Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hey, Guess What? I'm in the Amazon

When people ask me how my trip was, I'm never quite sure how to respond. "It was so good!" just doesn't seem to cut it. It was amazing. It was an absolute dream-come-true, and then some. It was everything I hoped for, but nothing I really expected. I'm not sure what I expected, to be honest.

It took us around 3 days to actually get to our destination. By that time we were all tired and grumpy and desperately in need of a good night of sleep, a shower,  and a change of clothes. Stepping off that plane in Iquitos was one of the best feelings ever. The air was warm and thick and I was IN THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST!

The lodge we stayed at was a 1 1/2 hour boat ride down river from the city of Iquitos. Heliconia and it's staff was incredible. They fed us the most delicious meals, cleaned our rooms, escorted us around the jungle, washed our clothes, extended their usual hours of electricity, and even kept watch all night long in case an animal decided to jump through our screen windows (don't worry, that never happened). It felt luxurious in the middle of the jungle.

Our very first visit to the village was unforgettable. As our boats approached the village, we saw a crowd of people on the shore waving and smiling. A group of guys were off to the side playing music for us. Everyone greeted us, shook our hands, and gave us gifts. A cute teenager walked up to me handed me a fan made of palm leaves and said in English, "This is for you". It was such a whirlwind, that I didn't even remember who that guy was or think it was cool that he knew a phrase in English.
We had Opening Ceremonies inside their community building. The school children sang songs, recited poems and danced for us. We sang a few embarrassing songs like "Getting to Know You" from The King and I, and "Fifty Nifty United States", one of those songs you sang in the 5th grade program, you know?? The whole time I had two things on my mind: "holy cow, it's hot in here. Good thing someone just gave me a fan" and "how are these kids are so stinking cute?!"
The first little boy I met was named Hevinger. He's 10 years old (if I remember correctly) and kind of shy. Yet he sort of understood my attempt at speaking Spanish and that made any feelings of unease disappear. I must have been nervous to interact with the kids because of the language barrier. Very quickly I learned that you don't really have to use many words to have fun with kids. There are so many other ways to connect. They would often laugh at my Spanish, then try to help me say the right thing.

That day I also took a little tour of the village and got to see the building they were planning on turning into the medical clinic. It was about half a mile from the community building, and a very beautiful walk. We passed many houses and properties, a farm, their only water tower, and a fish pond. The clinic building was a mess; much worse than we had imagined. It is a small building, but one of only a few cement and brick buildings that exist in the village. There were 4 small rooms and a bathroom and it even had hookups for electricity. The plaster on the walls was chipping off, the rooms were streaked with bat guano and the new ceilings were stained as well. That was my first of many lessons that things rarely go according to plan. Our plan was to paint, furnish and stock the clinic, and because of other needed repairs, we never even got all the way done painting.

After that first day in the village, I wrote in my journal:

I can already tell that I'm going to be absolutely exhausted by the end of this trip. If a few hours of singing and walking around can wear me out, I don't know what I'll do with so many days of work and construction. But still, It was so fun to meet all the people in Yanamono. I'm overwhelmed by their kindness and the warm welcome that they gave us. 

It definitely was exhausting. But it was really so much more than that.

Stay tuned. There's more to come!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

80 hours

I've been meaning to write a really long post and catch up on all the things in the past 5 months since I last blogged. But that would take a long time.

So I'm starting fresh. And hopefully I can find more time to tell more stories.

The best news I have these days is that, this July, I will be going here on a humanitarian trip:

I can't wait.

But in order to go to Peru I have to do 80 hours of service in the community (I'm half way there!).
and THAT, my friends, is what I want to blog about.

Real Life in Salt Lake

The goal of the organization is to get the kids accustomed to life in a new environment and to feel accepted by their peers.

The teenagers who participate in Real Life are refugees who have come from all over the world. So, basically we just get together after school 3 times a weeks and have a good time.

We do fun things like relay races, bowling, and sports.
We do educational things like learning how to budget and how to make ice cream.
We go on really awesome field trips to the Natural History Museum and The Leonardo.

(By the way, has anyone ever been to the Leonardo?? It's the coolest place!)

It's pretty much the best thing ever. Super fun and super exhausting.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm Still a Teenager

I took all my YW girls to my parent's house to swim last night. We had a blast. I swear, when I'm with them, I turn into one of them. I love it.

Also, this week I had my nursing school orientation!! I am going to be so incredibly busy, but I'm so incredibly excited!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Birthday Creation

Today was Tess' 2nd birthday.
I'll spare you the details about how cute I think she is because we all know how we favor the little ones who are related to us. Also, disclaimer: I am NOT a photographer and I probably never will be, so forgive my not-so-good snapshots of an over-active little toddler with a fairly cheap camera.

The real reason I'm posting is to show you my serious crafting skills...
a princess crown and a princess tutu!

