Gods continued Provision and Protection and Peace in Mist of unrest in Nicaragua Update on events
God bless You, Here is a Journal of what has happened since I last posted the Article of what was happening in Nicaragua, God is very faithful despite the continued problems and escalation of violence and unrest through out the country, God is faithful in continually providing and protecting this wonderful believers and those that are praying and looking to God. If you have not read the first Article here is the Link
Let us continue in Prayer for this wonderful believer and the people of Nicaragua.
On May 28th police pickup trucks drove by a gas station by a busy shopping mall in the capital. People filmed what happened on their camera phones. From the backs of the pickup trucks, the police and paramilitaries used automatic weapons and started opening firing on people in the gas station parking lot. In addition, videos of trucks filled with paramilitary and police racing down
roads at high speeds and firing automatic weapons at people in neighborhoods flooded social media.
Throughout the day I am sent videos of attacks, some happening in real time. I forwarded them to a few select believers for prayers over the situation. The violence and chaos is pure evil. What the government was originally trying to conceal and denied being responsible for they are now doing openly for the world to see. Thankfully believers are praying about the situations as they happen. The following day in response to the previous day’s attacks, roadblocks set up around the country by and maintained by citizens in opposition to the government violence. The citizens of Nicaragua are attempting to peacefully force the government out of power by halting the economy through preventing the movement of goods on the main highways. In addition, in the north where I am the roadblocks are intended to prevent the national police and paramilitary from entering the communities, but as a result movement within Nicaragua has become increasingly difficult.
May 30th was Mother’s Day in Nicaragua. People around the country wore black to honor the mother’s who will not be spending Mother’s Day with their children because they fell victim to the government violence. Scheduled protests took part all over the country and people filled the streets of every city across Nicaragua many family’s marches side by side with their children. Accounts of
what actually happened vary, but by the end of the day, 15 more people had lost their lives and more
than 200 were wounded. In the mountain community of Estelí where I live street wars started between protestors and the police. Barricades were set up by protestors who pulled up the bricks used to make the roads and stacked them up to shield themselves from the police who were shooting at them. Far from the violence in the center of the city I sat outside with my neighbor watching the mortar fire explode in the air. We talked about the reports we had heard from people around the country. People were all saying the same thing. It was the police and paramilitary firing into peaceful crowds of protestors. The school where I work contacted me and canceled classes until June 4th in response to the violence happening across the country. They cautioned me to stay safe, and
The next morning friends and I messaged back and forth to make sure that everyone was okay and update one another on what we know about the night’s events. One friend asked me if I wanted to go downtown with her and survey what had happened. We drove around looking at the street barricades and debris left on the roads from the fighting the night before. Events across Nicaragua on Mother’s day were dubbed “the Mother’s Day Massacre”. There were people on the streets, although less than normal. Some shops looked closed and had hurricane shutters up, but had posted signings say that “they were open” on the outside of the shutters. The main grocery store in the center of town was opened and we decided to go in. They had a fair amount of packaged food, but the fruits and vegetable bins were completely empty. That’s when I realized that foods that require refrigeration are the first things that the city would run out of, and that won’t be replaced as a result of the roadblocks across the country.
On Friday, June 1st in the evening reports spread that armed men in pickup trucks were planning to destroy and loot businesses in the community. Business owners and church leaders in Estelí went out the middle of the night once they heard about the planned attacks. They took to the streets and headed for the businesses downtown that was presumably going to be targeted. Holding Bibles in
their hands they went and sat around the businesses. They prayed and sang songs of praise together. Videos made with camera phones showed people praying in groups and saying that God would protect their city in the name of Jesus Christ. The planned attacks took place in other cities and towns in Nicaragua, businesses were looted, windows were broken and some buildings even set on fire, but not a single business was attacked or looted in Estelí that night.
