Twenty years ago to the day, I woke up on the porch of the Witness for Peace house in Managua, Nicaragua. A wooden cart pulled by an ox was clunking by in the early morning. It was the morning I first ate roasted plantain.
We had arrived late the night before. Flying into a jungle. Yes, there’s a city of a million there, but the jungle is always present. The smell of rich soil and water hanging in the air.
The long ride in the truck. Shadowy figures in bus stops. Tired. Fell asleep on the porch. Woke up in another world. I’d come here with a delegation of Witness for Peace, a faith-based organization that sent people into the war zones to witness the contra war. The contra was the army backed by the Reagan administration. Their “job” was to overthrow the evil “Marxist” government of the Sandinistas. They murdered a lot of people.
They were terrorists trying to destroy a democratically elected government that Reagan and his thugs did not like.
As I ate my plantain, I read that there had been a major crash in the US stock markets. It didn’t seem real to me. All I knew was I was here, I was safe, I had food and everything felt new. The USA, my world, seemed far away. Irrelevant. When I heard the bullets and mortars made in my country ripping up the night a couple days later, the USA didn’t seem so irrelevant. I felt shame at what my country was doing. But instead of being totally surrounded by violence, I felt an incredible amount of love from the people we met. I didn’t know if I could be so loving, so forgiving. That was a challenge. Perhaps the biggest one among many.
What I didn’t know was that as we rode out into the war zone the next day, I would accidentally step back on the road of faith. Not even the contra could destroy faith.
And I still believe that, although some days it’s hard. I step off the path. But God guides me back on. Again and again. Infinite patience. God must find me amusing, at times! And maybe stepping back on the road of faith in Nicaragua was no accident……..