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March 6, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

photo11Monday, March 3 was such a very busy day!

At 7:00 am, bright and early, we met Vilma and Herman at the storage room (“bodega”) at Our Lady of the Angels where we keep the Feed My Starving Children food that photo15St. Ed’s sends down there.We spent most of the day delivering boxes of food to the various Pastoral Ministers who then distribute the packets to the people in their neighborhoods whom they have deemed as having the greatest need for this very nutritious food – those with the greatest food insecurity. They try to identify families with children who are very malnourished and supply them with this food each month.

Sue and I have gone around on previous trips gathering photos and stories about how this food is helping children to regain their strength and health. This trip we were able to visit a mother who has four children who we met on a previous trip after her husband left with another woman. She lived in a house made of plastic garbage bag-type material and did the best she could. When we met her last May we noticed that there was something wrong with the photo13baby she was holding in her arms – his eyes were funny. When asked about her baby, she told us he has Cerebral Palsy and was much older than he looked. How sad! Immediately she was put on the food list, so she could give her children enough nutrition. Sue was also able to use some of the private donations she receives from people to have the house made stronger with wood (Herman built it for her) and to provide some very basic beds for them (which they did not have). This trip when we saw them her little baby looked much more like a 4-year-old and was going to “Los Pepitos” – a school for handicapped kids which we have helped in the past — and had a little stroller that she could push him around in (as he is getting too big to just carry everywhere)!

photo17We also visited the home of another family that receives the food – Victor is a man who broke is back when he fell off the cliff behind his previous house and landed on his cement latrine. He was working all the time before the accident, and after the accident couldn’t work for a long time. He limps quite heavily and uses a crutch, but when photo16we saw him this year he was working! He was helping to build a house in his new neighborhood! His family moved up higher onto the hillside, to a part of the hill where they could own their own home, but in reality the city will not give them a deed to the house because the hillside may be prone to landslides. But still he and his family are very proud!

When we climbed up to their house it was so dangerously steep and slippery for us! But it is what they can call their own. His children looked much healthier for the food.

That Monday night we had a Farewell party at the old AVODEC building. Lots of fun & good relationships – which is what Sister Parish is all about!

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent most of the time doing a bit of touristy stuff.

We spent Tuesday at an organic, sustainable coffee plantation that is also a resort called Selva Negra. We went on the tour of their sustainable farm, hiked, and rested a bit. I particularly enjoyed the howler monkeys! It is in a cloud forest and is run by 5th generation Germans who were invited over to Nicaragua in the 1800s to help the Nicaraguans learn how to make a good business out of coffee farming. They also sell their organic, fair trade coffee.

On Wednesday we went to see Masaya Volcano outside of Managua, then on to the colonial town of Granada. We went on a boat tour of some islets in Lake Nicaragua, which was very relaxing and interesting. We managed to attend Ash Wednesday Mass at a church in Granada. At the end of Mass when we were receiving ashes, they brought out a statue of Christ carrying the cross that was original to the church and is over 400 years old. After receiving ashes, everyone kissed the hands of Christ on this statue. An interesting cultural twist.

And that was our 2014 Pilgrimage trip to Nicaragua. It was a fascinating experience!
– MaryPat

March 2, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

Sunday is their day of rest here…

…so we went with some of our Nicaraguan friends to a little cabin on the side of a mountain, since we went to Mass Saturday evening. There our friend Walter lead us in some meditation, then some of us went for a hike up the mountain to where a big cross used to be. We had a picnic and danced a bit on the patio. It was a wonderful time spent enjoying our Nicaraguan friends!

– MaryPat

March 1, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

On Saturday we did a service project with the Prison Ministry group.

photo5 photo4In the morning Marilyn, Sue and I worked alongside the women to cut up vegetables for the meal they would serve the prisoners, while my husband Ken played guitar and practiced with the singing group and Jeff visited people in the hospital with our friend Renae. We so enjoyed working right with our fellow volunteers and chatting and singing with them! Then we went over to the jail with Vilma and the choral group to sing and pray with the prisoners. In the past there has been a maximum of only about 120 prisoners in that jail, but now there are 250 because the other prison (that they would send the most dangerous ones to) is over-full. Vilma is amazing to watch as she photo3preaches and gives hope to the prisoners! The Spirit really touches them through Vilma. Then we served the lunch to the inmates and blessed them. It was quite humbling to intentionally look into each one’s eyes and see the face of Christ, then remind them that God loves them.  It was quite a powerful experience for us.

