The Press Republican

Mission of Hope

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

By Bonnie Black
We began this morning’s meeting with prayer as today, for those of us who are Christian, know this day as Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the season of Lent. Sister told all that it comes from the Greek word for ‘springtime’ and asked us to reflect how we can awaken the spirit of the Creator in us – how we can touch the sacred within. She asked us all to think about ‘giving something up’ for Lent, but rather to let something be new – in our day, our hearts, our lives. We can think about ‘fasting’ from technology one day a week and reconnecting with others and ourselves. We can adopt a deeper attentiveness to the cosmos and to all of humanity.

She asked us to cradle our own hands and then she had Megan Harris and Nancy Brennan-Jordan come to the center of the circle each bearing a cup. “We have come to know the ashes of despair and poverty,” Sister said. “Through this symbolic act we are about to do, we will be joining our hearts with the human community.” She explained that in each cup there was a mixture of ashes from La Chureca, Chiquilistagua and palm ashes from the North Country. She asked us to receive the ashes on our hands as symbolic of commitment, walk gently on this earth and acting justly.

Father Sturtz then blessed the ashes and, while Megan and Nancy were going from person to person, we listened to Lori True’s song, “What Have We Done for the Poor Ones.”

We were fed amply by the team of Diane, Kendrick, Molly and Zach today and kept ‘clean’ by Nancy Ashley, Becca, Matt and Adam!

Heading off first thing was our medical team providing Women’s Health Clinics at Our Lady of Guadelupe (Karen, Janine, Sister Cathy), diabetes education in that location (Nancy Brennan-Jordan) and another clinic at La Chureca (Kathy along with Sue) and HIV and lead testing (Alysia, Amanda, Becca, Jayne, Siobhan and Roger).

Our last day of home shelter construction had a morning team of Marty, Alex, Barbara, Vanessa and Brian LaTulipe. The two homes created were donated by Barbara and Vanessa for Jose Omar Ferrufino and Rene Toruño, both of whom live in Nejapa. In the afternoon, a home was constructed through donation from La Sallette Shrine in Altamont with traveler, Bobby Ruggles, representing the group. The shelter is now the home of Olga and Maxima Solisalso of Nejapa. The last home of Mission #35 was paid for and constructed by Samantha & Brian Mulcahy for Rafeala Torrez of Chiquilistagua.

Our last Heights and Weights were with the pre-schoolers here at Niño ably handled by Bill, Paul, Sue, Father Sturtz, Megan, Michele and Matt, as their translator. It didn’t take too long, so when they returned, Paul organized the sporting equipment we had along with Matt and Megan. Others came in to help me with the sponsorship gifts: Michelle, Samantha, Bill and Father Sturtz.

Earlier a team traveled to Parajito Azul Disability Center bringing gifts of quilts and pillows and medical supplies: Bev, Tara, Joan and Rachel. Accompanying them in the van – with their supplies for the new ramp railing installation were James, Brian, Adam, Pat and Greg. The construction crew finished the project within the few hours of the morning when they were there!

Although many people may not understand, one of the main purposes of the Mission of Hope is to be a conduit of much-needed supplies from home to the people here. In that vein, all of missions, regardless of size, be very involved in sorting boxes and waiting for the beneficiaries to arrive with their vehicles. The sorting can seem tedious unless you think about that specific box, its contents and the benefits we are bringing.

During the early afternoon a few of our team were interviewed by Suzanne Moore of the Press Republican regarding a variety of specific projects in which we have been involved to give all of you a first-hand account of the many activities going on here and our personal reactions.

While Marty and I went to the Managua Rotary Club meeting to turn in the Final Report on the 204 latrines that were built through a Rotary International Matching Grant (Plattsburgh, Managua, Bergen-Highlands-Ramsey (NJ) along with District and RI funds), notes were taken by Barbara:

This evening our meeting was started with a definition of the word ‘gringo’ by Yami. The word developed as a result of the American Marines stationed in Nicaragua, who wore green uniforms, not being welcomed by the Nicaraguans who chanted, “Green Go Home” which became “Green Go” and finally, Gringo.

Sr. Debbie called Sr. Stephanie to say hello and let her know that everyone missed her. Sister told us that Sr. Stephanie wanted us to know that her family and Sean's company (Whirley Industries) will continue to cover Pizza Night despite the fact that she's not there. It’s a tradition that started when Sean was on mission and he continued while alive; the company has maintained the ‘tradition’ in his memory since that time.

