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Mission of Hope

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

By Bonnie Black
At this morning’s meeting, information was shared regarding the cost of the new US Embassy which most of us have passed a number of times as we drive into Managua. Mel Landers informed us that it is one of only two seismically stable buildings in Central America; the other is the US Embassy in Mexico City. We then began our day being sent off with a closing prayer read by Dan Riggins which asked us to reflect on where we might see God’s face today.

At this morning’s meeting, information was shared regarding the cost of the new US Embassy which most of us have passed a number of times as we drive into Managua. Mel Landers informed us that it is one of only two seismically stable buildings in Central America; the other is the US Embassy in Mexico City. We then began our day being sent off with a closing prayer read by Dan Riggins which asked us to reflect on where we might see God’s face today.

Our Kitchen staff today was Laura DiGriglio, Aubrin Breyette, Gerald Marks and Lynn-Marie Veverka.

Bed/Bath was completed by Gerald Marks, Bill Murray, Betsy Sullivan and Ashley Goyette before they did other tasks.

Rice & Beans had a team trek through the local barrio this morning: David LaTulipe, Nancy LaTulipe, Kasey Garrand, Darcie Black, Mary Fredette.

Judy & Marcel spent their entire day with Mel Landers and Salvatore who stayed the night. Their meeting this morning prepared them for their meeting this afternoon with the direction being community gardens.

This morning a group went over to the school in Nejapa to get a baseline reading on the Heights & Weights of their Pre-K through Grade 2 students including hemoglobin levels and administering anti-parasitic meds. Creating the stations and interacting with the students were Anthony Garami, Bill Calmbacher, Monica Smith, Jared Stanley, Sister Ann, Liz Dukette, and Betsy Sullivan.

Home Crew this morning was led by Marty Mannix with Dan Riggins, Ashley Goyette, Catlin Frenia and Abby Fordham filling out the group. They tackled two homes before lunch with 13 locals on the crew.

The Parajito Azul Disability Center benefited from the talents and caring of Sister Stephanie, Heather Frenette, Beverly Gogola, Amanda Lyons, Brenda Flynn, and Andrea Maynard.

Finalizing our tech needs in Managua today were Bill Murray along with Oscar and Mauricio Flores.

This afternoon, a large group went to Juan Pablo II Orphanage in downtown Managua: Anthony Garami, Jared Stanley, Heather Frenette, Beverly Gogola, Monica Smith, Darcie Black, Mary Fredette and Bonnie Black. Clothing, toys, shoes, vitamins and basic medical supplies were brought along as well as two beautiful quilts recently donated to us. About 5 or 6 of the children were assessed as was a mother who had facial palsy. Interestingly, there were two mothers living there with their infants in addition to the two nuns and the other 12 children.

Rice and Beans for this afternoon were delivered by Dan Riggins, Catlin Furnia, Abby Fordham, Gabrielle Springer, Andrea Maynard, Sister Ann, Betsy Sullivan and Amanda Lyons.

The home crew wielding their hammers this afternoon were Marty Mannix, David LaTulipe, Liz Dukette, Aubrin Breyette, Bill Calmbacher and Meg Ryan.

Preparing materials and health kits for the Health Fair scheduled for Saturday were Brenda Flynn, Kasey Garrand and Ashley Goyette.

At this evening’s meeting, Sister Debbie explained that in addition to the educational sponsorships here at Nino and over at Nejapa, we are expanding to offer sponsorships at El Crucero Orphanage at $150 per year which includes their clothing, medical exam, medications (as needed), shoes and vitamins. And we found out that we can sponsor more young people at the Parajito Azul Disability Center, as we do Hector. The price on that isn’t totally clear yet, though.

Tonight’s treat of Linden tarts were baked at the Disability Center as a gift from former missioner, Connie Tyska who is home this August celebrating the arrival of a new grandchild.

There was a round of applause offered for our highly competent assignment board team of Darcie Black and Kasey Garrand who even brought out all of tomorrow’s assignments to our meeting for review by all!!

Sister Debbie began the sharing time reflecting on her experience at Our Lady of Guadelupe Clinic where they delivered a dozen folding chairs because their waiting benches were stolen recently. Bill Murray offered his impressions of how this clinic tries to help people in a dark, dreary space that is too small and unsanitary. They need so many medical supplies and a larger space to do their work. Even the small table which will be delivered tomorrow, is going to ease the process of intake. Sister noted that the physical space is paradoxically opposite of hope.

Sister mentioned that today was a bittersweet meeting with Sister Ligia from Diriamba. She is being transferred this month to Mexico as the leader for her congregation of 669 which serves Central America and the southwest of the US. This great honor for her is great sadness for us. Her replacement should be arriving soon and at that time, she will depart for Mexico. We will be able to say our ‘goodbyes’ on Sunday night as she will be joining us, along with the other 4 nuns who will also be going to Mexico with her.

