Hello to everyone at Ascension and St. Agnes. I hope many of you will give prayerful consideration to going on Mission trip 2010. We will depart Washington Saturday, January 16, 2010 and return the following Saturday, January 23.
If you are thinking of going, here is what to expect.
First the people are some of the warmest people you will ever meet. Upon your arrival you will be treated as visiting royalty. As you walk down the streets most everyone will say hello. What a welcome change from Washington.
The main part of the town does have paved streets but not far off the main drag, the streets are dirt. It is after all the third world and part of the reason we are called to San Juan de Oriente.
Your host family will provide a bed for you but maybe not a pillow. You will eat breakfast and some dinners with your host family. Most people do not speak English but you will be put with someone in the group that can speak Spanish. It would not hurt to take a Spanish course before you go or get a Spanish/English dictionary. Sign language and a lot of smiling works as well.
You will have indoor plumbing but water comes sporadically, so you have to use buckets of water to flush toilets and take showers. The water for the shower may not be heated by your host family, so be prepared to pour cold water over you. No one has air conditioning but you don’t need it. There always seems to be a breeze blowing and the nights are cool.
You do not need any special vaccinations before you go. However, a visit to your doctor is recommended to get a prescription of cipro and thuroflu in case you get sick. Fortunately, in our first two years we have not had any health problems and we did not need either of these items. Your host family will provide you with bottled water to drink and brush your teeth. When you are working, you can buy bottled water in town.
You do get to interact with the people through your host family. There are daily Masses which give me a great feeling of being part of a larger Christian Community. Not exactly a high Mass at ASA but a wonderful religious experience. We also do two bible studies in the evening with the people of the Parish. If you are working with the kids on the Celebration de fei, you will have some wonderful experiences. Importantly, the food program, which the Parish supports year round, gives you a chance to meet and greet some of the cutest kids on earth. Like me, you will be surprised at how well behaved they are. You will also get to meet the people while you are doing the work project.
Finally, it is not all work; we do take some side trips to see the country. In the past we have gone to a volcanic lake, visited Granada, driven to the top of and hiked a mountain( not difficult) and seen a volcano. The town of San Juan de Oriente is well known for its pottery. It is a great chance to support the local economy by making a purchase of one or two, well o.k., many items. For me the pieces I have purchased have allowed me to share my experiences with others.
The trip is a wonderful way to get to know your fellow parishioners better and in a deeper and richer way. In the evenings, we have time to decompress and share what we saw, what we learned, and how we’ve grown in our faith.
I have been on both mission trips and plan to go on Mission 2010. I hope you will consider being part of this important parish activity. If you want more information feel free to speak to me or any of the others who have been to Nicaragua.