Sunday, July 24, 2011

Awareness and Humility

Friday was a whirlwind of emotions; excitement of heading back to the U.S to see loved ones, actually having a hot shower and not worrying about everything I eat and drink, but also sadness and some guilt about leaving where I have put my entire heart this past month. I don’t think when I was getting ready for the journey over a month ago, I was prepared for what my heart and mind was about to go through. The highs and lows, challenges and successes, every moment of this trip was spent feeling something. Happiness, sadness, warmth, humility, guilt, anger, fatigue, confusion, and achievement are just to name a few. It can only be described as a life altering experience. The people of Piura told us daily how we were changing their lives and how we were their angels, but I don’t think they realize how much they taught me this past month. Every day I encountered Christ in some way, through the people and my work. The biggest thing they taught me is humility and simply being happy. It is quite an overwhelming feeling when you walk into someone’s home made of bamboo walls and dirt floors, and they pull out every chair and stool they have. Then to wash their hands and feet is something I never thought could make me so emotional. I can’t describe exactly what I felt in those moments but it was one of the most peaceful and serene places I have been. When in reality I was surrounded by dirt, flies, no running water and a hole that they use as a toilet. They have so little and yet they go to the very edge of their resources to accommodate you and make you feel comfortable with no ulterior motive in mind besides just wanting you there. And as little as they have they are so happy to just be alive.

At about 4pm on Friday, a bunch of the people we have become very close with, our Marquette family, Meg’s family and some others came to the church to hang out with us and say goodbye. Merci, a woman I had met my second weekend in Piura, comes to church at Santisimio every night. She always found me after mass and gave me a hug and kiss. She came up to the church at 4:30pm to say goodbye and spend some more time with me before I left. It really touched me because besides seeing her in church and maybe once out in the village I hadn’t really spent time with her besides when I first met her on the procession. She lives about 15-20 minutes away from the church (via mototaxi) and she came all that way just to say goodbye. As I was spending my last moments with the people who have captured my heart I realized that as much as I want to come back here, I just don’t know how realistic it will be; maybe in a couple years but not anytime soon. So much changes here in a matter of a couple years and who knows if I will even be able to contact these people to meet up with them next time I come. I never thought that this is the last time I could ever see these people who have hold of such a big part of my heart. We started saying goodbye and the first two times around I was doing pretty well. I was keeping my composure and able to talk to them without tears. For some reason there was a problem with the car and packing our luggage, so our goodbye turned into about a 45 minute ordeal, which was one of the worst things that could happen. This prolonged goodbye felt like someone was taking off a band-aid one hair at a time. Each hug and kiss broke down a little piece of my wall and the tears were about to bust out. The moment I lost it was when one of the little girls in Meg’s family gave me a hug and then as I was stepping back she made the sign of the cross on me. I was shocked at first, I don’t think I know an 11 year old in the U.S who would ever do that and the action of being blessed by one of the people of Piura just rocked me to my core. Religion and faith is such a huge part of their life that an act such as this really means a lot. They don’t do it often so to receive this from such a young girl really touched and yet tore my heart apart. I lost it after that and I couldn’t stop because Erika, the mom of our Marquette family, and the mother of Meg’s family were both bawling.  We finally got into the car and were pulling out when we saw all the families standing on the corner waving and yelling “Chao” “Bye”. I had finally gained my composure when I lost it again. As many times as I told the people that it wasn’t “Chao” it was “Hasta luego”, I knew it was mostly goodbye for forever.

As hard as it was to say goodbye to the people of Piura, it was equally as hard to say goodbye to the missionaries who have I have become so close with. Even though we weren’t out building houses and doing other activities with them, we spent a lot of our downtime and meals together. It is a unique bond that is built when you live with people in a foreign place. As different as our walks of life may be, we all came here for one reason, to help those in need. We were able to discover more about ourselves through each other and were able to bond with that. Many of these people saw me at some of the highest and lowest points in my life and none of them asked questions, they just listened and understood. You know who you are and if you are reading this I want you to know that you have touched my heart and I will never forget the time we spent together. Thank you for helping me through one of the most challenging moments in my life by being there and making me laugh. I don’t think you will ever understand how much I needed that. You have become family and know that no matter the distance I plan on staying in touch and hope to see you sometime soon. Road trip reunion? J

Dr. Belknap was another key player in this experience. From day one she told us to be open and vulnerable to our feelings. She was always compassionate and even though challenging us, was cheering on the sidelines as our biggest fan. She fostered our learning and was a vital person in making this experience so great.

