Thursday, May 12, 2016

Word Made Flesh

I'm in the process of processing my trip.  Over most of the tired jet lag, and almost on the right time zone again, and my GI system seems almost back on track and caught up from the varying parasites, Montezumas, cochabambas I caught while there.  It's hard to respond to a quick, "how was your trip?", when there is so much that fills my mind and heart.  I woke up in the night the first 4 nights in a row thinking I was still in the salt desert and searching for my flashlight.  Thanks Hubby for re-orienting me.  It changes your perspective on a lot of things, and makes me more appreciative of so many things.  Switching from such a relational culture and close team unity, back to our high speed one, is also a real mind shift.  Expected, but missing the "family" that we have there.

One of the girls that I met during my time in Bolivia, came up.... well down ..... from La Paz to translate for us so we could talk with our patients(thank you!!). She works for an organization called "Word Made Flesh" that helps women to get out of prostitution, to get skills and receive counselling and make a new life for themselves.  They often give themselves a new name to start their life over again.  The young women sew these amazing purses, bags and wallets to support themselves. Ali brought some down to where we were staying and they sold like hot cakes.   Check 'em out Sutisana and buy something!  They are beautiful and very well made.... worth the hope they are providing to these women.  Loving my "carnival envelope clutch" the perfect size for an i-pad (which I guess I need to get now).

I had the privilege of staying with Ali at the end of my trip when I spend a couple days in La Paz and was amazed by her heart, the ministry, and the city.  She goes right into brothels to talk with the women and the teams go out at night to where the women are to meet with them and be that one WORD, that encouraging voice, a bit of love in the worlds they see night after night.

We live such privileged lives in North America, even though we are wrought with our own different, and sometimes the same problems, we often have resources, knowledge or can find support systems. I am so amazed that someone would give up an engineering career to go and serve on the dusty, cold and dry streets of this big and amazing city.  To have to boil water to drink everyday, to live without a lot of conveniences, to not have a hot shower anytime you feel like it, to live without central heating, and not have street signs to know where you live or help strangers from Canada find where you live....  (that other time we got lost in La Paz at night).  Thank you Ali and friends!!!  For making a difference where you are!

Makes us want to make a difference in our spheres of influence too!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Quotable Quotes by Dr. Campbell et al.

Our team finds our mighty leader Dr. Matteo quite hilarious and has been compiling a list of his most quotable moments.  It does make 6:30 am breakfast meetings much more bearabe.

We can't leave out a few other quotable moments from other group members. Here is a compilation (of course some had to be there moments ). Do with thanks to the Menno Chicks for list making:

"Kevin needs an Ativan". After the biting Dayna and chasing Freddie incident.

"I thought I saw a woman laboring over there, but it was just Francis getting into scrubs."

On viruses: chikungunya,  chimichanga, kookaracha,  chicharito.

Sorry we are traumatizing your fascia with our gauza. (To Leenda packing an open bowel resection wound).

No more duelly in the belly.

On empanadas: man that was good, just jam that stone further into my bile duct.

"Doing a colonscopy is like driving a bumper car while drunk with people flinging stuff at you."

Would your friend like to close us in prayer (re: the praying mantis).
"He already is",  Dayna Goetz

The blonde eyed gringa divino nino.

Buggs on patient care: "Monkey see, monkey do".  Only in Bolivia can you pee with your patients.  Take turns holding the IV bag.  Banyo buddies.

If you are ill,  maybe you shouldn't go outside and eat jungle animals.

If you eat tapir, you can be an anteater eater.

Dr. Foor: "You ladies are doing a great job in here. I don't care what Dr. Campbell says."

Patient to Katie... in Spanish. "You are as white as the walls"

If you want to eat havalena, armadillo, and our friend the tapir... the armadillo fest will happen tonight.

Freddie on sloths: " his head is so small I think he is micro cephalic".

If you want to spread Anthrax, put it in your checked baggage with Nestlé Quik and have it explode.

I'd rather have diarrhea than leprosy.

Dr. Foor, "I went to the store and acted like a monkey and they gave me shampoo and deodorant. All I wanted was bananas.

At the armadillo feast:
"I hope someone here knows how to do the heimlich.

We are guests in this country so we will smile and eat and chew our food and not be ugly North Americans.

Marilyn, "Jeanette could you please pass the armadillo ".

Stephanie, "I don't understand the bone formation ".

"You've made a great dissection of that"....Katie

If you carve out your orange, you can hide stuff inside. ... Stephanie

"I've never danced with a mayor before",  Dayna

Thanks everyone for so much hard work and lots of good laugh til you cry moments.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Gift of Team

" And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us".

 In this world, words can be cheap...verbose.... hurtful.. slanderous.... judgemental.  And action behind a word can mean so much more. Putting to action your words gives you credibility, shows you actually mean what you say and is long lasting. I have seen the power of both here this week. People who say they want to help the poor and needy, to love and care for children, orphans and the less fortunate - have worked a 50+ hour week (without pay) tirelessly using their skills and knowledge and the heart they possess to put skin ( and often skillful hands) onto their very heart felt desires.

