Greetings world-wide community!
Last week was Semana Santa (Holy Week) and in Nicaragua, that means most people had vacation at least part of the week. In most towns and cities there are extensive religious celebrations–Masses, processions, vigils, re-enactments. But, for a large majority of the population it is party time. Beaches were packed with tourists, and ‘smart’ people (in my bias) headed elsewhere.
Sam and I left for a few days to visit our fellow volunteers in Nicaragua, Billy and Kristin Byrns, who recently moved to San Nicholas. Located in the mountains near Estelí, this small community is one filled with great challenges and gifts. Rural poverty, rampant unemployment, divisions between Catholics and evangelicals, and domestic violence are all present. But, we also experienced the hopeful side that shows God at work–a strong parish church, a compassionate school principal, peaceful sounds of country life, laughter and generous hospitality.
Hosted in the rectory of San Nicholas, we ate our meals with four women who are Dominican oblates, two of who come from Esteli every weekend to be active in the community. We ate lots of tortillas and beans, wonderful spicy chili, chilaquiles, and local organic coffee. Participating in the daily liturgies and Masses at the Church next door was an experience that drew us into a spiritual family, even though most were strangers to us.
Times of sharing and prayer just with Billy and Kristin allowed us to bless one another, and reflect on what God is saying to us in these days. Billy and Kristin recently moved here from another community, Waslala, which was a considerable distance away from Managua. We continue to pray for them in their adjusting, and in preparing themselves to love (and be loved by) this new community.