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An Inspiring Message from Sister Debbie of the North Country Mission of Hope

Good morning everyone,

I would like to begin by welcoming a significant number of new readers to these mission news/notes.

Just to bring all our readers up to speed, these news and notes are designed to share key weekly news regarding the Mission, giving key dates and events and usually ending with a “Thought for the week”.  In those brief reflections, I try to share HOPE by taking ordinary or “not so ordinary” events and experiences and share my perspective on what that means in my faith life and in the life of the Mission and perhaps some of us as well.  Regular feedback on the “thoughts” seem to indicate that folks do read and appreciate my feeble efforts to share ordinary faith experiences.

1.  Container Shipment:  Next Wednesday, we will be packing and shipping a 40 foot container to Nicaragua.  It will contain medical equipment and supplies, educational supplies including desks and notebooks, clothing for all ages, and so much more.  We are awed at how quickly our new warehouse and office facility filled with all the items.
Each container costs us about $10,000 to ship (costs stateside and Nica combined) but I can assure you that the value of the contents is many times more.  If you can help, contact Jimmy Dumont at 518-651-6009.  Date:  Wed., Dec. 6th beginning at 8 AM.  Location:  3452 Route 22, Peru, NY 12972.
FYI:  Our warehouse will close for the holidays after the container shipment on Wednesday.  We will reopen the warehouse on January 3rd.
2.  Sponsor gifts due:  Just a reminder that sponsor gifts for sponsored children are due no later than Dec. 15th.
3.  Interested in sponsoring a student for education?  We would love more sponsors.  Basic cost is $140.  Optional costs include $50 for books, and any amount toward feeding the child.
As a matter of fact, we have an elderly man who was sponsoring 13 students and unfortunately, was placed in a memory care facility this past summer by family members due to Alzheimers.  Can anyone assist in picking up any of these sponsorships?  If so, please advise.
4.  Orphans’ Hope sponsors are also available.  We assist children in 4 orphanages plus our HIV positive orphan children via Caritas.  If you want to support this incredible project, cost is $300 annually and I’m certain that Barbara Dobilas, our OHP coordinator, would love to welcome more sponsors.
5.  CHANGE FOR CHRISTMAS:  As most of you know, each year for the past 10 years, we’ve offered folks an opportunity to “save their change”( dollars welcomed of course!).  All funds collected will be used to help fund our Feeding Program where we feed over 6500 children daily in more than 20 poor schools.  So, want to make a difference?  Want to make a “change for Christmas” for children in need?  If so, please save your coins and spare dollars and send in.  Mark memo section as “change for Christmas”.  And yes, we will take the funds even after Christmas.  By the way, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this effort, it was the brainstorm of a 5 year old girl almost 10 years ago.
6.  Gift cards of acknowledgment:  We also have special Christmas gift acknowledgment cards if anyone wants to make a donation to the Mission in honor of a loved one.
7.  Did you know?  Last week, we received $10,500 from an anonymous donor to assist in serving the victims of Mexico City Earthquake, as well as victims of recent disastrous hurricanes.  On top of that, we also received a very generous contribution of $17,000+ to assist in many of our daily programs and projects in Nicaragua.
To date, we’ve received $28.749 for these national and international disasters.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!
8.  Amazon Smile:  Don’t forget if you are buying online at Amazon, please use Amazon Smile and select North Country Mission of Hope as your charity of choice….we receive a percentage of all purchased on Amazon if you use the Amazon Smile link to make your purchases.
9.  Exciting news:  We are nearing completion of our warehouse and office renovations and frankly, can’t wait to “check this off” on our to do list.  Below is a glimpse of some of the final remaining tasks…if you can help with any of this, please contact Ron Charette at 518-420-2677 or
Finish drywall taping
Painting new drywall in conference room and hallway
finish installing trim
construct sliding privacy doors
continue caulking spaces between wall/floor and trim
Finish touch up painting tasks in a few areas
AND we also need folks who can help us wipe down walls in the final process before we actually move our Mission office to our new site.  And yes, once this is done, Suzanne and I will need help in moving our office over.
Thought for the week:  A Choir of Angels….
Advent begins this weekend and as we know, it is a Season of waiting, of hoping, of preparing and of giving.
I’d like to share what happened yesterday.  This particular choir of Angels included people from New Hampshire, Schroon Lake, Peru, Plattsburgh, Ausable, and Chateagay Lake – just to name a few.  What happened you ask and what does this have to do with Advent?  Well, since you asked……a wonderful past mission traveler graciously offered to bring a 12 passenger van loaded with supplies from our Retreat Center in New Hampshire which has closed.  These supplies will assist not only people in Nica, but also some local families in crisis.  So, she started her trek (much like Mary and Joseph) except she had a 5 year old and a 6 year old nestled in the van among all the items.
