Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update on the unrest in Nicaragua

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your prayers this week. The past few days have seemed quieter in terms of the rioting. There does continue to be concern about the future stability of Nicaragua. The veteran missionaries who have been here for 10 years or so say that this situation is one that they have not dealt with before. Nicaragua has enjoyed peace since 1990. So, we wait and pray for peace and for the future of this country – a country that has made amazing strides in the past 18 years.
This is a picture of what some of the streets of Managua have looked like in the past weeks.
As far as our safety is concerned, we have not felt a significant threat due to the fact that we travel primarily between the school and home right now. There is no major intersection between school and home which is good because the major intersections are usually the meeting place for rioters. I go to the grocery store early in the morning which is usually when all the people involved in the rioting (who were up late) are sleeping. So, we can get around at certain times, can see when people are gathering from a distance and avoid those areas, and know to just stay home at other times. It is also interesting how within the next couple of weeks a new grocery store will open just a little ways down the road from the school which is a huge blessing because we would then not need to go deeper into the city to get groceries.

Thank you for praying for a vehicle for us. God has answered our prayer with a “no” at this time, however, because of what has been happening here, we have not had much opportunity to go anywhere anyway. We are driving the school van for right now. And in a couple of weeks, a missionary family whose mission is to fix vehicles and help missionaries find reliable transportation will be moving into our neighborhood!

My initial plan was to share details and pictures with you of our home, the school, the grocery store, and places around Nicaragua. I still plan to do this, but for right now I’d just like to ask you again to pray. I will also mention that Dan and I do struggle with having much less energy due to the fact that it does take more energy to live here. So, my level of creativity and mental energy is compromised right now. Dan has added more pictures to the blog, so we invite you to check these out.


1) We continue to see God’s provision in “the little things”. Will had loaned his baseball glove to someone at school and it disappeared. After a week of praying for God to show us where it was, it was found yesterday! For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been praying that God would lead us to an inexpensive Christmas tree. Everything is very expensive here – an artificial Christmas tree costs between $100 and $150 for a relatively small tree and I’m a little too German/Dutch to pay that much (especially when we got our tree in Iowa for 75% off during after Christmas sales!)! Today, I was asking someone about where I could find a cheaper tree. She said, “You know, we are going to the States over Christmas - would you like to borrow our tree?” I said, “I think God just gave me the answer to my prayer.” We celebrate these things as we are reminded that He is involved in every detail of our lives.

2) We are thankful for God’s work in our marriage and our family to prepare us for this. It has become so obvious throughout our journey of responding to God’s call that God placed the ministry of FamilyLife with Campus Crusade For Christ in our lives to help prepare us for life on the mission field. There are stressors that we deal with here that we never needed to deal with in the US and these can impact our relationships. Dan and I have noticed increased insecurity and irritability in both of us and so often we are both exhausted by supper time. One day last week, Dan walked in the house and began to criticize several things that I was doing. This is not his normal approach to me, but instead of giving him grace I reacted. Things were pretty tense at the dinner table that night, when Dan broke the silence. He said to the kids, “I want to share with you guys how Daddy has not built Mommy up today.” He then went on to identify each thing he said and asked for my forgiveness which I tearfully extended. The principles we have learned and practiced through the FamilyLife conferences and resources have transformed Dan and I as marriage partners, parents, and as individuals. We are so thankful for the way God orders things so perfectly.

3) For the missionary community here. I was talking with another missionary the other day and she said that missionaries from other countries will visit Nicaragua and comment on how there is incredible unity here among missionaries of so many different denominations and backgrounds. It is in these kinds of environments where I believe that God is most glorified because in order for so many people of different denominations to have unity, there must be grace.


1) For peace in Nicaragua and for this country’s future. I’m realizing that the US is not broadcasting much about what is happening here even though it really is history in the making. I’m limited in what I can say, as we have been advised to be very conservative about discussing politics via email. If you google “Nicaragua news”, you will find some articles that give more details about what is happening.

2) For our adjustment to life here. Rebekah seems to be doing very well - adjusting well socially and academically. She is a natural optimist and problem-solver, so she enjoys challenges. I think it also helped her to have one year of school in the States before coming here. Will is struggling a little with adjusting to a school schedule and expectations while also trying to learn a new language. We are encouraged, though, by his attitude. He asked me the other day, “Mom, what is your life motto, but it can’t be from the Bible.” I shared the first “motto” that popped into my head. He said, “Mine is try, try, try again.” Will is living his motto every day. We pray for a good friend for him – he is the only American boy in his class and generally kids will talk to each other on the playground in Spanish and Korean, so he is trying to find his place. Will does have an incredible teacher who is highly qualified and very attentive to him. Dan is adjusting well to day to day life and service at the school, but is very tired. Dan has shared that he is fulfilled by his work, believing that it will make a difference for the school. Right now he is communicating with the school’s alumni to get feedback about their experience at NCA. He is also collecting information about what graduates are doing. It has been neat to discover that some are leading or serving with ministries in Nicaragua. He has not had an office since we arrived, but construction began last week to transform a conference room into his office and a nurse’s room. We joke about how Dan went from a good sized office in MI, to a cubicle in IA, to a picnic table in Nicaragua! As far as my adjustment - well, I am not naturally a very good “adjuster” to any life change which is how I believe God builds my faith! However, I see great potential for friendships with women and for ministry here in Nicaragua.

3) My Dad is again having blood pressure issues which are now said to be related to his deceased kidney excreting a hormone that increases his blood pressure. His blood pressure has been as high as 200 over 100 and he has experienced chest pain as well (for those of you who joined us recently, my Dad had a triple bypass last June). So, this is certainly a concern. He will soon be taking a new medication with the hope that this will help this condition. My sister has also gone in for more testing and the word “cancer” is again on the table. I told Dan that this Christmas I want “health for our family”!

Thank you again for your prayers and for your encouraging notes. A couple people have written about how they are talking with their kids about what is happening here and praying as a family about the situation. I was thinking about how this is so a part of our vision for these updates and our blog – to invite others to experience this and to learn along with us more about this country and about who God is and how we see Him at work here. So, thank you for making the time to walk with us!

Peace to you,Lisa (for Dan, Rebekah, and Will)