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Mission of Hope

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

By Bonnie Black
Hump Day for Mission 31!! It is hard to believe that we are now halfway through this mission - with so much more still to do.

Our tummies are kept quite content by our Kitchen crew headed by Bev Gogola with Demi Pellerin, Meg Ryan and Siobhan Norton assuring that from breakfast to late snack we wanted for nothing. I don't think I have mentioned it yet, but our dinners are cooked for us by 2-3 local women each night and we each over in the large dining room at the school. They have provided meals for our vegetarians as well as for the others. It is always so tasty and we even have treats - like Nora's rice pudding last night!

'BBB' was kept going by Ashley Lamberton, Carole Becker, Allen Pellerin and Matt Kennedy throughout the day.

The Parajito Azul Disability Center was the destination for Sr Stephanie, Sr Cathy and Alice Robinson this morning.

Heights & weights, as well as hemoglobin and lead testing on the pre-schoolers, were on the board for this morning. Bill Calmbacher, Nicky Lundy, Roger Patnode, Matt Kennedy, Matt Daly, Phil Lamour and Mary Garcia had the opportunity to interact with these precious students.

Rice & Beans were taken farther out today and were distributed by Jimmy Dumont, Diane Rolfs, Alex Munn and Amanda Knauf.

Two home shelters were constructed this morning, the first for the Carlin family and the second for St. Joseph's Parish in West Chazy. Joining the local building team were Marty Mannix, James Carlin, Gabby Flores, Rachel and Pat Daly.

Out at the Rotary school project today were Mike Carrier, Jeremy Dumont (scoping out the electrics), Kathy Eppler, Karen Amy and Adam Peryer. Things are coming along nicely with the ceramic floor, so tomorrow we will be sending in a paint crew to begin that process while the contractor puts in the windows and doors.

Joy Cayea was on Medical Inventory sorting as we are getting near the end of the pickups of the medicines by San Jose Hospital and Caritas. There will be one more tomorrow morning and all should be distributed from Carlos' house. That's good because we begin our painting and electrical work in the afternoon!

Teacher's Kits were prepared under the guidance of Bill Murray and Sarah Clancy. Not only did they accomplish that portion of the project, but they also made a big dent in creating supplies for Nino, Nejapa, Angels of Hope Orphanage in El Crucero, the Paul Harris School in Managua and a group of young men who are coordinating pre-schools in Managua under the guidance of Magaly's brother, Norman.

Conversation with the Nino Administrators/Principals regarding what to do together in the future, and finding our what types of supplies they could truly use was held among Kristin Gagnier and Connie Miller with the principals of Nino this morning. They continued the conversation after our evening meeting tonight - around 7:30pm - with the sisters setting up a meeting for tomorrow among themselves and the English teachers of school. The goal will be to discuss what can be done here and also on our end to allow for greater communication among our teens with the students. Can't wait to hear the results tomorrow night!

Health Kit Supplies were categorized and boxed for use on future mission as they are missing elements, specifically toothpaste. We will be looking for donations of tubes of toothpaste to complete these kits on this summer's trip. But, Andrea Maynard, Jena Finnegan, Sarah Scardillo and Brian Mulcahy really did well on this project today.

An interesting opportunity presented itself regarding Parasite Education for preschoolers when Dr. Carole Gonzalez and two medical students from UNAN in Managua came to campus this morning. They had visuals including preserved tapeworms and other intestinal worms for the students to see. The impact of not washing hands, going barefoot in the dirt (many homes have dirt floors) and not washing fruits and vegetables were more than obvious to the young students as well as Matt Kennedy and Jenna Finnegan who had the opportunity to observe.

Around 11am or so, we were invited to a Teen-to-Teen discussion on values, the economy, serving our community, and poverty. The translator was Diane Rolfs for Matt Kennedy and Betsy Sullivan who responded to questions from the ~150 high schoolers.

Our Lady of Guadelupe medical clinic this morning flowed well - much of an improvement over the other afternoon. We brought a table and basins as well as other supplies so that we were able to create two exam areas making the process more efficient. Our team was comprised of Catherine Hill, Tracy Orkin, Cathy Hill, Kate Patnode, Mary Gleason and Kristin Gagnier.

Sponsor Gifts were brought over to the CFC dining room and 'super organized!' The team of Betsy Sullivan, Connie Miller, Ashley Lamberton, Diane Rolfs and Carole Becker had suitcases on tables - alphabetized by student last name - and added a Bienvenidos sign along with a NYS map to show where most of us live, plus a US map noting California, New Jersey and Florida for our other 7 members on this trip.

"Super Sorters" attacking the materials in cartons outside in the yard were Sarah Deeb, Sam Mulcahy, Allen Pellerin, Connie Miller and Betsy Sullivan. When Jimmy Dumont returned from rice & beans, he and Allen went to work outfitting our utility closet with shelves for the cleaning products and then created a way to hang our assignment boards (one for AM, one for PM) in the courtyard for all to easily read.

And speaking of our assignment boards, many thanks go out to Matt Kennedy and Samantha Mulcahy (our two student representatives on our Leadership Council) who have diligently balanced the needs of the Mission with the wishes of the missioners this week. They are done around 11:30 at night and up again bright and early each morning by around 5:30pm. Muchas gracias, Matt y Sam!

This afternoon the staff who went to Our Lady of Guadelupe continued at that clinic.

