Friday, February 22, 2013

Flying over Boarders

  Last weekend Hope, Courtney, Amy, and I crossed the Boarder into Mcallen, Texas to pick up 35 boxes with 350 donated Spanish Bibles in them.....350 AWESOME Bibles by the way.  The Bible is set up as comic strips for kids.  They are to be passed out at a conference here in Monterrey in April for local churches and people to learn more about Back2Back and become more involved in orphan care.  As we were trying to cross back into Mexico from Texas, we were told we couldn't cross the boarder because the person to declare the Bibles was not working.  The man explained we would have to come back the next day and try again.  We were all a little frustrated because this was not marked anywhere, and we were tired and ready to go home WITH the Bibles.  As we turned around to come back into the states, we sat in an hour and a half line of cars to cross back over.  As we were sitting in our back2back suburban figuring out what our next steps would be, we saw some birds flying in-between the two boarders.  Hope laughed and stated, 
                           "I wish we were birds so we could fly over the boarder."
   I keep thinking of the situation and Hope's comment.  Why can't we just fly over the boarders?  I have been thinking of how often I have let "boarders" in my life keep me from flying or doing something GREAT that God has wanted for me.  These boarders may be other people, emotions, doubt, disbelief, friends, situations, past, etc.  Since being here in Mexico, I have visibly seen so many of these boarders in my life and in the people around me.  God is trying to do great things here, and boarders keep coming up.  These BOARDERS have been seen in a 3/4 year long adoption process, a child being dropped off for the first time at a children's home, an illness, an organization growing and learning, relationships, youth serving Him, programs developing, and many more.  Please continue to pray for myself and the others around me to FLY above the boarders and DO what is right with/for HIM.  
   "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
                                     They will soar on wings like eagles;
                               they will run and not grow weary,
                                they will walk and not be faint."
                                                  Isaiah 40:31
A bird flying over the mountains by our property. (Stevie, I stole your picture!) 

Some of The Bibles! 

In one of the RIO communities this is how they cross over the river to their homes.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

BoDy PaRtS, PEARLY whites, & Lip Gloss

   For the next few weeks I will be working on creating a health education program for the teenage girls in the Hope program here on campus.  What is the Hope program you ask?  The hope program was set up to give "HOPE for tomorrow" to an orphan.  Once a child is too old to stay in an orphan home, and they want to continue their education, they can stay in one of the 6 homes on our campus.  During their stay in the home their house parents, and Back2Back, will support them during their time here.  There has been students who have graduated college and received jobs.  This is just one way that Back2Back is helping to break the cycle of the orphan.    
  OK, Let's 
                take a 
                     few steps back      
   Before I came to Mexico I had been hoping to do some health education one way or another.  I had been dreaming with one of my roommates about doing some health education, especially with the teen girls.  There are two homes on campus with 8 girls each.  Well, my roommate was talking to one of the house parents & asked her if she thought I would be interested in doing some health education with the girls in her house.  The house parent had explained that she had hoped to have some one do this, but she didn't think they would listen if it would come from her.  Because they were all brought up in the children's homes, she explained, many of them haven't been taught the basic hygiene tips maybe we all learned.  They often don't learn those types of things in school either.....  
    Monday I had a meeting with this house parent, and my roommate Jenn, who can speak fluently in Spanish.  We shared our ideas and became very excited.  We are going to make it a two day...maybe even three day event in late January or early February. We are hoping to spread them out on the weekend.  We will decorate the room for the occasion and make learning fun.  I will be going over basic hygiene, safety, and sexual education.  We had talked about giving out little bags with toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, lotion, finger nail clippers, pads(sorry to the men who are reading this), and maybe even lip gloss or nail polish.    
NOW...I am so very excited... But, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed with the amount of material and my ability....or lack of... to speak in spanish.  It has gotten a little better since coming here, but I can't go much beyond a basic conversation.  I often have the deer in the head lights look when I try to respond in Spanish.   I am also trying to figure out how I can actually make some of these "gross" topics something FUN to talk about for a teenager.
** So, here is where you come in...I need much prayer in getting all the material put together.  Eríca, the house parent, just keeps telling me to pray about it... and whatever you feel right about, you will teach.  She also believes my spanish will get better!!! I hope my faith becomes as BIG as hers soon...or I am in trouble! : )  Also, I would love any ideas you would have, OR during all these christmas deals find any good prices on things like nail polish, deodorant, lipgloss or lotion.  I already have toothpaste and toothbrushes, so that won't be a problem.  But, I might need some help getting a few other things! If you are interested in searching or donating, please message me on Facebook or email me at:  Thank You everyone for joining me....and, HAPPY DECEMBER!!     