The last shout out has to be made to Marianne, Meg, Maria and Chelsea. I don’t know what I would have done without you girls. These five weeks have brought us closer than any of us imagined. As crazy as it was I can’t imagine being on this rollercoaster with anyone else. We had our ups and downs, laughs and tears, but in the end we have a special bond that not many people have. I love you girls and know that you will all go on to do great things. Your passion, caring hearts and intelligent minds have pushed me to be the best person I can be and I thank you for that.

It is hard to put into words the feelings and emotions that have gone through my mind and heart in the last 48 hours. There is a part of me that is so anxious to get home and back to my loved ones. There is another part of me that wants to stay here and keep on working. Then there is a part of me that is scared of what to do next. I can’t just go back to the U.S and forget about everything I have done here. I also can’t go back and live a simplistic life like the one I have been immersed in the past month. I have to find a balance and I believe that is going to be the hardest challenge. How am I supposed to lay in my bed at night knowing that many of the people I have grown to love are sleeping on dirt floors and wear the same 3 shirts over and over again? How can I justify buying that cute shirt or Starbucks coffee, when the people of Piura are walking miles to get water because they don’t have running water? As much as I want to give away all of my belongings to the poor and live a life like those in Peru, I know it is not practical. The American lifestyle just isn’t built to work like that. The biggest thing I can do is to just be aware. Aware that I don’t always need name brand clothes. Aware that time spent with loved ones is better than time spent in front of a T.V. Aware that people come from different walks of life but all have one thing in common, they just want to be loved and cared for. The best thing I can do for all of those in Piura, is to pray and think about them every day. Following my heart and putting love and faith in everything I do, day by day is the way I can live out my life here in the U.S. This quote by Mother Teresa is how I am going to approach life from now on and I urge you to do the same. “Since we cannot see Christ, we cannot express our love to Him. But we do see our neighbor, and we can do for him what we would do for Christ if He were visible.” 


Yesterday was pretty much the same as Monday. I just did the intake assessments of the patients (pediatric again) but I also helped with discharge teaching/going over the medications. It was such a humbling experience because the parents and kids are just so grateful. Almost every mother gave me a huge hug after I handed them their medicine. Even if it was something as simple as vitamins! The other really cool thing is that along with the medicine the kids get a toothbrush, toothpaste and then a little stuffed animal. It usually is like a little beanie baby, sometimes they are really weird creatures but the children’s eyes just light up when they see them. I remember there was this little white puffball with a tail and eyes that was in the goodie bag, and when I pulled it out to give to the little girl, her eyes lit up. I don’t think I have ever seen someone’s eyes get so big before. She smiled real big and then gave it a huge hug! I honestly thought it was one of the scariest looking creatures I have seen, yet this girl just adored it. Even after a month of being here and living with the people, I am still so shocked at how happy they can be with the little they have.

Today I worked here at the clinic at the parish with the surgical team and the dentist. I started off working in surgery doing pre-op on the patients and attempting to do IVs. I tried twice and failed both times. L Other than that we just waited for the patients to be taken into the surgery room. They are performing hernia surgeries and the patients wait in the post-op room until they are able to walk and feel better after the operation. I watched the second surgery, which was a relatively quick surgery and pretty simple. After bringing her out and bringing the next patient in, I got called to go help translate for the dentist because the girl who was helping him wasn’t feeling well. So I then spent a chunk of my day sitting in the dental room watched the dentist extract teeth. He really didn’t need me to translate because he does pretty well for himself so I sat, watched and got the next group of instruments and such ready for the next patient. I saw close to about 20 teeth get pulled, and most were done in like 20 minutes or less!