On Saturday, I went by the store near my house to see what they had. They were also out of produce, but they did have items with long shelf life like rice and pasta. I bought some dry cat food. I wish I could get a big bag of dry cat food, but they don’t sell them here in northern Nicaragua. Most people here have pets for practical purposes and not many people here buy cat food, so most stores don’t sell it or if they do they only sell it in small bags. I have learned recently to take everything to God so I lifted up my desire for a big bag of cat food to him. Once I arrived home without any fruit or vegetables a girl I know came by my house unannounced. Her family is from a nearby community where they are farmers. She brought me a huge bag of fresh fruits and vegetables. Enough to last me for at least two weeks! God continues to meet all of my needs in the middle of this.
The following day I received a phone call from the director of a small school where I teach on weekends. She let me know that because of safety concerns the school has decided to close until further notice. Half my income was just lost. The director was upset; the school was 100% of her income. I tried to encourage her that God would provide. When we ended the phone call and I felt peaceful if anything in the last year I’ve seen that worrying has not helped me one bit, but giving things to God has so I prayed about it. About an hour later the school director called me back and let me know that the school’s board decided to offer employees pay through August even if the school will not open. Now not only will I have pay for the next few months, I will also have Sunday’s off. What a blessing! I had been telling God how I’d like a weekend day off once a week. The following day I was contacted by three different people all looking for a private English instructor. I had technically just lost one of my jobs, but am now making more money and have an extra day off a week! I thank God for these little blessings in the middle of all the turmoil around.
On June 6th I was walking to work in the morning. The environment felt differently than it used to. The bus station used to be a bustling place with buses coming in and out from around the country and taxis dropping off and picking up travelers. Now it is closed with its doors and windows boarded up. The Pan-American highway has a long line of semi-trucks parked on it. They stretch across the link of Estelí, not having been allowed to cross the roadblock at the south end of the city for days. The drivers were forced to sleep in their truck cabs. There are few cars on the roads now because fuel has not been able to get into the city and so there is a lot of foot traffic. Those that still have fuel drive in the single lane that is open and the rules of the road do not exist anymore. There are no police to enforce traffic infringements. The only place still opened near the bus station is the small fruit stand outside. I stop every morning and buy a small bag of fruit to eat at the preschool when the children have their snack. This daily exchange is the only thing that is still the same in my daily routine. Walking down the road to the school feels different than it used to. I can feel people’s
eye’s on me. I’m one of only a few foreigners left in this community and I stand out like a sore thumb. It never used to feel uncomfortable to walk down the street in Estelí before, but since the violence started and the local police presence has almost completely disappeared, nefarious groups have been coming out of the woodwork. Before this started, every morning I would see people I knew: parents walking their children to school, older school-age kids that are in my weekend classes, friends that I’ve known for years. We would greet one another as we passed on the sidewalks and wave hello as we all went around getting ready for our day. Now I rarely see a familiar face, many people are
scared to go out, people have stopped sending their children to school. As I walk down the rural road to the school young men hang out on the side of the road drinking beer in the morning. Many make vulgar comments as I walk by, and I openly display the pepper spray that I carry while I thank God for his hand of protection around me.
The next morning on the walk to school the little fruit stand was closed and boarded up. With no buses running I guess they didn’t sell enough to stay open. Buying my little bag of fruit was one of the daily activities that remained normal. I was disappointed. I stopped by a small family-owned store on the side of the road to ask if they sold bananas, they didn’t. I gave up on fruit for that morning and went to work.
When I arrived at school one of the little girls handed me a banana.” I brought in bananas today for all the teachers.” She told me. It was such a small thing, but a blessing. Shortly after I started teaching the class for four-year-olds the school director came and pulled me out of class to speak with her. She had left the school to run an errand and while she was out a pickup truck with armed, masked men drove by her, they were shooting at people on the main street. She drove away and was uninjured, but the school was shutting down for the day and parents were contacted and told that they would need to come to pick up their children from school immediately or as soon as they safely could.
We put all of the children in one room, and I sat reading to them we waiting for their parents to come to get them. Meanwhile, we had no idea what was going on outside in the city with the gunmen.
