Friday, July 23, 2010


We are having so much fun with Isaiah and Rachel.  Jonas LOVES his big cousins.  He is actually acting better too so Tom and I are ecstatic.  We are looking forward to another crazy busy week with them!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guatemala Part Three

This is a picture from the third day of clinic.  Third day of clinic I was relieved from my vital duties and put in charge of Children's Activities.  This was so much fun but so tiring.  They are so active and busy.  They just cannot wait to see what else you have in your bag of tricks.  Every experience is a new one to them.  Jumping rope, blowing bubbles, playing frisbee for HOURS!  We played memory, they colored, we smiled and laughed at each other and tried to communicate as best we could.  Some of the boys even learned my name.  For some reason they found my name very funny.
After about 3-4 hours of playing with all the kids, and getting a burned forehead and nose, it was time to head up for lunch.  We ate lunch in their new church building that they are still in the process of finishing.  The guys helped paint the inside and outside of the building.  The people of this church each contributed money to help build it.  They are also all pitching in to help build and paint it.  It is amazing the way these people take care of each other and their community.  They contributed 1/3 of their annual income to help pay for the building of this church.  Truly remarkable how giving these people truly are.This is the outside of the church.
After lunch I headed in to the dental area to get out of the sun and to have a brand new experience.  This is where all the teeth pulling happens.  As anyone who knows me, knows I am not comfortable with blood and pain.  The most trouble I had was seeing the little kids sit in this big chair and be so brave while a dentist comes and looks around in their mouth.  I cried twice while in the dental area but I had no trouble washing the tools.  It did not bother me at all!

Future Dr. Banks pulling teeth!These are all the tools that the dentists use to pull the teeth.
After all the dental patients had been seen we had a little time to hang out and take some pictures.  Some of us climbed up on top of our bus just to check out the view.
The view from our last day of clinic was absolutely breathtaking!  My pictures just do not do it justice.  I loved the mountains and how the clouds came rolling in every day right over them.  It was amazing how high up we were!  
The next day was Sunday and we had a short devotional service and were able to commune with each other on the first day of the week.  After an exceptional singing and lesson from Brandon we went into the market.  I LOVED THE MARKET.  There are people EVERYWHERE.  Everyone is trying to sell you things 'for a special price'.  I heard that about everywhere we went!  I loved walking around and watching all of the people.  There was one guy who followed us around the entire time learning our names and really wanting to buy from him. (I eventually gave in)  I ended up getting Tinzley a dress, Jonas a bus, and Tom a ring.  I bought myself a skirt, my Mom a yellow apple, and a couple of scarves.  
I cannot say enough about my experience.  I cannot say enough about the people I met, the people I spent time with, and the people that put up with me on this trip.  It truly was an experience of a lifetime.  I hope that I am forever changed.  I know that I have learned the value of patience.  Already I have been faced with traffic, long lines, and I really have tried to remember the people that waited all day to see a doctor or dentist.  These people will go with me everywhere.  I know that life will get in the way and I will forget some of the lessons I learned but this will always be a part of my life now.  These people will forever be with me wherever I go. Thank you so much to Kayla (STOP IT, my other brain, Are we there yet? BEST FRIEND FOREVER), Theresa (one of the sweetest ladies I know), Dee (for putting up with my singing), Carol (for making me laugh and cry), Colin (for always making me laugh and being a great Christian Man), Nicholas Nickleby (for letting me call you that all week and for all of your hard work), Danielle (for having such a great attitude and a smile that lights up a room), and Taylor (for being such a great listener and a great friend)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guatemala Part Two

This is a picture of where we were the second day of clinics.  It was a little different because we did not have a building to be in this time.  The people sat all day on these benches underneath a tarp.  Dee and I worked together on vitals.  I was getting pretty good at getting vitals.  The only trouble I had was calling the people's names.  I have no spanish background at all so it was hard for me to not sound completely American when reading the names.  One of the woman there came and stood by me and read the names for me and she was extremely helpful.  Whenever I read the names the ladies in the front row got a big kick out of it.  I felt like I had a pretty good comedy routine down.  :) This is a picture of the woman that helped me out all morning.  She LOVED getting her picture taken.
After we got all the vitals taken we had lunch.  Lunch was provided by the village people that we were helping that day.  It was so sweet of them to feed us.  They prepare a ton of food and comes from there own stock of food.  It was hard to not appreciate and enjoy it but the food was definitely different then what I was used to eating.  I did my best to eat what was set in front of me.  These people are just so gracious and hospitable.  They are truly inspiring.  In a way that makes you wonder what you could truly do without.  So much of what we have is just excess.  It is not necessary for our everyday lives.  They have such a sense of community and caring for one another.  I look for that in my own life and hope that it is there.  We really need to start being there for each other and knowing the needs of our brothers and sisters.
After lunch we had some down time to help clean up around the clinic area.  There was just enormous amounts of trash everywhere. 
This couple was so sweet to me.  It is very unusual to see a man hold a baby.  This man held this baby all day unless the mom was feeding the baby.  Just a very different thing to see while I was down there.  Most babies are carried by their mothers or sisters and are carried on their backs. 
After the clinic was finished seeing patients and the dentists had seen all of their patients it is time to pack up and get on the bus again.  Again, I just LOVED the bus rides.  It was so great to see the country of Guatemala and all of the people.  Some times on the way home we would see the people we were just helping walking home.  How amazing to wait all day for a doctor or dentist and then to walk from miles and miles away to see them.  
These people also carry everything either on their head or on their back.  Just amazing the strength and endurance these people have to get around.  While taking blood pressure and pulses I had noticed some of the pulses were incredibly low.  I can only hope that it is because they are in such good shape.

