Health care is a basic human and social right

“Where will healers stand in the struggle for health care as a human right?” – Paul Farmer

I treat and take care of my patients every day- patients from all walks of life and all economic standings. However, the situations of the poorest of the poor are ones that I have never ever seen before in my life. Situations that are so unjust I cannot help but walk out their door so angered yet weak. I think when I arrived in Peru and had my first impression, I was a little less shocked because I had already been exposed to developing world poverty when I lived in the Dominican Republic. However, as I began to understand and know the situation of some of my patients here in Chimbote, I began to understand the graveness.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane” (attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

I have one patient of whom I particularly think of right now. He lives in an impoverished area of Chimbote and in a house that connects to his family’s house. He is bed-ridden, cannot speak, fragile, and bone skinny. He can cry and he does. He can understand and he understands it ALL. He can feel and I am sure he has so many feelings that he wants to express. But he can’t. All he can do is lie there. Alone. Everyday. Yes, I said his family lives in a house that connects to his, but I have learned that that has no significance. This man is abandoned… by his family…  that lives right next door. Hard to understand right? But it happens and it is happening here. He lies in his soot, cockroaches on his bed, rats crawling around his live body…. and not one person in his family seems to care. They feed him his meals but by the way his bones protrude he is obviously malnourished beyond belief. We come to his house and we bathe him, we clean his wounds, we change his sheets, diaper, clothes and mouse poop off the bed. We change his catheter and shave his face. We do everything that we can but the reality is,  we then leave his house. We leave him with his family…. and it breaks my heart every time. I know you are thinking, “Well do something about it! Tell somebody.” Who do I tell? A government that barely has any system in place for abandoned people? A system that takes a year to even process the claim. Tell the sisters/director of Hospicio? We have and we have asked the family multiple times if we could keep the patient in the Hospice Center to take care of him there. They have refused the care explaining that they have it under control. The worst part of it all is that some of them seem like decent, nice people. What do yo do when it SEEMS to everyone else that he has care, but in REALITY the poor man is completely abandoned? In hospice, we have conversations about him and what to do all the time and we always return the conversation but hardly anything changes. The family buys more antibiotic cream, soap, and shampoo for him but they are not THERE WITH HIM. I feel helpless, upset, and angered as I type this blog. I keep thinking oh well at the end I will give you all a solution. But, today there is no solution. Today life is unfair. Today my world is ugly.

“But the experiences of those who are sick and poor– and, often enough, sick because they’re poor– remind us that inequalities of access and outcome constitute the chief drama of modern medicine” (Paul Farmer from Pathologies of Power).

Health care is a basic human and social right. My patients deserve health care, but not just any type of health care. They deserve the best. The ones who are the sickest, the ones who are the poorest– those are the ones that deserve the best treatment and services. Is that how our world and health care system work? Unfortunately not. Those who can pay get the best. Where does that leave us medical personnel? How can we give them the best? How can I give my patients the best? I can give them the most patience and love that I hold within in me. I can clean their wounds in the most sterile manner possible. I can bathe them with the best care and gentleness that I can give. I can treat my patients in the clinic with the best respect and concern I can have. As for the resources that we are able to offer, that is something that has to happen hand in hand with the government. We can advocate for our patients, we can fight for what is right. We can promise not to give up… or give in… or get burnt out. That is what we can do for our patients. For health care is your, my, and their BASIC human right.

Fight for those who can’t.
Advocate for your beliefs.
Give others your all.

A Tribute to My Hilda

My patients die. That is what happens in my work … and with people who have terminal illness. One or more patients die every week to every other week. I can handle it and my heart is right for it. I understand the process of dying. I am able to sympathize with the patients and their families but remain separate enough to not let it bring me down to a level that damages me.

Today felt different. Today I feel weak. Today my favorite patient, Hilda, died.

Last week Hilda was laughing her loud, contagious, beautiful laugh and smiling ear to ear with us while we gave her a therapeutic massage. There has not been a day that I have left her house without smiling and feeling warm inside because of the beautiful aura she gives off. She is one of those people you just need to be around for one minute and you feel the warmth. I felt her goodness from the start. Hilda was often in pain but she never let that keep her from smiling and loving. Her family as well- her 6 children are wonderfully good people. They love and take care of each other and that care for one another truly shines from them.

Hilda was talking, laughing, loving, and smiling less than a week ago.

Today, she is no longer with us on earth; she is with God. She was brought into the hospice center on Saturday because her condition had become much worse. Hilda had liver cirrhosis among much else. When I saw her yesterday morning, she was very heavily breathing, eyes closed, not able to speak, bed-ridden. She was receiving oxygen but she continued to have shallow frequent respiration. I knew that her body would not be able to handle that kind of work for long, but I never thought she would be where she was today or even yesterday for that matter. She was fine LAST WEEK. I thought Hilda would be my patient for the whole time I lived here in Peru. I thought I would share and laugh and love with her and her beautiful family. Her youngest child is 13, her oldest is 33. One of them is my age. My age. I cannot even bare to think about losing my own mom at this age. I cannot even bare to imagine how it feels to them to lose their mom who was only 56 years old – someone who they depended on to live for much time to come.

