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Mission of Hope

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Daily Journal: Thursday, February 23, 2012 (Evening Edition)

By Bonnie Black
Our afternoon, as you had a hint of, was very fluid. Those of us who have been here before know that this is not exactly unique.

We began to make a real dent on the carton sorting. You see, a few months ago we sent a shipping container full of items of which most were directly distributed through CARITAS to the needy hospitals with which we work. Everything that we disperse directly, though (like educational supplies, etc) is brought here and put into the two storage rooms at either end of the facility. Those rooms were packed tightly upon our arrival and one of our goals is to leave the rooms empty, assuring that all of the donations make it to their designated locations. Joy C. – our Carton Queen – had her crew again moving boxes into staging areas for transportation out of here tomorrow with the various work crews (we have many scheduled for Friday!). Tomorrow morning Sr. Ligia coming with a truck around 11am to pick up the supplies designated for her three facilities. That will make a big dent in one of the storage rooms.

Playtime again was filled with joyous sounds and lots of activity. Joan had different games set out for today – one of which was beadmaking so the children had new bracelets and necklaces. That seemed to be a hit. Many other children and our youth were coloring, making each other pictures and sharing the joy of just being kids. Of course, there is always a soccer ball and now a football in play!

Our evening meeting began at its scheduled time – yeah! Our daily tasks were reviewed and then Sister asked if we knew of anyone who could provide a scholarship for a 12-year-old who is unable to attend a regular school because he is deaf; he is waiting for an operation for him to be able to obtain functional hearing aids; the support would be at the same rate of $140 as other scholarships…and James immediately raised his hand.

She then noted a girl who is in secondary school studying at UCA because she is progressing fast, cannot return this year because she doesn’t have the funds. She desires to return and Sister was hoping that….and, before she was done with the request, Sandy said she knows of someone. This is just a small example of the generosity of so many to our Mission of Hope. Let me take a moment to thank all of you who are reading these journals for your support over our 13 years – the goods, the services provided as well as your donations. The Mission is all of you – we are merely the hands that allow your generosity to take tangible shape here in our adopted home.

Our time of sharing began with Sandy telling us about the afternoon Home Shelter Crew who built the home sponsored in memory of Molly Allen who was not able to have children of her own and would be pleased that the young mother and her 3 children were so thankful for their new home. The children’s names are Nathalie, Naomi and Lady. And they will benefit immensely from having their own space and place to ‘grow’ in so many ways.

Sister reminded us that it is very Important to remember why we are doing all we do and it is experiences such as these that become our “Mission Moments.”

Tom then thanked all of the people who assisted yesterday and today in completing the sidewalk. He had to stop for several minutes right before the completion as he saw his sponsored child and family in the Pavilion. Nicole (his daughter) then came back from her afternoon task and he introduced her to the family. Both are now fast friends and Nicole is hoping to sponsor one of the other siblings…if they are indeed already on the list here.

Thanks went out to Aidyanne for her translating ability along with Mary Ellen and Aislyn…round of applause for all was quite enthusiastic!

Brody went to Pajarito Azul today and said he loved the tour they got and the subsequent two hours they spent with a few of the children. Then, this afternoon he saw the young boy

Clare also went to the disability center this morning where she expected the conditions to be similar to the Children’s Hospital she say on Tuesday; she was pleasantly surprised at its good condition and how friendly all of the staff was. Sister noted that the Dorothea Haus Ross Grant and the work we have been able to do over the years is now the legacy of the Mission. Much has been accomplished because of the Mission volunteers over the years, especially the 3 who have advocated for support of the center – Bev Gogola, Brenda Flynn and Sister Stephanie. They are who have stayed with this project over time and kept it in the forefront of our projects.

Clare spoke about Roberto who was born without a brain stem. His eyes continuously dart back and forth and wondered what the reason is that God wants him to be alive. Sister noted that the number of Mission people who have been touched by him over the years may be the reason. Clare then said she heard Brody singing to Angel the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” so she sang, “You are my Sunshine” and Roberto’s face began to twist. She thought he was going to cry, but he broke into a wide smile. Definitely, her Mission moment!

Amanda noted that it is just amazing to see everyone work really hard especially the joy and excitement Henry creates among the crew that made the exterior painting happen so quickly. Henry then thanked the Rice & Beans crew that jumped right in to assist and made it go so fast. Sister then noted that if anyone could make a laborious task joyful, it is Henry!

Sister Clare told us the trip to Chinandega was beautiful and the devotion and commitment in the eyes of everyone there was inspiration. The conditions, though, were horrible. Mold all over, broken walkways, two women to a bed in labor, very busy and looking almost like a prison. An average of 15 birthdays occur in that hospital each day. She took a photo of a bed close to the wall and, although it was in terrible condition, it was clean.

Connie T. looked at it all from her nursing experiences and said it was difficult. One thing that struck the team was the entire extended families were there with the pregnant mothers waiting to give birth. These women run the gamut from regular to high risk to C-sections to 2-hour-old infants with their mothers. Having the entire family around is definitely part of the culture here. There are 240 beds and 2 doctors on staff. Five of the sisters, who are all nurses, run the hospital along with the other nurses and the doctors. Surprisingly, the infection level is low, but that is a tribute to the nuns, some of which have been there 40 years.

