Monday, January 31, 2011


January 30, 2011
So, if I could pick any place in the world to be sick it would definitely not be Peru!! I’ve been sick since Friday and it is now Sunday and I still feel miserable. Friday night I had a fever of 102.5, then Sabbath I just felt awful all day. I woke up this morning feeling a bit better but I think I pushed it too much today and now I feel yucky again. I’ve been feeling dizzy, nauseous, and having diarrhea. It’s all just very pleasant. NOT. I want to be home so bad. I don’t have my mommy here to take care of me and I have to live in this gross scum hole and I don’t feel like I’ll ever get better! (side note: I don’t hate Peru, but our backyard right now is pretty much like a swamp scum hole because we’ve had a lot of rain lately.) And so every time I have to do business I have to trek thru the swamp to our oh-so-disgusting outhouse. Ugh, don’t even ask me about it. Haha it’s SOOO gross. Then after I’ve lost all I’ve just eaten/drank then I have to trek back to my bed and try not to slip and fall in the slime. When I get back to my bed I to fight the mosquito net and the slowly lay down because I’m about as strong as a piece of spaghetti. And when I lay down I still feel dizzy and nauseous. Feel sorry for me yet?? Haha
Ok, I’m done with my pitty party. But I’m serious about the whole don’t get sick in Peru thing. IT SUCKS!! So needless to say I don’t have a lot to share with you about the past few days… I mean I figure you probably already know more than you wanted to about my ailments.
Living in Peru has taught me enough things that I think I could fill a book. I can’t even begin to explain it. I was reflecting on my experiences yesterday in order to keep my thoughts occupied with something other than my stomach, and I decided some things. This has been the hardest best year of my life. I would not trade my experiences for anything, but I would not do this again. Nine months is a lot longer than some people think. Every student missionary has a VERY DIFFERENT experience so don’t compare yourself to others or expect your experience to be anything like theirs. IT WON’T BE. Pucallpa, Peru is a lovely place with lovely people, but I do not want to live here. I enjoy delivery babies and starting IV’s. I enjoy learning Spanish and practicing with local people. I don’t like living in dirt all the time and I’m really tired of our DISGUSTING outhouse. (have I mentioned that it’s disgusting?!) Different people bring different elements to a team and when you have to live with the same people for 9 months straight you learn that you need A LOT of patience. You also learn that there are some really great people who were just as crazy as you for doing this for a year, and it’s fun because you bond with them in a way that no one else will understand. I have learned to become flexible, flowing like water, thru every situation. And yes, it’s still hard sometimes. When you do this you learn soooo much about yourself- perhaps some things you wish you hadn’t learned… God is bigger and stronger than anyone or anything. And I’ve learned that I’m a lot strong than I thought I was…
And there are many more that I could put on my list, but I think that will suffice for tonight. Plus it’s about time to visit that wretched outhouse :(


January 26, 2011
So- I have worms, parasites and now foot fungus!!!! OH GROSS!!! I can’t believe it. I hate feet anyway, but normally my feet are clean and cute and now I have foot fungus! Goodness, what is Peru going to do to me??
I need to pray for patience. Sometimes I think I get frustrated too quickly, and I need to work on my attitude with that. Living here has made me realize sooo many things, it’s good and depressing at the same time. It’s very interesting to see all of the things that I want and need to work on. Haha. Day by day, with God I can make it better. It sure is a challenge tho in so many ways. First, you have to admit that you have a problem with something. You have to say, “yeah, I could work on that a little bit.” And then you actually have to put it into action. Not just say that you need to work on your patience, but that you really NEED to PRACTICE it. That’s hard. Sitting around all day and making a list of things that you can improve on is the easy part. The hard part is changing your habits and making it happen.
This morning I was reading in Matthew 25 about what you do to the least of these, you do to me. It hit me that I have a really good opportunity living here to do that. Sometimes I lose that focus I feel and that makes me sad. For instance, yesterday we were excited that it was raining because in a way that means another day off for us- or at least an easy day. It’s just more convenient for us. When I thought about that it seemed so selfish to think that way. I don’t want to lose that focus of always being excited and willing to help others whenever; convenient for me or not. I want to be excited everyday to help people, because if Jesus was standing right here wouldn’t we behave that way? Wouldn’t we be on our best behavior all the time? Ready to do anything he asked?
Just another thing to think about…
As hard as this year has been for me, it’s also been a really great year in a lot of ways. I’ll talk about that more later- my computer is about to die and I’m tired. Haha