When a team have worked all week,  have a few hours of rest, still see their patients each weekend morning and then gets a call during lunch that a patient has turned sour,  5 people jump up to head back for emeregency surgery. I am blessed by their amazing gift of selflessness. So is that appendicitis lady.

So what about a word? On the other hand, just one word can change a heart, and be an amazing gift. I have needed some of those words this week. .... one word just to communicate when charades aren't working.  A word like.....pain..... NOW.... when did you last eat? (to empanada boy- who accidentally slipped that his sip of tea had washed down 2 empanadas), are you riding a motorcycle home post-op (for 2 hours on no pavement?), YES you will feel your legs and walk again when the spinal wears off (to a hard working man in his 20s who has no clue about this medicine and is FREAKING out), NO your family member is not dead- just anesthetized ( the problem with family being able to see and come into recovery room), I'm so sorry you have to wait 3 more hours for surgery because a baby is being born in the OR right now, and we will take care of your little one like it is our own and bring him back safely.

Our translator has been amazing this week. An 18 year old MK from Cochabamba.. so mature, so fun, so gifted in her interactions with patients. But pulled in so many directions with our busy team.  She will be a wonderful nurse!!! Heading to Florida in Sept.  to study.  Slipped her some photos of my guapo,almost 18 year old son .

Thank you to my sponsor... Spanish /English dictionary app. and Roberto, my 5 Spanish lessons teacher.  It didn't get me far.

So many more stories to tell...

A word. An action. A smile. An encouraging high 5. The real Word gives us reason to be both.

" The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory.  The glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father full of grace and truth" John 1:14

Bolivia Round 2

There's a different sense of anticipation in returning somewhere you already know. A more calm expectation of knowing what's there, what it will be like, and bringing the right things. Also expecting the long days and hard work.  But it's the people that always make the difference and I am amazed by how this group has come together, how each person got here and hearing already a few stories.

I didn't get very far on this post early in the week. More coming...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

T-3 to Bolivia

I am so privileged to be heading back to Bolivia for round 2. It is such an amazing blessing to serve these people and work with this team!! Can't believe a year has gone by already!!   Bags are packed and weigh in at 41 pounds.  Lucked out on clean out day of the supply room on my last day with students at the hospital.  Scored a few more supplies to take along.  Thank you 4A nurses and supply room guy. 

I am somewhat dreading the 22 hours of travel to get there, and then back too!  Would love to just snap my fingers and arrive.  But I have a gook book that I am trying not to read before I get on the plane and a new pillow for the red eye.  The journey is part of getting your mind ready too. I will see a few airports en route- Calgary, Las Vegas, Miami, La Paz, Dallas. And I am so looking forward to a few days of travel in the country afterwards with my Bolivian friend... who speaks Spanish (yay), since my class didn't get me much further!

Hello Sweetheart!  I can't wait to see you again!

I may or may not be blogging while I'm there, depends on wifi and how fast I can type on my phone. Probably will be easier to just post photos via facebook and a photo always tells so much of the story!!
So please send some prayers for our team:
- for safety in the OR and post-op without all the equipment we have at home, it has its nervous moments. (Cindy .... I scored a pediatric mask in a pile of stuff, like it was meant to be there)
- for good outcomes and healing for our patients, they amaze me with their resilience and lack of need for pain meds. Physical and spiritual.
- health and resistance against Montezuma for our team
- that everyone makes their flight connections and arrives!  We have 24 people going and I am not the only Canadian this year (next closest to me is Manitoba and California).  We have so many more volunteers coming this year that we will also run an outreach team into the surrounding communities.  I hope to get in on that for at least a day or 2.
- getting all our supplies, meds etc. through customs quickly and efficiently!  The Americans usually take about 2 hours.  Canadians... they love us.  I got the green light last year and walked out without speaking to anyone, just got a nice stamp in my passport.
- that God would work through us in amazing ways.  It's so easy to love these people so that part comes easy!
- for families back home who let us go away - Dayna, our OR nurse, is coming for 2 weeks this year and leaving her younger kids!  Mine will survive on pizza and A&W.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Foothills of the Andes

Dear Bolivia,

You fill me up and break my heart all at once.  In your thick, green jungles you hold the secrets to joy and contentment, to true riches, and yet tear a hole in my heart.  We have tread lightly and quickly on you.... your red soil.  Come and loved and been so loved by you, and your people.  We are changed by your beauty and the depths of the heart in your people.

You leave us with an aching to be more, do more, create more.  People say we sacrifice by spending our time and our strength and our money, but it is you who sacrifice to open our eyes more fully.  To really see, to be awake, to leave behind the mundane and sameness that life can become.

People say that Westerners have won the lottery on life, that we just got lucky being born where we were, and that is so true.  And yet there is so much emptiness in the hearts here that your people seem to have found, richness that money can't fill.  And yet it's heart breaking to see the orange, fragile hair that comes with kwashiokor and the poverty behind the neatly swept yards and brick houses.  The medical problems that go untreated for years because of the lack.

