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Short Term Missions

May 2018 Team Summary

The team landed in Managua on Tuesday evening, May 22 and, because of the roadblocks and unknowns along the way to Masatepe, we decided to stay in a hotel by the

airport for safety’s sake - for us and for Mario. The hotel was at less than 20% occupancy and felt like a ghost town.

In the morning, after prayer and devotions and a fantastic breakfast, we loaded up and left for Masatepe. Along the route, we saw some of the “trees of life” that the vice-president (Ortega’s wife) has been putting up for the past 3-4 years at a cost of more than $3.3 million dollars to contruct and more than $1.1 million yearly to pay the electric bill. These trees have been a focus of the government’s oppositionmovement and there have been more than 30 felled by the protestors and more burned in attempts to draw attention to the people’s demands for justice and a hearing from the government.

As we drove, we encountered only one downed-tree roadblock that was letting vehicles pass after delays of 10-15 minutes. The protestors waved the Nicaraguan flag and had their faces covered with bandanas to protect their identity, and as the traffic was allowed to proceed, horns were beeped to signify support of the cause.

We arrived at our hotel in Masatepe, unloaded and got ready to work on the home of Pastor Juan Carlos and Marta

At the house, the maestro and his crew of two were already busy working on mudding the inside walls. After meeting the pastor and his family, the guys got into work mode and we started making a list of what we could do and what supplies we were yet in need of. The maestro was a pastor of a neighboring church who moonlights in construction and he was a lot of fun to work with and chat with during breaks. He instructed us in how to mix the cement recipe for mudding and taught Nathan and Trent how to sling and smooth. Because it’s rainy season, the humidity was always at 95-100% so sweat was profuse. Orrin, Gaylen and Mark worked on mixing cement, measuring for electrical outlets and avoiding the back-breaking, hand-mixing of cement for a few hours. (Not really, they all got plenty of mixing and hauling time.)

Thursday – Saturday, we did much of the same. Hauling cement, shaking out the sand to fine sand for the mudding mix, measuring wheelbarrows of pea rock and sand, carrying cement bags, moving 120# blocks, digging trench for the wall stabilizers, cutting rebar and wire, and tying the rebar reinforcements together.

Each morning we studied a chapter in the book of Acts and every evening we debriefed and commented on things we had learned from reading the book The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. Thursday evening, we fellowshipped with the small congregation of Pastor Juan Carlos and prayed together for their ministry and for ours.

On Sunday morning, we loaded up the packed suitcases and with rain ponchos on, we headed farther south to participate in the Nandaime church’s morning service. We

came upon a roadblock from which we turned around to try to find an alternate route to reach the church. Heading down that road, we encountered traffic coming back indicating that there was a much tighter roadblock on that route. We went back to the first roadblock and as Mario went to talk with the protesters, we stayed in the pickup and prayed. A few minutes later, Mario returned and they

allowed us to pass. Mario recounted that the day before, four pickups like his had driven up to the block and quickly made u-turns shooting automatic weapons into the crowd of protesters killing some and wounding many others. They were government henchmen. This brought the protesters

to arm themselves with mortar rockets that usually were used for fireworks and celebrations, but with adjustments on what they filled the rockets with, they became deadly protection for any other similar attempts upon the roadblock protesters.

Saddened by that news, we continued on and arrived at the church in time for the service which included a lovely program celebrating the Day of Mothers. Children read poems, brought gifts for their moms or special women in their lives, sang songs of thankfulness, and even had some very entertaining games for the moms in the crowd. The sermon centered on motherhood and prayers was made

for the moms of Nicaragua. We enjoyed a great lunch afterwards and then took off to Managua.

Taking a different route back did not save us from the obstacles. We came upon a long line of blocked traffic and talked to some of the bandana-masked protesters who were walking up and down the line of stopped vehicles. They were emphatic that they would not let anyone through before the hour of waiting was up because they had to be steadfast to make the government take them seriously. Mario understood their plight and we began the wait. After a few minutes, prompted by the Spirit, a couple of us grabbed some Jesus videos we had brought, prayed and went out to walk to the front to give the videos away and offer prayer for peace and protection. As we walked, we encountered small groups of protesters who readily accepted the videos and thanked us for our prayers. Finally arriving at the front of the roadblock, we approached another small group and shared that we

were praying for them and for peace and righteousness in their country and offered our last video to them. They thanked us and when we offered to pray for them right there, they readily accepted, took off their hats, bowed their heads and joined us in prayer, even shushing another protester who was talking with someone else. As we walked back to the truck, a protester on a motorcycle

stopped us and asked which vehicle we had come in. We told him and he drove ahead and allowed Mario to drive out of the line, pick us up, and cross the roadblock.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful but we were able to see some of the effects from previous demonstrations that we hadn’t seen because of the darkness when we first arrived. There were piles of burned tires, torn up areas on streets, corrugated tin panels covering the windows of stores that had been damaged by looters. Talking with the men at the gas stations, we heard more stories of what

had occurred in the city and the sadness that was filling the people’s hearts.

We invited Mario’s family to join us for a supper of pizza at the local pizza hut and heard Mario’s testimony and how God had been at work in the ministry there. It was a wonderful time of fellowship which ended with a prayer for blessing, wisdom, boldness and protection, and for peace for Nicaragua. The team went back to the hotel (which was a bit more occupied this time) held our final debriefing, prayed and went to our rooms to pack for our early morning departure.

At 5:30 AM, we loaded up the hotel shuttle and headed with Mario to the airport. Armed with some more Jesus videos, we greeted the baggage carriers, told them we were praying for them and headed in. After checking in, we went to the food court to get a light breakfast. As we sat there, various men came up to us and asked for a Jesus video. Again, they were very receptive and thankful for our

prayers and for the video of Jesus. We gathered together for a final prayer for Mario and went through the security area where we gave away more Jesus videos. Each one was gratefully received.

Monday for us was bittersweet. We were going home. We were safe. But we were leaving friends behind who could not escape the turmoil. Because the government would not make concessions with the protesters but demanded that roadblocks be removed by Monday morning, the protesters were more firmly resolved to make their voices heard. At the end of the day, there were more deaths and more

wounded, and less hope for a peaceful end to this conflict. The Catholic church leaders have declared they will not make anymore attempts at peace talks until the government is ready to respond. Only with God is peace possible. We will continue to pray for His righteousness and peace to come to this nation so badly damaged by years of corruption and tragedy.

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