The Press Republican

Mission of Hope

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

By Bonnie Black
The kitchen staff satisfying the early risers this morning were Darcy Rabideau, Karissa Monette, Joe Lewis & Christina Gehrig. I say, “early risers” because it was Sunday and, in theory, we get to sleep in a half hour longer. But, no! Most everyone was up and ready for breakfast before 6am (our regular time). They were all raring to go as this was one of our “free” days.

“BBB” was handled quite ably by Joe Lewis, Roger Patnode, Kayleigh Garrand and Kayla Rabideau this morning and there wasn’t much else as we were gone all day.

Before Mass this morning, Sr. Debbie had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Nora and baby Allyson to present them with gifts. Much of what was given was donated by Whirley Industries of Florida in memory of Shawn Watson, Sister Stephanie’s nephew, who died quite unexpectedly this past winter. Shawn had been on an early mission and his family supports 5 students’ scholarships here at Nino. Through Whirley, the mission has been able to provide the home health kit containers we take out on medical home visits and what we will be giving away at our Health Fair next weekend. Whirley is not only staying committed to the Mission, but wanted to support a very young child through the completion of high school. It was decided that baby Allyson would be the recipient of Whirley’s generosity in memory of Shawn. They are committing to a monthly stipend to defray medical costs for Allyson’s next two years of life and will step up to paying for a complete educational scholarship for Allyson here at Nino – from preschool through graduation. They also provided a backpack for each of Allyson’s siblings and other small gifts.

After Mass, a small group headed out on the City History Tour which began with lunch at Maria Bonita where Jeremy Eppler and two Nicaraguan doctors (Indira and Athena) joined us for lunch. Roger Patnode stayed behind at the restaurant to discuss with these doctors their education, their focus and the possibility that they might be interested in working with us on the upcoming clinics at La Chureca and at Nejapa. The others headed off to Huembes Market for a couple of hours shopping in candlelit stores which were going to close early due to the electricity situation – or so we were told until we found other parts of the market using their electric lights without any problem! Confusing, to say the least. After the market, Joe Lewis, Darcy Rabideau, Kayleigh Garrand, Kayla Rabideau, Christina Gehrig, Karissa Monette, Roger Patnode, Beverly Gogola, Brenda Flynn, Shawney Bushey, Mary Fredette and I began our tour. I believe most people enjoyed it, learning much about the reasons why Managua city (and Nicaragua, as a country) is such a divergence of the “haves” and the “have nots.”

The rest of the group (except for Marty who stayed “home”) had begun their adventure at 8am heading to Mombacho National Park – a cloudforest which, today, was socked in and did not yield the views normally appreciated by climbers of that volcano. Not only were there some problems mechanically, there was also much rain which they hit partially down the volcano. They had, luckily, stopped at Katerina Market on the way there as a few people were able to spend the cordobas burning a hole their pocket! This time, instead of the entire market being open, there were only 4 stalls; quite a disappointment, but they knew they were eventually headed to Masaya Market. But, that was not to be! The torrential downpour which lasted a couple of hours created roadway situations requiring a detour for them. The delay changed their timing for eating and going to the market, so they only ate and were not able to enjoy get to Masaya. But, Sister promised them at tonight’s meeting that they will be able to go to Huembes Market later in the week. Anote on the restaurant: it was next to a place which had monkeys. This allowed for faces to made on both sides of the wall!

At tonight’s meeting, were heard both funny and heart-wrenching stories of the last two days (due to the theatre last night we did not have a meeting). Sr. Debbie started the sharing time noting that this afternoon, when coming home in Mauricio’s car, they came upon a naked woman walking in the road. Mauricio told them the woman was homeless and mentally ill – “no family, no help.” When Sister asked him why there wasn’t a place for the woman to seek care, he noted: “Government all talk, no action.” It is remarkable to know of the safety nets we have in the US and how this contrasts. Mauricio concluded with, “Hope never; die in alley.” This struck a chord in Sister reflecting on what we have, and expect, from our government versus what exists here and in many parts of the world for the mentally ill.

Reaching out to others to share, Jenn Stitzinger and Shawney Bushey told of their experience at the Aid Center for Women. Shawney said it is the only private center in the country aiding rape victims who are pregnant. Not only can women stay there through their pregnancy, plus 3 months post partum, but they also can return for counseling as needed. Shawney went on to say that they observed a 13-year-old who was pregnant and had been thrown out of her parents’ home due to her condition. She said that she looked about 8 and, when they were handing out the toys to the young children, they could see her looking longingly at the stuffed animals. Then they had the realization that they were looking at a facility which can take care of only 12 young rape victims at a time and that they leave 3 months after giving birth. Jenn chimed in noting they were told there are 2 public shelters but only this one private shelter in the country. There are 2 rooms which have 5-6 beds in each room plus one crib. In a city of 1.3million, how can this be sufficient? This coming week, we will deliver the 2 small child’s rockers to them which are at Nicasa (due to the fact they could not come apart on our February trip).

Brenda Flynn said she learned a lot of the history today but what struck her was the children at the market. Then her heart was reached more when she saw the kids in the streets and how they looked. It was agreed, though, that the children wanted their pictures taken and, as Karissa noted, they want to be noticed, recognized and acknowledged.

Sue Black told us that the rain did inconvenience them on the bus from Mombacho, but looking at the homes of the Nicaraguans, where the rain was pouring through, she realized how being on mission was beginning to affect her.

Roger informed us of the discussions he had with the two Nicaraguan doctors and the experiences he had Friday and Saturday with Dr. Lopez observing the Mission of Hope’s on-going delivery of medical care provided by the Mission of Hope. These two doctors are interested in participating in the clinics we have scheduled for later this coming week and, in that, he saw the growth and evolution of the Mission to care provided by Nicaraguans, for Nicaraguans. He complemented the medical team at home – wherever they live – who created such a solid base and allowed the original clinic concept to develop into the delivery of medical care of today; he noted, “They have done the right job.”

After a few more personal examples of sharing the evolving connection among some travelers, Marty guided us to this coming week. He said, “You can be overwhelmed by the need. But those of us who have been here a while know the long-lasting impact of the Mission in the country.” He noted that although we all will have to respond to the need in front of us, we must try not to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need. “You are here – you are making a difference. We have learned from our mistakes and we know we are a delivery conduit for those who want to help but can’t – corporations as well as individuals. You carry that message; you make it happen for people here as well as people there.”

Sr. Debbie draw upon those statements noting that 736 travelers came before the 38 of us all making a difference through a spirituality based on hope, compassion and justice. We then closed our meeting with Sister reading from the Millennium Prayer with many in the room understanding it on a difference level after what they have experienced so far.

By the time you read this, we will have all begun our work week at a higher intensity – as long as the rain will hold off. But, we have much to accomplish and even if it does rain (after all, it has always been considered the “rainy season”) we know that we must do what we need to do. It will be filled with accomplishments and projects but, most of all, for us and for the people who welcome us here to their country, it will be filled with justice and hope.


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