It snowed last night. In southern Louisiana, Snow is A Weather Event. Schools close. Children run outside. It’s strange and wonderful because it only happens every 10 years or so. If you don’t live in lands where snow is common, it’s A Big Deal.
There’s not a lot of snow. Just enough to cover the yard, the roof tops and cars in the neighborhood. I wrote a message on the back of my car this morning.
The morning flurries made me think of something else that brings out the inner child. Christmas. I apologize if the sentiment is just too much for you, but I confess I love setting out the Nativity set each year. I like decorating the house and tree, too.
For everyone, there’s a gift. The gift of A Son is Born. I love all of that stuff from Isaiah and Handel: Unto us a Son is Born . . . I love it!
Yet, at the same time, I’m old enough to know snow melts and turns to mud. The government isn’t on His Shoulders. I don’t care what Isaiah says. The Son doesn’t rule the World yet.
The advent of something wondrous started with the baby in the manger. It also means to look to the next Advent. Soon there will be a Second Advent when Jesus will reign. The government really will be on his shoulders. There will be peace on earth.
Everyone, Christian or agnostic, knows deep inside that something isn’t right. Whether it’s the weird weather, the even weirder politics, or the deep injustice we see, Some Thing Is Not Right. That’s why we hope for the next Advent.
My week in Nicaragua was almost surreal. Although I hated the weather (hot), I enjoyed the lush scenes as well as the sense of security. In comparison, Honduras this week is under martial law, along with a night-time curfew. One person died, and many have been injured as heightened tensions over elections persist for several days. Just a few hundred miles away in Nicaragua, things are quite peaceful. Of course, the Sandinistas have a tight rein on the little country of Nicaragua, so peace comes with a price, I suppose.
A few weeks ago, I traveled to Managua, Nicaragua. My purpose was to scout out a ministry called i-61. It’s mission statement is from Isaiah 61 in the Bible. More on that in another post.
I was there nine days. It was warm. That’s not true. It was hot.
It’s the cooler season supposedly. Managua has a tropical, humid climate. There are two seasons: winter and summer. I was there in winter, as the rainy season is called winter, the dry, summer. Managua is a humid and hot place, even in winter.
On a more cheerful note, Managua was cleaner and safer at least compared to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, my former home in Central America. I didn’t see litter everywhere or people scavenging out of the garbage bins as was commonplace in Tegus. My North American hosts also lived without multiple layers of security that was a part of my daily life in Honduras. I didn’t see guard dogs, electric wire or armed watchmen.
Nicaragua is poorer than Honduras. It’s poorer than any nation in Central America. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the North America region. Only Haiti beats Nicaragua as more impoverished. There were horse-drawn carts in the capital, and they weren’t for tourists. Everyday people use them for transporting supplies. Honestly, there weren’t loads of horse-drawn cars. More common, cars, buses and taxis filled the streets.
The ministry, i-61, operates a base in Managua that serves as a training center for North Americans who want to learn about missions. They offer a 10-day trip to educate groups on different areas of missions. The objective is that groups can return home and put into practice in their own communities what they learned.
I didn’t feel like I returned home wanting to end world hunger. I don’t feel compelled at this moment to act on the seven areas of mission that the group supports. To find out more about the areas of mission of i-61 follow the link below.*
I was impressed by the people I met, gringos and nationals. I didn’t feel pity or a sense of being overwhelmed by the scope of poverty in Managua. I observed and helped those feeding kids whose parents scavenge in the city’s garbage dump. I visited a ministry that serves children with physical and mental disabilities. I visited a church’s outreach that feeds local kids in a town near Managua. I talked to Americans who help kids attend university by providing them with guidance, free room and board, and other help so they can impact Nicaragua as educated, hopeful young men and women.
One day, we visited a coffee plantation. It wasn’t a tourist site. It was a working farm. The fellow who owns the place is striving to have an eco-friendly finca, one with shade trees and bushes planted strategically to help the coffee ward off most pests naturally and shield the plants from the harmful sun. Supposedly there’s a boa constrictor who lives just yards away from the owner’s home. We discussed the boa’s penchant for household pets at this patio outside the home.
There’s a lot more to unpack from visiting i-61 in Nicaragua. But for now, adios!