By Bonnie Black
At this morning’s meeting, we were each given a bracelet made by Laura Gregory, a veteran traveler and student representative on our Leadership Team. Whichever bracelet we picked out of the bag, was to be ours. Each had a word on it which allows us to reflect on about the connection with Mission #23. Sister ended our meeting asking each of us what it means to be a 21st century missionary.
Photos of the sponsored children at Nino began this morning with a fantastically smooth team of Sister Debbie, Dorothee Racette, Magaly, Gabriella Flores, Alison Gratto and Eliza Anderson. In approximately two hours, they processed Pre-K through first secondary. This team will complete this project tomorrow morning, for sure. Dorothee translated for the three students sponsored by the Press Republican when Suzanne Moore was on the phone this morning. First Idalia Vanesa Murillo Lopez, first secondary, spoke with Shan; she was quite shy until she asked her when she will be coming down to Nicaragua! Jose Ignacio Osario Rodriguez is in his next-to-last year (4th secondary) and asked to speak directly to Shan as his confidence in his English has grown immensely. He was quite successful trying out his English. Third-grader, Meurel Massiel Medrano Benairdes was the last interviewed this morning. What a joyful smile she has!
Concurrently, we had a team weighing and measuring the height of each of the children who benefit from our Children Feeding Children program: Andrew Garami, Ilona Flores, Sarah LeFloch, Karen O’Brien and Jenn Washburn. A total of 259 were seen today, leaving about 100 more to process tomorrow morning. Photo caption: (l-r) Ilona Flores (back) and Sarah LeFloch take Geral Rivas' height and weight while Katrina Bouchard records the information for the 6th grader.
Many of our team who were assigned to sorting meds along with some of the kitchen crew, helped to transport boxes donated by CMMB to the courtyard in order to be more segregated further. Many allergy and cough medicines shipped through CMMB from the Albany-area donations obtained by Mark Wahl were also dealt with today.
In the morning, our home building crew consisted of Carol & Jim Dumont as part of a team constructing a home they donated. Others with them were Marty Mannix, Kristin Gagnier, Gen Hill and Marissa Dillenberger.
This morning’s rice and beans delivery crew was comprised of Paul O’Connell, Kendra Kline, Lauren MacMillan, Ariel Benoit and Christina Gehrig.
Our wonderful kitchen crew kept smiles on our faces, too: Marilee Patnode, April Yeaney, Kendra Smith, Amanda Rosselli and Louis Racette.
Our team at the Parajito Azul Disability Center was Sister Stephanie, Diane Crosier, Jon Provost and Matt Kennedy.
A small group went to the soup kitchen at the Managua Dump run for the past 10 years by the pastor of the Mount Sinai Assembly of God Church right there in the dump. He and his team of three others provide (for 30 minutes) each weekday rice, spaghetti, stale bread and a juice drink to all who come while food lasts. Three days a week there are in one location in the dump and the other two days they are in a separate location. Those at the soup kitchen today were Matt Jennings, Liz Hill, Eliza Anderson and Marilyn Knutson. All were interviewed by Suzanne Moore of the Press Republican while at the site. Reflections on what we saw were shared throughout most of the afternoon with others. Photo caption: (l-r) Eliza Anderson and Marilyn Knutson serve a woman lunch at the daily soup kitchen in the Managua Dump.
Painting at Nejapa this morning were Marisa Rose Wolosz, Gen Thompson, Oscar Flores, Jr., Jesse Crosier and Michelle Armani. Evan LeFloch and Kevin Cosgro headed that direction to assess the electrical needs – and they found a lot! Returning this afternoon, Evan and Kevin along with Michelle were joined by a fresh team of painters: Carol Dumont, Ilona Flores, Kevin McGowan, Jenn Washburn, Eliza Anderson, Ariel Benoit, Liz Hill, Gabriella Flores, Chrsitina Gehrig and Matt Jennings.
Late this afternoon, Dr. Zamora reported to us that she saw 32 more patients in Los Guerreros clinic…by herself! We will be providing Carritas with donated medicines from CMMB tomorrow morning around 8am to take up to the clinic.
