25 November 2010

happy thanksgiving!

Señor, da pan a los que tienen hambre, y hambre de Ti a los que tienen pan.

Lord, give bread to those who are hungry, and hunger for You to those who have bread.

bendiciones y feliz día de acción de gracias!,
- juli

20 November 2010

San Martin

Well world, another month in Guatemala has come and gone! Hard to believe that I'm about 1/4 through my year!

I spent this past week outside of the city of Chimaltenango in a small town called San Martin (central-East Guatemala) accompanying and translating for a medical mission team from Pittsburgh, PA. It was super fun!! We stayed in a Guatemalan-nice hotel in San Martin by night, and by day went out to very rural aldeas to set up free medical clinics. It was all ochestrated by the former vice mayor of San Martin, so he knew where to go/ how to get us there (different communities each day, from 20 min to 90 min away from San Martin!) We had a team of an eye doctor, 3 ER doctors, 1 Guatemalan dentist, and many nurses and other randos. It was a really great team, and I was so happy to join them this week.

Here´s some highlights...
- Free trip to the booming metropolis of San Martin
- Pineapple pie (omg, readers- you MUST try making this!) and lots of other delicious non-Guatemalan food (from an ex-pat who married a Guatemalteca and run a restaurant in San Martin)
- New vocabulary (Including uterus and gallbladder. Very useful.)
- 3 Minor surgeries (which I absolutely did not participate in or translate for)
- Free anti-parasite cookies for Juli
- 1 very steep hill + 1 very full bus = 20 terrified gringos rolling backwards
- Seeing 248 patients in the medical clinic in one day (about 850 people all week!)
- Giving out hundreds of pairs of reading glasses to people who probably can´t read

Like I said, it was a great week- even if it raised some questions about dependency on foreigners and the Santa Claus effect. All in all, though-- people who have had aches and pains and infections for YEARS got a real live doctor to sit down, listen to them, validate their problem, and give them free medicine, even if only 1 week´s worth- so I count that as success.

Hope all are well!
bendiciones, juli

14 November 2010

Real Problems?

So my fellow YAV, Katharine, sent this to me- and I really kinda like it...


I feel like I've been struggling between these two worlds the past few weeks-- as I've gotten fleas 3 times now, and possibly/probably have a parasite in addition to my stomach infection. These are legitimate freak-out-problems in the "1st world" from which I come, but are sort of just part of life here in the developing world to which I've come. It's been hard for me to figure out how to deal with these issues which are so foreign to me, but seemingly so normal to my family and other Guatemalans that I meet... Do I freak out like every fiber of my being wants to and jump on a plane when I find a new bug bite? Or do I work toward taking these things in stride and accept that somethings that are not normal for me, are very normal for other people... that some things that I see as "problems," are just a part of life for the majority of the world. We have food, they seem to be telling me, We have shelter, We have telenovelas -- What do we have to complain about??

One thing I know for sure-- that I intend to run with endurance the race that is set before me, looking always to Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Because, though I do freak out, and though these things are hard for me to adjust to, I know that God has purpose in it. So I take it one day at a time, running (and walking... and crawling...) the race God set before me, and trusting that, at some point, the itching will subside and I'll understand it all- even just a little bit better.

Deep thoughts, world. Thanks for following along.

bendiciones, juli

08 November 2010

things my host family doesn´t understand about me

So I´ve been with my permanent family for a month now, and it´s really going quite well... However, there are still some definite cultural differnces that we face. For example...

- Coffee. It is literally inconceivable to them that someone would ever prefer tea to coffee (and by coffee, I mean instant coffee). Even the 2yr old in my family drinks coffee at least 2x a day... I. am. strange.
- At most meals, I am the only one using a fork. Literally all table manners I have learned in my life go out the door here-- fingers and tortillas are the utensils of choice... and never fear if you are talking with your mouth full...
- Mayonaise. There are many reasons I am clearly not Guatemalteca, and my hatred of mayo has to be near the top of the list. It´s kind of frustrating, bc I do my very best to eat (or at least try) everything they give me (including chicken feet soup, stew with fish heads in it, and chicharones)- but I always put my foot down and abstain when something is slathered in mayo... and THAT makes me a picky eater. Hah.
- My toothbrush. It´s electric, so they call it the abejita (little bee), and I also time myself for 2 mins each time I brush my teeth (2x a day)-- and all of the above is strange to them. (Note: Pretty much all my sisters who are my age have lost at least 1 tooth to sugar decay... yeah, I´ll be keeping my funny toothbrush, thanks)
- I´m 22 and not married. All of my sisters had at least 1 child by the time they were 22. Better get on that...
- I drink agua pura... Without adding sugar... In relatively large quantities... Every day. Freak.
- Fleas bother me, and make me worried, and I actively try to prevent them. This is just somehow really foreign to them... which is really frustrating to me. Working on my one-day-at-a-time philosophy on this one.

