Monday, May 26, 2008

The most memorable Memorial Day ever!

Today was probably my favorite day of the whole trip as far as fun is concerned. It is a holiday, so we decided to take one too! The day started off way to early for most of us with a kindly meant wake up call at 5:30 by our Ecuadorian contact. It was highly ineffective in our apartment since none of us got up till 6:10. No fear, we were on the bus in plenty of time, we were not even last! So we drove about 3 hours outside of Quito to the Cloud Forest, which is a beautiful rain forest up here in the middle of the Andes mountains. It was quite cold this morning, so we were all huddled on the bus attempting to sleep. I'm sure someone got pictures of it, but it wasn't me, probably a good thing! After taking our bus across rivers, very iffy bridges and crazy roads we were taken in the back of trucks to a cable car of sorts that took us across a large ravine so that we could hike. We sang the Indiana Jones theme song and decided that we didn't have to see the movie because we were living the story. I promise we make the Disney ride look like a kid on a tricycle! I've posted the video, and I know we are all in different keys-please ignore that! It was a lot of fun and then we got to hike to several waterfalls! Waterfalls are my absolute favorite thing that you can find in nature, followed closely by stars, but waterfalls are first. I was in heaven today-except for the part that we were hiking through some very steep, very muddy trails. Add that to the high altitude, the lack of sleep, lack of food for the day and the fact that we are already all sore- it was quite the challenge for the day. Luckily we got back out before it started the daily afternoon thunderstorm! Of course the best part of the day is that we took a tour of the canopy level of the forest. In order to do this we had to travel by a series of 13 zip lines all around the forest! It was so much fun, and was totally worth the 15 dollars. We even got to do some of them upsidown and such. It was the coolest thing to be soaring above the trees all around the rain forest for about an hour and a half. We then had to get back to Quito which included fording more rivers, more hiking and a long bus ride, but it was a great day! We were in the forest for almost 12 hours and I definitely think that it was the best day of our whole trip as far as things related to us. I am very glad to have all the experiences and clinicals have been amazing, but today was so much fun that we all needed desperately after the past 3 weeks of lots of hard work!

Friday, May 23, 2008

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.”

Despite the fact that I can hardly believe it, our time here in Guayaquil has come to a close. I am actually very sad to be leaving the people here. I have had such amazing experiences getting to know all of them and having the opportunity to serve. I also feel like I am just getting to the point where I can understand what most of them are saying! I guess life is like that. As soon as you start to adjust to things, Heavenly Father decides that you are not allowed to get comfortable. That is how we grow in all aspects, but it is still sad sometimes. I definitely miss many things when they change, but I am thankful for the lessons that I learn with each new experience. I think the people here are actually going to miss us just a little bit as well. This morning I taught CPR at the Psych hospital, and it was definitely an experience. First of all we had some technical difficulties with the video- so we got to do it all on our own. On top of that there was a guy who was following me around with a video camera to get everything that I said. I was slightly ashamed because my spanish is horrible, and i'm sure that if the American Heart Association saw our teaching sessions all of our certifications would be revoked! It was fun to work with all the little nuns, they all wanted to take pictures too. I guess I am slightly disappointed because they all wear white, not black. Oh well. Later we had lunch with the head honchos from the Junta and it was really fun. They seemed to be genuinely sad that we were leaving even though I'm sure we were probably more trouble than help. Our entire afternoon was spent going part to party to say goodbye to everyone. David's Mom threw us a huge pool party and closed the restaurant in order to feed us. It was really nice of her, but we had all eaten so much already that we were forcing ourselves to eat so that we would not offend her. That night the church had a YSA dance, which was also very fun. Dances are quite different here, they are all reggaton and salsa dancing...needless to say we all had a great time and are quite sad to be leaving!

"The more fun you have, the greater your value to yourself and to your society."

So we have been having more fun! This was our last week of clinicals and has been crazy busy, but we still find time to enjoy ourselves! This past Saturday we went to the rain forest Cerro Blanco and hiked for a couple of hours. Then we went canoing down the river in Porto Hondo and had a grand time. The water was kinda dirty, okay really dirty, so we didn't go in but it was still fun. We then ended up the day by going to a Music Festival. It was really fun, and I am even starting to really understand the majority of what is said to me. Mostly I know everyone likes the pictures so here are some more from when we climbed the lighthouse and other such stuff:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

“I figure you have the same chance of winning the lottery whether you play or not.”

