Nicaragua, especially Managua, has a long history of earthquakes. So this year, when we had ten smaller earthquakes in less than a week, the government put the country on red alert and many people started sleeping outside or at least leaving their doors open for a quick escape. Thankfully, we have only had one small tremor since the government went on red alert, but not everything is calm yet. During Holy Week, Nicaragua is also on spring break, but the government has cancelled school for two weeks straight since then. Please pray for the fear many people are experiencing throughout this time. It also doesn’t help that the government may only be on high alert because the president’s wife is into cosmology. The US Geological Society has been unable to confirm or deny the Nicaraguan government’s predictions of more earthquakes.
Since schools are cancelled, our Servant Partners team leader Mike and his wife Kim have been homeschooling their children. Kim teaches at Nicaragua Christian Academy, where their children attend, and since they follow the United States schedule, instead of the Nicaraguan school year that ends in December, they can’t afford to take two weeks off of school. If they did, they would risk losing their accreditation, besides which many of the missionary families that attend there will be leaving for fund raising trips as soon as school is out. Pray for Mike’s family and the school during this time of unforeseen stress.
Brittany has also found herself the host of 3 more girls, beyond the 2 she already parents. Since they don’t have school, they have chosen to take their extended break at her house. On top of that, she’s had people telling her recently that she can’t legally leave children alone until they are 18, despite the fact that many Nicaraguans do. The Nicaraguan government would be able to take her two girls away if they catch her leaving her 15 year old and 12 year old home alone. She’s also been warned not to have boys over to the house, or else people might talk. Please pray for Brittany as she takes care of 5 girls and navigates Nicaragua’s confusing politics.
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back on June 5 and look forward to seeing you then.
The hardest thing right now is wanting to be somewhere else. We’re not sure what God has for us here, but we have been having a lot of conversations about the upcoming summer and fall. We are very excited for those times and it has become a large struggle to be present during our time in Nicaragua. Yesterday, we arrived in Costa Rica which I hope will be a good vacation. We’re here because we needed to extend our 90 day visas and the best option seemed to be to leave the country and get a new 90 day visa upon reentry. There was some stress on the way here, but we’re safe and sound now. Let me tell you a little bit about the last month.
In March, we started helping teach two computer classes that have been ongoing. One is at House of Hope and the other is at a ministry that rescues young girls from city dump, where they worked collecting and selling trash. It has been a joy to interact with these children as they learn basic skills like typing, Word, and Excel. They’re probably most excited to be in the class because they get to play a couple computer games after they have completed their assignment. However, we make sure they know what they’re doing and do it well and a good number of them know their way around a keyboard now.
We have also continued trying to contribute at Brittany’s house as her girls settle in more fully. Brittany has found raising two teenagers a single mom very challenging, as expected, so we have helped around the house as much as we can and talked and listened when possible. We were able to stay with the girls for a night while Brittany went on an adventure and took the girls with Mike’s wife Kim to a river the next day for a picnic.
We’ve continued attending our host family’s church, which is hard because of the language barrier. We often get distracted in the middle of the sermons given completely in Spanish, but the people are very welcoming. We’ve gone to lunch with our host family and their friends afterwards and Kendra went on a women’s retreat a few weeks ago.
We’ll be back in Nicaragua on April 6th, but until then we’ll be resting.
We’ve talked a few times about House of Hope and one of their dorm mothers in particular whose name is Brittany. I wanted to give you an update on that now that we know a little bit more and have started working with Brittany.
House of Hope is a ministry to women coming out of prostitution. They house these women as well as run programs to help them and others make steps toward other jobs. They used to have a dormitory for young girls whose mothers were in prostitution, but it was shut down by the government about 6 months ago. Brittany was the dorm mother then and this crack down by Nicaragua’s social services was shocking, since the police had known about the dormitory and often dropped off women and young girls at House of Hope. House of Hope was not doing anything illegal or secretive, but La Familia decided they were no longer qualified to house these girls. All of the girls were either sent back to their families or put in orphanages.
Since then, Brittany has fought for the right to house four of the girls that had been living at the dormitory when it was shut down. Right now, she has gotten legal permission from their parents to house two of the girls, aged 12 and 15. These past couple weeks we’ve been able to drop by Brittany’s house a few times to help with home work (Nicaraguan schools started back up this week), improve our Spanish, and help out Brittany however we can as she begins life as a single parent. It has been a joy to get to know these girls and their friends. Brittany has hosted three to five teens every day after school as well as two slumber parties on the weekends. She hopes to grow this ministry and establish her home as a safe and fun place for these kids to hang out after school.
Pray that Brittany can raise the funds she needs to house her two girls, as well as host their friends regularly. Pray for her 12 year old, who we realized the other day doesn’t understand basic multiplication, though her class has moved well past this. Pray that Brittany’s home will become a place these teens can experience the love of God on a daily basis.
Jonathan and Kendra
Sorry we haven’t updated this in a while, but we’ll be trying to get some new posts up over the next few days.
