Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chai helps

I've been back in the US for nearly two weeks now. I thought coming back at Christmastime would make things easier because I love Christmas. I'm not sure I was right about that, but tonight I made Kenyan chai to go with my birthday dinner, and it somehow helped I think. It made me think about all the experiences at the City of Hope and the friends I have there, friends that I'm really missing right now; it made me think about all the children who come through the City of Hope and how fun, talented, beautiful, and...ordained by God for greatness they are and how much I love them all; it made me think of the team that's still there working so hard to make the world a better place for the people of Ntagatcha; it made me wonder what I'm doing here and what I'm supposed to be doing over this next year or so.

Shortly after my return I stopped by my university to talk to a professor of mine from nursing school. During our chat I realized that I spent more time outside the US in 2010 than I did inside the US...and that I prefer it that way. She described it as feeling that her soul was drying up when she's in the US for too long, and that's exactly it. So why am I here now? Why has God called me here for now after breaking my heart so thoroughly for both Guatemala and Tanzania? And why does it still have to hurt so much? But, you know, the fact of the matter is that He has called me here for now. He didn't say it would be easy, but He has promised to give His children His strength and His joy and His passion. And I believe Him because He's the Living God, and I'm his daughter! Besides, as Paul said, our circumstances have nothing to do with our joy because our joy doesn't (or shouldn't) come from our circumstances; he said that he could be joyful in chains and in freedom, in wealth and in poverty, in hunger and in satisfaction, so surely I can be joyful in the mountains of VA! I'm a nurse; that hasn't changed even if my mission field has for the time being. So, with the strength God gives me, I'm going to work as a nurse, and I'll put a smile on my face, some pep in my step, and my whole heart into it! I'll be an ambassador for Christ, not in chains, but in scrubs!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh my goodness, I'm in AFRICA!!??

Wow! So I've been in Africa a little over a week, and I'm totally and completely in love already. This place is so beautiful, and so are the people. I love how you can't walk down the street without a bunch of precious African children coming out, saying hi, and holding your hand while you walk for a while. I also love how I know that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now. It is so incredible! And I've done basically a little bit of everything from rasslin' barbed wire to digging holes with a machete to learning to make chapatis to nursing and playing with children...and Rook...lots and lots of Rook. :) We've been busy!

So, I had all these things that I was excited to write in here, and now I, of course, can't remember most of them. But one story that must be shared is the story of how 125-pound Amy broke a trailer that was supposed to be able to hold a ton...by sitting on it. Seriously! So, we were using a small trailer to haul rocks and water because we were building a barbed-wire fence around one of our fields, and we were using this power-tiller engine thing (I don't really know) to pull the trailer (this is Africa!). One guy on our team, Daniel, jumped onto the side rail on the back, and I was told to jump up onto the other side rail to help counter the weight. So, I did. I don't even remember feeling my butt hit the rail because it London Bridge-d and bent basically in half. After inspecting the damage, it was determined that the thing was going to break (and was, in fact, already half broken when I jumped onto it) anyway. I was just the straw that broke the camel's back. A couple of the guys here came up to me and were like, "The metal, it was no good. You are not heavy. The metal, it was no good." And Kyle said that the metal they used to make the trailer was fit to be a door and basically nothing else. It was just really funny that, of all the people who have ridden in the trailer, it was Daniel and I (the two lightest ones) who broke it. Basically the fat joke of the year. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Most Me

So, I started this blog ages ago (and by ages I mean about a month), and now I'm going to finish it with some minor changes, additions, and adjustments.

I had a realization earlier this summer, but first let me explain something.

I worked as the camp nurse at the summer camp where I've worked the past 7 summers. I love camp; it's one of my very favorite places on earth and will always have a special place in my heart. I'd never camp nursed before, but I loved it so much! TOkay, now for the realization. Before going to Guatemala, camp was always the place where I was able to be the most me. Something about the people and the atmosphere just let me open up and be completely me in a way that no other place would allow or nurture. That's probably one of the reasons why I love it so much, though I just realized this a couple of years ago. Initially I loved (and still love) camp because it combines three of my favorite things in the whole wide world: Jesus, kids, and running around outside. Then, last semester, I went to Guatemala, and it stole my heart. Camp felt different this year. Not bad different-- I still love camp and always will--just different, and hopefully this summer wasn't the end of my camp employment days. But I realized that last semester Guatemala became the place where I was the most me. Now I'm preparing for a month in Tanzania, and I'm so excited about it! But I'm also a little nervous that it's going to steal my heart like Guatemala did. Or, well, I was afraid of that. Now I've just come to terms with the fact that that's probably going to happen, and I'm ready for it. One of my friends described it as being the same as parents with their kids; when they have one and are about to have the second they wonder how they'll ever love another one the way they love the first one. But somehow they do; they find out that there's room in their heart to love not just one or two but innumerable people and places. I'm not being "disloyal" to Guatemala. And, I'm not expecting Tanzania to be Guatemala. In fact, I don't have expectations other than to be used and awed and poured out and broken and a blesser and blessed. I'm ready to go into this month able to give of all of me and ready to teach and be taught, serve and allow others to serve, too. I'm ready to join Tanzania for a month and let God do what He will. And it's going to be awesome.

