Wednesday, May 11, 2011


April 16, 2011
So, it's 14 days until I go home! :) I'm so excited. I'm ready to get back to familiar things, places, and people. I can't wait to sleep in my own bed, drive my car, hug my parents, listen to a church service in English... There is just so much to look forward to!
But- I am certainly going to miss Peru. Even though the US is my home and that is familiar to me, Peru has become my second home. Things that used to be so strange are now normal, for this time of my life home has been here. It's crazy to think about really.
My mom is a list maker, and I don't mind lists either so I'm going to make a list of things I'll miss about Peru. Since it's clearly very hard to think of EVERYTHING I will miss about Peru I'm going to separate it into the senses: sight, smell, touch, sounds, and taste. I guess that should about cover everything. :)
-the palm trees, and all trees- those are scarce in kansas...
-the thousands of motocars that are all over the city
-beautiful jungle sunsets and sunrises
-the other SM's who have become like my family

-garlic and onions; they cook EVERYTHING with garlic and onions here :) haha
-yeah... not a lot of good smells in Peru..
unfortunately, there are a lot of unpleasant smells that go along with my Peruvian experience..
-whistles/"hey baby"'s/kissing noises from men
-rotten cheese
-dead animal
-nasty skin infections/surgery/birth smell
those I will NOT miss.

-the feel of crunchy clothes right off the clothes line (although i am VERY excited to use a dryer again)
-little grandma kisses on my cheek when i meet old ladies at church or the clinic
-firm handshakes of people when you meet them
-kid hugs

-people announcing things over a loud speaker while they drive by on a motocar
-hymns in Spanish with the whole congregation singing
-little kids singing at the top of their lungs at VBS
-roosters crowing in the morning
-horns honking at all hours

-maracuya juice and ice cream
-arroz con leche
Ok, so as I started writing this blog i realized that it was a much bigger job than I had anticipated at first so I'm going to close by sayint that this is certainly not a complete list. There are many things I will miss- too many to list or to count. Peru has been a life-changing experience for me in so many ways and one list just can't cover it all.

Monday, April 11, 2011


April 10, 2011
You know, there are some things that drive me crazy about Peru. It's true, I'm sure I've written about it. But the longer I live here the more I realize that in some things they've really got the right perspective. I'll just tell you about it...
Here, where I am living, it doesn't matter what you wear. Stripes and plaid- go for it. Pink and red- totally acceptable. Shoes that don't match with your outfit- no big deal. Your hair doesn't need to be done, make-up doesn't need to be perfect. None of that matters to them. They look beyond all of that and see the person that you are. They want to know you. I mean, I go out with my hair piled all crazy on top of my head, running shorts and an old shirt on and guys still whistle at me. haha. Ok, not the best example, but seriously- it's not important here.
Beyond physical appearances there are houses. Most of the houses in my community are made out of scrap wood and are just one big room. Occasionally they will have maybe 2 rooms, but the majority don't. The kitchens are typically outside with some sort of roof over them- they consist of a wood stove and a table or two. Most people don't have a refrigerator or regular stove and a kitchen sink is pretty much unheard of. The bathrooms are smelly little shacks in the back, and showers are a wooden frame with some tarp around it. But again, it doesn't matter. What they have works for them. It functions and they are fine with it. Even though the houses are small, they are always full of people- family, neighbors, aquaintances. In the evenings it is very common to see neighbors relaxing at one another's house, just talking and enjoying life. There is no stress that the house may not be in perfect condition or that there might not be enough room for everyone. There is always enough room when you live in Peru. :)
A personal car is a luxury here- the majority of people don't have any sort of transportation. Public transportation is a thriving business here. It's not about who drives the nicest SUV or who has the fastest sports car. In fact, most people would probably not know what to do if they did have thier own car.
Lastly, I have grown to love how people take their time with things here. No matter what it is- they don't stress about meeting the next appointment, when church is going to be over, or when their friend is going to leave the house. Schedules are almost non exsistent. If you wanted to talk to a friend they would probably drop everything for you and talk as long as you needed. Granted, there are times when the lack of timeliness is annoying, but with other things it's just so much more relaxed if you aren't always stressing about the time. It's not important. Whatever happens, happens. And somehow, things always work out.
At home people stress about everything- the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the house they live in, the friends they have, the schedule they "must" follow... But, my question is why? Why stress? Do you gain something great from stressing about everything? Do you make better friends because your shirt has the words "Abercrombie and Fitch" written on the front? Are you better than your friend or coworker because you drive the nicest car around town? Does the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your house put you in some sort of "best house" ranking? I DON'T THINK SO. I wish people at home could understand and experience how life is in the rest of the world. You have no idea how lucky and spoiled we are to live in the USA. I just want pepole to see that life is just NOT all about material things! I mean, really, if that's all life was about then what's the point? It's about people and relationships. It's about so much more than what you wear, what you drive, or where you live. It's about looking beyond all that stuff and caring about the people.
Now, here is my disclaimer- I'm not trying to come across that everyone and everything in the US is awful. In fact, I miss it a lot and I feel extremely lucky to live there. It's just that living here has helped me realize SO many things about life. You really have to experience something like this to completely understand where I'm coming from. It's ok to have nice things, but if that's all that matters to you then I'd suggest a step back and a litle change in perspective. Why do we care so much about material things when in the end none of it will matter? You aren't going to take that nice Mercedes to heaven. Your flat top stove and granite countertops aren't going either. I guess what I want to say is be thankful for what you have, reach out to others whenever you can, spend time with God everyday, and just take time to enjoy life. Everything just really isn't that important.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves creak in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
-Matthew 6:19-21