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Love of a Family

     Imagine for a minute what your life would be like without the love or support of your parents.  Imagine what it would be like if they weren't there to cheer you on at your sporting event, make you a bowl of soup when you were sick, or even be there for your most important birthday.
     Before coming to Mexico and working with orphan children I knew how important the love of a mother and father was.  I knew that my heart hurt for ones who did not have parent's present in their lives.  But, in the last 3 months I have REALLY seen how devastating it can be for a child without parents.  For every 3 year's a child is in an institution/orphanage they lose 1 year of development.  It hurts them physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and with their education.  Some of the children here are orphaned related to their parent's being deceased, but many are for other reasons.  Either the father has left the home and the mother can't afford to take care of the child, or there is abuse or neglect within the home.  In mexico a parent does not have to explain why they are dropping the child off at an orphanage, and they can show up 6 months later for a quick visit.  Because the parent still has custody of the child, that child is likely to be stuck in an orphan home the rest of their childhood.  

*Cheer: There is a group of boys at Casa Hogar Douglas (one of the orphan homes) who started playing soccer with a league.  This is huge for them because they get to feel like they are apart of something, and they even get to wear uniforms!!  They normally play games once or twice a week, and during their first game their two caregivers went to watch them play.  On the other side there was a stand full of family and friends cheering on all their boy's with snack's in hand to give after their win. After that game their two caregiver's had the idea to invite people to the next game.  They thought it would be good for the boys to have more cheerleaders....and it was! The next week a group of us went to cheer on the boys so we could fill the stands on the other side.  The boys just had their first win of the season this past week on thanksgiving!!  It is so fun to go cheer them on, and I can't wait to go watch more.  But, it is hard not to think about how amazing it would be for their own mother's to be there...just like my mom was there to cheer me on at every race and tennis match.    

*Sick Bug: A few weeks ago I was driving back to campus with a couple of friends when I received an interesting phone call from my roommate at 9:30 at night.  She had asked me when I would be coming home because there was one of the teen boys waiting in our apartment to get a vaccination from me.  In mexico they give a lot of vaccinations when someone is ill.  This boy was receiving vaccinations because he had been fighting the flu.  He was on the search to find someone who could give it, and everyone said to come to our apartment.  It was nice to feel purposeful in something I could do, and he was surprised how quickly I could inject it...he also had said it hardly hurt.  But, all I could think about was all the times I was sick and my mom was my nurse.  There is nothing like a mother's comfort when you are sick.  
         This last week I have been working on completing physical assessments for the new teens staying on our campus.  During their physical they have to fill out a form that is required by the DIF (social services here in Mexico) and there are question's that ask about their mother.  It is hard to see them tell me they can't fill it out because they don't know their mother's birthday, age, place of residence, or even their name.  It was frustrating for me to watch a majority of them leave the lines blank.  

Quinceañera:  Last weekend there were two girls from a children's home who celebrated their 15th birthdays.  Here in mexico their 15th birthday (Quinceañera) is a huge deal!  It is equal to a 16th bday in the states....maybe even bigger.  There was a ceremony in the beginning where family and friends joined together, a pastor preached, and gifts were presented.  A dinner and dancing followed the ceremony.  All of us who had never seen a Quinceañera decided it was similar to a wedding with all the decorations and festivities.  The Birthday's were on our campus and a group of staff helped to organize it.  I had the privilege to help decorate and assist with serving, setting up, and organizing the day of the event.  It was awesome for me to watch because I had never been to one.  We completely changed one of our rooms on campus into a completely different place!  Although some of the girls families got to attend, they weren't there to pick out decorations, decorate the cakes, or even help them get their beautiful dresses on.  One of the girls has no parent's because they are both deceased, and the other has a father that is involved at times.  He was able to join later on in the ceremony.  The night went great and the girls thought the place looked beautiful.  Although I was so happy we could give them this party, I couldn't help but think that we weren't their parents or family throwing it.  Most of us, not all, were strangers to them.  None of us were their mother's giving them a big hug telling them how beautiful they looked on their big day.  
We made everything from the center pieces to the hanging lanterns
One of the girls grandmother's made this for the center pieces 
Walking out for the ceremony