We were asked to hold Aubrin and her family in prayer as tomorrow is the anniversary of her father’s death.

Today was Andrea Maynard’s first visit to Parajito Azul Disability Center and she was overwhelmed with the hugs and smiles. The new dorms house two to a room with cubbies and a locked closet for each resident. She was proudly shown the locked closet by one person who keeps ‘treasures’ in it. Heather Frenette spoke to the autism psychologist today and, as a special education teacher, found it remarkable how she uses tactile items for fine motor coordination from everyday found items – none of the newest gadgets that Heather finds in the catalogues at home. She noted that it isn’t having the newest and ‘best’ items for the children, but rather what is done on a one-to-one basis that makes the difference. She then reflected that she has become desensitized due to her world travels and personal losses, so she was surprised to be so moved at the baby orphanage this afternoon – she came quite close to being sensitized again.

Betsy Sullivan thanked all who participated in the Heights an Weights at Nejapa this morning – even through the loss of electricity, the measuring, the hemoglobin checks and the administering of the antiparasitic meds went very smoothly.

Kasey Garrand told a story about a young man he met while doing Rice & Beans this morning. He was cooking on a stove outside and when the group approached to give him some rice and beans, he hugged them and held hands in great appreciation. After the group proceeded on, Kasey returned and gave the man his watch which was received with immense gratitude.

Sister Ann noted that contact is so important, but we don’t make it – truly – until we look the other person in the eyes…and that is what Kasey did today.

Bill Murray reflected on the prayer this morning and he felt that today, he saw God’s face in so many of the people he encountered in Managua as well as in the faces of the rest of us on mission.

Sister Debbie then mentioned that when we have a mission focus, we become inclusive. It has always been a dream of hers that this mission is a microcosm of what the world can be.

Liz Dukette expanded on what was said and ended by saying that she would gladly go through it all again to be here, right now.

Marty Mannix added that mission is not a religious experience but rather clearly a spiritual one. You find yourself in a certain place at a certain time. When you hear the ‘quiet voice’ you need to respond taking you to where you need to be. He noted that the bookmark he received from last night’s meeting quoted, “You are in the world to change this world.” He noted that some of the students and young adults may find it hard to return here, but each can still better the world wherever travels may take you in your life.

Mel told us that he once wrote a paper on, “Why Nicaragua?” He said that most people in the world don’t even know where Nica is. The youth of this country are its future and they can make a real difference. He has met with many undisciplined short-term mission groups who come here, but he knows that God has sent the right people to be here with these children at this time.

Monica Smith then shared that this morning at Nejapa she saw so many children filled with hope – the hope that education can provide for their future. Then, this afternoon, at Juan Pablo II Orphanage, she had very mixed feelings. Some children were developmentally delayed and most do not have enough human contact even though it was obvious that the two nuns love the children very much. There isn’t enough room and not much other social contact. She noted how all of their faces lit up when we arrived and then how they lined up at the metal fencing to say, “Adios” when we left which was heart-moving.

Sister told us that by coming here, we are the ones being ministered to. In many ways, we are the impoverished returning home with a realization of how incredibly blessed we are.

Heather then shared that we really don’t need all of the up-to-date items that we are bombarded with at home. Using our imaginations is the greatest gift, so we should all think twice when purchasing a birthday or holiday gift: is this truly challenging and developing a fellow human being’s imagination.

Mel reflected that it’s all about relationships – even as short a time that we each spent with a person today.

Judy Charland shared the meeting with Augusto ended with great hope even though they were first told that the gardens which had looked so lush in February were almost devastated by the leaf cutter ants – the ones many of us see walking by every day in their line to their ant hole near our walkway. Yet, even with this experience, Judy sensed he was hopeful. He has become a model of other school which have come to visit to observe his gardens. She then thanked Mel and Salvatore for coming up with a natural solution to eradicating the ants in the garden area: a tree that grows right here on the property. This afternoon, they met with three of the five families which will have gardens planted tomorrow. She noted that Magaly has grabbed on to this project that begins tomorrow and see the future of providing food security to these families.

Sister then thanked Mel and Salvatore for leaving their families to be with us for three days; a special care package will be given to them tomorrow afternoon when they leave as a symbol of our thanks for modeling sustainability in this country.

Meg told us that she has been impressed by the level of English competency she has heard in the students on this trip. Sister agreed and told of her experience this morning walking across the courtyard who said to her, “I learn English so I can thank you.”

And with that, we closed tonight’s meeting listening to Celtic Woman’s rendition of “One World”:
We’re all a part of one world, We all can share the same dream,
And if you just reach out to me, Then you will find, deep down inside,
I’m just like you.


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