About 4pm I went back into the pre/post op surgery to switch it up and help out with anything that needed to be done. This is when I met a wonderful woman named Blanca Rosa. She was the last patient to get surgery and had just been sitting in the waiting/pre-op room, so I sat down next to her and started talking. I don’t know how we did it but we spent the next hour talking about her family, my family, and everything in between. Blanca then went into a ten minute talk about how I was her angel and that she saw Christ in me. She said she was so thankful for all of the doctors and nurses who come here and work because we are all angels of God and it makes her so happy to see us. I have never had anyone say something like that to me. I was kind of shocked and replied with a very shy “muchas gracias”. I told her she was an angel too, and she shook her head and said “no”. But in reality I think she is more of an angel than me. Raising three kids, cooking, cleaning and making sure everything is in order is a hard job, especially in a place such as Piura. I mean the woman had a painful hernia for 3 years! She had to deal with that pain on a daily basis, on top of all the jobs she has a mother. Shortly after, she went into surgery. While getting pulled out of the OR room I came to help pull the bed, she was starting to wake up, so I smiled at her, and she gave me the biggest smile back. I then sat with her for the next hour and a half taking her vitals and just sitting by her side. We didn’t say much this time considering her exhaustion but it is amazing how eye contact and a touch of a hand can translate across languages. It was during this time that I realized we had a special bond and even if I never see her again, I will always remember her and what I felt at that moment. After getting her out of bed and sitting her in a chair her husband came in and talked with us. It was during this time that we were talking again about her children when they said they wanted to baptize their youngest child and they wanted me to be the “madrina” or godmother. Here it is a very special honor to be a “madrina” so after I heard that my jaw literally dropped to the floor. I told them that I would love to be the godmother but due to me leaving so soon I couldn’t be the official godmother. They smile and nodded and said that I would be the honorary godmother. I had only really spent about a total of 3 hours with this woman, we spoke different languages, and yet she felt close enough to me to ask me to be the godmother of her child. I still am in awe about what happened and can’t quite wrap my head around it but I made myself promise that no matter what I will pray for my “godchild”, Blanca and the rest of her family for the rest of my life. I will probably never get to meet him, but he will be loved and prayed for everyday. I don’t even care that I worked from 7:30am-9:15pm, what is important is that I made a real connection with someone even with a language barrier and limited time.

Thursday I was back in the pre/post op and finally got an IV! I did fail about three times in the morning but after having a learning/practicing session with Erin, one of the surgical tech nurses, I was able to get one all on my own! We only worked until/through lunch then us Marquette girls had the afternoon off to work on packing, self-evaluations and getting together things for the staff. Even with the afternoon off, there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done! Our work is definitely cut out for us tomorrow!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Can you translate this for me?

Before starting our busy and final week in Peru, we went out to dinner for Meg and Chelsea’s birthdays! Both got to celebrate here in Piura, so us and some of our missionary friends went to this AMAZING restaurant named Cappuccino. It was so nice to get out for a little bit and enjoy food that was NOT chicken and rice! It was a great way to end our weekend and start a new week. 

(Right: the other missionaries and two staff workers who came with us.)
(Below: Our end of the table! Yayy for being 21!)

Now that the medical team is here, we are working with them all this week. There are two different settings, there are hernia surgeries here in the clinic at the church and then two family practice doctors are heading out to the local villages and running free clinics. Marianne and I started out in the free clinics; little did we know that we had to be full out translators today. We did the intake assessments for the patients who then went to see one of the two doctors then got medicine from our makeshift pharmacy. Everything was in one room; the two patient rooms that consisted of curtains hung on strings, the pharmacy had a table off to the side of the room and then Marianne and I each had our own little table near the doors. The intake assessment forms consisted of name, age, address, allergies, current medications and chief complaint. So I was in charge of translating from Spanish to English and then writing it in English for the doctors. Let’s just say after 65+ patients in a matter of eight hours, I have expanded my medical vocabulary greatly. I did all the pediatric patients and I must say I really enjoyed my time working with the kids. Even though I can’t say much to the kids, I was able to get many of them to stop crying or focus for a little bit so I could assess them. Towards the end of the day I had three little girls who never left my side, even when I was doing other intakes. They were really cute and kept asking me questions, most of which I didn’t understand but they still thought I was the coolest person which boosted my self-esteem. Most of the children had cold, flu like symptoms but there were a couple interesting ones such as a rash or spinal problem. If I must say so, I do believe I have become a Spanish professional at assessing a child with cough, fever, vomiting and/or diarrhea. The downside to the day was that most of the new missionaries speak zero English. I understand not everyone will know or learn Spanish for a week, but the thing that bothers me is when they just talk really loud and really slow in English thinking that these Peruvian people, who have little or no education, are going to understand what they are saying. They then get frustrated and in the middle of me working with someone else they barge in and say they need help. I don’t mind TRYING to help but I really have to focus on what I am doing and can’t do multiple things at once. As frustrating as it was at times, I also felt pretty accomplished considering they really needed both Marianne and I to translate for them. As much as I learned, I am mentally exhausted. I never knew that eight hours of listening to Spanish then trying to write in English would be so difficult! I caught myself so many times writing the symptoms in Spanish and ended up having to scratch it all out. In some ways it is good because I catch myself answering in Spanish even though I am talking with English speakers. I even found myself thinking in Spanish today! I think this is on the path to becoming fluent. J I am sad to say, we have no more siestas. L We worked from 7:30am-6:30pm and we got about a 45 minute lunch. So I am going to be exhausted by the end of the week!
Above: Ceclia and I at our little intake table!

