And 2 more departed this morning at 5:30am.  Mario and Andrew headed back to Watertown (NY) on an early flight reducing our numbers now to 45…an obvious reminder that our days here are numbered for Mission #71.

As we began our Circle this morning, we sang, “Happy Birthday” to Haley!  Sister continued reflecting on the birds who not only sang while the meditative music of Yoga was playing; one chose to walk around Carol while she was in a pose before flying away.  She also noticed the affirmation around us.  “Creation provides those affirmations,” she said.  “I’d like you to try to do that today. Be aware of Creation and Life all around.”

“A gentle reminder that until the work is done,” said Sister, “the playing cards don’t come out today.”  As a team, this day concludes much of the work we needed to complete on Mission #71. Sister asked one person assigned to other tasks to volunteer for the Dermatology Center and another volunteer for Cañada School as they needed more assistance to complete the work set out for them today.

She also mentioned the expectation for the group traveling with her on Tuesday to meet at 6:15pm in the Pavilion to create a mobile passport for each person which should make the process re-entering the US more efficient as there is not much time between flights.

This morning’s Reflection time was given by Aliceson and Hope.  Aliceson spoke of how we came and have lived joy, happiness and fulfillment this week.  Yet, she asked us to consider whether weeks from now will we be living the values we have had here.  Hope then played, “Send Me On My Way,” by Rusted Root.

Our last full day of activities had people on the following:

Kitchen Crew was Sally, Karen, Stew, Jacob, Rachel, Sophie and Megan who stepped in for Debbie who did the morning shift.

Our BBB Team was Karen, Bella, Ryan and Jim.

Anne was back with Dr. Alejandro this morning at 9amm with Rachel and, after Rice & Beans, and Bela went back out to Nejapa while Aliceson joined Anne and Rachel in the Dental Clinic.

Medical Outreach was Jim, Craig, Catherine, Hope, Susan Q., Chris, Hans and Sophia.  The went to Chiquilistagua, Nejapa and Planetarium to see patients.

A large crew headed to Fabretto along with about 40 locals for a meal packing event which lasted for a number of hours.  Our team members were: Carol, Allison, Sr. Stephanie, Suzanne, Sue M., Debbie, Olivia, Haley, Griselle, Karen, Kari, Sophie and Joy along with Magaly.  Oscar met them around 1:30pm to have the meals packed and brought back to our container warehouse so the meals can be distributed through our Feeding Program in coming weeks.

Finishing the 2.5 day project at San Jose de Cañada School was Henry, Ryan, Doug, Pascale, Stew, Susan S-R, and Oscar.

We were at the Dermatology Center for a full day project hanging doors and doing some painting.  That team was Ron, Paul, James, Stacia, Tanner and Chico.

For those were not on those three longer projects, we began the process of shutting down our facility.  The Kitchen Team worked on labelling the non-perishable food still on the shelves with a “1” so that the July Mission will use that food first.  It all has to be put into bins which will occur on Tuesday when there is only the PREP Team left.  Other items which will no longer be in use were also stored.

Susan Q. and Suzanne continued with organizing the returning suitcases.

Others working on the general Shutdown Process were Catherine, Aliceson, Pascale and Hope.

Home Depot/office clean-up and inventory was handled by Tom, Bella and Chris.

Our last Rice & Beans venture for Mission #71 were Sharalyn, Jim, Craig and Hans who went to Trinidad.

Then closing down the Rice & Beans station was handled by Mica, Olivia and Suzanne, moving any leftovers to the Food Warehouses for distribution in our Feeding Program.

Some people were able to go to 3pm Mass over at Niño Jesus de Praga, but many weren’t able to as the last few projects needed to be completed and the crews didn’t get back in time. So, Sister and our Deacons Henry and Paul held a short service before dinner for the rest of us.

Sister began tonight’s 15 minutes early as we had a lot on the agenda to cover.  First, she said the mobile passport will occur in the morning rather than now.

We will all eat out for lunch in our various locations and Sister gave us pointers for shopping in the market.  

She mentioned that the Principal of Padro Davila School called her to offer a 15-minute cultural program for us tomorrow night at our Pizza Party, so that will be a treat!

Sister said that she and Mica got to go to Casa Cuna, the baby orphanage, today and they loooooved the sock dolls which were created by Linda Ward.

At the Fabretto meal packing event today, our people and the 40 locals packed a total of 27,432 meals which feeds 105 children for a year.

Karen shared that her first trip, last year, she was very upset with the trash she saw along the roadsides.  She then realized that the 400 Tootsie Rolls she brought as treats for the students on Sponsor Day would add to the trash problem.  So, she passed all 400 around during the meeting!

Jacob shared that Kitchen Duty today felt like family – it was so much fun. “It warmed my heart,” he said.

Rachel acknowledged that working in the Kitchen with today’s crew was fun and felt really good.  “Some of the happiest I have ever been has occurred this week,” she commented.  “I wouldn’t be feeling this way without all of you.”

Stacia said that she isn’t a huge crier, but today was the second time she has cried this week.  Her sponsored child she finely met today is now more than just a photo on her refrigerator.

Debbie noted that Mica first came with her mother and her mother was amazed that those who have come many times don’t speak Spanish.  Debbie gave a huge round of thanks to everyone who supports the rest of us with this ability and how crucial translators are to what we do.

Carol mentioned spreadsheets and budgets are part of what Suzanne has done in setting up the accounts here as well as in the North Country and thanked her for making it easy to bring Mauricio and Magaly on board so we have one accounting system.

Megan had prayer tonight and she thanked Olivia for helping her pick the song.  “On my first Mission back when I was a freshman in high school, we were asked to tell everyone what the Mission meant to us in one word,” she said. She told us one person said, “Home” which confused her.  Needless to say, she now understands it fully as Mission creates connections – “ you are all truly my family,” she remarked.

“I think this will be my last mission for the next couple of years as I am going to college,” she said – and at that point she got tearful.  “I come here with strangers and leave as friends.”

We then listened to, “I Will Always Return,” by Bryan Adams.

Our Leadership Team then honored Sister Stephanie tonight with phrases and comments about what she means to each of them and the Mission.  This group also honored her, as we did Bill Calmbacher a number of years ago by the Men’s Dorm, with a sign which will rest above the door to the Kitchen…in perpetuity!  After each of the Leadership Team spoke about what Sister Stephanie meant to each, the plaque was brought in.  “I am overwhelmed,” she said.

Sister then said that we have a tradition of celebrating February birthdays in February and July birthdays in July.  Sister asked each person to stand and the Circle wished each a Happy Birthday and the group sang THE song!  Each received a hand-made birthday card, too.

The Birthday cake and ice cream came out and then we celebrated with a Minion piñata made by one of the local women.

A true celebratory evening at the end of a week sealing Mission #71 into the books.

Tomorrow is our ‘day off’ for many, although some have chosen a work project….but, that will come in your Notes tomorrow.  Hasta pronto!