Friday, October 29, 2010

Nueva Tunuya

October 24, 2010:

Sunday clinic in Nueva Tunuya. Last night Rachel and I packed all the meds and equipment and even got to bed at 9 PM! We are doing so much better! We knew the Doc had said he wanted to be out of here by 7 AM, so we wanted to have plenty of sleep and be ready to go.

It was 7 AM and Rachel and I were ready to go. However, our new addition to our family wasn’t ready to go. This new addition that I mention is a 22 year old Toyota van. She/He has many names, but to me she is known as Gordita. After a long push from all of our guys she was ready to do her job; transport the team. We loaded all of our trunks full of meds and gear onto the truck. Some of us went in the truck and the others loaded into Gordita. As I proudly sat inside our new friend, we made our way towards Nueva Tunuya. The ride was pretty smooth considering we were driving through a dirt road.

We finally reach our destination. Janessa and I are sent to make an announcement to the whole town that we have arrived. Through a large intercom our voices are heard announcing to everyone that we are offering free medical and dental care. We tell them to invite their kids, grandparents, friends and neighbors. With the announcement done, we head over the towns clinic and start to set up. Rachel and I unpack our pharmacy in a small, but very clean room. There was a table, chair, and long bench that worked for our benefit. We had been sitting for only five minutes when the patients start lining up with their prescriptions in their hands. We worked from 9AM to 1PM handing meds and giving shots. It was a very fast paced morning but not much excitement. No procedures, no ear cleanings, no surgeries, nothing interesting. We had our lunch break and ate some chicken, rice, and beans. While we ate the ground around us was getting very muddy by the rain that was following. When we finished eating, Rachel and I left with Caleb to grab more meds that we had run out of. The muddy road was an adventure of its own as we made our way home. We quickly grabbed our meds and headed back to Nueva Tunuya. The truck was doing really well and only slid a couple of times. It was actually all Caleb, he was doing such a great job driving and controlling the truck. When we were ten minutes away from the clinic we saw a motor car stuck in the mud. Instead of colliding with him, we decided to squeeze by him on the right side. Unfortunately, we ended up sliding right into a small ditch. This left our truck tilted to the right so that our left tires had very little traction. Caleb tried to move forward: fail. He then tried to put it in reverse: fail. We were stuck and there was no one around to help. So at this point Caleb went looking for some type of wood that he could put under the tires. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either. Finally, after about 20 minutes, a man and his wife came passing by. Thankfully they decided to stop and offer some help.

I jumped into the driver seat while Caleb and the guy started to push the truck. They pushed and pushed: failure once again. After many failed attempts I asked the guy if he could give me a ride to Nueva Tunuya. Without any hesitation he made room for me and we were on our way to the clinic. When I got to the clinic I passed the news to the Doc and I then went in search for a vehicle that could pull the truck out. With the help of the town leader we found an owner of a Toyota truck that was willing to pull us out. As three young guys jumped into the truck I headed back to the pharmacy to help out with the meds. After 30 minutes Rachel and Caleb had returned safe and sound with the truck.

We continued on with the clinic and finished at 6 PM.

At the end of the day Rachel and I visited an elderly lady that was suffering from a bed sore. This 90 year old lady had hardly any muscle left on her body; she was mainly skin and bone. The bedsore was on her back and it was pretty deep all around. There wasn’t much we could do. So we dressed it and left them with material that they could use to continue dressing it. We also told them that it was very important to turn her on different sides frequently.

Around 6:30 we were on the bumpy and muddy road headed home.

It was a fun, adventurous, and great day!

Other things that happened in the past three weeks.

*Rachel and I operated on my wart. We surgically removed it. And it is healing very nicely.

*We had a puppy named Oso. Unfortunately, he was sold and is no longer with us :(

*We also had a monkey for the first week after the robbery. Unfortunately he died and is no longer with us :( R.I.P. Martin the Monkey

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Up the river along with pirates

October 4, 2010:

Because yesterday everyone was electing Ucayali’s president, we were unable to by meds and get our transportation for today. So today we will continue to pack and wait. I ended up getting the best birthday surprise ever! We had tostadas, cake, piñata, and dancing. It was such a blast! They even decorated the place. We then had to pack the meds. We didn’t get to bed till 2 AM.