The rice and beans crew for the afternoon was made up of Marisa Rose Wolosz, Katrina Bouchard, Andrew Garami, Alexa Cosgro, Karen O’Brien and Jim Dumont.
This afternoon’s painting team at Nejapa was Carol Dumont, Ilona Flores, Kristin Gagnier, Michelle Armani, Kevin McGowan, Jenn Washburn, Eliza Anderson, Ariel Benoit, Liz Hill, Marissa Dillenberger, Gabriella Flores and Christina Gehrig.
The CMMB med sorting in the courtyard, which had been brought in earlier today from storage, was handled by Roger Patnode and Diane Crosier who organized much in preparation for distribution over the next few days.
There were two medical outreach home visit teams later today which were comprised of Cathy Hill, Clark Knutson, Dorothee Racette, Flo Reynaud, Joy Cayea, Nicky Lundy, Oscar Flores, Jr., Paul O’Connell, Sarah LeFloch, Bill Calmbacher, Rachel Luscombe, Gen Hill and Alison Gratto. Interviews with the Press Republican were given by Sarah, Rachel, Alison, Clark, Flo, Nicky and Magaly’s brother, Norm, who led one of the teams and speaks English very well.
Late today, Dorothee Racette and Sister Debbie met with Magaly and Yami to organize the newly sponsored students and other education concerns. We are in the final stretch of this project for this year. We found out later at our joint Leadership meeting that there are just over 1,000 students enrolled this year – an increase due to the political climate. They are negotiating a payment plan with many of the families who want their children educated here but cannot afford the registration and tuition all at once. They have also established a special needs class of about 23 who come from an area around kilometer 7 where many orphans live in desperate situations. Many are hyperactive and their other behaviors have led the sisters to segregate this group of students in order to teach appropriate social behaviors.
An obvious new focus of our medical clinic is now the primary care for women, children and pregnant women. Dr. Melida Lopez is at the Nino clinic 2 days a week, the Nejapa clinic on Fridays, and at the Refugee Center on Saturday mornings. Providing primary care for this segment of the population (the majority) expands our services and hopefully be viewed favorably as we look toward future grant applications to provide health and nutritional services in Chiquilistagua and Nejapa. She agreed to an annual exam for the sponsored students at Nino and to communicate with Mauricio or email the medical group directly so joint decisions can be made, when necessary. She is honest, direct, and quite well-suited to what we do. When the meeting was over, she joined us for dinner in the CFC area where we all dine.
At this evening’s meeting, as we began, Sister Ligia from San Jose Hospital arrived with Sister Teresa de Jesus and Sister Marta. Sister Lidia thanked us for all we do for the poor with our medical donations. She is finishing her Master’s in Public Health and in her position at San Jose Hospital in Diriamba, oversees all aspects of the medicines we donate: for eyes, pregnant women, general surgery, psychiatric medicines and more. She told us that they let the people know that the meds have been donated by the Mission of Hope when they are given out. She thanked us for our generosity saying, “God will repay you for what you do.”
Just before we resumed the meeting, Sister Debbie presented Nora with a gift for Alison as well as one for her brother and sister.
Marilee spoke about the kitchen crew; they had tried to convince Louis that he is a budding chef based on his creativity today. They also had the two avocado pits and all of the orange pits from tonight’s fruit in a bag which they are going to plant on the premises in hope that we will have an orchard in the future. The kitchen crew was also commended for their immediate volunteering to assist in moving the boxes of medicine from storage to the courtyard.
Christina was thanked for volunteering to begin the Excel spreadsheet of the 259 names, heights and weights which were processed earlier today. Oscar joined her trying to make the process a bit faster.
Bill thanked Cathy for remaining focused on outreach this afternoon while others on the team, including himself, were watching the clock and thinking about dinner and upcoming evening meetings. And he thanked her because the last lady they saw was 101 years old and dressed in what appeared to be her best dress when they arrived. She had been sitting there a while knowing that we were to arrive. Focusing on others is what we are about – not our own needs.
