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Mission of Hope

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

By Bonnie Black
This morning we began with a more leisurely meeting as we did not have any work crews heading out until after Mass. Sister Debbie told everyone that this will be a very unique Mission on the last couple of days as we will be moving everything over to our new site in anticipation of being able to use it for the February mission. Oscar believes we will also be able to move the bunkbeds, too!

Sister encouraged us to attend Mass, regardless of faith or belief, as it is a sign to the community of our support of their lives. She also noted that today is the Dominican Feast Day, so it is very special to her and Sister Stephanie as that is their order.

After a bit of sharing from yesterday (most was added to yesterday’s Journal before being sent this morning) she told us that Jonan connected with Sister Stephanie yesterday who also took a ‘mystery ride’ – her first in all of her missions! Jonan called the States three times while Sister Stephanie was in the hospital and the rehab section of Meadowbrook last winter to check on her health. So, they were very pleased to see other. But, what they found out was that his son, who had been seen by Connie a few days ago, spiked a fever overnight and is now in the hospital. So we will be holding Jonan’s family in prayer.

Sister also mentioned that there are two families celebrating their anniversaries within the next few days: Connie & Henry Tyska and Allen & Tracy Pellerin. In honor of those joyful occasions, of the spouses who are here (Connie and Allen) received a special dessert at dinner!

Sister then began our morning reflection time with some of the statements she had heard over the past few days: I’m not good, like everyone else here; The Mission is the best thing that has happened to me – since my birth; I never knew how spoiled I was; I lost a best friend a month ago, who was 17 years old, to brain cancer; A lifelong best friend is in her last days of life; I didn’t know my purpose for coming…until now. With those thoughts in our hearts and minds, Sister asked us to listen for reassurance, comfort, support in gratitude and hope to a musical selection by Carey Landry, “Isaiah 49 Medley – Only a Shadow.”

After some contemplation, it was announced that today is Connie’s last day with us here in Nica on Mission #37 as she must return to the States unexpectedly. We will be praying for her and her friends.

We all went to church just before 9am to attend Mass…and it was over a half hour before the priest arrived! It was hot, sticky, uncomfortable and took a lot of focus to remember why we were waiting there. When he arrived, it was not Father Jalder, but another priest whose name we did not get. In his sermon, he correlated the work that we do in the area with the Gospel reading for the day and reminded his parishioners that everyone should be focused more outwardly than selfishly. At the end of service, after it was closed, Sister Rosa made announcements about the Assumption of Mary Festival next Saturday at 5pm (we will all be gone by that point) and then personally thanked the Mission of Hope for all that we have done and do for the far-reaching community. It’s always nice to hear that!

Today’s Kitchen Crew, of course, started their day – and a bit early! Many heard noises in the kitchen before 5am. But, the ‘official’ crew began together around 5:30am: Sister Stephanie, Demi, Stephen and Anne. Our BBB team was Anne, Demi, John and Bill M.

A group headed over to Casa de Vida to finish the repairs and do a little painting today so that prpoject will be completed for this mission: Bill M., Dale, Ali, Rinsha, Brenda and Joan. They spent the entire day there so that we could do what we committed to do.

With only a few more days left in this Mission and the daunting task of readying the new facility to open as a clinic next week and leave everything ready for our February mission team, work was needed to be done on sorting the cartons from the last container shipment which, of course, had been thrown (literally) into one of the spaces. Dave along with Adrienne, Kyle, Megan, Izzy and Chris G. handled the beginning of that project this morning.

Allen had John with him and pulled a couple from Dave’s team to complete all but a small section of the new facility with a second coat.

Our medical team headed out to Juan Pablo II baby orphanage this morning to do assessments on the tykes there and were quite pleased with the situation. It was clean, organized – evidence that our Orphans’ Hope Project (which is fully sponsored there) is having a positive impact. Connie, Cathy, Bill were joined by Colleen, Patty, Demi and Liz.

Sister took a group on an educational trip to La Chureca: Sarah, Betsy, Chris H., Ross, Sam and Mary.

At lunchtime, crews changed – except for the Casa de Vida team which was out all day. In the afternoon, ahead of the rain, Connie and Cathy headed over to the new clinic to complete setting up the exam rooms and preparing them for use next week. They pulled ‘labor’ as needed from the others who were completing the painting of the facility, sorting cartons and drilling locks: Allen, Sam, Adrianne, Dave, Patty, Bill, Ross and Izzy. They also began the sorting of the larger medical equipment sent on the last container into distinct sections for easy distribution to the facilities with which we work.

