An airy Saturday…

Sister began with a reminder there was going to be a lot of activity on our property today and noted the adjustments we need to adapt to.

Sister remarked how she has been told the men and young men on the Mission projects

“Never underestimate what you can do without saying a word,” she said.

Sister read an email from a veteran 10,000 miles away this week which brought tears to many of us who have been on many missions with her.  “Having been able to be on Mission is truly a blessing…I wish you all a hope-filled week.  Thank you for being the eyes, ears and hands for me this week.”

Debbie had this morning’s reflection noting the feeling of change which comes over those who come here and return home.  It may not happen right away.  “I Believe in You,” by

This reminded me of our daughter’s first trip in 2002.  When she returned, she became quite adamant about any of us standing in front of an open refrigerator and stating, “There’s nothing to eat.”  Of course there was.  And she had seen people and been with those who may goes days without food; and when they had something, it was rice and beans – maybe.  She also became very cognizant of the use of water when taking a shower.  Yes, it was great to have hot water again, but she didn’t take long showers any more; the value of having water available in a tap – especially potable water – was now viewed as a privilege.  You may not see immediate changes in your traveler when he or she returns home on Tuesday, but there might be a statement or an action by you or someone else which will lead them to express that they now have a change in values or in their view of the world.  Please be patient with them as they evolve into their new being.

Sometimes the hardest part of the February Mission is the immediate return to school and work.  Everyone else expects the same person to return – that is not possible, even in veterans, as each time there is a slight shift in perspective.  Some are more withdrawn for a few days at school or work or at home, trying to process the dramatic difference between all that we have in North America compared to what they have seen and done here in what is, by all appearances outside of the city, a third world country.

Even though our first missioners would be shocked by the higher level of life in the barrios they served in, we keep pushing out to poorer and poorer neighborhoods to serve the poorest of the poor – which has been our stated mission from the beginning.

Let’s take a look at what your loved one did today…

Kitchen Crew was Sally, Susan M., Hans, Paul, Catherine, Aliceson and Sophie.

BBB was Olivia, Debbie, Mario and Doug.

Our Medical Outreach Team in the morning was comprised of Jim, Sophia, Tanner, Kari, Susan S-R., Stew, Pascale and Ryan.

Handling the Buddhist Grant heights, weights, vitamins and parasite medicine were Sharalyn and Karen, Sue Q., and Chris.  Others working with the girls speaking about the Days for Girls kits were Carol, Griselle, Allison, and Haley.

Rice & Beans this morning went to Barrio Solano: Tom, Mario, Hope, Stacia, Andrew and Megan.

Dental this morning working with Alejandro was Anne in our own Clinic.

Our last Home Shelter Crew of Mission #71 first went to Cuajachillo to build a home for Carlos Rias and Gloria Elena Canales which was donated by Matthew & Mary Rose Daly.  The crew comprised of James, Rachel, Bella, Sue M., Suzanne and Olivia (our all-woman shelter team) then went to Trinidad for the last shelter given to Fernando Galo and Maria Elena Canales donated by The Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Americas in Albany.

We had a crew most of the day at Cañada School again doing the painting and working on the walls: Henry, Paul, Doug, Ron, Craig and Jacob.

Of course, it’s Saturday of our Mission, so the BIG deal occurred at 1pm:  Sponsor Day!  Everyone was on hand before heading out to their afternoon assignments to meet and greet their children and families.

This afternoon Anne and Rachel were in the Dental Clinic, but they finished with patients a little after 2pm.

Mario and Jim held a Pediatric Clinic in our space, also.  They working up past our dinner time at 4:30pm.

Our afternoon Rice & Beans Crew which went to Monte Verde was Chris, Olivia, Stew and Kari.

A team went to the Esperanza School to do many repairs: James, Hans, Ryan, Pascale, Sophia and Haley.

A quick delivery of remaining Whirley Industries bowls and cups to our schools a part of our Feeding Program was accomplished by Carol, Allison, Tanner, Hope and Ron.

Working on sorting the dental supplies (toothbrushes and toothpaste) were Susan S-R., Stacia, Pascale, Catherine and Aliceson.

Creating complete health kits for next mission’s Home Shelter families were: Chris and Susan S-R, Stacia and Sue M.

Organizing the coffee orders for each traveler who ordered it to take home was Bella…and the office smells really great right now!

Suzanne and Sue Q.. worked on preparing the suitcases to return home, stripping them of all inbound flight tags and stickers and organizing in numerical order in the breezeway.

As you can tell, we are in the waning days of Mission #71.

Tonight’s Evening Circle began with Sister asking Carol to speak about a big event on tomorrow’s schedule.

“The meal packing event will step off at 10:30am sharp,” said Carol.  We will go to the Fabretto warehouse to pack 20,000 meals which will be delivered to the schools we feed.  

James announced that Home Shelters are done – the most in a long, long while.

Jim had everyone who was on Medical Outreach raise their hands as he gave them kudos for all that was accomplished and how well they did out there.

Ryan thanked everyone for helping to restore his faith in humanity.  “You get calloused and hardened,” he said.  “Being here has really helped me to find my way again.  It’s always a struggle between the person you want to be and the person you are.  Here I am the person I want to be.”  And everyone applauded!

Sister, Mica and Joy discovered today a situation at El Crucero when they met with Sr. Grisleda.  She wasn’t her bubbly self and Sister thought it may have been something we were holding them accountable for.