Isaiah 6.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Service and Family

I saw the most perfect picture of service a human can offer last week. We had foot washing at the Maundy Thursday service, and one little boy there offered to wash all of our feet; he just went down the line and washed our feet. And then he wouldn´t let us wash his. He lowered himself to what would´ve been considered the position of a servant and chose to keep himself there instead of letting us switch places with him. But, that´s not even the whole picture that I´m talking about. We went to the church in the city to serve them and bless them and do things for them, but I don´t know that that really happened. Yeah, we painted their church and sang for them (they all think we sing like angels! where they get that idea is still so far beyond me I´d need a NASA telescope to see it!) and spent time with them, but I´m pretty positive that we were a heck of a lot more blessed by them than they were by us. They opened their homes to us and gave us beds to sleep in and fed us...a lot. Seriously, we were never hungry. Even if we said we weren´t hungry they´d buy food (usually pan dulce) anyway and put it in front of us. And if we wanted something they didn´t have, they´d go buy it. Another thing, one night I asked where I could buy a phone card to call home since I hadn´t done that yet this semester, and, not only did my dad go out and buy one but, when said card didn´t work, our mom pulled out her cell phone and had all four of us call our US families. And she offered her phone to us every night after that, giving us the option of calling again. Do you know how expensive it is to call the US from Mexico? Pretty darn. And they refused to accept repayment for the cards and calls. Reading over this I realize how inadequate these words are to describe what we experienced last week, but they definitely showed us what it is to be the Body of Christ.

I mentioned above my US family, and I realize that, to some extent, I really do have to diferintiate now. Obviously, my family in the US is my first/main/however you want to put it FAMILY, and they always will be. I have 22 years with them that nothing and no one else can compete with. But, I now also have two families in Guatemala and two families in Mexico, and they´re family, too. When we were leaving Mexico City Sunday afternoon, we all gathered in a big circle and held hands, praying, singing, and sharing together one last time. Looking around that room, I saw my family grow yet again. Maybe we don´t share the same culture, language, or ancestry, and maybe we only had a week together but we´re united by our faith and that week of memories. And, like my brother in Coban, Guatemala said, if we don´t see each other again here on earth, we´ll see each other in Heaven because we´re brothers and sisters. And there, any barriers that may come between us here will be nonexistant.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mexico and Moments

So, I´d be lying if I said that I was excited to leave Guatemala and come to Mexico. I´d be lying if I said that I had a great attitude about it and immediately fell in love with Mexico like I did with Guatemala. I´d be lying if I said that I never held the wealth of this community against them. But, I´d also be lying if I said that I haven´t grown from this experience and learned some important things.

It really hurt to leave Guatemala, and, for a while, I felt as if a huge part of my heart was still there. Have you ever felt as if part of your heart was somewhere else? Not fun. But last night, Mexico and I had a moment. My brother and I went for a run yesterday evening, and the sun was setting over the snow-capped mountains and volcanoes that surround this city; it was beautiful, and God and I had a nice little conversation while I was running. After running the track for a while, we left to go back home stopping on the way to run up the 200-ish steps to one of the 365 (literally) churches. It was pretty hard, but the view at the top was awesome. The whole city was stretched out in front of us with the aforementioned snow-capped beauties standing sentinal and the sky a rosy-pink-turned-brilliant-orange overhead. In those moments (when I thought I was maybe dying), I fell a little bit in love with Mexico. Not the way I did with Guatemala--a different kind of love, but, regardless, God took a wrecking ball to the walls I´d put up agains Mexico.

