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Mission of Hope

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Friday, February 22, 2008

By Bonnie Black
This morning we woke up to our breakfast served by Sister Stephanie, Lynn Grovine, Mary Garcia and Sarah Deeb. We had in front of us the most ambitious home building day on this mission’s schedule – 4 homes including the all-women’s crew site. So, first thing after the morning meeting, Oscar Flores and Jim Dumont took out Eliza Zalis, Alex Munn and Bill Murray to build the Sunrise Rotary Club’s shelter. By 10am, the all-women crew of Eliza Zalis, Emily Palmer, Bethany Trombley, Morgan Boatwright, Renee Bean and Libby Yokum jumped on the truck and headed out to build a home for a single mother with two children under 2 years of age.

Keeping us clean and safe at Nicasa were the BBB team of Matt Daly, Matt Kennedy, Meg Ryan and Sarah LeFloch.

Sam Morse assisted Sister Debbie with the photos of sponsored children at Nejapa, and they also delivered a functioning computer and the teachers were elated! The priest asked Sister to take some more digital photos of the students for him and she decided at that moment, that the camera meant less to her than it would to him – so, she presented him with her camera. Afterward, the principal thanked her and said the Mission’s presence in the community has permeated throughout for which they are so thankful. Sister Debbie told them that their spirituality and hope keep us coming back to do more.

We had both a morning and afternoon crew for Rice & Beans delivery which are getting a wonderful experience of meeting the local people and interacting with them.. In the morning it was Betsy Sullivan, Kitty St. Denis, Barb Harris, Kristin Gagnier and Gabby Flores. This afternoon’s crew consisted of Joy Cayea, Alison Gratto, Bev Gogola, Rachel Daly, Kitty St. Denis and Kristin Gagnier. We are putting our fluent translators to work all of the time!

Staffing the Children Feeding Children this morning were Jessica Finnegan and Rachel Daly. Doing the heights and weights, under Bill Calmbacher’s guidance, were Matt Daly and Sarah LeFloch and Matt Kennedy.

Bill Murray spent the morning working on making sure all of the computer parts were functional in preparation for assessing the computer lab.

The tedious work of getting all of the sponsor gifts for both Nino Jesus and Nejapa organized was Libby Yokum – and everything is finally ready to meet the student tomorrow morning at 9am!

Our final morning at the Disability Center was experienced under the guidance of Bev Gogola who had with her Samantha Mulcahy and Elaine St. Denis. More boxes will need to be taken on Monday, but the time they spent there today was bittersweet as they left knowing that the next time Mission of Hope volunteers come will be in July.

Painting continued at San Jose Hospital with Paul O’Connell as crew chief again. Today his crew was Sister Cathy, Braxton Raymond, Richard Garzarelli, Andrea Maynard, Alexa Cosgro and Jo Morse.

We made our initial visit today to San Antonio Nursing Home in Masaya delivering King Pharmaceutical medications and, through Kendra Kline, eyeglasses donated from the Glens Falls region. We also brought packages from the residents at Lake Forest in Plattsburgh for the people here. At Masaya was also Alice Robinson, Katherine Grovine, Alison Gratto, Kendra Kline, Sarah Merkel and James Carlin.

Thirty-one people traveled to the Banana Camp in Managua today and learned first-hand about their plight. Many people tonight have asked for the information we keep on site which was developed over a couple of missions by Cathy and Liz Hill to edify those who begin to learn the story of the social injustice created by multi-national companies based in the US.

We learned at our evening meeting that tomorrow night’s Mass here at Nino Jesus de Praga will be said in Gary Garrand’s name as he is struggling with health issues. Sister Debbie also told us she spoke with Sister Miriam, who was one of the sisters stationed at Nejapa until last month. She told Sister how much they miss us and they wanted to be remembered to us and that they had taken the spirit of the Mission with them up north!

This afternoon Sister Debbie and Yamilette went to the US Embassy as they had heard that there was a program for the distribution of trees to assist with erosion. Right now it is only in Chinendaga, but it is a possible future distribution of trees in our area.

Tonight Bill Calmbacher said that Nica is fast becoming his first home as he will prepare to apply for the summer mission when he goes home.

