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Mission of Hope

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

By Bonnie Black

A bright and sunny morning greeted all of us who are now together as Mission #37. Of course, the rooter next door thought that 1:30am was sunrise, but most of us were tired enough that we slept until the ‘real’ dawn or afterward.

We began with a later breakfast so that those who arrived late last night could catch a few more winks, but all were up and about by 6am eating their first Nicasa breakfast. The Kitchen Crew for today was Sister Stephanie, Brenda Flynn, Sarah Scardillo and Betsy Sullivan. They provided not only a nutritious breakfast (Bill Calmbacher and Joan Riani has actually gotten it all started) but also a great lunch for all of us. There was no one truly ‘off site’ this morning as we were concentrating on moving pharmaceutical supplies and medical equipment from our current clinic space at Nino Jesus de Praga over to our new facility around the corner. Working on the Pharmacy all day long were Connie Tyska and Cathy Hill with Ali Pellerin helping in the morning and Liz Hill in the afternoon.

Moving the supplies for the clinic exam rooms and reception area were Bill Calmbacher, Kyle Binion, Samantha Banker, Ali Pellerin, John Selkirk.

An often unnoticed daily task is what we call, “BBB” for the bathrooms, bedrooms and whatever else beyond that needs doing to keep us clean and hygienic! Today’s team was Joan Riani, Liz Hill, Izzy Selkirk and Stephen Witkiewicz.

Adrianne Longino had the pleasure of meeting of the family representatives who will be recipients of the home shelters donated by many of our Mission supporters back home. We will be constructing 8 over the next 2 days and all showed up today with trucks and oxen carts to get all of their supplies which Adrianne dutifully recorded. The foundations will be put in today so that they are in place before the community/Mission team arrives tomorrow and Saturday.

Bill Murray and Dave Slater worked a bit this morning getting the internet up here so that I will be able to send the daily ‘news’ and photos. Thanks, guys!

With only 21 suitcases brought in last night, the sorting this morning went very quickly. It was the tedious process of the sponsor gifts that took all day – and there weren’t even that many! I guess what would work a bit better in the future (and you’d think we would have this down after 11 years!) is for everyone to follow a complete format: Sponsor Name, Child’s Name, School Name. That would allow the recording and tracking of the information in both New York and in Nicaragua to flow smoothly. This morning, Rinsha Ballani, Chris Hammond and Izzy Selkirk began with the suitcases then went over to our new facility where some from the last container shipment were stored and brought those boxes back here. Then, Joan Riani and Chris Hammond worked the rest of the day merging information on envelopes and packages to the known student list at each school in order to produce a list for Magaly Velasquez who will contact the families about the day/time and the fact they have something here from one of you!

On the sorting crew this morning were Demi Pellerin, Patty Gouldin, Megan Richards, Anne Selkirk and Mary Sullivan. Stephen Witkiewicz who was supposed to be on the sorting crew, got to take a ‘mystery ride’ with Sister Debbie, Mauricio Flores and Jesse Crosier who is down here for an extended summer of anthropological research for college and joined us today. They priced items for the various places we serve along which took them to the Oriental Market where you can buy most everything for anything.

An extremely exciting job that began this morning was applying the sealant to the new facility exterior preparing it for its initial paint coat tomorrow. The rain held off until late afternoon which allowed Allen Pellerin and his crew of Chris Gebhardt, Ross Barber, Colleen Hammond and (in the afternoon) Dale Selkirk to get most of it done.

Setting up the new clinic exam rooms this afternoon were Bill Calmbacher, Rinsha Ballani, Adrianne Longino and John Selkirk. Working at leveling the land next to the new facility in preparation for planting later this week were Bill Murray, Liz Hill, Ali Pellerin, Izzy Selkirk and Dave Slater.

Patty Gouldin began the database of the various medicines in the current pharmacy and began merging it with the medicines we brought with us. This was tedious but VERY important job as we move to the new facility and hire a new doctor beginning next week.

Our first truly off-site experience was Rice & Beans this afternoon with Magaly Velasquez taking Demi Pellerin, Stephen Witkiewicz, Kyle Binion, Megan Richards, Sam Banker, Mary Sullivan and Anne Selkirk walking around the immediate area here in Chiquilistagua. The next few days should be out farther when we have access to a truck.

This afternoon, the ‘level crew’ went through the grassland in back of our new facility to assure there isn’t anything left that could damage the lawnmower – and then they joined the sealant crew.

So, that’s most of today’s assignments, but after dinner and limited play time with the local children, we had our first evening meeting where we shared our first day’s experiences.

It was beginning to rain, so we moved our group into the Kitchen/Dining Room – it was great because there certainly weren’t any bugs!

