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Mission of Hope

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Daily Journal: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

By Bonnie Black
Although yesterday was a long day of travel for most, most everyone was in the Kitchen having breakfast by 6am. Sister had said that we would delay the morning meeting, but the excitement of being here, in this new facility, had everyone up and ready for the day.

We started our morning meeting at 7:45am, with Sister listing the appointments she had today and various tasks that had to be done. Everyone seems pleased with the facility – especially the veterans who have known other living environments. “It is now your home,” stated Sister. She also spoke about why we need to live sparsely regarding our resources: water and electricity. Marta, sister of Yami, uses less and less electricity due to the cost. Yami had recently told Sister that the rates will be going up another 45% soon. “So the poor are going to get poorer and have less access,” noted Sister.

To give an idea of the desperation, a family that has been helped for years by the Mission, currently has shoes without tops, the children have outgrown their clothes, the husband is disabled and the mother is trying hard to feed her family – they eat once every 3 days. “So that tells us how desperate even people we know are right now,” she said.

She said we need to be sensitized to wasting less and to be conscious we are all of this earth and we are one human family. “We cannot trample our family,” she noted.

We reviewed the whiteboard with the various assignments. “The board is not about our needs, it is about the needs of the Mission, so we have to be flexible,” said Sister.

Connie reviewed the safety and medical concerns that we all need to be aware of while we are here – either on or off the facility. Lou then addressed the process for accepting fruit or other food from people in the community.

Sister then read an email from Sarah Scardillo, one of our veterans: “I know that you are probably just landing in Managua and I am very jealous. Being a college student doesn’t allow me such freedoms,” she explained.

She hopes the Mission accomplishes everything it is setting out to do and more. She is praying each missioner is touched forever and asked Sister to read the lyrics of the song, “For Good” as our opening morning prayer.

She then went on to say, “Betsy and I were talking about we desperately wished we could be with you on mission…so here are a few reflections. I heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason bringing something you must learn. I know I am who I am today because I met you. So let me say, before we part, so much of me is a part of you. And now, whatever way our stories end, I know that because I knew you, I have been changed. Love and blessings –stay safe. Love, Sarah”

We were then introduced to the people who will be assisting us on the Mission #42: Mauricio Flores (our administrator in Nica), Rene and Chico (our drivers) and Fabricio (our translator). When the meeting ended, we headed to our orientation (led by the A Team) and then on to our morning assignments.

Our BBB Crew for today was Bill C. with Daniel for the Men and Connie with Alix for the Women. Lest you think this is a ‘light duty’, they are constantly monitoring the facilities to assure that we stay safe and healthy!

Our Kitchen Crew was Bev, Sr. Stephanie, Chris and Lou. They had some of A Team help with the breakfast (Bev, Lou, Angie, Bill C and Chris) and then they moved into preparing a delicious lunch for us. Of course, with the rest of the team coming here around 1:30, their ‘lunch hour’ needed to be extremely flexible.

Cleaning the yard and removing a large mound of dirty to be fill for the ramp out back were Brendee, Chris (yes, his Kitchen Crew chief allowed him to work in the backyard) and Darcy. They shoveled and wielded wheelbarrows for a good portion of the morning. Daniel joined them after he did his BBB obligation.

A group went to Pajarito Azul (the Disability Center) to spend time with the residents and staff: Heather, Jeanne, Judy, Connie, Angie, Joan and Mary.

Bill C. spent some time organizing supplies for our First Responders. For those of you who don’t know, Bill single-handedly had the dream and implemented it with now over 30 First Responders in the area. He will also be coordinating Red Cross certification on this trip for those who are interested. Such a wonderfully empowering project!

Missy, Alexa and Barbara prepared almost all of the rice and beans from the 50 pound and 100 pound bags for our ventures out into the community which began this afternoon.

Around 11, I headed to the airport to meet Sister as the rest of the group (minus one to come on Friday)…and the luggage.

We were successful in getting everyone here who was scheduled to be here as of today and all but 3 suitcases – 2 of those 3 are being held by MINSA (the Ministry of Health) awaiting some specific paperwork. So, in all, only 1 is really missing. Pretty good for the extremely rough start.

