Monday, November 17, 2008

Watch Your Step!

As we begin a new week and I reflect on last week, I am convinced that by far the newest and most interesting experience had to do with sending the cows home. You may remember that one of the many projects toward self help and sustainable development has to do with cows, chickens and seeds. Well, after much planning and changing of plans and selecting of new settings for seven cows, all came together on Friday afternoon. We trooped out to a rural spot where the seven recipients and some spouses were waiting along with lengths of rope and one very large truck. We rolled up our pant legs for obvious reasons and went to look at the cows, all of which have been declared pregnant! The folks began to choose their cows and I was walking around in my trusty Keen sandals which have tractor treads on the bottom. Well, tractor treads work well in rain and mud, but with a large cow paddock, they just fill up with manure! These are really terrific shoes and I am most grateful to a dear friend who insisted that I needed a pair and gave them to me as a gift. They are water resistant, supportive and give great traction.

At any rate I was equipped with my dandy digital camera “attempting” to take photos of each cow and new owner. I more or less succeeded. I kept being warned not to get too close because despite the reports of contented cows, that seems to be a myth. Someone had failed to orient the cows as to the reality of the next phase of their life. For the most part they had no intentions of changing residence and made that clear. One in particular was REALLY resistant and presented a great challenge.

Eventually, after much pushing, pulling, prodding, coaxing, threatening, etc. they managed to get her into the truck with two other ‘transfers’. Some cows were being walked to their new homes since they were only five or six kilometers from home base. Needless to say, I was grateful that the water was still on when I returned home. First the shoes were scrubbed and brushed and ‘dug out’. And then the wearer of the shoes was scrubbed! Thanks to the generosity of friends of the sandal wearer, three of the cows were financed in addition to the four which were part of another project.

I’m getting ready to fly north for a month and mentally trying to imagine COLD!! It sounds terrific right now but I have a feeling that it will be a different story when I’m in it. Anyway, I’m making a list of “things to bring back” and you’d laugh at some of the items: can opener, sink strainers, Teddy Grahams, sturdy shower caps, etc.!! I will be gone from Nicaragua between December 8th and January 11th. I will blog if I have a chance. If you don’t hear from me, it might be that my fingers are frozen and can’t type! However, I will welcome the change from HOT!!

Thanks for your interest and support. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the States. I’m very aware that I’m in another country and that this special day is only for folks who are citizens of the United States.

Pray for this country. We just completed elections for the mayors of each municipality and there was obvious fraud involved. This is causing many problems and who knows how it will be resolved.

Love and gratitude, your sister, Jeanne

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feast of All Saints “Each of us in process!"

November 1, 2008

Saludos de Managua!

I’ve been reminded by more than one friend that I’ve been remiss about posting a letter in my blog. So, I shall sit me down and chat with you for a while. Thanks for being faithful to checking the blog frequently. I have a “site meter” which allows me to see the frequency of visits – not e-mail addresses, but the servers that have checked in, and I see the same ones over and over. Such fidelity!!

This past week we had wonderful celebrations as we remembered and gave thanks for twenty years of ministry through Cantera, the NGO with which I am ministering, and for the many people who have been part of this venture. It is very impressive to realize the tremendous amount of development that has been effected by this group of dedicated Nicaraguans.

We had an outside Mass – under tents!! One can never trust the weather here! It was so beautifully representative of all the sectors of our ministry. At the Offertory a wide variety of “gifts” were brought forth and their significance explained. One is rightly proud of our people from both rural and urban areas - the children, the youth, the young adults and our wise elders. After the Mass, which was full of whole hearted singing and participation, we had a fine Nicaraguan style meal – Indio Viejo and rice! There were over 200 people present from all areas of our work and from the States, Canada, and other Central American countries.

The following day we had a forum which was sponsored by some of our international supporters. It took place at a hotel and all who are a part of Cantera or who cooperate and/or support us, were invited. And again they came from the hills and the cities and the international organizations and networks. We had a most energizing day with input in terms of development and growth and progress of our people and the celebration of their many accomplishments over these past twenty.

We also looked toward the future and dreamed of possibilities for even further and deeper growth. We enjoyed folkloric dancing and theatrical skits and music. The displays of past events and accomplishments and products was impressive, to say the least. And seeing the pride with which our people demonstrated and displayed their successes was a joy to behold. Of course, food was also part of this day. However, it was more in the style to which you and I are accustomed; that is to say, it was not red beans, rice and bananas! Yum!

Concerning the “farm animal project” to which many of you have contributed, three pregnant cows are ‘coming home’ this week and another in November. I had hoped to include photos of our bovine mamas. I took really nice photos. The cows all smiled and stood still….but they are not on my chip. I don’t know where they went. They just plain disappeared!! One of our team is going to try again today to get some photos. If they arrive I’ll send them on to Ruth and she will graciously add them to the blog! Nothing happens quickly here, but it does eventually occur. You just have to have lots of patience and hope!

Have you read any good books lately? I’ve recently devoured, “Mountains Beyond Mountains” – Dr. Paul Farmer’s fight against TB, AIDS, and poverty in general in the ‘back of beyond’ of Haiti. Another book that you’ve probably read or seen the movie produced from it and which I enjoyed is, “Kite Runner”. The most recently read was, “The Power of One”. I seem to be into international - Haiti, Afghanistan and South Africa! If you have a suggestion of a book or movie/video you’ve enjoyed and learned from, please send a comment letting me know. I have heard that “The Secret Life of Bees” is now a movie and that “Shack”, “Three Cups of Tea” and “A Thousand Pleasant Suns” are also very good.

I don’t have a photo of this, but I want to share with you a beautiful practice our little ones are taught. When they enter the room they toddle over to the visitor with their hands folded upward symbolically asking a blessing. They come to you and place your hands over theirs and say, “Santito” (little holy one). It never ceases to touch me. The other day in front of our “casita”, a little lad was pushing his smaller sister in a stroller. Both of them greeted me with their hands folded.

I will be in the States from December 8th until January 11th. The time will go quickly as I will be spending Christmas Week with my family in St. Louis and the first week of January in retreat in Cleveland. But….in between times I hope to meet up with you and share the “ongoingness” of life! I’ll probably “blog” again before ‘flying north’. I’m mentally preparing myself for the opposite extreme of weather!

Until the next time, let us keep each other in positive energy and light and do whatever we are able to bring peace, reconciliation and unity to our corner of the world. Many thanks for your support which comes in many different forms. You are loved and appreciated, each one of you.

Love, your sister,