One-by-one parents came to pick up their children. I prayed for each one as they left not knowing what they were going out into. Finally, once they had been picked up it was my turn to leave; I still had to walk home. The minister was at the school and he was visibly concerned that I had to walk. He told me to be so very careful on my way home. “I will.” I told him, “I’m going with God”. First I
had to walk through the rural neighborhood where the school is, and finally out to the Pan-American highway, with the long line of semi-trucks still parked. The city was still and quiet as I walked in the direction of my house. There were even fewer cars than before and I was the only person out
walking. I don’t normally pray out loud when I’m walking down the street, but I did. I sang praise songs and thanked God for bringing me home safely. There was a feeling in the air that I didn’t like. It is hard to describe, but sometimes it almost feels like you can feel fear and tension in the air and it felt like I was walking through a Ghost town. I walked toward my house as quickly as I could
thanking God for bringing me home safely the whole way. The 20-minute walk was the longest of my
life. Once home I looked at my phone. I had a lot of missed calls and messages. People checking to see if I was alright and to let me know what happened. I talked to some people and was able to piece together what had happened. It was a violent attack downtown and several people had been shot. I had to cancel my afternoon classes, even if my students could come I did not want them to come out today. Thankfully there was fellowship scheduled for 1 PM my time and I didn’t have time to really process what had just happened before I was talking with believers via Skype and just generally being encouraged. I didn’t share the full extent of what had just happened, because I myself was still processing it. After Fellowship I looked at my phone messages again. A friend sent me a video and a message telling me to stay inside my house. I watched the video she sent me. It showed a group of masked men carrying guns walking down the same street. They were walking down the same street that I had just walked down to get home. Someone had filmed them on a camera phone from a doorway as the men walked by. I don’t know if they were the same men that were shooting earlier
that day from the back of the pickup truck, but I did know that God had brought me home safely and that I never crossed them as I had walked home.
The school was canceled the next day because of the previous day’s events. I decided that it was better to just stay inside. I spend a lot of days now not going to work because of violence and having to stay inside my little apartment. I am starting to have increasingly more in-depth conversations with my cats.
The weekend came and went, time seems to go by differently than it used. On Monday I had a feeling that I should go by more supplies. I decided to go to the store and see what they had after I left work. As soon as I got home a neighbor came to me and told me not to go outside because there were
armed men walking around the neighborhood again. Another day when I can’t go outside after 11
- Even the elementary schools have started canceling classes in the afternoon.
The next morning, I went to the preschool early and asked for the day off. I felt an urgent need to go and buy what supplies I could. I still had food, but I had a real sense of urgency that I decided to not ignore. The school told me to go, another teacher was not able to make it in because she could not get past the roadblock. “It is fine.” The director told me, “do what you need to do, I completely understand, we are in a war right now.” I had to laugh on the way to the store that I just called off of work because the day before there were armed men walking around my neighborhood. This is the “new normal” here in Nicaragua. At the store, I was surprised to see that although no trucks have come in with food because of the roadblocks there was still a great deal of food on the shelves. There were no eggs, or milk and most perishable items were gone, but there was a fair amount of packaged food. The only bread they had were a few loaves of white bread. I can make a lot of concessions, but I just cannot eat white bread. Giving up on bread I went to see if they had any cat food, although I seriously doubted it. I was so blessed I could have screamed. They had a giant bag of dry cat food! A big 22-pound bag! They don’t sell those here! I had forgotten that I had even prayed about that some time ago. Getting home, I unloaded my goods: rice, beans, pasta, tomato paste, oatmeal, powdered milk. It may be a bland mix, but thank God I still have a lot of vegetables that my friend dropped by and some vitamins to help out as well. While I looked over what I bought I lamented that I didn’t have any bread. That night my neighbor came by. She likes to bake and had just made a loaf of wheat
bread for me. Every time I have a need God meets it. My neighbor likely thought that I was a little too ecstatic about a loaf of bread, but for me, it was just one more amazing thing that God had done for me in the day.