So yeah... thought you all might enjoy a little glimpse of family-life here-- it´s really great fun living with 8 other people, and sometimes you just have to laugh when you´re the only one washing her hands and using a fork.

bendiciones, juli

02 November 2010

this is long, but worth it, I promise.

So if you ever find yourself living with a host family, a word of advice: ALWAYS go when they invite you somewhere, even if you have no idea what/where it is. The first time, this took me to a nurse´s beauty pageant at a hospital. This Sunday, it took me to the ¨coast¨ (I never saw the ocean...??) to visit a sick grandma. How did we get there, you ask? In a pickup truck. How many people went, you ask? Oh, 19. Read on, world, read on.

So we woke up at 4am to prepare for our journey... which meant cooking breakfast and packing snacks, and just generally perparing the troops. We were to leave at ¨5 en punto¨ (actually rolled out at 6:30), after about 20 mins of laoding people and things into the back of the pick up. Now, as I said-- 19 people went-- Let me break it down for you. 2 in the front of the pick up (driver and grandma), 12 adults and 5 kids in the back. Talk about intimate. So let´s also keep in mind that the sun has barely risen, so it´s COLD, I mean COLD, especially with all of the wind. So we are sitting on an old mattress, all bundled together in the back with many blankets and stuff, prepared for our 5hr ride. Yes, 5 hours.

Seeing as we live in the mountains, as we descend to the coast, it gets warmer and warmer (and the sun gets higher and higher), so every hour or so, a layer of blankets/jackets/etc gets stripped from the group. This portion also included 2 instances of people getting sick over the side of the truck. At around 9, we stopped for our lunch break, which included a mass migration up a hill to all go to the bathroom roadside. haha.

At around 11, it was getting really hot, which meant we were getting close, and were off the highway and instead on cobblestone roads and ... oops. Flat tire. Nope, no AAA in the middle-of-nowhere, Guatemala. And oh, sorry- spare tire didn´t fit in the car, either. So. There we are, on the side of the road at a coffee plantation in who-knows-where. Juli´s not panicking, nope not at all.

So the men (2) of the group took control, borrowed a car-jack and removed the bad tire... What now?? Well they went back down the hill to the pueblo to get the tire fixed. Let me be honest here, I had my doubts that there would be someone to fix it, that they´d have the money to fix it, and basically that we would ever make it out alive... Oh Juli of little faith. About an hour (and numerous tantrums from the kids) later, the men returned with a patched tire!! Praise the Lord! Off we went to grandmother´s house again!

We arrived at about 1 to a very very rural (poor) community. Everyone kind of re-introduced themselves to the VERY frail and old grandmother (their dad´s mom) and the aunts, and we waited around until lunch. Delicious lunch... too bad it only took half the time as our trip to arrive...

So, around 4 it started drizzling, so we figured we had better get to going. (Not before I, the gringa, was called in to appraise an antique sewing machine the family some how had...????).

So, we took the tarp out from under the mattress we were sitting on (just in case), and loaded back into the pickup. After driving again for about 30 mins, it starts POURING, so we clumsily put the tarp over top of us... Good. After about 15 mins, it is quite clammy under the tarp, but luckily, it´s stopped raining, so we take the tarp off. This happens a few more times throughout the return journey. Each with varying levels of actual rain-protection.

So we´re making our way home with little-to-no problems (aside from rain), and eventually it gets dark... but we keep going, obviously. BEAUTIFUL stars! At one point we passed an overturned pickup that must have JUST crashed (!!) We stopped to see if we could help (apparently we could not--they were drunk), called the firemen, and continued on our way.

By some miracle of God, we arrived home --all members of the party in 1 piece, more or less-- at around 8pm. WHAT a long day, but SO so worth it. When I´m not battling off fleas or parasites, life here is really quite grand!

So the lesson here: Always say ¨yes¨ to your host family... And also, many things that are extremely illegal in the US are very legal here.

bendiciones, juli

PS: the ¨Chacos¨ here (it was freeezing when we left, so I opted for shoes) are in the middle of nowhere at Finca Trinidad where we got our flat tire.)