Our group got to see the inner workings of the hospital including much of the support facilities. The hospital also addresses developmental issues in children but the room in which the therapist works had children basically on top of each other. The Mission was asked for balls or other manipulatives for the young that we don’t have now, but perhaps some of you reading these notes might be able to acquire and get to MOHTown on a Wednesday. The salary at the hospital is $160 per month for a nursing supervisor, so you can imagine the pay scale of most of the employees.

Connie noted that Sister Ligia is a Public Health Nurse just as she is. Connie reflected on how Sr. Ligia brightens up the room whenever they see her. Just before leaving, Sister Debbie asked Ligia if she were happy. Her response was, “Of course, I am working for the poor…but it is a lot hotter here!” There is no ventilation and fans would be a relief to those serving there.

On their way back, Fabricio and Mauricio began talking about the original León – the first capital of the country from where Francesco Cordoba chose to rule. A church, a monastery, and public square have been excavated and declared by UNESCO as an official archeological ruin. All of the bodies have been reinterred in the center of the Plaza from the cathedral itself.

They also saw incredible birds as they rode right near Cerro Negro and the ‘ring of fire’ where you stand on the Old León hills and are face-to-face with the lagoon and the 15 volcanoes of that region. The women noted the contrast of the glory of creation with utter humanity struggling they had just seen. It is just an hour and 10 minutes from our site, so we may consider it for one of Monday’s choices.

Connie called today her ‘wow’ day as she kept repeating that word as she toured the hospital and then gazed on the world of nature around them.

Allen talked about the farm experience doing the Jinotepe projects – and all that was on the To Do list was accomplished! Pajarito Azul has been a part of his heart since he has come on Mission. He recently paid for the horse and cart and was pleased to learn the horses’ name, which means “Native,” and that he will soon be a ‘grandfather’ of a pony! An interesting point is that the horse and cart didn’t come with tack which is an additional $150…and obviously that is needed. There are many photos of the boots and ponchos which have been donated by individuals as well as the tools purchased by the Lamb of God Church in Florida which we will be sharing as time goes on.

Brandon spent time with one of the boys with Downs’ Syndrome at the farm who invited him to spend the night. He didn’t know how to politely decline – and that it really got to him.

The farm is in really good shape now and those of us who saw it 4 years ago on our first venture there are so pleased to know of its better condition.

Sara L. who also was on the Farm Crew told us that she was pleased to see how people here are living off of the land. This connection to the land she feels is missing back home. The simplicity is what she is impressed with – these are the most important connections in life and we do so often forget that.

Mary Ellen went on Rice & Beans this morning and couldn’t stop smiling as she saw so many as they went from house to house in Monte Verde. Then, this afternoon, before the playtime moment, there were many gathered at the gate, on the ground giggling and smiling. Although many of us can’t speak Spanish and they don’t do well in English (yet) the universality of laughter binds us all.

Sister reminded us that we will come home enriched more than we can fathom – that is the blessing of the Mission experience.

Joy C. was on a Home Building Crew today constructing a home donated by her husband, Ray who is a trapper. He takes the proceeds from the pelts and buys a home shelter each year. Today she gave the photo of Ray, sipping his coffee, to the family and then the woman of the household came back to show Joy the photos of her 3 children. Knowing how precious photos are, Joy was shocked and so appreciative when the woman told her she could keep them!

Amanda then spoke about the simplicity she has observed. Although her sister, Danielle, has been on two previous missions, Amanda couldn’t really grasp everything and found her new reality very different from what she expected. “Everyone is so proud of who they are and they want to share with us. We want, want, want one thing after another. How complex our lives are. Here it is so simple.”

Sister then reminded us that we will be out of sync with our world as we knew it, when we return next week.

Haley spoke of her Rice & Beans experience and how it hit her that she is on her Winter Break in this tropical country enjoying it to its fullest returning to our winter cold soon. Yet, the families she encountered today do not get any breaks from their daily lives to have such an experience.

Sally was at both the disability center and Rice & Beans distribution. Her experiences of the day made her truly feel like the grandmother that she is. In each of the kids she saw her own grandchildren. She also noticed the dignity and respect of the woman who guided them from home to home. She stopped at the fence line and then called out to the family. No one entered the property until the owner invited them. The honor that they show each other impressed Sally.

Nancy had our closing prayer for the evening which was the ‘Uniting of the Global Communities’ Four Hemispheres.” It was almost a litany with consciousness-raising statements of our relation to all peoples throughout the globe.

Afterward, Bev said that she knows that Sister Steph was smiling as the napkins that were being passed out were cut in half…a prudent move that Sister had encouraged the Kitchen Crew to do each mission. One of our co-travelers donated tonight’s treats from Pajarito Azul’s bakery. So, Sister Debbie took out her phone and dialed home, getting Sr. Steph on the phone – a group “hi” was shouted and we could hear her laughter. She’s missed, but in our hearts.

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