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


January 21, 2011
“Girls, the baby!!” were the first words I heard this morning at 5:42. I felt like a fireman being called to a raging fire! It was pouring down rain and when Lisbeth got to us she was already have 7 contractions in 10 minutes! We brought her into the middle room in our clinic which is Cecilia’s office where she sees patients. We have a large black “birthing chair” (for lack of a better name :)) that we got her seated in and as comfortable as she could be at that point. The next thing to do was to get an IV started. Since I’m the nurse that’s always my job- so I got everything ready but every time I was about to put it in she would have another contraction so I had to time it just right to catch her between contractions. When I finally timed it right I did get it in on the first try- thank goodness! :) Then we got out all of our supplies- which unfortunately wasn’t much. We had an emergency birthing kit so we had the bare minimum, but it ended up working just fine. Lauren bolied some water and by the time we had everything out and ready Lisbeth was about ready to push. I’m sure it seemed like an eternity for her, but it went really fast for me. After 4 good pushes we had a little baby girl in our hands! I rubbed and patted her little back while Lauren suctioned out her nose and mouth. Finally we got a good strong cry out of her. I was so happy! We were so blessed that everything went as well as it did. Then I helped Cecilia clamp the umbilical cord, then she cut it. Lauren and I gave her a little bath and got her dressed, then handed her off to dad. I helped Cecilia deliver the placenta and then she taught me to make sure that it was all completely intact and there were no pieces missing. It was so awesome!
This whole experience was just so impressive to me. Lisbeth was sooo strong thru the whole thing- she hardly screamed at all. If it was me I think all of KM 8 would have heard me. Haha. We didn’t have anything fancy but we did well with what we did have and God’s hand was definitely with us. I was so excited to be able to experience this here- I haven’t even taken my OB class yet at Union and I’m already helping deliver babies. That rocks. :)
Going thru this experience here in Peru made me realize something much deeper as well. It made me think about how much excess we have in the US. We have anything and everything you could ever want to make this process “comfortable.” But for centuries, this is how women have done it- and in even worse conditions than our clinic! And somehow the human race is still here. Wow. Now, I’m not saying that I have anything against hospitals and the cleanliness and comfort of the US. I grew up there, it’s all I know, and I’m definitely having my children in the States. BUT, I think it’s a good reminder for us to think about all that we HAVE in the States. It’s not only what we have to make child birth bearable, it’s all the other “things” we have at home to make life easier and more comfortable. Look around your house and think about all the little things you have. How many of those little things could you do without? Yeah… pretty eye opening if you actually think about it. I realize that more and more every day I’m here. There are so many things that I’ve had to do without this year and I’m still alive and kickin’. Just a little something to think about.