Thursday, April 7, 2011


*note to my faithful readers: sorry this is late. I was sure I had already posted it!! :)
March 4, 2011
This is an ode to my mom. "Because Nice Matters" is her favorite saying and the older I get the more I realize just how true and valuable that little piece of advice is.
One thing about people here is they have no shame about asking for money- especially if you are American (or any sort of white-looking). Sometimes that upsets me because i really don't want to be taken advantage of. I'm very willing to help, but sometimes the situations are tough. Well, today there was a mom who came in with her 2 girls. The mom told us that she didn't have enough money to buy uniforms for her girls and they were starting school on Monday. She told us that for the whole uniform (skirt, shirt, shoes, and socks) it was going to be more than 50 soles per girl. We were all shocked at that price, so we made a deal with her. We asked for the sizes of each girl and we told her that since we were going to Pucallpa that afternoon anyway then we would just look for uniforms and they could come pick them up on Sunday. In Pucallpa, with the help of our friend Wendy, we found uniforms for WAY cheaper than we thought it was going to be. We found a store where it was only 14 soles for the skirts, 4 for the shirts, 1.50 for the socks and 10-15 for the shoes. That means it was only 66 soles for both girls! That's only about 25 dollars. I was so excited to find everything they needed and at such a good price. I'm so glad we could help.
Our other "project" is our neighbors the Rivas-Rios kids... There are 6 of them in the family- Diana, Jack, Raquel, Abel, Valentin, and Luanna. Home life is anything but spectacular and they spend A LOT of time at the clinic. At times it feels like we are running a daycare instead of a clinic. Their clothes are always tattered and dirty, sometimes the youngest runs around without pants on... They have really grown attatched to the 3 of us girls and us to them as well. Even though sometimes it's irritating to have them around all the time, we can't help but love them. Their dad drinks a lot and usually they have no money to buy food because of that. Both parents are abusive to the kids, and dad is not too nice to mom... Like I siad, not a spectacular situation. Well, they needed notebooks and pencils for school and their mom didn't have any money to buy them what they needed. Lauren, Steph, and I decided that we would help them but only if they would help us. (We had to teach a little life lesson too because that doesn't happen from mom and dad). The deal was they had to come sweep the from room of the clinic everyday for a week and then we would buy them notebooks for school. They did a pretty good job, the brooms are still taller than most of them so we had to go behind them and sweep again; but the point was they were learning to work for their things. We went to town and bought them their things and when we took it to them they were SO excited. Diana, the oldest, almost started crying. It broke my heart. I was so happy that we could help. Diana has so much responsibility because she's the oldest and acts as the mom a lot of the time. I just want her to feel like a kid and feel taken care of and I think in that moment she felt cared for. Oh, I just love her.
Tonight we saw our friends Graciela and her daughter Valentina, and Gino. They work in Pucallpa selling handmade jewelry on the street. We met Gino in October and see him every now and then when we're in town. He's a really awesome guy. He has long hair and super cool earrings and he always wears traditional clothes and lots of jewelry. He's super down to earth and just so cool. haha. You really have to meet him to get it. Graciela is also a way cool lady. She was the one who did the "trenzas" (braids) that are in mine and Stephanie's hair. We see her every week or so when we're in town and just stop and chat with her. Her daughter Valentina is quite the character. She loves attention and is just silly. She is usually dirty and you can tell what she ate last because it's all over her face and clothes. But she is precious. Anyhow, tonight we invited them to come eat with us and we paid the bill for everyone. It was a fun dinner, just chill. The conversation and company were very pleasant and I think it made everyone's day a little bit better.
It's stuff like this that I am going to miss about Peru. Everyone keeps to themselves so much at home- I mean I can't say I've met any friends on the street corner and then met up with them for dinner. I guess that's something I've learned here and I want to practice more at home. It's so easy to talk to people here- and I really don't think it's any different at home. Someone just has to initiate it. I'm going to be that someone. I started trying to do that last year- just being really nice to cashiers, or striking up a conversation with the person in line wtih me, or just smiling at random people. It's fun to make peoples' days better. And I really think that is one of the best ways to show Jesus' love. People remember how you treat them. It's those little things that can make a huge difference in someone's life.
Because Nice MATTERS. Thanks, Mom. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011


