Two weeks ago. Seems so much longer than that since we were in Nicaragua. Our decision to leave was so quick that after we arrived in Kansas City it took a few days for our heads to stop spinning.
The Monday before we left we were spending time at the mission land preparing for the shipping container full of donated tractors and tools for the Gremio de San Jose and the girls were making peanut butter.
All that seems like a dream now. We spent the next day going through our entire house. Packing, taking things to friends house to store and giving away. All day, I thought of refugees. Families that didn't have even one day to decide what was the most important to them to bring. We had four suitcases plus backpacks. Today, there are those who leave with only what they can carry. So many just have to leave everything. We left behind one beloved kitten, two dogs, two bunnies, numerous chickens and many friends. Our hearts are broken, but again I think of the millions who have to flee. Leaving behind even there most treasured possessions. We left in the midst of unrest, barricades, looting. But not to the extent of what some families have to live with. We left to an uncertain future, but to our own country. To familiarity. How many others flee for their lives to an uncertain future, and unfamiliar country? We left, returning to friends and family while others leave friends and family and have no one. My heart has been opened to plight to the refugee. I can feel the words of Christ on a whole new level: Matthew 25:31 - 40
 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.  And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.  Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.  Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink?  And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?  Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?  And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
Nicaragua, the country we chose to make our home for a two year commitment has become a place of great hope for us. Missionary life has not been what we thought that it would be when we first embarked 8 years ago. But this post is not about our expectations, I’ll write more about later, but it is about the place where we have tried to create a home for ourselves.
Almost one month ago, we heard about a major protest in Managua. Since then, there have been continual marches, every single day. Some of them have not been very peaceful. Here is a video that captures what has happened over the last few weeks. I’m sorry that it is all in Spanish but it gives a pretty clear picture of the unrest.
During this time Mark and I have had to consider leaving with our family. Sometimes, I was pretty nervous. But when I would think about it and talk with Mark, we would always come back to the fact that, although, the two towns closest to us have seen looting, burning and unrest our town always remains peaceful. More than likely we would not experience violence, so we did not have a good reason to leave.
Apart of the consequences of the protest, that have been peaceful marches being repressed by the paramilitary and National Police. Towns have begun to blockade themselves in so that they can control who comes in.
Despite the fact, that we had decided that we were going to wait things out until our regularly scheduled time in July, we spoke with our director on Monday afternoon and we decided that perhaps we should leave now. It took us the rest of the afternoon to process what that meant. Does that mean within a couple of days or perhaps within the week? Should we totally move out of our house, or keep it? We went to speak with some of our friends who are the ones we like to talk with when we need advice. We had to check on the prices of flights. We talked with people about which way would be the safest way with the least roadblocks. By the end of the evening, we decided that more than likely, conditions could really get bad if the National Dialogue did not go well, and that we should leave as soon as possible. We took one day to pack up our house so that we could get on a bus into Costa Rica. Today we had to reroute because of roadblocks a couple of times and wondered if we would make our bus departure. We chose the earliest bus possible thinking we would not encounter any blocks. We have a good friend who picks us up in Managua with his microbus as we come back and forth into the country from the states. We arrived at his house at 3:45 am with no problems. A half hour later, we had to reroute twice because the people were beginning to build the roadblocks again. It has been one thing to see pictures of the blockades with men and their faces covered so no one can recognize them, but it is another thing to see them for ourselves up close and real. But Thanks be to God we made it through the Nicaraguan border without problems.
We are now waiting in Costa Rica until tomorrow were we will fly back to Kansas City.
It may be futile and silly, but I am remaining more vague than I would like to because we know that the government here is trolling the internet for those who are opposed to them and if things go really south we don’t want to be barred from being able to come into the country when we leave this summer for our regularly scheduled time in the states.
On Wednesday, we saw another beautiful peaceful march of the people of Nicaragua. This is the third National March since April 18th, that has been called to demand justice, real democracy and a new government. Emotionally we have been on a roller coaster ride. Our hopes that change can happen peacefully after a march like that are very high. Surely this administration will bow to the will of the people and do the right thing. However, the silence is really speaking louder than words. The Vice-President, the spokesperson for the government, has belittled the marchers as minuscule vultures. With hopes soaring high, we all wait in anticipation of what the government response will be. And that is not always very hopeful. There have been attacks from the National Police in a few of the marches and we can feel tension of the people as their plea for justice is being ignored. We have to decide when we should take our seven children and leave. Thankfully, we haven’t felt like we are personally in threat of danger but we have come up with a plan with the children, that if things got bad quickly, we could get everything together and leave the country in five hours.
Yesterday, there were 10,000 taxis in Managua that were protesting against the increasing gas prices. Many people here do not have cars and taxis are very common to use. However, the peaceful day ended last night with the students at the UPOLI being attached. The students have barricaded themselves in the University for over 20 days now, and will continue until their demands are met and open dialogue with the government can happen. We know that one more student died last night and there have been many injured. Is the government just waiting the people out, thinking that they will get back to their lives? Or are they poking and prodding to ignite into violence this underlying unhappiness and anger towards the government so that they can declare Marshal Law and really squash this rebellion? Every day is a wait and see.
It is so easy to get caught up in politics, no matter where we are living, and having peaceful marches here in Nicaragua are making a huge statement to the world and seems like the way to make change, much like Gandhi or Martin Luther King. We can get caught up in left wing or right wings, because even here there are people who are very pro-government. Irreconcilable divisions, lack of charity towards the opposition, that is when real change is hindered and keeps us under dishonest rulers.
The apostles and the first disciples dreamed of throwing off the oppression and unjust government of the Romans, but Jesus did not get into politics. He paid His taxes and started a revolution of love. He didn’t crush a bruised reed or a smoldering wick, but called the hypocrite what they were. He built a kingdom of love, touching the leper and other untouchables, he forgave and had compassion. This is what we need to promote wherever we live. The real and lasting changes come when we make a difference for the Kingdom of God.