October 9, 2010:

I still can’t believe what happened to us…

Yesterday (October 8, 2010), about noon, we loaded our stuff into the boats and headed out towards home. Hanna, Rachel, Laura, Doc, Shirley, and I were in one boat. The rest of the gang was in the other boat. We were exhausted from the jungle beating (mostly the bites from the insects) yet excited to be going home. All was going smoothly and we had been traveling for about three hours. All of a sudden I heard a big bang! I was sitting in the very front with Hanna right next to me. Rachel was sitting in front of us, near the bow of the boat. When I looked to my left I saw a small metal, grey boat. In this boat I saw four men and one of them was jumping on our boat. The two men I got a good look at had double barrel shot guns. At this point Rachel had jumped towards Hanna and I. With her head down, she grasped onto our legs tightly and began to shake in fear. The one on the boat, who I assume was the leader, began to scream demands at our driver. He demanded that the boat get moved to the shore. He also stared to yell, “No me miren!” (Don’t look at me) At his command I closed my eyes and put my head down. As he continued to yell at us, I held on tightly to Hanna and Rachel, while telling them to close their eyes.

With his gun pointed in our direction, he started asking for money and anything valuable. Afraid to be shot, I kept my eyes closed and raised my arms over my head. I let him feel in my pockets. Of course he found nothing. He searched the other girls and then asked for cell phones. I knew I didn’t have any so I didn’t say anything. Hanna kept telling him, “No tengo nada, no tengo nada!” (I don’t have anything). As he was searching us, there was another guy towards the back of the boat going through our bags and asking for the Doc and Shirley’s money. Everyone forked over what they had.

The guy with the painted face, the head honcho, started to yell questions, like: Where are you coming from? What are you doing here? Do you have guards? Where is the other boat? Are there soldiers on the other boat? I never spoke a word and neither did anyone else except the Doc and his wife (Shirley). Shirley, at this point, was in tears and pleading for our lives. The painted guy would get mad at her and tell her to shut up. He would tell her that they weren’t going to do anything to us.

This whole time, I’m praying HARD. I’m praying for courage, strength, and most of all for our lives. I was telling God that my life was completely surrendered to Him. If it was God’s will for me to go, I would be ok with it. But I would prefer to stay alive and safe. I prayed this for everyone in the boat. As soon as I prayed for strength, I had this powerful feeling come over my body. It’s so hard to put in words, but my heart rate slow downed and I felt calm. “At times God may not calm the storm, but He will calm His child.” I strongly believe in this quote. When I would get a chance I would whisper to Rachel and Hanna, “Be strong, God is with us.” Not one moment did I let go of their hands.

Towards the end I heard one of the guys say, “Come on, lets go.” His voice sounded a little worried. Laura, in the back, saw the guys quickly grab Rachel’s, Hanna’s, and my bag and toss them in their boat. All that I had was in my back pack. Clothes, Bible, journal, water filter, bedding, and more. They were even so low to steal Rachel and my Chaco's. Seriously. Once they had all our stuff they zoomed out. When they had asked if we had soldiers on the other boat, the Doc told them that we had angels in the other boat. I strongly believe that we had angels in both boats. When the robbers saw the other boat they quickly took off without getting near to it. When they were gone I opened my eyes and only embraced my friends tighter. I immediately thanked God for keeping us safe and alive. We cried and only held each other close.

The rest of the trip was full of challenges as well. We encountered a spot were we thought they were ready to attack us for the second time. Down the narrow part of the river we ran into boats that had completely blocked the way. The whole time we were racing against the sun and hoping to get to the dock. We are convinced that the sun had set later than normal. Considering that the thieves also stole our gas, we were in another pickle. When we were nearing the dock our boat ran out of gas. So we decided to pray. When we finished praying for gas, our boat started up again and then took us all the way to the dock. God definitely worked miracles that day.

Exhausted and in shock, we unloaded the boats and headed towards the police station. Shoeless and confused I attempted to gather my thoughts together. At the station Doc filed a complaint and we then headed home. It wasn’t till midnight when we arrived home. This whole time Jenny had been calling and communicating with our parents. We made some ramen (because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast – we were starving) and for the next two hours we were all making phone calls and receiving them. We wanted to make sure to tell our families that we were alive and safe. I didn’t get to bed till 2 AMish.

Now I just continually thank God for my life. This has strengthened my faith, but I hope I don’t have to go through something like that again. My new prayer is that we may be able to get things figured out with insurance, our stolen belongings, and stolen documents. And that God will take fear away from our hearts so that we may continue to serve Him.

The three days of medical campaign in the villages was wonderful. Yeah it was super rough with the conditions, but to see the smiles of the people was worth it. Not only the smiles, but their friendship and hospitality was amazing. Many times we had to ask villagers if we could borrow their kitchen and they never hesitated to share with us. We made so many friends and it was sad to leave them.

