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Mission of Hope

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Daily Journal: Friday, July 29, 2011

By Bonnie Black
Another healthy, bountiful breakfast was prepared by our Kitchen Crew for today: Sister Stephanie, Heather, Stefanie and Charles. Our BBB was staffed by Sarena, Jeanne, Ross & Chris.

At our morning meeting, we were happy to see the owners of Finca La Francia arrived with the coffee we ordered yesterday…and we gave them another order! This delicious organically grown coffee is a treat we can share with many of you when we return.

Sister then explained what Anna will be doing once she arrives back here in November as a CMMB volunteer for the Mission. Pre-selected by CMMB, they matched Anna with us based on our current experience with our initial CMMB volunteer, Mariel. Anna will be doing community outreach and clinic work here in Chiquilistagua. She will be living in the single room now complete (except for the painting, but that should be done by Sunday) while she is here for a year. We have guards on duty 24/7, so there is not a safety issue. Most of what she will be doing is within walking distance, so transportation will not be something we have to take into consideration. Already having spent a year outside of David, Panama, she is used to this type of living situation. “We’re still growing with this,” commented Sister. Of course, she will provide the Mission with a monthly written report as well as participate in our monthly Leadership Team meetings via Skype.

Morning prayer was led by Ashley who played the song, “Hope” by Faith Evans. It was a different style than usual (rap) but had a good message to carry with us today: “I am hopeful, yes I am hopeful for today, take this music and use it to take you away. Be hopeful and make your way – I know , it ain’t easy, but that’s OK, ‘cause I’m hopeful.”

Bill C. and Judy headed over to Niño Jesus de Praga to do Vision Screening on 8-year-olds only to find that there is no school in the Managua area today due to a Teachers’ Conference in the city! So, they had a nice talk with Sister Rosa who confirmed that Mass is at 9am on Sunday. Upon their return, they joined the painting team of Jeanne and Sarena.

Charles and Stephanie turned the soil in our former compost bin area to accept our current compost. The posts and wire will be built before we leave. What we learned was the guards had used the wood and wire to complete the perimeter fence while we were gone. So, it goes. ;~)

A painting crew headed up to Angels of Hope Orphanage in El Crucero this morning to work on the younger girls’ dorm…and play with the children. Bill M. took along Chris, Bev, Colleen, Sam, Anna, Liz, Stephen and Lou. Many have orphans they sponsor, was it was planned that they would be the crew.

Joan and Mary worked on finalizing the Sponsor gifts for Sunday. It is a hard and tedious job because the gifts that came in with incomplete student names and no designation for which school take time to research. These are the gifts that came in at the deadline and could not be processed completely by our hardworking volunteers at MOHTown. This is my personal note – not speaking for the Mission: I would hope all of us who are sponsors could be more planful getting envelopes and/or gifts to MOHTown or via mail at least 60 days prior to the scheduled trips. So, for the February trip, if they could arrive no later than mid-December it would be great. For the summer mission, everything could ideally be in Plattsburgh no later than mid-May. All of us are volunteers and it in my ideal world (I know, it doesn’t exist, but I can dream, right?) every gift and envelope would be able to be processed completely, put into suitcases in alphabetical order by complete student name and then we would have people on-the-ground would have the completed printed list to give the schools in order to get the message to the students and their families that they have something special from you. Thanks for letting me vent a bit ;~)

At 8am, Brendee and Alex got to go to Pajarito Azul for the morning bringing with them two youth Nebulizer masks that were requested of yesterday’s team. It is always so nice to be able to meet a need – guess that’s why we’re here.

Our morning Rice & Beans delivery was again paired with Medical Outreach guided by Maritsa: Ashley, Dan, Connie, Cathy, Angie and Alix. After they came back in, everyone either refilled for this afternoon’s crew and took an inventory of materials or they joined the other groups around the house.

Darcy, Ross, and Missy were on our first Home Crew that actually went out today. The first house was built from Franklin Academy funds for Pedro Argeñal and Zulma Fonseca in Cedro Galan where all three were constructed this morning. The second was built with funds from Wanda Sweeney in memory of her late husband, Ronald, for Kenner Portobanco and Marisela Laguna; the third was built with funds from former Missioner Brian Mulcahy and his wife, Linda, for Zulema Tellez.

This afternoon, our second Home Shelter crew was Judy, Sarena, Mary and Dan. The first house this afternoon was donated by St. John’s Parish in Morristown (NY) and St. Peter’s in Hammond (NY). This house of the afternoon was built for Ana Elisa Muñoz Hernandez in Monte Verde. The second home was donated by Jeffrey Fewlass for Walter Morales and Abigail Castro also of Monte Verde. We never got to build a third due to the torrential downpour this afternoon.

Our yardwork crew this afternoon was Alix, Ashley, Jeanne, Brendee and Angie who completed the compost bin for our property near the moringa trees.

Painting around here was Darcy, Alex, Connie and Bill C. They started the first room of the Moore Suite getting the priming done everywhere they could. We ran out of masking tape, so the small space near the ceiling will be completed then. We will begin the second room of the Suite tomorrow.

This afternoon’s Rice & Beans trekkers were to be Cathy, Ross, Joan and Missy…but, Maritsa was a ‘no show’ and we don’t know why. That’s the first time she or the other women have not come when they had agreed to. So, they found other things to do!

Barbara and Liz accompanied Sister from mid-morning through the afternoon.

At our evening meeting Sister went over the ‘basic’ info from each work area for updates. Once we were done with that information, we began the sharing portion of the meeting (we the part really look forward to).

Sister began thanking Heather and Sister Stephanie for working in the kitchen instead of transferring off the Kitchen Crew to their sponsored orphans.