Guess what! We are working in the hospitals that are sponsored by El Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil. This is a massive organization that runs 4 hospitals throughout the city as well as schools and many other things. Only about 35% of the costs of the hospitals and their 65,000 employees are covered through payments by the patients. The other money comes from the national lottery. That is right, the lottery pays for the countries health care. No one is turned away from care and all fees are prorated based on the financial capabilities of the patient. What a cool organization!!! We had a big meeting with all the head or the organization and he told us everything that they are working on. It was really cool and we even met in the council room. We had the little microphones and everything at our chairs. I almost felt like I should be in the UN or something!
Well, the hospital is quite different from anything that you see in the states. For starters, it is absolutely huge! I've heard two different numbers, but the general consensus is that there are 1,000 beds in the general hospital. It is crazy and the medical staff are the most creative people I have ever met. I never knew there were so many uses of a latex glove. We were joking that the main text of med school must be 1001 ways to use your gloves. Unfortunately on your hands seems to have been left out on this publication. We have come up with a couple ways of own own!
Another great opportunity we have had is to teach about 100 BLS classes. I have demonstrated CPR so many times that everyone should feel very safe around me knowing that I could save your life! We taught a bunch of the civil leaders the other day and it was really fun. We even made into the paper again. Everywhere we go everyone wants to take pictures with us. I think it must have something to do with the fact that they don't see blonde hair or blue eyes very often. Of course I also never thought I would say that I feel very tall, but it is the case down here. It also helps that we have somewhat become the PR campaign for the church. I can hardly believe that we are in our last week in Guayaquil! Time has flown by so quickly. I will be glad to get back to you all, but it is sad to be done. I am very happy to be able to talk to everyone again soon. I miss keeping up with all of your lives!

Friday, May 16, 2008

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance."

I am now at the Pediatric hospital- which is worlds different from any other hospital in the city. Apparently they get quite a few more donations than any one else. The Cardiologist I made friends with yesterday took me into the Cath lab which was state of the art. He was very proud to tell us that the ENTIRE lab was donated by Mel Gibson, and the doctor had made Mrs. Gibson laugh at the presentation. He was very nice, and was showing me all the new equipment in the ICU. I think everyone though we were med students because we had stethoscopes. Only the doctors use those here, so we were treated as way above the nurses. It was sad to see all of the kids in such bad condition! The highlight of the day was being able to take a bunch of toy kits put together by kids in the states and hand them out to the kids in the hospital. It was amazing to see the happiness that a box of crayons would bring to one of those kids! They were so thankful to get them and some of the kids became completely different people once someone showed then a little care. Sadly we couldn't take pictures in this hospital, so we only have the ones in front. I wish you could see those kid's faces- it makes everything seem to be a better place!!!!

We also have been teaching several heath fairs. Everyone seems to be very excited to come hear the Americans talk. We have done two this week and I think we have 4 more over the next week! I have to admit, we are getting a little tired of the same lessons over and over again. I think this is compounded by the fact that I am teaching injections, and Corey likes to use me as the demonstration...not exactly the most fun part of my job! I also have the distinct feeling that people keep looking at my bum considering we have to show them all the acceptable sites and once again I am the dummy-literally! Luckily we have them practice on oranges...not quite as painful!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No room at the Inn

So in the maternity hospital down here there are an average of 90ish babies born every day. That is a very very large number compared to the 20-50ish that are born in the hospitals back in Utah. As a result we have quite the overcrowding in the nursery. It seemed like we were playing musical babies today. Every time I would pick up a baby there would be another one moved into the bed. Then I would have to go searching for a place to put the one I had in my hands. Eventually we ran out of room and then we got to double up. It was very different. The trick was making sure that when the Moms came, we could find the right baby. Just a bit different than in the states! I do have to admit it was kinda sad to see the Moms going down the lines of babies and looking at the name tags on their feet to try and find out which one belonged to them. It doesn't seem like they have the opportunity to see their baby really at all for the first day at least. How sad for them! The babies that had been to see their mothers usually came back with different clothes, so they were a bit easier to tell apart. One of the little boys in the picture was wearing a shirt that said Future Quarterback. I'm pretty sure the family had no idea what it said-but we thought it was pretty funny!
Of course probably the funniest thing to happen to us is when we all changed into our surgical scrubs. We kinda forgot that everyone in this country is short and round. I don't think anyone's scrubs came all the way down their legs, and I had to wrap the tie all the way around my waist to keep them up!

