Monday, June 21, 2010

All good things must come to an end

I'm back to Texas and back to work. I mostly just run around like a crazy person these days. I've been working crazy hours and am a little bummed out about it. The good news is that I can build my savings back up a little bit with all the overtime I will have. ;)

Bolivia was wonderful. It wasn't really as revealing as I anticipated. I kinda hoped to come back and have my future all figured out. Ah, but life isn't really like it now is it? Not for me at least. I have a few other things to think and pray about but I remain here in Texas with a lot to pray about and figure out.

I flew through Chicago and had an overnight layover there. Fortunately a bunch of former co-workers live there. WE had a little reunion and it was so nice to reminisce about memories from my year in Bolivia with my dear friends. They also enjoyed hearing stories and looking through pictures on my camera. :)
I got to Cleveland on Friday afternoon. Katie and Bizzy picked me up at the airport. I was sooo happy to see everyone! We had good family time but we were also so excited to see a bunch of friends too.
Jon graduated from University of Northwestern Ohio with a degree in Diesel Technology. He even graduated Cum Laude! I was so proud of him! I expected my mom to cry, but then I did--just a little bit! ;)
Katie and I went canoing with our aunt Debbie, cousin Bethany and Bethany's boyfriend Chris. We tipped--my fault--but it was super fun still! Aunt Debbie lost her flip flops, but other than that we came out all together (just wet!) Then we went to Amish country. For all the years we lived in Ohio and my grandparents who live in Amish country I've never actually been there to see things--besides one brief stop about 10 years ago or so. We visited a cheese factory. I LOVE cheese!
It was fun to reminisce and make new memories while in Ohio. It just felt so different, so familiar and comfortable. It's always nice to be with people who allow you (and make you feel free) to be yourself.

What I learned in Ohio:
How to make sushi and egg rolls
How to play hobo (hillbilly?) golf
How to get the water out of a tipped canoe

I've been to the airport NINE times in the last six weeks!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Potatoes anyone?

That pretty much sums up our week in Potosi. Let's just say that mission trips with Dr. Jorge are not for the faint at heart! I can't imagine living like the strong, hardworking Quechua people who live up in the mountains with nothing. Adobe houses, dirt floors, no beds, or electricity with virtually nothing to eat except Potatoes and llama meat.

We took a bus overnight to Potosi (9 hours), and then continued another 5-6 hours up the mountain to finally arrive in the first community. The team consisted of Dr. Jorge, Dr. Waldo (dentist), Nidia and myself. I was so glad that Nidia was able to come along, we weren't sure until shortly before we left Potosi that she would be accompanying us.

We did activities with the kids, Bible stories and Flouride treatments. There were multitudes of people lined up to receive medical care from the doctor and/or dentist. Nidia and I were enlisted to help with teeth care (prevention). I also got roped into helping the dentist (then I nearly fainted!! haha!), and cleaning out an infected leg of a little boy (which surprisingly didn't even make me squeamish. Afterwards he give me a big kiss on each cheek!) The patients rarely cried out while having teeth pulled our wounds cleaned.

We were given hundreds upon hundreds of papas (potatoes). LAdies would come in with packs on their backs, or hats overflowing with potatoes, after trying to ask them to wait outside until the Doctor could see them they would pour the papas on the floor and point to them. Then it happened over and over again. What generosity.
The children were so curious. They were always staring at us, and thought it was hilarious when we would demonstrate the games. Very few understood Spanish well, sometimes we had an interpreter, and sometimes one of the older children, or adults would help out. They all participated in the dental health lessons that we had.

All of the villages had schools--although some only went up to third grade. The older kids would walk up to two hours (one way) to go to school. Impressive, eh?! The two lady teachers in the first village each had older children who lived alone in the city of Potosi to go to school there. The ladies lived in the village with their youngest two children (Jorge said that their husbands lived and worked outside of the country). It was quite sad. They lacked many educational resources not to mention that only two of the villages had church--one of which is less than a year old. The children had no idea who Adam and Eve or Jesus were. We had our work cut out for us just trying to tell the Bible story!

We slept on llama skins, desks and straw mattresses. There was only electricity in one of the four villages, and a rigged up light in another. The truck got stuck on two ocassions in the middle of the freezing night, we had to break into the school (with the mayor--I guess that's what you would call him in English), there was a rat running around on the floor by our "bed" and we took one shower for the whole week (although they did warm up water for us to wash our hair midweek).

My little patient (Edwin) came back to the city with us along with his older sister Margareta, and father to have surgery on his leg (it had been fractured a few months back and was never set). Margareta also needed serious dental work done. The father brought along four big sacks of potatoes to sell in order to pay for the surgery (they only had 200 Bs--about $30 which will probably not even pay for their bus tickets home). Nidia estimated that each bag was probably worth about $40. The kids really enjoyed the journey. They were apprehensive to enter the hot springs, but me and Nidia helped Margareta to wash and condition her hair, she loosened up and enjoyed playing in the water. They were so curious and I've never seen such big eyes and smiles before! They perched over the front seat to see everything, they were so polite and well mannered. As I tucked them into bed on Friday night I was so thankful to God for these precious little ones. How they've had such a rough life by our standards, but don't complain. They were grateful for the little things and always had a smile on their face.

It was an incredible experience. If you get the chance (which you just might...!) you should go--I can almost promise you that you will not regret it.