It has been a challenging time since April 2018. I am pleased to report that although the situation in Nicaragua remains challenging, things are assuming a new normal. Since September we have been pleased to welcome several local groups back to the Skylark Centre. These groups have been ministering to youth, couples and leadership in local churches and communities. We are so thankful that people once again feel safe to return to the beauty and safety of our centre.
We are thankful to God, our staff and our supporters for keeping the Skylark Centre and staff safe, and for enabling us to meet our financial needs.
I am also pleased to report that at the end of December Global Affairs Canada lowered the travel advisory for Nicaragua from Avoid Unnecessary Travel to Exercise Extreme Caution. This is the "traditional level" under which we have been operating and is common for almost all Central American countries. Team travel planning is now resuming.
At the end of January I. and a board member, travelled to Nicaragua, to our Skylark Centre, to meet with staff and learn first hand about the current situation. Please see this blog post for details.
Thank you for your support. We look forward to refreshed ministry this year.
Since late April of this year we have been following developments in Nicaragua which have been of great concern. There has been notable civil unrest among the people of that country against the current government. We continue to pray for a peaceful resolution of the current issues.
The civil unrest has led to many protests, several peaceful, but unfortunately some violent resulting in many casualties. As a result of this violence and unrest, the government of the United States issued a travel advisory indicating that all but necessary travel to Nicaragua should be avoided. The government of Canada has recently also issued a similar advisory to “Avoid non-essential travel to Nicaragua due to civil unrest, which has been occurring throughout the country since April 2018.” For updates on this advisory visit https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/nicaragua.
The safety of those who travel with us is of utmost importance. As a result of these advisories we have decided to take the step of ceasing all short term trips sponsored by Threefold until the advisories are lifted. We prayerfully hope to resume travel with our planned October 2018 teams. [Update: As of late July, the decision has been made to suspend teams through the remainder of 2018.]
This has not been an easy decision. The unrest impacts our work and the Skylark Retreat Centre ministry significantly. I want to assure you that our staff and our ministry site in Nicaragua are safe and our regular outreach programs that are run by our staff continue to operate. While many local groups who use the Centre continue to do so, some have cancelled due to the risk of travel within the country. [Update: As of mid-June, the situation has escalated with local groups now no longer able to travel to the Skylark Centre.] These cancellations have resulted in a projected budget shortfall.
A community-wide survey was also conducted in April in Los Medranos and area with the goal of determining the direction of the expansion of our “Best Start in Christ” program offerings. The participation rate of survey completion was very high, and results are not only encouraging, but exciting! We are now in the process of looking at the results to determine what can be done by our existing staff, reallocating work effort during the unrest, keeping their pay as whole as possible while concurrently serving the community. As an example, cooks and gardeners, given the proper tools, can also teach and therefore empower. Think of it as a different sort of “mission team”.
More than ever the people of Nicaragua, our staff and our ministry need your prayers and your financial support. Would you prayerfully consider how you might financially assist our ministry* and the local community during this challenging time?
Please join us in praying for the safety of our staff, their families and our site, and for the peaceful and swift resolution of the current issues in Nicaragua.
Our staff in Canada are monitoring the situation daily and we will try to keep you, our loyal supporters, apprised of any significant developments. Watch for updates made through our blog.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me, or our Ministry Coordinator, Tammy Miller.
With a continued commitment to building community, empowering communities and following faithfully,
Yours in faith,
*If you are based in the U.S. and would like a donation receipt for tax purposes, please refer to details here.