Saturday, March 27, 2010
I made it safely to Nicaragua as well as the mission house ("Casa Blanca") early on the morning of the 13th. The first few weeks here have already been wildly eventful. When I arrived to the house in Chinandega, there was a mission group from Atlanta that was preparing to leave early the next morning. Later that same day, another high school group from Mississippi came in. We kicked off their trip by climbing an ash volcano, "Cerro Negro", in efforts to prepare them for the hard work in the week to come. The climb takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the route you take. We spent the next couple of days working in "Villa Catalina", one of three communities Amigos has built from the ground up. Villa currently has approximately 120 houses built and has planned to have 150 by completion. There is also a centro de salud (health center), Iglesia (chuch), biblioteca (library), and an esquela (school), complete with 6 classrooms. The first days in Villa we filled in foundation for the new houses being built there... A lot of shoveling rocks into buckets and mixing cement was involved. In addition to helping the groups out with whatever work they may be doing, I also served as their standby nurse. I was frequently flooded with questions pertaining to bug bites, urinary tract infections, burns, and or wounds sustained during the days work. I also saw a couple of the village kids that needed wound care for minor injuries. One of the girls had a snapped toenail that had embedded into the skin on the distal end of the nail. After convincing her (in my broken spanish) that it was only going to hurt for maybe a second and then would feel much better, I took her to the centro de salud to cut the nail off, clean the wound, and wrap it up with some triple-antibiotic...all was well. On Wednesday morning I went with the group to an orphanage for the mentally and physically disabled in Chinandega. Amigos takes all the groups that come through to this orphanage. This place is beautifully unique to me. I found it hard to believe that there could be a place so well run and adequately staffed for disable children in a country where the government allows its people whom are not disabled to live in and around trash dumps. Not that they are of any less value by any means but I feel like the disabled are less able to defend themselves against corruption and maltreatment. Anyways, this is a place where a missionaries presence alone does wonders for the kids, not to mention recover from the hard days of manual labor. The following days were spent back in Villa Catalina, digging trenches for the water pipelines. These were pipelines that would provide water directly to the house being built. On Friday I climbed another volcano with a small group of missionaries. I am not positive, but we were told that San Cristobal is the tallest volcano in Central America. It was a 5 1/2 hour grueling climb, but immensely rewarding. A surgical group came in that next day, they were made up of medical professionals from both Maine and Atlanta. This group was being led by a physician, Dr. Richard Nutt, and it was primarily a consult trip to determine who would be potential surgical candidates in August, when the group plans to return. Dr. Nutt is an orthopedic surgeon and specializes in correcting club foot. We traveled to neighboring cities health clinics and saw patients from all over Nicaragua. Other times, we would drive for hours to visit just one patient in their house/shack, located in extremely remote villages. One patient in particular stuck out, Freddy. Freddy was a previous club foot repair patient of Dr. Nutt's, who had post op complications and also suffers from unmanaged grand mal seizures. Dr. Nutt and I feel compelled to move Freddy and his family into one of the houses being built in our village, Villa Catalina, so that he may be better cared for. (If you feel called to help aid in raising the funds needed for building a home in Villa for Freddy, please email me) It was a privileged getting to work with him in the mission field and learn from how he diagnosed diseases and disorders. I also got the opportunity to talk with my boss about future project for the health team. Our future plans include: a solar powered oven project, a vitamin protocal for children with vitamin A deficiency project, and creating a census health records for the families in the communities that Amigos has built...so needless to say, I have my work cut out for me. Thankfully my girlfriends' sister, Megan, is an RN and she will be moving down to Nica by the end of April. I'm excited to work with her and have another americana here helping me out! I'm really looking forward to seeing how God will use me in the months to come. Thank you for all of your prayers, love and support back at home.
Friday, March 5, 2010
So the last couple of months post graduation have been amazing, and have literally flown by. December was great, I went home to Ohio to visit the whole family, which was nice because I haven't really had a chance to spend Christmas with the them since nursing school and work at Vanderbilt began. I Basically just studied for NCLEX and HESI (nursing tests) the entire month of January and tried to slowly prepare for Nicaragua. February 20th was my last scheduled day for work in the Trauma Unit. Just the day before, my car made a huge crashing noise on the interstate and after I pulled over to check it out, the vehicle had burst into flames underneath the engine area. Thank God that everything was okay and I was not hurt, because by the time the fire department arrived the flames had reached the interior portion of the car and it was unsalvageable... It was a pretty insane Friday morning to say the least. My colleagues in Trauma threw me a massive going away party at work followed by a proper "trauma goodbye"...(the picture doesn't show the tomato soup running down my back into my pants). I have learned so much from that place and made lifelong friends. Two years and eight months is the longest I have ever worked anywhere, they will be missed greatly. On the following Monday I took my nursing boards, which lasted 5 1/2 hours and consisted of 265 questions (I couldn't see straight by the end of the test). After two days of feelings of intermittent anxiety and helplessness, I got my results that said I was officially a Registered Nurse! A couple days later I visited San Antonio with my family for the weekend and stayed in a hotel on the river walk area downtown. I had the blessing of sitting next to a local San Antonio artist on the plane. She was on her way home from Nashville after doing a week long lecture series at Vanderbilt on spirituality and creativity (check some of her work out...http://eneart.com/). San Antonio is an architecturally beautiful city with awesome tex-mex artwork everywhere. The Alamo was pretty cool also, I had no idea what had actually happened there. For those of you like me out there, it symbolizes standing up against overwhelming odds and willingly sacrificing everything for ones' beliefs. Even though the American forces were annihilated at the Alamo, they're still recognized for their heroism. I'm home in Franklin now, wrapping things up and spending time with friends. I leave for Nicaragua on the morning of the 12th (that's less than one week!!!). These last few months have been wonderful. I have learned to trust in the Father and understand that when He has a plan for you, despite your anxiousness concerning uncertainties, He will provide for and finish the Good works He has begun in you. Cheers!