 Below: My three little friends 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Everything Happens for a Reason

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.  ~Mother Teresa

God definitely threw us a hardball yesterday. Saturday morning we all went to the hospice for my teaching project. While I did my project with Deisy, Coco and Renee (the ONLY 3 hospice nurses), the other girls were going to do wound care and whatever else needed to be done. I first off didn’t have a translator present so my professor and I had to work together to explain what I had planned. For those of you I didn’t talk to before I left, my teaching project was on death, grief and how to cope. As I was talking to the nurses I had noticed that Deisy, who is always smiling, just staring and I could see in her eyes that she was not all there. She had such a numb look on her face but I figured maybe she had a hard night at home or it was something else because she was answering all my questions and participating in everything. So I kind of just shrugged it off and kept going on with my presentation. I was about halfway through when someone knocked at the door. Coco got up and then walked with the man into the main part of the hospice. I had met him once before, he was the son of David, one of the patients. As I was making this connection, Renee had started talking and was tearing up and I knew at the moment what had happened.  We had all knew it was coming but I never thought we would be here when it happened. I had seen Meg, Maria and Chelsea walk by the nurse’s station crying so Dr. Belknap and I ran out and followed them into David’s room. I wasn’t expecting all of the conflicting feelings that would be happening in the next couple of hours. I don’t think there is any way I can really describe how I was feeling.

We helped the nurses prepare him and put him in a royal purple robe. I was shocked that I was actually seeing my first dead patient but kind of happy that I wasn’t hysterically crying like I thought I would. I then looked around the room and what made me cry was seeing how upset everyone else was, especially Coco, Deisy and Renee. I hate seeing people that I care about cry, which is one thing that automatically triggers tears for me. The nurses had always been so happy and lively, even amongst all the work and stress in their lives. I have grown to respect and look up to these women, so to see them break down like this really made my heart hurt. I also couldn’t stand seeing the three other girls crying and trying as hard as they can to hold the floodgates from opening. Next thing I know a coffin is being carried into the room. The lid was taken off and Coco motioned to us to grab the sides of David’s blanket. We then lifted him up and placed him in the casket, this is when reality hit. This wasn’t a dream, I wasn’t acting this out, this was really happening. I was placing my first dead patient into their casket. I knew this day would happen but I expected it after a couple years of working. I never thought I would be twenty when I experienced this, let alone in a third world country, thousands of miles from my family and support system. We then watched David’s son and another man carry the casket out, place it in their car and then drive away. It then all of a sudden hit me that this was the whole reason why Desiy looked so numb and preoccupied during my presentation. An immense feeling of guilt came over me because I had made them all sit there and listen to me babble on while all of this was still registering in their heads. This was my breaking point, and I just started to cry. I knew in my head that talking about death and confronting it is the best way to cope with it, I mean that is what I was teaching them about but for some reason it killed me knowing that I put them through that.

We all got together and held each other for a little bit. Coco then started saying that even though David was like a father to them and they are really upset, she has to go into the other patients’ rooms with a smile and pretend it never happened. As true as her statement was, my heart dropped knowing that because it is only the three of them, none of them will really get time to grieve because they always have to work. As sad and traumatic it may have been for us, we didn’t know David like them AND we get to go home and have time to grieve with each other. Let alone in a week we get to go back to our cushy lifestyles in the U.S and they still will be here living in the pueblos and working at the hospice. On top of feeling like this they felt bad that we had to stop my presentation and wanted me to continue. Since I was close to finishing anyways I just decided I would give them all hand and back massages since hand massages were a part of the project anyways. I liked to think it helped a little bit but I knew they were all preoccupied. Renee had worked the night shift and had to work again at 6pm and just wanted to go home. Deisy most likely just wanted to get away and Coco was currently still working and running around worried about the other patients.

