First full day began with early birds – the human kind!

Sister began with introductions of our key personnel: Mauricio who is our administrator and Magaly who is the assistant administrator.  We began in 1 barrio, Chiquilistagua, and then a few years later we added Nejapa; now we serve in 13 barrios through their guidance and linkages throughout the region.  Hilary was introduced who is being mentored by Magaly.  She was sponsored by Megan Murray as a young child and is now in third year of university.  She has volunteered for 50-60 hours a week and within this past year became a part-time staff member working based on her college schedule.  “Hillary represents the best of what is happening in this country,” said Sister, “and the hope of the Mission.”

Sister then introduced Diana who we used to know under another name.  She will be in training as one of our translators this week as she knows the Mission well having been connected with us for years.

Other logistics for the day were covered with Sister reminding us about conserving water and electricity.

We reviewed the Assignment Board for today which included most everyone one involved in Orientation.  And our word for the day was aventura and that is what we’re going to be about his week!

Sister told us that one of major ECO tasks which was to be the training of 50 families with a water filter.  We found out that the filters won’t be available from the factory until March.

This morning’s opening song was, “Anyway,” by Martina McBride. Sister asked us to reflect on how the words reflected our hopes and dreams for the week as well as those of the people we serve.  “You can spend your whole life building,” she noted, “but do we stop hoping, dreaming and loving just because something bad has happened?”

“I really believe most people simply want to make a difference; feel appreciated and needed, wishing the best for others.”

After listening, Sister spoke about ‘dreaming it anyway’ – including the people in this community.  Karen commented that our dreams can be based on someone else’s hopes: “Dream big for the people here.  It can happen!”

“It is the dreams of Mauricio and Magaly that help us to become better people building lives for to prepare something.”

Sophia took the poem, Hope, written by Sister Debbie and created a lyrical piece she performed as Sister read it.

In closing, Sister then quoted Dorothy Day saying, “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless, there’s just too much work to do.”

As Sister, Carol, Griselle, Adam, Diana, James & Henry went with Mauricio and Magaly to CARITAS, the rest of us continued with our Orientation.  We broke into various groups and were guided around our facility and property to learn about the projects we do, people we serve, the history of the Flores family and the property in this area plus ways to make the coming week easier as we pick up speed this afternoon.

Most took a walk around the block to learn about the early Mission days and see the church as well as the Niño Jesus de Praga School.

Returning to NiCasa, some of the leaders of certain tasks were already hard at work:  Sharalyn was organizing and tracking medicines to be distributed to hospitals and clinics; the HIV Party gifts were being compiled from items in the suitcases by Debbie F., Karen, Haley, Griselle and Diana; suitcase sorting was deftly coordinated by Suzanne, Sue McDonnell and Susan Schneider-Rice.

After lunch, the suitcase sorting and sponsor gift sorting continued while Sharalyn led a group to Guadelupe Clinic to perform gynecological exams which included Griselle as translator and Susan Quinn and Kari as medical staff.

Our first Home Shelter crew of Mission #71 was led by James Carlin with Mario, Hans, Catherine, Christine, Rachel and Tanner.  The first house was built for Luis Lopez and Jessinia Naraez in Cedro Galan which was sponsored by Tom Borgen in honor of the Borgen and Borsuk families.

The second home shelter was built for Maria Isabel Traña in Barrio Solano which was sponsored by Father Carrara.

Rice & Beans went to Cedro Galan with Sophia, Sophie, Bella, Ron, Jim, Anne, Haley and Aliceson handing out the bags of rice & beans to a portion of that community as well as small toys and items to children and parents.

Sorting of home shelter materials for the next 10 casitas was accomplished by Paul, Ryan, Stew, Craig, Olivia and Doug.  Being a very warm day with a light breeze, the heat didn’t hit them until they stopped!

A new project on this Mission is to set up Lab-in-a-Box at 10 schools with which we are involved.  Today, after spending yesterday afternoon and this morning preparing the equipment, the large monitor tvs and computers were delivered by Carol, Mica, Tom, Jacob, Stacia and Allison to Chiquilistagua Public School, Niño Jesus de Praga and to Trinidad School.  At the latter, the water filtration project was also installed.

A few people were done with their tasks already, so their ‘mystery ride’ was to join them on the Lab-in-the-Box deliveries and setups: Debbie F., Suzanne, Karen, Susan S., Sue M., Olivia, Pascale, Hope & Andrew.