Sister Debbie shared that she has known Yami for 20 years and they are good friends as well as two of the three co-founders of the Mission along with Eve McGill. When they were exiting the Managua Dump, Sister turned to Yami and asked which of a laundry list of items they should do next. Yami turned to her and said, “After surviving earthquakes, hurricanes and attacks on family, just pick whatever we are to do next.” Sister admitted that Yami made her focus on the fact we need to just get it done as there are so many important things in life.
Marilee shared her observations yesterday about the children at Nino and at Nejapa. “Every child is happy and polite. These are supposedly very poor children, but they are very happy. So many in the states have so much and aren’t happy.” That gave us much to ponder.
Michelle got Christina to share her philosophical state at Nejapa earlier today. Christina said that she didn’t think that she was accomplishing much for the Mission “just” painting the exterior of the school. But when she stepped back, she noticed the wall looked to good in comparison to the unpainted part. So, each of us should step back from our immediate experience here in Nicaragua and take a look at the bigger picture.
Marisa shared how they were at a home site constructing a shelter today and a young boy held by his mother had a roaring fever and the mother could only hold him and rock him as they had no medicines. It hit her that these people don’t even have something with which to reduce a fever.
Eliza told of her experience entering the Managua Dump today. Passing by garbage, burning garbage, and then being enveloped in smoke so think that Jairo had to stop driving for fear that he would hit a person or Mauricio’s car ahead. She said it was like passing through a wall while still in a bubble – the bubble of the car. We were moving from our world into theirs. Yet, when she finally got out of the car, she realized she was not being judged. The people did not resent us because we are privileged. There is no shame – on either side. I then shared an observation I made at that location. When it appeared that most of the fruit beverage was gone, Matt had put a covering over it and told each that there was no more. After the third child, Matt reached down and uncapped the water bottle he had with him and poured the remnants in to this child’s cup and in ther next. Eliza followed suit without a lost beat. That was the sharing and caring we are hearing about all week.
Sister Stephanie remarked about the fantastic job Matt Kennedy and Jon Provost did at the Disability Center. Matt met Hector for the first time and let him know he was taking over his sponsorship at the center. He handed Hector a baseball cap which he donned immediately. Jon carried a baby born with a brain stem but no brain. The rest of their 5 hours there was spent with tactile exercises and stimulations as well as feeding the youth. And….Sister Stephanie brought back a git from the center for each of us – quite tasty! Jon then remarked on what and how Matt handled everything today. “ It is refreshing to see his attitude and interest.”
Alexa shared that the driver on this afternoon’s Rice and Beans invited all to return to his home and property. Although he was more well off than others, it is still so much less thank we have at home. The man was so proud of his turkey and other animals.
Nicky noted that on outreach today, she observed 4 generations in a home and why it is such a cultural faux pas for us here when we remark about how many people will occupy a dwelling we build. Today she saw a young child who had lost both his father and his mother had recently died of cancer. He was not an orphan, though, as the family had come together to keep his life safe; she was impressed by the family connections.
Flo noted how affectionate siblings are down here. They seem to look out for each other whether it be playing with each other’s hair, sitting on laps, whatever. They all seem to be looking after each other. Liz Hill connected with that statement as a result of what happened on the latest Outreach home they did today. They had been distributing kits brought along by Bill and they were down to the last two, handing them over to Fransico who helped them. He opened both up and seemed to have a problem with deciding which he should chose; when Liz suggested he take both, he said that he was taking his time as his sister would be receiving one while he would keep the other.
Sister Debbie noted how proud she is of what we do and are committed to on this trip. Sarah LeFloch ended with prayer focusing on Micah 6:8. She asked us tit hunk about the way we walked humbly today.
As Sister Stephanie was passing out the cookies, Yami shared a piece of culture to help us understand what we see when we are on field experiences. When a couple marries, the husband moves in with the wife. The mother of the bride, or parents, move out and get a smaller dwelling on the property. Staying this close to each other and supporting each other is a part of the culture.
In all, a very busy but satisfying second day.