Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vacation...kind of...

The last 10 days, I have been on a trip.  "A vacation?" people ask..."Well" I usually respond "not really, but kinda."  Like I have said before, when I think of vacation, I think of sun, heat, beer and water.  This trip had a few of these factors...the heat, the sun and something cold that passed for beer.  As far as water, there was tons of it but not any to drink, swim in or use for brushing teeth.  No, this was not a vacation but is was an experience. 

This trip was called a mission trip...a trip to Nicaragua.  I am sure that people go there to vacation though...I am told on the Carribean side there are resorts and places that are nice.  I haven't seen that side of the country.  Some day I will...just to get an idea if there is some balance of the poverty that from my standpoint is everywhere. 

Our group got  home last evening so as I write this...my feelings are raw.  They are mixed up and I seem to always feel this when I leave.  I tell myself that I won't do that again, yet every year I do.  Will next year be different?  We'll see how I feel early next year.

We travel to Managua...the capitol city of Nicaragua.  The chaos, noise and poverty is evident.  There is even a smell to it that is different than our air.  It smells of smoke, garbage, mud and humans.  Car and bus horns sound like an angry scream of a nervous mother calling her children in from danger.  The streets are busy...disorganized traffic of older cars and school buses that have seen their day...but they are painted up and put to use there.  It is not unusual to see a man with a skinny horse or a couple of bulls at a red light with a home made cart full of people pulling them to a destination.  We saw motorcycles, people in the streets, ladies with giant baskets on their heads selling what they have to the people in the bus while we wait at a light.

We traveled down the Pan American highway to a small town about an hour from Honduras.  It is quieter and slower...I almost feel comfortable there.  We move into our rooms for the week.  The rooms are tiled, with super hero sheets that have been washed over the washboard and hung over chairs to dry.  It is clean and becomes the base for our work.  At night, though, when I feel the things crawling on me, I realize I am not the only one in my bed...a family of ants join me nightly and bite my lower legs when I sleep.  After a few nights, I don't even notice because I am so tired and emotionally drained.

For 5 days, the medical team loads the bus and heads to a place with little to no medical care.  I am the lead on the team, so as we get the the house or community building, I gather up my energy and head out.  I figure out how we can put 3 providers each with a translator, a pharmacy and an optometry station in a dark 400 square foot house.  Somehow, by the grace of God...we do it daily.

The hardest day was a town called Porterillos.  It was up in the mountains and the bus gave up due to mud about an hour from the area.  We had a 4 wheel drive truck so we loaded the medical bags in the back and people on the bags and headed up.  Anyone who could walk, did.  By the time I arrived, I was soaking wet from sweat and a little discouraged.  Walked in to the church and there were at least 200 people looking to be seen.  Quickly, our team organized the tables and chairs and got to work.  Around 4 pm...it started to rain.  The group decided that we needed to leave or we weren't going to get out.  Tell me, how do you leave a group of folks that haven't been seen and have waited all day?  Not me...I couldn't do it.  A skeleton crew stayed...the nurses, doctor and my husband and the four teenagers...and finished the patients.  We quickly headed out and hoped for the best.  My husband and I plus the kids were in the back of the pick up when the rain started.  If you haven't experienced going down the Pan American highway in torrential rains in the back of a truck...don't. 

Before the rains....

When my adult ADD kicks in and I decide I am done writing...I say to myself...Get to the point.  But today, I am not sure there is a point.  I haven't had enough time to process the experience, to decide if I am ashamed of myself for trying to change a culture to my own or if I am proud that I have made some folks more comfortable with more information and medication we provided.  At this point, it is a little of both.  Hopefully, the pictures will tell the rest of the story....

The countryside is green and lush

The arrival to the town

The exhaustion...sleeping on the bags on the bus

More pure exhaustion

Joy at seeing buddies from prior years

Choosing sides for the "mud lot" baseball game

Getting to tell this mother how healthy her boy is

No answers today...just thoughts and pictures on a page.  I doubt I will know what I think for a long time.  But...I guess I have come to one conclusion.  I was born in the US...they were not.  The norms are different there.  Other than that...I just don't know...and I doubt I will.

We'll tawk later,
I love you all...I really do and have missed you all so much,


Cynthia said...

You say that you have no answers here, but I disagree. I found answers or at least gratitude and humility and grace. You really are a woman of grace and I thank you for posting this on Facebook so that I have the opportunity to follow your blog.

Ms. Moon said...

There are tears in my eyes, Terry. Thank-you for being the soul, woman, love, friend, mother, nurse, wife you are.
You have always amazed me.
I love you.

Elizabeth said...

I was going to begin this comment with "where ya been?" but am overcome with curiosity and admiration. You did your best and in this case, an amazing best. Your pictures speak so many words that are clear and glowing and good. I can imagine your conflicts but feel in my heart that simple, basic medical care, delivered to those who desperately need it -- is something beautiful.

Thank you for your service --

Cynthia said...

Stupid Blogger seems to have lost my previous comment. You say that you do not have answers but I disagree. I received something from this, I do not if you would call them answers, exactly, but I did gain gratitude, humility and grace from reading this. You are a woman of true grace and I thank you for posting this on Facebook so that I had the opportunity to read this and follow your blog. Thank you, Cynthia

sandy said...

It's a cliche, but remember "Better to light one candle than curse the darkness"? You lit a lot of candles, girlfriend, and that makes all the difference. Oskar Schindler did the same. If more of us channeled grace like you do, it'd be heaven here. You ARE the change.