A few men had some time on their hands (!!) so they jumped in and added an extra step to many of the bunks to make it easier for those on top to access their beds.  Thanks go to Ryan, Stew, Jim, Doug, Henry and Paul!

We had a sudden downpour of rain late this afternoon which lasted about 2 minutes – that’s very different for February.  Even the locals remarked that it was strange.  In the summer we get the intense rain but it will last for a while.

Sister began tonight’s meeting with asking us to sit next to someone we really don’t know or have had a conversation with in the last few years.  She then asked us to have a conversation with that person and the buzz began.

Sister Stephanie noted that there is a jar of Ginger Root in the kitchen on the counter for anyone who needs it  😉  In all seriousness, it is a wonderful herbal remedy for nausea.

As the rain suddenly came down very hard, Sister announced there was no need for showers tonight!  Within a few minutes, it was over.

Our sharing time began with Megan giving thanks to the entire Kitchen Crew today – they were a put-together team, according to her.

Mica spoke about the Lab-in-the-Box deliveries to 3 schools this afternoon, seeing their work of the morning setting up the equipment come to fruition.

Stacia shared her experience so far as one of the last arriving yesterday.  “It was so amazing,” she said, “to connect with some girls this morning and I have been getting to know people.”  Doing Lab-in-the-Box today she saw how the students are being inspired by projects connected with the Mission.

Olivia was part of the Mystery Ride and delivered the water filtration system first, then they went to Chiquilistagua Public School where she was thankful for Mica’s translating abilities so they could connect with the little children.

Sister Stephanie was part of the group which took it to Niño and appreciated being there with the Carmelites who reacted as if it were Christmas.  She inquired about Sister Rosa and discovered she is home taking care of her elderly mother.  Sister Debbie remarked that when Sister Steph told her about the afternoon, she looked like it was Christmas!

Jacob also did the deliveries and expressed how the joy and happiness was so evident and the appreciation great.  “Watching their faces light up was like opening a book,” he said.

Sister Debbie thanked Allison and Carol who coordinated this project through Providence College.  She noted that there were individual donors as well as funding from the Greg Pinard Fund.  He was an educator in Vermont who connected with the Mission in his last few years of life and his funds are to give people a step up in this country – and what a step up the Lab-in-a-Box is for both students and their instructors.

Jim told us that Ron is a pushover on Rice & Beans.  Ron explained that he brought fidget spinners and gave them to the pre-teens who were very thankful.  “They have beautiful eyes,” he remarked.

Sue Q. spoke about the Guadelupe Clinic which she found interesting in that many had questions and concerns which were able to be answered about their bodies and life stages.

Sister told us that her day began at the lawyer’s then they worked on the spreadsheets with Magaly and Mauricio which Carol taught them last year.  It is in the cloud so Mauricio and Magaly were amazed as data was entered and they saw it immediately.  “We have also learned much from them,” Sister said.  “It has been a tremendous learning experience for all.”

Sister gave Adam a shout out for riding in a truck all day with her and Carol!  She then said that her assistant, who is also the Treasurer for the Mission, is Suzanne – who is a gift from God.

Carol mentioned tomorrow morning we have guests coming from Boston at 6:45am.  Carla and her teacher have been engaged with fundraising for “Days for Girls” in her high school. She will be with us as a translator for us for the next few days.  The organization connected Carla with us as she wanted to meet an NGO who actually gives the product to the girls and be part of the distribution of the kits which we will do on Saturday morning.

For the 20th Anniversary, Sister Stephanie offered to do evening prayer!!  She spoke of the people in our lives who modeled how to treat people regardless of economic status. She referenced her parents who did so much for their nieces and nephews and how she learned to be so giving.  She then invited us to join together singing, “Standing On The Shoulders,” by Joyce Johnson Rouse.  We held hands as we wound down our time together today, many of us thinking about those in our families who went before us and drew us into this Mission family. <tears>

Our special treat after the meeting was M & Ms donated by Susan and Stacia.

Many gathered in the breezeway for the hour or so before ‘lights out’ with giggling and laughter as they played cards, while some others wrote in their journals or continued sorting items for distribution tomorrow; some medical people were learning about a trauma kit Jim and Chris brought and bought for the Mission to make the Outreach much easier – which will begin tomorrow.

That’s all for this evening….sweet dreams!