She died last night and I found out this morning when I came into work. My co-worker Roger told me and said that Hilda’s daughter was here to see her. I went to pay my respects to her daughter who I also knew well and to see Hilda one last time. I walked into the room and her daughter was sobbing to the point that she was hyperventilating. Her cry waved up and down from loud grief to small whimpers, up and down, up and down for a really long time. I walked right in and I held her. I held her and I softly cried to myself. I told her that I am sorry for her loss. I couldn’t muster must else to say at the time. I rubbed her back and I held her tight. She was in so much pain, I could feel it- I felt it. I told her that her mom is in peace now. Her two sons, 19 and 22 then walked into the room. They joined in grieving. Two men crying for the loss of their beautiful mother- a loss that shocked us all. I hugged and held them too. Sister Mirella and some of the hospice personnel and I then did a prayer for Hilda and her family. The daughter cried throughout the entire prayer and I tried to comfort her as much as I could. I kissed each one of them on their heads and hugged them tightly. I kissed Hilda’s beautiful but now cold temperature face and I walked out of the room. I went straight to the back of Hospicio and out of the door- I needed my time to grieve and my privacy to do so.

I have not been able to stop thinking about Hilda and her family and their pain today. I have returned to tears several times throughout the day. I write this tribute for Hilda, a women with a beautiful heart and a beautiful love that she passed on to her children. May you rest in peace and know the positive impact that you had on all the people who love you. May you know the love and goodness that flowed out of you. And may you see how your pure and giving smile brought warmth to so many hearts.

I also write this to grieve myself. These special individuals are all part of my life now. Hilda was part of my life and now she is gone. Many of my patients have passed away and I have always been saddened but this occurrence really hit me hard. And I think it is for many reasons; it is because she and her family shared their love with me, it is because I can relate to her kids, it is because she was so young and still has children to raise, grandbabies to hold, it is because I wasn’t ready for her to go.

We all will die and that is not something to fear. Death is a process.  Death is also a new beginning with God and hopefully something that relinquishes the physical and mental pain that we experience in this life.

LIFE is a beautiful. Let us appreciate every moment of it.

Not to fear dying but to Love Living.

~

Rise with your Smile

My beautiful Hilda

To this I pray

Feeling Life

Wow have the past months flown by! I cannot believe I have not written since April and its already July! Time can fly! I was able to spend three weeks of May at home for my vacation time; it was a bit stressful at times to see everyone but nonetheless it was undoubtedly absolutely wonderful. I am so unbelievably thankful to have been right there in the room as the birth of my precious, beautiful little niece Madeline Lauren Rosier was born on May 7th at 1:41 a.m. I spent all of my time cuddling with that precious little girl and soaking in the love of my family, boyfriend Taylor, and friends. I definitly was yearning for that family time, touch of love, and break from community life abroad. The time spent was just what I needed and when I returned in the end of May I was renewed and refreshed! I think that reflection is one of the most important things we can do in our lives, most preferably on a daily basis but if not, as able. I think that my time away has really allowed me to reflect on my life and second home in Chimbote, Peru. It allowed me to appreciate even more what I have in both homes and realize what I am lacking in my life.

I appreciate family and being there for the little things – when Mom wakes up and has coffee with me, spending the day at work with dad, cuddling with Jes and Maddie in the hospital bed, watching a movie with Jeff, cooking lentil tamales with Bryan, having the good, deep conversations with Dawn, watching Kayla walk up the aisle and graduate from college, laughing and pretending to be dinosaurs with Kassidy, rough housing with Kev, watching my cute grandpa hold his new baby granddaughter, traveling over 400 miles with Karen to surprise my love to the point of speechlessness, and spending time with my Linda loo when she visits.

I also appreciate my cute hospice patients here in Peru and how vulnerable and loving they are, my co-workers who have huge hearts and work so hard to care for these wonderful people, for the sisters who have allowed me to have this opportunity in my life by living and working and creating in Peru, my ability to exercise my mind and body through dance, cycling and running at a local gym here, for living with two wonderful women who share with me the want to help  and deeply care for the people in this world, for my garden that is wildly overgrown and constantly visited by all the little birdies.

Specifically this reflection and appreciation of my life in Chimbote has allowed me to really FEEL life here, to feel like I am living here, to feel like I have a life here – to finally feel totally immersed and accustomed to a whole new culture and people. I love my life here. Yes, it is still hard at times and things like cold showers, community tension, and water issues are still there but they are minuscule to me now. I no longer am exhausted everyday when I wake up, for the whole day, and into the night. Now I wake up most days feeling refreshed and feeling excited for my day, feeling ready to go see my patients. I go to work with energy and happiness and I laugh and share with my co-workers. I have become closer to locals especially our friend Frank who has a heart of gold and a wonderful light fun spirit. I have my own hobbies that I allow myself to enjoy and include in my life finally. I go to the gym and help and love myself by dancing it out, overcoming mental anxiety and stress and making my body and mind feel good and free! I go to a local coffee shop sometimes on the weekends and indulge in a delicious cup of coffee while working on my research or reading a book. I have joined efforts with the local social justice office and been able to fulfill my desire and longing for social justice action on the local level. I feel good. I feel life. I. feel. happy.

The next months will be filled with our yearly retreat in Lima, Tessa and Ada returning to their homes at different times for their vacation, two new missionaries joining us in this experience, a partial change of work for me, and maybe a month working inside the hospice center.

 

Feel everything around.

Remember to smile.

Embrace what you like to do.

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A Day Working at Hospicio!

I think it is about time to explain in further detail my work at the Hospice Center- Hospicio Santiago Apostól. So what does my day to day work look like?

The hospice center can accommodate up to 26 inpatients but we are usually around the 21 mark. We also care for another 40 patients in their homes. That is where I come in! I provide wound care, administer medications, bathe, give therapeutic massages, and provide support to my patients and their families.