Speaking of working hard.  Some of the guys that came with us definitely worked hard.  They were helping many of the churches in these villages build church buildings.  They carried big cement cinder blocks around all day.  They also did a lot of painting.  Amazing work and I was so blessed to have been able to witness such servant hearts.  This is Nicholas who carried cement blocks all day.  He also helped do some cement building the first day.  

We headed back to the hotel and after day two I was WIPED.  We got back to the hotel later than the other group and not too much earlier than when dinner started so not a whole lot of down time.  I tried to journal everyday but as the days got so busy the journal got forgotten more and more.  We had chicken that night I believe.  (Fried chicken was a pretty popular meal)  We then went to our nightly devo and meeting.  Brandon talked about Being Inspired.  He talked about how would we continuely be inspired and inspire those around us.  It is so easy to see God when you are out in a situation that has no technology distractions, or family/kid distractions.  It was so easy to focus your mind without anyone there to tell you different.  One thing he said that got to me was 'It is time for us to get out of HIS way'.  SO TRUE and definitely something I need to focus on in my life.  We focus so much on time and not having enough or always feeling rushed.  I find myself already becoming so impatient with life.  I hope that this is a way that I can continue to inspire myself and those of you around me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guatemala Part One

I do not know where to start.  I am going to try and just tell all the details and then hopefully I will have a more thoughtful and introspective post later.  
We left from the church building on Tuesday July 6th.  We arrived in Atlanta and got all checked into our hotel room.  On the bus ride I still had not met many people and was still a little nervous of who I would hang out with on the trip.  Everyone ended up being so friendly and such great friends.  That night I stayed in a room with two great girls.  They are both still in college so it was fun to get to know them and to kind of remember what it was like to be carefree with all you have to worry about is yourself.  I definitely had ME time on this trip which was incredible.  That night it was kind of hard to sleep just because of all the nervousness and excitement of the trip that laid ahead of us.  We got to the Atlanta airport around 7:40 and check in was a breeze because we had printed our boarding passes ahead of time.  Once we checked our bags I told Miss Dee that there was no turning back now.  :)
We had plenty of time to get a snack and relax before we boarded our plane.  
Once they started boarding the plane is when I really started to get nervous.  I still did not feel like I knew anyone really that well and here we are about to get on a plane to another country and these are my links to reality.  The plane ride was very smooth and it was long but went by relatively quickly.  (The in flight entertainment helped, Date Night)  We arrived in Guatemala city around 12ish?  I really had no idea what time it was the whole trip.  Which was very nice.  Customs was extremely easy to get through and no one lost any luggage.  Leaving the airport you are greeted by a ton of people waiting for relatives to fly in.  Unless you are a passenger you are not allowed in the airport.  So it was pretty interesting the way we were greeted.  We met up with our group leader, Rick, and met some other people we would be spending the week with on our trip.  Some of them were even on our plane from Atlanta.  We were waiting on our bus to arrive and also for some more planes to fly into Guatemala.  I ended up riding in the van instead of the bus.  We were given fried chicken to eat in the van.  We made a little pit stop on the way where I had my last Milky Way for 5 days.  Chocolate was not very big in Guatemala.  We made it to the Hotel Santo Tomas around 4:30.  My roomie, Dee and I got to take a nap while waiting on the other group to arrive.  Dinner was always at 7 every night.  The nap was exactly what I needed because I had gotten a little headache from the plane and van rides.  Breakfast and Dinner was eaten at the Hotel everyday.  The breakfast was the easiest meal for me to eat.  Dinner was always a meat and a starch.  I did not eat a whole lot at dinner.  The first night it was roast beef with some sort of sauce with rice.  Most people drank coke but I would get bottled water every night since we could not drink the water out of the tap this was one way to get water.  We had a meeting that night after dinner and a little devotional.  We found out where we would be going and what we would be doing at the meeting.  I found out I would be taking vitals.  I had to ask what that meant.  It was taking blood pressure, pulse, weight and temp.  As I have no medical experience at all I was a little worried about this assignment.  I was told how to take blood pressure by two different people and I was afraid I would not be able to do it.  Luckily when I got to my clinic the woman that came with us had a digital blood pressure machine so I got to cheat for the two days I had to take vitals.  :)  I did have to take 5-10 babies pulses.  That was not as fun because some of them were really afraid.  The language barrier also proved to be difficult sometimes but it is amazing how hand signals are universal.  :)  The first day of clinic we were in a church building.  The dentists set up there station with three lounge chairs that you would find by the side of a pool.   They have 4 bins of liquid to clean the tools for pulling teeth.  These people just sit there and get there teeth pulled without flinching or making any sort of noise.  They get numbed but I do not know how much that helps.  
We only had one little boy that was upset and crying.  The other thing I was so impressed with was that these people wait all day to talk a doctor or dentist.  They get there around 9 or 10 and we did not get done until 4 or 5.  They wait ALL day.  How patient someone must be to wait that long.  They do not get upset or frustrated or angry.  They wait happily knowing they are going to get the care they need.  This bus is what we rode in every day to get to the clinics and back to the hotel.  I was probably in this bus for 12 hours total.  The roads are muddy and bumpy and very narrow.  They also are winding up and down mountains so sometimes you could look out your window at a 1000 foot drop or more.  I actually really enjoyed the bus rides.  One member of the team told us of a saying Let Go and Let God.  This was so true when riding in these buses and on these roads.  Sometimes you just have to have faith and hope that God is with you always.  I truly felt this way on this trip.