Wednesday, August 11, 2010
By Bonnie Black
Last night just before ‘lights out’ when Victoria, our laundress, stopped by with our cleaned clothes, a few people had a conversation with her. She let us know how grateful she is that the Mission comes twice a year and uses her services because it puts food on her table for about 6 weeks. That’s hard to fathom when she only charges 5 cordobas per piece – that’s a little less than a quarter. Another story of never-ending poverty in this country.
This morning, everyone went over to our new facility to hold the last morning meeting of Mission #37 which is the first morning meeting in our new home. Yamilette Flores had arrived overnight and was able to join us for the meeting. We decided that this was momentous enough of an occasion that we took a group photo showing everyone who has been on this mission as well as most of the Flores family who gave the impetus for Mission of Hope to be created.
Dale read the parable of the Lost Sheep which stresses the value of One. He noted that we appreciated things here that we usually overlook at home. Sister asked us to take time today to appreciate the Single – the One – and asked our Creator to help us see the world through those eyes. “We will, today, be the history of the future here at this site,” she said. She noted this has been a hard working group during an intense mission schedule.
“It’s also about letting go,” she continued. “But take the time to enjoy – allow God to come into your heart enjoying the beauty, the natural and the market later today. We have very few hours left together.”
Then, she introduced her song of the morning by noting, “This is the moment, but there is always a someday.” With that, we listened to “Some Day” by Celtic Woman. The lyrics that resonated to me were: ‘Someday, life will be fairer, need will be rarer…someday soon.’
Sister then asked Oscar, Yamilette and Ilona to step forward where all could see them. Sister told us again how 23 years ago there was a family that had to flee this country – and that family prayed there would be a someday.
Yamilette then said that thousands have walked through our clinics, we have fed hundreds rice & beans, and to many, Nicaragua has become our second home. “This is the someday – the dream. We are closing one chapter and opening another. I never thought we would come this far. When I spoke with Eve McGill, I thought if 10 people joined up to come help, it might be too many. After speaking with Sister Debbie, about 80 Seton Catholic students were anxious to come here. It was such a joy,” she continued, “that so many wanted to come here. It is ours – it is yours now. You have given your time and energy – you are now Nicaraguans like we are. I can’t believe we have come this far. I thought if we got to 2 years, 2 trips, we would be successful.”
Yamilette than concluded, “Sharing the beauty of the country, sharing the beauty of the people and all Nicaragua has to offer, we are proud of being Nicaraguan and also American.”
Ilona then spoke, “Thanks to all – those who are here for the first time and those who return, especially with family. You have made this a memorable time and I have been taken aback by how much you give.”
Speaking last, Oscar said that sometimes it is hard to communicate in words due to difference in language. “The older people, and sometimes the government, don’t focus on the individual person, but Mission creates hope. One concern moving to the US [23 years ago] was leaving family here – but how lucky we are because our family is bigger. Thank you so much.”
Sister Debbie said that she believes in gestures so she asked all of us to physically touch the doors of the Clinic giving hope and respite to all who will pass through the doors beginning next Monday. Everyone did so and then took a tour of the completed clinic space. The only aspects that need completion over the next week or so are the installation of small sinks in each of the exam rooms and creating ventilation from the pharmacy space into the reception area.
At 8am, a small group left in the van for Masaya Volcano National Park which opened at 9am. The Park comprises an area of 54 km² and includes two volcanoes and five craters. They spent some time at the active volcano itself with a few venturing to the top of a walkway that ends with a large cross overlooking Managua. The volcanoes have erupted several times in history, and were feared by both the indigenous people and the Spanish conquerors. The Spanish baptized the active volcano, "La Boca del Infierno" or "The Mouth of Hell." They planted a cross, "La Cruz de Bobadilla" (named after Father Francisco Bobadilla), on the crater lip in the 16th century in order to exorcise the Devil.
