Mi Viaje

This blog will detail my South American adventure in Peru this summer from June 22 - July 27! For the first four weeks, I will be living in Piura at a community parish, Sacramento Santisimo, with 9 other students while completing my Community Health Nursing Clinical. For my final week abroad, I will travel to the Cusco region to hike along the Inca Trail to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World - Machu Picchu. I am extremely excited for this life-changing experience and look forward to sharing it with you!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Oscar Romero's Prayer

This prayer explains how I feel about the work we have done in Piura for the last month as well as all service work. Every little bit counts. It's important that we don't let the fact that we can't help everyone prevent us from trying to make a difference in the lives of just a few. It's also amazing how the kindness and generosity of one person can start a chain reaction in others. :)

"A Future Not Our Own (also known as ‘The Long View’)

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Source: http://bogners.typepad.com/church/2004/03/the_prayer_of_o.html

Friday, July 20, 2012

No es adiós, es hasta luego

“Friends in your life are like pillars on your porch. Sometimes they hold you up and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it's just enough to know they're standing by. - Elizabeth Foley

First of all, I must admit that I have majorly failed with keeping my blog updated.  This last two weeks have been especially busy because we had our individual teaching presentations, our large (25-page paper + 30min presentation) aggregate project due, and a medical mission team visiting as well.  We were all working 12 hour days in village clinics and in the OR helping with hernia surgeries, as we finished our projects and had final evaluations .  I must admit we’re all extremely tired, but I really enjoyed working with and getting to know the phenomenal doctors, nurses, translators, and other helpers in this missionary group.

I honestly can’t believe that our 4 whirl-wind weeks in Piura are already over.  This last month at Santísimo Sacramento was hands down the most rewarding and transformational experience of my life.  I look forward to sharing more of my stories with family and friends when I return home, but there is a part of this experience that was so personal and entirely my own – words and pictures just can’t quite capture its essence.  I am positive that a piece of my heart will always remain in Piura with my beloved friends and family, and I refused to say goodbye yesterday and this morning.  After many tearful "hasta luegos" with my Piuran family, friends, and parish staff, we flew back into Lima this morning with empty bags (I left a lot of clothes, toiletries, and medical supplies for the parish to distribute) and hearts full of love. 

After we arrived in Lima, we were met at the airport by a tour guide, who would be showing us around Lima for the afternoon.  After we all threw our luggage in the back and piled in the van, our tour guide told us that our driver was “better than James Bond.”  We soon found out that he really had to be with all of the crazy drivers!  As we found out in Piura, there really are no rules to the road here in Peru. The traffic was unbelievable - there were tons of cars that were constantly switching lanes, street vendors, and people walking in between the cars on the tiny streets.  While we drove and took in the city, we learned a lot about Peru’s capital, known as “The City of Kings.”  There are about 29 million people that live in Peru and 30% of the population lives in Lima.  We observed lots of balconies the many different styles of architecture – which has changed many times because of earthquake repairs.  The city is right on the Pacific coast at the foothills of the Andes.  The weather is usually very foggy and very humid, making asthma one of the leading health problems.  

Our first stop was at a church dedicated to Santa Rosa – one of Lima’s 5 saints.  Coincidentally, she is also the patron saint of nurses!  It was very interesting to learn about her life in Lima, seeing the place were she was born, worked as a healer, and was originally buried.  Before we left, we all threw our petitions into el Pozo de Santa Rosa.  

Next we went to one of Lima’s many museums.  We didn’t have time to tour the whole thing, but our tour guide took us to the archeology exhibit.  We learned that there were actually 87 different cultures in Peru before the Incas, and we noted the differences between all the different artifacts. 

For lunch we went to a small restaurant, Los Bolcones,” near the main square.  They had a very large menu with lots of options – some people got the hamburgers they had been craving and I decided to go more traditional.  I had fresh squeezed apple juice, papas rellenas (fried mash potatoes with meat and olives inside), and some grilled local fish.  It was cheap and delicious, and we were largely entertained by the Peruvian soap operas and ’90’s American music playing in the background! 

Next, we went to the Plaza de Armas – which is the location in which the city was founded.  Surrounding the square is the Arch Bishop’s palace, the President’s home, a large cathedral, and a couple other governmental buildings.  In the center of the square was a fountain, which our guide told us will be filled with Pisco (a popular Peruvian liquor) instead of water on July 28th, Peruvian’s Independence Day! 