Hospicio Santiago Apóstol

Hospicio Santiago Apóstol

Inside the hospice center.

Inside the hospice center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I arrive at work around 8 a.m. and usually spend about an hour to an hour and a half in our meeting room before my co-workers and I leave to go out into the community. During that time we tell the doctor about our patients from the day before and discuss situations specific to patients who are sick. We also pray and sing together- yes every morning, it is quite wonderful. Then we receive our materials for the day- gloves, gauze, medication, cream, etc. from the head nurse. ALL of the resources in Hospicio are donated, thus sometimes we do not have all that we need if we have not received donations of it.

Us in the Meeting Room.

Us in the Meeting Room.

Hermana Nidia prepping our materials for the day.

Hermana Nidia prepping our materials for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We try to leave the hospicio around 9 am, sometimes we are able to get out earlier and sometimes we are held back until 10 am. From there we see our set of patients for the morning. There is 4 of us who go out in the community- 2 of us see patients on the north side of Chimbote and the other 2 see patients on the south side. We switch sides every week. Each pair of us has anywhere from 4-8 patients to visit in the morning (and more in the afternoon after lunch)  depending on the day. Sometimes we have patients who come down with a fever and they need to go to the hospital and thus only the doctor visits them for the time being. Sometimes we have patients who we were seeing in their homes, but whose illness has progressed gravely- this is when a patient enters into the Hospicio facility. All of our patients are in their last phase of life and have terminal illnesses. However, the patients in the community are ones who are not yet in their final weeks and usually have family, friends, or neighbors to look after them a bit. The patients who are in the Hospicio facility are in their ultimate weeks, have been abandoned by their families, or have no family.

My lovely co-workers with a patient.

My lovely co-workers with a patient.

Roger with a patient.

Roger with a patient.

Carmela and I. I used to visit her in the community and now she is in the Hospicio center.

Carmela and I. I used to visit her in the community and now she is in the Hospicio center.

Me with Maria who recently passed away - she had Huntington's Disease.

Me with Maria who recently passed away – she had Huntington’s Disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I visit my patients, what do I do? As a result of many of our patients being bed-ridden, many have acquired bed sores or in better terms pressure ulcers. The ulcers occur when the patient stays in a certain position for too long which causes a constant pressure on the skin; there is reduced blood flow in the area that feels the pressure and this causes the skin to die producing the ulcer/bed sore. I  have seen ulcers with all levels of graveness. From small ones the size of your fingertip to ones larger than the palm of your hand. Stage 3 pression ulcers actually develop into sunken deep holes past the skin and into the tissue. Stage 4 ulcers are so deep that the reach and damage the muscle and the bone. Yes, we treat patients with all stages of pressure ulcers.

Hector guarding the gate!

Hector guarding the gate!

Out in the community!

Out in the community!

My little cat that lives at the hospicio. He is also a patient. He has balance issues.

My little cat that lives at the hospicio. He is also a patient. He has balance issues.

Besides caring for their bed wounds, I also administer medication- usually pain medicine for palliative care and sometimes regiments of antibiotics when a patient has an infection. I also change nasal catheters, urinary catheters, and ostomy pouches. We have a patient with an endotracheal tube in which we clean as well. With almost all of our patients, we schedule to give them a bath once a week. Sometimes if the patient is able we help them walk into their shower and bathe them there; however more often than not we give patients baths in their beds. This is done with a lot of carefulness. With practice one is efficient in using sponges to soap up the patient and rinse afterwards without getting the bed wet. However of course it is always easier when the patient has a kind of hospital bed or plastic bed cover. When a patient has their “bath day” this includes bathing them from head to toe, treating their pressure ulcers if they have them, applying cream to their skin/massages, cutting nails, changing their diapers, shaving male patients’ beards, changing them into clean clothes, and changing all of the sheets on their beds.

Another very important aspect of my job is to be a listener. As hospice staff, we are not only there to provide care to the patient but to provide support to them and their families. Sometimes, all the patient really wants or needs is someone to listen to them- listen to them talk about pain they have physically or pain they have emotionally and mentally. Furthermore, the families also need someone to hear the concerns and worries they have about their loved ones. They need assurance, compassion, and accompaniment just as much as the patient.

I could not be happier with where I am work and with whom I work. This job is a blessing to me and I am grateful everyday for what it is teaching me and helping me to become. Every day there are new opportunities to learn and I receive them with open arms.

All of us together!

All of us together!

 

Give Beyond Comfort

Reach Out To Those Forgotten

Love Those You Don’t Like

All of Hospicio at team bonding workshop.

All of Hospicio at team bonding workshop.

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All of us at Sister Nidia's birthday party.

All of us at Sister Nidia’s birthday party.

 

 

 

I Am From

The theme of this blog came from one of our weekly Spirituality Nights; I want to share with you my personal poem that sheds light on where I come from.  I encourage you to make one for yourself to any length- short or long. Just take five minutes out of your day, I promise that you will be glad.

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Who Are You Today?

From Where Did That Person Come?

Our Lives Are Unique

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I am from unconditional love, seeing the glass half full, and everything happening for a reason.

I am from a crazy family with bickering love that never ceases.

I am from endless swim practices and a father who taught me the art of the sport.

I am from relationships of broken hearts, no regrets, and wisdom of experience.

I am from hardships and struggles that helped me grow stronger and more important to myself.

I am from continual opportunities and privileges granted to me.

I am from constant appreciation to my higher being and the people in my life.

I am from higher education, the ability to work, see, breathe, love, and be seen.