Our time here has been slow paced, but there is a lot to tell you about. We’ve become regulars at some of the neighborhood shops, we went to Jinotepe (about 40 minutes away) for a day with Cristo para la Ciudad, Brittany has been able to house two of the four girls she was hoping for, and Kendra got to spend some time with them and others when a missionary team came through the area. We’ve been spending our Monday mornings with the Servant Partners team, and we have visited the trade school at the Nehemiah Center as well as get a tour of House of Hope. We hope to get more involved at the trade school and House of Hope and will be spending two days this week at the Nehemiah Center attending the auto mechanic class our host teaches there. I hope to talk about all these things in posts this week, but today I’ll talk about our time with Cristo para la Ciudad (Christ for the City).
We weren’t sure what to expect when Bismarck (our host) asked us if we would like to go with him and CpC to Jinotepe for a day to help with a “medical brigade”. We had only been to a couple of CpC gatherings for a devotional, but we don’t have much on our schedule here, so we agreed. Bismarck told us we would be helping with their children’s ministry during their program and connected us with Fabricio to plan two hours of activities with about 15 children. We had a wonderful time playing some games and helping with a Bible lesson and were treated to a lunch at two of the CpC staff’s home afterwards.
From what we’ve been told, these medical events are common, as many organizations will bring down a team of doctors to help for a day to a week. This was smaller, because the CpC staff was training themselves for when a larger team will come down. Nonetheless, they were able to give 20 adults a basic checkup, as well as their children, and send them home with vitamins and some basic medication. The medical care most Nicaraguans get is sporadic and not very good, so anything helps. There are a lot of reasons for this, including how insurance works, whether Nicaragua can get its foreign college educated students to come back to work, quality of hospitals, as well as others I can’t think of right now.
Pray for the medical team arriving soon that they will be able to provide needed help. Pray for the systems and people of Nicaragua that the government will improve their conditions and not steal from them, as they have in the past. Pray for Cristo para la Ciudad’s staff as they welcome and coordinate this team that operations would go smoothly and they will be able to help as many people as possible.
Jonathan and Kendra
UPDATE: Brittany (with House of Hope) still has not heard back from social services if she will be allowed to house the 4 teenage girls, but this is apparently vary typical of the legal system here in Nicaragua. So, in the meantime, we are keeping busy with a few other things.
Yesterday and today, we are working a a school for the deaf. Their school year starts back up the first week of February, so during the vacation they are doing some campus improvements. We are sanding and painting bookshelves, desks, and whatever else they might need. We may do this for a few more days depending on their need. This school was the first deaf school to offer dormitories for students who lived far away, and it was also the first deaf school to offer High School.
Fun fact, the deaf here use Nicaraguan Sign Language, a signing language that was recently invented (in the 80’s) and which very few people use. Apparently there is very little overlap with ASL aside from the alphabet.
It’s been a blessing to be able to serve as needs arise.
Our first week and a half has been slow, but we’ve been getting to know our hosts, the people we’re working with, and our neighborhood.
We’re hoping to work extensively with House of Hope, a ministry for women coming out of prostitution. Specifically we’ll be working with one of their staff Brittany, who was in charge of seven teen girls that lived in House of Hope’s dormitory. House of Hope offers several programs for women in prostitution ranging from Bible studies, teaching skills for other employment opportunities, etc… Housing became a need for a lot of these women. Some women live there, and some of these women have young children. However, in some situations the women wanted to leave their children there (so they could attend school, be taken care of, etc…). This portion of the housing – the girls’ dormitory, was shut down by the government. At the time, there were 7 teenage girls in the dormitory. Of these 7, a few of the girls’ home situations have improved – so they are back home and safe. However, there are four girls who still really need to be housed. Brittany is hoping to gain the legal right to house these girls (with consent of their parents). Brittany is still working with social services and a lawyer to resolve this issue. In the meantime she rented a house and is preparing it for their arrival.
Yesterday, we helped Brittany organize and clean her new home. It’s a bit of a mess since she just moved in this week and is transferring a lot of the supplies that were formerly in the dormitory. This upcoming week, we will be helping Brittany make new plans for the girls in terms of programming, because the ministry to these teen girls will look differently than it has in the past. We need to come up with additional materials for after school activities, devotional topics, and a slew of other logistical things.
1) The 7 teens that formerly lived in the dormitory.
Pray that God will be at work in these girls’ lives
Pray that God will show his love through us and Brittany to these girls
Pray that their mothers will gain the support they need to be able to make better life choices
Pray for the legal paperwork and meetings to go quickly and smoothly
2) Pray for the health of Lydia – Mike’s daughter. She was in the hospital this week after being severally dehydrated and having a reaction to a sleeping pill.
Kendra and Jonathan
Answer to Prayer: The the middle of the night last night (after midnight) we got a phone call. The airport delivered our bags 30 mins afterwards. So this morning we got to shower (with our soaps) and change into clean clothes. Praise God. We only went one day without our things.