Oh my goodness, I had so much fun with this project! Partly because I had someone specific in mind and I was so excited for her to put it on, but also because it was pretty easy.
after looking through the countless tutorials online, I came up with my favorite combination of techniques and details and even added some of my own.

Now that I think about it, I should have taken some detail shots before I gave it to her... that way you could see the sparkly buttons and the cute trimming. Oh well. You get the idea.

I sure do love this little monkey.

Happy Birthday Tess!!!

On a side note, I guess this is a good chance to announce that this little girl has a new baby sister named Ruby! we call her Ruby Roo. (like how Scooby Doo would say his own name.) I find that quite hilarious.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Since I have such an awesome job and everyone is jealous of all the gross things I have to do there, I decided that I should share some stories so that you feel like you are there.

You know you want to keep reading...

So this month was a strange one, but I guess its always a strange month on Huntsman 4th Floor.

Two people died unexpectedly in the same day. One was an older man who had been out on a walk with his wife. She was showing him around the patio and all the areas of the hospital when he just slumped over in his wheelchair inside the physical therapy room. The other was a thirty-something-year-old Romanian lady who just stopped breathing in the middle of the night.

One young girl who had been on our floor for almost a month contracted bacterial meningitis. The really contagious kind that almost always kills the infected person. (The same infection that killed that girl from East in high school. remember?) Well, this girl was my patient 4 days in a row before they found out what was wrong... What if I had gotten it from her!? While I had a few days off, she coded and last I heard, she was sent to the ICU. Scary. I liked her.

One particularly bad morning, I stepped in HUMAN poop and got it in the little crevices of my shoe. Yeah, it's a lot like dog poop but without the grass... and no, I don't ever wear those shoes inside my house.

That same day, I took care of a lady who had such a bad bowel obstruction that she was literally throwing up her poo. Dark, thick, and SO smelly. As disgusting as that was, I really felt bad for her. I mean, could you imagine??? Throwing up is bad enough as it is!

But in the midst of all the crap I deal with at work (pun intended), there are those people or those days that really make my job worth it. Like the time when I ordered 15 root beer floats for the family who wanted to toast to their father who had just passed away; or the time when a patient announced to us that she had named her tumor "Tina Tumor"; or the many times when patients who have gone into remission stop by to say hello and show us their new hair.

This week I met an adorable couple in their 60's. They are from Missouri but have been in Salt Lake since February, living with relatives while the husband gets his cancer treatment. He has stage 4 Melanoma that has spread throughout his body. They know he'll die soon, but they are so determined to make the rest of their life together perfect. They are that model couple that you hope to grow up to be. The wife loved to talk, but in her case, I actually enjoyed it. We chatted about sewing and family and Missouri and school. She told me how scared she was to become a widow, and to lose the man who has protected her for 45 years.

We see a lot of people die and many times we don't even think twice about it. But when someone lets you into their life and you can really connect with them, that's when death seems so awful--almost unfair.

Despite what I might say about my job on most days, I do actually love the work that I do. It makes me appreciate my life and my health and my beliefs. I just hope that I never get cancer.

Cancer really sucks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Liz's Wedding Festivities

The month of June has been full of celebrations! Mostly for this gorgeous girl

We had a 1920s themed bachelorete party. Didn't Liz look amazing??
Actually, everyone looked pretty good. We listened to jazz music, drank mocktails and talked all night about, well, I'm sure you can guess... I wish I took pictures of the decorations. I must say, they were pretty awesome.
Align Center

I have to say, the gift was perfect. We should have gotten a picture of her trying it on!!

Andrea threw an awesome shower. Next time I have to throw a shower, I'll probably copy all the games she played. They were perfect!

The three bridesmaids at the temple.

Liz looked absolutely stunning. The day could not have gone better and I could not be more happy for her and Mike. The weather even cooperated and didn't rain at all.
Daniel and I were so lucky to be a part of their sealing. It made the day even better to be able to witness that special moment.

All this happiness and celebration reminded me of my wedding two years ago.
I thought we looked pretty cute that day.

If you want to see Liz's fairytale Bridal session done by her very talented cousin, click here.

Adventures in Maui 2

Just a few more pictures in our little Maui photo album...

This is the North shore of Maui where the wind is always blowing. We stopped here on the way to the airport on the last day to watch the windsurfers.

Daniel would want me to tell you that this was him. It's not. Although, kite surfing would have been way cool.

What a stud! This is at Waianapanapa state park, on the road to Hana.

Lahaina Front Street. 'Nuff said

One of the many water falls on the road to Hana. This picture looks like a postcard.

Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park

Da Kitchen. A family favorite on Maui. We ate calamari and deep fried ono.

On the road to Hana.

One of the fresh water pools we swam in. Also, the place that Daniel hurt his knee. He jumped off that little peak to the right of the falls. Probably about 50 feet.

So beautiful. We found this just off the side of the road.

The falls in the middle of the bamboo forest.

Another fresh water pool and cliff jumping site on the road to Hana.

Well, that's it! I hope you enjoyed the photos!!