I am from swimming in the lake, playing king of the raft and ghost in the grave yard, and making smores over the fire.

I am from sneaking out of the house at night with my friends and teeping houses.

I am from learning how to empathize and unconsciously taking on the hurt of others.

I am from falling and getting back up again in friendships and relationships.

I am from having to learn how lucky I am from seeing how others suffer.

I am from a world of opportunities and butterflies in my stomach at the thought of being able to live life.

I am from a family who supports me in every step that I take and loves me without apprehension.

I am from a family that has grown larger with the years and thus more individuals that I hold oh so dear to my heart.

I am from fearing change yet seeking it constantly.

I am from always loving school and putting it first.

I am from naivety and the constant reminder that life has something to teach me every day.

I am from learning yet often forgetting the power of reflection.

I am from tears releasing the overwhelming gratitude that I have for life.

I am from personal reflection that calls out flaws and hardships within myself.

I am from believing that we all deserve equality, opportunity, and dignity.

I am from finding the love of my life, the one I want to marry and grow old with.

I am from reviving myself through nature.

I am from finding the water, opening a bottle of rum with friends, and sleeping on the rocks.

I am from adventuring to the point that I leave people frightened.

I am from staring at the birds and finding peace in their flight and chirp.

I am from sitting int he big chair with my mom while drinking too much coffee.

I am from cuddling with my sister and Jeff in bed and scratching each other’s arms to fall asleep.

I am from eating ice cream with my dad, exchanging back/foot rubs, and making pictures on each other’s backs.

I am  from spending years complaining while I rub my mom’s feet yet accepting the uncountable massages she gives me.

I am from finding myself through helping others.

I Am From Love.

choose to be happy

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The Start of a Peruvian Summer

I decided this blog with be filled with pictures, pictures, and….more pictures! Spending even just a few days away can help us re-energize our spirits. Spending time out in nature  definitely aids me in my reflection on life, my spiritual mindset, and my ability to let myself truly relax. I was fortunate enough to get to know a little bit more of Peru for the New Year. Enjoy the summer photos!

We spent a couple days in the one of the cutest beach towns that I have seen- Colán, Peru.

We spent a couple of days in the one of the cutest beach towns that I have seen- Colán, Peru.

The beautifuls streets of Colán- a small beach town outside of Paita, Peru (on the northern coast).

The beautiful streets of Colán- a small beach town outside of Paita, Peru (on the northern coast).

The oldest church in ALL OF PERU!

The oldest church in ALL OF PERU!

The naked mermaid of Colán.

The mermaid of Colán.

A Peruvian beach house!

A Peruvian beach house!

The beach in Colán.

The beach in Colán.

The waves washing up.

The waves washing up.

And the Sun coming down

And the Sun coming down

Another beautiful sunset in Colán.

Another beautiful sunset in Colán.

Enjoying the beach : )

Enjoying the beach : )

These men are hard-workers

These men are hard-workers

Fishies!

Fishies!

                           

   

Pregnant Fish...

Pregnant Fish…

Stand Proud Fisherman!

Stand Proud Fisherman!

Stingray!

Stingray!

It is very common for the people to get Stingrays in Colán.

It is very common for the people to fish for Stingrays in Colán.

My little Tiny Seahorse.

My little Tiny Seahorse.

On our way back to Chimbote, we spent a night in Pimentel, Peru- also a small beach town that is outside of Chiclayo, Peru.

You know you are a missionary when you work a party so that you can get in free...

You know you are a missionary when you offer to help work an event for New Year’s.

It was really special to be able to see some of the  Northern Coast beaches, however I am very lucky because we have beaches right around my town of Chimbote!

We hopped on one of these boats (with 20 other people) in order to get to the small private beach: Caleta Colorada.

We hopped on one of these boats (with 20 other people) in order to get to the small private beach: Caleta Colorada.

The BEACH! This one is near Chimbote. It is called Caleta Colorada

The BEACH! This one is near Chimbote. It is called Caleta Colorada

Looking out into the sea at Caleta Colorada

Looking out into the sea at Caleta Colorada

About to JUMP!

About to JUMP!

    

Share with all People

Find your serenity to

Understand your life

                         

 

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Beautiful People

Oh, so much to tell! We recently spent a week in Lima- the capital of Peru, spent the following week in Chimbote with 3 beautiful women from the Women’s Global Connection Immersion Trip, and I started my work at the Hospice Center!

 

Lima

Lima during the Day

Lima during the Day

Lima at night

Lima at night

We arrived in Lima on the night of November 28th and after a long 7 hour bus ride and 1.5 hour taxi ride we arrived at one of the Sisters’ houses. We had not eaten all day because our bus did not stop for lunch (lunch being the main meal of the day- equivalent to dinner in the States). However, to our surprise when we arrived at the Sisters’ house at 9: 30 pm at night the table was set for Thanksgiving dinner which was prepared by Sister Carmelita from Mexico. 

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Yes, it was on Thanksgiving Day that we were traveling. For me the sentiment of this beautiful act of kindness by Sister Carmelita meant more to me than I think I was able to describe to her. I was feeling a bit down that day because I knew my family were all together celebrating Thanksgiving… while I was on a bus…. and the only one in my community (let alone in Peru) who celebrated this lovely holiday. So when Sister Carmelita brought out her beautiful Mexican/ Peruvian thanksgiving dinner (turkey, orange mashed potatoes, rice, and gingerbread cookies for dessert) – I was brought to tears. They were tears of missing my family on a holiday that I had not yet spent away but also tears of gratitude and joy that I was able to celebrate this North American holiday in Peru with four special women.