Everyone waiting to see them and their dresses

Tons of fun watching everyone dance & have a blast! 
My Minute
I know that when I took a minute to think of my life without my parents I began to tear up.  If it weren't for my parent's support I would not be the person I am today.  I wouldn't have learned at  an early age about respect, hygiene, hard work, social interaction, etc.  I probably would not have had the same experiences or opportunities.  I probably may have never become a nurse.  Yes, I still could have gotten there.....But, it would have been an even harder journey without my parents.  This past week was thanksgiving and I couldn't help but be so thankful for the relationships and support I have in my life.  I also couldn't stop thinking about my nephew Cade and how he is going to have two parents who love him so much when he is born.  I am so very thankful.  But, at times it is so hard to grasp that not everyone will experience the same type of love.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2

The Medical team that spent time serving with us earlier this month  saw around 200 patients in two days.  The count is not exact, because we had ran out of papers to check people in with at one point!  Also, we believe some of the kiddo's ran off with them. ;) A group with Calvary Industries comes down every October to provide medical care to two impoverished communities that Back2Back works with. The medical team this year consisted of a doctor, two nurse practitioners, a few nurses, a couple nursing student's, a PT student, translators, & a dentist.  The two communities they serve are called Rio 3 and Cadereyta.  Rio 3 is a community that is located along a river. *Rio means river in Spanish.  Most of the homes are like the one seen below, and are made of scraps/whatever can be found. There are hundred's of homes along the river such as this.  Some of these homes receive government assistance, but there is a distinct line between those who get help and those who do not.  Cadereyta consists of mostly government homes made of concrete.        
Rio 3

This medical group was special to me because it was the same group I traveled with last October that inspired me to work with Back2Back Ministries.  It was neat to be on the other side of it this year to help plan and make sure things such as medications and supplies were ready for them when they arrived.

All of the staff worked hard together to make sure everyone who arrived was seen. My main job was to help where ever was needed.  I assisted with deciding where to set up,  helped with vitals when needed, checked blood sugars, helped find the right medication's needed, etc.  We saw everything from a child with a runny nose, to an adult living with complications from a life threatening illness.  It was amazing to see people so appreciative for something so simple as a bag of vitamins.  

I will never forget one woman specifically.  At Caderyta the room is fairly small and it feels like it becomes packed with people.  This makes things feel louder, hotter, and a little more crazy.  After seeing the doctor, this blind elderly woman walks over to the pharmacy table to receive her medications.  Myself and another back2back staff member (Amy) attempted to explain to her how to take her medications daily.  Sweet Amy took the woman's hand to let her feel the tablets she would be taking.  The woman then took Amy's hand into her own and brought Amy close to hug and kiss her on the cheek.  She then turned to me and did the same.  In that moment the loud, hot room seemed to be quiet and peaceful.  The woman thanked us and said "Bless you." Amy was able to pray over her, and I was thankful for this experience once more.    

Pulling out teeth right there. Ouch! 

Lisa,Amazing Dr.

Getting all checked

Sophie the dentist 

Some people waiting

I think he wanted to be seen by the Dr. too? 

Some awesome RN's

Jenn doing a great job translating for Laura the NP(the one holding the baby)

One of the cutest, and littlest, patients 

Counting some medications

The pharmacy table all ready to go

 If you, or anyone you might know, would like to come on a medical trip or help with medical donations please let me know!  My Akron City Hospital friends might have some ideas!! ; )  I have so many visions and dream's for the clinic this year, and I hope you all would like to help make them come true!  More on the clinic (which I call my second home) next time.....

Monday, October 8, 2012

Home Sweet Mexico?

It is hard to believe that I have been all settled into my apartment in Monterrey for a week already!  I am living with 3 other girls...their names are Jenn, Jennifer, and Jenna.  I know, it gets confusing sometimes!  Thankfully, each one is so different, but equally great. :) I arrived last Saturday tired, anxious, and excited.  It started with an early morning of traveling from San Miguel, and while I talked to Tim quickly before I boarded the plane, it was weird to think that I was flying "home."  But my home would be in Mexico & not Ohio!  I didn't have to worry about crazy,big centipedes coming out from under my stove OR scorpion's in Tallmade,Ohio.  

