This morning we had a Yoga group in the Pavilion which was a wonderful gift Carol gave us this week.

Of course, we had BBB: Jacob, Ryan, Pascale and Catherine.  And, Kitchen which in the morning was Sally, Mica, Megan, Susan S-R. and James.  Later in the day it switched to the Prep Team.

Although there was no Circle, people were delegated their returning suitcases and began to pack for tomorrow morning’s departure.

For where?

We had a construction crew go to two locations today to complete the Community Development tasks for this mission: Cañada School to complete the 3 classrooms, hang doors and do finishing touches; El Reventon School to paint 4 latrines.

Another group went to Trinidad School to participate in the Feeding Program. Craig, Griselle, Rachel, Ryan, Sally, Sharalyn and Stew joined Carol for the morning of feeding the students there. They got to interact with the principal, students, but especially the mothers involved in the cooking and preparation.  She said Ryan even knew he had to continue chopping the onions when the women gave him a certain look!  After lunch, they went to the Roberto Huembes Mercado in downtown Managua to buy some wares.

The third group went to Masaya National Park and played tourist!  They enjoyed going up to the crater which, because of the way the wind was blowing, had the best view ever.  Afterward they spent a half hour in the visitors interpretive center learning more.  Then Allison, Aliceson, Anne, Bella, Catherine, Chris, Haley, Hans, Henry, Hope, Jacob, Kari, Megan, Mica, Olivia, Pascale, Sophia, Sophie, Stacia, Sue M., Sue Q., Susan S-R., Suzanne, Tanner, Tom and I went to the Masaya Market for lunch and shopping.

Tonight’s Pizza Party was enjoyed by close to 60 people including the sisters from Niño Jesus de Praga, the sisters from San Jose Hospital as well as all of our employees and the drivers this week.  We had a special treat as a few students from Padro Davilla came with their Principal Eddy and some teachers presenting folkorico dances.

The sisters from San Jose Hospital then brought out their instruments and sang a few songs for us.

Our Evening Circle began after all of our guests departed.  Sister reviewed detailed logistics for waking up at 3:30am to return home.

Thanks to people like Griselle, Carol, Eileen Snook and others who held a major fundraiser for the Hospitaleth School, and with Sandy Davidson and Joy bringing student bags to every single student last year, the Feeding Program and various construction projects we have been able to do for this school, has raised the quality of their education.  They presented us with a marble plaque which will hang in MOHTown in appreciation of all connected with the school.

We then began the sharing with a short reading from Henry who read from Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Carol then played, “What Have We Done for The Poor Ones,” by Lori True.  And we contemplated that for a bit.  Sister asked us to considered what Mission #71 has meant to each of us and we went around the Circle.

Stacia said a week ago she was terrified to come. “A week later, you guys are some of my best friends.”

Catherine said she had friends before she came here, but wasn’t sure how strong the bonds really are.  “Now I have friends who understand and want to do what I want to do.”

Tanner said that many of the students knew the names of others yet now, through playing cards at the airport on the way here to all that was done this week, they have become close friends.

Megan was pleased to see that everyone reached out and talked to people around the Circle very willingly.

Stew said he didn’t know anyone in the Circle except for Griselle prior to Tuesday.  He said that his Bible app brings him a reading each day.  He read from Proverbs a quotation which summed up his experience this week, now feeling totally connected.

Rachel thanked everyone for making it possible for her to grow and change with the Mission this week.

Karen noted she feels blessed to be part of the group. “I sit amongst incredibly talented and gifted individuals.”  This afternoon she met with her sponsored student.  Karen told of seeing the smile in her eyes and their conversation ended with her student hugging her and responding, “I love you, too,” in English.

Haley stated how absolutely amazing the difference is in the 5 years since her last mission.  “It’s incredible all the work that has been done…and I am so happy to be here with Allison who I first met in college and realized we were both with the Mission of Hope.” She said she felt blessed by having her sister here and watching her grow as she heads off to college soon.

Sue M. said she is feeling grateful for all of her experiences, for meeting everyone and finally meeting her sponsored child.