Monday, January 17, 2011


January 17, 2011
Sometimes I wonder what I would be doing if i was at home right now. I think about my friends and what they’re doing. I think about my family doing their thing without me. I think about my boyfriend half way around the world. But then I think about where I am. How cool is it that I get to live in Peru for a year? How many people who are 20 get to do that? Not many that I know of. Instead of having to worry about the crazy politics and gas prices at home I get to spend time with 7 other missionaries here who are all wonderful people. I have no class schedule to follow, no tests to study for, and no homework. I am treated like an adult- sometimes more than I think I deserve or can do. I have the opportunity to live like a local here and truly experience the culture. I get to take bucket showers every day and eat rice and beans more than I care to. I get to do laundry by hand when our washer quits working. I’m learning a new language. I get to do VBS in an extremely poor village where there is no water or electricity. And the kids there LOVE all of us with everything they’ve got. I get to have a year of summer. :) I don’t have to see the magazines with all the stupid celebrity gossip. I only get to internet about once a week. I’m learning more about myself every day. I’m learning more about God and how great he is. I get to go out to our yard and pick some fruit and make smoothies whenever I want.
Granted, there are still some really, really, hard days. Sometimes I miss my family so much it hurts. I think about Mitchell all the time and I can’t wait to be back with him. But here I am in Peru, and that’s pretty rockin’. I’ve made it to January 17. Wow.
This has been the biggest adventure of my life and I know I will miss it when I leave.
This isn’t something that has been easy. I haven’t loved every day here. You know about last week- all I wanted to do was go home. When we were robbed on the river I didn’t know if I could stay here the rest of the year. When my uncle died I wanted to go home more than ever. It’s not been an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that God has carried me through every day that I’ve spent here.
And here’s the other thing- it’s all about perspective.


January 13, 2011
My body is completely exhausted! I laid down tonight and I finally felt my whole body relax. I must be all tensed up during the day. Haha. Campaigns are exhausting, but very rewarding at the same time. I love being able to help so many people- it gives me a sense of purpose and that feels good.
I know I’ve said this every day- but I’ve literally given hundreds of shots this week. I think I’m the best ampoule breaker ever. Haha. Nearly all of our shots are in the glass ampoules that you have to break the top off of. I’m an expert. Haha :) I’m learning so much about meds and I’ve had so much practice with my medical Spanish. I think this whole experience is going to help me so much with my job- and that’s really exciting to me!
I feel like my mind set has gone in stages this year. When I first got here I remember hating it and wanting to go home. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it. But then the other SM’s showed up and we got about a month into it and I started feeling better and I decided that this was my new home for a little while and I could make it. I was good for a little while, and then some traumatic events happened in my life and I began to question why I was here. And I began to want to go home again. This semester it seems to have started over again. I made it through break and was very happy and it was so refreshing to see my dad. Then after that was a horrible week of just struggling to make it through one day without crying. I just wanted to get out of here and go home so bad. This was just last week! I actually almost thought I was going to go through with it. But after this week I know I can’t leave. Our group is so small as it is, and if I left I know I would feel bad and guilty. I’m not one to quit things in the middle. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this… I fought with myself all week last week. Not that I’ve completely and perfectly changed my mindset in one week, but this week was much better and I do feel like I can make it now. I mean, it’s already the middle of January so I only have 4 months left. I can do that. Also, I’m so thankful for this group of SM’s- I know that God put us together for a reason.


January 12, 2011
Here’s my discovery of the day- in Peru they push EVERYTHING to the limit.
Some examples:
-the capacity of cars and motos; they pack as many people as they can into whatever vehicle they are driving. 4 on a motorcycle, 25 in a pickup truck, 9 in a 5 person taxi.
-how far you can drive on literally no gas; if the needle is on “E” that means we can at least go another 20 KM.
-the rules of sanitation; I mean really, who needs to wash their hands before giving a shot or doing a surgery? A little dirt never hurt anyone. (or a lot of dirt.)
-the number of people we can see in one day at a campaign; 250 is really do-able, I mean I can totally fill prescriptions in the dark.
-8 missionaries can do anything that a group of 20 can do; we don’t need to sleep.
-2 buckets of water is definitely enough water for 13 people to shower with. No worries.
The point is, life here is crazy. But, to be honest, I really feel adapted to it. Now I’m in those packed cars and such. Stuff doesn’t really surprise me anymore. :) It’s just part of life now.
Clinic was chaotic as usual- we had soo many shots that we actually ran out of syringes. I gave a lot of baby and kid shots today- I really hate those. Even though campaign weeks are exhausting there is something I really like about them. Somehow they are invigorating.
Today I think I got to the point where I decided that I’m here for 4 more months and it’s go big or go home. I’ve got to keep goin, but I feel like I can do it. Granted, I still have hard days or moments where I really want to go home, but I know God is really helping me through each day.