We spent the following days in Lima running around checking off the dozens of steps needed to obtain our Residency Cards so that we could stay in Peru. Since we will be living in Peru for two years, we legally need to have a Card that says we are residents- otherwise we are illegal immigrants. The process of obtaining these cards is fierce- getting background checks, paying fees at multiple different banks, spending four hours waiting at the Migration Office, not to mention hours spent traveling on buses.

However, I am exuberant to say that we are now officially residents of Peru!!          

1. Our bus ticket to Lima             2. Some of out bus tickets while in Lima (add at least 30 more) 3. My RESIDENCY Card

1. Our bus ticket to Lima 2. Some of out bus tickets while in Lima (add at least 30 more)
3. My RESIDENCY Card

Official Resident of Peru for 5 years (needs to be renewed annually)

Official Resident of Peru for 5 years (needs to be renewed annually)

In between the days that we worked on getting our Residency Cards, we were able to get to know Lima.

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I saw many places that reminded me of the States. Lima has an outdoor mall called Jockey Plaza- oddly similar to malls in the states.

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However at this outdoor mall they also have a banking center and a health clinic! 

Finance Center with 10 different banks…. pretty smart on their part to put this in a mall..

Finance Center with 10 different banks…. pretty smart on their part to put this in a mall..

A clinic is also provided to the people...

A clinic is also provided to the people…

 

We also were able to spend a morning at the cultural museum in Lima.

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The sixth floor of the museum contained a very moving, powerful exhibit explaining the history of a terrorist group that ruled Peru for 20 years; the group was called Sendero Luminoso, meaning Shining Path. This terroist group wiped out towns, killed more that 69,000 people, and left thousands of families in poverty and despair.

Mass murder at a prison

Mass murder at a prison

Translation: “We cannot find reconciliation without knowing the truth”

Translation: “We cannot find reconciliation without knowing the truth”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to see all that we did in Lima, we had to take an inconceivable number of buses because they all have their own routes and Lima is huge. The public transportation is phenomenal though. By far, these buses were the most interesting  thing in Lima.

Within only one week, we became professional bus riders, taking probably around 40 buses in only a few days. Sitting, standing, singing, selling, sleeping….it all happens on these buses at once. The buses at times become so filled that your bodies are flush up with one another- you breath each other’s air, that is for sure.   I wish I could have captured a picture of how crowded they can become but that is near to impossible!

TWINS: Tessa and her stranger man sleeping on the bus

TWINS: Tessa and her stranger man sleeping on the bus

I love standing on the bus rides!!

I love standing on the bus rides!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it came time to travel back to Chimbote from Lima. Ada, Tessa and I along with the 3 women- Lisa, Nicole, and Anne Catherine from Women’s Global Connection (mentioned in earlier posts) took a bus back to Chimbote. The taxi ride to the bus station was quite a show to say the least. Six people, six suitcases, and an extra few large bags…. ALL in one van… that had no trunk.

The suitcases ate us!

The suitcases ate us!

Yes, my face is flush with the window!

Yes, my face is flush with the window!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Chimbote

The following week was spent with these 3 strong, loving women from WGC. We can’t even begin to explain how wonderful it was to have them here; they took care of us, guided us, and lifted our spirits everyday.

The six of us at a Bingo Fundraiser for Hospicio

The six of us at a Bingo Fundraiser for Hospicio

I was able to be a part of some amazing workshops put on by the Women’s Global Connection Immersion Group while that week. The workshops were put on for two groups that WGC works with. One group is made up of preschool teachers who are part of a program called Sembrando Infancia- a group working towards Early Childhood Development by targeting child nutrition, development, and sustainable resources for preschool age children in the most impoverished areas of the city.  The other group, whom I have mentioned before, are the women from Pushaq Warmi- a women’s group who united to help each other economically and stand to empower women – currently they are starting up a bakery.

Workshop for the Sembrando Infancia Program

Lisa, Tessa, and the PreSchool Teachers

Lisa, Tessa, and the PreSchool Teachers

The women and their certificates.

The women and their certificates.

Baking Workshop for the Pushaq Warmi women.

The Pushaq Warmi women making the cake pops, muffins, and breads.

The Pushaq Warmi women making the cake pops, muffins, and breads.

Cake Pops (like at Starbucks!)

Cake Pops (like at Starbucks!)

The Cake Pops decorated

The Cake Pops decorated

My Cake Pop

My Cake Pop

The women after their workshop

The women after their workshop

A beautiful custom here in Peru is definitely the dancing. Age does not matter and hips do not lie. These women of Pushaq Warmi have sure shown us a good time. Their dance moves ignore their age and their love for fun lights up the room.

Peru is ALL ABOUT DANCING

Translation:  ”Because Andean vision for productive everyday life was festive. Because singing and dancing were sown fields. Singing and dancing was constructed roads. Singing and dancing was receiving bounced travelers. Singing and dancing was receiving to be born and to die well. Singing and dancing is life lived.” Uriel Garcia

Translation: ”Because Andean vision for productive everyday life was festive. Because singing and dancing were sown fields. Singing and dancing was constructed roads. Singing and dancing was receiving bounced travelers. Singing and dancing was receiving to be born and to die well. Singing and dancing is life lived.” Uriel Garcia