 

photoLater we went to the church of the Black Christ – Señor Escipula. There we said the rosary with them, then went to Mass. We even got to witness two Baptisms! It is called the Black Christ because there was a small town in one of the photo9Central American countries that apparently was not following Christ. The church in their town burned completely to the ground except for the crucifix, which was charred completely black. The people took this as a sign that they should repent and they turned back to Christ. That is the story of the Black Christ that we heard, and it has become very powerful to the people in Central America.

That was our Saturday — MaryPat

 

February 28, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

Wow! We do so much when we are here — I forgot to describe for you something from Thursday that made an impact on all of us.

We were lucky enough on our journey back down the mountain to be able to observe the coffee pickers — or cutters as they are called here — as they were bringing in their baskets of coffee berries they picked that day and having them measured in order to receive their pay. There were lots of people, little children up through elders, who had ” cut coffee” all day long and must’ve been so tired, but we watched the children play and laugh as any other children might — one was rolling a tire down the hill — and the adults seemed so calm and nice to us. One boy and his grandfather walked hours to get there to work and they start at about four in the morning! Another man and his family were there from the Atlantic coast — the other side of Nicaragua — to pick coffee for five months in various places as the coffee matured at different times. This well-oiled machine was fascinating to watch!

On Friday we had our main day of the retreat that we collaborated on for our travelers from St. Ed’s and about eight people from the chapels out in the mountain villages that are a part of Our Lady of the Angels.

photo8Men and women came from Mancotal and Yankee, but none of the leaders of the church in town could come because they were all at another retreat. Bad timing I guess. But the people who were with us on this retreat were wonderful! They were so faith-filled, humble, and open to do whatever was asked of them. In the morning Padre Eliar gave a talk on Saintliness — the big Saints and the everyday saints — and how we are all called to saintliness. Our friend Renae did a fabulous job of translating everything for us, making everything understandable for everyone (Renae is originally from Seattle but served in the Peace Corp here and is now a Nicaraguan citizen and farmer). Then we we fortunate enough to have some discussion time with our Nicaraguan friends and Gringos mixed together. That was my favorite time.

photo6Later I was able to share a talk and activity with everyone on Gratitude from a retreat I had done at St. Ed’s. It was different for the Nicaraguans because it included the activity of making a map of times of great gratitude in our lives. They enjoyed it!  After we shared lunch, a nun from the U.S. who is working here gave an object lesson on how to be followers of Christ using a coin purse, an onion, a package of Jello, and a candle. It was fun!  The last talk of the day was by our friend who is the leader of the pastoral ministers. Her theme was our call to Holiness.

It was absolutely fascinating that even though we never got together to plan this retreat, all the different pieces of the retreat just flowed together beautifully, as if we had planned it together. Such is the work of the wonderful Holy Spirit! It was enjoyed by all! We were supposed to end with Mass, but Padre Eliar, who is also Vicar General here, was called away by the Bishop. It was a very beautiful and spiritual day. We were very Impressed by the deep faith and humility of these Nicaraguans who serve their church in their communities.

Your friend in Nicaragua — MaryPat

February 27, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

Our Thursday was jam-packed. We went out into the countryside with Padre Eliar and our friend and head of the Pastoral Ministers, Vilma.

photo-001We went to have a Mass with the campesinos of the Chapel at San Sylvestre de Patastillal. Money from St. Ed’s helped them finish this chapel, so families with children and elderly would not have to walk so many hours through the mountains to get to Mass.  As one of our group put it, their dedication to make such a difficult journey just to go to Mass (something we take for granted and may sometimes even complain about) made her want to cry. It can be very emotional. These very poor people are so appreciative for their chapel and the help that made it possible!