January 11, 2011
Prayer. It works. I know the Lord helped me thru this day- and every of course. But, I felt the extra strength today and overall I just felt so much better. My thoughts were so much more positive as compared to last week. I was really considering quitting and going home last week. Seriously. But now, I think I can make it. I’d say that’s an improvement. :) It’s also really encouraging to me to look back to the beginning and see how far I’ve come in so many ways since then. I can’t even tell you all the things I’ve learned since being here and I know I will learn more in these last few months. I’m on the downhill slope. I know there are going to be things I will miss about Peru.
4 months and 4 days until I go home. :)
4 months and 20 days until I see Mitchell. :)
Yes, this is the downhill slope and I can do it.


January 10, 2011
It’s that time again, for another big campaign. I like campaigns, but they are exhausting! The campaign is at KM 6- in a small village called Los Mangoes. Oh, and the kicker this week is that we have to keep the clinic at KM 8 open as well. So that means that Cecilia and I are going to be working in the morning at KM 8, then we have to make lunch for everyone and take it to them at KM 6 and then we all work there in the afternoon. AND we are doing VBS every night on top of everything else. It’s going to be crazy.
Today was the first day so as usual we started late. We had to go make copies of our patient papers and we needed 700… That’s a big number. It took an HOUR! But, we are in Peru, and things always start late so it all ended up ok. :) The morning went well, and our friend Wendy (a girl from the community at KM 8) is helping us out with triage this week so that’s definitely wonderful. She is also helping us make lunch every day. She’s just super. :) This afternoon I think I gave about a million patients a shot- it seemed like every prescription that came thru needed a shot. But, it’s good practice and I really like giving shots so I’m not complaining.
I think working alone at the clinic this week is going to be good for me- it’s a good chance for me to speak Spanish without having any help. Haha. That sounds funny, but I am feeling sooo much more confident than when I first got here. I remember our first clinic and how incredibly terrified I was about everything because I had NO IDEA what to do. Now, it’s all like second nature. I’m not scared to talk to people anymore and I know so much more about the meds and how to explain things to people. It makes work a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. When I first got here I never thought I was going to be able to understand a whole sermon, or have a conversation, or answer questions… I just felt so intimidated at first, I just didn’t know how it was all going to happen! But it did!!
So, I guess I can say things are looking up, and I’m trying to work on my attitude. I’ve been praying a lot, and I at least tried to pretend I was ok today. It actually worked for most of the day. I felt better today than I did last week. Little by little, day by day things are getting better. Thank you, Lord.