On another note, we had an awesome party last night that consisted of quite a lot of food, a mariachi band and lots of dancing. David's mom threw him a birthday party at her restaurant and it was quite the experience. I think we all had a great time, and I don't even know what everything I ate was. That seems to be happening a lot down here.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"To love what you do and feel that it matters - how could anything be more fun?"

Actually on top of our work we do make time to have a little bit of fun! Here are the pictures to prove it! Yes, we squished all 21 of us in the 14 passenger van and drove across the city to a restaurant for Aubreigh's birthday. Good thing we are all very close friends- literally and figuratively.
Paige was attempting to scare the shrimp before she ate it. I think the shrimp scared her more!

This picture is a where's- Waldo type. There are about 20 Iguana's in this tree. There is a park down the street where they just run wild all over and there are probably over 100 all over the place!

Disclaimer: I do love nursing and I know what we are doing down here is worthwhile. I really am loving the experience, I don't know if I will ever be able to do anything that rivals the service we have been priviledges to participate in and learn from!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"The Secret to Life is Love"

That quote was on a poster in the maternity hospital today and I thought it was great! It completely described exactly what was going on in that room. There were so many soon to be mothers and new babies there that it was a room full of love. All of those women would give anything because of the love they already had for their unborn children. I had a patient today that did not even know she was pregnant till that morning and was having a miscarriage at 21 weeks. It was one of the saddest experiences of my life to be there with her. I had my camera with me and was able to take a picture of the baby before it was taken away so that she could see it. There was so much going on in the delivery room today that there was no one to even talk to her and she was left sitting on the delivery table all by herself. I was able to stay with her and hold her hand through the whole process.It was quite a painful process and there is no anesthesia in the hospital. My hand was quite sore by the end of it, but I'm glad that I was there for her. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand everything that she said, but I think we were able to communicate on a completely different level. It was an amazing experience. She kept looking at me and just saying thank you over and over again. Of course she was very sad over the events even though she had only known she was pregnant for about 4 hours. It was a testimony to the strength of love and how important family is! The entire experience of being in the labor room was interesting to me. They have a very large room that has on average about 25 women in labor. None of them are making noise, and every single one of them is going without any pain medications! Once they are complete they are moved to another room where the woman must move herself to the delivery table in the process of having the baby. Now I have never had the experience of being in labor but it seems that it must be very difficult for them to move themselves. They also all give birth in one big room with several beds. After a woman is removed they simply wipe down the bed that is covered in a plastic tablecloth like cover and bring the in the next woman. Very different from the states. They also remove the baby almost immediately if there are no problems, and the baby is sprinted out of the room if there are problems. One of my deliveries had a baby that wasn't breathing and had a broken clavicle and I don't think I have ever seen anyone move so quickly as the nurse did to take that baby across the hospital to the nursery. Luckily the baby was fine, and as a note to Bryan and Andrew- not a single of the live babies died during my shift today!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Building Lives

Yesterday was my last day in la communidad, and it was probably the best. We didn't have the opportunity to go around and teach, but we did build a house. This woman's house and been falling apart for years and had finally gotten to the point where she moved in underneath her daughter's house. There were six of us and we were able to go and build her a new house. It was very hard work and we were out in the sun for a very long time, but it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. First we tore down the old house and then we had to dig new foundations for the supports and start from scratch. It was crazy hard since the ground is filled with very large rocks that we had to break up first. It really makes me thankful for what I have! The sides of the house were so dang heavy that I'm surprised that we ever got them up to the house. You wouldn't think that bamboo would be that difficult! It was so much fun though, and the family that we got to know was great. The woman kept telling us if we ever came back that we could come and stay with her. We also taught the kids some English, and that was really fun! We almost finished by the time it got dark, but we were not allowed to do the roof ourselves. I think our teachers were a bit nervous already about us climbing around on the framework before we got the floor nailed in. Oh well, we were still able to get a lot done, and hopefully the woman will be able to move in this weekend!!! Of course to celebrate, we went to the beach today. I realized anew just how white I actually am compared to all of these Ecuadorians! Of course, now I am more red comparatively, but that at least means color. I think almost all of us came back a little sunburned- but it was nice to be able to relax for a while. We also had the luxury of shopping for all sorts of stuff from our towels. Once one person bought something I think every vendor for miles decided to congregate around our tents! It was pretty funny, especially to see some of the people on our trip attempt to bargain. I had to reassure several of them that the vendors wouldn't sell it if they were not making a profit. The point is just not be too ripped off! We finished off the day with a boat ride around the peninsula and went diving off the top of the boat. I'll have to post pictures the Salinas trip later because we didn't take all the cameras!
Another great part of the Weekend was the ward Mother's Day party. They invited us all to sing, but they also hired a Mariachi band to be there for a while. It was great fun! They also had games and dancing. We now have some great footage of "Mama Sondra" playing musical chairs with the Relief Society president. The night wrapped up with some dancing, and they even played some American music in our honor. Now I'm not so sure that Brittney Spears "I'm a Slave" is really the best representation of our culture. Luckily I don't think anyone there knew what the words were!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

