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Mission of Hope

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

By Bonnie Black
In our early morning conversations with Sister Rosa at Nino Jesus de Praga, we learned that the enrollment has dropped to around 1,000 students since February as many people are moving out of the area trying to find jobs in Costa Rica and Honduras. On a brighter note, the Cordoba is stronger than it was in recent months – the first time that the rate has decreased; it is now 19.35c for a US dollar.

In our early morning conversations with Sister Rosa at Nino Jesus de Praga, we learned that the enrollment has dropped to around 1,000 students since February as many people are moving out of the area trying to find jobs in Costa Rica and Honduras. On a brighter note, the Cordoba is stronger than it was in recent months – the first time that the rate has decreased; it is now 19.35c for a US dollar.

We found that the Archbishop is in Ecuador, so we will not be meeting with him on this trip and Sister Ligia from San Jose Hospital in Diriamba, is on retreat; not sure if we will get to see her. So, as we have come to expect here, our ‘tentative’ schedule began to reflex to the reality of the day.

Sister Debbie covered many of the basic informational items at our first morning meeting which was closed in prayer by Judy Charland. We then hustled into the courtyard for our official Mission #29 photo.

Our Kitchen Crew for today got us started right and kept us fed all day long: Sister Stephanie, Nancy LaTulipe, Betsy Sullivan, Liz Dukette and Mary Fredette.

The Bed/Bath Crew of Gabrielle Springer, Kasey Garrand, David LaTulipe and Lynn-Marie Veverka started off early this morning and then quickly rotated into sorting home building materials.

A team led by Beverly Gogola went to Parajito Azul Disability Center this morning: Darcie Black, Brenda Flynn and Sister Ann. They discovered that the Center is marketing its bakery as a catering service throughout the community - what a delightful step forward.

Preparing rice and beans for the deliveries this afternoon and tomorrow morning were the capable team of Meg Ryan, Ashley Goyette and Amanda Lyon. They were then joined by Gabrielle Springer, Aubrin Breyette, Dan Riggins, Abby Fordham and Catlin Furnia around 1:30pm, jumping on a truck and traveling the roads of the barrio to distribute the food and toys.

Bill Murray headed up the suitcase sorting team this morning….which means that the 48 suitcases which came on the plane with the Plattsburgh group needed to be divided into destination locations around the inner courtyard for future distribution during this mission. Then, in the afternoon, he was accompanied by a translator, Maddie, from the Manna Project down the road as he investigated possibilities for an internet connection at our location. It is a serious communication issue now that everyone has gotten used to (almost) daily emails like this one throughout our missions. Without an internet café anywhere nearby, it is quite hard this mission to keep you up-to-date with the goings on, in a timely manner.

Bill Calmbacher was the leader of the carton sorting crew of Gerry Marks, Andrea Maynard and Meg Ryan. Later in the day, he was joined by Monica Smith, Beverly Gogola, Brenda Flynn, and Sister Ann Berberich. We had a crew sorting the boxes from the container at Caritas again this afternoon: Sister Debbie, Oscar Flores, Anthony Garami, Andrea Maynard, Kasey Garrand and Gerry Marks.

Anthony Garami led his crew in sorting medical supplies with the suitcase sorting team: Heather Frenette, Laura DiGrigoli, Abby Fordham and Monica Smith.

Our ECO project began this morning with Judy & Marcel Charland educating Caitlin Furnia and Aubrin Breyette on the moringa and other aspects of our project. Later in the afternoon, the Charlands met with Mel Landers and Salvatore to discuss the future throughout the barrio with this project.

This morning we found Magaly Velasquez in a classroom teaching sewing to high schoolers. They were measuring each other in preparation for making the patterns for their school uniforms. It is such a pleasure to see everything come full circle! A few years ago, the Mission provided a sewing machine to Magaly while she was studying for her high school equivalency. She and two other women (who were later provided machines by us) have been making most of the school uniforms since that time. Now, Magaly (who was valedictorian of her class and now attends university at nights and on Sundays) is an instructor at Nino Jesus de Praga and passing her knowledge of sewing on to a new generation which will have these skills to take into their own vocational future in a few years.

Of course, what would a mission by without home building? Today we planned to only sort materials and that was a good idea, as the final wood delivery did not come at 3pm yesterday or this morning. Only a partial delivery came in the morning and it wasn’t until after 2:30pm that we finally received the last wood. This morning’s group sorted the tin which had been delivered yesterday along with the wood that came at 10am: Kasey Garrand, David Riggins, Marty Mannix, Gabriella Springer, Lynn-Marie Veverka and David LaTulipe. Without the delivery of wood until late, the afternoon team was kept on hold for a good portion (although it was a good time to write in journals or catch a siesta!): Darcie Black, Marty Mannix, Heather Frenette, Lynn-Marie Veverka and David LaTulipe. Once the rice & beans crew returned, Dan Riggins pitched in.

Just before the dinner hour, we loaded a truck with supplies from the container for Parajito Azul Disability Center which brought it all there, leaving room in the vehicle tomorrow morning for more people to go. Interestingly, many people have selected that as their first choice in projects/.places to go!

Tonight at our meeting, Sister Debbie told us that she has acquired the tickets for the theatre on Saturday evening, so that is something we are all looking forward to as most have not had that experience. She also let us know that the Sisters of Servium will be able to make it here on Sunday and will bring their guitar!

Point persons for various aspects of Mission #29 then let us know what is planned for our second full day here – there is much on the schedule. Sister assured everyone that if they were not ‘off site’ today and not scheduled for off site tomorrow, they are guaranteed to be out and about on Friday. There was so much sorting to do today, that a great many did not have an ‘experience’ yet. She also mentioned that it is the first time that all of the sorting has been done. Well, about as ‘done’ as can be at this point. Boxes still need to be relabeled for their final destination which are sitting in front of the clinic and many are set for pickup or delivery over the next 2 days. There were also only 48 suitcases (not 80-100 cartons as we have on February trips) and a limited amount were brought over from Caritas this time. We are asking our major donations locations (San Jose Hospital, Caritas, El Crucero orphanage) to pick up their designated cartons right at Caritas rather than having everything moved here and then distributed. Sisters Ligia and Teresita will need to stop by here for a small amount of donations which were brought over from Caritas storage and down here in our suitcases. Much smoother this way and why we got through the bulk of the sorting today.

The stories that were shared tonight included on from Andrea about the doctor at Caritas who removes tattoos from men who, when young, aligned themselves with gangs (thus the tattoo) and now want to be free of that life. Gerald shared his impressions of how money gets exchanged on the street here and how dangerous it is getting as economic strife worsens in Managua. Our final story was one by Ashley about a family they encountered in their rice and beans delivery this afternoon.

Much is still to unfold, but all went to bed by curfew (some even earlier) and snores were abundant long before 10pm.

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