Friday, January 7, 2011


January 6, 2011
Today marks the day 2 months before my birthday. Yes, I start celebrating a good month before my birthday so I thought I could tell everyone that my birthday is 2 months from today. We gotta get ready. It’s a big one. :)
Well, as I’ve said things have been hard for me lately. I woke up this morning and I didn’t want to come back to KM 8. I don’t even know why really- I just didn’t want to. I got here and tried to put on a good attitude and clinic just seemed really long today. I was a little frustrated about that and some people were a bit grumpy today so that didn’t make things any better. But then Hanna came to visit us and brought some packages so that really made me happy. :)
This afternoon we did some house to house visitations just to say hi and let people know our clinic hours and we also had to get some data for Dr. Maxson when his group comes. I enjoyed meeting and talking to the people but after we did the visitations I felt really discouraged. Our community is fairly large and the work that needs to be done needs a group of at least 20 people. We just don’t have the man power to be able to accomplish everything. That is discouraging to me because I do want to help these people and they deserve to have the best. I just don’t know what to do. I feel like we need a leader with enthusiasm here with us to guide us in the right direction. I feel like all we have right now is 4 tired girls trying to seem excited about something that we are not that excited about because we need so much more energy and man power. I just feel so inadequate and unprepared to tackle this.That’s another hard thing about this year- our group is so small, yet so much is expected of us. It really begins to wear a person down very quickly…
This evening we went and Hanna and I played volleyball with the locals and that was really fun. I was feeling so down before we went but once I got there and started playing I really enjoyed myself. I think it got my endorphins going and really just brightened my mood. They play every day so maybe that can be my outlet… And it allows me to meet more people and get to know them in another way. And I like that.
I think this whole process of me trying to sort out my feelings and my attitude is going to be a long ordeal. And I think it’s something I’m going to have to pray about and consciously work on every day… Please continue to pray for me. I appreciate it.
Now it’s time for Silly Songs with Larry… or just another random thought from Rach. Whichever. :) haha
I just want to say, that I cannot wait to go home to a place where people don’t stare at me like I’m from outerspace. I’m so tired of being the blonde white girl that stands out from 10 miles away. When I walk anywhere people just stare. Sometimes I’ll be standing somewhere and people will just look at me. It’s like they are studying me and trying to figure out what kind of life form I am or something. Middle aged men think it’s entertaining to whistle at me and try to get to me to pay them some sort of attention. Then there are the younger guys who also whistle extremely loud and shout every phrase that they know in English. For example, today the phrases were, “I love you”, “Hello, how are you?”, and “You are so pretty.” And then, if I ever look at them many times I will see them with a girlfriend or wife at their side! What kind of men are these?! And how do you love people like that?? I just get really tired of being the center of attention and discussion. I would like to trade places with them for just one day and see what’s so special about the gringa. I just don’t get it.


January 5, 2011
I really like our days off because we get to go back to KM 38. I really feel like that’s my real home here. We got back last night and Lauren, Hanna, Steph and I just sat and talked for a long time and it was really good. Life is so much about people you meet and the relationships you form. I love the girls here so much, it’s just so good to have such great friends and support here this year.
I made a paper chain today- it has 19 links which is the number of Sundays I have until I go home. Well, actually on the 19th Sunday I will be home!! :) When I look at it that way, 18 weeks doesn’t seem like such a big number. It helps me anyway. :) And after that I only have to add 2 more links till I get to see Mitchell!!
After my paper chain I decided that I wanted to make my famous pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Let me just say, they are not quite as fabulously delicious in Peru. Our oven is ridiculous. I hate it. Haha. I burned the first batch pretty bad, the following ones continued to get better, but in the end they all had a very different texture than normal.. Ugh- nothing goes how you plan when you live in Peru. Whatever. Haha. I also made pumpkin bread because Mom send me a huge can of pumpkin so I just had to use it. That actually turned out pretty good, not gonna lie. :) Thanks mom! I’ve really grown to love baking here even if things don’t quite turn out right, it’s a good stress reliever for me.
So, I had a great trip to the internet today. I signed into my FB account and saw a bunch of new messages and notifications. That would excite anyone- don’t lie. :) Well, I started reading and I was amazed as I read a letter from Ariel, Kristen, Heather, Mark, Mitchell, and Chris all telling me that things are going to be ok and I can do it. I was overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how it made my day just to know that I had so many people who cared enough to take the time to write to me and just tell me that they care. I cried a little bit. Thank you so much everyone, even if you didn’t write me a FB message today. Haha :) I hope you know how much it means to me.
And I want everyone to know that my parents are the best. :) Thanks for the amazing talk and encouragement and advice that you always have for me Mom and Dad. I LOVE YOU.
Well, on that note, it must be time for bed. xoxo


January 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm
The first day back at work or school from break is always hard. I really don’t like it. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I was enjoying break so much and it’s been a really hard past few days trying to figure out how I’m feeling and just how to deal with it. This year is really stretching me and many times I wonder why I’m here and what I’m doing.
When we returned back to KM 8 Lauren was there waiting with a hug for each of us- it was really good to see her again. We swapped stories about break and then headed to work. Clinic was not that eventful- just the usual ear cleanings and shots and pills.
The rest of the day was pretty restful; we just moved ourselves back in and caught up on a few episodes of House. :)
Now I’m tired for some reason so I think I’ll read a bit and then go to bed. Oh, and thumbs down to bugs inside your mosquito net! But, thumbs up to a new food I tried tonight called juanes. I’m sure how you spell it, but it’s just rice and chicken wrapped and cooked inside a banana leaf then you unwrap it to eat it and it’s yummy. Also a new drink I tried called chappo. Don’t know how to spell that either but it’s blended up plantains and milk. Before you cringe too much, just trust me- it’s good. :) Those are the foods we tried tonight at a neighbor’s house. We ate with our friend Wendy and her mom and it was really fun!
Ok, for reals. Good night. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011