The last point I would like to mention is that I chose to work with Hospice and I finally started this past week!  In the future, I hope to spend some time in the Clinic as well, but at this point in time I decided to work with Hospice because the need was greater. They have less staff  right now because some nurse techs are on maternity leave. Thus, the system of seeing patients out in the community in pairs of two co-workers has been difficult to accomplish and staff from other areas has had to fill in. I have started off working four days a week; M, T, Th, F. I will be working out in the community for a few months and at some point will rotate to work within the Hospice Center. I am very happy to be working with Hospice and I know already that this work is extremely humbling, meaningful, and essential. The patients are cute as buttons and I am honored to be taking care of them and helping ease them in comfort as they pass away. The cycle of life is beautiful; just as we are completely dependent when are born we once again become completely dependent with old age and terminal illness. The most important thing in my work place is to care and that I know I can do. : )

I wrote this Haiku as I watched a woman on a bus in Lima sing a beautiful song while playing music with an empty bottle and the bristles of a comb (not to mention carrying a baby on her back and stabilizing herself on a moving bus). That was how she makes a living and I found it so beautiful. Her work, your work, my work….

Regardless of Type

Every One’s Work Matters

Heart, Soul, Lifestyle

Chimbote, Peru Finalmente!!!

After 12 hours of traveling in the air (layovers  in Houston and Costa Rica) Ada and I arrived in Lima, Peru one week ago on Sunday- November 11th! We spent a short night there with the novitiates of the Congregation- the novitiates are the women who are in process of becoming Sisters. The next day, Monday, we traveled to Chimbote on a 7 hour and 20 minute bus ride; we watched 5 and half movies during our trek! We arrived in Chimbote at 5:00 pm where both Tessa and Sister Sophia were awaiting us. My journey in Chimbote, Peru had finally begun and I was exuberant!

Chimbote, Chimbote! You are filled with many noises, a superfluous amount of sand, and a vibrant community!

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There are three Sisters from the Charity of the Incarnate Word here in Chimbote, Peru – Sr. Leonila, Sr. Juanita, and Sr. Sophia. It has been a pleasure spending time and eating meals together this past week. However, we will not be living with the Sisters in the upcoming years; we live in a rented house just a few minutes away.

The outside of our house

The outside of our house.

Our house, the Incarnate Word Missionary House….oh the house! Upon first seeing the house I was abundant with excitement and joy! There is so much beauty and I feel extremely grateful to have a place to live here! By far my favorite part of the house is the outside patio; it has its own small garden area (that needs a bit of work) surrounded by birds singing their songs. This along with the rest of the house has so much potential! The inside is filled with colors, four bedrooms, and a ton of space. However, I will have to admit that it has been a bit hard to live at the house this past week. When Tessa arrived (2 days before us) there was no electricity. When Ada and I arrived on Monday, we had received electricity but there was no water. What does living with no water look like? It means we cannot shower, cook anything on the stove, wash our hands, flush the toilet, have a cup of tea (Tessa’s staple), nor wash any of the dishes which were ALL dirty. I have lived simply before when I stayed at the campos in the Dominican Republic, but I am so unbelievably surprised by how much value there is in simple living. The highlight of my day on Tuesday was the product of a combined effort of innovative thinking; we needed water really badly to clean our sandy, dusty, dirty rooms; thus we took a large bucket and tied a jump rope to two sides of the handle and lowered it into the well, then pushed the bucket down with the end of a broken mop to fill the bucket with water. It was the best day ever just because we had a bucket of water! I have learned the lesson before but once again I needed to rethink how much I take for granted everyday. Yes, it has been hard living without water but I would not change a thing because not having water reminded me to be grateful for these simple things. The honest truth is that we need that constant reminder; I changed many of my ways after living in the Dominican Republic but after this occurrence I will surely change my habits even more.

I would like to challenge you, all my dear family and friends, to really contemplate living with one bucket of water a day. What would you use it for? What is essential in your daily living that requires water? What could you give up? How important to you is a hot meal, a shower, cleaning your hands when they’re dirty, flushing the toilet? Which is most important to you?

The reality is that a remarkable amount of people live like that every single day of their lives…

Solidarity

Learning and Understanding

Help Me Have Patience

Along with the water dilemma which is now resolved, we have been putting a lot of energy into cleaning and revamping the house; it needs a whole lot of work done before we can really feel at home. See Chimbote is known to have a bit of a sand/dust problem… it comes into your house from every direction (parts of the roof in the house are permanently open as well) and finds its way into EVERY crevice of EVERY room. Thus, even though the house has been cleaned numerous times before we arrived- we have at least a couple weeks of pure cleaning to accomplish. It is very difficult to feel clean here. In the midst of trying to keep the dirt out, we are repainting the walls since the salt water underneath all of the house tends to come up through the walls and cause the paint to crumble off the bottom two feet of each wall. We are also trying to work on the outside garden because it is the time for planting and the window is closing soon! Thus, we are busy with so many great things in order to get ourselves established in our house before we start any work. After all is done, I will blog with pictures Before and After. 

In regards to work, I was able to visit both the Santa Clara Clinic and the Santiago Apóstol Hospice Center. In the next couple weeks I will be choosing between these two places to work full time. The choice is a hard one because both institutions are absolutely amazing.

The Santa Clara Clinic is extremely comprehensive with doctors from 14 different specialties, a pharmacy, diagnostics, minor surgical accomodations, alternative medicine, psychological resources, and therapy available. This upcoming week I will be spending time there.

