Hospitals of Hope

"Showing Christ's love by healing bodies and souls"
A Christian organization which uses medicine to heal the physical body and then uses the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cure the soul.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I am at the end...

Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed this blog.  Tomorrow is my last day here in Bolivia and I am both sad and happy.  I have been here for six weeks and it feels like it's time for me to leave.  I miss my husband terribly and just some comforts from home (like a hot shower).  But I have enjoyed my stay here and I am very happy that I came.  I have enjoyed cooking for up to 25 people at a time and being appreciated by all of them.  I have enjoyed working in the lab and learning new things in both Spanish and English.  I have enjoyed spending time with the children of Cochabamba, washing them, clothing them and painting their nails.  I have enjoyed playing with the orphans and seeing the joy on their faces.  Overall, I have loved my time here and I would reccomend it to anyone who wants to get outside of their comfort zone and serve the Lord.

Tomorrow I will fly from Cochabamba to La Paz Bolivia at 7:45pm and then I will head for the states at 10pm from La Paz to Miami Florida.  If all goes to plan I will see my husband at the Charlotte airport on Friday afternoon sometime.  Please pray for safe travels for me and for all of the flights to be on time so I don't miss any.  Thank you all so much for reading, I will let you know when I am safely back in the States.


Friday, July 1, 2011

The time is close at hand...

Wow, I cant believe I have been here for over 5 weeks and I only have 6 days left in this beautiful country.  I have enjoyed my time here so much, but the last few weeks I have enjoyed more than the rest.  The large group of people we have here now is full of just wonderful Christians who love the Lord and love their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I feel like I have bonded with these people in the past two weeks and we are just like a big family who gets along so well with each other.  I will be sad to leave this wonderful group of people behind...

This week has been a good one for me.  I have been working in the lab every morning and mostly cooking dinner in the evenings.  We have had a lot of places offered to go this week, but since I will be leaving soon I decided to stay in the lab since I enjoy it so much.  I did spend one afternoon in "English Camp" a day camp sort of thing for some older orphans who want to learn English.  I had fun with them but my Spanish is so limited I was not very helpful in teaching them English.  But we played some games and had some fun regardless! 

I will be flying out of the country Thursday evening if you could keep me in your prayers.  I don't know if I'll have the computer access this next week to write another blog, but I will try.  I'm just asking for all of your prayers, thank you so much for keeping up with me and reading my blog.  God bless you all.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

How to feed 25 Volunteers...

Well this week has been pretty good here at Hospitals of Hope.  We got a whole bunch of new people and so things have been interesting and sometimes stressful with so many.  Since I know my way around the kitchen I've been doing most of the cooking, which is fine since I enjoy it.  Everyone seems to appreciate my cooking so I feel useful and a valuable part of the group. 

Thursday was a holiday here in Bolivia so we had the day off since no one would be working at the hospital.  We went to the administrator of the hospital's church (Rudy) and had a nice little devotion outside and we played an interesting game.  We all sat in a circle with one vacant chair and the person to the left of the empty chair would have to say "my right is vacant for..." in Spanish then fill in someone's name.  It was a sort of name game.  But if you go too slow (or if you don't speak Spanish well) then you get punished, which is what happened to me.  It was all in good fun though. 

Yesterday I worked in the Lab again, my favorite place to be in the hospital.  Daniel (the lab guy) invited me and some other volunteers to his church this Sunday so I am looking forward to that.  I got to see some more cool stuff in the lab including some cultures that he had grown and crystals in someone's urine.  Very cool.  

Today we did a clinic at a local school and I helped to do the physical examination of some of the children.  Since I have mostly only worked with adults in a medical setting it was good for me to see children and how they are different.  We didn't have any sick kids which is really good for this area and I feel like it was a productive morning.  Right now everyone is either at street kid washing in downtown Cochabamba or climbing Inca Racai (the mountain I failed to climb).  I decided to stay behind to cook dinner and to get some needed peace and quiet.  I'm still enjoying my trip so far but I am ready to go home.  Only about a week and a half left until I fly out so pray that everything goes okay.  Thanks for reading, God Bless!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Crash and Some Medication

So, I know it's been a while since I have posted, well there is a reason for that.  On Thursday my hard drive threatened to crash, so I have turned off my computer for the remainder of the trip until I can get it into the hands of someone smarter than me (like my mom) who can maybe save my pictures and stuff.  So until then, I will have to borrow other people's laptops to check my email and update my blog.  I do apologize for the space in between the past blog and this one.

On another note, I was tested for parasites and I do not have them!  But, just in case the doctor here has placed me on an antibiotic and an anti parasitic to get rid of whatever has been causing my two weeks of lower intestinal distress.  On the plus side, I've lost almost 20lbs since coming here!  True it was from being sick most of the time, but I'll take it!  I'm feeling good at the moment, I'll try my best to keep everyone updated on my "condition".  :-) 

I cant really update you on a whole weeks worth of stuff, so I'll just review this week so far.  Monday I worked in the lab again, I love working there.  I don't get to actually do much, but the Doctor in charge of the lab Daniel speaks some English so he shows me lab results and tries to explain things to me.  I gotten to see parasites under the microscope and different types of bacterial cultures that have been grown.  It's really exciting because what I have just learned in Microbiology this past semester is actually being practiced here!  I love putting my education to use in a practical way!