Meg Ryan spoke of her experience at the Banana Camp and the reasons why they are on strike. Again, they told us they were grateful that we were there so their story can be told to more people. Many people commented that Meg is amazing at translating for she was “on” this afternoon.

Renee Bean thanked Andrea Maynard for having forethought to bring sheets of stickers which many handed out – not only to children, but also to older people who wanted them to remember us. Andrea commented that she will think twice and look at labels on bananas she eats. Sister Cathy reminded us it is now our mission to educate and lobby our own government to make the multi-national US companies accountable.

Betsy Sullivan said her impression was that they are very strong people with a spirit which won’t allow this issue to die. Matt Kennedy learned that they had been there for 10 months and they plan to stick it out in hope to make a difference.

Sister Debbie mentioned, “You are the voice for the voiceless – your words, actions and sharing.”

Jimmy thanked all who worked on the home shelters, especially to Oscar, as all 10 are now completed. On Monday, a group will return to all to plant moringa seedlings.

Sarah LeFloch had noted that the children at the school and in the banana camp interact and act like those in the states. They are still happy and very “typical” of each other.

Lynn Grovine recounted yesterday at the Disability Center which was her first visit. The overall effect on her was that these children are all human beings with something to offer regardless of their differences. “Picking up the children, you can feel them relax and a few begin to interact vocally,” she said. The Jesuit from Nebraska now is Jenna and Lynn enjoyed learning about the children from her. They have a monoprint printing press, coloring books that they trace over and then color; they embroider sheets and pillowcases. Just before they were about to leave this morning, the babies were brought into the communication room and we were invited to join in the piñata celebration. Lynn noted it was a beautiful, wonderful experience. “It made my whole trip,” she said.

Sister Debbie told us the physical therapist at Parajito Azul is funded by the Dominican Sisters of Hope grant in addition to our clinic doctor, Mauricio, Marta and Magaly. Sister Stephanie showed an example of an embroidered pillowcase available for purchase at the center. Bev tolf of the 47-year-old with Down’s Syndrome who took about 3 months to create it; she is the oldest resident.

Morgan Boatwright informed us that the women’s home shelter crew built the home in about an hour and realized that an hour of our time will help this woman and her 2 children for a long time.

Sarah Deeb chimed in saying that she had given some stickers to a young girl in the yard when she was talking with her this afternoon and when the father came to get her. On their way out, the father thanked Sarah. What an experience!

Rachel Daly spoke of the Disability Center the other day, too. There was a tiny girl with an angry expression on her face who was staring into space. Sarah came back a little later and spoke with her – the girl smiled! Sarah stayed and stroked her arm and she reached out with her hand and wrapped it around one of her fingers. Sarah knew at that moment that a connection had been made.

Alice Robinson had been at the San Antonio Nursing Home noting it was well maintained, painted with a relaxing color. There are about 40 residents currently at the facility. Medicines are their greatest need. The building was donated to the sisters, renovated by Japan. Kendra Kline was moved by her experience as she has experience with Alzheimer Disease and was a bit hesitant about the trip. But, after talking (in English) with the residents, she became more relaxed and found many of them interesting. The physical facility is great, but they have other needs. All agreed that the view of Lake Masaya from the veranda was spectacular.

Rachel Daly and Emily Palmer told of their coconut escapades in the front yard – they will all show you their pictures!

Alexa told us that after dinner a group of them were creating a rhythm cadence with their cups and Sister Ligia and others from Diriamba, who were our dinner guests, became intrigued. Alexa tried to teach them, but she said that we were the nuns’ entertainment. They did notice the one driving the truck tried to create a similar cadence on the steering wheel while waiting for the other nuns to get in!

Sarah LeFloch observed how this country would suffer if it weren’t for the nuns and all they do for so many here. The numbers seem so much higher here, but isn’t sure because it may be because they wear habits in Central America and in North America that is no longer the custom for many orders. There are many young nuns, too.

We concluded the meeting tonight listening/singing to Josh Groban’s “Thankful” which rang true for so many in the circle. Everyone has their own copy which many have now placed in their journals.

The weekend is ahead!

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