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Mission of Hope

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

By Bonnie Black
Our 'day off' began with a phenomenal French toast breakfast cooked up for us by the day's Kitchen Crew: Phil Maynard, Darcy Rabideau, Brad Willett, Adrianne Longino and Joe Lewis. We had choices of the Papa Bear Special (PB and Banana), French Toast Cheese Blintz and the Papa Bear Special for banana intolerance (PB and Honey). In other words, they prepared the delicious French toast and had many options for us to add toppings in addition to the traditional syrup.

Before heading out for the day, our BBB crew were the Bills for the men and Connie and Angie for the women. It is so nice how others pitched in knowing that everyone was leaving between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. for the entire day. Thanks to all who did!

The first bus with 8 all together, headed to Mombacho, the cloudforest over an hour away from here. As I write this, I haven't had time to speak to anyone who went on that trip as when we got back just after 5 p.m. we had our guests arriving immediately after taking our Mission #32 photo. They had lunch at Pollo Narcy, near El Coyotepe before heading into downtown Managua's Roberto Huembes Market.

The second bus left at 7:30 a.m. driving through San Marco past the town plaza, Masatepe (founded in 1825) and then stopping at Catarina. Everyone disembarked to view the lagoon - and what a refreshing breeze! Although overcast, the 30 of us enjoyed the cool air and wind. Some of the markets began to open (they usually do so at 9am) with most of us getting a head start on making purchased from our lists of family and friends.

We then drove to Granada past the town plaza and the horsedrawn carriages and vendors to Lake Nicaragua for the boat tour through the isletas. We boarded 3 boats and spent just over an hour navigating the waterway near the coast and around a variety of small islands. It was interesting to those of us who had been here before, that many are now for sale. We saw the price on one was $150,000 - but weren't sure if it had running water and electricity access. Others with homes built on them - where we have seen people tending to their gardens, eating, etc. in the past - assuredly do, but those prices were posted. We joked about taking a collection and letting A Team have some respite there ('what time for respite?' A Team members said!).

We then headed back toward the downtown area as people voted to spend 10-15 minutes there, even though they were informed it would come off of their shopping time at Masaya Market. A few climbed the many stairs to the highest point in Granada while others went into the back of the church that was holding Mass. Of course, most spend a brief moment at the vendors' tables picking up items again.

We had lunch in the open air under a thatched roof at Mi Viejo Ranchito on the Masaya Road. Of course, 30 people arriving unannounced put a bit of stress on the kitchen which was already serving a packed restaurant - we actually couldn't see any other empty tables besides the 3 next to ours which filled up quite fast. Although it was 12:50pm, it seemed to never let up. The one waiter assigned to our table and the others in the section seemed to do his best, but it was at Nica speed. We must have patience when visiting other cultures, that most do not move at the hectic pace we set for ourselves in the US. From my observation, it probably is much healthier NOT to consistently push, push, push.

The four tables of us were all served at various times (although it was a complete table at once) so we staggered in frustration leaving some quite hungry while others had completed their meals. In all, the lunch took almost 2 hours. We then headed to Masaya Market for an hour-and-a-quarter of shopping (on top of the morning's ventures). We got back to Nicasa at 5:05 p.m. - almost on time.

Sister Ligia and another nun from Diriamba had been with Oscar Flores and Sister Debbie in the afternoon, loading their truck with equipment and supplies from NiCarlos' to Diriamba. That leaves only a small amount to still go there tomorrow when the medical team plus a couple of others have a hands-on day in San Jose Hospital and deliver medicines.

Tonight was our perennial pizza night in memory of Shawn Watson, a longtime supporter of the Mission and nephew of Sister Steph and cousin to Heather Frenette. His former employer, Whirley Industries, has continued in this wonderful 'thank you' to those in the immediate community as well as farther afield with whom we work. And, of course, it is always good to see the smiles on our own faces as we enjoy a taste of home!

As our guests, in addition to the sisters from Diriamba, were the nuns from Nino Jesus de Praga along with Sister Rosa's mother and sister who are visiting from El Salvador. Magaly Velasquez with her husband Hernando, Inocencio Velasquez, Nora and her two daughters, Marta Leiva (Yami's sister and coordinator of our clinics) all were present. Profesor Augusto had told us he couldn't make it because he lives 40 kilometers away and Sister Karla has dengue and still had her fever, so she didn't come with Padre Raul and the other nuns from Matugalpa. We had also invited the point people with whom we work at CARITAS as well as MINSA, but they live in the city and, most likely, found it hard to get out to us on a Sunday night during Santo Domingo.

Mid-evening, we celebrated two birthdays among us: Mary Fredette and Kelly Hayle. We had a birthday cake each along with a personal piñata which was quite hard to break. After the birthday girls had taken many whacks at them, we invited others to help: the 'award-winning' Bill Calmbacher, Sister Debbie and then Inocencio who was once a professional baseball player in Nicaragua. Both piñatas gave forth of their sweets and all were pleased!

As the evening came to a close, most still had a lot of nervous energy from the day and we allowed 'lights out' to be a half hour later. Back to the grindstone tomorrow, though!

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