The eruptions have had a dramatic impact on the surroundings. Rocks and volcanic ashes still cover the area surrounding the volcanoes. The nature is rough, yet peaceful. Different types of vegetation appeared after the eruptions. The park is also inhabited by many different kinds of animals. The park's wildlife includes coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkeys as well as the various insects that live above the tree line near the mouth of the volcano.
That group then lunched at El Ranchito Vieja before going to the Masaya Market.
Around 8:30am, the rest of our group (except for Sister Debbie, Sister Stephanie, Liz, Ali, Rinsha and Bill M.) headed to the City of Managua to learn a little history and experience a new opportunity: a 50-minute cruise on Lake Managua. We stopped at Dennis Martinez Stadium, the Museum of the Home of student martyr Julio Buitrago Urroz, the Plaza of the Revolution and the park around it, the Peace Plaza, then on to Puerto Salvatore Allende for the boat cruise.
Our group lunched at Cocina de Dona Haydee in the upstairs dining room where all could be seated at one table. Afterward, we had the chance to go to Roberto Huembes Mercado named after a martyr of the Revolution who was killed in 1977. We met up with Jonan who helps us to get to the most vendors with the best deals in the shortest period of time.
While we were all gone, Bill M. moved every computer monitor and all of the wiring shipped down on the container into NiCarlos, but the bad news is we could not find 6 of the many towers we shipped. Even with the monitoring that we have through CARITAS for our goods, it seems that not everything makes it every time.
Sister Debbie, Mauricio and Liz went to the mattress factory to look for specific sizes that Casa de Vida needs for their beds…and then found the mattresses were not wide enough even though they were the correct length. After discussion on the phone, we decided to take 13 of the foam mattresses we have at NiCasa which can be shortened and deliver them to Casa de Vida. The 13 mattresses which fit only cots that were bought at the factory are going to El Crucero for the children’s beds.
They then dropped off the medicines we had promised to Juan Pablo II afterward. When they arrived, Angel was in the front wearing Demi’s sunglasses from the other day – guess he really liked them!
I went off to return the van to the airport while everyone began to enjoy our traditional Pizza Night sponsored by Sister Stephanie’s family and Whirley Industries for whom Sister’s nephew worked. Shawn was on one of the first missions and is the only traveler who has passed away at this point in time.
At the closing meeting tonight, Liz Hill shared a story about Karen, her friend – the person she met here on her first mission when she was 12 and Liz was 14 (now they are 19 and 21, respectively). Both of them are in university and study economics, but Karen said she was her friend for life. Liz then noticed Karen’s toes poking out of the ends of sneakers because they were too small. So Liz asked her to try on her shoes that she had these shoes for 4-5 years. She plays soccer for the university she attends and doesn’t have any other shoes. So, Liz suggested that they switch shoes to see whose feet were bigger. Liz’s shoes were just about right, so Liz said she could have them. Karen insisted that she pay her back although she couldn’t right now. So, she tied a bracelet around Liz’s wrist and said, “I want this back when I pay you for the shoes.” THAT is friendship!
Ross shared that he got the sponsorship of Renya, the little girl he had hoped for, at Angels of Hope Orphanage in El Crucero! He had told many about her the day he got back from El Crucero and he knew the minute she smiled at him that he wanted to sponsor her.
Mary thanked all for making this mission so great. Chris H. said she was so pleased with how well the youth and adults blended and got along.
Mission is different from other mission groups as we have youth as young as 15 on this mission to 79 – and everyone works and everyone shares and participates.
Sister mentioned the discussion already going on among Leadership Team members regarding retaining the name ‘NiCasa’ as we transition to our new location.
Rinsha led us in the closing prayer for Mission #37 followed by ‘Closing Time’ by Green Day. She said that Sister tends to give thanks to everyone else and that we need to take time give her credit for all that she handles while we are here on Mission. We all need to keep each other in our prayers and, as Sister says, our Mission truly begins when we get home.
When the meeting was over, everyone headed in to complete their packing for their 3am wakeup call coming quickly.