Ryan said he feels he has healed by being here this week.  He thanked the adult women for being great role models and thanked the men for modeling how to treat and interact with women.  “I cherish this group,” he said.

Allison said this week has been fun and it is so great to be here with people she is so close to.

Olivia said the Sisters from San Jose sang a song during the pizza party, “If You Found A Friend, You Found a Treasure.”  She smiled and exclaimed, “I have found a chestful of treasures!
You all have changed me in some way.  I hope I can come back and share what I’ve learned with my friends back home.”

Sharalyn thanked Rachel for being here and sharing all of the laughter and good times.  Not having Olivia with her on this Mission didn’t hurt as much.  “Thanks for the good times!”

Anne said it was great being here with Tanner and her friend, Sue M.  She said that Sue M. has put so much work into the Mission for years and she finally got to come – and received every ‘wish’ on her card!  Anne said that everyone got along this week and thanked the women of the kitchen and the men on projects.  She thanked Carol for the yoga daily and what she does with the Feeding Program.

Doug said it is nice to be around like-minded people.  “Sometimes you don’t know who you help, but what we do here can last for decades,” he said.

Aliceson said that each and every one of us was a light to someone this week – whether a child or adults out there or even someone in the Circle.  She hopes we each carry home the light we have shone this week.

Mica said she has made good friendships this week, especially Henry who is always smiling and a great role model.

Sophia played, “Home,” while in the Memorial Garden reflecting before the pizza gathering and she said that this Mission truly hit here then: Mission #71 has felt like home.

Hope remembers her siblings and father telling her she would make lifelong friends on Mission.  “Not having phones and having real human interactions was great, thank you!”

Hans said that as a Correction Officer he has seen a lot of evil and this mission has allowed him to see a lot of good.

Jacob never imagined such a great experience and is heartbroken that he has to leave and we have to go to our homes – this has helped him to find his purpose.

Joy said we’re all mission family and she is willing to listen – so reach out.

Sue Q. noted that this is her second mission and it has really opened her heart. She feels she has grown and she can do it again.  Being here has contributed to her well-being.

Susan S-R. thanked her daughter, Stacia, as she said she wouldn’t have been here without her.  “Thanks for being welcoming to us.  I am standing on my Aunt Mary’s shoulders as I wouldn’t be here today without her…I am grateful for having the experience.  Thank you.”

Chris reflected on how hard it is to see what we see and we couldn’t get it done if we didn’t have such a great Mission family.

Jim said he is healing remarkably well and now understand ‘surrender’ doesn’t mean to give up.  “I thank all of you for accepting me and I pray I will be even healthier next year.”

Henry said this is a mission within a mission.  “Every single person here has touched me and lifted me up.  We all have a great amount of respect for each other and that lifts me up.”  He continued, “I am impressed with Carol and her abilities to feed so many.”

James said he is thankful for the journey this week.

Tom said that on Friday he was on Rice & Beans and he was telling the people he was with about his grandmother who had to quit school and go to work in the mill to keep the family together.  On Saturday, the mother of his sponsored child who had started this year at university, cam here and tried to return the gift Tom gave her son because he had to quit university.  Tom refused to take it back telling her the boy could keep it.  A while later, the boy himself came back to return it.  Tom explained to him that he understood and hoped one day he would return…but he could keep the gift – for which the young man was grateful.

Kari reflected on the stories she has heard about the Mission prior to coming.  “I am humbled, not so much by the experience, but understanding that the first mission didn’t have the past to support them.  Especially being with Mom and Dad…this experience is something you can’t ever replace.

Suzanne said she was grateful for all, for Sister Debbie and for her family traveling with her on this Mission.

Earlier this week, Carol went to Cañada School and saw all of the termite damage and thought how there was so much work to do.  Today, on the cooking program at the school, she said she bows down to the CD Team as it is mind-blowing what you did in just a couple of days. I am super grateful to you for that.

