Press-Republican

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February 19, 2014

Mission of Hope surmounts obstacles

PLATTSBURGH — The bus plowed through the pothole at about about 1:10 a.m., lurching to a stop that jolted North Country Mission of Hope travelers who had thought they would reach Newark Liberty International Airport in just minutes.

“It made a really loud noise,” first-time missioner Becky Columbe, a social worker at Meadowbrook Health Care in Plattsburgh, said via cellphone from Houston.

Anna Fisher, a SUNY Plattsburgh student from West Chazy, kind of shrugged off the incident even as it happened.

“Oh, great,” she told herself. “Here we go again.”

A few years ago, traveling to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life, her bus broke down, and she spent a few hours standing by the road until alternate transportation was arranged.

This time, at least she and her companions weren’t waiting on the street, something to be avoided in downtown Newark in the dark of night.

The bus driver eased the vehicle, which had also struck a large tire in the road, into the parking lot of a gas station/convenience store. And everyone waited inside, a group of 35 crowded into the shopping aisles.

For a couple of hours, said Amy LoTemplio, 17, of Morrisonville, “we were looking at the granola bars and cookies and stuff.”

ONE FELL ILL

The Mission of Hope group had left Plattsburgh at 6:30 p.m. Monday, about 12 hours ahead of schedule, with their final destination Nicaragua.

There, they will help the poor with a variety of projects that include building a kitchen at one school and replacing toilets at another one where none are functioning now. 

Mission Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow had been advised that their Monday morning flight from Burlington to Newark had been canceled, and so they headed out on a bus from Ground Force 1.

They had expected to arrive in Newark no later than midnight, hours ahead of their 8:15 a.m. flight to Houston.

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