Sister began by telling us about the local coffee plantation here in Chiquilistagua which is again offering us the opportunity to get organic, naturally grown coffee to bring home with us next week. He has a wonderful family-owned facility that has been in his family for generations which houses his employees in a just manner – even gives them Sunday off!

A few kudos went around regarding some of the great team efforts in all aspects of our first day’s jobs. Allen mentioned that more got done than originally planned – which is great because a tropical depression is moving in over the weekend. Our original plans are already adjusting even further due to some information we learned at El Crucero this afternoon. Tomorrow will be Casa de Vida instead!

We covered more ‘business’ including the ‘Good Housekeeping Award’ for the BBB tasks which will be given out periodically by an A Team member throughout the week!

“This Mission is quite unique,” shared Sister Debbie, “for you are preparing the future of our Mission.” She spoke about how we may think that moving medical equipment and medicines from our current facility to our new one, perhaps someone may think, “Is this why I came?” She reminded us that the week will unfold and the beauty of

Stephen told us of his first visit on the ‘mystery tour’ to the Oriental Market which is the largest open air market in Central and South America. This is the market that burned to the ground – half of it – just a couple of years ago. “It was like driving through a sea of people,” said Sister. Then they went to CARITAS to assure that everything except for a few small items for San Jose Hospital to pick up tomorrow.

This afternoon Bill Murray went on a trip to El Crucero with Sister to review what the situation is this week regarding the construction issues. Sister mentioned that the situation of where the nuns are living is heart-wrenching. A section of the roof is lying on the ground exposing the asbestos in the laundry area. There are still 3 ill sisters and many sick young children at this moment in time. The nuns are absolutely committed to the orphans and are in an emotional situation having their founder/Mother Superior die this year. They are going through a Chapter by the end of the year which will render a decision regarding the permanent situation there. They have known nothing else except of where they are and this is all being called into question. One desperate thing that the girls need are lockers or something into which they can put their few belongings and clothes. If there are any closing schools or facilities that will not be using their current lockers in the next few months – or if some are being replaced – the Mission would be grateful to receive them at our storage facility so we could ship it on a container in late September. Sister told us that it was the only moment of her day at which she was fighting back the tears – feeling so overwhelmed…and she knew she could leave in a few hours.

Patti shared that her sister died tragically a few months ago and that is the reason she is here. Although she never left this spot today, at one point in the afternoon Rinsha had invited Patti out front and spoke to the one girl in the courtyard – and her name was Rosemary. What a sign that her sister is here with her!

Dave found out that the student he sponsors has a sibling that is sponsored by Rinsha – so he has a built in translator when they get together next week to present gifts. Dave told us that last Mission there were some former students of his wife’s who asked her what she wanted; she replied with the usual list of school supplies. They asked her to think about what she WANTED; she teared up and said she wanted a ball. So, he has brought along a ball for her and will be able to give the second to Rinsha for ‘her’ Linda, the sister of his little person. As a matter of fact, Rinsha and he feel like they will be a ‘whole family’ when they present the balls to ‘their’ children.

From those who went out on Rice & Beans, Mary told us it was interesting and quite meaningful. She saw such clean, pristine students this morning, but got to see their home environments this afternoon. Anne said that she learned that when you are walking, you shouldn’t take too many bags – thanks to her fellow missioners who lightened her load. Megan enjoyed the smiles on the children’s faces to whom they gave the little toys.

Allen reported that this morning when he was doing the Orientation, he spotted his sponsored student – with her two missing front teeth! She gave him a big smile and he enjoyed the instant ‘connection’ to her…something he will cherish.

Also during Orientation, Adrianne recognized a student she saw last year (sponsored by the Dumonts) whose little brother she sponsors. That was today’s moment for her. She had a lot of time this morning watching the oxen as owners loaded the carts with the piedras and noted how they weren’t truly pets or animals, but transportation for their families.

We closed our first meeting with Demi and Ali presenting everyone with a reflection key chain and a card which had a quote, “Get acquainted with what you know and what you can do.” Ali noted that if we each take a time out of our day to reflect on that, it will be a powerful thing. They chose the 9 words which represent the correlated colored beads on the key chain: Hope, Safe Travels, Family, Friendship, Teamwork, Action, Gratefulness, Prayer and Sacrifice. A wonderful thoughtful gesture for each of us to reflect on not only during this week, but when we return home.

Most spent the rest of the evening in a few groups of newly-found friends really getting to know each other better while Sarah and Betsy created the assignments for tomorrow: Day 2 of Mission #37.


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You are all amazing people!! I wish I had the strength of body, heart & mind to be able to accomplish all you do in your missions!! God Bless you and the people you are helping! Safe trip~~

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