Our first Rice & Beans went out with Maritsa, our guide, this afternoon: Barbara, Samantha, Darcy, Daniel, Alix, Judy, Stephen and Anna. Beginning the site prep for painting later this week was Heather, Jeanne, Mary, Alexa, Brendee, Missy and Ashley. They were organized!

(Finally) beginning the sorting of suitcases we brought down and got here around 1pm were Joan, Connie and Cathy.

Working in our yard were Colleen, Stefanie, Charles, Serena and Ross continuing the progress on what the morning group had begun. They stopped at 3pm as there were many children ready to come in and play! Everyone left the yard a bit early due to the torrential rains that were just beginning around 3:45…but, a great time was had by all who were involved.

When we gathered for our evening meeting, Sister noted meeting changes that occurred during her day with Mauricio that will be affecting the pre-scheduled plan…as we all know who have been here ;~)

We began this evening’s meeting with the story of how we all got to be here, all together…except the one person who has been scheduled to join us on Friday evening. Sister said she was very grateful to Ground Force 1 for the flexibility and accommodations on Tuesday morning – they are the only reason that this Mission is more than 10 people strong!

Chris explained the index card ‘wish list’ so all will get at least one of their hopes and Sister told everyone about the various options. Then Sister reminded us all about the Mission dress code and guidelines for leaving the facility whether to work or to go to the corner for an ice cream.

There are 3 families to thank for our treats at the evening meeting this week: the Sullivans, the Hammonds and Brenda Flynn – a fellow veteran traveler.

Sister told us that Sister Karla as well as Sister Ligia will be here within the next day or so. They are such a blessing to interact with and we all enjoy their presence. And if Sister Karla brings her guitar – oh, what melodious music.

We passed around the stars and the list to assure everyone has their current color on their badge and heard where our designated meeting places are to be…’just in case.’ Then the various Point Persons gave a few heads-up notes for the coming day’s events.

One of the things that Sister did today was price various sizes of hammocks and rockers and we had a signup sheet to make our choices for what we will want to bring home next week.

As the week goes on, more and more people will have things to share of their day’s experiences – joyful or tearful. It is the sharing that bonds the team on a variety of levels.

Tonight Sister began with a prayer, reminding us that we are all in a different place on our spiritual journey. Part of our task as human beings is to take the journey – whichever road we choose.

“Some of us cannot name our Guide, others can. When we come to this circle, we are respectful of al” she said.

We then each received two items: a balloon and a string along with a prayer sheet which included a photo of 2 children who live in La Chureca. First we took our balloons and stretched them. She had us think how we need to stretch to be filled, like the balloon. This will be each of us, as we grow during our Mission experience. We then inhaled and exhaled a few times, finally taking a moment to breathe in the air of Nicaragua which is representative of those whom we serve – those who suffer, who love and laugh, our orphan children, our sponsored students, the home shelters we will build. We breathed in a piece of their reality. Then we took the balloon and filled it with our own breath. A piece of each of us is in the balloon – our soul, our spirit. In fact, in both Hebrew and Christian scriptures, ruah, means breath/life/spirit.

We then looked at the balloon and we thought about what and who we pray for this coming week and what gifts we each brought to this Mission, in particular. As the week goes on, we may find our balloons deflating. That is symbolic, as our breath is being released from the balloon it becomes joined with the breath of the people of Nicaragua. Sister then instructed us to tie them to our beds – for future use in a meeting.

“Think about your balloon, your mystery of life, your breath,” she said. We then listened and sang along with a song by Jan Novotka, “Breath of the One Life.” Most retained the sheet and it is now sitting their personal journals.

“You’ve all been given breath to share this week,” and we reflected on the family members who are no longer with us – their spirits are within us and around our circle. We thought of those who have recently passed, since we have come together to become Mission #42.

We then reflected on the faces of the 2 girls. “Their breath, their hope an all of the people of Nicaragua rests with each of us. Our breath, our hope also rests with them. Breathe deeply of the Mission of Hope this week. Take time to be still – be aware of the great source of life, because you WILL be changed, mingling your breath, your life, your spirit with those who need you.”

And, with that, we ended our first full day of Mission #42.

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