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Mission of Hope

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Friday, August 8th, 2008

By Bonnie Black
Today was our ‘hump’ day – the middle day of this trip with still so much to do and explore. It began with a prayer by Andrea Maynard which was eloquent and touching. And then our day began!

On a day-long trip to El Crucero Orphanage, San Jose Hospital in Diriamba and San Antonio Nursing Home in Masaya were: Anthony Garami, Monica Smith, Amanda Lyon, Laura DiGrigoli, Ashley Goyette, Abby Fordham, Nancy LaTulipe, Aubrin Breyette, Gerald Marks, David LaTulipe, Sister Ann, Jared Stanley, Catlin Furnia, Liz Dukette and Gabrielle Springer. Their first stop was the orphanage where they received a tour including the current renovations and building of new classrooms through a Chevron Corporation grant. They were introduced to each of the classes and presented gifts to the Kindergarten and first grade classes. Anthony then offered to attend to any emergent medical needs and he saw what we have seen before: low fevers, cough and varied symptoms of congestion/headache. Again, at this time of year, colds are the norm (like our winter season, too). It was apparent to our medical team that these children receive sporadic medical attention. Everyone received many hugs and gave away all of their stickers, bubbles and little gifts.

By Bonnie Black
Today was our ‘hump’ day – the middle day of this trip with still so much to do and explore. It began with a prayer by Andrea Maynard which was eloquent and touching. And then our day began!

On a day-long trip to El Crucero Orphanage, San Jose Hospital in Diriamba and San Antonio Nursing Home in Masaya were: Anthony Garami, Monica Smith, Amanda Lyon, Laura DiGrigoli, Ashley Goyette, Abby Fordham, Nancy LaTulipe, Aubrin Breyette, Gerald Marks, David LaTulipe, Sister Ann, Jared Stanley, Catlin Furnia, Liz Dukette and Gabrielle Springer. Their first stop was the orphanage where they received a tour including the current renovations and building of new classrooms through a Chevron Corporation grant. They were introduced to each of the classes and presented gifts to the Kindergarten and first grade classes. Anthony then offered to attend to any emergent medical needs and he saw what we have seen before: low fevers, cough and varied symptoms of congestion/headache. Again, at this time of year, colds are the norm (like our winter season, too). It was apparent to our medical team that these children receive sporadic medical attention. Everyone received many hugs and gave away all of their stickers, bubbles and little gifts.

Moving on up the road to Diriamba, they were given a full tour of San Jose Hospital by Sister Ligia. Everything was quite clean and spacious. A joy was seeing a newborn on a warmer looking very healthy. They got to see all of the medical equipment donated through our Mission and appreciate so much what the impact of the donations and the time and energy of all of the volunteers at MOHTown mean to San Jose. Sister Ligia expressed her thanks, especially for the oxygen saturation machine and the expected anesthesia machine so they can resume operations. As a measure of her gratitude, she offered everyone access to the sisters’ living quarters to each the PB & J everyone had packed for lunch. At noon, they got to visit the Diriamba church which was enjoyed by all.

Last on their list, for the afternoon, was San Jose Nursing Home in Masaya where they were welcomed by the friendly faces of the elderly outside on the porch in rocking chairs. Sister Ann was guided to the nurses’ office in order to provide foot care. She treated 3 people meticulously while Anthony saw a gentleman with an inflamed eye. Everyone received a tour of the facility and presented residents with rosaries.

Health education for the high school students the meeting was pushed forward an hour this morning; Kasey Garrand, Meg Ryan and Darcie Black presented to the 90 students with translation by Salvatore, as Oscar needed to be in the city by that time to secure paperwork for us to obtain the installation of the internet next week. They provided personal stories about communication and relationships and stressed that even though our cultures may be different, teens and young adults face the same issues and situations. They spoke of risky behaviors and choices that everyone faces. Our students then passed out a piece of paper to everyone from the 4th and 5th Secondary classes and asked them to write down any questions they would like answered. There were 56 valid questions (yes, there were a few sarcastic ones, as expected) and our young adults answered about half of them before the hour-and-a-half was done. They promised the students that they would have a table at the student health fair on Monday (replicating, for the most part, what will be done for the community tomorrow) to answer the questions from today which they didn’t have time for. This session was a request by Sister Rosa as she is concerned that some of the respect issues and risky behavior needs to be addressed and she thought that peer conversation would be best. Everyone involved was quite pleased with the event and spoke about it to many others as groups began to mingle together at lunch and later in the day. Who would have thought this conversation would ever occur – it’s fantastic!

Bed/Bath was handled by Dan Riggins, Marcel Charland, Judy Charland and Mary Fredette before they moved on to other assignments.

CFC today was outside of the kitchen, cleaning the plates and washing the glasses, plates and silverware interacting while the children. Betsy Sullivan, Bill Calmbacher and Lynn-Marie Veverka reported they enjoyed their time in the dining hall this morning.

Our Kitchen crew of Dan Riggins, Heather Frenette, Meg Ryan and Andrea Maynard truly had everything under control today…and even learned how to hard boil eggs!

