It has been a busy couple of months balancing normal workload of the ministry and trying to help Mario start his business. Recently we saw a pattern developing in Mario's behavior toward his work. Every week there was a reason for him to take one day off from work.
Communicating with the local people is a very difficult process. Believe me, it is a process trying to piece together bits of all communication to finally draw a conclusion of the true intent. They NEVER tell you what you need to hear. It is hard to read between the dialogue as to what they are really trying to say. This was the case talking with Mario. He was saying all the right things but never what was on his mind.
It seems he was growing tired of making the trip into Leon every day. He'd leave home at 7am and return at 5pm five days a week. Typical hours for the American culture - 10 hours including travel time. Mario told us he did not think it was necessary for the shop to be open all day every day. He said we do things differently in Nicaragua than the United States. (yes, they do; in reality they work 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week). He also began to complain about not having power tools. It was always understood that as a business owner that he would be responsible for buying the bulk of his tools. The ministry might donate a tool or two, but it was always the owner's responsibility to acquire tools. He did not like that he never had time for his friends, work consumed much of his time.
Mario told us that his sister had returned from Spain with money in savings and she would help him buy tools. He wanted to begin to work in his community. We are spending our final days with Mario preparing him to be on his own. It's only a matter of a phone call if he ever needs our assistance and of course we will continue to work in El Paraiso to develop the economy.
We have been in Nicaragua long enough to know that if missionaries do not hand deliver everything to a person they will not take the initiative to run with an opportunity.
Last November, the cabinet shop was moved into Leon from El Paraiso because of several reasons. One in particular was to gauge the interest of Mario in how much he was willing to invest of himself to have his own business. Due to Mario's recent lack of interest, our analysis is that he did not want to buy his own tools and playing soccer with his friends was more important than building toward a stable future.
El Paraiso is a community that was birthed out of the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. Several villages had been buried because the wall of a water filled volcano crater collapsed. More than 2000 people lost their lives. The survivors were relocated to a plot of land, homes were built and El Paraiso came into existence.
The displaced people were farmers who now were living on small lots with no work available in their surroundings. It's been almost 20 years and the new generation is growing up not knowing what it means to work a regular job. Some young men might take a part time job working in the sugar cane fields during the harvest season. The majority of the community depends on government help, extended family members working in other countries who send money home each month or the kindness of missionaries.
Such is the case of Mario's mother and sister. They live in Spain 11 months of the year and return at Christmas for a visit. Mario has siblings that have lived their entire short lives without the presence of their mother.
The family unit is so broken, that it is acceptable in this culture for the women to work hard while the men do whatever men like to do: hang in groups, gamble, drink and chase women.
Our purpose in Nicaragua is to teach a generation how to work so that they do not have to depend on the assistance of others. It is Biblical that a man shall work if he wants to eat and he is responsible to care for his family.