On June 13th the National Union of businesses voted on and agreed to have a 24-hour National strike. Everything would be closed. The school contacted me to let me know that we won’t have school during the National strike and they warned me to stay inside. Meanwhile, I was told by friends that the stores became madhouses and that the supplies that were there the day before when I went to the store were quickly being bought up by people preparing for the strike. Sitting at home with supplies, including my prized 22-pound bag of cat food I feel so incredibly blessed and thankful to God. I had had that sense of urgency to go shopping. It was bothering me so much that I felt compelled to ask off work. My employer understood and gave me the day off. I found a huge bag of cat food that they have never sold before, that I had prayed for some time ago. I had everything that I needed and I didn’t need to go out and try to buy things in order to be prepared for the National strike.
On June 14th the strike went into effect and almost everything in the country was closed. I stayed inside the whole day. There had been speculation that the power and water would also be cut off as part of the strike, but thankfully they stayed on. By mid-morning, I was contacted by a friend. Armed people have moved into the community and started taking over land and houses that were unoccupied. Apparently armed groups and individuals were taking advantage of people fleeing the
country by taking over their homes and farms. In the middle of the day, surrounded by stress, I was blessed by being able to join in Fellowship via Skype while I was stuck in my house.
On the 15th because several of the land grabs had happened near the preschool, the school was canceled for the second day. People now feel like they can’t leave their homes if they live in a rural area because an armed individual may invade and take over their home and land. I have friends who cannot leave their land, and friends who now ride bikes instead of drive because there is no fuel. I spend days locked in my house anymore and praying for God to heal this situation. Friends and I send prayers back and forth on social media, but we never see each other anymore. Everyone stays inside. Thankfully I do still have a handful of private students who brave the walk to my house to study English.
June 19th, 2018 was a day that I will never forget. There was a transportation strike, and so there were no taxis. After school, I walked home. The environment had that feeling in it again that I don’t like. Once home I realized that there was no one outside. I guess we can all feel it in the air. In the afternoon I decided to let the cats outside for a bit, they spend so much time cooped up in the apartment now. I was sitting outside watching the sunset when I heard firecrackers in the distance. A minute later I got a message from a friend asking me if I was home. I told her that I was, she let me know that I needed to go inside. “They are near where you are.” She told me, “did you hear the shooting?” I told her that I had heard some firecrackers in the distance. As the words came out of my mouth I realized that what I had heard had not been firecrackers. I was not sure who “they” were,
but took her advice to go inside.
People continued to contact me and warn me that something was going to happen that night. I’ve been very blessed to have a good network of Christians here in Nicaragua and I am so happy that so many of them take time out to warn me when they think I should be aware of something. I live outside of the city, but close to the roadblock. If the paramilitary did plan an attack it would be very close to where I live. From the messages, I was getting it seemed that the paramilitary had come north and they were planning an attack on the roadblock but were waiting for dark. Time dragged on, and then I got a phone call from a friend telling me to turn the lights off in my apartment. I went
into my bedroom and got online to contact some believers and ask them to pray about the situation. I
don’t remember what time the shooting started, but it was the worse thing I have ever experienced. It sounded like bombs were going off outside. I could hear automatic weapons being fired, the explosions, I don’t know what they were, were very close to where I was. I was able to reach two believers in the United States and they started praying immediately. I had known that there may be an attack on the roadblock, but nothing prepared me for the noises and rattling of my windows during the attack. I didn’t know what else to do so I started playing praise music. I played “My God
is Awesome” by Charles Jenkins on repeat throughout the battle. After a while, there was a pause
and the attack stopped. The night became a slow-moving haze. I was getting various messages from friends telling me not to go outside (as if they had to let me know). People were messaging me in any way that they could: Facebook, texts, WhatsApp, etc. They knew my house was near the attack, and everyone was scared. I forwarded the song I was listening to everyone and I kept telling everyone that “My God is Awesome”. Then the firing started again. It is weird trying to message people on various social media platforms while praying and singing praise music with automatic weapons being fired outside.
