Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Past Experiences

It's always so neat to see how God orchastrates our lives and uses our past experiences to enable us to certain things at certain times. I worked at Pacific Garden Mission Homeless Shelter for about 2 years in 2004-2006. There I began learning about stewardship and what it means to handle large amounts of donations and being a good steward of those donations. Here in the clinic that I am working with they also receive a large amount of donations, mostly from teams traveling from the states. And, like most places have limited storage space. I've been helping some to condense packaging, organize and make room for new donations. What I did at the homeless shelter definately prepared me to be able to do it more efficiently now because of having the past experience. We never know how God is going to use different things that we are going through for us in the future!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Guatemala first week!

Let me try to give you an idea of my first week here in Guatemala (I'll try to keep it short!).
I'm working with America Latina Clinics. They are a large organization that has was started by Guatemalans some 50 years ago and has 3 Christian schools with over 2000 students in 3 different locations and they have a medical ministry as well in the schools providing medical, dental, and vision care as well as traveling to other locations to offer medical, dental, and vision care within needy communities. They are also able to work with medical training and education within the communities at times. There are a few very dedicated Guatemalan medical staff that work with the clinics: Dr. Tito who is the head and director, Dr. Oswaldo, Dr. Oscar, Dentist: Victor, Jorge helps with organizing medications and donations, Rolando and Makko help with everything else from organizing teams and transportation to helping run the pharmacy and eye clinic . . . they do a ton! Oh, and I can't forget Coky, not sure if that's how to spell his name, but he helps with driving and then when at the clinic he is out working hard alongside of the team. The other day he was teaching me about driving the stick shift in the van while in the mountains, he did ask (jokingly) if I wanted to drive, but I had to turn down the offer telling him that I would but we would be off the side of the mountain!!! It's so fun to see them so dedicated to the work they are doing and never complain even when there are long days and so much to get done! They all have wonderful families and children who are behind then and very supportive and dedicated to their work as well!
I'm staying with a host family. They are great - there is the husband and wife, Makko and Alejandra and their 2 kids, Juan Pablo known as JuanPa, 4, and Lucy, 2. YaYa is the children's 91 year old great grandma who also lives with them to help take care of the kids and chores around the house. Makko works with America Latina Clinics and Alejandra works with America Latina Schools.
So, what did I do this last week?
There was a team here from Texas to help out, so they went to the school in Palencia - about a 45 min. beautiful drive to a little mountain town. The school in Palencia is the smallest and the one is most need of help. The team worked hard painting to make it more cheerful for the children. The second story of the school is still under construction, but little by little it is getting finished. They also had programs for the children, the women, the men and the teenagers - all were very well received and everybody had a great time! I helped them on Mon. and Tues., we did not do clinics these days, but I was able to help with some communication because there were very few spanish speakers with the team.
Wed. I stayed at the clinic in the school. It's basically a school nurse role as the kids come in for headaches or upset stomachs. I was by myself for a couple hours and of course a kid came in with an injured thumb. Thankfully Dr. Oscar came a few minutes later and got him sent for XRays. I also helped to get some organization to different lists of medicines that they take with them to the clinics. It was a nice day to get oriented to the clinic and some of the staff.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday were the clinic days in Palencia. They are very oraganized, 80 people can sign up for each day (although Sat. was not a full day) and the cost is 5Q, which is less than a US dollar. I actually like that they have to pay after some things I learned from working at the community health clinic that i worked at this past year. That small amount gives them a sense of ownership in their healthcare and provides them with anything they need from the clinic day. It is not a money making thing and would hardly begin to cover the cost of the clinics and medicines.
In the clinics I was the check in person, so I took their history and then passed them on to see the doctor. It was the perfect role for me as I was able to use my nursing skills in taking their history and my Spanish in communicating with them. As I finished with check in I helped some in the pharmacy trying to learn where they keep different medications - this will definitely take more time!!!
I wish that I could add photos - but I am not able to upload them right now . . . maybe later?
Today, Sunday, was a blessing as I was able to go to church with my friend Argentina. She is Guatemalan and I met her at my church in Chicago, she goes back and forth between Chicago and Guatemala and thankfully she is here in Guatemala right now. At this church I also ran into somebody that I was studying spanish with last year in Antigua - he is here permanently working in missions.
Living in the capital city is so different than any of my other experiences that I've had. Because we've been driving a lot we see a lot of different things - sometimes it is just so heartbreaking that I'm not really sure how to process it. Like the man who was stumbling around and falling in the median of a busy road, or the man who was sleeping in a turn lane on a fairly busy road . . . the houses of tin, the children playing steps away from cars flying by, etc . . . There are so many needs, and we can only do so much. There are some other challenges, like not being able to just pick up and go because traffic in the city is horrible and for me transportation is so limited, we also can't walk around much for safety reasons so i'm craving exercise! But, the blessings far out-way the challenges in everyway possible!!!
Another busy week is coming as a team arrives from Texas on Tuesday!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Electronics . . .