We ended up skipping the catacombs (unfortunately) because many of the girls in our group were tired and didn’t want to pay to get in.  However, we finished off our afternoon by visiting Barranco - a quaint part of town that is right on a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean.  We walked over the Bridge of Syes (sp?) which were were told is a romantic place for lovers.  They say that the first time you visit, you’re supposed to make a wish and cross the bridge while holding your breath – if you make it across without breathing your wish will come true! The view was very pretty and we had a nice time talking with some of the local street vendors/hippies about their handmade artwork and living our lives with positive energy. One guy that we met even made Ellen & I pretty rings on the spot, por gratis. :)

We then headed back to the hostel for the night and said our goodbyes to Shannon, Hope, and Kat, who are heading back to the states tonight. We’re hoping to get to bed early tonight because we have taxis picking us up at 0500 to take us to the airport.  Next stop: Cuzco!

Buenas noches,
<3 Lisa

p.s. I'll upload pictures hopefully when I have a better internet connection!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

El Último Domingo

 “Friends in your life are like pillars on your porch. Sometimes they hold you up and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it's just enough to know they're standing by. - Elizabeth Foley

This morning we went to San Jacinto for mass, as usual. The people blessed us and the new medical missionaries for a successful week serving the Piura communities.  I was excited that my little amiga Rosi found me again after mass!  Exchanging pulseras de la amistad, I said my goodbyes to Rosi and her mother, because this is our last Sunday in Piura! It’s absolutely unbelievable how much too fast this trip has went.  After having a delicious lunch of traditional Peruvian foods, we headed back to the parroquía for the rest of the afternoon to finish up our aggregate projects that are due Tuesday.  However, a couple of us ended up getting pulled downstairs to help record intakes and vitals with some of the medical mission team who was doing the final screenings for the hernia surgeries this week. We did finish our paper and powerpoint presentation this evening, which was lucky because we’ve got a busy week ahead of us! 

This has been the one time in my life when I haven't felt extremely short!

Amigas :)

Buenas noches,
<3 Lisa

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hella Chill

Today was pretty low-key -- or "hella chill" as PBN would say, lol. This morning, we went to San Jacinto like usual with the new missionaries for Sunday mass.  I was excited to see my little friend Rosi again this week! Her mom said she just couldn't stop talking about her amiga, Lisa. We chatted for a while, and then I bought them some ice cream before I said hasta luego. :) We had lunch again outside at the church, complete with a delicious cake for dessert. (I swear I've eaten more cake here for birthdays and celebrations than I usually do in a whole year!)

Rosi & I!

haha :)

Today we had the afternoon free, so we took a walk to the movie theatre nearby.  Although the movie was only 6.50 soles (less than 3 USD), we ended up not seeing Spiderman because it didn't have English subtitles. Instead, we all relaxed and then got to work on our big aggregate projects and individual teaching projects that we will be presenting this week to various groups. Ellen and I will be presenting to Vaso de Leche, the women's group here at the parroqia. Ellen is doing hers on hypertension and I'm doing mine on osteoporosis. Both of these have been very common problems we have identified while out in the villages doing our home-visits. 

I ended the evening playing with our family and a bunch of the kids after mass, almost missing dinner in the process! I also got to skype with my family and best friends from home, which was MUCH needed. The homesickness is starting to kick in a bit...

Missing you all,
<3 Lisa

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Busy, Busy!

I realize I have skipped a few days of blog posts!  It's been a busy week, so I will finish my updates this weekend! 
Stay tuned,
<3 Lisa

Casa de Nazareth

This morning I was assigned to a clinical at Casa de Nazareth which is a day center for los ancianos (senior citizens).  The woman in charge of the center was very happy to see us and put us to work right away!  We made our way around the entire place getting to know everyone and recording their blood pressures (Ellen and I have become experts at taking manual BPs over the past two weeks.)  All but maybe two of los ancianos had presiónes altas  – the high score of the day was 230/110! (Es muy peligroso. A healthy blood pressure should be below 120/80.)  I used this opportunity to to some teaching with los ancianos about hypertension and any other health concerns, any medications they were taking, healthy diet, the benefits of exercise, and the dangers of high BP.  To follow up with this, Ellen and I did hand massages to help with stress reduction – many of the people told us how they had pena (suffering) both physical and emotional, but were so thankful that we had come to visit them.  Unexpectedly, I also had to do some wound care!  The director of the house came running for me because the cook had sliced her finger with a knife!  Luckily we were able to stop the bleeding and bandage her up with some antibiotic cream and a Disney princess bandaid. :)  To end our morning, we danced with many of the people to get them up and moving around!  They all really got a kick out of my dancing and started calling me la bailarina.  It was sad to say goodbye because I had such a wonderful time getting to know the people – learning about how they were feeling emotionally and physically and hearing stories about their past and their families.  I hope that I have the chance to return to Casa de Nazareth very soon!

She wanted a picture with us after she was all bandaged up. :)

Taking blood pressures.