Our ECO project expanded into the community today as Judy and Marcel, with Mel and Salvatore, walked to homes with Magaly and began planting the community gardens of cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables. This was Mel and Salvatore’s last day with us as they left to return home to their families around 3:30pm. A total of 5 families now have the beginnings of a sustainable vegetable garden. They are being asked to follow the philosophy that each one teaches two.

Home Crew was small this morning due to the day-long trip down south. Marty Mannix and Bill Murray with Mary Fredette joined the 13 Nicaraguan crew building 2 home shelters. They ran into one of the foundations not set correctly, so moved on to another on the list while guiding the owner on how to do it. He is one of the most diligent members of the crew, but he had no help to move those 85-90 pound cement blocks and did the best he could (he must weigh all of 120 pounds). Later today when Marty checked back, he had hired (we think) a couple of people to set the stones in correctly while he continued to help construct homes for others. His will be built tomorrow.

This afternoon, Rice & Beans were delivered by Brenda Flynn, Bill Murray, Mary Fredette, Betsy Sullivan, Beverly Gogola and Bill Calmbacher.

This afternoon’s Home Crew was about as sparse as this morning: Marty with Darcie Black, Kasey Garrand and Lynn-Marie Veverka.

When I got to the internet late this afternoon to sent the first three days’ worth of notes to all of you, I opened an email from former missioner, Connie Tyska. She has sent along some photos of her new grandchild which I downloaded to share with the group tonight. Our evening meeting began with a phone call to Connie while we all got to see her with Alex as we ate treats she sent funds to purchase from the bakery here at Nino. This was the second night this mission we have enjoyed her generosity.

We heard Salvatore’s message to us which he left with Sister: “Do you know how much hope it gives my people that you come and care enough to stay?” He mentioned that many groups come or send their money and leave. Our approach is much different and greatly appreciated.

Marcel then shared that Mel is very hardworking and caring; he has been in Nicaragua for about 5 years and devotes his life to working for the whole country’s sustainability and conservation. He sees this as a mission with the people of Nicaragua.

Judy added that Mel wanted to thank everyone for their hospitality. Mel told her that he was concerned about Salvatore’s shoes in the mud they walked into this afternoon as it is the only pair he has. Earlier this month, he had to sell his home phone in order to feed his family. On a happier note, she mentioned that Augusto will be joining us for the Health Fair tomorrow to explain the community garden concept. Magaly will be teaching about the moringa tree, so we already see the enthusiasm beginning to be spread among the barrio. Marty added in that when he and Jared went to interview the 95-year-old women who will be receiving a home on Monday, her daughter wanted to know if we were going to bring the moringa with us – word travels fast!

Judy told us that Augusto feels he is now the most successful he has ever been in teaching biology here at school now that he is using the gardens as part of his curriculum. The students are enthusiastic and go home to inform their families.

Darcie Black mentioned that she has a heightened awareness to vegetable gardens on this sixth trip as she hasn’t been here in four years. She has noted that on the trek she and Marty took to the prospective home owners’ properties last Sunday and what she has seen on rice and beans so far, there are more families with beans and other vegetables growing on the property.

She, Meg and Kasey then spoke of Salvatore in their preparatory meeting this morning for the health education meeting. Meg said that they learned much from him and he from them as he has two daughters their age.

Mary Fredette spoke of her experience on this morning’s home crew as she was the designated ECO person offering to plant two seedlings at the homes. One of the homes really illustrated how pleased the community is with this concept as the homeowner retrieved a tire off of his property to protect one of the seedlings from the dogs he has and prepared another section with rocks in a circle for the same effect.

Others spoke of their experience ‘on the road’ including Liz Dukette who felt her heart broken when they left the orphanage not knowing if she would ever come back again. The experience at the nursing home showed them that it is harder to communicate with the elderly than with young children. She felt today was a long day, but a good day. Gerald Marks said that just showing up and seeing the kids at the orphanage changed everything after the long, dreary, tiring ride to El Crucero into an hour of joy.

Jared Stanley shared that yesterday and today struck him that in the 5-6 years he has been videotaping stories for television, he had never had the experience of not feeling comfortable in shooting a person in their life’s situation. Monica Smith reassured him that what he is doing is promoting hope – it is genuine compassion and connection with others, not exploitation.

Darcie then told a confirming story of her experience the other day with little Freddy’s mother who came up to her and told her that they have the pictures that Darcie brought back and then eventually sent back of the times they were together. She said it’s OK to take the picture as it is a treasure to our friends here and it is not exploitation – it is connection.

Kasey Garrand told us of how he and his sister, Kayleigh, have left a Red Sox hat here with a young children the last three trips. He was so happy to see the young girl his sister had sponsored, before she left the school, wearing the hat today. A young boy who had received one last trip ran home to get his and was sporting it in the yard later.

The last person to share tonight was Andrea Maynard whose literary skills are fine tuned. She read from her journal and Sister reinforced that we can have a dream, but if we don’t share it with someone, it can’t become a reality. The Mission of Hope could have been one trip with 70 people sleeping on air mattresses and in sleeping bags, but it has become over 900 people on 29 missions keeping the dream alive. Before closing with Lori True’s, “What Have We Done for the Poor Ones?” she mentioned that fatigue is setting in, there is less time left on the ground than has passed and we are going to be challenged to keep our circle whole. Many sniffles were heard among us as the evening came to a close.

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