March 29, 2011
(I hope that "unbelievable" is spelled right. haha it looks a little bit wrong. haha)
Oh wow. Today was literally one of my craziest days in Peru. I've probably said that about a lot of things, but what happened today really tops all. Let me start at the beginning.
A 17 year old girl came to the clinic this morning around 8. She was already having contractions and was 2 cm dilated. We had known about her before and had planned on having her give birth at the clinic. We are very careful about which births we accept here because of our lack of emergency equipment. She was a big, sturdy girl, so even though it was her first child we felt that she would be ok. The ultrasound that she brought showed that everything was ok with the baby as well. So, it was all good. The girl (we'll call her Maria) was sitting outside and between patients Cecilia would check on her and make sure everything was still going well. Around 2 o'clock her contractions were beginning to be stronger and faster so Lauren and I were timing them. At that point she was having nearly 1 contraction every minute. We had her laying down in the dental room so between contractions we quickly helped her move to the middle room in the clinic to our famous birthing chair. The water still had not broken so Cecilia decided to break it. Normally,when you break the water the liquid that exits is clearish in color. The liquid that exited now was green. That's BAD. Right then we decided that we had to take her to the hospital because the risk of complications was too high to have her deliver in the clinic. Of course, here in Peru there is no such thing as calling an ambulance so I went running out to find a motocar. Steph gathered all of the items we would need and we helped her out to the motocar. Maria, her neighbor, Steph, and I piled into the motocar and sped off (as fast as we could on our terrible road). I think it was the LONGEST motocar ride of my life and I can't even imagine what it was like for Maria. The minutes felt like hours and it seemed like all the traffic was getting in our way. I was praying the entire time that everything would be ok and that this baby would not be born in the motocar. While we were driving Maria, of course, was in extreme amounts of pain seeing as though she was 9 cm dilated and we were driving on the worst road in Peru. When we were about a block away from the hospital the head started coming out. Quickly, I took off my shirt (I had 2 tank tops on) and got ready to deliver this baby in the motocar. Goodness- it still seems so unreal!! Anyway, as we were pulling into the driveway of the hospital I was supporting the head as it came out. It got stuck so I had to reach down and spread her to allow the head to come the rest of the way. Then when it did the cord was wrapped around the neck. I was able to quickly unwrap it and Steph was there to help with the rest of the body. We set the baby on top of mom and started drying him off with my shirt. The crazy thing was that he was crying right when he came out. We hadn't suctioned him or anything obviously, and he was crying! I was so happy! All my fears melted away and I had this assurance that everything was going to be ok. As we were continued to dry him the hospital staff finally came out to help. Someone came over with a clamp and scissors and that's when i realized that the cord had broken on it's own! Also a bad thing. They whisked the baby inside and I helped move Maria over to a stretcher so they could take her inside. After that my gaze fell to Maria's neighbor who had tears streaming down her face. I went over and gave her a hug and told her everything was going to be ok. Then a nurse came out and escorted Steph and I inside to wash our blood covered hands. The baby was crying and he was a bit blue, but he was ok! The only bummer was that they threw my shirt in the biohazard trash. :( That was a little sad, I was going to wash it and keep it for a souvenir. haha It was one of my favorite shirts. Oh well, I guess it was retired to a good cause. The rest of the story I am choosing to leave out to protect Maria's privacy. But I can tell you that both she and the baby are ok and now I can say I delivered a child in a motocar. Unbelievable.