Another thought from today: first of all, Lent in a predominantly Catholic country is very loud. Every Thursday and Friday around 6am people begin setting off bomb-sized fireworks in our street, and the Church bells (remember, there are 365 Churches here) start going crazy. This morning, as I was lying in bed being very ethnocentric in my thoughts of, "Lent in the US is so much quieter!" I put in my ipod. One of the songs that played was "For The Moments I Feel Faint," and the line that really stood out to me this morning says, "so I take my insufficiencies and place them in Your hands." I had to marvel again about a perfect God Who would want my insufficiencies. But He does! He uses my weaknesses for His strength, and that´s a good thought for me as I apply for and pray about service terms for next year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye, Moving On, And All That Jazz

So, I´m in Mexico now. Saying goodbye to Guatemala was ridiculously hard, especially after last week. I learned a lot about a lot of things during my week of service. For example, I learned what generosity really is. On Sunday, we hiked to a small aldea in the middle of the jungle for church. While there, we visited with a family of 9 people who lives in a one-room, dirt-floor house and still fed us breakfast and lunch. There were 7 of us total, so this family who had nearly nothing gave us 14 meals in total. After returning to the town that was home for the week, I moved in with my Qéqchi family. I had 4 brothers (only 3 were there, though, as one lives in another town that is rather far away), 1 sister, a mom and a dad, a sister-in-law, and a nephew, and though they had little more than the family from Sunday, they offered us just as much. They fed and housed us for a week and, within five minutes of our arriving, they were begging us to come back and stay for "Un mes! No 2 meses! No 3! No! Un año!" Thursday night, my brother gave me the gift of a beautiful bag and was delighted if a little confused by how excited I was over it. There are millions of stories that I could tell from this week and of this family, and, if you asked me for them, I wouldn´t even know where to begin, though I´d be delighted to give it an all-star effort. But, I can tell you that I miss this family so much I could cry right now...and have felt this way since we left Saturday. Sorry, I´m rambling. What my initial point was, what{s wrong with us that we so often have so much and give so little when people who have so little willingly and lovingly give us so much? Profe challenged us on Sunday before we left for Mexico to still be open to joinging and seeing God in our Mexican families. Background: my family here in Mexico is better off financially than my family in the States. It´s very hard to go from cold bucket baths and dirt floors with mice (but bastante love and welcoming! Even though I was only there for a week, I really felt a part of my Qéqchi family--my brothers called me sister, asked me to send them pictures of my graduation in May, and told me that I have to come back and spend every summer break with my family in Guatemala) to hot showers and my own room and not wonder what´s wront with the world. But, I´m not one to let a challenge go unmet, so it´s time to take a deep breath and dive in again. Are you ready for this, Mexico? :)

Speaking of being ready, one other challenge that I´ve encountered is processing things. I have so many thoughts and questions running around in my head and no time to process them! Profe calls it "letting your soul catch up with you," and I have no idea when I´m going to do this! Without having time to process Guatemala, I´ve moved on to Mexico. And, by the time we get home, I will have twice as much to process and still no time because May will bring with it hard-core NCLEX prep. Así es la vida, supongo! More adventures to come! :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I only have a minute before I go devour some bread-what-whats, but I wanted to put up two songs. They've both kind of become theme songs for my life.

Dirty, Audio Adrenaline
Tired of being clean, sick of being proper
I wanna live among the beggars
And dig out in the dirt
Step outside the walls we built to protect us
Don't be afraid to get some mud on your face

Come on, come on everybody
Come on, come on and serve someone

Let's get dirty, let's get used
No matter where you come from
If you're beaten up or bruised
Let's get foolish - let's get free
Free to be the one thing you were meant to be
Let's get dirty

You might get a bruise or some blisters on your fingers
You might start a question and wonder what it's worth
You may slip and fall from the burdens that you carry
But you can't have this treasure
'til you dig it from the dirt

Que Seas Mi Universo, Jesus Adrian Romero
Que seas mi universo
No quiero darte solo un rato de mi tiempo
No quiero separarte un día solamente
Que seas mi universo
No quiero darte mis palabras como gotas
Quiero un diluvio de alabanzas en mi boca
Que seas mi universo
Que seas todo lo que siento y lo que pienso
Que seas el primer aliento en la mañana
Y la luz en mi ventana
Que seas mi universo
Que llenes cada uno de mis pensamientos
Que tu presencia y tu poder sean mi alimento
Oh Jesús es mi deseo... Que seas mi universo
No quiero darte solo parte de mis años
Te quiero dueño de mi tiempo y de mi espacio
Que seas mi universo
No quiero hacer mi voluntad, quiero agradarte
Y cada sueño que hay en mi quiero entregarte
Que seas mi universo
Que seas todo lo que siento y lo que pienso
Que seas el primer aliento en la mañana
Y la luz en mi ventana
Que seas mi universo
Que llenes cada uno de mis pensamientos
Que tu presencia y tu poder sean mi alimento
Oh Jesús es mi deseo... Que seas mi universo..
Que seas mi universo...