Wow am I thankful for the electronics that we have!!! I didn't have a cell phone when I first got here, so many people were so kind to let me use theirs. But then, the day that I really needed one I didn't have it . . . well, by then I had one but couldn't find a store that sold minutes. Thanks to running into people that I know in a bookstore/cafe I was able to borrow theirs and met my group. Now I have one and it has lots of minutes!!! The other thing I miss is my computer, especially since I've lived on it the last year because of my online classes. I have been able to get online here and there, but not a lot. Then today I was working on some office stuff and not only had a chance to use the internet, but had the fun of figuring out Excel in spanish! Little things can be more challenging when in a different country . . .even the microwave is in spanish. It's pretty self-explanatory, but just give everything a different twist!
It's been fun to re-connect with different friends that live here, or are traveling through. I feel like God has blessed me with a fun little community here in Guatemala and look forward to re-connecting with more people as time goes on!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Hello from Guatemala - just fyi there will be a lack of punctuation because the keyboard is different and I can not figure some things out.
I got off ok, although not everything on my To-Do list got done.
I was able to meet up with my friend Lesbia from my church in Chicago at the airport before getting to the gate. We had the same flight all the way, so it was nice to be able to travel with her.
I will be staying in Guatemala City with a host family. There is the couple and their 2 children, and soon I will meet Yaya (the 90 year old grandma). There is another american college student doing and internship with the organization, and she is also staying in the house. It has been fun to start to get to know everybody. I have already started making contact with friends here, it really is great to be back
Today and tom. are more kinda rest days because the organization has been having lots of groups, coming from the states. In fact one is leaving today and another one is coming about 30 min. later. Monday will be the first day that I really start to work with the groups.
I do not know how to answer the question about how I feel to be here. I am excited for sure, but there are so many unknowns and so many questions in my mind about lots of things beyond this summer. Maybe I am feeling curious as to how this summer will impact or change my life. Otherwise, it feels normal to be here, I am not worried or nervous or anxious about anything.
I may not know the plan or the schedule, but I serve a God who does and He is taking care of everything for me. I am just here to be used by Him however He chooses to use me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'M LEAVING!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm leaving to go to the airport and head to GUATEMALA in about 3 hours . . . ask me if i'm ready? . . . NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
But ask me if I got my paper done? . . . YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!
and for that i'm relieved.
However, in order for me to get that done and pack and get ready for the trip I've now been up for something like 43 hours straight and waiting for my next burst of energy to finish packing and get ready to go. Wed. I had worked on the paper for a long time in the library and then after dinner started again and by the time 5am was rolling around there was so many other things to get done i just started doing all of those things. Then I had to get back to the paper. By about 9pm last night I knew that once again i'd have to keep working through the night to get it completed. Thankfully I learned today that Lowell's McDonalds Drive through is open 24 hours . . . so that 2am coffee was wonderful!!!
Speaking of Lowell . . . here's a few random photos - well, the watertower . . .
and my mom's house =)

and this is my very fat cat =), sebastian. he knows somethings up with all the packing, so he keeps getting into the suitcase . . .

or laying on top of them . . . crazy cat - i really want to get away from cat hair not take it with me!