Today is a holiday in Bolivia so the hospital was closed.  We cleaned the house this morning in preparation for the teams of people coming and then we went to an orphanage this afternoon.  This orphanage was for older girls and I had them make salvation bracelets and explained what each color meant.  Black for sin, red for Jesus' blood, white for purity, green for growth, and yellow for heaven.  They seemed to understand well and I gave them each two bracelets, one for them and one for them to give to a friend and explain the meaning.  We also played some games with them and taught them some simple English phrases. 

All in all it was a good day today.  I seem to be on the mend and still doing a lot here.  I enjoy helping cook dinner and I'm pretty darn good at mopping.  Must be all of that Navy training!  Thank you all for your continued prayers and for reading!  God Bless!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Almost halfway through!

We’ve made it almost halfway through our journey and we have all survived so far. I’m feeling much better now and I have my appetite back which is a blessing and a curse. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers for all of us here in Bolivia. I guess I have a few days to get caught up on so I’ll start with Saturday. We got to sleep in which was nice, then we went shopping in downtown Cochabamba at the market. I bought several souvenirs and was surprised by how much I am picking up of the language. After that we did kid washing again, where we invite the street kids for a bath, new clothes and a piece of bread. It’s always a very good experience.
On Sunday we went to an English speaking church (finally!) and I very much enjoyed the service. I enjoy the Spanish ones also but I don’t get as much out of it when I’m not understanding what’s being said. After that Leta (our new volunteer coordinator) split us up and sent us around the city to do our grocery shopping. They don’t have a big supermarket here or a wal-mart, so we had to go to many different places to get everything we needed.
Yesterday I was supposed to work in the Laboratory for the first time which I was excited about but there was a blockade so not many patients or doctors could get to the hospital. Bolivia has many blockades mostly due to the government making new taxes and the people getting upset. So they all park their vehicles at key intersections so no one can pass, it’s more of a organized revolt against the government. Instead of working at the hospital, I helped Leta buy fresh produce from the local market for dinner. The blockade was right in front of the market so we hoped to get a taxi back to the hospital but once we were loaded up with food we couldn’t find any taxi’s. We had to walk for a ways with all of the heavy produce before a taxi came along that would take us the rest of the way.
After that ordeal we had to prepare the house for a total of 28 volunteers that will be here next week. We broke down some beds and moved them to other rooms and rearranged furniture and cleaned out closets. It was quite an overhaul but we got it done with everyone helping! Then another volunteer and I made chicken broccoli and rice casserole for dinner. I’ve kind of missed cooking since I’ve been here so I’m planning on helping out more. Everyone enjoyed our dinner which made me happy.
Today I did get to work in the lab, but it was still a slow day so I didn’t get to do much. I did get to look at one parasite from a fecal sample and at lymphocytes from a blood smear. The lab doctor speaks English so I can understand him when he is explaining things to me. I’m hoping to go back when there are more patients and get to do some hands on work! Now I’m just waiting until it’s time to start making dinner. Leta is away doing important things so I offered to help make dinner again. We’re having either beef or beans in tortillas with pico de gallo and guacamole.
Thanks once again for reading and supporting me with your thoughts and prayers. God Bless!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sickly Sarah

It took two days for me to get over my sickness, mostly.  I'm still feeling nauseous from time to time and cant eat too much but it's better that how I was.  I spent Wednesday in bed most of the day and yesterday I slept in till about 10.  I was feeling better and I ate some oatmeal for my stomach since it was pretty empty.  Our house father wanted a stool sample from me to check for "bugs" but I had stopped that portion of my sickness by then, it was just the nausea.  I continued to feel better througout the day and by evening I was in a pretty good mood.  I helped start a fire to cook dinner on, last time it took the boys over an hour to start the fire, it took me about 20 min to get it going so that it was steady.  They have weird charcoal here, not like in the States.  It's mostly just already burnt wood, so they were just trying to like cardboard under it and get it to start.  I smartly put cardboard, then some sticks, then the charcoal down and it took much better.  I was proud of my camping background, thanks Dad! :-)  Then everyone went to play walleball (like vollyball in an enclosed space) and I stayed behind with a few others and we cooked shishkabobs over the fire.  I felt productive since I had spent the last two days sick and in bed. Everyone really liked them and said I did a good job, that felt good. 

This morning 5 of us went to another hospital in the city of Cochabamba, the second time I had been there.  I told the main doctor that I was a nursing student, so he put me with the nurses at the nurses station and I sat there for an hour forming cotton balls.  The rest of the group got to see cool surgies, a breast reconstruction and a C-Section!  I would have loved to see that, next time I'll know just to ask for the surgeries.  Hanging out with the nurses was fine, but they didn't speak english and I'm no good at Spanish so it was just making cotton balls and trying to understand simple sentences. 