march 28, 2011
Wow. I can't believe it. I only have 33 days left in Peru. That's just crazy to think about. I've been living here since August and I'm almost done. It's a bittersweet feeling to be honest. I wish I had my journal from the first few weeks that I was here so that I could compare that to where I am now. Unfortunately, those stupid pirates took it. Ugh, that still makes me mad.
Anyhow, we had yet another birth this morning. Mom was 20 years old and this was child number 2. She came in around 10:30 and was only dilated like 3 cm. I decided to go to bed because I knew it would be a while till anything was going to happen. Cecilia woke me up at 5:35 and said that she was almost ready. At 6:30 we welcomed a little baby girl into the world. She was so precious and a big girl! 3.8 kilos and 51 cm long! Also, for this birth I got to deliver the placenta. That was a new experience for me because I'm normally the baby handler. It was super cool, well I mean it was cool if you like this sort of thing. haha :) I think I'm going to be very frustrated when I go back to clinicals next year and they won't let me do anything. Maybe I can pull the "I lived in Peru and delivered like 7 babies" card. haha
On another note, I've been thinking about going home and this summer and how I'm going to feel when I get home. As excited as I am about it, I'm almost scared at the same time... I can't wait for May 3 when I walk off the plane and get to see my mom and give her a hug for the first time in 9 months. And then I get to hug my dad for the first time since December. I'm SOOOO excited. I just remember in January when I didn't think I was going to make it. I was seriously considering going home. As rough as that first part of January was I'm so glad I stayed and stuck it out. I would have missed out on so much. This year has changed me in so many ways and taught me so many things. Sometimes I'm afraid I won't "fit" at home anymore... I just hope that I can bring something home that other people will notice in me and be an inspiration to others. I don't regret my decision about coming this year, I don't regret anything that's happened. If this experience has taught me one thing, it's that everything does happen for a reason. I really think that everyone should do something like this in their life. It's amazing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


March 19 thru March 25

Oh campaigns. It’s always the same. We work until we feel like we’re going to pass out and then we do it again every day for a week. It’s great, and honestly for some crazy reason I really like it. I love knowing that we are able to give people something that would normally be difficult or impossible for them to get. And even though sometimes I could literally collapse in exhaustion or frustration I know that it’s all worth it.

This particular campaign was fun because we had about 16 more team members. Dr. Matson and a group of students from Eastern Virginia Medical School were here helping us. Five were med students and the rest were public health students who were doing a study in our community. The med students worked in the clinic with us all week seeing patients.

Here´s how it went- we would see 100 patients in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. I was the boss of the pharmacy and unfortunately, a lot of the time I found myself in there alone! It’s a scary place to be too- don’t be fooled. My stack of prescriptions would slowly grow and the more it grew the more people I had staring at me thru the pharmacy window. They would just crowd around and stare and me. And heaven forbid I step foot out of the pharmacy- as soon as I did I would be accosted by the herd of Peruvians awaiting their medicine. “Senorita! Senorita!”they would shout at me. I got to the point where I would go out, give the meds to the correct individual and turn right around and go back into the pharmacy completely ignoring the calls from everyone. Eventually, when other people were done with their jobs I would have more help in the pharmacy which obviously made things go a lot faster. Every day this week I worked thru lunch and one day I got there and there was not even a kernel of rice left for me. That was a sad day. Haha. Most days we worked until 7 o’clock and then I had to clean up the hurricane that appeared to have happened in the pharmacy. Two nights of the week we were up half the night with women in labor. We had 3 births in total this week. The only word that I can use to describe the week is crazy. Everything. It was nuts. The third birth happened in a car. The woman was on the way to the clinic and the baby’s head was already on the way out. By the time they got to the clinic and told Cecilia the shoulders were already coming out. She literally got to the mom just in time to catch the baby before it fell on the ground. I have no idea how we made it thru this week- God was definitely there giving us all extra strength to keep pressing on.
In the evenings we would have worship and that was amazing time just to wind down. We sang and laughed and shared stories- that was probably the part of each day that I enjoyed the most.
Each campaign inspires me. It makes me love my work here more and it helps me understand how important it is. Granted, there are people who take advantage of it and there are people who are very rude and that make me angry. But then you have the sick kids or elderly- the people who really do need our help. There was a woman with basal cell carcinoma on her face and if it wasn’t for Dr. Matson catching it and paying for her to have surgery then she would have died. Now she has another chance at life. We saw a man with an extremely awful infection in his ear- without us he may have lost his hearing and possibly his ear. I feel so great that I get to do just a small part of Christ’s work by “healing” the sick. Not that we were working miracles, but that we were able to help how we could to make someone’s life a little bit better.
Even though this was possibly one of the longest and hardest weeks of my life I am thankful for each experience, for the people I met, and for how God showed me his strength.


