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Mission of Hope

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Monday, August 13, 2007

By Bonnie Black
This morning around 4:30am many were awakened by the intense pouring rain. We are sure the weather is why we are seeing many more 8-legged creatures on this trip than normal in Nicasa…even the spiders want to come in out of the rain and dampness!

Thoughts were expressed over breakfast about the families we know and wondering how they deal with this season of harsh rainfall. After all, with just dirt floors how do they handle the flow of water through their dwelling?

But, it was dry enough by 7am to hold our morning meeting in our regular place outside, rather than everyone in the dining room as we had to last night. We also know that for this week, we will not have electricity from 5pm to 10pm. Union Fonseco is being true to its word that the outages will be scheduled and announced ahead of time. It does allow for planning for after this morning’s visit to Caritas, Sr. Debbie heard that will not have our generators today but……..manana!! That becomes “we will believe it when we see it.”

Today’s creative kitchen crew were Jordan Donahue, Shawney Bushey, Marilyn Knutson and Kayla Rabideau. I say “creative” because for lunch we had “Sister KaDenJo” greeting us – a decorative watermelon!

“BBB” had the ‘expert’ handling by Sara Fredette, Darcy Rabideau, Kasey Garrand and Bill Calmbacher. With only 9 men on this mission in their bunk room, and two people a day assigned to the task, you can see why the men will become ‘experts’ in this area!

Our first day of home shelter construction included two homes this morning built with funds from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Constable both of which had Joe Lewis and Sue Black on crew who are members of that congregation. They were joined by Abe Munn, Elle Rathbun and Dennis Kaufman.

Early this morning sister Stephanie and her crew of Brenda Flynn, Beverly Gogola, Christina Gehrig, Kayleigh Garrasnd, Kasey Garrand and Danielle Hamilton traveled to Parajito Azul Disability Center.

Working on our Nino Clinic inventory this morning were Cathy Hill joined by Connie Tyska and then they headed to the ‘sorting area’ of Nicasa in the afternoon to segregate specifics meds for certain clinics later this week and other meds for the area hospitals with which we work. They continued on this task for the rest of the day.

Diane Crosier and Darcy Rabideau were assigned to Children Feeding Children but the cook told Dan Ladue that we weren’t needed today. So, we will find out why to determine assignments for the rest of the week. So, Darcy joined the crew doing the heights and weights: Sara Fredette, Dan Ladue, Liz Chaskey, Nancy Scanlan and Julie Fredette. Not only were we measuring and weighing, but we also we dispensing the parasite meds – fine chewable tablets with a water chaser! All but one of the young children consumed the tablets well, especially with Nurse Nancy making a game of it and handing out stickers.

This morning’s Rice & Beans group was Bailey Rabideau, Mary Fredette, Bill Calmbacher, Lauren Recny and Jenn Stitzinger.

Meanwhile….Roger Patnode, Judy & Marcel Charland went to Yami’s brother’s home (Carlos is his name) to sort the meds delivered there a couple of months ago. They were extremely organized color-coding all of the meds for destination/purpose.

Reflexing to the needs of the day, specifically the delivery by ANF of the CMMB donated meds, Roger Patnode had a mini-crew of Julie Fredette and Jenn Stitzinger who whisked their way through that job!

This afternoon’s home crew was again led by Joe Lewis who was joined by Kayleigh Garrand, Danielle Hamilton, Kasey Garrand, Nancy Scanlan and Bailey Rabideau.

We were able to finish the chalkboard painting in the secondary classes today at Nino under the more than capable hands of Darcy Rabideau, Lauren Recny, Abe Munn and Mary Fredette.

We are trying to assure that the data entry on the heights and weights are recorded on computer daily, so Sara Fredette has taken on that yeoman’s job assisted today by Liz Chaskey and then Karissa Monette. Liz was taken to travel with Marty as his interpreter to Aquatec near the airport to investigate the final parts for the passive solar heating at the Disability Center.

Meanwhile, when they were done on their data entry for today, Sara and Karissa continued with the sponsorship gift list for Thursday, when we will meet with our families.

Jenn, Shawney and Jordan assisted Diane in further sorting materials and brought the school supplies for Nino over to the convent which released space for more meds!

A major meeting today among all of the vested parties on the ECHO/Moringa project was held at Noon. Attending were Judy & Marcel Charland, Diane Crosier, Sister Debbie, Oscar, Mauricio, Magaly, Mauricio Jr, Caesar Augosto (a teacher from the school) and Melvin Landers of ECHO. We had funded three of the local people (Mauricio Jr, Magaly and the teacher) to attend a conference in Managua during July on the entire concept.

