Many gathered for Yoga at 6:20am in the Pavilion led by Carol this morning.  

I was remiss for not listing two core teams from yesterday – such an oversight!  Yesterday, our Kitchen Crew was comprised of Hope, Megan, Andrew, Suzanne, Sr. Stephanie, Henry and Pascale, led by Sally.  Our Bed, Bath and Beyond Crew which keeps the bathrooms and dorms immaculate was: Sophia, Aliceson, Sue M., Jacob and Jim.

Sister Debbie told us that yesterday she learned from Mauricio why one of the new schools has its name.  They were driving and he pointed down to let them know San Juan de Cañada was located there.  We thought it meant St. John the Baptist with its Canadian connection, but cañada means canyon which is very a propos due to its location!  Sister, Carol and Susan S-R. went there this morning.

We spoke about the local organic coffee which is available for us to bring back with us and how well this husband and wife team treat their workers – even giving them the weekend off which is not typical in this country.  They will be taking our complete order tomorrow and delivering on Saturday.

Then our Assignment Board Crew reviewed what we each were doing for the day…of course, we knew that it is totally flexible.  Today’s word-of-the-day is perseverencia which means ‘perseverence’ – definitely a state of mind we see lived out by the locals we serve.

As we moved into prayer, we held in prayer a person’s father who is near his time as well as a traveler’s father who passed two weeks ago and a person who had to bow out of this trip because she is dealing with her mother’s waning health.  Sister noted that at this point on Mission we begin to transition from “I/me/mine” into the whole, so she lifted up the word surrender.  She said it means ‘letting go’ rather than our perception of ‘giving up.’  She selected the song, “I Will Surrender,” for us to contemplate.

Sister read an email message from a multi-trip traveler speaking of how ‘the Circle’ brings us together and how much she wants to return after she completes her BSN this year.  I read another email from the daughter of one of our team who has been on many missions; she is looking forward to also joining us after she attains her BSN, too.

So, what did everyone do today?

Our BBB Crew was Hans, James, Pascale and Haley.

Kitchen was managed by Joy with Sr. Stephanie, Tom, Tanner, Bella and Stacia.  Debbie graciously stepped in early to assist with breakfast prep.

This morning’s Rice & Beans Team was Megan, Rachel, Suzanne, Anne, Debbie, Allison, Doug, Karen, Sophie, Griselle, Mario and Christine.  They visited Buena Vista, the smallest of the barrios we serve.  The second barrio visited this morning was Planetarium, also a smaller barrio.

Our first Medical Outreach into the community was this morning with Sharalyn, Mica, Susan M., Craig, Olivia, Pascale, Hans and Susan Q.  We had two visitors from Boston who connected with us through the Day Kits for Girls project who also joined this team this morning: Karla and her instructor, Megean.

Our morning Home Shelter Crew was comprised of James, Sally, Sophia, Aliceson, Haley, Ron, Kari, Andrew, Jacob and Paul.  The first home was built for Edgar Leiva/Mercedes Narvaez in El Tigre sponsored by the family of Haley and Sophia Grant.  The second home this morning was donated by Andrew for the family of Elizabeth Vasquez Montalvan in El Reventon.

We had a full day crew at Bertha Calderone Hospital working in the maternity ward where they first had to prepare the walls for painting: Henry was the painter extraordinaire with helpers Hope, Ryan, Susan S-R and Stew.

This afternoon’s Rice & Beans Crew went to San Luis with a team comprised of Pascale, Jacob, Sally and Hans.  

Our first of two visits to Pajarito Azul this mission was in the afternoon – something we haven’t experienced in 20 years!  It seems the government is there in the mornings this week and no visitors are allowed until 2pm, so our two-hour visit was on the other side of the day.  Those who got to experience the people there were: Allison, Mica, Sr. Stephanie, Debbie, Paul, Susan M., Haley, Ron, Sophie, Suzanne, Olivia and Aliceson.

Mario held a Pediatric Clinic in our space this afternoon assisted by Kari.

Around 2:15, we had another 4 minute downpour – and again at 3:30pm – it’s beginning to look a lot more like July weather here!

This afternoon’s Medical Outreach comprised of Sharalyn, Rachel, Craig, Andrew, Jim and Sophia who were still in the greater Chiquilistagua area.

Griselle prepared more of the Day Kits and Karen worked on the tracking spreadsheet while Susan Q. worked on sorting more medical supplies before they joined Carol at the San Luis School (which Karen sponsors) and Nejapa School for Lab-in-the-Box installations.

Our Home Shelter Crew for this afternoon was James, Anne, Megan Chris and Doug who built the first home for Norman Romero/Cristian Garcia in Monte Verde donated by Abigail St. Louis in honor of her graduation.