They even announced on the radio that the people from St. Edwards were coming (and the date photo 2-001and time) so people would know when and where to come to show their appreciation! While we sat up in front of the church facing them, they shared with us their prayers and their music with of all kinds of “mariachi” style guitars, trumpets, and accordions. They brought up used plastic pop bottles filled with water and statues and pictures for Padre Eliar to bless, then they sang some more songs. Finally, they put on a fine lunch only for us and their leaders.

photo 3-001All of this is important, though somewhat uncomfortable, in order for them to feel they are doing their part for us in this sister parish relationship and not only receiving — it honors their dignity. We all noticed how kind, polite, and welcoming they all were, even when they have so little. What they all give to their offertory is so much greater of a percentage of what they have, most likely, but still they give to the church. It is a very humbling experience. We try to be very present for them, noticing them, acknowledging them, making them feel respected and cared about. That’s part of what our pilgrimage is about.

photo 4-001We visited another chapel too. On the way back we visited Tepayac, the church of their beloved Padre Ordorico. He was a priest who was from Italy who came to serve a community right outside Jinotega (San Rafael) and did so many good works for the poor people there. He is very important for the people all over this region for how he cared for the poor. Our own Padre Eliar is part of a committee working toward canonizing him as a saint. It is very important work to him. We saw Padre Ordorico’s tomb. They say that when they moved his body to this tomb after being in a different tomb for over 16 years that his body had not decayed — a miracle. So people pray to Padre Ordorico to intercede for them for their needs. When their prayers are answered, they bring back a tiny pin — symbol of their answered prayer — and leave it at his tomb in thanksgiving. There were many such pins. Some of us prayed at his tomb as well and may have to return one day with our pins of thanksgiving!

photo5-001When we returned, tired as we were, we went to the one year anniversary of the death of our hotel owner’s mother, where we prayed the rosary with them and participated in the celebration. A long day — but another wonderful step on our pilgrimage journey.

Peace — MaryPat

February 26, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

We spent Wednesday trying to get our plans organized. The only visit we made was to the Nursing Home for the elderly, which is incredibly poor compared to those we have in Minnesota.

Sue Kellett has a special friend there, Raimunda, and we also supply some FMSC food for them to have better nutrition on a regular basis, but not every day. Raimunda is a woman that Sue found living on the street with her husband some years ago. They were already very elderly – Raimunda’s probably over 90 now – and the entire lower part of her leg was one big infected sore. Sue was able to arrange for some medical attention and to find a way to build a simple small home for them. One of St. Ed’s long-time parishioners helped to support this couple for a long time. Her husband has since died, and now she lives at the “Home of the old ones.” We just had to bring her some cheer. She was very excited that they are building a chapel for them that will be right next to her room that she shares with about 10 other women. God bless her heart.

And that was the most interesting part of that day.

Good-bye for now!

MaryPat

February 26, 2014

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Mary Pat Potts is in Jinotega right now! She will be there until March 7, leading several parishioners in a pilgrimage. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

Great flight. No issues. Hit the ground running in Jinotega.

Right away we went to the inaugaration ceremony for the brand new office building & hostel of our partner non government organization AVODEC – who does so much good work for the poor in the outlying villages – wells, houses, agricultural teaching, health, our solar ovens & cookstoves, distributing our Feed My Starving Children food, and so much more. What a wonderful celebration of good work!

Our own priest from our sister parish did the invocation & blessing – Padre Eliar. Listening to the speech by the director of Esperança – an Arizona organization that helps AVODEC a great deal with funding – I was able to identify almost all the principles of Catholic social teaching! We are doing wonderful things for these very poor people by working with AVODEC. It truly benefits out sister parish community.

Until later – Mary Pat

November 25, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 24, 2013 Hello to all, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATime has flown by and we’re back home as of this morning. We missed our connection in Miami yesterday afternoon so they sent us to Chicago. We spent the night there and came home today. I have been remiss in writing as the time has flown. A group of children at two rural schools received the baseball equipment for two new teams. Kris brought two duffels full of these things that have been donated. This is an ongoing project of ours. If you have any new or used equipment to donate please let us know. It can be found in the garages of friends and family, at stores selling used sports equipment, or at garage sales.

Many thanks to those who were out scouting for the equipment! You’ll never know what a difference you’ve made in the lives of these youngsters!

God Bless!
Sue

November 19, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, and the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 19, 2013

Hi,

Has it really been almost a week since I’ve written? Time has flown since Kris arrived. We picked her up at the airport Thursday night and got here late. Then up at 6:00 to be at the hospital at 7:00 to meet the ortho surgeons from California who were operating. Kris was invited to observe at the hospital and she learned a lot about how things are done here. The surgeons said they use older techniques because they don’t have the technology here that we have in the US but they said they work quite well.