Hand massages.


Before lunch, my group for the aggregate project took a trip over to Casa de Maria for a tour with a lawyer from the parish.  Casa de Maria is both a transition home for young women who are working or in school and a shelter for abused women abused and their children. It was nice to finally see the home and meet some of the women that live there, so that we could start to think about possible nursing diagnoses and interventions for this aggregate. I found it funny when one of the girls at the house asked us very innocently why our hair wasn’t black.  We simply told her that our parents were to blame. :)

In the afternoon Ellen and I were at the hospice again.  We were assigned to similar tasks as in previous days – position changes, personal hygiene, passive ROM exercises, tracheostomy care, NG-tube feedings, etc.  I however did finally meet Manuel, a patient at the hospital, today!  I hadn’t had him as a patient until today but have heard stories from the other girls about him throwing things, yelling, and refusing to have his vitals taken.  I guess I was lucky to have caught him in a good mood, but Manuel not only let me take his BP, temp, pulse, and respirations, but we had a nice conversation ending with him singing for Ellen and I. :)  To end the day with a bang, I also had the opportunity to put in an nasogastric tube for the first time!

El gatito at the hospice. I almost stepped on this little guy!

<3 Lisa

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Manchas Misteriosas

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  ― Mother Teresa

This morning Ellen and I were in the hospice again, and our responsibilities were very similar to those yesterday.  However, I can say that my experiences at the hospice have honestly been some of the most challenging moments in my nursing career.  I have on occasion just had to step out of the room to just take a moment to breathe and collect myself.  The work we do is by no means glamorous; however, I think that providing end of life care is a really important experience for all nurses to have.  Two of the patients can’t communicate at all and have muscles are so contracted that they can barely even move one hand. I will never forget the looks and cries of pain that I have heard, while having no pain medication to give.  We do the best we can with what we have, but I wish that I had more time to just sit with a couple of the patients and keep them company.  I just pray to God that these poor souls won’t suffer much longer.  On the other hand, I have also really enjoyed getting to care for the patients that are more responsive.  Felix (a man with cerebal palsy) loves to joke around with me and has the most contagious smile, Maria makes beautiful crotched doilies, and Manuel loves to sing (however, the other girls warned me that he has been known to throw things and spit).

In the afternoon, we were out in Piura doing home visits with a woman from the parish, Flor.  The first house we went to had two patients that we were going to see, an older woman and her pregnant daughter.  We spent the majority of the time talking with the daughter because she was 40 years old and was having a lot of dietary problems associated with her pregnancy since she had severe GERD and nausea.  We did a lot of teaching with her about the importance of a healthy diet when you’re pregnant and got creative in brainstorming ways that she could improve hers.  Her ultrasound and labs from her obstetrician were normal, but we did teaching about with her about when she should contact her doctor since she is at a great risk with her older age.  When we were walking to the next house, we were stopped on the street by a mother who asked us to look at her daughter.  The girl had white spots all over her skin that were peeling.  She told us that she hadn’t been out in the sun and the manchitas had been progressively getting worse for the past 7 months.  Her doctor had thought that maybe her skin condition was due to the environment but the cream he had given her didn’t seem to help much.  After talking with them for a while we headed to the next house, which was a bit nicer than the ones we have visited previously.  The woman, Isabel, we went to see was extremely kind and happy to see us.  However, because she is very busy and has a lot of stress in her life with her children and sick mother, she has been letting her health go.  We did a lot of teaching with her about her h. pylori chronic gastritis; however, she told us that she didn’t have the money for all the necessary medications.  (This is one of the most frustrating parts often times – I wish I had an endless supply of medications to give out!) We did discuss with her about an appropriate diet and the possibility of using natural remedies to help her gastritis.  Isabel was a very faithful and religious woman, and told us that she had faith that God would take care of her and thanked Him for sending us to see her.  On our way out, we had the privilege of meet her son and a few of his friends, but we saw that they too had the manchitas misteriosas on their foreheads...

A picture with Flor after our home visits.

After an unusually quick mass, I was talking with Erika and she pointed out that Christian had these unusual white spots (manchitas) on his face and arms. A couple of the other kids had them too. They all looked very similar to the ones that we had seen earlier in the day on the kids in town... After dinner we went out for ice cream at the heladeria near the parroquia.  The flavors were very intense and delicious, almost more similar to gelato.  When we got back to the parish, a couple of the young women that work here at the parish and I had an impromptu dance session.  I taught the group Salsa and Bachata and Carina taught me Cumbia & Merengue.  There is talk of there being a fiesta for the Fourth of July, so we’ll be ready to show off our dance moves tomorrow! ;)

Buenas noches,
<3 Lisa