And when I say they ‘built’ the home, it means they supported the 12 local workers who must be part of each work crew every day as part of the ‘sweat equity’ of earning the home.

The second home was constructed for Maura Antonia Garcia in Buena Vista, donated by Claire LaPine in memory of her parents.

Late afternoon the women who make the piñatas were here and it was interesting to watch them work – just like art class!  They are constructing very festive and high quality objects.

Our Leadership Team had a quick meeting just before our dinner of mixed vegetables (the big hit of this Mission), white rice, chicken cutlet and plantain chips.  People went back for seconds immediately!

Meanwhile, our third downpour of the day with winds started about 5:10pm and lasted about 10 minutes with drizzling and dark skies afterward.

Our first sharing came from Joy noting how cooperative her crew was and she thanked all who jumped in after dinner to get everything done by 6pm.

Carol reminded us that Fabretto will be here tomorrow at 4pm to 5pm with their wares.  Anyone who wants to donate an item to the upcoming Golf Tournament is encouraged.

Sister announced that the Women’s Hockey Team won the Gold medal today  😊

Sister picked up a brochure at CARITAS which is their Annual Report, we have two sections of the brochure (noted for our distribution of vitamins/parasite medicines) as well as medical services at our Clinics!

Henry shared that his crew was challenged with what was to be a 2-day project: 6 rooms and a hallway.  They actually finished the job today!  He noted the drive in the women, especially Catherine, which was like his on his first mission.  A man came in who was from California and they have been serving here since Hurricane Mitch, too!  

Jacob shared his Home Shelter experience – very moved by the current living conditions so improved by the casita constructed.  He also noticed a 7-person family in a 2-walled shack when he was on Rice & Beans this afternoon.  “It was heart-breaking to see,” he noted.

Debbie shared her thanks to Ron & Suzanne for all that they have done to create MOHTown for the Mission.  Both were with her today when visiting Pajarito Azul where Ron held Salome – and he didn’t want to share!  Others wanted to also hold her and with her newly-gained mobility in her neck, kept looking for Ron.  She made her way back to Ron who took her outside where she fell asleep in his arms.

Stew mentioned his father passed away a couple of weeks ago and he feels the Mission is a nice diversion from the grief.

Olivia also shared her experience at Pajarito Azul of being around Gladys who seemed to light up the room.

Sally spoke about her time on Rice & Beans where they first were visiting stucco homes before moving into the part of the neighborhood where there were patchwork tin shelters and farther in where they had to pass through trash, as if it were a local dump, about 30 feet down in a ravine.  “I never saw anything like that before,” she said.  “It was awful and it was wonderful.”

Carol told us about the meeting with B2Gold, a mining company.  They successfully mine gold and they are about social responsibility in this country.  Today, they spoke about the possibility of training for teachers at NiCasa through the Foundation of the main phone company.  Plants and sustainable produce could be part of the Feeding Program reducing costs.

Magaly was at the meeting and mentioned the private sector, through the Chamber, could guide graduating students to gainful employment.

Sister explained the manner of transacting business here and the need for patience everywhere.

They also met with Johanna of JP II who verified the expectations we put on students is the only way to break the entitled philosophy of many.

Carol said she finally ‘got it’ today spending time with Mauricio regarding the lack of efficiency in transacting business.  For instance, if you pay other than in cash (like checks and credit cards) for your utilities there is a 15% additional fee.

Joy affirmed this by telling us about her experiences last year with Sandy as they were preparing for Providence College instructors who were coming down and they were trying to buy earthworms!

Our closing prayer was given by Paul reflecting on the messages we have seen.  He spoke of the human condition experienced by Jesus, especially in his last Days.  He asked us to reflect on the presence of God in our lives while listening to a short Scripture reading by Henry and the song,

“You Have Been Our Refuge.”

Sister shared a message from a former traveler who can no longer come but is appreciating the connections these Notes afford. 

And snack this evening was cookies!  It’s the simple pleasures 😀

Planning of tomorrow’s schedule filled a portion of my time after the meeting as we have some intense Community Development projects ahead of us.  In a quick meeting, we decided that one of the options on our ‘day off’ would be providing a school with their much-needed kitchen.

As always, skimming through the photos turns into more lingering on those of the children, the elderly, those with smiling eyes even though their surroundings belie a situation we would consider joyful.  As many of you reading have discovered down here, experiences such as ours allow for us to hit the ‘Pause’ button on our daily lives and peer into the eyes of another human being who can feel the same emotions, have the same thoughts and the same hope for the future.

And for those reading who have yet to personally experience this moment of hesitation in our frenetic lives, see how your loved one returns to you.  The experiences of this week will resonate in their thoughts and in their hearts.  The lives being changed are not only those who live in Nicaragua.