As difficult as a morning it may have been, I believed it all happened for a reason. Out of the 10 Marquette girls coming down here to teach, one (which is me) decided on teaching about coping with death to the hospice nurses. Out of the five of us here that had to do our teaching projects mine was on the morning that David had passed. It may have seemed like I was bothering and troubling Coco, Renee and Deisy to talk about it, but I was actually helping them to cope with such a tragic loss. As hard and difficult it may have been to be a part of it, this is what my career involves, especially if I want to do hospice or palliative care. And in the end, David is in a happy, much better and peaceful place with God. This memory will stick with me forever, not because I am traumatized by what happened, but because I grew more in my spiritual and emotional self than I think I have done in my twenty years of living.  

A positive from yesterday was because I was surrounded by so much sadness in the morning I really branched out to the other missionaries who were here and made some great friendships. They were amazing and knowing I had a hard day, didn’t ask questions and made sure I continued to smile and laugh. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to get through the day without them. Last night we went out for ice cream and then after just sat and talked to the early hours of the morning. I honestly think I had one of the best ab workouts ever!  Sad to say, they left this morning to head back to Delaware. Although it was sad to see them leave, I am so happy and blessed to have gotten to know them and spend so much time with them. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lots of Updates, but most important: Aggregate Complete!

I started off Wednesday morning at the Nursing Home with Meg, Chelsea and Dr. Belknap. I was not looking forward to this trip just because I was not a fan of being there the last time, but it turned out better than I expected. We started off giving hand massages to the women and because there were four of us present, we were done in about fifteen minutes. After that we just kind of sat around until Dr. Belknap suggested we do some exercises with the women because they were all just sitting and watching the TV. This is when my knowledge of all those annoying Girl Scout and Camp songs became very useful for once! We sang “head, shoulders, knees and toes”, “skinamarink”, “this little light of mine” and a couple others. One of the women got up and turned off the TV then motioned for us to do it in front of the entire group! So we did many more and even did just some plain songs such as Amazing Grace and songs from Godspell that we could remember. (Dr. Belknap really likes Godspell!) The women who were more with it really enjoyed it and it kind of reminded me of all the times when I would go caroling at the Nursing Homes at Christmas time. I guess when I was younger I didn’t quite understand why we were there cause most of the people don’t pay attention but after seeing that these people have little to zero physical, emotional and spiritual contact  on a daily basis it makes sense. These women just loved someone paying them a little attention even if it was only for a couple hours. They will most likely forget us but they will remember how they felt.

In the afternoon, Maria did her teaching project on menstruation to the women of Vaso de Leche. She made period tracker bracelets with the women, so that they can keep track of when they are ovulating, are fertile and when their period is coming next. The women really enjoyed it and asked her lots of questions and she did a great job!

After dinner, we had a fiesta for all the July birthdays! It was my first real fiesta here! Three of the missionaries who have been here for two weeks set up the whole party with balloons, cake, desserts, music and even confetti! After singing happy birthday and the birthday people received their gifts, we pretty much just danced for the next hour and a half! I got to pull out some of my salsa moves and had a great time learning some more from the staff workers.

Thursday morning started off at the hospice. At lot had changed since the last time I was at the hospice. One of the patients was able to leave and now only comes back for a treatment to help release fluid in his abdomen. Another patient, the little old woman we first did wound care on, was better and able to go home to stay with her family! With two leaving, one patient was admitted. She is a woman in her early 30s who has leg cancer. We were told that she had been to Lima for treatment but that it hadn’t worked, hence why she was now here. We don’t know what they did in Lima but all I know is that it looks like they tried to take out the cancer and then just decided to leave the wound open. So we of course now had to add this intense wound care to our list of daily tasks. The worse part and biggest difference between this new patient and Oswaldo’s wounds is that she can feel immense pain all the time. She pretends to sleep, thinking that it will stop us from having to change and clean her wounds. She reluctantly rolls over and lets us do our job, but she watches the ENTIRE time. I can stomach looking at the wound from a nurse perspective but I don’t think I could watch someone clean something that gruesome on my own leg. Another difficult part about this wound is that it bleeds a lot and we have to try to stop the bleeding as much as we can before we apply new dressings. She also has two tumors in her groin area that are still intact and we are trying to keep them that way. I can handle the blood, smell and look of the wound but the thing that gets me is that they won’t tell her that she is dying. Being someone who is interested in palliative and hospice care I am an advocate for talking with the patient and family about what is possibly going to happen so they can be prepared when it happens. Another challenge with this new patient is that I wanted to talk to her to get to know her and it is not possible with the language barrier. I really take pride in the therapeutic relationships I build with my patients in the U.S and strive every time I am with a patient to make sure they feel that someone cares about them and is taking care of them. I can’t do that for her and it has really affected me. I realized that this is one of my biggest challenges here and there isn’t much I can do besides just being there for the patient and doing what I can to comfort them in my little Spanish.

