One of the greatest needs the folks of Nicaragua face everyday is the lack of jobs. As many of you are aware, the fall in tourism here has had a ripple affect throughout the entire population. To make up for this there are many who have turned to crime or begging to be sure… however, one of the other sources of revenue is vending. There, of course, has always been a large street vendor community here. One cannot walk from the park to the lake without encountering people who want to sell you everything from sunglasses to pottery to cashews and every conceivable item in between. And this has only increased.
Along my street alone, there must be at least 15 or 20 new vendors selling fruit, vegetables, water, or bread. If I am home for more than an hour or two and leave my gate closed but my door open, I will hear a minimum of 5 people yelling “Buenas” (the preferred method of announcing yourself).
What does that have to do with Uno Mas, you may ask? Well one of the men who I have known from almost the beginning … we’ll call him “Juan” … because he does have Facebook and does read my blog. Well, Juan, has been studying English with me and was one of the first men able to find new employment because of his new skills. He was a success story. He is married and has two small children and he lives in the north part of town.
Juan was laid off a year ago. He has been a stalwart friend and his family has been instrumental in helping me and the ministry when I was sick in spite of his personal struggles. Juan came to me when I first returned to Nicaragua after my unexpected 3 month furlough. He said he needed some help. I told him my standard… “if I can then I will”. He said that his wife makes the best empanadas. He even brought some with him and he was right. They were delicious. Then he said he wanted to take his wife’s empanadas and sell them on buses. This is a normal activity, especially on what everyone calls the “chicken buses”.
He asked me if I could help him with supplies … corn meal, meat, cheese, potatoes, etc. He also told me that his water and light bills were overdue because of the layoff. Now, I have to admit something to you. I actually tried to dissuade home from this enterprise because I have ridden the buses to Rivas and San Juan del Sur and never been without a food vendor who pops on the bus at some point in the trip… sells his wares… then gets off the bus and hails one going the other direction. I really didn’t think it would be profitable.
I also get these stories of despair all the time so it is difficult to discern sometimes who should get what. But because of our relationship over the years I decided to help him. I lent him enough money to pay off his bills, went shopping with his wife, and as a gift I bought him a thermal container to carry the product and keep them somewhat warm.
The last thing he asked me before he left that day was if I would pray for him and bless him. I said, “of course.” We prayed and he walked away smiling.
It is now less than 30 days since I helped Juan. And I received a ring of my doorbell. It was Juan. He had the money I lent him. I must have looked shocked, because he asked me if I was busy and should he come back later. Wow… 30 days … and he was already at my door. I asked him if he had enough to restock his supplies and pay the bills. He said, “no”. So I told him to keep the money until he could.
Why am I telling you this? It is because when I first arrived in Nicaragua we all agreed that the mission was to share the love of Christ in any way we could. And when we did that … we would reach “Uno Mas” or “One More”. That is what we are accomplishing together. One person at a time … one family at a time. Because of you there is a family who can eat and stay in their home. Because of you there is a man and a woman who can stand with pride knowing they are providing for their family. Because of you the cause of Christ was furthered.
Just for an update… we are still ministering to 3 different congregations… two of them are the “Jeff, a guitar, and a bible under a tree” types that we had in mind when this all started. School is gearing up again. Once word was out that I was back in town we are now up to almost 100 students. A few less than when I left in March… but I think that will come back as well. We fed 27 families this week. I also met with some local pastors to talk about working together.
It’s all because of you … the loyal supporters of Uno Mas. Your support is making eternal impact … everyday. Thank you.
Continue to pray for Pastor Guillermo’s family especially Oscar. Also… I will send a prayer request via Maggie and the Joy email…but suffice it to say … be in prayer for my brother and his family.
Until next week. Dios te bendiga, Jeff.