Thursday, November 3, 2011

Friends from Nicaragua

Carl and Leslie

Early morning. Brandon comes by to pick up his stuff from Sunday night’s concert. So far, he has been the most successful of any concert producer we’ve had. He’s had quality concerts...standing ovations both times. He’s drawn a young, hip, probably mostly Brooklyn based demographic to West-Park.  He has yet to crack the profit ceiling, but it’s clear that properly managed, we could make this place, well,a  place to be. A place that works. 
Tonight we are hosting the Rev. Leslie Clay and Carl Agsten, currently working as mission workers with CEPAD (the Protetant Council of Churches) in Nicaragua.  This is a somewhat different group for them in that two of the West-Park members are not only native Nicaraguans but with personal histories of engagement in their country’s struggles. There are also around the table members of Dos Pueblos, organizers of the sister city program with Tipitapa in Nicaragua.
We talk about the history of CEPAD, founded after the eathquake in 1972 to respond to a disaster. As the crisis moment never really ended but just shifted,  CEPAD chose to instituionalize its work.(One interesting note:  the D that now stands for desarollo, development; originally stood for damnificados, those who are damned,cursed.... ) Of Dr. Gustavo Parajon, founder, peace maker, man of integrity who just died this year. (And who treated me with my debilitating dysentary in the summer of 1983 during what was to become Witness for Peace.) Everyone is sure it was us volunteers standing on the border with Honduras that ultimately kept then President Reagan from invading. 
Today, CEPAD is involved in water projects and sustainable agriculture. Not projects, but assisting with the development of long term infrastructure needs based on what the people themselves can do. It’s accompanimentt, not doing for. We talk about the upcoming election, the complexities surround Daniel Ortega. The  country seems to be moving further and furhter form a Cuban model and closer an closer to a Chinese model. 
We will continue to figure out how we will all work together...I will continue to be part of the national Nicaragua Mission Network.....and I’m happy to have this international connection in West-Park’s ministry still developing, partners brought closer.  

When I'm heading home, I see George on the steps.I ask how he's doing. Fine, he says, and you? Fine, too, I guess. I see a freshly cleaned rack of men's business clothes hung up on the scaffolding. Where'd the clothes come from? I ask. Lady brought them  by, George says. I'll have to deal with that in the morning. 

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