plan to hold a march today and we are praying that it will not be attacked. The clamoring for change is still in the air. Thank you for your continued prayers for Nicaragua. Peace, truth and justice, in Jesus name. Amen.
News Stories: Havana Times, The Hill (white house reaction), BBC. Also below is Jorge Ramos’ interview with Carlos Chamorro who is the son of Violeta Chamorro the first Nicaraguan elected president after the Sandanista revolution. He is a well known journalist here and if you speak Spanish is it worth the update.
Lastly we wanna share this picture because it made us laugh. We went shopping yesterday and the entire store was fully stocked and we got all we needed. There was only one shelf completely empty….guess which aisle? The rice and beans aisle! Gotta have priorities 🙂 So we have everything, except rice and beans 😦
During Semana Santa vacation this year at Club Esperanza our friends from Love, Light & Melody held their annual event called “Dia De Luz” (Day of Light). This year’s timing during Easter Week made it all the more fun for the community. All of the children were on vacation from school for the week and didn’t really have much to do besides sitting around in the scorching heat. But not this year…it was a big Ol’ Fiesta at Club Esperanza!
The team came equipped to the lead the children from the neighborhood in a variety of activities focused around the arts. There was live music and a chance to pick up your own instrument and join in. Krista’s sisters Hazel and Johanna got to go down and help lead the dance classes. Particularly they got to teach younger girls on the ways they can worship the Lord through dance in church. There was also a chance to do some pretty cool art work! It was so much fun…all of our kids has an absolute blast!
There was also WATER BALLOON FIGHTS!!!
Brad Corrigan is the founder of Love, Light and Melody, but he is also a musician who is member of the band Dispatch, who are gearing up for a summer tour throughout the United States. Brad’s love and dedication to Nicaragua and alleviating suffering amongst vulnerable children here is a real encouragement. It is a great testimony to the heart the Lord has given Brad. With that heart, the team made the journey down to Nueva Vida land fill to give a concert and bring some of God’s love and light to the people living there. It was a great finally to the weekend at Club Esperanza, and it was such an encouragement to see some of our kids from the Club performing on stage!
Our kids were so blessed by this week! We appreciate your continued prayers for all of them as they come back to school from vacation!
God Bless from Nicaragua…and a big thank you to Love, Light and Melody!
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Yesterday we visited Masaya Volcano and Aliyah took this picture. This volcano has a long history, and part of it is tragic. It’s open mouth filled with lava, molten rock and sulfuric smoke pouring out gained it the historical title “The Gate to Hell.” For a time in history, human sacrifices were made to try and appease the volcano. In our modern times it is hard to believe that not long ago such brutality took place. But then, centuries ago the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached in this part of the world and those who once made sacrifices into the volcano erected a cross on its highest peak. They stopped the sacrifices because they had come to a saving knowledge that many centuries before, One sacrifice was already made for us all. The burden of sin and judgement was already lifted from us. We needed not appease the Gate of Hell. Because as Isaiah prophesied, by the wounds of Jesus Christ on the Cross we are healed. Over two thousand years ago victory over sin and death was won…and the Gates of Hell cannot stand in the way! Jesus is alive, and by his sacrifice on the cross we are saved. And, because of His resurrection, we have eternal life. Easter is the most important day in history, Amen.
I think Aliyah’s picture captures this very well!
Victory. Jesus is Alive!
We hope you have blessed Easter Weekend!
This morning we said good bye to our Church family from Christ Journey Church in Miami (click the link to read about their trip and others to Haiti and Ecuador!). Above is our group picture. A missions trip was an awesome way to spend Easter Week!
If you do not have a church to attend on Sunday, you may enjoy joining Christ Journey Church online. Pastor Bill White will be preaching! Follow this link, Happy Easter!
We had incredible week with this group of Junior High students and their parents. We held a three day Vacation Bible School with the kids who come to Sunday Bible Study at Club Esperanza. We also helped to build the wall around the new property….well we got the grunt labor job and moved 100 pound stones as the clean up crew! It was awesome though! The VBS culminated at Ruby Ranch as you can see in the video below. It was soooooo awesome to bless and invest in the lives of the children and young people who are part of Club Esperanza! We also delivered food packs to the families of children with special needs as a blessing during Semana Santa, visited them in their homes and prayed for the Lord to bless them! God is moving down at Club Esperanza and we got to be a part of it together this week. It was a great week, amen!
Check it out…an Easter Egg hunt at Ruby Ranch Fun Fun Fun!
