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Mission of Hope

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Monday, February 16th, 2009

By Bonnie Black
Our first day began with our morning meeting at 7 (or so!!) and much was covered before going in our various directions. We heard that the students receiving the CVPH Foundation honoraria are Matt Kennedy, Rachel Daly, Samantha Mulcahy and Jena Finnegan. During this week they will be spending time with the medical team, not only observing, but also participating to the extent they can. Thanks, CVPH Foundation!

Sr. Cathy presented this morning’s closing prayer asking us to call to mind God’s presence as we become the bridges of love and understanding this week.

Breakfast, and throughout the day, our Kitchen crew was guided by Sister Stephanie: Matt Kennedy, Andrea Maynard, Mary Garcia and Betsy Sullivan.

Our illustrious “Bed, Bath & Beyond” staff today maintained our bathrooms and all floors during the entire day: Sarah Deeb, Alice Robinson, Alex Munn and Adam Peryer before being assigned to further duties.

Marty Mannix was again running solo on the Paul Harris School in downtown Managua with the construction crew, but tomorrow one of our electricians will head in with him to assess the needs and prepare for the job ahead. Two Rotarians from Bergen (NJ) will also be arriving tonight and will be at that site throughout the week.

Our first Rice and Beans group of this mission led by Kristin Gagnier was Phil Lamour, Patrick Daly, Jena Finnegan and Sarah Scardillo.

The Parajito Azul Disability Center missioners interacting with the residents were Bev Gogola and Catherine Hill while Allen Pellerin scoped out some projects we are planning to do this week at the site.

Two home shelters were constructed this morning in Solano by a team of 13 locals and our crew headed by Jimmy Dumont: Matt Daly, Siobhan Norton and Demi Pellerin. The first home was built for Inda Rodriguez with a donation by Lynn Dumont who teaches at Franklin Academy in Malone. The second home was for Lisseth Flores donated by the Rosembaum family.

The Nejapa school’s basketball backboard repair and replacements of rims and nets was accomplished by Bill Murray, Alex Munn, Amanda Knauf, Adam Peryer and Brian Mulcahy. We will complete putting the second rim up later this week when returning to replace a ceramic tile floor in one of the rooms our doctor uses for the clinic.

Health kits were prepared for the Fair in Nejapa on Saturday this morning by James Carlin, Alice Robinson and Sarah Clancy while this afternoon’s kits were prepared by Matt Daly, Jena Finnegan, Phil Lamour, Siobhan Norton and Demi Pellerin.


Heights and weights had a later start (it’s that ‘Nica time’ thing) but Roger Patnode sent out a crew led by Bill Calmbacher: Carole Becker, Ashley Lamberton, Mary Gleason and Sister Cathy to begin with the upper elementary grades doing 4th and 6th grades today. This afternoon, Carole Becker spent the afternoon entering data from our heights and weights measurement this morning as we maintain the information every six months.

Pap smears were held in our medical clinic at Nino this morning by the team of Tracy Orkin, Cathy Hill, Diane Rolfs, Samantha Mulcahy, Rachel Daly, Kate Patnode, and Nicky Lundy. Although some women didn’t come at the right time, we will try to fit them in tomorrow when others have their appointments in the morning. The medical equipment needed to do the smears were able to be purchased as a result of the Christmas tree sale at the Patnode farm this winter along with another tree farm’s sales.

Medical Inventory was handled by Joy Cayea who kept things flowing out of the suitcases and into the right designated boxes for distribution. This was good as we had the arrival of the Serviam Sisters today – rather than Saturday – and we distributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and San Jose Hospital in Diriamba who came back today to get 2 pickup loads of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.

Container sorting continued – on and off as situations changed – with Connie Miller, Gabby Flores, Kathy Eppler, Meg Ryan and Sarah Deeb as our morning crew and thids afternoon under the leadership of Nicky Lundy: Joy Cayea, Pat Daly, Samantha Mulcahy, Sarah Scardillo, Adam Peryer, Alex Munn, Amanda Knauf, Rachel Daly, Brian Mulcahy and Allen Pellerin.

Sr. Debbie and Yami Flores began the day taking the last few student photos for sponsors. While outside, Sheyla Guadelupe Osario Montoya showed up to see Yami. Sheyla is the very first student who was sponsored by the Mission of Hope benefactors – in her case it was our first sponsor, Moldrite Plastics. Sheyla is now in her 4th year of secondary school with one more to go, but she has left Nino Jesus de Praga and is attending San Luis School which allows her to attend high school on Saturdays while going to technical school on weekdays for computers and accounting. She was very proud of what she is doing – as was Yami!

This afternoon we ‘reflexed’ in everything we did!

Sorting medicines brought over to our Nino clinic were Nicky Lundy, Ashley Lamberton, Joy Cayea and Jenna Finnegan. We are understocked, especially in over-the-counter cough medicine. Hopefully, we will be able to collect enough donations to go on the next container to resupply. With the amount of respiratory illnesses here, it is a necessity.

