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.
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!
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 St. 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 baby 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)!
We 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 we 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!