Tuesday, February 26, 2008
By Bonnie Black
A bittersweet morning with the Despedida then the departure of the main group. By the time most people got their day started, 9 of our group had already headed home: Roger Patnode, Sarah LeFloch, Morgan Araldi, Morgan Boatwright, Richard Garzarelli, Yamilette Flores, Oscar Flores, Gabby Flores and Kristin Gagnier.
We had our last group meeting of Mission 27 with Sister Debbie explaining many of the logistics of departure after the closing ceremony at 9:30am. A mission-closing reflection/meditation was also given. Then, each of our young people were assigned to fragments of the Nicasa closing process before going out for the final time together in the yard with the students. A few of the adults joined them to assist in each of the projects.
Walking over to the auditorium had very mixed emotions; curiosity to see what the performances might be this time but meanwhile knowing that this is also the final goodbye for this Mission.
It began with the procession of the Church flag and the Nicaraguan flag being brought on to the stage. Sister Rosa greeted the primary students and our group with gratitude for all that the Mission does each time it comes. Sister Isabel then opened with the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Everyone sang the Nicaraguan national anthem (we should really learn this!) and then we turned to face the students and sang ours – for which we received an applause!
The artistic presentation began with 2 of the smallest in traditional costumes doing a folk dance followed by pre-schoolers dancing to a song about Managuan Nights – just like you would see in any nightclub or at a school dance in the US. Eight girls from the Fourth Grade B class came out in traditional costume to perform a different folk dance followed by a group from Fourth Grade A saying a poem, “Tropical” accompanied by hand motions. Diayan, Sarah LeFloch’s sponsored girl from 5th grade, sang “Open the Eye of my Heart” in English.
Then came our turn. Most of our students participated in a rhythmic cadence performance with their water bottles followed by Sam Morse performing an Irish step dance (in sneakers, of course!). A group of our teenage girls them treated the Nino students to a country line dance.
The program concluded with thanks – in English – from an upper elementary student followed by a personal reflection read by Alex Munn. It moved every one of us to tears. He spoke of his experience this past week where he arrived thinking he was “better” than those he would meet…but, that changed within 24 hours of his arrival. He knows now that “the meek shall inherit the earth” and that all are entitled to God’s due process. He told us we need to seek to better ourselves. We are all hoping that Alex will share his reflections in an email to all of us when we get back.
Meg Ryan gave a quick summary for the Nicaraguan students and teachers.
Then, in Spanish, Sister Debbie expressed that their community is very important to us as are they and their families.
Meg Ryan then concluded our part of the farewell singing “Ave Maria” in Latin – what a voice!
Sister Cecelia gave final thanks noting the hope we give for the future of the community. “God is the salvation for all and the Mission brings that hope.”
The flags recessed out and we were all on our way to the main courtyard for 10 minutes of final goodbyes. The secondary school band played quite a few selections in celebration of our week here.
Tears began to flow as Sister Debbie went around giving the ‘2 minutes’ warning and hugs became tighter. We had already loaded the suitcases and chairs on to the yellow bus which James Carlin and Matt Daly rode into the airport. The blue bus took the rest of the group, teary-eyed, tired, yet fulfilled by a week of sharing themselves and their hearts with our family here in Nicaragua.