Her first meeting this morning after El Crucero was at MINSA where, after presenting all of the information asked for yesterday, was told different information was needed. And, in addition, MINSA insisted that our clinic doctor couldn’t practice in this country. Interesting, because she has her degree and license from here!

The next meeting was as CARITAS where Johanna told Sister that the information about the CARITAS was incorrect from MINSA. “You are now one of our clinics and you may continue as you have been,” she told Sister. CARITAS will provide a letter for presentation to MINSA, which we will also post in the clinic. She also suggested that CMMB ship through CARITAS rather than ANF. The container is still being held and MINSA is not open on Monday, so…..

They then spoke with CARITAS about the HIV orphans, ages 18 months to 18 years. Some are true orphans, some have parent but cannot be taken care of. They were blessed with the opportunity this afternoon to meet with 8 of the orphans and was able to give the CV Quilters’ Guild the quilts she had brought with her. She had 7 quilts with her so was able to provide each, except the infant, with one a pieces. There IS a greater plan!

She said that this was her ‘mission moment’ for this trip and told them that we would be praying for them and asked that they pray for the Mission, in turn.

Liz added that the happiness abounded – it won’t be visible in the photos, as due to confidentiality (just like in the US) we cannot take their identifiable pictures. So, it is our responsibility to share the story back home. Barbara told us of an 8-year-old she tried to speak with who had very old eyes. “Anything we can do to make this portion of Orphans’ Hope Project a success, will be so important,” said Barbara. Sister said they also saw bags of rice, beans and dry milk and a small bottle of cooking oil.

They then purchased the rugs, the masking tape, the food items from the store…all in the pouring rain.

Alex and were at Parajito Azul where she spent time with Angel, a little child that Josh had worked with on the February trip.

Charles shared from yesterday that he thanks Ross for ‘saving his life’ while sorting the long, heavy wood that he picked up somewhat off the center. “I was just so perplexed on how he got into that position,” said Ross.

Charles made a medallion for Heather out of her water bottle that exploded as she dipped into the water to sterilize it.

Joan thanked Mary for her assistance with the sponsor gifts today in all the confusion that was the result of the gifts being handed to her – even as of this morning out of suitcases.

Alix commented on the Medical Outreach/Rice & Beans this morning. She had some Silly Bandz and was ‘attacked’ – but she loved it. They also taught her some Spanish today which she really appreciated.

Angie commented on my position in a wheely cart and folding chair trying to get the internet functioning…and Connie took a video – with commentary!

Connie and Angie played a (plastic) scorpion trick on Darcy…a wonderfully screaming moment!

Cathy commented on the outreach this morning, “It was delightful!” An entourage of kids followed them everywhere as there was no school today. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Ashley was pleased that they got to see some of the kids from Niño she got to know last time and she was so pleased with the development in their ability to speak English.

Barbara was pleased to see the progress – like a packed refrigerator – on yesterday’s visit. Madre Griselda is making a positive impact. “The children were the best part of the trip, as always,” she said. The children asked her about when the Mission was coming and they were so excited to know that we were coming up today. She will be able to bring a little note up to children tomorrow when she goes up to spend another overnight with them before leaving.

Bill M. shared that he has been on many missions with all of their challenges. Today, he and Chris were cutting through the chains to install a swing and 2 teenage girls were on each side of Chris telling him how ‘mucho bonita’ he is! The oldest boy is 8 right now, so…!

Barbara also told us that the older boys stay up on the farm, but recently two of the boys ran away after selling the ox and the goats from under the nuns. Desperation drives people of all ages to do desperate things.

Stephen was painting at the orphanage, too, noting the mildew on the walls and the horrid condition of the bathroom. Anna noted that Sam and Stephen cleaned the bathroom. Barbara noted that the used portions of the orphanage are very clean, but those not in use are not tended to. Sam said she knew children would be moving into the room now that it is painted, so she and Stephen knew they had to prepare it for them. “It’s not important to fill the bucket, but rather to put the drops in the bucket,” said Sister.

Jeanne thanked Sarena for her assistance in BBB today and for doing such a great job.

Stephen noted that the almost silent nun with Sister Ligia, became a little chatterbox when Sister Ligia got up to meet with Dr. Lopez and Anna.

Anna met with Dr. Lopez from the JR Foundation for about an hour after dinner. We found that his expertise is working with the abandoned elderly – so we matched him with Sister Ligia! He is now going to sponsor one of their nuns to be certified in caring for the elderly who can also be a trainer for others.

Sister then asked everyone to put a word or phrase into their journals about where each of us is in our Mission journey for this trip. We are now more than halfway through Mission #42 – which surprised a few when she mentioned it.

Full of thoughts, still so much to see, immensely blessed, starting to create a home for others, grateful all we have, more grateful, I am home, moving forward, continuing to make a difference, hopeful that things will be better, touched, not ready to go home, here & now, drained – overjoyed-full-disgusted, never happier, hopeful, part of the Hope circle, overwhelmed, exposure, maintaining perspective, fulfilled.

Closing prayer was led by Stephen, Mary and Alix tonight. Alix read us a prayer card that she carries with her, as does each of the members of her family – a blessing of St. Francis. We then listened to “Someday” by Celtic Woman. A mission favorite for some of us veterans.

Right after our meeting we had pineapple treats made by Karla, the woman sponsored by Marty Mannix (a former missioner) to go to pastry school. Then, Jeanne and Alex left for the airport as Josh, our last member, is joining us this evening. Mission #42 will be all together for a few hours this evening and tomorrow morning as Barbara will be spending all of Saturday and Sunday at Angels of Hope and then leaving early Monday morning. And so, we are winding down…

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