Rice and beans was led by James Carlin: Sr. Cathy, Bill Calmbacher, Bev Gogola, Sarah Deeb and Kathy Eppler.

Home Shelter construction was again led by Jimmy Dumont: Meg Ryan, Alice Robinson, Sarah Cardillo and Catherine Hill. This afternoon’s home was built in honor of Monsignor Aubin, donated by the Bashaws.

This afternoon we had a contingent going to Our Lady of Guadelupe in Managua to provide a medical clinic seeing 30 patients: Roger Patnode and Tracy Orkin with Mary Gleason, Cathy Hill, Kate Patnode and Kristin Gagnier.

Putting up the rain gutters in preparation for moving in the catchment tank were Brian Mulcahy and Jena Finnegan, Demi Pellerin, Ashley Lamberton and Adam Peryer and Alex Munn.

Gathering all of the many (generous) sponsor gifts together were Connie Miller and Diane Rolfs – who were SO organized – assisted by Sarah Clancy, Demi Pellerin and Gabby Flores.

BUT…people were then pulled into different areas of their own specialty or into areas sensitive to time as the plan for our week enfolds. The many changes are just part of being on Mission!

At the evening meeting tonight at 6:30pm, we shared the events of the day and began processing the impact of it all. But first, we were (re)introduced to Jeremy Eppler who will probably be around this mission more than usual as his mother, Kathy, is with us this time.

We began with a review of the known projects for tomorrow and the possible transportation we will have. Then, we progressed into sharing the experiences of the day which began with the story about purchased supplies in Managua by Matt Daly, Allen Pellerin and Bill Murray. Matt was most impressed by the open air market where we get our fruit but don’t buy other things. He thought the bartering for the water catchment tank was intriguing at another store.

Bill Murray thanked the Nejapa team as well as the prep team who had everything ready for the basketball backboard project. Amanda liked the opportunity to take photos and play with the kids there – one even wanted to take Amanda home! Brian Mulcahy agreed that seeing poverty first hand was an impression that will live with him for a while when he was traveling back and forth to the Nejapa school.

Rice & Beans experiences included Jena Finnegan’s reflection that she is surprised that people don’t get lost as the homes are in just an array that is not logical. Sarah Cardillo shared that it is really different to see where people live first-hand. Kathy Eppler noted that even though she had seen the countryside before, she was amazed at the contentment and friendliness of the people who are very grateful for our company as well as the food we bring. Sarah Deeb related a moment where the Nicaraguan women who were guides reached out when one of us slipped on the road and got a little dusty and dirty. They jumped right in to assure no one was hurt. Phil Lamour observed that the people who don’t have a lot seem to be so grateful for what they do have. And what struck Patrick Daly were the dogs which are alive but in such poor conditions that they live in.

Siobhan Norton was on home building and, although she has given money to various missions and has seen the pictures, noted that the conditions she encountered were worse than she expected (her mother and sister just returned from mission in Africa). “Their home is smaller than my own room in America.” She also noted how vocal the roosters were – all over! Meg Ryan and two other girls had a sawing contest - which entertained the men on the crew and was a fun experience.

Jimmy Dumont told us that on home building this afternoon, Matt Daly jumped right in when one of the workers cut his foot with a machete – we think we might be adding him to the medical team!

Roger noted the process functioned well in the Pap smear clinic – the first time this project has been done here. Rachel Daly was struck by how limited the number of patients were today especially compared to the first mission trips with hundreds in line. She also was impressed how the practitioners were able to achieve the same end as in the States, but were doing it in a different way – for instance, there was no sink or running water, so bowls were used. Roger noted we need to respect the differences and know the joy in that. Sister Debbie then shared the experiences of the first few missions when our medical teams saw hundreds of people a day, many of whom had queued up beginning at 5am. She remembered an elderly woman consoling one of our team members who was crying at the end of the day when the line had to be cut off with so many still waiting to be seen. She told our medical person that it was OK as she and others would return the next day. The days of the 2,000 people in long lines are now over as we employ a doctor who consistently sees people twice a week.

Yami shared that in the beginning years the volume of litter and trash we used to see on the road is now kept in excellent condition by the locals.

Listening to the stories of the medical clinics and the environmental changes, we have definitely moved from helping and fixing to sharing with the locals.

Sr. Cathy shared her experience on Rice & Beans at the home of Magaly’s mother – they share beauty both inside and outside. She asked for a photo of herself by her banana tree. Sr. Cathy also delivered food to the home of her sponsor family which was a blessing as she had wanted, some day, to see where they live.

Yami has completely sorted and donated all of the clothing which was sent via container which filled her front porch a few days ago when A Team brought it all over. She is relieved!

The most phenomenal change that has occurred – at least for me – is the placement of an antenna to receive the signal from the source at the end of the road in the Flores’ home into the Office here at Nino! It will be finished in a day or two – I can’t wait!

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