January 2, 2011
Feliz ano nuevo. Wow. I can’t believe it. So much has happened in the past year. And here is another one to greet us already. Last semester was really tough for me… I’ve been having a really hard time lately. I’m debating whether or not to post my last blog. It was very honest about how I’ve been feeling lately. It was a bit strong, but I guess that’s what honest is sometimes…
I had a very splendid Christmas break travelling about Peru and Bolivia with my dad and 4 other girls. We made a lot of memories! It was sooo good to see my dad too; I just wanted to get in his suitcase and go home with him.
Honestly, I’ve been feeling really down lately. I just want to go home. I feel like I’ve lost motivation for being here and I just don’t feel like myself. It’s a bit hard to explain and I don’t think you’ll really know what I mean unless you’ve been in a situation like this.
I was talking to my parents last night and of course they willingly gave all the parental advice about how you can do it, your stronger than you think, second semester is better, and you’ll be home before you know it. I appreciate it but right now I don’t feel like that at all. Then my dad said- Rachel, you know the answer, you just have to put your mind to it and find it. You CAN do it. I was in a tearful mess and didn’t really want to hear anything like that at all. But now that I think about it- he’s right. I really do have to change my thoughts toward the rest of this year if it is going to be better. The only way I can make it is with God’s help, but it’s my attitude as well. Whew, this is A LOT easier said than done…
I’m going to make a list of things that I like about Peru-
-the cold showers, my skin and hair feel great and it’s the only time I’m not sweating :)
-the simple, easygoing lifestyle
-how people just invite you into their houses even if they don’t know you
-the endless supply of papaya
-learning Spanish
-the experience I’m getting in the clinic
-the other SM’s here
-not having to study for tests all the time
-being able to experience a VERY different way of life than I’m used to
-riding in the back of the pickup
-the Doctor and Shirley and their support
-learning to cook everything from scratch
-not being on such a strict schedule, I can be “late” somewhere, but on Peruvian time I’m early or on time
-wearing less makeup and not worrying about what clothes to wear- shorts/skirt and tank top-everyday
-getting packages, emails, letters, notes from friends and family
-learning to trust God more with everything
-the fact that it is 2.81 soles to one dollar, living is so much cheaper!
-movie nights with everyone
-playing the “social games” with the kids
-playing my uke for Sabbath School and singing kid songs in Spanish
-the fact that you never have time to say/think “I can’t do..whatever” you just have to DO IT!
-assisting in surgeries
-the super cool outfits that the jungle ladies wear- they are so colorful and handmade and awesome
-squat pots; no mess, no stress
-time to read books
-$3 hair cuts
-a full meal for $2 or less
-coffee ice cream
-maracuya juice, mmm mmm good.
-giving shots
-singing hymns in Spanish
-when the Peruvian guys make us beans and rice
-hugs from dirty little kids
-the thankful look on people’s faces after coming to the clinic and when they say God Bless You and give me a hug
-skyping my parents and Mitchell
-how it’s so easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger
-seeing about 50 Peruvians stuffed into a van, or that time we stuffed like 25 in our truck
-the green jungle all around our property
-the generous spirit of so many people here
-the support from sooo many people at home
Well, I guess there are a lot of things here that I love and will miss. That’s 43 and I’m sure there are some that I missed.
God is good and I’m going to keep praying. I want to end this year well. I really appreciate your continued prayers and support. Thank you sooo much.