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The Hospice Center which helps ease elderly people in their final stages of life is extremely impressive as well. It has an absolutely gorgeous garden as you enter through the gates; furthermore, that garden surrounds the entire facility so that EACH patient views the pure beauty of it. Additionally, each of the rooms has a door so that the residents can access the garden and their families can enter straight into their rooms once they have been allowed in through the gate. The facility has 16 rooms and has held up to 38 patients. The Hospice Center serves the individuals in house and up to 40 people in the community as well. It is simply remarkable. If I work with Hospice, I will be attending to both the patients in facility and out in the community.

The front of the Hospice Center.

The front of the Hospice Center.

One of the two wings of the center.

One of the two wings of the center.

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The Peruvian culture is warm and welcoming. Tessa, Ada, and I have been able to get to know the city just a little bit so far. The streets are filled with motos and taxis; barely anyone owns their own car. The motos are absolutely fascinating! 

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To take a moto, it costs only one Sol per person (the equivalence of one sol is .36 cents) to take you anywhere in the city’s center! Each moto has its own style as you can see; at night many motos become moving night clubs- booming dance music, flashing lights, and bases blaring!!

Another thing that I have found quite interesting is some of the dogs here. Now I have seen cultures that are filled with street dogs before, but I have never seen dogs that claim their territory like these ones do. On our walk from our house to the sisters we pass under a certain house in which the dog is absolutely ferocious. This huge dog runs across the roof that hangs over the sidewalk that we walk on and proceeds to bark and growl so loudly that one may become afraid for their life because the dog is one growl away from jumping right on top of your head! Oh my, do I run pass that house…

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The last thing I’d like to share with you is the Market in Chimbote. Here is a picture of one of our friends selling her produce. The market is filled with individual sellers selling their goods every day. The things sold range from fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, cheese, etc, to fabrics, electronics, household items, jewelry, clothes, party supplies, etc! The market has it all and what a sight it is to see!

Sister Leonila and Lucha

Sister Leonila and Lucha

Simple Joy

What Matters in Life

The People Who Surround You

Never Forget It

The BIG question that ought to be tallied for the number of times it has been asked is “When are you going to Peru”? Although I still am not able to answer that question concretely, I can at least assure everyone that I could not be happier in San Antonio at this moment in time. In the past month, I have been able to attend the 2013 Women’s Global Connection Annual Gala, hear Brother Emmanuel of the Taizé Community and Zawadi Nikuze from the Democratic Republic of the Congo speak at the University, meet two Creighton Alumni, celebrate my 23rd birthday, live with another set of wonder Incarnate Word Sisters- Martha Ann and Maria Theresa, attend my cousin Danny and Sara’s beautiful wedding in Dallas, put on a 9th birthday party for one of my favorite little guys at Visitation House, and spend more quality time with my Linda loo and her family and of course my amazing missionary community. None of this could have occurred if I was not fortunate enough to spend this time here in Texas. I am blessed for these new and developing relationships, all of the love that I see, give, and feel around me, and the ability to follow my passion. Yes, I am and have always been grateful for the people in my life – the family, friends, and acquaintances. However, how often do we stop and really appreciate the new people we meet each day? There is beauty in the connections that God puts in front of us and it is the people who make it so. If we really look around, there is always someONE  there even when it is not apparent.

One of those people who I have been thinking about particularly is Ivan the third grader who I tutor at Visitation House. I stood and stared while at his birthday party last week; I just thanked God that he is in my life and that I have been able to spend time with this intelligent kid who is full of so much life and pizzazz!

My little Ivan

My little Ivan

“Jackie come, come, come!”
Stare…Smile…at Simple Joy
Children Revive Us
 That pure happiness of children is truly refreshing. The ironic beauty is that as adults we have so much to learn from kids. 
Ivan and I    : )

Ivan and I : )

Kloe. Yes, we may have bought a cake with black and blue frosting...

Kloe. Yes, we may have bought a cake with black and blue frosting…

Mark trying to fit the whole piece of cake in his mouth!

Mark trying to fit the whole piece of cake in his mouth!

My loved ones. I am so grateful for each one of you.

My loved ones. I am so grateful for each one of you.

We are complete!

The past month has been filled with meeting astonishing people, learning the value of patience, and spending quality time with others. I am currently in San Antonio, Texas; the other two missionaries and I are still awaiting our Visas. It may take another few weeks. Yes, it has taken a long time but to be honest I did not expect anything less. The process of obtaining a visa for permanent residency in another country is very complicated and involves a series of processing steps by many different people in both countries. As for me, I have not minded the wait one bit. I am currently working and getting to know all of the sisters of The Incarnate Word Congregation here in San Antonio, where we are based. These women are more than phenomenal! They have hearts the size of this country! I have enjoyed so very much meeting more of them everyday; Ada, Tessa and I are currently living with two of the sisters whom we absolutely adore. Besides attending all of the events going on with the Congregation I have also been spending a lot of time working. I am assisting at one of the ministries called Visitation House founded by the sisters of the Incarnate Word Charity. The Visitation House is a two year transitional housing and education program that serves woman and children who are homeless. I could not be happier working there and serving for such a great mission; the placement is perfect for me. I do a variety of things including picking up the children from school, tutoring, managing donations, cleaning and more! In addition to helping out at the Visitation House I have also been attending meetings for Women’s Global Connection- the organization that Ada and Tessa are working with here in San Antonio and will be working with in Peru as well. Women’s Global Connection is an organization, founded by two of the Sisters of The Incarnate Word Charity, that promotes the learning and leadership capacity of women around the world. If you would like to know more about it, here is the link:

 http://wgc.womensglobalconnection.org/aboutus_mission_vision.html

On another note, I was able to visit home for a 10 day period; I just returned on Tuesday. My time at home was more than I could have asked for; my family is my greatest support and I love them dearly. I spent the time with my sister, brother-in-law, dad, Dawn, mom, Brian, Kassidy, and grandpa! I was able to spend a beautiful day camping with my boyfriend, Taylor, in Sugar Bottom, Iowa as well.

