Nacatamales and Generosity.
A gift from a family in need humbled and impacted me deeply.
My youngest daughter and I returned early Saturday morning from a mission trip to Nicaragua. Our church supports a school in Ciudad Sandino, just outside of Managua. Our family sponsors two students at the school and we’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Nicaragua to help out at the school and meet the students we sponsor.
Nicaragua is one of Latin America’s poorest countries and it’s already shaky economy has been hit hard by the covid19 pandemic. In addition, tight travel restrictions make it hard for visitors to come, such as tourist, missionaries, and relief organizations - all important sources of income for the Nicaraguan economy. We personally experienced these restrictions on our trip.
Our group decided the easiest route to take was to fly from Atlanta to Miami then to Liberia, Costa Rica. From there we would take a bus to the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border, walk to the passport control center to be inspected, and take another bus to Ciudad Sandino. Little did we know our flight from Atlanta to Miami would be one of the thousands delayed that weekend. Our traveling resumed after spending the night in Miami, not exactly the worst place to be while experiencing travel disruptions. Once we made it to the Nicaraguan border, we witnessed a line of eighteen-wheelers in excess of a mile long, waiting to enter Nicaragua and deliver their goods. Apparently it takes three to four days for these trucks to get through the line. No doubt this is harming any sort of economic recovery. It took our party well over an hour to get the necessary passport stamp to enter (and over an hour to leave on Friday).
Daniel Ortega’s government has never been friendly to the United States , but things have grown worse since he crushed the 2018 protests. In response, the U.S. and other nations halted aid to the Nicaraguan government. Russia and China are stepping in to fill the gap. Russian troops will soon be in the country as well, which creates a whole new set of problems for the region.
But this was a missions trip, not a diplomatic one. On this particular trip we brought food to several homes in the neighborhood surrounding the school. One of the families we visited with told us how their father, a construction worker, has been unable to find work for two years. To make ends meet, the family began making and selling nacatamales, a traditional Nicaraguan food, in the neighborhood. They explained the time consuming process and how each member of the family plays a role in the process. Then gave us two to take with us, refusing any money for compensation. We graciously accepted this gift, even though we felt guilty for receiving food from people in such need.
Hebrews 13:6 tell us to “not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” This family put that scripture into practice. Their generosity in the midst of their need humbled and touched me deeply.
Nicaragua is a struggling county, but the United States is too. Many people are hurting. The past few years have been rough on a lot of folks, and now inflation is pounding on them like a mallet. Our already divided country is being hit hard by a leadership vacuum and political turmoil unlike what we’ve seen in years. Perhaps the lesson of this generous Nicaraguan family will help us find a better way forward for our own nation.