So to say goodbye is what breaks me.  To not know when I will see you again and experience those real friendships and the lack of self centeredness among my other Bolivian and American servants who share in the same understanding - of the heights of the Andes and the spacious valleys of the Amazon basin, and the love of your people.

To my new and forever friends, thank you for sharing your gifts and your hearts together with me.  For being an inspiration by how you live your lives!  I will forever be changed.  To quote a friend on the trip, "I am truly the richest man alive".  I shall say woman - and I get to come back home to a family that amazes me!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Vanishing Grace

Some wonderful, grace filled random memories imprinted on my mind and heart:
  • holding a 4 minute old newborn baby yesterday
  • having some of our sweet patients from last week come back for their follow up visits and stop in to say hi. A sweet 9 year had surgery last week and her Mom was on the slate for today. She stayed around all day and became my little student nurse, making beds and watching us do everything and hugging every time we had a spare second. Then sitting with her Mom at while she woke up. She beamed when we told her what a good nurse she will be one day.
  • Little 8 month old Isaiah at the Nutrition Center next door (where kids with malnutrition go for supplemental care for as long as needed). He has a cleft palate and laughs and laughs with any type of attention and cries when you put him down. Those are some dedicated ladies that work there!
  • The heart of the Bolivian team here who work tirelessly to organize everything for when we come so that we can make best use of our time. I have never heard one of them complain once! And then they stay up all night swimming and laughing!
  • Having a shower with a frog
  • beach volleyball in the pool at night, even with the language barrier there is a lot of laughter
  • getting a smile and hug from so many patients who waited all day long, came from hours away, and sometimes didn't get fed
  • The amazing vision and impact of those who work with this organization long term have had
  • The willingness of the Bolivian night nurses to take on our patients with all kinds of things they have never heard of.
  • Last week I talked about sheets.... how quickly our standards change! After pre-opping 9 patients, caring for 5 left over from yesterday and then receiving 9 new post-ops, we ran out today and because of the rainfall the past 2 days, they couldn't dry the laundry. I don't think one person noticed that they had to lie in someone else's bed. At home that patient load would be covered by 5 RNs, so we are thankful for nothing too serious happening when we couldn't be as vigilant as we want
  • Holy hysterctomies! Gynecology (this week's surgeons speciality) is not my thing! Please just send me a gall bladder
  • One of the locals has a translator app. on his phone that you talk into and it instantly translates verbally and written- very cool
  • why did the chicken cross the road? Or the dog? Or some other creature

I have in my head been creating a post for a long while on why I am a Christian.  To the vast majority of people who haven't maybe grown up in a church, or had an experience with God, I don't know if it is fully understand why someone would choose that path.  Growing up in a Christian family doesn't necessarily mean you will continue to follow the way when you yourself are an adult, but does expose you to what it really means in many more ways when you have good examples in your parents.  The problem is most of us are pretty messed up in our own ways, and don't always give the best example to our own children or others about how to be a Christian, and that is one of the biggest criticisms I hear about the church is the hypocrisy of the people in it. And I can agree with that, everyone has their own story and is on their own journey and that is not to say there isn't a more “holy” standard of living we are aiming for. Nothing drives me more crazy than actions that are fake and not met behind with the right heart.

In a round about way that is kind of the whole point of the message though.  We are all messed up and need help, need something or someone bigger than ourselves to make it work for us.  Need Jesus to help us cross that divide between the natural and the holy.  And that is not saying that we can live however we want because we are forgiven later on because of it, but gives me freedom in CHOOSING to serve God, and love Him because I want to, because of all that He had given me, and filled in my own broken heart.  I am just blessed beyond measure in even being allowed to show Jesus to someone else, like in a mirror.

I have been reading the book "Vanishing Grace" by Phillip Yancey and it grabbed me from the first chapter because of the lack of hypocrisy in it, the total openness of his soul into what really is the Good News. I heard him speak and he is a nerdy guy with the worst hair ever and can easily laugh at it.   He talks about how to put aside all the rules that religions build up. Most religions have a set of rules or expectations to follow, that if you do such and such, you are a Muslim, and if the good deeds outweigh the bad you'll make it to heaven. Or Hinduism, if you live well enough, you will be reincarnated as something better next time around. Being a Christian is different because it is nothing about what we can do to get to heaven or make it, but all about what Jesus already did for us because he wants to just love us. That relationship with Him isn't a burden, but as they call it here liberacion. Freedom!

Grace seems to be vanishing from our world in a lot of places and in a lot ways that we treat each other, but I have seen an over abundance of it this week! ( who voluntarily does 5 - 13 hour shifts in a row? And then again the next week) Seen love in action, been blessed to work my butt off for people that can give you nothing back- except a whole lot of love and gratitude- but be way more fulfilled than an all-inclusive trip can give you (a lot more tired of course).  And maybe have some lasting impact on lives. Thankful that my big mess can be used in some small way.