I don’t remember when it stopped. I got a call telling me that there were people wounded, but the government operated hospital refused entry to those hurt in the attack (as has been the case in all the attacks perpetrated by the government). I contacted another believer and asked her to join me in prayer for the wounded. It was the 19th of the month. I realized that it was two-months exactly since this started. I knew that the school would be closed the next day. The night went on. Shots and mortars could be heard being fired from other parts of the city. I really could not believe that this has only been going on for two months, it feels like it has been a year.
The next morning was normal. I don’t know what time I finally fell asleep the night before, but I continued getting messages well into the early morning. I left my house and walked up to a nearby hill where I could get a view of the Pan-American Highway, the roadblock had been removed by the government forces and all of the semi-trucks that had been blocked from moving were gone. There were even a few cars driving back and forth. It almost felt like the night before was just a bad dream and nothing had happened until I heard mortar fire in the distance. There were so many miracles from the night before. They never cut the power off, or the internet. I was able to remain in contact with believers through the attack. I had been warned well in advance to go inside, and people continued to keep me updated.
Last Sunday my friend called me and invited me to go visit her families farm and pick mangos. I wondered how safe it was, but she said that her dad would drive us. It was the first time since late May that I left Estelí. We passed where the roadblock had been set up and saw armed police standing out to prevent the citizens from putting it back into place. It doesn’t really matter if it is up or not,
very few semi-trucks are coming into Nicaragua now from other countries and the economy has
taken a huge hit that we have not yet felt the repercussions of. Being out on the farm was wonderful. We cut down bananas and mangos and filled bags with the fresh fruit, she told me to take as much as I wanted and we filled the trunk of their car with mangos, more than I could eat myself, but enough
to share with others who have been sharing their fruits and vegetables with me over the last few weeks. My friend and I sat and talked for a long time about how we have all been praying for Nicaragua, and how we have contacted everyone we know to ask for prayers for this country and its people. We also talked about some of the tragic events of the last few days. We talked about how this is a spiritual battle, and how we need to stand up for what’s right by putting God first and continuing to lift this situation to Him. “We have to keep praying for this country, it is only God’s hand that is protecting us every day.” She told me, and I know she is right. We drove back before sunset;
everyone needs to be inside before dusk now for safety. It was a well-needed break for me. I was so
thankful that she invited me, refreshed me, and for the enormous amount of fruit that is now filling my kitchen.
On June 21st I join in a Skype Fellowship in England and I learned that a believer there had really had me on their heart the other day and had been praying for me. It was comforting to realize that while the city I am in was under attack a believer that I had not contacted, who was in another country, was praying for me because God put it on their heart.
On the 22nd a friend of mine traveled to Managua. She hired a private van to circumnavigate through roadblocks that are still up in other cities. She messaged me early in the morning to tell me how blessed we are in Estelí, she told me that there were scary roadblocks and masked men on the streets in communities outside of Estelí. I know we are blessed, even though we have had some violence it is nowhere near the level of violence in other cities around the country. A few days later on the 25th, my
last “gingo” friend in Estelí evacuated. He also went through back roads in order to get around roadblocks in order to get to the capital. He messaged me while he was on his way to Managua telling me that surrounding cities “looked like war zones”.
Every day is a new challenge. Every day I have something new to be thankful to God for. While we have had violence here, it has been minimal compared to other cities and Estelí is the safest place to be in the whole country. For the most part, we are able to live our normal lives. God has continued to meet all of my needs daily from safety, and food, to Christin believers who offer prayer and encouragement. Every day I am more and more thankful for little things that maybe before I didn’t think to be thankful for. Thank you for your continued prayer for God’s peace and love to fill Nicaragua and drive out the darkness and for His healing over the people of this Nation.