We spent the rest of the day getting Kris oriented to the city once again. We had time to just hang around town. We’ve met some North Americans who are making Jinotega their home. It’s the first time I’ve really seen them hanging around town. One person we talked to said she only has $657 of social security per month and she can live here without a car on that.

Nica Nov. 2013 054I visited the nursing home before Kris came. The picture  is Lolo with his new shoes. He’s the one with both feet facing backward. He is so happy to finally be in a place where they take care of him. I also talked to Memo the alcoholic from the gutter that we put there for the second time maybe 6 months ago. He is so happy to be there he told me.

I’m going to jump over the weekend and continue with yesterday. We spent the weekend hanging with the locals. My friend Ranae came to town from her farm and she’s still with us. We found out our meeting in Managua with FMSC was postponed until next week. Sooo we have one more day to complete our work here. We were in the warehouse yesterday taking out some boxes of food to give to a rural pastor when Fr. Eliar entered and surprised us. He’s a difficult one to connect with. So we spent time looking at the current renovations of the church which began with the new roof which we helped with. So again St. Ed’s planted a seed. They have many youth groups of all ages as well as marriage encounters. He was very proud of the condition of the rooms and all the groups using them. They will continue to renovate and soon all the deferred maintenance will be repaired.

We were all invited to go to the hospital so Kris could have a tour of the maternity wards and the neonatal ward. The had to put on an addition to handle all the babies. They use to have 2-3 mothers with their babies in each bed but now they let them go home after 8 hours with a normal delivery if everything is OK so there are less. C-sections still stay 2 nights. We visited the Casa Materna that houses the women from the countryside with problems until they deliver. One 14 year old was having her 2nd. She was sexually abused by her father. He’s now in jail. We will try to help them with some food. Maybe some eggs and veggies. They only have rice and beans right now.

So this has gotten long… I’ll sign of and hopefully come again tomorrow

Peace,
Sue

November 13, 2013

Here you can read about the experiences of people who are either in Nicaragua at the moment or have been in Nicaragua and know the people, the place, the church in our sister parish community.

Specifically now…

Parishioner Sue Kellett is in Jinotega right now! She will be there for the next few weeks, joined by parishioner Kris McCullough. They will be e-mailing their progress, impressions, and such throughout their visit. Check back frequently to see what’s going on!

November 13, 2013

Greetings,

These past days have been full even though when I wake up in the morning I have almost nothing on my agenda. Monday I spent a better part of the day working with Victorino on the FMSC report we needed to submit. We have to do reports each time we receive a container. So we’re in good standing once again.

Yesterday I was invited to a workshop hosted by the European Union organization that is funding AVODEC’s chicken project. It had to do with teaching nutrition to the families in this area. Leaders of other organizations were there to observe and learn. As was I. This is a 1 million dollar project and AVODEC was selected to participate in it. They do LOTS of training. They teach the people how to raise and take care of the 6 chickens they receive. They build coops and mix food so the chickens have a good chance of survival. They lay eggs and new chicks hatch. They then pass on baby chicks to other families and teach them how to raise them. There is a lot of follow up. AVODEC has to invest some of their own funds.

The project manager, a Belgian woman named Maite’ is very impressed with AVODEC. She has worked in central America for 5 years and they are her favorite group so far. Such hard workers. It’s good to have this feedback.

Nica Nov. 2013 065Today I went to the basketball court to see the 30+ peasants who came to receive their wheel chairs. These were brought in by a Rotary group. The people were diverse, some just old with failing limbs, some had congenital deformities, some were single or double amputees due to diabetes or the war. (the photo above is a war casualty.) It really had an impact to see them all together. The wheel chairs came from The Wheelchair Foundation.

I made plans for Kris when she gets here so she can use her nursing and midwife skills. Our meeting in Managua with FMSC was postponed until the following week which is a disappointment to me because that was a big part of why I came at this time. But Victorino will go. We did inventory at the food warehouse and checked for mice. So far so good… So life is good. Tomorrow Victorino and I will go to Managua about 2 and do a few errands one of which is to drop off some water to be tested. Then we’ll meet Kris at the airport at 8:20 (if God wants which is what they always say here.)

So that’s the high points. Stay tuned. There will be lots more coming.

Love, Sue