We also had two girls, about to be seniors in high school, from the new group of missionaries come with us to the hospice. They had both said they were either interested in nursing or medical school so we figured we would bring them along and show them a little of what we had done here. We had warned the girls that this was some heavy stuff they were about to see and that it was ok if they needed to step out of the room or could not handle it. Little did I know that I was about to test my nursing instincts. After we had taken off Oswaldo’s old dressings, I caught out of the corner of my eye that the girls stepped outside. Two minutes later one of the girls poked her head in and said the other one had fainted. I left the room but was thinking to myself, “What the heck do I do? I have never had someone faint on me before!”. Obviously the little nurse inside me took over because I wasn’t able to contemplate what I needed to do, I just did it. It was such a strange and weird feeling but for some reason I wasn’t panicked or anxious. The girl ended up being fine, she didn’t hit her head and she informed me that this happens a lot when she is overwhelmed.

Friday morning I was at the hospice again and did the same routine except it was just me and Maria. The one girl who did not faint, Miriam, asked us at breakfast if she could follow us again. I was happy to have her come along because she actually came back after the fainting episode and helped hand us supplies for the rest of the dressing change. She was a huge help because Maria and I had our work cut out for us and we were going on only a couple hours of sleep. She was our little assistant and helped us with handing us our tools and supplies which was such a great help. We did teach her a lot about what she was seeing and what we were doing; she was amazing and handled everything so well. I can’t imagine my 17 year old self being able to handle everything that she saw in those three hours.

We went and had lunch with a group of elderly that meet together once a month. I wasn’t all that excited to go because I had a rough morning, was nervous about our presentation, sleep deprived and it was really hot out. After everyone ate, they told us to grab a partner and come out to the dance floor cause we were going to do the chicken dance and Macarena. I grabbed my soon to be buddy, Luis, who was one of the sweetest and funniest people I have met here and could definitely bust a move at his elderly age J. The afternoon turned out being a lot of fun and we were back in enough time to have an hour and a half to practice our presentation. 

At 4pm on Friday we gave our presentation about the women of Vaso de Leche that we have been working on the past two weeks. Many of the women came to hear what we said and they loved it. Many of them were crying at the end when saying goodbye because they were so thankful for us to come all this way and spend time with them. It was so great to see all of them and it made all the work and long hours worth it. Here we are with the women after the presentation!
After mass we went out to San Jacinto to have dinner with some kids from the village. After cleaning up the mess all the kids left we played a soccer game: Americans vs. Peruvian staff. Sadly we lost 2-1 (even though I think one of my goal should have counted) but I had so much fun getting to run around and play soccer again. Of course we were only playing the men on the staff and they know how to play soccer so I definitely had to pull out some of my skills and hip checks. ;) It was the perfect way to end a long yet stressful day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

¿Tomar la presión?

Yesterday was what some may call an easier day. We weren’t assigned to clinical sites in the morning, but we had a meeting with Dr. Belknap and then had the rest of the morning to work on our aggregate project. It was nice to be able to have a couple solid hours to work on it because up until now it has just been a lot of half an hour here and there. We have a really good start on it, and after clarifying things with Dr. Belknap we are all very excited about the project, besides all our free time that it is taking. ;) But hey, that is what we are here to do so I am willing to sacrifice.