" To the World You May be One Person, But to One Person You May be the World"

That post seems to sum up the opportunity we have down here in Ecuador. We have to change to be that one person who makes a difference in the life of one person. Who knows what a change that can have on the world. Today we were back in the same community for the last day and I was so sad about it! We have really started to build up a great relationship with the people and especially with the Gias that we have. One family we had seen in the community clinic yesterday was one of the doors we knocked today. It was so cute because the little girl ran out and hugged us, and then would not let us leave later. We can't go around the community without having a guide so that we don't end up getting into trouble. We have had the same guides for the past two days, and they were so excited to have us back today. It was funny because they always introduced Abby as being from Hawaii and me as being from the United States. They also nicknamed me Sarita, which seems to happen anywhere I go that the people speak Spanish. I actually think it is funny that they introduced us to everyone today because now they know that we actually do care and that we were not just there because we had to be. I think they knew that we were there because we wanted to be and even though we couldn't communicate without issues, we could understand the love we all had for the people of the community. The hardest part was that all the people wanted to feed us or give us something to drink. We didn' t know how safe anything was , but we would take it anyway if we couldn't get out of it before it was offered. We really didn't want to offend anyone, so I ended up drinking far more Coke than I ever wanted to. Of course that is any Coke because the taste is nasty, but hey, nothing lives in Coke so it was probably a good thing for us!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


The many experiences I have had over the past few days have given me a completely new perspective on life. Not only do these people live in some of the worst conditions, but they are happy and thankful for life and the small wonders that we all see every day. Today was one of the best days I have ever had in my 22 years of life experience. Yesterday Abby and I visited a that has a 16 year old girl that no one can diagnose. She has been bed ridden since she was 11 months old and is unable to speak or even really move. Her family is unable to move her because there is a single mom and four children under the age of 12. We took some pictures of the family and we able to get her a wheelchair. Today we got to take the chair to the family, and it was amazing to see how happy they were about it. It was doubly cool for us because the wheelchair had actually been donated by LDS humanitarian services. There was a sticker on the side of the chair that said it was given by La Iglesia de Jesus Christo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias. It was really a cool experience. I think we were all a little emotional during the experience, especially her mom. Unfortunately we still do not know what is wrong with her and even if we did I don't know if there is much that can be done at this point. It makes me very sad that there isn't more that we could do for this family.
It is amazing but the more I get to know these wonderful people the more it seems like maybe they have the better lot in life. Although, it really makes me grateful for everything that we have. n order to get the the areas that we have been working in they have to load us all in the back of the Land Rover that serves as the ambulance and drive us over roads that should not be passable in any situation. The car is really amazing. If you have ever been on the Indiana Jones ride at Disney world this is about 10 times more intense and lasts for about 2 hours a day. In addition, all of us nursing students who spend so much time promoting staying hydrated are purposefully dehydrating ourselves because we don't want to have to use the bathroom why we are out in the community because they don't exist. It is a funny situation. The kids in the community make up for everything that may be lacking. They are all adorable and it has been so much fun to talk with them. My Spanish is about at the same level as the kids learning to speak, so we get along pretty well. Our joke is now that Abby talks to the mothers and I talk to the kids in every house that we visit. Abby was saying that it felt just like she was back on her mission because we are in pairs going through the community and knocking on doors to give a message. Ours just happens to be about physical health instead of spiritual. We also had the opportunity to go to the temple today as a group. It was a great experience to do everything in a different language. I must admit it was quite different from the "normal" experiences of our days (getting stuck in protests, forgotten in the middle of nowhere by the ambulance, having to remember passwords to get through the guards with their big guns, and no air conditioning!) What a blessing to know that no matter where we go the church is true and will always be the same!