They taught me a few phrases of their native language, introduced me to different fruits, showed us where to bathe, and all around helped us with anything we would ask for. I wish to go back into those villages and spend more time with them. The only things keeping me back are the millions of man eating bugs and of course the robbers. Every single one of us has more than 50 bug bites. Not even joking. There were three main bugs that feasted on our blood. There were big water flies, tiny mosquitoes that were quick and hard to kill, and HUGE mosquitoes that were the size of dragonflies. I wish I could post pictures of the week, but the camera with all the pics was stolen L

Today, I went to church and tried my best to not think about what had just happened. If I did, I would break down in tears. After church we went back to the detectives and looked at pictures of different criminals. Then when I got back home I was able to talk to my family and let them know what had happened. It was very relieving to talk to my family and let them know I was ok.

Monday, October 4, 2010

More fires then some rain

October 2, 2010:

SABBATH!!! Yahoo! My beautiful day of rest (so I thought). Today we went to the church of Ivan Sicke, because this will be the place where we’ll be doing our public health teaching. We had Sabbath school, church service, and a wonderful lunch at a friends house. They served us soup, fish, and some yummy fruit juice. We also had to stop by the premature baby’s home to follow up. She looked better, but we still had to give her another shot. It was 4ish when we arrived home. We were welcomed by two massive fires behind our house…

We threw on our fire fighting clothes and went at it. Shirley told us that the fire started up again in the jungle around noon and was too big to put out. So it got out of control and spread like crazy. Bucket after bucket we battled with these fires. My legs, back, and shoulders ached. But I had to go on. I couldn’t let my team down. Between 5pm and 1am we went out four different times to battle fires. We would put one out and think it was completely out. However, some how an ember would catch something on fire and the flames would quickly grow out of control.

This Saturday has been one of the most exhausting Saturdays in my WHOLE entire life. I went to bed exhausted and defeated with body aches. Almost everything behind our house was ash. There was hardly any grass left for our cows to eat.

I can’t believe that we have been fighting fires four nights in a row. I want rest. God please send some rain and finish this.

October 3, 2010:

IT RAINED!!! Yeah, it’s been SUPER windy and chilly, but it’s raining. I’m so ecstatic. God answered our prayers! Today we went shopping for food in Campo Verde and then celebrated our day off in Pucallpa. We went to an internet café and then had pizza at the same pizzeria we tried to go to on Friday. It was such an awesome and relaxing day.

The Doc told us that if the weather is better we might pack up and leave tomorrow. However, if it stays windy and rainy we will have to leave on Tuesday.

Clinics and Fires

September 27, 2010:

So I thought that two weeks ago was my first clinical experience. Nope. That was today. The OFFICIAL clinical day took place in Pucallpa.

Last night we all got together and had a big meeting. In this meeting leaders were chosen, responsibilities were given, and some details were discussed. It was a lot. But when is it never a lot. The same night Rachel and I were up till 1 AM packing up meds and setting things up for this big medical campaign.

At 6 the next morning I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the whole crew. We all packed up the truck and headed to Pucallpa. Half of the crew left in taxis to Pucallpa. Meanwhile, the rest of us had an adventure riding in the truck to Pucallpa. Caleb, after learning how to drive stick two weeks ago, drove to Pucallpa. He did such an AWESOME job! I told him to think of it as a video game. The closer we got to Pucallpa, the levels would get harder. Then the boss of the video game was following the Doc on his motorcycle in Pucallpa traffic. However, tonight Caleb battled against the ultimate boss; following the Doc on his motorcycle at night in Pucallpa traffic. Every time I ride with Caleb I have complete trust that he will do a great job. And he always does.

We arrived to an empty house that contained a medium and large room. Both Doctors set up their tables in the medium room and then pharmacy and dental set up in the large room. It was a bit crowded, but bearable. After 30 minutes we had a crowd surrounding outside the building. At first I worked on triage with Hanna. I took many vitals and talked with many patients. I would also then be called here and there to translate. I felt like I was running all over the place for about 5 hours straight. It got a bit tiring. I was working nonstop that I had forgotten my hunger. When 3 pm came around I finally got a chance to take a breath and eat a very late lunch with the whole team. We had some delicious noodles and salad. Immediately after eating my lunch I was back at it.

This time there were more people doing triage so I jumped back in the pharmacy and passed out meds with Rachel. At this point Doc was flying through his patients and Rachel and I were sweating buckets trying to keep up him. Which is almost impossible. The funny thing is that we didn’t notice how soaked we were in sweat until after we had finished. We were so occupied with patients that we didn’t even have time to think about our own bodies.

Even though I feel like we have worked like horses, it was a good day. I met a lot of nice people, saw new things, and I was enjoying my time. Yes, it was crazy at times, but I can see God really working in me. I’m loving this service that we are doing! I just pray that God will continue to provide me with strength and His love. We were told that this particular campaign is two weeks long. So I need a lot of strength J

Oh and I forgot to mention that around 7 AM on Sunday the new doctor arrived. Dr. Shiar, will be joining us for two weeks. He’s really cool and nice. I’m glad he has joined our team momentarily.