Everyone with students whom they sponsor here at Nino Jesus de Praga were excited that at 1:30pm we were able to meet with our families. Those of us who directly sponsor a student got to see him/her; many also were 'delegates' for the sponsors back home who were not able to travel on this mission. For instance, Demi and Allen Pellerin got to meet Ali's student for the first time. Diane Rolfs and Sister Stephanie saw many students on behalf of family and friends. Jimmy Dumont was so please to be able to present gifts on behalf of the Seymours and when the mother of one of their students received the special gift, she was so tearful and appreciative that both Jimmy and I were brought to tears. Later on, Brian Mulcahy told us that he had a tweak of jealousy watching many of us involved with our families while he stood 'on the sidelines.'

Rice & Beans were delivered by Adam Peryer, Ashley Lamberton, Jeremy Dumont, Sr. Cathy, Nicky Lundy and Sarah Scardillo.

Homes were not built this afternoon as we were going to hold that team until after the opportunity with our sponsored families at 1:30pm. The locals didn't want to wait, so their leader, Inocencio, decided that was it for today! We will build 4 more tomorrow and the final two on Friday morning.

In preparing for our upcoming visit to the Dermatological Center, we found out from Kathy Eppler that Indira (her son's girlfriend) is a resident doctor there! We will be taking a tour on Friday at 9:30am and many hope to be able to 'get on board!

Our "Super Sorters" for this afternoon included Alex Munn, Gabby Flores, Alice Robinson, Connie Miller, Sarah Cardillo, Pat Daly, Phil Lamour, Andrea Maynard,
Amanda Knauf.

Patrick Daly, Jena Finnegan and Amanda Knauf traveled the roads of Managua with Sister Debbie this afternoon. By tomorrow, each of the new students will have had that experience which is a wonderful way to get to see more of the capital of this country. Patrick commented at tonight's meeting that he wasn't too pleased to see the cockroach in among the fish and clams at the market!

Our evening meeting began with a rundown of the (changing) schedule for tomorrow. That is one thing we get very used to here. There is a saying, "Make a plan and God laughs." We certainly keep Him in a jolly mood whenever we are here, that's for sure!

There was also a formal thank you to our A Team members who had everything ready for us and will have the entire facility put away and closed in less than a week. Thanks for the extra effort by these dedicated people: Bev Gogola, Bill Calmbacher, James Carlin, Jimmy Dumont, Marty Mannix, Matt Kennedy, Betsy Sullivan, Joy Cayea, Roger Patnode and Jeremy Dumont. I was only part of the opening team as I head back to work and won't be here to assist in closing.

The 'Super Sorters' reported on all that they accomplished today with school supplies boxed and ready for delivery to the various schools and items prepared for distribution at Casa de Vida, a home for abused and raped young women and their children.

Sister Debbie informed the group that the Mission of Hope has received a very generous donation with which to purchase the plot of land which sits behind Colegio and tomorrow afternoon Leadership Team will be walking the land to visualize the potential use. In a meeting with Sister Rosa earlier tonight, she was informed of the potential and we discussed the use of the Flores' land next to it for potential use by the school's ECO students to raise corn and other crops. The rest of the group will have an opportunity before they leave - pictures will come!

Rachel Daly shared that on the return from Home Shelter today, as they were passing out toys to children passing by, she learned that ladybugs are not the best stuffed animal gift to have. One of the locals informed her the black and red colors of the ladybug would be understood as a Sandanista combination of colors and that we should think about not giving out anything with a political imagery like that. Cultural differences we need to keep in mind as we collect donations!

Because the Banana Camp may be politically divided right now, we are not planning a visit due to potential safety concerns. There is also a growing divide between the current administration and the Catholic Church we need to keep an eye on.

Alice Robinson was at the Disability Center this morning and found out from Helen that the money she gets from selling her embroidery was enough to through a party recently. Sr. Stephanie noted that the Center needs balloons to use with their music therapy, so that is something we will think of bringing next time.

Sarah Deeb's reflection was a growing awareness of how much we waste at home and the amount of time we appear busy in activities that are petty. Here, we seem to accomplish a lot in very little time.

Sister Debbie told of a serendipitous experience today. As they were driving along the road they saw a small group of Franciscan nuns walking on the Leon Road. Later they saw the same group as they passed the other way. The third encounter resulted in them stopping and it was discovered that the nuns had been walking the Leon Road trying to find Oscar and Sister Debbie! The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception from El Salvador told them they are currently feeding 50 hungry children and were looking for the Mission of Hope they had heard so much about! After some discussion, some of our missioners offered assistance which will be finalized tomorrow.

Sister then spoke of a nun we work with who needs medical help which could be provided at Dartmouth Medical Center periodically over a 3-4 month period. She could get a medical visa, but only speaks Spanish and, due to her order, needs privacy in a dwelling (private room). We are all now beginning to pray that there will be someone with whom she could live while undergoing treatment and medication for her condition. Join with us, please.

Matt Kennedy let everyone know about the presentation in the pre-school this morning by the UNAN medical students on parasites. He reflected that the medical community is doing great outreach here to inform people and teach good sanitary techniques and health education.

Rachel Daly spoke again about a very rough situation she encountered where one of the homes they visited had no running water, but woman still provided cookies and Coke to them. The generosity is, at times, overwhelming.

When the meeting and closing prayer were done, a surprise birthday piñata, cake and ice cream were brought out for all to enjoy in honor of Kate Patnode's birthday - a good time was had by all (you should ask to see the videos of piñata-whacking, etc)>

Rotarians Kathy Eppler, Marty Mannix, Mike Carrier, Karen Amy and I attended a Managua Club meeting this evening to discover that the Chief Justice of the International Central American Court was the guest speaker; after an hour of his presentation (of course, all in Spanish) we had to excuse ourselves to return to Chiquilistagua in time for curfew. It was a blessing we needed to return!

As they say here, many kisses and hugs - until we see you again.

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