Sister noted that part of every mission is to allow Missioners the opportunity to see the beauty of the country. Several options for those will be planned to accommodate those leaving on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Among the choices will be the City tour (provided from Bonnies notes as she will be gone) or Mombacho cloudforest as well as one of the markets (Huembes or Masaya).

Special thank you to Joan for taking Kitchen duty twice to help accommodate Sr. Steph's absence.

Matt and James will work on the video taken of the new complex. A script will need to be written to explain video details. Once completed, both will be given to Barbara to have voiceover added and compiled into a dvd for showing to potential investors.

James volunteered to take Alexa and Alex to the airport on Saturday AM.

Brenda and Bob Flynn provided the after dinner treat from Parajito Azul – delicious tarts!

Roger said that it has been a incredible advantage to have Alysia on the trip. Her understanding of the language has been much appreciated and gave her a special thank you.

Sr. Debbie said this is the only mission that she has not had to deal with the whining she often hears during the week. She appreciates the flexibility and respect shown by everyone.

Sr. Debbie traveled today on a road she had not taken before that was behind the lagoon. She said that it offered a different perspective of viewing the city of Managua. Fr. Sturtz commented that the contrast between poverty and wealth was some of the worst he has seen.

Bobby commented that he was on Home Shelter building the house his family and friends provided the funds for. Seeing the person that was receiving the house was very gracious and even though she was elderly and had trouble walking, she got up and did so to accommodate Bobby's request for a photo.

Kathy thanked everyone who went to Guadelupe today and stayed late so they could finish up with their last patients that had waited all day to be seen.

Bev thanked Molly, Zac, Kendrik, Diane and the kitchen crew for their help and for staying late.

Rachel visited the farm that is set up for the residents of the Parajito Azul Disability Center. She said the farm appeared to be running very well and was great to see. She said that it appeared to be a really healthy place for them to go and offered opportunities to people who would not have them otherwise. She said that it seemed a very peaceful place and full of love. MOH was asked to visit so they would be aware of recent problems with hoodlums who were threatening the residents with machetes to take the food they were raising.

Adam was impressed with how much is done for the people at this center with very little resources. The Parajito Azul was founded by the Director of the center and a grant from the Dorothea Hous Ross Grant helped in the past to set up the Physical Therapy program. The Dominican sisters have helped fund this and George Moore has also contributed by paying all the Physical Therapists salary for a year.

These people have been exploited in past years and have been placed in dangerous situations, both physically and sexually, by unscrupulous people. Fr. Sturtz has donated 100 pounds of rice and beans to the center and will deliver it tomorrow.

Nancy commented that the morning's Ash Wednesday blessing was the most beautiful that she has ever attended, and especially appreciated the ashes mixed in from La Chureca. She thanked Sr. Debbie.

Janine was impressed by a small girl today who, when given the option of taking a hair clip from a bag full of them, chose one and had to be encouraged to take another.

At a Pediatric Cancer Center visit a few years ago, Sr. Debbie met a girl who was dying of cancer – who could have been saved if she were in the US – who did a similar thing when given the option of taking stickers: she only chose 2.

Karen was very impressed with the quality of education of the First Responders trained by Bill. One of the First Responders thanked her for returning to help her community.

Nancy Ashley described the presentation given by Frank the Water Filter Man from Filtron and said it was fascinating. The water filters appear to be extremely effective and very economical. These water filters can be given as gifts to a sponsored child and their family. Frank stated there is a 70% reduction of diarrhea when visiting families one month after filters have been installed.

Frank has 100 concrete bricks that will be donated to the Mission and will be placed at the new compound. These are going to be used in the construction of what are called ‘rocket stoves.’
Rocket stoves burn more efficiently and effectively and were introduced in January during our focused mission as part of our ECO program.

Sr. Cathy said her blessing today was watching Nancy Jordan. She said her diabetes training at the local clinic was fantastic, very detailed and helpful.

The La Chureca mural will be started tomorrow and finished on Friday. Sr. Cathy and Vanessa will plan the design. Donations from other schools have been made to help with the painting. We hope that teenagers from the dump will assist.

Alysia thanked everyone for her warm welcome. Sr. Debbie thanked her for attending the mission despite turmoil in her personal life. Sr. Debbie said that the Mission is not just about the people of Chiliquistagua but about the people who have come on mission and continue to do so when they go home.

Pablo asked if the lights out could be extended to 10:00pm due to the late start of the meeting.

Sr. Cathy volunteered herself, Bernie and Jane to do morning prayer. And so closed the last (one of two) days where all 49 travelers were on the ground together.

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