Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Journey

Dear followers of “Sister Act 3”,

I have been procrastinating about updating this blog and now it’s time to leave Nica land for a short while. I will be traveling to the States for Holy Week in Detroit and then Easter Week in Chicago for congregational meetings. There will be over 400 of us gathered there as we meet and plan and enjoy each other….and that we do, very well. Once back from Chicago I’ll have two days in Managua and then be off with the other two CSJs from here to meet up with our Marie Hogan (Leadership Team) from the States and Jan Kurtz who ministers in Lima, Peru, for our gathering of C/SSJs who live and work in Latin America and the Caribbean area. This happens every 5 years and in a different country each time. It will be a great two weeks sharing and meeting and enjoying with others who are engaged in similar ministries with our sisters and brothers in this part of our world. I will blog after the events and let you know how everything unfolded. We return on April 29th, so I’ll check back in sometime in the beginning of May.

While I’m in Detroit I’ll be connecting with the students from Shrine Junior and Senior High School and bringing them a bit of the reality of life in a tropical/dry Nicaragua which is the second poorest country next to Haiti. They’ve been collecting funds to pay for a cow which will be a great help for some family.

The timing is just right, since this has been their Lenten project and it will help the connection between ‘here’ and ‘there’. Thanks to Mary Ann and all who have put forth effort into this project.

The last time I wrote we were engaged in starting a ‘vivero’ nursery of trees. The 15,000 little black bags now have been filled and they have seeds within and hopefully are growing and thriving. After 3 – 4 months they will be able to be transplanted. They are part of a reforestation project. The big challenge is keep them watered. We haven’t had rain since forever….and it’s nowhere in sight! Everything is VERY dry, dusty and non-green!! It will be good to experience some RAIN in Michigan and Illinois. Remind me not to complain about it when I’m there!!!

May Holy Week bring many blessings and Easter a time of great joy and celebration of ‘life conquering death’.

Until next time when we meet at “Sister Act 3”, many thanks for all each one does to make this world a better place for everyone.

Love and peace,


Friday, March 5, 2010

The Nature of Things

As we read of still MORE snow in the northeast USA, we find ourselves trying to find a bit of shade and a bit of breeze SOMEWHERE. It is unseasonably hot and they tell us that the much needed rain that normally comes in May will not arrive until July. The climate is off all over our small green planet and we have some responsibility for this. We’ve just experienced the second devastating earthquake in our western hemisphere, in Chile. We were warned of a possible tsunami event but thankfully we didn’t experience the huge waves that were expected. We did have some winds and rain during the night after the earthquake. What a welcome sound…rain on my tin roof!

Maria Veronica and Juanita examining a 'find' from nature in the rural school of Los Filos.

I’m writing of these events because part of what we’ve been involved in lately is the formation, for this year, of our ecology brigades among the school children, youth and adults. These folks are our forerunners of a more healthy, more kindly treated natural environment. We have been visiting our very humble rural schools…some of them with all children in grades 1-6 in the same room and with only a few desks and very little more. They are very aware of Madre Tierra (Mother Earth) who surrounds them at all times. They know the trees, their leaves, the flowers, the birds, the native animals and how to use the leaves and flowers for remedies and medicine. They will be involved in helping to raise consciousness about the dangers that face our environment and the health issues connected thereto. They will be helping to clean up their homes and communities and encouraging their families to do so while seeing that garbage is cared for properly. These children will also be responsible for cultivating and maintaining their school gardens that will supply them with tomatoes, sweet peppers, lettuce and other veggies that they wouldn’t normally have included in their diet. It is indeed a formidable task with six months of drought each year. However, youth have a way of circumventing the impossible and making some progress. They’re proud of their T-shirts and caps that set them apart... shirts that say “I care for the environment” on the front, and on the back, “…and you?” They will help with reforestation because one of Nicaragua’s MAJOR problems is the cutting of trees on the hillsides. This is done to provide wood for cooking and for the making of charcoal. Both of these items can then be sold and thus provide a little income for families. It’s a Catch-22! They need the cash to supplement their beans, rice and corn diet, but in so doing they are facilitating erosion, driving the water table lower making it even more difficult to locate underground water, and disturbing the balance of gas exchange. An approach to this dilemma is to replant three trees for every tree felled.

The beginning of a tree nursery....filling 5,000 plastic bags with prepared soil!

To get started in this latest aspect, we had a day long workshop with representatives from each of the six areas in which we are working. There was time for sharing and learning and time for working. It was quite literally a WORKshop! We filled 5,000 small black plastic bags with properly mixed soil. Now I’m here to tell you that that constitutes WORK!! The spirit was great and in spite of the heat and DIRT, we managed quite well. This is the first step in developing a vivero (nursery). Eventually, the seed of a tree will be planted in each one, carefully watered and tended and eventually transplanted in the various areas where the children and youth live in an effort to replace trees that have been cut down. We’ll have another ‘go’ at it again in three weeks. By then my body will have recuperated!! It’s called “stoop labor”!! The goal is 15,000 saplings!! And so…seed by seed we move into a healthier future!

With the coming of the rainy season, we’ll be able to place the famous ‘pregnant cows’ in their new homes. Because the folks rely on the uncultivated ‘greenery’ for food for the cattle, we can only move this project along during the rainy season. Everything in its time! However, there are three families anxiously waiting for cows and within a couple of months this should be a reality for them…soon a calf and then milk and cheese to eat and sell. The students at Shrine High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, are sponsoring a part of this project by their donations during Lent. We’re grateful to them and also to all who help us along as we accompany the people on their journey to a more dignified and healthier life. The chickens will also be placed soon with two families in Los Planes de Cuajachillo 2.

I’m looking forward to our Assembly in Chicago during Easter Week and will be spending Holy Week in Michigan. Holy Week here is vacation for all….including for those responsible for printing newspapers!! There’s no connection with religious motives, it’s just the time for everyone to be “off”. Since this is the case, it’s an opportunity to come home a week ahead of our Assembly. I’ll see some of you then and I look forward to that.

Thanks for whatever you are doing to be aware of all our sisters and brothers throughout the world .. especially those who do not have the opportunities as do some of us, for a more dignified and healthier life.


Your sister, Jeanne