Right after lunch we took our Marquette family to the supermercado (grocery store) to get some food and such that they may need. We also got Kiara and Christian a juegete (toy) along with some helado (ice cream). I was expecting them to kind of pick up everything they saw because they don’t get to go shopping at a place like this. It was quite the opposite; Erika would always pick the smallest and cheapest, even if the bigger size was a better deal! The people here have so little yet they hate to ask for things. I know Meg has told us stories of the family that her family supports and they always have to pry it out of them what they really need. It was a lot of work, mostly because Jessica fell asleep in my arms so I had to CARRY her the entire time we were there, but Erika and the kids were so grateful that it made up for the fatigue we felt.

Before mass, Chelsea did her teaching project to the women of Vaso de Leche on Nutrition and High Blood Pressure. We then all helped take blood pressures of the women. I think it is kind of funny when we ask “Tomar la presion” and everyone comes running wanting to check their blood pressure. I don’t know if it is because they are worried due to many people having high blood pressure in the community or they just like to have it done, but I don’t think I have ever seen people get so excited about getting their blood pressure taken.
This morning I had my last round of home visits. L I really enjoy these and wish I could do more but next week we start working with some medical and surgical teams that are coming from Oklahoma so this is our last week of clinicals. We started off with my favorite patient of the day Maximina, who was this short little woman who had nine kids and lived with one of her sons. She is 84 years old and is walking around, cooking and in GREAT shape! She loved us cleaning, cutting and filing her finger and toenails. She kept giving us hugs and kisses which of course we (Marianne and I) loved. We then visited some other people, mostly just taking blood pressures and even a couple people were not home. So we ventured to another little village but we had to cross this river! Haha not to scare anyone or make it sound like a ventured through raging rapids but I did walk across a channel of water only walking on logs! 


 This afternoon we went into another one of the village’s and taught hand washing followed by a health Q&A session and taking Blood Pressures. It was a smaller group of women this time but there were many kids who got in on all the fun. I was expecting them just wanting to do it because it looked cool but they actually had paid attention to the steps and they were telling each other what to do and how to do it! It was one of the coolest things I have seen. There was a little boy, about 4 yrs old, who wanted to wash his hands but didn’t really know how to complete all the steps. So the older kids were helping by showing him how to rub the soap all over his hands and in between his fingers, etc.  Two of the little girls even came up and were asking questions about the handout we gave them with the steps of how to wash your hands. The last step on the sheet explains to turn off the faucet with a towel, yet many people here don’t have running water so they don’t have faucets. The mothers must have overlooked that step because it was the little girls who ran up to us and asked us to explain it to them! I really think these kids will do this regularly and will teach others how to wash their hands. That is great for a community like this because so many diseases and illnesses that they contract can be reduced TREMENDOUSLY by washing their hands.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is this real life?

Since we get our Sundays off, today we ventured an hour to the beach! :) We started off by stopping in a little fisherman village and boarded what only seemed like a couple planks of wood and a motor. We were floating around hundreds of fishing boats when we turned the car and saw a bank full of sea loins! They were the fattest things I have ever seen! They all just kind of laid there as we drove our little boat by multiple times. There also were a couple skinnier ones that were swimming in the water catching fish! They were so cute!! 

Here is a picture of them all hanging out on the bank:

 We then drove about another 30 minutes and arrived at this lovely resort right on the beach. Of course I headed right to the beach and jumped right in. About 10 minutes of jumping in some waves and swimming around, one of the church workers informed us that they have quite a lot of stingrays in these parts of the water so I got out pretty quick and the rest of the day enjoyed the ocean from my towel. :) We had lunch at the resort and then I spent the rest of the day just laying on the beach. We have been working so hard these past two weeks that it was so nice to just lay around all day. I totally even forgot that we have our huge aggregate project due on Friday!

Here is a view of the resort from the beach.

Marianne and I at lunch!

All of us ladies by the pool!

On Sundays, the chefs have the afternoon and evening off so the church gets take out for us! The past two Sundays we have had what is equivalent to like KFC, which is ok, but because we always eat chicken and potatoes it kind of got old. Well this evening we got CHINESE!! It was some of the best Chinese food I have ever had! I never thought Peru would make Chinese food so well! After that a couple of the other missionaries invited us to go get ice cream, so obviously I went. Let's just say I am super stuffed and had to change into sweatpants as soon as I got back. 

Even though I had such a lovely day, I have to come back to reality and start to crack down on this aggregate assignment. And I believe my teaching project is on Friday. So that means I will have the aggregate presentation AND my teaching project in the SAME DAY! Blogs may be few this week so I apologize in advance! Sending love and happy thoughts to you all!