Ministry of Families took 8 of the little girls and sent them back to their former situations.  The parents fought against the Ministry as they did not want them.  One went back to a mother who is a prostitute and the young girl is already working that way.  Another went to the north and there is no education there.  One now has a burned face as her father’s crack exploded and she was the victim. Another mother took her 2 girls back to a sexually abusive situation where one has already been a victim.  Another was forced to go back to a mother who didn’t want her (although she has kept her other 2).  Ministry of Families said that if she didn’t take Allyson back, they would put all 3 children up for adoption.  A few others were separated from siblings.  

The Sisters said they get to see the others at the other association on weekends to tutor them and bring them food.

“We were stunned,” she said.  “Mauricio didn’t know about this and he was the most emotional I have ever seen him.”

The Ministry of Families has someone in their yard and prohibits any of the children back at the orphanage.  It impacts the traumatized children as well as many of our sponsors.  The Ministry will only allow 15-18-year-old girls back at the orphanage.  No one younger and no one older.  Sister is going to reach out to the Cardinal to see if there is anything that the Church can do.  “I don’t know if I want to scream with anger or sob uncontrollably.”  

Mica said that the Ministry’s position is that every child has a right to be with their biological family.  Sr. Griselda told her that she lost a piece of her soul when the Ministry took them.

Sister asked everyone to keep the children in our prayers.

Anne said she had a great experience today.  She and Alejandro did a ton of dentistry today.  The patients did their fillings without novacaine!  He used the materials Anne brought including the curing light.  “The headrest wasn’t working right,” she said. “So we were trying to fix it and the patient got out of the chair, tinkered with it and it now works!”

“He works in this room that’s 90 degrees with water spraying all over.  “He’s a good dentist,” she said, yet she taught him a new technique which he used for the rest of the day.  She now has a list of things he would like and Anne will be going home and asking for the donations from dentists in the North Country.  He works in a hospital clinic weekdays, his own office on weekends when he’s not here on Saturdays (from 7am to about 3pm ) and Sundays (from 9am to Noon).

Paul thanked Mario for all of his assistance on Prep visiting all of the sites and being able to communicate both ways to make the most efficient use of time this week.

Mario stated that most people here (in the Circle) don’t know how good they are.  Andrew chimed in saying this has been a good first mission and hopes to come again.

Haley helped with the Buddhist Grant and felt it was very empowering what she said to the women and girls.  She spoke to them about having a voice – in their life and community. “They rarely hear this,” she said. “They were really listening and taking it in.”  Carol asked each speaker what she wanted to be and their dreams are doctor, veterinarian, helping low income families.

Pascale and Tanner were on Medical Outreach and they had a conversation about the needs of people which could be answered with the hygiene kits.  We give all new home owners a kit, too.

Karen gave a big thanks to Debbie Frederick for staying up to 2am getting all of the Sponsor Gifts together after she hit the wall at midnight.  It is so great that so many step up to help in so many ways.

Joy had a moment with the family where she and Ray sponsor 3 students.  The eldest of the students she sponsors told her she is now studying to be a Pharmacist which absolutely thrilled her!

Sophia was part of the group building a wall, but she got to meet her today before they left.  “Her face was so bright,” she said. “She was engaged in the conversation and it was so nice to talk.”

Carol thanked Griselle for being her voice all day.  In the Principal’s Meeting today she reflected on the meetings a few years ago when they were very tentative and now we have come so far with a full feeding program.  “They went on and on about the Mission noting all of the help we give them,” she said.  “I wish you all could have been there.”

“I am always amazed how people step up when we have a need,” she concluded.

Jacob went to Cañada for painting which was his first.  “Today while I was painting,” he said, “I realized we were tearing the wall off and fixing a hole in the ceiling; what we did today, it gave me hope for that school, giving them hope.  These children hope for a future; we’re giving them a future.”

“We all belong to this family of Hope,” he reflected. “This is my first mission and I am very grateful.”

Olivia said she has such respect for those who do construction after today’s Home Shelter experience. “The looks on their faces showed how grateful they were.”  

Chris thanked Olivia for being the interpreter this afternoon on Rice & Beans – they saw 96 people in an hour as she pushed them through!

Sister then passed it on to Anne for our Evening Reflection.  She said that as a dentist, she knows the value of a smile  😉  She asked if remember Sister’s smile as everyone was leaving MOHTown.  Maybe it was a child this week that gave you a pearly white smile.  Or maybe a toothless grandmother who grinned widely when a group of strangers stopped by her home to give her something to feed her young ones.  She then spoke of how inspiring the young people with us are to the adults and each other. “You should feel joy because of all of the smiles you brought to Nicaragua,” she said.  She then invited us to listen to a poem, which she distributed to all for our journals:

Is anybody happier because you passed their way?

The day is almost over and its toiling is through;

Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word to you?

Does anyone remember that you spoke to them today?

Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that’s slipping fast,

That you helped a single person of the many that you passed?

Did you waste the day, or lose it?

Was it well or sorely spent?

Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said?

Does the one whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?

Did you leave a trail of kindness, or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say, “You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today?”

                adapted from a poem by John Hally

We then listened to a song which Anne picked for Sister Debbie: “Home” by Phil Phillips.

Tonight our treats were ice pops which thrilled many!