September 28, 2010:

Second day. Today went a little smoother compared to yesterday. We showed Anthony how things work in the pharmacy, we found a better way to organize our meds, and we had more supplies. I still ran around here and there; translating, doing triage, and pharmacy.

We headed home a little early to say goodbye to Dr. Dianne and Mary. We had our last soup supper with them and then they were off to the airport. We counted our number of patients and recorded our clinical stats. Once that was done we headed over to the pharmacy to unpack everything, take inventory, and then repack. We finally got to bed at around midnight.

Procedures done today:

Toenail extraction

Ear cleanings

Scraping out puss and infection from an open leg wound. Then dressing it up again.

September 29, 2010:

Day three. As we arrive we see a large line of people waiting to be attended. We quickly unpack and start our day. The same lady with the huge wound on her leg came in and we scraped out more infection and then wrapped it up. Today we finally learned the names of the helpers we’ve been having. Gady is the lady who helps with dental registration. Veronica and Xiomi help with pharmacy. Daniel helps with medical and dental patients.

We were seeing patient after patient. It felt as if it would never slow down or stop. Then all of a sudden the doctor says that we need to speed it up because there is an emergency. A friend from the base had called for help. A fire near our house had gotten out of control and it needed to be stopped before it reached any closer. So, the doctor saw a few more patients and we vamped up the speed. We were trying our hardest to deliver our best service to our patients in such a fast pace.

At 4 PM we were driving towards home. When we got home we all threw on long sleeve shirts, jeans, and bandanas. Then we all jumped in the shower to soak ourselves. We filled a big container of water and headed towards the jungle. In the jungle we found the rest of the locals fighting the fire with water and machetes.

I couldn’t believe it. We were literally jumping in there, dumping water, stomping out fires, and slashing at the flames. We were finally able to put it out after three hours of battling. We went back home, had a small supper of fruits, had a team meeting to discuss improvements, showered, recorded stats, and repacked meds. It wasn’t till 1 AM when I closed my eyes.

Lord continue to provide me with strength. It is only because of you that I’m still standing and breathing.

September 30, 2010:

Day four. Today really felt like it would never end.

Last night in our team meeting we had all agreed to have breakfast at 6:30 and to be out on the road by 7:30. We had to stop leaving at around 9ish, it wasn’t fair to our patients. So, today my day started at 5:30 AM in the kitchen making breakfast. At around 8 AM we were in the clinic ready to go.

I did ear cleanings, gave shots, helped in triage, translated, dressed wounds, and so much more. Thankfully, Anthony had caught on very quick and was a lot of help. I knew that I could stop in the pharmacy and take care of a procedure or translate for someone. I knew that Rachel and Anthony had it all under control. We could be backed up with 20 patients, but they had it under control. Today we saw a premature baby come in who really looked like it wasn’t going to make it. Very sad.

Tired and exhausted we arrived home to find out that another fire had started up again. We put on our crusty, dirty fire clothes and jumped on the tractor. We fought for about 2 hours until we were able to control it. We headed home and showered and got ready for bed. All of a sudden we hear, “fuego!” Out again we go. It took us another 2 hours to battle the flames and put them out.

It wasn’t till midnight-ish that we were finally asleep.

October 1, 2010:

Day five. Our last day in Ivan Sicke. We arrived early and gave it all we had. We saw the same stuff that we had been seeing the past four days. Kids with infections, fungal problems, rashes, colds, and of course bichos (worms). Adults with hurting bones, body aches, headaches, and of course bichos. At 3 pm we decided to have our lunch and pack up the clinic. While we were eating we discussed our next week of clinics as a team. We could either stay in Pucallpa or travel up the river. We calculated the cost of meds, supplies, foods, and transportation. In the end we decided to travel up river and visit different remote villages. I’m so stoked!

When everything was packed in the truck, Rachel, Lauren, Jenessa, Hanna, Caleb, and I decided to shop for a few things in Pucallpa and to eat at a pizzeria. We felt that we had been working really hard and we just wanted to treat ourselves. We got all our shopping done and then headed to the pizzeria. Just as we had ordered I get a call from Shirley (the Doc’s wife). In a frantic voice she tells me that we must head home immediately. A fire has started up again behind the house and the Doc is alone with only one other worker. We no hesitation we cancel our order an fly home. Literally, we were driving so fast, it felt like we were flying. It was almost 7pm when we arrived home and started battling the flames. After an hour we put it out and headed home to have some ramen for supper. Before I could even get a bite of my ramen, I hear, “fuego!” AGAIN. I put my bowl down and headed out AGAIN. It took another hour until it was gone. We went back home, ate my ramen, showered, and went to bed around 11pm.