Disclaimer: I’ve been writing this post for a week, and felt like I should add context to what’s happening in Nicaragua at the moment. Here’s what an expat friend in country shared yesterday:
“Earlier this week the government announced changes to INSS (the social security system in Nicaragua) in an attempt to save it from impending bankruptcy… Increasing the amounts that employers and employees have to pay, while decreasing the benefits received.
People are (rightfully) unhappy, and in the major cities they are protesting.
The government’s response was to pull teens out of public schools and have them represent the government in counter protests. There are police in riot gear, tear gas, and a lot of violence going on.
Updates from my news feed this morning.
– 3 or 4 people were killed in the protests last night (I’m reading conflicting reports, it’s hard to know which is correct) and one university student lost his eye.
– a public hospital in Managua locked its doors last night and refused to help people who were injured in the protests.
– public school was cancelled today, but teachers (who work for the state) will likely be required to participate in the pro-government marches.
– independent news stations have been taken off the air, so the only local news on TV is pro- government.
– protests are expected to continue today all over the country.
Please continue to pray for Nicaragua. Not just for peace, but for change. This isn’t just about Social Security and pensions, it’s about years of government oppression, and this issue was what finally woke up the country.”
Reuters reported that the cities seemed to be quieter this morning, but we’re still watching closely and praying.
It’s incredible to think about how quickly changes can happen, a month ago we were visiting Nicaragua and our biggest worry was whether or not to drink the water. We got to meet new friends that we will be working with and explore the beautiful country that will be our new home next year. It’s heartbreaking to think of our friends worrying and anxious about the state of their country just one month later.
We also heard about how Young Life Nicaragua is doing and it was so encouraging: La Finca is booked full for every second-timers camp and we’re seeing exponential growth in the mission every year! There’s such a sense of community in Nicaragua that relational ministry very easily translates. Every Central American Young Life (with the exception of Costa Rica) has either been started or rebooted by a Nicaraguan leader who left their home country, which feels especially inspiring because Nicaraguan culture assumes that you’ll live your whole life in your hometown. Now those hometowns are hurting and the next few days may be the start of big changes. I’m really thankful we got to visit Nicaragua and that we know more specifically what and who to pray for.
On a more personal note, there is only one aspect of our trip that I regret…
To paint the picture: Tica Bus (our mode of transportation) was leaving from a corner of Managua with almost nothing around it. We got there 2 hours early. We hadn’t eaten anything that morning. The bus station had none of the substantive food we were apparently banking on. And finally, the bus ride was going to be a non-stop trip for about 11 hours. We needed food.
So, we asked the cab drivers outside where we should go and they pointed us in the direction of a very nice looking older lady whose restaurant of three tables was completely empty and poorly lit (which, in hindsight may have tipped us off had we not been blinded by our empty stomachs and desperation). We ate there and then got on the bus and went on our happy, well-fed way…
Flash to: three weeks later we have to make a trip to the doctor because I have an infection that won’t go away. And, the doctor happened to be an ER at 10pm. And the infection ended up severely dehydrating me (I’m okay now and Costa Rica’s healthcare system is really great and the doctors were very kind and helpful!)… but given the risks, I’d say a long bus ride without food would have been the better of the two choices. #nowiknow