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Mission of Hope

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

By Bonnie Black
The plans for this morning was to have our roof painting crew with brushes in hand at 6:30am, bright and early, in order to get their job done before the mid-morning sun became too much. But, Mother Nature foiled that – in a big way! Not only did it pour for close to 2 hours, but it was on and off most of the day…until the sun shone at 2:45pm. This put a big crimp on our plans because so many tasks were based outside.

Our kitchen crew (Brenda Flynn, Beverly Gogola and Kayleigh Garrand) kept everything running smoothly even with most of us around Nicasa all day long doing tasks other than what was planned.

Our “BBB” crew of Bill Calmbacher, Christina Gehrig, Marcel Charland and Elle Rathbun did their best to keep everything clean and sparkling throughout the downpours.

This morning, though, a few planned projects did occur. Roger Patnode, Connie Tyska and Dan Ladue joined Marta and Dr. Lopez at Mateara for the regularly scheduled clinic at 8am. What we sometimes to refer to as the Refugee Center, is comprised of fishermen’s families who were displaced as a result of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. They did not return to their coastal homes, as they were gone and much of their land had been totally eroded. Their hope was, by staying, that they would be able to make a better life for themselves and their families. In reality, the young children are vulnerable to the darker side of life as their mothers spend long hours each day at the sweatshops down the road, as do their siblings who are at least 9 or 10. We perused the grounds of the secondary school where only those with “enough intelligence” are admitted. The primary school is about half a mile down the road where the younger ones go. We met a 13-year-old girl – who looked about 9 – who informed us that she and the others walk to the primary school each day. They then spend the afternoons and evenings around the area.

Meanwhile, back at the Nino Clinic, Cathy Hill had Mary Fredette and Sue Black as her inventory helpers today. There is still a bit left – about 2 hours – to complete the thorough screening of stock as they had no electricity to allow them to see in the back room!

Rice and beans delivery – our first of this mission – got off to a slower than expected start due to the rain, but the team of Marilyn Knutson, Abe Munn, Nancy Scanlan and Julie Fredette did get out with Magaly Velasquez to a few homes in the area. The team was mainly comprised of new volunteers so this was a wonderful initial experience for them.

“Mr. Fix-It” around Nicasa today was Joe Lewis who tidied up a few electrical and mechanical odds and ends so that things are now functioning better….thanks, Joe!

Painting crews for the afternoon were able to do their assigned jobs as they were all inside: Nejapa classrooms and finishing the chalkboards at Nino. Sara Fredette was crew leader at Nejapa with her team of Marcel Charland, Marilyn Knutson, Abe Munn, Elle Rathbun and Dan Ladue. They took some very nice “before” and “after” photos presented by “Vanna” Elle! The chalkboard crew – who had to sit and watch paint dry due to the humidity – was led by Connie Tyska: Nancy Scanlan, Bailey Rabideau and Christina Gehrig.

The roof painters (Joe Lewis, Jordan Donahue, Danielle Hamilton, Liz Chaskey, Karissa Monette, Jenn Stitzinger, Kayla Rabideau, Dennis Kaufman, Shawney Bushey, Lauren Recny & Mary Fredette) joined the others assigned to sorting the suitcases and the boxes. Diane Crosier tried to keep everything organized and efficient in the sorting process, but the downpours would bring everything in the process to a screeching halt for prolonged periods of time. Her morning crew of Judy & Marcel Charland, Bailey Rabideau, Bill Calmbacher, Sara Fredette, Elle Rathbun and Christina Gehrig was patient and attentive and became a blend of other teams held up from their assignments due to the rain. Throughout the afternoon, Diane welcomed assistance from anyone not able to their assigned tasks.

Mid-day, Sr. Debbie, Oscar, Shawney and Jenn went to the Managua Aid Center for Women to bring them dresses made by Danielle Hamilton’s mother along with personal hygiene items for the young women, most of whom are rape victims and are now pregnant. It was a moving experience and one that answers a request by Archbishop Brenes on our last trip. On the way back, they took a short stop at the (extremely small) City Zoo…cages with a few exotic birds and such.

Among the items which were stored in Magaly’s office were a few wheelchairs – a we had a brigade bringing them over to Nicasa for sorting! One, though, went to Ismael Ramirez who is 75 and has been unable to walk for a long time. His disability, which includes complications from diabetes, has not allowed him to leave his bed and therefore work. A portable commode as well as a wheelchair, chucks and Depends were brought to his house – quite emotional for all present. Ismael literally had tears of joy running down his cheeks. His wife wiped them away as his hands are also seized and not functional. She lifted him into the wheelchair and took him outside. He was looking around (although he had a large cataract in his right eye) and began weeping again. We were assured they were joyful tears – overwhelmed by the gifts brought to him. It will certainly be a large change for everyone in the family. A joyous moment!

Tonight, we had an early dinner (grilled chicken) before getting dressed up to attend the annual Nicaraguan Folk Ballet. This performance was of a higher technical level than the one we saw 2 years ago – excellent dancers – including a number which included many young children! The lights, the costumes, the music and the dance all blended together in an evening of pride of their country’s heritage. Just prior to the performance, we stopped at the Tiscapa (Somosa Palace) National Park for an overview of the city pointing out many of the sites that some will see on tomorrow’s City Tour.

Although we arrived home late, the energy from the performance kept most up to around 10:30-45 our time…but, with the later breakfast scheduled for Sunday morning, we will probably make up the difference in “lights out” time.

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