We do a lot of waiting here in Nicaragua. We often have to wait for the bus to arrive – sometimes up to 30 minutes late. We have to wait for our residency visas to be processed, ‘Sorry’, says the reception clerk, requesting more information to add to the 40 pages of notes they already have. Living on an island we have to wait for the next launch to arrive to connect us to the mainland. We often have to wait for people to turn up to meetings, sometimes 45 minutes after the starting time. The sense of time here does not have the same carriage as in a bustling commercial city. Manana, manana, manana. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
The Spanish word for ‘wait’ is esperanza. It has double meanings: it can mean not only wait, but also to hope. To wait here can be translated as ‘the hope’ or the great expectation that the planned event will happen. Taken this way, hope is not idle nor fanciful – it is something that sustains your expectation; it is something that will be realised.
We live in a small community town called Altagracia (population 6,000) located on an island of two volcanoes in Nicaragua. We are working in a project called, ‘Yes To Life’, supporting children who are vulnerable and at risk. The children have experienced some measure of trauma from a range of experiences: violence, drugs, abuse, and poverty. They are waiting, hoping for a better life.
The community here are very religious, and their faith challenges us constantly. For example, we are living behind the main Catholic Church. Here church services are held twice a day: at 6.30am and then at 5.00pm. I often think of the singers leading the service – how do they cope with singing what appear to be the same songs twice a day, everyday! But people rally. And so I am constantly challenged by the faith of the people, and their devotion in attending mass so regularly. Why do they do that? The answer I can only come to is – esperanza. They too are waiting, hoping.
Here there appears to be little to sustain hope. The people are poor, they are not sure when the next meal will come, how they will survive the rains, what they will do when the crops do not produce the returns they would like. Life here is always a struggle. And the children who are at risk here, especially those with whom we work, are constantly searching and looking for something to alleviate the pain. Quite often the option they take is the refuge of mind-numbing drugs.
But another option, to which most of the community anchor themselves, is faith. Faith in God and being routine in attendance at worship fashions a way to survive, remain steady. In worship they are reminded to always wait on the Lord, to remain steadfast in the hope that God will keep them and look over them. And so they sing, so they worship, so they live. And so they continue to wait. And so they continue in hope. Esperanza! Faith sustains our expectations and life.
Please pray for our work, our community centre, where we model more positive ways to wait and have hope. And may you all learn of the richness that is found in the esperanza that is ours in the faith, as you go about your daily routine.
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