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Mission of Hope

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Monday, August 20, 2007

By Bonnie Black
This morning Roger Patnode left us at 4:30am, in order to catch his early flight home. For everyone else, the morning began with Marty’s famous pancake breakfast in order to have enough sustenance until all were processed through at the airport – about 6 hours later.

Then, all bags and suitcases and chairs and hammocks were lined up and placed on the bus when it arrived around 6:45 a.m. Children were in the yard early today as they, too, knew this would be the last hour of seeing everyone who had been a part of their lives over the past 10 days or so.

At 7:15 a.m., we headed down to the auditorium taking our designated seats in the front. A six-piece band was playing which livened the feeling in the hall. When the students began filing in to music (reminding many of us of ‘assembly days’ in elementary school) we stood to recognize them. Once all of the students were inside, most standing around the perimeter and in back – with preschoolers at the front of the stage – Sister Rosa began with a prayer, then the Nicaraguan national anthem, followed by ours….which we all sang as we turned and faced the students.

The desperdida began with a recitation by a first grader and then two older girls came out to perform a folk dance. Two very young children, a boy and a girl, demonstrated one of the other folk dances in their native costumes, too – how adorable! After a quick musical interlude, a group of third year secondary girls and four boys performed another folk dance. After seeing the national dance troupe perform, we appreciated seeing these versions which had similar costumes and movement. Then, something we have not had a pleasure of experiencing: two fourth year secondary girls came out lip-synching to “Bright Eyes.” Quite a performance with much emotion included in their miming! The final selection was a medley of tunes from “Grease” to which the fifth year secondary students danced and jived. Something to connect directly with their North American friends which draw a loud round of applause from us as well as the other students in the room.

We then took to the stage and Sister Debbie had a few final words interpreted by Joe Lewis. Finally, Liz Chaskey and Danielle Hamilton led us in “Come Into My Life” which we sang for all of the students and staff thanking them for our time spent here.

We then filed out, having just a few last moment in the courtyard with the younger students before boarding the bus. This was the time of tears for many knowing they would most likely not be back to Nicaragua as their college years were either starting or coming to an end this spring. Adults, too, were moved for this has truly become our second home whether it be the first or the fifteenth mission. As the bus pulled out of the yard, the windows were open and hands were waving to all left behind.

Around 10:50 a.m., we received a call from Sister Debbie telling us that everyone had just been processed and it looked for their on-time departure. In unison, they thanked A Team which was followed by: “We have water, we have lights, we won’t be with you tonight” as a heart-warming chant (not!!). Their spirits were high as they readied to return home to families. Mauricio told us later that the plane finally got off a little late at 1:30pm.

A big thanks goes out to all of the point persons for this mission:
Oversight: Sister Debbie, Oscar Flores, Mauricio Flores
Local Transportation: Oscar Flores, Marty Mannix, Sister Debbie, Mauricio Flores
Medical: Roger Patnode
Container Disbursement: Diane Crosier and Oscar Flores in consultation with the medical team
Construction: Marty Mannix
Kitchen/Food: Sister Stephanie
Publicity/Photos/Email: Bonnie Black
ECHO/Environmental: Judy and Marcel Charland
Daily Job Assignments: Sara Fredette and Darcy Rabideau
Rice & Beans: Jordan Donahue and Jenn Stitzinger
Education: Julie Fredette and Dan Ladue
Housekeeping Management: Diane Crosier and Bill Calmbacher
Water Project: Marilyn Knutson
Lead Testing: Roger Patnode with Elle Rathbun and Kayla Rabideau

For those of us on A Team (Diane Crosier, Bill Calmbacher, Marty Mannix, Dan Ladue and me) the beginning of a few days of work began. It will be filled with various types of tasks: final distribution of donations including one of the generators to San Jose Hospital to allow their operating room to function without fluctuation in electricity for machines and lights, going to Caritas with Sister Ligia to begin the distribution of the donations allocated to San Jose Hospital from the container items in storage, meeting with Sister Rosa and Magaly Velasquez, finalizing the passive solar water system at the Disability Center, visiting the home shelter to deliver a photo of the donor and take a photo of the family in front of their new dwelling, taking the inventory of everything in Nicasa and then storing it all. It will take us not only today but also Tuesday and most of Wednesday to accomplish this. We will be on a plane departing at 6:50 a.m. on Thursday bringing Mission #25 to closure.

Thank you for letting me be your eyes and ears on the ground for the eighth time. Nicaragua and the people of Chiquilistagua will always be a part of each of us. We will share this all, in our own ways, over the coming days and weeks. When we begin to talk about our experiences, we are processing all that has occurred. Many lives are changed as a result of mission – both here and back home. Yes, we are not the same people who left a couple of weeks ago. But, we are changed for the better. We are connected with our world and those who are not as fortunate to have the conveniences and the luxuries that we have been born into. Yet, we are all human beings needing recognition, love and an outstretched hand. I hope you have enjoyed this walk with the Mission of Hope into the wider world during Mission #25. May God bless us all.

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