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Mission of Hope

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

By Bonnie Black
We’re ready for tomorrow night! Everything is now back on schedule for Mission #35 with NiCasa all set to host our team beginning Sunday evening. Twenty-two more will be joining us around 10:30pm or so getting a good night’s rest for the intense 5 days ahead of them. Not that the past 3-4 days haven’t been emotionally intense! It will be good to welcome those we had hoped to see on Thursday.

This morning’s meeting began with a prayer by Bill who provided a short, but sweet, reflection that got our day off to a wonderful start. And, we had lots to do!

Marty Mannix, Alysia Privrat and Roger Patnode went out with the local home building crew to create the new shelter for Arlen Lopez of Chiquilistagua, donated by Daisy Baker. She had a young boy who, along with another woman relative and her child were going to be the new residents. “It was great to do and fun to watch,” said Roger of the first home shelter he had be a part of. Although he is a Mission ‘veteran,’ Roger had never had the opportunity to be a part of this project in the past and was pleased he got a taste of the willing and adept locals who work on these homes. The only glitch was that the foundation had been laid with too much concrete between the blocks which made it a ‘stretch’ for the wood and tin, but they made it. Roger had also brought rice and beans for the homeowner along with crayons and blank paper for her son. The young cousins who lived next door came over and he shared more crayons and paper with them. Everyone had an enjoyable time.

Joy and Diane spent much of the day up at our Clinic in the pharmacy area adding to the inventory with the new medicines that were shipped by CMMB in October. This afternoon they went back to NiCarlos’ going through more cartons and medical supplies in preparation for 4-5 hospitals to pick up over the next week.

Samantha and Rachel tackled many of the notebooks and pencils that will need to be prepared for the 600 students that are sponsored between the two schools: Mother of the Divine Son in Nejapa and Colegio Niño Jesus de Praga here in Chiquilistagua. Tedious as it is for us, it is a wonderful gift for the children who cannot afford their own notebooks or, in many cases, pencils. Sharpening pencils and attaching them to the notebooks took up most of their morning. And not to fear, there are many still to complete when the main group gets here! Later this afternoon, we created a workspace for all of the notebooks and pencils (even though we know there are 200 sharpened pencils in Alex Fredette’s suitcase!) so that the assigned group on Monday can hit the road running.

I had sat with Mauricio around 9:45am this morning to create the shopping list for the Community Development projects coming up this week, only to find that paint stores and lumber yards and hardware stores close at Noon on Saturday. Later I found out that others knew this, but guess I had never set out to make these purchases on a Saturday before! So, Mauricio and Rene took the van that was to take a few people to the food market out to procure much of what we will need beginning Monday. Based on who is arriving when, we have a shortened amount of time to accomplish all of the tasks the committee and Leadership had planned on, but we WILL have lots to do.

Once they returned, we offered them lunch and then Bev, Bill, Samantha, Rachel and Alysia went to the various markets to get the food for the main group. The only item not purchased yet are the bananas which we will get late tomorrow afternoon.

Around 2:30pm, the Solemn Mass for the Infirm began with the pinning of a yellow ribbon and medallion on all of those for whom the service was being held. Sister Cecilia came over to NiCasa and invited any of us who would like to attend to join them – and Joy and Diane chose to change and go. Although the Pope has declared this month as the time to conduct this type of service, we were told, this Solemn Mass was certainly not ‘solemn!’ Joy and Diane told us that the priest, Father Irvine, seemed to have a great sense of humor and had the congregation laughing through much of the service. Everyone in the sanctuary was anointed-regardless of their health condition. So, Joy and Diane each received and were intrigued by the aroma similar to cloves that the oil smelled like.

Meanwhile, Roger, Marty and I prepared the painting section for Paul O’Connell and Patrick Daly’s painting crews which also included the new paint we bought today for Guadelupe Clinic and Fernando Velez Paiz Children’s Hospital as well as Sister Cathy’s Mural Project in the clinic room at La Chureca.

Roger then organized the medicines which will be brought by either medical teams or painting crews to the various hospitals and clinics with whom we work. We will not be able to conduct the Health Fair in the time allotted to us (it was to have been tomorrow, on a Sunday) so we restocked some of the items in storage and will work on the rest during the week as time allows. Of course, everything has to be inventoried as it is put into storage, so that takes time.

The entire courtyard is now vacant, ready to accept the 25 suitcases coming in tomorrow tonight and the rest on Monday afternoon. It will also allow the beginning of sorting on Monday morning of the first set of suitcases in ample space.

After the Solemn Mass, we heard a lot of revelry in the dining hall next to our building, so Joy, Roger, Samantha, Rachel and I went over. At first we were timid about going in, but Sister Cecilia insisted we come in and ‘have a good time.’ There was a local 2-piece band (keyboard, guitar) which was playing music as people got settled. Then, the music came from both the musicians and CDs with the moving Nicaraguan music. The older students from Niño performed a few dances – all contemporary – and a couple of the older men got up to serenade the group – two from the barrio of Solano. If it were ‘Nicaraguan Idol’ we determined that the dancers would move on to the next round, although the singers received a warm applause from their neighbors. Sister Rosa mentioned to the group that the dinner they were receiving was provided by the Mission of Hope. It was all over by around 5pm with everyone leaving Colegio with broad smiles on their faces. Walking, in wheelchairs, on crutches – all had enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together.

After dinner, we held our evening meeting which began with prayer by Marty reading a selection from “Answers from the Heart.” It stressed that emotions are also a language – often more powerful than our thoughts. It urged us to trust in the language of our hearts.

We organized ourselves for receiving our 22 fellow travelers tomorrow night in our roles as hosts and hostesses of NiCasa. Joy will be the suitcase check-in person, Marty will guide them to the numbered locations for their suitcases, Diane and Alysia will orient those housed in the larger room, Rachel and Samantha will do the same in the smaller room, Bev will do the kitchen area (including some healthy snacks we will have out for the tired travelers), Roger and Bill will handle the men’s room and I will be floating around with the camera. Most likely, I will travel into the airport with the van in order to get some pictures of the first wave of Mission #35 arriving this week.

We later heard that Yamilette Flores’ plane from Atlanta, that was grounded last night due to freezing rain, took off almost two hours later than expected tonight so, as I write this, she has not yet arrived here. We are sure we will see her at Mass tomorrow morning, though.

Can’t wait until all who should be here have arrived – will keep you updated as I can get to a public internet café…

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