Monday, February 22, 2010

So many thoughts, so little time!

Wow, another eventful few weeks! Our time in Guatemala is almost over which means that this cross-cultural is almost half over, and that makes me incredibly sad! Don't get me wrong, I do miss family and friends (and friends that feel like family), but Latin America has stolen my heart, and I know I'll miss it when I go, too.

So, what's been going on? For one thing, I feel like every weekend just keeps getting better and better. I'm not a city person, so all of our trips out of the city are completely wonderful. Satiago Atitlan was last weekend's destination where we visited a good coffee finca, various places around Santiago and Panabaj, a bead co-op, and crossed the lake to visit the market. One thing that continually amazes me is the reactions the people of Guatemala have towards us, a bunch of United States Americans traveling through their country and, inevitably, sometimes behaving like tourists (camera-toting is a pretty obvious mark of a non-native). During our visit through various places in Santiago we learned more about the 36-year civil war here in Guatemala. Background information: the US played a large role in starting the 36 years of needless violence that ravaged this beautiful country. We saw the church that was a safe haven for many indigenas during the war and saw where an Oklahoman priest who was working to protect the same people was shot; his blood stains are still visible on the wall. Yet, despite all of this, they still welcome us with open arms. Example: several of us were enjoying the freedom we had to walk around the town in the evening and were hanging out in the central plaza for a little while when an indigenous man, who had been watching us for quite some time (in a very non-creeper way) came over and started speaking to us in Spanish. He was so excited that we are here, learning about his culture and history! It just blows my mind how active most Guatemalans seem to be in separating US citizens from the US government; I'm seeing just how much we can learn from the Guatemalans.

I mentioned that we also visited a good coffee finca; the disappointing bit of this tour was the fact that we couldn't actually see where they grow, roast, etc. the coffee because, since this finca is working to improve the lives of the community members and its workers, the people who aren't benefiting from it are really angry. The people at the finca are often robbed and threatened. I don't understand how people can do this to people who are just trying to help and make life better for someone! The Peace Accords may have been signed, but the scars are still evident. But still people have hope, which is wonderful! Some say that things will never improve, but I met a friend in Santiago. She's probably about 5 years old and giggles all the time and loves to be picked up, swung, whatever. I saw hope in that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thoughts and Stuff

Wow. We´ve had two (?) very full weeks! Since visiting the basurero, we´ve really bonded as a group, discussed big issues like poverty and being called to serve, and finally made it out of the city for a long weekend, all of which were amazing. Our weekend out was at Chichicastenango. It´s about 4 hours outside the city (my excitement grew with every rotation of the bus tires!) and is about 7000-ish feet above sea level. The mountains here are gorgeous!

Saturday morning we met an alum of this cross'cultural who is currently serving in Guatemala with S.A.L.T. She spent Saturday and Sunday with us and immediately fit in with the group. We loved having her! Saturday evening, she took about 30 minutes to talk to us about the impact her cross'cultural had on her life and her later decision to return to Guatemala to serve. She could´ve been talking about me. One train of thought that this conversation evoked in me involves the concept of home. Erin (the alum) said that she knew she´d return to Latin America almost immediately because, despite being so far outside her comfort zone every moment of every day, something about being here gave her an almost inexplicable peace. That resonates with me because that´s exactly how I´ve been feeling. Leaving the city and experiencing, in my opinion, the true Guatemala only made this feeling stronger. This place and these people have stolen my heart, and even though I´m uncomfortable every day, I have peace, too. I´ve finally acknowledged that, even after these three months, Latin America won´t be done with me. Yes, there are days when I hate how fast the people drive and how slow they walk and how men cat-call us a million times a day blah blah blah, but, the heart of the matter is that I love it, and, though I don´t know what this´ll look like right now, I know that I won´t be able to not come back.

I´ve also been thinking about the concept of worship. Our group has a worship time every Wednesday afternoon, and last Wednesday some members of our group had some...issues that we had to discuss. In a nutshell, we had to talk about how we, as women, should react when men here do and say inappropriate things. Anyway, it was a pretty heavy topic, and we were all feeling angry and scared and really upset. But then, after the conversation ended, we went into our worship time, and the change that came over each one of us was incredible. Where just a few minutes beforehand we´d been upset and talking about these scary things, we were all of a sudden smiling and laughing and singing and worshiping! Anyway, I thought that was profound...the heart of worship, not the words I just wrote, mind you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Guatemala Week 1