March 16, 2011

Since I have a tendency to forget things unless I write them down I guess I should write all these stories before I forget them. :)
So on the 12th Warren Cowgill, a friend from church, came to visit Steph and me. He had been in Cusco for a mission trip and since he was in the same country he figured he should stop by and say hey. We were very thankful for the visit. :) He was only here for 24 hours but it was a good time. We showed him all the sights, took him to our favorite ice cream place and also drug him with us on our weekly market run. I think the market was a bit of a shock to him. I guess it would be to anyone who hasn’t lived here and experienced it before. It’s a messy, crazy experience. Anyway, that afternoon we took 2 motocars to get to the airport and by the time we got there he realized that somewhere along the way he lost his iPhone. Bad deal. Steph and I told him that we would go back and look for it and if we found it we’d come back to the airport. I told him to pray and cross his fingers. I was praying the whole time. I knew it would be a bad deal to lose something like that in Peru, but I also knew the chances of us finding it was slim. Nonetheless, we asked our motocar driver to take us back to look. He was convinced that it had fallen out of Warren’s pocket in the other motocar. Unfortunately, neither Steph nor I remembered what our first driver looked like or what his motocar looked like. As I was praying Steph spotted a group of 3 guys in a motocar on the side of the road huddled over something. As we drove past, I turned around and there it was! They were all messing with Warren’s phone! We were so excited as we drove back to the airport with the iPhone in hand. God can do ANYTHING.
Next story- I’ve mastered the art of making perfect rice. Yes- it’s a big deal and it deserves a story all of it’s own.  I’m just so proud of myself. Haha. Steph, Lauren, and I were making supper for the guys and I was determined to make my rice perfect and impress them. So- now I’m going to share the secret. Here’s how it went down- I cut up cilantro, onions, and garlic and put that in the bottom of my pot with a little oil. I let that sautee a little bit and then I put in 6 cups of water (because I had washed 6 cups of rice). I let that boil and added some more oil and 4 spoons of salt. Once it was boiling I added the rice, covered it and turned the heat down to about half-way. After 10 minutes I stirred it and after 20 minutes I turned the heat down again, uncovered it, put a plastic bag on top of it, and covered it again. I let the bag work it’s magic for about 5 minutes. Then PRESTO! I had perfect rice. I was very delicious if I do say so myself.  and the best part of it was that all the boys were very impressed and they ate it all. They told me I had successfully made perfect Peruvian rice. :)
Last story. Last night we literally had no food in our house- just oatmeal. It was Jonathan, Erick, Daniel, Steph, Lauren, and I, so we decided to go into town to go out to eat. Erick told us about this little restaurant that he had been to for lunch one day and it was good and cheap. We went there and it was AWFUL!! They served us cold hard rice, cold chicken, and cold potatoes. I was so mad. I didn’t eat any of my food and they didn’t even offer to make us new plates. AND it was 27 soles for all of us and all the food was awful! Ugh, terrible. But, after that we went to our favorite ice cream place, La Muyuna, and that made everything better. :) After that, we went to the plaza and walked around for a little bit, then the 3 of us girls decided that we needed to ride the ferris wheel. Let me tell you about this ferris wheel- there is a little ghetto carnival place right off the plaza called “Mundo Feliz.” The ferris wheel is right in the middle and the little cart things are hot air ballons and each and every joint of the thing is held together by big rusty nails. Haha. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it really does look a little sketch. Anyhow, we wanted to ride so we paid 3 soles for a ten minute ride. The first 3 minutes we spent laughing hysterically. I really don’t even know why, but it was really fun. :) After about 5 minutes things weren’t as funny anymore and by 7 minutes we really wanted to get off. And to top it off the little man who was running it fell asleep! Each time we went around I tired to wake him up, but all to no avail! We were trapped on the ferris wheel! This of course, made us laugh again and eventually he did wake up. Our ferris wheel ride turned into a 15 minute adventure, which is a LONG time to be on a ferris wheel. Haha.
Oh, Peru….