Vamos a Chinandega, con Cuidado!

It has been a long time since Jari and I have had a chance to meet up with some of the entrepreneurs in Chinandega. I have tried to call a few of them but phone connections and times were not very good. Since the start of this political crisis in Nicaragua it is very dangerous to go on long trips away from home. The trip to Chinandega can take up to 2 hours. You also have to pass through the city of Leon on your way there. Leon has been a hot spot of violence, roadblocks and protests.

So when a fellow missionary said she was going to go to Chinandega to meet with some of the pastors she works with I decided we should all go together. We decided, "Vamos a Chinandega, con cuidado." Let's go to Chinandega, but carefully. Like any trip in Nicaragua it is an adventure. You don't know what you'll encounter on the way there. However, in these days it can be more dangerous. Our trip was going well, we arrived safely to Leon, but this highway bypass showed the scars of protests and chaos. We passed our first roadblock and behind it was a burnt out van. All that was left was a metal frame in the road. There were circular scars and heaps of charred wire left from burnt tires. Glass was everywhere. We passed a burnt out dump truck and more bricks in the road. The two lane road was cut off into one narrow passage way. Since it was early morning the people of Leon were on their way to work and waiting for the few buses that still pass by. There was tension in the air, but you have to work, so the citizens of Leon carried on their daily routines. Thank God we made it safely through Leon, and were back on track to Chinandega.

Metal Remains of a 'microbus'

We arrived in Chinandega and met with our friend Yamileth. She is a dentist and runs her own office. She described to us how her business is being affected by the political crisis in Nicaragua. Unpredictability of everyday life has caused people to focus more on buying essential food items, and less on the health care of dentistry work. Looters and the threat of looting causes businesses and the market to close early in the day, around 3 p.m. Her location is a busy one close to the market, but also can be a hot spot for people with bad intentions to pass by. Her business income has dropped, from 10 to 3 patients a day. She still has debts to pay and family to support, so she continues to remain open until 5 p.m. She is negotiating with banks to lower her debt payments. I offered her advice on how to negotiate with banks and how to restructure her debts. We spent much of our time together reflecting on God's call to business people, prayer and encouragement.

Convenience stores reinforced for protection from looters

After our meeting with Yamileth we returned to the Iglesia de Nazareno. We met the board for AECNIC in this church for the first time. A fitting place for our other meeting with Yessica. Unfortunately this crisis has hit her business very hard. She's had only 5 customers in the last two months. Worse than this, she doesn't feel safe. We spoke about closing her business, and taking care of her family during these very hard times. We spent a lot of time speaking about spiritual battles, and the attack of the devil in her life. We spent time reading Philippians chapter 3 and 4, praying for safety and encouragement to press on!

Our first voyage to Chinandega in 2016 we started off learning about these Christian entrepreneurs. We helped them solve business problems. We spent time working on what being a Christian in business means to the market place and God's Kingdom. We also spent time encouraging them. Now more than ever we share their struggles. We will continue to encourage them, and have hope alongside them that God's peace will be restored to Nicaragua.

We stayed overnight so we could leave in the morning, a safety precaution to avoid traveling at night. So we rented a room at a small hotel. This hotel is owned by an elderly couple in their eighties. They are ready to sell the hotel. They have owned the building for over 20 years. The political violence and the thought having to leave again so late in life makes them very sad. This would be their third time leaving Nicaragua. Yet another business affected by the continuous violence. They gave us a tourist map to seek an alternate route back to Managua in case Leon was to dangerous to pass through. I stared at this map for a while, looking at the ads. The map seemed like a bygone era. It was almost distant memories of when our road trips were happier and safer. Nostalgia that's only a few months old.

I know we will not be able to return to Chinandega as frequently as we would want to. There are many changing dynamics to our ministry here everyday. Satan looks to cause confusion, chaos and wants to steal our joy, but this enemy has already lost. Jesus Christ defeated him on the cross, and so we "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!" - Phillipians 3:14.

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