Monday, May 5, 2008


Finalmente estamos aqui en Ecuador. It was quite the journey, but eventually we ended up at our hotel. It was a mere 18 hour escapade. We flew from Salt Lake City (see picture) to Atlanta where we had a two hour layover. Then we flew to Quito and from Quito to Guayaquil. Luckily the drivers from the hotel met us at the airport and we were able to go straight there after clearing customs. We didn't see much on our first night here in town considering we were all exhausted. Of course some of us got more sleep than others on the plane. Our first full day was Sunday, and we had the wonderful opportunity to get up way earlier than any of us wanted to and attend church here in Guayaquil. It was a great experience! Of course everything was in Spanish but I astonished myself and was actually able to understand most of what was going on. I must admit, by the end of the three hours I had a headache from concentrating so hard, but the Spanish was also getting easier the more I listened. I have found myself acting as a translator for many of the other students here on the trip-which is something that makes me nervous. I don't speak nearly as well as some of the other people here but if things continue at this rate, I'll be speaking much better in no time at all. Another thing I had reinforced to me today is that the church is the same no matter where you go. I had already experienced this many times, but it was very evident by the time we were in Relief Society. There was a spotlight and a newsletter as well as the fact that, of course, the lesson went over time. By the time we were finished all of the little kids were at the door waiting for their mothers to get out of class. It seems that some things will never change. Some things here are very different! Some things that we have discovered:
~ The water really does drain the other direction- don't worry- we filmed it here.
~ We couldn't find toilet paper when we arrived at the hotel. There was however an Ecuadorian alternative offered

Don't worry, we eventually got some.
~ If you walk in the street they will actually hit you, but don't worry, they will honk first :)
~ A $5 bill is large...they will refuse to accept it at a lot of places. We were big spenders last night. Our dinner consisted of bottled water, Empanadas and ice cream. We spent $1.40.
~ Banks will not change your money if it was printed in the US. Of course, they use US dollars, but they will only break the ones that are printed in Ecuador....I still don't get that!
Anyway, I'm sure we will discover many more things to add to the list when we get out into the community so stay tuned! I'll add more later!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


There is a time when one realizes that they are actually going to do something that you has been in the planning stage for months. For me, that time is now. It suddenly hit me today that in a little over 48 hours I am going to be in a different country and speaking a different language. Now, I have done my fair share of traveling and have been in many countries where I didn't understand ANY of the language, but for some reason I am more nervous about leaving for Ecuador than I ever have been before. I speak enough Spanish to get around, but teaching in Spanish is going to be a completely new experience. I will be okay for the actual presentations- I'm just worried about the end when I have to answer questions. Not only will I have to understand what they are saying, but I will have to know the answer and formulate it into a way IN SPANISH that they will understand. Both simplifying and translating will be a little difficult. This must be the point where you just do everything you can and pray for the rest. It is guaranteed that I will need quite a bit of help over the next month. The most interesting thing has been to try and decide what we can bring down to the people there. We are taking a lot of humanitarian kits for the community, teaching materials, and a bunch of stuff for the orphanages. Maybe because we have been doing so much thinking about how we will be able to serve, but I already have a great love for the Ecuadorian people. I really am very excited to leave, and I know that it will be a great experience. Stay tuned for all of our fun adventures!!!

On a new note, I have left my family in Georgia with my brothers as pre-missionaries for the last time. Bryan is going into the MTC while I am in Ecuador, so the airport goodbye for quite some time. Next time I see my brother he will be speaking Russian! I can hardly believe that my family has grown up so much. I feel like I am going to wake up and realize that I am still in middle school and this was all a dream. I don't know who gave us all permission to grow up because it is happening way faster than I ever imagined that it would. Although, it is a good thing that we have such great opportunities. Now, that I have covered my nostalgic quota for the day, I'm putting up some pictures of my family and some pretty pictures from my plane flight back.