We just got back a while ago, and the rest of the volunteers had already left to go to another orphanage so we're here alone and I have time to do some laundry and catch you all up on my blog.  Not much has happened, but I like to keep you all informed.  Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support.  Thanks for reading, God Bless!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Salar De Uyuni

We made it back from our trip yesterday but a little worse for the wear.  We started our Sunday at church where we went to the Sunday School classrooms and gave dental presentations and put floride on the children's teeth.  After that we went out for lunch and the five of us were set free from the rest of the group to make our way to the bus station.  Our first bus ride was 4 hours through mounitan terrain on narrow roads.  Not too bad but I started to get a headache and as we arrived at the bus station and was nausous because of the higher altitude.  We stayed there for several hours which I was pretty miserable the whole time.  We bought tickets for an overnight bus to Uyuni which we were told was a "buscama" which is a sleeper bus where we should be able to recline all the way for a restful ride.  Well, it was a bit of a misconception...  I slept a little bit, but my seat only reclined as much as an airplane seat.  The road was so bumpy that it felt like the bus would rattle apart at any moment.  The window next to me kept on opening because of the bumps and the woman's seat in front of me kept breaking and falling back onto my knees.  Of course these things happened when I had just fallen asleep and it would wake me up.  The only good thing was that by the end of the ride my headace had gone away and I was feeling a bit better. 

We arrived at 4am and was allowed to sleep on the bus until 7am.  I slept soundly most of that time because apparently Kevin got sick and I had no clue until they talked about it later.  But we got off the bus and found a travel agency that did a one day tour of the salt flats.  She was very kind and brought us to a place to eat breakfast which was pretty good and the woman who served us was even a Christian!  It was so cold there that from breakfast we went to the local market and all bought hats, mittens and some of us brought sweaters. 

Our tour started at 10:30am and they took us to a train graveyard which was pretty much just a junkyard of old trains, but still pretty cool.  Then we drove onto the actual salt flats which was awesome.  It was like driving on a huge frozen lake, but it was all salt!  We visited an island in the middle of the salt and hiked to the top of it which gave us great views!  Then we ate a nice lunch that our tour driver prepared for us.  It tasted very good, but it would come back to haunt me...  It was a good day with the tour and we all had so much fun touring together.  We got back and decided to take a train back since the bus was so bad, we bought our tickets, but the train wouldn't leave until 1:45am so we had to wait around until then.  The tour guide lady agreed to let us stay in her office which was across the street from the train station until our train got there, so that was a blessing.  We went to a pizza place which smelled amazing but once we got in there I started feeling queasy and I couldn't eat anything.  My nausea increased as we sat in the travel office and I went outside several times to try to throw up but I couldn't.  Finally I started thinking about all of the food that had made me nauseous and I vomited into a bag outside the office.  I hoped I would feel better after, and I did for a while, but around 12am I started feeling it again and asked Kevin and Anna to come to the train station with me so I could go to the bathroom.  I ended up throwing up again outside the train station and realized that I needed a bathroom because I also had diarrhea.  Inside the train station, the bathroom was locked, not open yet and I was in agony.  We started wandering the streets for an open bathroom or a hotel that would let us use thier bathroom but to no avail.  We went back to the office where everyone else was and I asked Heidi and Marcia (who speak the best Spanish) to help me.  We ended up going to a hotel and offering the woman 10 Bolivianos (the local money) to use her bathroom, she reluctantly agreed.  I was so releaved but the pure liquid coming out of my backside gave me agony anew.  I apologise for the indepth description of my illness, I'm just trying to keep everyone informed. 

Anyway, I did vomit once more before we got on the train but someone gave us some imodium and I took it with vast amounts of prayers that I would not vomit on our 7 hour train ride.  Thankfully, I didn't vomit on the train, I did have to visit the bathroom, but it was not as bad as before.  The ride was smoother than the bus, but it was FREEZING!  The temp in the train had to have been below 50 degrees F because I was so cold the whole way, I couldn't sleep very much at all.  Plus I was still nauseous so I had to lean forward instead of backwards which was uncomfortable. 

We finally made it to Oruro (still four hours from Cochabamba) and I was thankful that I was at least stable.  I was still not hungry at all and nauseous but I wasn't exploding anywhere.  Our last four hour busride was okay and we went from being freezing cold to terribly hot but we got back okay.  I'm still feeling queasy and having to go to the bathroom every now and then so I'm taking it easy.  I slept in this morning and didn't go to the orphanage, I probably wont go this evening either.  All I've had to eat in the past 48 hours was a piece of toast and that has stayed down so far.  I'm not hungry at all, but I'm drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated.  The smell of food is still making me nauseous, so I think I'll stay here and just relax.  Hopefully I'll continue to get better and with your prayers I know I'll get better.  Thank you all for putting up with my descriptions of my illness and for your contined support and prayers.  Thanks for reading, God Bless!

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. " Psalms 67 : 1-2