Well, blessing to you all, I don't know if I'll be able to blog or not while I'm down there . . . but I'll try to get some e-mails out!
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Monday, July 14, 2008


I've been doing way to much traveling between states these days!!! Especially when I have some looming deadlines with packing for Guatemala and writing a paper (which I should probably be doing instead of this blog as well!) However, I had a lot of fun making all these trips. So, this was last week for me - Tuesday I drove up to Chicago to go out to dinner with some co-workers from the clinic. We went to Mi Tierra in La Villita, mmmm good!
Jeannie and I

Marissa and I

Eva and I - they made me wear this sombrero, and they brought out this cool sparkler in a muffin that was huge, but we didn't get a good photo of it!

Then Wed. morning I headed to Wisconsin to visit a friend from college. I had a great drive up there, with things kinda crazy and up in the air right now it was nice to have some time to think and talk to God about some thing that are happening! Had a nice visit with Mary, got to meet her husband, see her house, and just catch up! We took a walk on this long bridge over this lake - it was great!

Then I headed back that same night and stayed overnight in Chicago. Plan was to wake up, finish my part of a group paper that was due and then head home early afternoon. Well, no such luck since I ended up having to do more on the paper than expected - by the time I was done there was a thunderstorm and heavy traffic, so I stayed one more night in Chicago. Thankfully I still had my other homework with me, so I got some reading in . . . as well as visiting some more with my good friend Jackie!
Finally Friday morning I was headed back to Lowell, Indiana. Originally I was planning on heading down to Indianapolis Friday afternoon to visit with my brother and sister-in-law and then go to a wedding on Saturday. However, once I got home Friday morning I was just too tired to even think about re-packing and getting back in the car and driving some more. Plus the stress of packing and getting all of my homework done was just too much, so I stayed put in Lowell for the weekend getting some work done. Well, at least until Sunday morning when I decided to head back up to Chicago for one last Sunday at my church, Armitage, for awhile. I was so glad I did go up there because I got to have breakfast with a dear friend and spend lunch with some friends. And of course, I got to briefly see many others in the short time that I was there!!!

Now it's Monday night and I finished my Nursing Research Final Exam today which was the last thing that I had to do for that class!!! I thought I would get a higher grade, but no worries because I'll still pass the class =) I also finished up all the reading/weekly assignments for my Nursing Theory class, so the last (and biggest) assignment is the 15 page paper . . . uggggggh, that paper - can't wait till it's done!
I decided to try out my new bike that I won while I was living in Chicago as well. I figured I need some fresh air every now and then in between typing and reading! So, I put air in the tires and tested it out today! The bike isn't fancy or expensive, but it's fun to ride!
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Where are the keys???

This morning I wanted to go to my church in Chicago at least one more time before leaving for Guatemala. So, that meant getting up early and driving up to Chicago this morning after just moving from there yesterday. I, of course, was running late and realized I still had to stop for gas just to be on the safe side. So I rush to the gas station and when I turned off the car I went to take the keys with me, a habit that I formed while living in Chicago. But after hesitating I thought, well, i'm in Lowell and can just leave the keys in the ignition. So, I get out and pump the gas using my credit card to pay at the pump and go to get back in my car . . . door locked!!!!!!!!!!!! Wait, I remember leaving the keys in the ignition, and sure enough I could see them through the window, I could also see my purse and cell phone! I had forgotten about the other habit that I have formed in while living in Chicago which is to always lock my car doors when I get out, always - even at gas stations. So now it's Sunday morning, I'm already late, and no keys and no cell phone (and the only phone number I know by heart is my mom's . . . but she's in Africa!). The only other person at the gas station was a man getting into his minivan. I told him my keys were locked in my car and asked if he had any suggestions. He went to the back of his minivan and pulled out a couple tools to try and pry the door open enough to stick something else through in order to push the unlock button. He tried for a while and couldn't get the door pried open enough, so he went back to his minivan for another tool. With this he was able to get it unlocked!!!
What a relief!!!!!!!!! It set me back about 20 min., so not too bad, still made it on time for church because I was headed back early enough to go to sunday school, but definitely missed that!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Moving - phase 1

