Archive for October 2011

Even Use Words If Necessary

October 31, 2011

The following is my latest attempt to try to understand the concept of evangelism. My thoughts took the shape of a poem dedicated to a close Nicaraguan friend who recently made me reflect more closely on the subject. I begin and end with a quote from Saint Francis of Assisi:

Preach the word of God wherever you go, even use words, if necessary.

***

You invited me to evangelize with you on Fridays at 7,
to go out and have a soda with the kids on the street corners
and tell them about Jesus.
I stammered and stuttered and tried to respectfully decline,
feebly attempting to explain my uncertain views on the subject.
But what I really meant to say was,
you don’t realize that you’ve been evangelizing to me
since the beginning.

***

Your sister was a prostitute and addicted to drugs,
and you and your wife as newlyweds
adopted her new born daughter,
now she is a delightful, happy, and healthy child.

***

Your uncle was a recovering alcoholic,
when his house flooded and he lost his job,
you strung a sheet across the corner of the living room,
in your already crowded house you made a place for him.

***

You are an elementary school teacher,
and make less than I do as an MCC volunteer,
yet when you uncle fell back into drinking
you did not kick him out.
You kept on loving him.
And when the alcohol finally claimed his life
you were there,
Organizing everything for his wake and burial.

***

Then there’s the old woman who washes laundry,
And again you, having little extra,
give her work washing your clothes
because you know she needs the money.

***

So here I am now,
wanting to change my answer,
to say yes.

***

Yes I want to evangelize with you,
but please not only on Fridays at 7,
but always in everything I do.
Loving as you have showed me how to love.

***

Preach the word of God wherever you go, even use words, if necessary.

I am the 1%

October 21, 2011

And I stand in solidarity with the 99% worldwide.

1) I have never gone to bed hungry

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identifies 1.5 million Nicaraguans as undernourished.

2) I chose to be a “volunteer” overseas

  • All my costs are covered including: food, housing, health insurance
  • I receive a stipend to spend as I desire that far exceeds the $2 a day that 76% of the country lives off of
3) I received a quality education at a private university
4) I have white skin
5) I know how to read
  • 67.5% “official” literacy rate (2003). This rate depends on your definition of literacy…
6) I speak English
___
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for for the priveledges and opportunities that I’ve had in my life and I don’t feel guilty or want anyone else who has enjoyed a priveledged life to feel guilty either. However, I do want to recognize them for what they are; priviledges that most people in the world were not born in to like I was. I also want to recognize that in some ways I’m a hypocrite for even writing this post considering I have money invested in the very financial system that the Wall Street protesters are denouncing.
I am the 1% in solidarity with the 99%. I am NOT a Democrat or a Republican. I am not anti-U.S. or anti-capitalism, but I think it’s time to recognize that we have some serious problems of wealth inequality in the United States that are only getting worse.
I think people with great ingenuity that have worked hard and created businesses deserve to be wealthy, but I also think that those who work on the front lines of those businesses deserve to be paid a living wage and deserve to be able to go to the doctor when they get sick.
I am the 1% in solidarity with the 99%. I saw many people in Harrisonburg who worked harder every day of the week hanging turkeys in a poultry plant than I have ever worked in my whole life and still barely made ends meet. Here in Nicaragua people work 10+ hours a day selling fruits and veggies in the street under the burning hot sun and the majority will never be able to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” and make a better life for themselves or their kids. Life is not fair, but if people like me change the way we’re living it can get better for many.
___
Sorry for the Debbie Downer post. Sometimes life seems “hard” here and it’s good to keep things in perspective. Plus, we’ve been enjoying reading the news about the Occupy Wall Street movement and I felt inspired:)

Campaign songs

October 13, 2011

As we mentioned in our previous post, it is election time in Nicaragua. This means that songs from the different candidates are played on the radio, from mini-vans with giant speakers that drive down the street, on TV, and during parades. Here’s a sample of what we’ve been enjoying:

From Daniel Ortega:

(From 2011)

(From 1990)

From Fabio Gadea:

Apparently Sony Music has caught wind of this copyright infringement and issued a cease and desist letter to the FSLN.

Elections

October 10, 2011

We’re now less than a month from the November 6th presidential elections here in Nicaragua. Campaigning officially started a few months ago, but just as in the U.S., candidates have been posturing and bashing each other for the past year or so.

Campaign

One frustrating aspect of heightened campaigning here in Nicaragua has been the near halt to public transportation every.single.weekend for the last few weeks. Current president, Daniel Ortega, has been giving speeches in various parts of Nicaragua and contracts the public buses to haul hoards of people from Managua to the city where is giving his speech. Many people who don’t work on weekends (or are unemployed and don’t work at all) enjoy the free ride, free meal, and free T-shirt at these political rallies. It will be interesting to see if these hoards of people, who’s overwhelming attendance at Ortega’s rallies make it seem like he will win the election easily, actually vote for Daniel in November.  On the flip side, those left in Managua who are trying to get to work, the market, church, or basically just go about their daily lives, have no way of getting around they city and frustrations are rising. This past week Ortega announced that he will no longer be using city buses to transport supporters to his events.

A (very) Brief Profile of the Candidates

  • Arnoldo Alemán (PLC) – expresident from 1996-2001. Listed in Transparency International’s Top 10 most corrupt world leaders due to embezzelment of funds after Hurricane Mitch. 
  • Daniel Ortega (FSLN) – current president, and president during the 1980’s after the Sandinista revolution. Through some deft political maneuvering (or possibly ilegal political maneuvering depending on who you talk to) was able to get the Nicaraguan Constitution, which prohibits reelection, changed so that he can run again. Currently in 1st place. 
  • Eduardo Quiñonez (ALN) – has no chance of winning, just wants a seat in the legislative branch
  • Róger Guevara (APRE) – same as the guy above
  • Fabio Gadea (PLI) – aka “Pancho Madrigal”, famed Nicaraguan radio personality. 80+ years old and currently in 2nd place. 
The elections
So who will win in November? The Sandinistas (Ortega’s party) seem ready to win at all costs. The party has been in power of the past five years and most people would agree that the average Nicaraguan rural farmworker is better off as a result of government programs that have been guaranteeing seeds, pigs, and zinc roofing for farmers. Ortega and the Sandinistas have also proven, ironically, to be great capitalists (while at the same time being best buddies with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez).

Nicaragua has been exemplary in its participation in the CAFTA free trade agreements and compliance with the neoliberal economic policies of the IMF and the Worldbank while at the same time receiving an unknown amount of financial support (this little detail is not recorded in the national budget) from Hugo Chavez.

Historically Ortega has not be able to capture more than about 40% of the vote (he won in 2007 with just 38%) but the other candidates will probably split the “anti-
sandinista” votes and allow Ortega to win the election.
Further details of the presidential race and the candidates are intriguing, comical, and in the end kind of sad, but we won’t go in to all that. If you want more details you can explore some of the resources listed below. Otherwise, just wait for our next post of the results in about a month after what we hope is a free, fair, and peaceful election.
Resources
Website from Nicaragua, detailing each candidate’s platform: Conexiones

…in the news

October 3, 2011

The mobile library is featured in this month’s Common Place Magazine – MCC’s magazine.

check it out!