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Mission of Hope

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

By Bonnie Black
Everyone in the large group departed Seton around 3:30am with "You Raise Me Up" as their musical sendoff. Waiting at the Trudeau Airport was peppered with yawns yet no one could really shut their eyes in anticipation of what was to unfold. This is an interesting Mission as only 15 of the 49 have been here before. Sister noted that she was deeply grateful and touched by the flexibility in the airport, especially how well everyone did once they landed in Managua with 82 of the 92 boxes "missing" for a while. One of the AirTransat stewardesses told Sister that this was one of the outstanding group of young people that fly their skies.

Everyone in the large group departed Seton around 3:30am with "You Raise Me Up" as their musical sendoff. Waiting at the Trudeau Airport was peppered with yawns yet no one could really shut their eyes in anticipation of what was to unfold. This is an interesting Mission as only 15 of the 49 have been here before. Sister noted that she was deeply grateful and touched by the flexibility in the airport, especially how well everyone did once they landed in Managua with 82 of the 92 boxes "missing" for a while. One of the AirTransat stewardesses told Sister that this was one of the outstanding group of young people that fly their skies.

In an email sent just prior to Tuesday's departure to past travelers and other volunteers with the Mission, Sister Debbie noted that our efforts this time include all of the following:

  • 1. water testing for a sampling of the sites which received water containers at the Health Fair last August
  • 2. ecological and environmental planting and development of nutritional substitutes, including the planting and harvesting of moringa tress, dehydration procedures for foods and much more.
  • 3. construction of 10 home shelters and repair of others not constructed by Mission
  • 4. medical teams to the baby orphanage, safe house, Masaya nursing home, and the village of La Chureca in the Managua city dump
  • 5. feeding children and providing parasite medicine
  • 6. working with three schools
  • 7. distribution of emergency packs and rice and beans
  • 8. assisting disabled orphans
  • 9. LOTS more...whatever else God asks of us along the way

Tonight, due to the lateness of the arrival of the main group at Nicasa, everyone unloaded the bus and then headed right into dinner - a meal which was consumed with vigor by those who had traveled all night and day! The local women who prepare the Nicaraguan meals for us are always so happy to do so and seem to enjoy watching us satisfy ourselves. We also learned right away that whatever leftovers we had tonight will appear for lunch tomorrow as a team stored the food in containers for the frig.

An orientation was adapted to the lateness with 4 of the 6 stations giving their much-needed information leaving the 2 others dealing with other locations at Nino for sometime on Wednesday.

Although it was dark by 7pm, we held our first group meeting of Mission #27 as the proceedings were of great importance. Tonight was a momentous occasion as formal approval was received today and the legal paperwork was signed tonight at the meeting for the Mission to occupy, renovate and even add to Yamilette Flores' brother's house here in Chiquilistagua. Her brother, Carlos, died from cancer recently and one of his wishes was that the Mission use his house indefinitely. His wife, Mercedes, and their adult daughter had come in from Costa Rica where they have lived for 30 years to make the transition happen. Of course, we will be responsible for any renovations or additions as well as the utilities when we occupy it. Yamilette expressed, on behalf of her sister-in-law and niece who had been moved to tears, that they will be honored that the Mission will occupy the home and Carlos' memory will live on. Sister Debbie acknowledged, "From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so very much. We are proud for you as this will be meaningful for us." She turned to us saying, "A woman who has little has turned so much over to us. This is a far-reaching, long-lasting, life-changing event." The legal signing of the paperwork was then conducted and it will be submitted tomorrow.

Sister then asked how many had been approached in the airport or on the plane because someone wanted to know more about the purpose of our travel…more than half of the group raised their hands. "You shared the story of the Mission by wearing your shirt," she noted and continued, "I even received a cash donation on the plane!" She concluded urging everyone to journal as this week will be a blur before you know it - be attentive, she concluded.

Afterward, the energy still bouncing around in many led to the sorting of meds for tomorrow's ventures as well as the wood for the home building crew. Alexa Cosgro and Matt Kennedy, student representatives on the Mission Leadership Team, spent the rest of their evening working on the assignments for tomorrow.

As we came to the close of the first day on the ground for most, smiles abounded as casual conversation among old and new friends was heard in the bunk rooms and in the rocking chairs in the yard of Nicasa - our casa in Nicaragua for the next week.

A little background on those of us here as part of Mission #27. Each person on Mission commits to a minimum of 6-8 hours of volunteering at home for the mission plus fundraising prior to departure. Over the next few days, as projects unfold, I will update you with how some travelers have met - and exceeded - those goals.

Each area of work over the next 6 days brings with it a variety of challenges, experiences and emotions. As we meet at 7am each morning, our day is outlined for us and we head in a number of directions bright with hope facing the task ahead. By our evening meeting time, we have begun to process and share our day's experiences which inherently have a myriad of feelings embedded within. Sometimes it is hard for me to fully express to you the exact impact of the day, but I will be trying to capture most of what is told in our evening "sharing time."

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