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Mission of Hope

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A-Team Gets Ready: Monday, July 25, 2011

By Bonnie Black
Eight of us left Plattsburgh just after 12pm on Saturday headed to Fort Lauderdale – our first stop on the way down. Those of us who comprise this group are: Bill Calmbacher, Angie Neyer, Lou Ann Nielson, Bev Gogola, Joan Riani, Chris Veverka, Connie Tyska and me.

Luckily, when we got to Ft. Lauderdale, SPIRIT allowed us to check our bags early, so we were ‘free’ to walk over to Terminal 3 where there is a Chili’s Restaurant. We each looked at the menu and made our decisions based on what we will be ‘missing’ while in Nica – come were hamburgers, others salads with fruit and vegetables that don’t grow in abundance in our region.

Time passed much faster with this hour plus respite so that waiting for our almost-midnight flight didn’t feel as long.

We arrived in Managua at 1am – 3am your time. When we got to NiCasa (our home here in Nica), we found that the bed linens were not on site, so we became creative using our towels, other clothing or just sleeping in the sale clothes in which we had traveled. We now have a set of linens ready for February’s A Team although we now know we are in need of about 15 more sets of linens to assure a suitcase prepared for the incoming A Team as well as one small focused mission which travels in January. So, here we start with our first ‘Wish List’ request…thanks!

Awakening early on Sunday (the sun rises ‘early’ for us North Americans) we got into the A Team mode and accomplished much on our first day here. The Kitchen is almost complete, the bedrooms are done (we walked to Victoria’s to get the linens in the afternoon, stopping for an ice cream treat on the way back!).

On Monday, we completed the bathrooms and met with some of the families receiving casitas (home shelters). They will be coming over the next 2 days for their foundation materials in preparation for our construction teams Thursday afternoon and all day Friday. We will be building 9 shelters on this trip thanks to the generous donation of our supporters.

Bev and Joan have worked diligently in the Kitchen not only setting up, but also assuring that all of A Team gets their 3 meals a day…so important as we acclimate to this environment. Yes, we have had a short stint of 90+ days up north, but it is draining when it is consistently 95-100 PLUS almost 100% humidity (that’s the difference between the Feb and the Aug missions). We have ceiling fans inside the facility, but when we are in small rooms moving cartons to accept the delivery of our container items, for instance, it can get sweltering and draining.

Lou, Connie, Angie, Bill and Chris got the bedrooms in fantastic shape and now have all of the labels on the beds for the rest of Mission 42 when they arrive. They also prepared the index cards (for the ‘wish list’ of preferred activities) as well as the envelopes for the currency exchange.

General setup around the facility is coming along nicely and we will be ready to accept the first arrival on Tuesday afternoon before the main group in the evening.

We discovered that the compost bin that we built in February is now non-existent, so that will have to be added to our ‘To Do’ list for this trip. We will speak with the guards, first, to see if there were a good reason to take it down (animals, etc).

We actually ran out of water mid-morning and contemplated collecting rainwater in order to shower and boil. About 2:30pm, the skies broke with torrential rains. We had set one of our blue bathroom barrels under the spout from the roof gutters and found any possible container that could hold water. THEN, Rene (today’s guard) came over and showed us there was municipal water coming out of the garden spigot. Well, that meant that we had used the stored water and nothing had bee replenishing it. After a few people tried opening the one spigot we saw and no water was going into the large water tank, he showed us another one in the ground. But, he and we did not know if it were already open or not. THEN…he showed us a third ground spigot. Now we were totally confused as we played with various combinations of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ and weren’t getting anywhere. SO…we called Chico on the phone. Chico has been doing almost all of the construction here, so he came over, showed us which spigot position was opened – we marked 2 of the three (the last had a beetle family living in it and I wasn’t going into it to clear the dirt to mark it). So, now we know, it is marked and we have it on our ‘To Do’ list for Opening NiCasa as well as closing. Something new learned every day here!

We are ready for everyone now. Just the food shopping in the morning and a short trip to pick up a few missing items and we will be ready to welcome our first companion just after Noon. Mission #42 is about to begin…

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