What a crazy week! It´s been awesome, though. I feel like I´m being bombarded every day by intensity. I feel like, before coming here, I knew that poverty was an acute problem in Guatemala, but I didn´t know to what degree this was the case until this week. Any nurse could have an absolute hay-day in this country! Babies have coffee or coke in their bottles because their moms can´t afford milk for them, just for a very meager start. Thursday we visited zona tres, the cemetary, and the dump. First, zona tres: people moved into the city from the country hoping to build new, better lives and find good jobs. This didn´t happen for them, and now they´re stuck in the crevices of this huge ravine living in tin shacks. There is a path worn into the mountain leading from zona tres to the dump where people pay for the ¨privilege¨of digging through the trash to find things to sell for their living. There are women and children in there all the time; some women even give birth in there. Right beside the dump is the cemetary in which the wealthiest family in Guatemala owns a tomb that cost enough to more than support all of the people living in zona tres. So now my struggle is to figure out with this means for me. After discovering the existence of the clinic in the States, I really felt like my mission field changed; I´m not doubting that this clinic is where God wants me. So what am I doing here? Just learning Spanish? Soul-searching? Figuring out who I am and what the world is and Who God is on a different level? I still have a lot to figure out, but I´m okay with that. I came with so many questions and with the expectation to leave at the end of the semester changed; a lot of my questions have been answered already, but, for every answer I´ve gotten, at least 25 more questions have come up. But, I´m okay with that, too. I´ll never have all the answers, so I´ll just keep asking questions and learning as much as I can and figuring things out to the best of my ability. It´s good. :)

Hope all is well at home.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just One Quick Thing

Something happened this weekend that made me really excited and showed me all over again just how involved in our lives Christ really is. Before going into what happened this weekend, though, I should mention that I heard from the clinic where I really want to work: they said that they only hire RNs who have at least a year of hospital experience. Bummer. I was pretty discouraged after hearing this news because I was just so sure that this was where God wants me. I didn't quite understand what He was doing, and I was trying to figure out if I'd misinterpreted this calling. Now, on to what happened this weekend: I spent this weekend at the summer camp staff reunion, and Saturday night we had a special supper and worship time where we all had the chance to meet the new Camp Executive, Kent. After the worship time I was talking to Kent and his wife a bit (they were at college the same time one of my sisters was, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to play The Mennonite Game), and they asked me about my post-graduation plans. I told them about my goal to work in this clinic in this city. Being familiar with the city, they asked me which clinic; as it turns out, they have friends working at this clinic! They were so excited about it and wonderfully encouraging. They asked permission to e-mail these friends of theirs about me (not in relation to getting a job, mind you) because several of their friends are really passionate about welcoming people and mentoring girls my age! This conversation lifted my spirit so much and reassured me that this is where God does want me. I feel as though I already have solid connections, and I haven't even moved yet! What a perfectly-timed blessing. Don't ya just love how God works. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Growing Up

I was thinking last night about growing up and this whole staying where you’re safe and comfortable versus going out into the unknown, and I realized all over again how easy it would be to just stay. I’ll even admit that, for a moment at least, I wished I could, not only stay, but also go back to when things were easy—to when leaving was just a dream, and it felt like I’d be “stuck” here forever. I’m not saying that I was wishing for the chance to go back to when I was so little that my Daddy’s vests dragged the ground when I put them on; I was only wanting to go back to when I knew, more or less, what the day would bring. Back to when I knew that, if my alarm didn’t go off in the morning, Mum would come to the bottom of the stairs and wake me up. And when I could count on my windshield being clear of ice because Daddy is just thoughtful like that (this is a big deal! Do you have any idea how many times I’ve flirted with being late for clinicals because I almost forgot about the whole windshield-clearing step?). When Sunday mornings would find me and many of my favorite people in the whole world in a small country church’s sanctuary filled with folks who have long been more like family than anything else. I wouldn’t even have minded going back less far than that—back to a dorm-full of friends and Sunday game nights followed by Celebration when my big stressors were NPAs and Adult Health exams.

And, now, here I am staring nearly 4 months in Central America right in the face. And, after that, the uncertainty of being a newly graduated nurse whom no one wants to hire because I don't have a year of experience yet. I made a decision, though: I decided to look at this as an adventure because that's what life is supposed to be. I'm glad I don't know what's coming; I'm glad it's a mystery, and I'm not going to be scared--at least, not toooo scared. No, I'm going to be excited and go at every day with enthusiasm, chasing the dreams God has put into my heart because I know that, no matter how far away from Daddy, Mum, brothers, and sisters all of this may take me, the Lord is already there. He's gone before me making a path; He's walking beside me showing me the way; when I fall down, He'll be right there to help me up, dust me off, and put a band-aid on my scraped knees.