Anyway, my good friend Courtney picked me up at the airport, and once again I was comforted by her smiles.  As I walked up the stairs to my new apartment I was nervous about what God had in store for me, meeting my roommates, and trying to get everything unpacked & put together with such a busy week ahead of me.  My roommates were GREAT and greeted me with flowers, cards, and a nice clean room.  It was such a relief when I had arrived!      
A quick look @ our kitchen
Courtney helped me decorate my room & made it feel like home! 

Made sure I hung lots of pictures in my room to remind me of home.  Look at the awesome flowers my roommates got! 
Me, Jenn, Amy, & Jenna after church.  Missing my roommate Jennifer.  Have I mentioned how much I love the mountains here?  Everyday I am amazed by them

I just wanted to give you all a quick glimpse of my home!! I was welcomed this week with a lot of preparations for the medical team.  They arrived on Thursday the 4th & it was great to have them. Although it was crazy, I loved EVERY moment!  I will be posting about it soon!  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hot or Cold?

For those of you who know me really well this probably won't surprise you for a second, but for those of you who don't, I am a little embarrassed to share.  For the first week and a half I was at language school the water in my shower would only get cold, and I  was convinced that the water would never be warm.  I kept turning the "F" knob, as it normally means "Hot."  Every morning I could only stick my head in the shower to wash my hair because the water was cold.  I would finish my "shower" by washing up in the sink everyday.  Out of that week and a half I was only brave enough to immerse myself in the shower once. 

The water was freezing!  

One morning I FINALLY thought to myself, "Why can I get warm water in the sink and not the shower?"  Well, that is because I was turing the knob that had the "C".  After a week and half of bathing in my sink I finally realized I could actually have a WARM shower.  It was one of the best showers I have ever had, & let's just say it was not one of my proudest moment's I have ever had.  This was not the only time I have realized things may not be as they appear (or what I am used to) during my time in Mexico.  Although I have been turning the "F" knob to get warm water my entire life, I should not have assumed the "C" meant cold.  
Getting to the point.... 

Meet the clowns of San Miguel
This past weekend I was walking around the plaza where they were having some festivities for Mexico's independence weekend.  Although their Independence was only for one weekend, San Miguel has actually been celebrating the whole month of September.  As I was walking around, there were families with children laughing, playing, and getting involved with the clown acts.  I was thinking to myself, "I wish everyone who thinks ALL of mexico is dangerous, could see what I am seeing at this moment."  While talking with one of my teacher's, Enrique, the topic about media in both the States and Mexico came up.  He told me that the media in Mexico talks about the United States being dangerous.  

The Headline's Reading: "Don't go to a Movie Premier in the States", or "Don't attend a public school in the State's."

They are obviously saying this because of the shootings that have occurred as of lately.  It was interesting to me only because I don't live in fear while living in the States, even though I am aware of these events happening.  Yes, this is probably because it is my home and I feel comfortable, but the other is because I know God will protect me.  It is weird to think that I wouldn't give it a second thought to go to a movie premier in the States, even though other countries are saying not to do so.  But, while planning to come to Mexico to serve, I had some fear because of all I had heard.  Why had I been so fearful?  Wouldn't God protect me away from home also?  After talking with some of the people who live here, I know that I have to be smart  and careful when being in certain parts of this country.  Especially, not going certain places alone.  But, I also know I would not walk down a dark ally way alone in New York City either.  Yes, I understand that Mexico is not all clowns and laughs, neither is the rest of the world, but it made me realize how often I don't see things for what they might actually be.    

While I am here in Mexico, and when I return home after this year, I hope God keeps showing me things that will help me learn.  Help me learn about different cultures, people, and places.  I pray that my blinder's would come off of what I may have been used to/know, so that I can maybe see thing's as God intended them to be.  If I would not have tried the opposite knob, the one I thought meant cold, I may have never had a warm shower for 3 week's.  I hope God gives me the strength and peace to know that it is okay to try and turn the other knob.  Sometime's we have to step out of what is comfortable so that we can learn, see, or do what He want's for us . 

If we are never willing, or trusting enough to try & turn the other "knob", we may never know if the water is hot or cold.    
One of the streets with flags to celebrate Mexico's Independence

Some people in the parade

At the restaurant we went to they made crepe's right in front of us for dessert. So good!