My room in the house on Albany with the red door is empty. This signifies the end of a chapter of my life in Chicago, some moments i'm ready for this, and other moments I wonder what in the world I have done. The doubtful moments come even stronger after spending time with a friend and her children on Friday - the day before my move . . . why? why didn't this happen a year ago or 6 months ago??? I know that I can trust God's timing, but i don't always understand it! Nonetheless, I'm thankful for each moment that God gives us and realize that there is a lesson to be learned in every situation!
As far as the move itself - it went better than I could have ever hoped. My grandpa and I left Lowell, Indiana at 7:20am in his big pick-up truck and stopped by the UHAUL place to hook up the biggest trailer they had. Then we drove up into Chicago with hardly traffic which made it a nice quick drive! We were there a little before 9:30am and we started getting things together and organized. Grandpa then took the top off of my dining room table and wanted to get it down to the trailer. I tried to stall because I didn't want to carry it - it's heavy!!! - and I knew that there were strong guys on there way. After asking if he wanted to wait for more guys and no more opportunities to stall, down the stairs we went. We got down the stairs in the house and out to the porch steps when 2 guys showed up that were helping with the move =) They immediately took my end of the table and I was off the hook for any other heavy awkward furniture =) More helpers continued to trickle in and there were at least 8-10 people there. They did such a wonderful job, everything was in and loaded by 10:30am. After some quick cleaning we were on the road back to Indiana and stopped for a quick bite to eat on the way home. When we got to my mom's house there were 4 people there to help us and all the boxes and suitcases were unloaded there. Then grandpa, myself and one other person headed out to "the farm". That's were my grandparents live and they have a trailer that my grandpa didn't want to pull into the city, but that could hold my big furniture until fall. Because that was just a quick transfer of my bigger furniture it did not take long. We were done, took a quick break for some ice cold drinks and then we were on the road again to return the trailer to the UHAUL place before 7pm so that we didn't get charged for 2 days. Interesting fact: UHAUL furniture pads are made out of recycled jeans!
With the trailer returned and an empty truck, what else was there to do but stop for a treat at Dairy Queen? It was a yummy end to a hard days work!
I am so thankful for each and every person that took time out of their day to help me get through this first phase of moving.
There are many unknowns as to the next phase of the move that will take place in the fall, but what else can I do but trust God's plans and timing and know that it's all in His hands!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Good-Byes Start

Everything is happening so fast these days, packing to move, finishing grad school classes, saying good-byes, and preparing for Guatemala. On thursday I realized that I was just overbooking myself when I drove from Indiana to Chicago and stopped by Pacific Garden Mission to visit friends and say good-byes, then I was headed to a 3:15pm dental appointment at 3:15pm. Needless to say, I missed my appointment, but thankfully they let me reschedule for this week!!!
Below: Photo with previous co-worker on PGM's roof top garden. They weren't growing anything in this section, but other parts had tomatos!

Sunday I had planned to spend the afternoon with the famous Nottingham Girls. It was nice to get together with them one more time and to celebrate the friendships that we have! Afterwards Lynnette offered to help me pack - and of course I said yes!!! She was a huge help to at least get me started, so now I have a living room full of boxes that are filled and have started on other parts of the house!

Monday was my last day as an employee of Lawndale Christian Health Center. Below is a photo of the ladies at the registration desk that I pass by every morning. Without fail they always have a smile and a sweet word to say!!!

I didn't get many photos because it was a busy day, but I did get one with these wonderful MA's that I've been working with all year. I will have one more chance to get together with many coworkers next week. It's been hard to say all my goodbyes because there are so many employees (over 300) and 3 clinic sites. Often I don't get to see people on a regular basis. I've really felt blessed to work at this clinic and to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people over this last year!!!

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