Those of you went there today, you saw what those women had to cook with.  Thank you to Ryan and Craig for purchasing two of the large cooking pots in the market!  She then thanked Debbie for teaching her to open up – and gave her a hug!

Griselle thanked all for the week we had and was very thankful to all who made it possible to return since 2016, and for our patience with her as she moved slower this week.  She also thanked Sophia and Haley for adopting her as a Mom this week.  She said she was thankful to be with Carol and Allison who are like family. “Today, going to Hospitaleth, we saw the result. It is an honor to be a part of Mission #71.  I am proud of all of you young people and the bonds you have made.”

Sally said that working in the Kitchen this week has made it feel like family.  She recalled doing the dishes with her brother when she was younger.  “I never had a time when so many people offered to help.  I wasn’t looking forward to be in charge of the Kitchen.  Thank you so much for making it an enjoyable and easy task – a good week.”

Paul reflected, before anyone showed up, that there are usually timid looks on faces unsure of what will unfold.  He said he believes all have found what they were searching for.  “You people are truly a blessing because you have blessed everyone you worked with this week.  I feel truly blessed to be a part of this.”

Ron told us that a year ago, he never thought he would be here.  “With Suzanne getting her 70-hour part-time job, it has introduced me to Mission.  It started with looking at a couple of sites for a permanent home for the Mission.  I am thankful for coming and looking at the breadth of what the Mission does here.”

“We had young people who were not afraid to learn things.  It’s a blessing for me to come back into Sister’s life and reconnect with the hot nun [Sr Stephanie from their school days] and being here with my 45-year wife and our first born, Kari.”

He admitted he is a perfectionist, but he realized if we can make 1 person happy a day, we have achieved our goal.

Sister Stephanie thanked all for this week – it has been a blessing.  “You folks have been wonderful,” she said.  She is thankful for all of the prayers which got her back here.

“If the whole world could take a peak into what we do, it would be inspired.  Thank you for all of the offers this week, too.”

Debbie told us this was her fourth mission and this may be the last that she and Megan take together.  She will miss the times they have had together.  “I know the youth have heard this many times, but you rolled with it.

“As adults, we come from many walks of life but we act as one here.  We went on a build today and in my everyday life there are people who take the passion from you.  Here we have the same passion and get things done.”

Craig concluded the Circle noting the faith he has in the future working with the youth.  He is appreciative for having Rachel here with them this week, too.

Sister then reflected by saying to the youth that we have screwed up this world, but it is possible for you to fight the injustice in our world.

“I truly invite you to look around at some of our adults who have been the underpinning of this Mission.  They are the remnant – those who are left to carry the future of the Mission.”

She noted that this is Mission #71, the year she and Ron graduated from high school together.  She thanked Kari for being Sister Stephanie’s nurse when she couldn’t come on Mission.  “You are on Mission with those you have helped to heal,” she said to her.

She thanked Sharalyn for her attention and all she has done to keep Sister Stephanie’s spirits up.

And she thanked joy, who has been a friend since infancy, as an example of those who have supported Sister Stephanie.

“About 3 years ago, an incredible blessing came into my life,” continued Sister.  “There is a quiet, strong presence when she is there.  I cannot thank her enough.”  Then Sister looked at Suzanne and said, “I love you more than you will ever know.  The Mission is blessed.”

She then reflected on how Carol has become a sister, not just her sister-in-law by marriage.  “If you are willing to put in a little, you will be filled.  James is like a brother I have been able to get close to.”

Thinking of 24 hours from now, Sister told us that she doesn’t know whether it is the water of the warm shower or the tears she sheds sometimes.  “When you’re low, we’re here,” she assured all.

She then showed us a stone Jim and Chris picked up on a Nicaraguan beach just before coming on Mission…a perfect hard form.

“Your Mission is just beginning, she said, and then passed the stone around the Circle for all to see and touch.  Meanwhile, we listened to “I’ll Stand by You,” by The Pretenders.

She concluded Mission #71 stating, “The Circle cannot be broken.  We will stand by you, by those we serve.  Blessings to each of you.  Go and be Hope.”