This afternoon, Sister took the van so many could get a ‘mystery ride’: Colleen, Chris H., Chris G., Megan, John, Kyle, Mary, Sarah and Betsy. They got stopped by the police! Actually, this was because they took a dirt road into the rim of La Chureca and the van was filled with ‘gringos.’ They really stopped them because the police wanted to make sure that everyone in the vehicle was safe.

We began tonight’s meeting with a special way: tres leche cake and chocolate chip muffin for both Allen and Connie. “You are certainly ‘life’ for the Mission and the spouses you aren’t with on your anniversary,” said Sister. The rest of us were provided with a treat tonight by the ‘Chrises’ which was mantequillas, Nicaraguan cookies.

Stephen had a song, in Spanish, about a person on a rocketship who is about to die removes his country’s emblem from his spacesuit and writes that any one life is more important than country or labels of any kind. This was very poignant, especially for the situation that is sending Connie home tomorrow. In celebration, Sister offered her phone to allow us to call our spouses!

Sharing began with Bill M. thanking his Casa de Vida crew for all they did accomplishing what they did – we’re done for this mission!

Allen then echoed thanks for his painting crew, including Sam who while protected with plastic got the most paint he has ever seen all over her! Patty and Izzy got their paint on the building and the guard shack – at least more than Sam ;~)

At the rim, there was a conversation about the fact that some people believe that

Mary said it was difficult, but helpful to see everything for herself, putting it all in perspective. The feeling she had was an increased awareness that each little bit counts, even though there isn’t a quick, complete fix.

Ross shared that the ‘Welcome to Hell’ sign scared him in the beginning, but the assurance at the end by the sign, “God bless us all.” He felt, though, that there isn’t much hope. Sam disagreed because felt there were the happiest children she has seen so far. Big smiles, not asking for stickers or anything, all made her feel good.

Rinsha thanked us for being so accepting, on both missions, with appreciation and desire to learn about Hinduism. “They appreciate me for who I am and that’s not always the feeling I get back home,” she said.

Connie said it was really hard for her to say, ‘Goodbye’ tonight. She said she is going to miss all of us terribly. ‘I will be here every night with you and I know that you will be with me.’ She reflected that on her first mission return she told her husband, “I will never go back to that hell hole, but here I am on my 4th mission. Embrace everything you experience over the next few days. You are all part of the Nica experience as Mission #37.”

Sister acknowledged that Connie has some difficult days ahead. She shared a text from Ann Sullivan who has two daughters on this Mission letting Sister know that we are all on prayer chains in NJ, NY and FL.

Demi shared her experience at Juan Pablo II, playing and holding the babies, including Angel (who many of us know) who fell asleep on her as if she were an armchair. Sister told all of us that the new Orphans’ Hope Project, spearheaded by Mission #33 traveler Barbara Dobilas, now has all of the orphans there and at El Crucero are sponsored. It was obvious that this has already had an impact on the facility.

Sarah affirmed that the conditions, including the painted gate out front, have much improved. “I couldn’t believe the 360 degree change. It warms my heart that the situation has changed.”

Dale, who was at Casa de Vida, met a cute little girl there while he was plastering a wall that Dave and his crew put up yesterday. A young woman moved her chair so that she could watch him. Rinsha echoed the gratitude that the women expressed at the end. Ali then shared that they played with the children and the Silly Bandz on their breaks. Ali asked Rinsha to let the children know that they could take some. They were a bit hesitant at first, but got really into it, playing with the Bandz. They traded the Bandz and laughing which was a complete change from the silent observing children they had first met when they arrived.

Patty told us that she took some awesome pictures today at Juan Pablo II (and, they are!!) of Liz and for Demi. Liz shared the joy she has around babies and how much she appreciated viewing the photo. Mary said her day was totally brightened when they arrived at Juan Pablo II right after La Chureca.

Cathy said that all of those babies were all good babies who are well fed and well taken care of, even though most had respiratory issues. They had the expected psychosocial development which was great to know. Sister said they delivered fruit, milk and chicken later today and wanted to enter the back, but the Sister said that they couldn’t because they had just sprayed for cockroaches. That was good news, because it was an issue the last time they were there.

Dave hinted at the high level of interaction among the people ranging from John to Bill C. That is what is so unique about this Mission. “The wisdom rests in each one of us,” said Sister.

Sister told everyone here that Bill C. has singlehandedly established a system of First Responders in this community. “It was great insight on his part – an incredible gift he has provided to the Mission,” noted Sister. Adrianne was amazed that Bill is almost 80 years old!

Closing prayer was Carey Landry’s, “Tears of God,” which Sister uses in various presentations that she makes about the Mission. It was very a propos for the various experiences travelers have had to this point.

Some of the people here did not know the ‘real’ story of the Mission of Hope, so Sister shared that after the meeting for those interested.

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