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Mission of Hope

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Daily Journal: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 (Early Edition)

By Bonnie Black
Everyone is here and Mission #44 is underway! We aren’t going too far afield today as we have many on-site as well as close-by projects for everyone. Yesterday, the process of checking in at the Burlington airport was the smoothest ever and in Houston, the Mission was priority boarded – even before those who have specific rewards! But I can’t forget how last night ended…

Unlike the two A Team arrivals the prior days, the Main Group was on time. I watched how everyone gathered around the baggage carousel and assisted each other retrieving the 34 suitcases (12 had already arrived with A Team). As an azalea-colored mass, they exited to the final Customs checkpoint…and then the delay began. Meanwhile, because the parking lot at the airport closes about 9:30pm, there was no way for Mauricio in his truck, me in the rental van and the bus driver with the large school bus to do anything but circle.

The group began to filter out and they began their own holding pattern in the concourse. It seems that there was a discussion of the reading glasses we brought down that were so generously donated for those who have problems with their sight. Although we did not consider them medical equipment/supplies, the agent felt all 4 suitcases of glasses were. That led to most of the suitcases making it through but one being held back. Sister asked for it to be sealed as the agent was securing it; when she returns today, if the seal is broken, we will know that all of the glasses in that one suitcase may not be there. In a poor economy, the second poorest in this hemisphere, the black market runs rampant.

So, that was last night…now on to this morning. Bev, Joan, Joy and Bill (part of A Team) had breakfast ready for the early risers who were still on Plattsburgh time…although there weren’t that many! Today’s assigned Kitchen Crew of Sara LoTemplio, Joy Leader and Nick Brady joined Bev and Joan after breakfast.

We began with our initial Morning Meeting introducing ourselves to each other as this was the first time everyone on this Mission has been in the same place! We have 11 different high schools represented on this trip and a myriad of vocations. A few reminders from Medical and A Team were also noted as well as an announcement that church service tonight at Niño is at 5pm…before our nightly meeting at 6pm. Sister thanked many specific people for the cohesion of the Team as they traveled together.

Recognizing that today, in the Christian world, is Ash Wednesday, we acknowledged those we hold in prayer: Rosa and Betsy passed away while the Team was in transit yesterday, as well as those who are ill back home, and the new borns joining this earthly life in many of our lives. Sister played Monica Brown’s “Comfort My People” as we began our reflection with many joining in on the refrain. Our prayer service was very symbolic as ashes were brought into the center from the four corners of the Pavilion where we meet twice a day: ashes from the North – the churches in the North Country, ashes from New England-the East, ashes from Nicaragua (La Chureca, San Rafael, Diriamba, Masaya and Chiquilistagua)- the South. The ashes were blended together, inviting us to understand more deeply and live in community with others we are asked to serve – a reminder that we cannot ignore those in need, wherever that need is. We were united with all of humanity in this global community as we signed the person on our left in a manner desired by their faith tradition. Sister also reflected that these ashes invite us to seek and to find all we are called to be and do here this week. We were asked if we are willing to share compassion with all whom we will meet, to break oppression in all of its chains. She then thanked Andrew for being the bearer of Hope around our circle. We closed while listening to “Come and Follow Me” reflecting on the light we have been asked to carry, the Hope we are about to share.

After the meeting, we began our Orientation by A Team while Sister headed out to take the remaining student photos at the local schools with Megan. Then Paul R, Tom, Ben, Aislyn and Victoria met with the remaining families as they picked up their foundation supplies after which they spent the morning sorting the supplies for the 14 home shelters we’ll be constructing over the next 3 days.

Meanwhile, a van was off to the Pajarito Azul Center with Bev, Nancy, Nicole, Sandy, Corinne and Mary Ellen.

Bill C. and Paul W. worked on one of our storage room doors which was having a deadbolt problem…works well now. Joy and Bill C. worked on some plumbing in the Women’s showers, then Bill began the sorting of eyeglasses for this afternoon with the assistance of Haley.

Our Rice & Beans prep team was Anna D, Amanda and Sr. Cathy getting it all ready for this afternoon’s trek. Amanda spelled Aislyn on the home supply sorting crew as they swapped out positions.

Heading out to buy the needed supplies for our Public School and Children’s Hospital painting projects were Allen and Aidyanne with Chico, our local contractor. A bit later, Henry went out with Chico to pick up more supplies in a local hardware store.

Sorting the suitcases was Connie M., Diane, Priscilla, Sally and Connie. They put a big dent into that project before lunchtime!

Everyone one else was broken into various work teams around NiCasa. Paul O. guided a painting crew finishing the brick red color of the back porch area by the Moore Suite: Brandon, Grace, Anna K, Brody and Claire. Preparing Nora’s kitchen room were James, Henry, Haley, Andrew and Sarah R. A bit later, as more jobs were completed, James removed some of the Somosa stones from an area in order for us to use them in one where they are needed.

Leaving just before lunch with Sister Debbie for a ‘Mystery Ride’ were Megan and Paul W….more on that later. I will send an evening update either late tonight or early tomorrow morning-hasta luego!

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