As she neared our warehouse (10 miles from us), she pulled over- partially because her Mapquest directions took her a round about way and partially because there was an ambulance approaching.  As she backed up in this long driveway to turn around, life suddenly got very challenging and very interesting because there was a culvert (not well visible) and she backed into a ditch.  Yes, a loaded 12 passenger van, two little ones and the weather was turning colder as the minutes passed.
So, 4 of us from the Mission drove out to find her and meet up with her, while one stayed behind, keeping the “home fires” burning at the warehouse.  When we pulled up, I truly thought “Oh NOOOOOO”- this is not good and our angel from Chateaugay Lake immediately hopped into action, only to find that there was no way he could pull the van out with his truck.  It was about this time that the rest of us heard the voices of children yet could not see them.  Yes, the two little ones were snuggled among the items in the van, quite content.  Our two angels from Peru helped move supplies so the two little ones could get out of the van.
Then, 4 local service stations called and a AAA call later, we had a rescue and more angels on the way.  Shortly after, another angel, a State Police officer showed up as well.  It then became our concern to have the children get out of the van, hop into my warm vehicle so they’d be safe while the tow truck did its job.  Two of  our crew had to return home to care for other children and other tasks.  As the children sat in my car, I asked them if they liked Christmas music, only to hear a resounding YES.  As only angels would have it, a familiar song came on the radio station and I began to sing (and “sing” is relative because I don’t sing and honestly thought I might not be able to be a nun because I couldn’t sing!!!).  When the two little ones began to chime in, the thought came to me:  “Even in the midst of all this mess, these two little ones were smiling, singing, and revealing their innocence via their genuine childlike joy”.  It touched me so much that I had to fight back the tears.
Meanwhile, outside, it began to get much colder, we had a short douse of sleet…yes…there is often a natural phenomenon to accompany “God events”.  However, instead of a “North Star”, our North Country phenomenon at that moment was cold, sleet and then wind- lots of wind.
As the vehicle was gently being pulled out of the ditch, we all suddenly realized that the roadside driveway reflector was struck and destroyed.  Sooooo, the police officer pulled out his “accident report pad” and indicated he now had to do a report.  Those of us remaining reacted with “please, let’s just see if we can pay for the reflector since it would only be a very few dollars”.  The gracious police officer then drove up this VERY long driveway to the home of the owner, and drove back a few minutes later.  He told us that he told the home owner that he told him it was Sr. Debbie and her Mission crew delivering donated supplies and what did the owner want the officer to do.  The owner’s response was that given the situation and who was involved, he would simply take care of replacing the reflector himself.
And so, as Paul Harvey used to say…now, the rest of the story:  We drove back and all the way to the warehouse, I’m thinking “it’s 2:30- we have to feed these two children and mom”, but the Chateaugay Lake angel was already on it.  He stopped trying to buy a pizza, to no avail.  So, after the children and we three remaining adults unloaded this van which was chucked to the gills with donations, the little 5 year old boy found a wrapped candy on the floor of the van and exclaimed:  “Yea- I know whom I’m going to share this with”.  I thought he meant his sister, but as hugs were shared and a little cash given to the mom to stop and feed the kids (which she only accepted reluctantly and with lots of urging), the little 5 year old boy tugged on the Chateugay Laker’s jacket, and gave him “the whole candy”.  The man’s response to me:  “I was happier than a pig in” ……you know the rest of that quote!
It took a choir of angels to turn what could have been a extremely expensive and dangerous event, into a true Advent/Christmas story..a story of:
WAITING- for rescue and warmth
HOPING- that the damage would be minimal and no one would be hurt
PREPARING- to get the donated items from a very sad situation at our retreat center to folks in great need,  preparing to figure out how to best resolve the situation, preparing to unload and distribute these items which would soon give LIFE to other people in need….
GIVING:  a hug, a candy that symbolized a human bonding, a heart to heart connection between a 5 year old boy and a man he had just met.  GIVING a glimpse of angels from all over who helped in this rescue- garages, tow trucks, a police officer, a home owner, 5 Mission of Hope folks, Sisters at Berakah in NH who were so pleased to be able to give items to others even in the midst of their own grieving and letting go as they transitioned to the unknown.  GIVING a glimpse of what it means to have a whole choir of angels becoming a piece of a modern day story of new beginnings, new life, renewed HOPE!
So, as you begin your Advent journey to Christmas, be open to the surprises God has in store for you, be open to ordinary experiences that can be God events and be open to a CHOIR OF ANGELS…
Live and be HOPE this week.
Sr. Debbie
Sr. Debbie Blow, OP
Executive Director
North Country Mission of Hope
PO Box 2522
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Cell: 518-570-5443
Office: 518-561-2599

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