Another old Church

Inside one of the markets

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Language School

I arrived in San Miguel last sunday, and I have been here a week already! San Miguel was founded in 1541, and it contains many old colonial homes & buildings.  The city is small and the roads are made of bricks & stones.  I actually love walking on the old roads, and hearing the church bells throughout the day.   I have not enjoyed hearing fire works almost every night this week though. The staff at the school have been nice enough to take me around, and tell me all the history of the city.
     I have two more weeks to go before returning to Monterrey.  I have class M-F, 9a-1p.  Although it is only 4 hours of class, my brain feels packed with information after.  I feel overwhelmed at times & think things are never going to catch on.  At the end of week one, I think I am improving, BUT I still have so much to learn!  Everytime I think it gets better, I go out to buy something from a tienda (small store) and think "I have no idea what you are saying, can you please slow down!"  I have 3 teachers, A woman whose name is Socorro.  She is very conservative, stern, and often confused why I am here alone.  My other teacher's name is Miguel.  He is younger, but he is also stern at times.  He is always quick to correct me, which I am grateful for, but at times I crack a smile out of him for saying something really embarrassing.  My last teacher, martha, is also an owner of the school.  She is so kind hearted, patient, and is always trying to help in any way.  I just keep hoping that I will have a good base after leaving here.  I still tend to freeze up when someone outside the school talks with me, so I hope it gets better. :) The rest of the day after class, I either walk around San Miguel to practice my spanish, go to a market, study & do homework, or spend time with Paula.  Paula is the only other student here right now.  She is staying in an apartment off campus, so we often meet somewhere.  She is from California, and is a mother of her own.  She is retired (I believe) and she is here to learn the language to work with a company.  She got connected with an orphanage here that is about 15 minutes away from the school.  She found them just by searching on the internet.  She took it in her own hands to connect with the orphanage & ask what she could do for them.   As they were talking they explained to Paula that they can only celebrate birthdays once every 4 months.  Paula had a great idea and asked if she could sponsor a fiesta for them over the weekend for Mexico's independence day.  They loved the idea and Paula began to plan&prepare throughout the week.  I was able to go with Paula during the week to pick out a piñata, hair bows/bands, candy, etc. for the girls.  I am so grateful for Paula to ask me to join, and for her gracious heart.
    The orphanage "Casa Hogar Santa Julia" contains 33 girls. I believe the range is from 2-18 yrs old.  The 18 year old, Cassandra, is the first to graduate high school from there.  They are all very excited for her & they hope she can get some scholarships to attend College.  Some of the "Madres", the nuns, came to pick us up at Paula's apartment.  As we reached the orphanage, the youngest girls ran to great us with hugs,kisses, and excitement.  Paula passed out some of the gifts she had got them as they surrounded her with excitement and wonder. I helped put some of the bows in the girls hair & they could barely wait for me to finish before they wanted to touch it to see what it felt like in their hair.  One of the nine year old girls gave her gift to one of the other orphans.  The other orphan is a thirty year old who is mentally handicapped.  She was not able to make it outside in time, so this girl gave her gift to her.  Me and Paula were amazed by this girls generosity, and the fact that she was so willing to give up her gift.  Luckily, Paula had something to replace this kind girls gift. :)
    I had so much fun running around with them, picking them up, hugging them, talking with them (well trying to), and just loving on them.  I even enjoyed dancing with them to the music they hd playing outside!  They were over joyed with the snacks Paula bought them, and they loved the fruit salad she made.  They aren't used to getting things like chips & pop, so they were really excited.  They were able to buy meats, potatoes, cake, ice cream, and much more with the money Paula graciously gave them.  It was also a blast to watch them crack open the piñata!  It was out of control when all of the candies and toys dropped to the floor.  Before the time was over, I was able to talk with an american man who has lived in San Miguel for 2 years, and who volunteers time with them.  He began telling me stories of the girls there and my heart began to break all over again.  Many of the girls were there because their parents have issues with drugs, alcohol, and money.  Many of the girls had been beaten or sexually abused from their mother's boyfriends.      
One of the roads all ready for Independece Day!

They Loved the Face Paint...maybe too much! 

All of the girls,some of the madras, Paula, and me
    Last night was a great reminder of why I am here, and it made me excited to get back in Monterrey.  I still don't know what my role will be quit yet in Monterrey, but I am excited to find out.  My time yesterday at the orphanage encouraged me to learn spanish, in hopes that I won't just be able to pick up children and love them, but be able to explain to them how much God loves them too.