Archive | January, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

20 Jan

This time of year, when we’re looking for travelers, we get the same questions over and over again. Here are the top ones:

1.How much does is cost?

The short answer is about $1,000 which includes your flight ($750 +/-), travel health insurance ($16-$30, you don’t need trip cancellation), your passport ($135), and the travel clinic ($100 +/-). Beside that, you might also want to bring $100 or more to shop, that number varies based on whether you are a “shopper”.

Because tithing support has been drastically reduced, we were going to request an offering ($200) to offset the cost of running camp at the Hogar (mostly gas and fees for excursions). But, between the tithing support we did receive, Middle School Faith Formation fundraising, and private donations, the Home’s camp related expenses should be covered.

2. How do we keep the costs so low? This is much less than other mission trips.

There is no “overhead”. We stay and eat with the girls and Sisters. We develop and lead the trip ourselves. We reuse the VBS curriculum from the previous St. Ed’s VBS. As well as being less expensive than other mission trips, it’s also a more intimate experience. We get to live with the girls at the home. We also get to visit their neighborhoods, their families. It’s a very moving experience. Any traveler younger than 18 brings their mother or a guardian (there are no chaperones).

3. Do you have to be a parishioner at the Church of Saint Edward?

All are welcome.

4. Do you have to be Catholic?

No, the home is run by Carmelite Nuns, a Catholic order. We go to one to three Masses in a week. Ask a Catholic traveler to make sure you know the etiquette at Mass.

5. Do you have to speak Spanish?

It’s helpful to take some time to study the basics, to know please/thank you and greetings. We love DuoLingo, Spanish for Dummies (book and CD), Coffee Break Spanish (podcast series),  community education classes, phrase books,  and anything else you can do. The most important thing is that you are willing to spend time playing with the girls. We are all creative about using sign language, pointing, and charades. Of course, we love Spanish speakers. This is a great opportunity to remember what you learned in college or take the opportunity to let your high school daughter show you what she’s learned. Read  What you can do if you don’t speak Spanish for more information and ideas.

6. Can I go for one week? Two weeks?

Most travelers go for one week, Saturday through Sunday. This way, on the middle Saturday, we all meet up and exchange stories. Some travelers choose to stay for two weeks. This is not as common.

How do you get a passport?

6. Tell me about the Hogar (home).

Carmelite Sisters take in girls ages 5-18 who are smart, healthy, and very poor. They live at the home during the school year which is September – June, like in the US. The girls attend the local Catholic schools. The girls live in one of two dorms, based on age and maturity. They eat 3 meals a day. Everyone pitches in with chores. They also return to their community once a month of so. One challenge the home was facing was when the girls returned from a 10 week summer break. They typically can back underfed and with other poverty-related illnesses. They also typically had no schedule, so getting back onto a schedule for school was challenging. Camp was started to help with that. We see the girls in July, the middle of break. A public health nurse sees them.  They get fed. They get enrichment – similar to summer camps in the US.

For future travelers – I don’t want to set expectations too high, but most first time travelers comment that the accommodations are better then expected.

7. What is the overall schedule?

Rough Schedule

Keep the questions coming! Hope to see you at the kick-off meeting Feb 10 7-9 in the St. Ed’s Auditorium!