Moving the last stone on the work site!!!
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God Bless from Nicaragua, Chris & Krista
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As we started the school year at Club Esperanza I knew we had a space issue. As we have shared previously we have nine different classes in operation throughout the two school sessions each day. But, we only have three classrooms. In Nicaragua, one learns to just make it happen! So, we planned to have a classroom meet in the dining hall. But we needed partitions. Well I was itching for a manual labor project, away from all the administrative and fundraising efforts…so I gave it a go!
I took a pile of wood and a few pieces of plywood…
…my finished product was just a basic partition but I had fun. And it was cool when I took them to Club Esperanza because our teachers were super thankful, and actually a little surprised that I had made them LOL!
Here are a couple of our classrooms that are still in temporary space for 2018.
How can you help?
First, of all if you or a team of friends ever wanted to come down to Nicaragua and tackle one of these small projects that come up we would be super blessed by that. Just email us firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put something together. It is fun because it isn’t just manual labor at Club Esperanza, there are nearly 300 kids who love to have visitors spend time with them and do cool things together.
Secondly, pray for the construction of our Education Building. We are praying and hoping that this year we will be able to build a six classroom education building. It will take a lot of funds and some good timing. But, we feel the Lord’s leading in this!
This is Daiyton, Faviana and Camila…last Monday they received a home built by a group of high school students from Westminster Christian School in Miami, FL. There is a back story and it is beautiful. Faviana heard about our Mercy Home ministry from a family that had received a home two years ago. They told her to drop a letter off at the gate to share her situation. Well Faviana decided to drop a letter off…ever week…for a over a year! We would sometimes see her at the gate when we were taking Juliette to school, often with Camila (who is probably the cutest 2 year old in Nicaragua). She was always very kind and would give her letter to us and be on her way. She persisted for her family, and she told us later about her constant prayers asking God to provide. Well when it came time for Westminster to build, we visited Faviana to see their situation and everything checked out perfectly…so it was time to build!
Faviana told Krista a sweet detail about the timing of the construction. We have to do some prep work before the team arrives so that we can finish the house during the trip. One day a couple weeks before the team Faviana and Dayton were sitting at her mother’s home where they lived in a single room. They heard trucks on the drive and saw the construction materials were arriving! They were so excited and the sweet part was that it was Camila’s birthday. On her second birthday God was moving and construction was starting on her families home! The house she will grow up in, and probably see her family grow in. Isn’t that awesome? I think so…Amen!
The team worked hard all week long! There was lots of action as you can see in the video above and we are happy to report that there were no major injuries LOL! When you are in a community for a week building a home, there is a chance to meet families and neighbors and build friendships. Lots of little cousins, nieces and neighbors came by and stole the hearts of so many in the group. It was a world view changer for the teens, and it was a week that totally blessed this neighborhood, not just the family we built for!
On dedication day it was special to look into the window and see the team praying over the house before they brought all the furniture in. This home was not just a house made of bricks, it is holy ground. We learned from Daiyton and Faviana about what had happened on that exact spot where we build their house. Three years ago they were married right there on that spot in front of their family and their church family. Two years ago the church gathered together on this same spot and prayed for the land to be a place where they could raise their family. And then this year we prayed over Daiyton Faviana and Camila as we dedicated their new home! Holy Ground. That is our prayer, that for this young family and anyone who visits, that they would get a touch from God even as they enter the front door!
It was an incredible week, Praise God for that! A couple of days after the team left the window and the doors were installed, and in the coming days the family is going to use the construction materials that were left for them to make additions that they decide. These homes are something that would take about 7 years for a family to save materials and build….we love that God makes it happen in about three weeks! Amen again!
This time of year we have a program where we build houses with groups of high schoolers from Miami. Palmer Trinity School was working this week on their house and a local reporter from the National Newspaper stopped by. They interviewed some of the students and came again the next day when we went to Club Esperanza. Some of the students on the team are Nicaraguan and so the connection was even deeper.
Well, this morning their faces were on the front cover of the Nuevo Diario….
…and the story ran to a full page color spread in the back!!!
This is a first for us down here, and I am sure for these young people as well…it was really cool to see a great project reported on in the local paper! Of course we went around town buying copies at every stand so the kids could have a keep sake to take home with them. Here is the link if you would like to read it…it is in Spanish, but maybe Google translate can turn it into English, I haven’t tried that yet.
It’s been a really fun couple of weeks of hard labor…Praise The Lord!
There is a nice video done as well…pretty cool!