At tonight’s meeting, Sr. Debbie gave us the full details on the robbery at the Nejapa school the other night. It seems that they do have the guard we have been paying for, but have him on 12 hours shifts, so that means he is there alternate nights. Friday night was a night without the guard and the police believe it was locals who knew there wouldn’t be a guard on duty overnight that night. The robber climbed over a fence and tried to pry the bars off the windows and when he wasn’t successful, he then jumped over and slithered into the courtyard. He entered and grabbed Sister Miriam, cutting her hand as a warning. Then he opened the door and let in his accomplice who had the gun. It was all covered in the newspaper this morning. Sister Debbie, in discussions with Father Raul this morning, learned it would cost $55 per month to hire a second night guard. She told Father the Mission would cover it ‘on faith’ that someone on this mission or another at home would step up to the plate to cover the expense. She also brought up the information on a motion sensor system which Sr. Rosa recently installed here at Nino. Noting that the sisters here also keep pepper spray with them, Sister Miriam nodded her head that they would like those, too. Sister Rosa is pricing the alarmed sensor and she will assist us and the sisters in Nejapa to become safer.

Liz then told us of the social stigma and bias she encountered at the plumbing store when she accompanied Marty as a translator. She expected it might be toward us, as Americans, but she saw it from the young men who worked behind the counter against Jairo. Yes, he wasn’t dressed in a white shirt and he didn’t gel his hair as they did, but they treated him as if he were invisible when she pointed the young men toward Jairo to follow him to the car.

At the Disability Center, Brenda was impressed with the residents and said it was fantastic to work there today. Sr. Stephanie mentioned that the girl who first smiled at Matt Kennedy in February is now all smiles and looks healthier even playing ball today! Beverly thought the physical therapy was very well organized and the entire staff was so gentle and caring. “It’s more than just a job to them – so different from home.” Danielle said her trip today was one of the hardest things she has done in her whole life and told us of her encounter with a young child in a crib – or so she thought. She sang and the child smiled and seemed so happy with such a small thing she was doing. She was subsequently told the child is 15 years old and spends most of the time in the crib. You could see that Danielle was intensely touched when she said that “beautiful things are going on there and we need to keep it up.”

Mary was touched on her Rice and Beans outing by an old lady who hugged everyone. Jenn piped in saying the woman was so happy saying that we were from heaven – emotions explained it all.

Sue found that the first home we constructed today was situated in filth and horrible conditions, yet there was a little boy who was so happy with so little. She was impressed by a local young woman worked extremely hard on construction all morning. Sue noted the second location this morning was so clean by comparison. She still wondered at how people can live as they do. Bailey added that at the second house the woman offered chairs for them to sit in and food! Her impression was that “people with nothing will give you everything they have while people with everything give nothing.” Quite a mature realization.

On a humorous note, Kasey told the group that he finally found the spider he has been looking for – in a jar, caught by a 7-year-old young girl in Monte Verde where they were delivering beans this afternoon. The father told him that a spider of that size can kill a cow. One of the young men had a good command of English and when asked how he learned it, he said he would continuously watch a movie with Madonna….and he thought that Nancy looked liked her!

Joe informed us that he has found that trees here are shorter than those at home – or should I say, his forehead determined that fact! No scrapes, no bruises, just a little tender.

Jenn said while they were walking down the road with Rice & Beans, she saw a guy in a truck who passed as she was taking pictures of children. He stopped and said, “Take a picture of me – I am the milkman!”

On afternoon crew, Kayleigh told us that one of the young women helping to build felt a little faint and Bailey guided her to sit. Nancy checked her when the woman said her head and neck hurt. After a conversation with the woman and her mother, she may be a victim of domestic violence. The mother was adamant that this new home was only going to be for her daughter and grandchildren – the father was NOT going to come back and live in this dwelling. Bailey felt the grandmother was set in her ways, but insistent that her daughter and children would be the only ones in the home.

She then told us of one of the crew member who asked her if she could change one thing about the world, what would it be. She turned the question on him and he said it would be the injustice of humanity.

Karissa told us that one of the home construction crew used to live in Houston making $12/hr in construction. He told her of his apartment there and how he lived, but he longed to return to Chiquilistagua to be happy. His father had told him when he was young that “a word of English was a dollar in your pocket.” He agreed with his father’s maxim, but enjoys life here better.

Danielle was a bit taken aback by Inocencio on the home construction site when he asked her what she thought of Nicaragua and the living conditions. She responded, “I don’t know what to say.” He told her that it isn’t because they want to live this way, it’s just the way it is. “We are not lazy. A lot of people need to hear this.”

Cathy informed the group that she thinks of Nica a lot like Mexico and sees hope. About 20 years ago when her family visited an area similar to Chiquilistagua and Managua, they saw living conditions quite similar. But last month when she returned, it looked a new and vibrant. Sister Debbie reminded us that Nicaragua used to be the single most prosperous country in Central America but earthquakes, natural disasters and civil war still have a choke hold on political life and that’s why things are as they are. Yet, through it all, the Nicaraguan people are friendly, welcoming and hospitable.

Sister Debbie complimented the flexibility and openness of this group. She reminded us that this is the longest mission trip in the 25 which have taken place and she urged everyone to be journaling and to write the questions that come to mind. We shouldn’t worry about having the answers – they will come in time. Ask questions knowing there may not be answers yet.

As we sat in darkness, we all looked at the sky filled with stars. Another satisfying day filled with wonder, joy and a gamut of emotions.

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