Today is an especially exciting day because Tessa, our third missionary, arrived from Ireland last night! Ada and I are filled with joy that we were finally able to meet her in person. Tessa completes our community of three! She is filled with just as much energy as us! We are excited to get the chance to live together here in San Antonio and later in Peru.

I shall end today’s blog with a haiku:

The world is a mess

But, forever there is hope

If your eyes are wide

What Nature Brings

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Still water awaits

Fitting with the curving tree

Love surrounds me

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This haiku expresses the comfort that I feel here on my 3 day retreat in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Captured in the beauty of this place is grass that springs back when you walk on it, grand trees with years of roots, twists, and turns, nature that speaks all around me, a pool of water that acts as a second home to me, jumping birds that reign free, and a serenity that speaks my higher power.

I am sitting in one of these beautiful trees- snug and fitting perfectly. I am wondering how it is that I have finally gotten to this point in my life. There is SO much time that I feel like crying! There is no rush, no stress. I can FINALLY soak in the nature that I come from; I can finally express that part of me that has been yearning to break free. I feel so happy, so glad, so appreciative, so much joy and love. I feel loved and blessed to be here in this place and with these beautiful people- Hermana Carmenita, Ada, and Sergio. I brush the ants off of me and shoo the flies away but in reality I want to practice the opposite- I do not want to disturb their home; I want to live together in a home that God gave us to share. Why be afraid of the nature that you love so much?

I sit here and wonder why God has blessed me so. How have I been so fortunate to have family and friends who love me so much, and education that taught me wonders, and a path that has led me to be with the Incarnate Word Congregation? I am so happy that I will be spending the next couple years with Ada and Tessa ( the other missionary from Ireland who we have not yet met.) Thank you God for this Blessing.

I want to give people the hope and joy that I have been granted in my life. I want everyone to feel the bliss that I do from just being. Everyone deserves this and everyone deserves dignity, justice, and peace. 

To this I live for.

~ June 29th, 2013 Entry from my Journal

The Journey Has Begun

The two months at home flew by faster than I could have ever imagined; between being consumed with studying for the MCAT (the entrance exam needed to apply for medical schools) and grasping every possible moment with my loved ones- I was shocked when I saw 7/21/2013 on my phone. At about 11:00 pm on Sunday night, I laid down with my mom, sister, and Taylor and anticipated my departure that would happen in the following hours. I felt partly serene at the thought of finally initiating this step in my life that so fervently ignites my passion and I felt partly nauseous at the thought of leaving my loved ones for two years. How do you say goodbye to anyone for two years? After struggling with this question for the past week, I decided to take the advice of someone I hold dear, Karen MacKinnon,  and say  ‘See you later’  instead!

An emotional 3 hour flight from Chicago to San Antonio and additional 2 hour flight has brought me here to Mexico City for my 2.5 week orientation. Upon passing through Customs, I walked out through double doors into a crowd of Mexican people, many of whom were holding signs with names written on them. I walked along the crowd multiple times….no sign with my name on it and only a few odd glances that made it apparent that people knew I was obviously not from here and was in search of someone. Finally after about 10 minutes I stood looking at whom I thought may be Tere, the director of my program, but separated by an Asian tourist group taking a photo. It was then that I met Tere for the first time in person along with Ada, one of the missionaries whom I will be living with in Peru, and Sergio who will be missioning in the state of Hidalgo in Mexico.

The rest of yesterday was spent thinking about my loved ones and getting to know Ada. I am more than enthralled to have been finally able to meet her! She is 22 years old and from Del Rio, Texas. Ada was born in Texas but soon after moved back to Mexico in which she remained until the age of 14. She then returned to Texas and graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word one year ago. She will also be writing a blog while we are in Peru; I will provide the link to it soon. Ada and I have a lot in common and have similar interests in the lifestyle that we hope to live while in Peru; we have discussed many ideas including planting our own garden, composting, making our own jams, limiting our use of technology, making strong connections with our neighbors in Peru, and spending a lot of time in nature. I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful person to share this journey with.

Today was the first day of orientation. Ada, Sergio, and I learned about the history and spirituality of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word Congregation. Sister Maria Luisa gave us a phenomenal presentation on these topics and included tidbits of her own experience as well. I will have to admit though that after 7 hours of needing to intently focus on understanding the information in Spanish, I was more than ready for a nap! I am relieved that my Spanish is naturally and rapidly coming back  and that I am understood when I speak Spanish; however, let’s just say that my mind has a personality of its own and often decides to take a break from comprehending Spanish and instead wander to another land!!! The day has been exhausting but even more powerfully it has been invigorating. I am ecstatic to be meeting the sisters of Incarnate Word (they are are SOOO adorable and sweet), talking about living and missioning in Chimbote, and living in the present moment. This is the start of a new step in my life- it is challenging, exhausting, and tugs at my passions- what more could I possibly ask for!

I have decided that a theme that I want to incorporate while blogging is to write a Haiku somewhere in each one of my blogs. A Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry; it is a short poem that consists of three lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables respectively without rhyming. Sometimes I will explain my Haiku and sometimes I will leave it open for your interpretation and hopefully your own connection to it. So here goes- this one is inspired by my flight to Mexico City:

 

Watch the clouds roll by

Transported with the tears of love

The journey excites