Home for Midland K-12
During the 2010-2011 school year, Lauren Christensen (class of 2008) posted regular journal entries from her year in Peru. She traveled to various villages along the Amazon jungle/river area to provide medical care and teaching.
Note: the following are extracts from Lauren's blog. If you enjoy what you read, be sure to visit her blog and read the full entries.
This afternoon, Steph and I went to JA at 4pm (the Spanish version of AY), and played Bible games and enjoyed a good message about the earth not being our permanent home and we have something much better waiting for us. They are such great people; we´ve never left without an invitation for lunch or to come back for JA.
Tonight we also played social games. Two of the churches in our area got together tonight to play games. For one game, the ladies ran around in the center of the circle and then at a certain point, you tried to find a partner and then did a little jig and then it was the boy's turn to run. It was really funny because half the time Rachel, Steph, and I were without partners because we didn´t understand what we were suppose to be doing!
I see what Peru and her people have made of me since I arrived in August. I am still very young, but this year I have gained experiences that sometimes take people years to learn. God has taken me on a beautiful journey this year, even during the times that I doubted His ability. I have seen women give birth (a miracle by itself, how the heck do you survive that!), I put my own dog to sleep, I have sisters for the first time, I became sure of my salvation, I helped build a shower and a house, have been surprise at people, and fallen in love with Peru.
There are probably many more things that have shaped me this year, but I know that I’m definitely not the same as I was in August. Praise God for that! If I give all of my ways to God and let Him direct me, I can go through Hell and still come out smiling and laughing.
Next week we start clinic again and in 5 weeks I will be home! I can’t wait!
It seemed like there was an endless amount of work to be done and most definitely not enough people. Jenessa and Wendy did triage for about 300 people per day with the help of a lady from Dr. Matson’s team during the week. We had, at most times, four medical students, and during part of each day Dr. Matson or Dr. Matthews would see patients.
I was holed up in my dental room seeing anywhere from thirty to forty patients a day, more often thirty. One day while I was doing dental I had a lady come in and ask me to extract all of her teeth except for one. That was twelve teeth in total!!! She was pretty well aged, but I asked her if she was sure and why she wanted them out. She said they hurt her and she didn´t want them anymore. So, I took out eleven teeth, but I couldn´t see anything wrong with the twelfth one so I told her to keep it. lol.
During the week we also had 3 BIRTHS!!!!!! One on late Saturday night, the other early Sunday morning, and the third was born on Thursday! Wow! That was so much work and we only had one set of sheets and towels for birthing!!! We ended up using some of our own sheets and towels for the second birth since it was so close to the first. I´m convince that the full moon we´ve been having is responsible for this! And I´m pretty sure I won´t be an OB/GYN. Births are cool and all, and seeing the newborn baby with mom is awesome, but it´s not quite my thing.
All in all this week was amazing. We were swamped with patients, our team was stretched thinner then we thought ever possible, we worked passed sundowm every day for eight days straight, but we survived and had a good time doing it.
The baby was in the birth canal for 45 minutes, which is extremely dangerous, and when he popped out, he was completely blue and he definitely had more of an alien head than the first baby. We got the baby to cry pretty strongly, and we finally got him warm, but his extremities were still cold when they left. The umbilical cord was super fragile and tore really close to the skin. We panicked a little because he could have bled to death if we hadn't been able to clamp it. Cecilia had to clamp it pretty close to the skin, so it´s gonna be painful for the baby and his belly button will probably be messed up. She was just too young. She had no idea how to give birth and how important it was to push! She seemed to want to give up every time it started to hurt a little. As a result her baby was very close to having died. I hope everything turns out okay. The dad was 17 or 18. Wowzers.
On Sabbath we walked to a neighbors house and talked to them a while and they gave us curichi and three baby chicks. Unfortunately, the kitchen door got left open and Pili ate the baby chicks. I feel really bad because they were a gift! We just got them and couldn´t keep them safe for one night. But I guess a dog is a dog...
It’s been raining pretty hard every night here since Saturday night, which results in us not having very many patients because the roads can be almost impassable if you get enough rain. Our home right now has turned itself into a lake, and that makes for very interesting trips to the bathroom which sits at the back of our property. It is a true test of balance and your ability to jump over the raging creeks in the dark. I’ve managed not to fall yet, but the day is coming, I just know it!
Sometime this week we are supposed to have a birth with a 15 year-old girl who is having her first baby. I’m a little nervous about it because she is so young, but the sonogram she brought us looks really good.
Before the surgery, I was elected to be the surgeon’s assistant, which in and of itself was pretty cool but terrifying at the same time. I was the only person who Celeste recognized and so I had the responsibility of keeping her calm while they tried to find a vein large enough for the IV. After she was asleep they used an instrument to spread her mouth wide and the doctor began the surgery. I didn’t do very much during the surgery, but I did hold the tongue back so that he could see, and I was holding the suction to keep the area as blood free as possible.
Celeste woke up crying strongly, and she threw up a little bit. When mom was finally allowed to come in, that helped a lot to calm Celeste down, and then after we were released we rushed the family to the clinic to administer medicine for the pain that Celeste would soon feel from the surgery. Life seems so unfair to give a two-year-old a problem so difficult as this. She hasn´t been on this earth for very long and she´s already fighting for her life. We´re praying that everything turns out, and hopefully she doesn´t have to go to Lima because I don´t know where the family would get the money for all of that care.
We waited a total of about two hours for little Diamela to make her entrance into the world. Rachel and I started getting the Consultorio room ready for the birth and Rachel also attempted to get an IV started in between contractions. Rachel had a little bit of a hard time because the contractions were starting to come faster and harder. I boiled water, haha, just like you read about in the Little House on the Prairie type books.
(Editor: this is a very long entry - be sure and read full details on Lauren's blog. Lauren ends with this...) It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! I know it hurts a lot, but what a miracle and what an experience. God designed us in a truly marvelous way!
We will start the campaign next week with eight of the original eleven missionaries. Laura was only planning on being here until January and the two boys Caleb and Chris have decided not to come back. We’re going to miss them terribly! This next week will be quite the test of endurance. Praying for God’s strength. Here goes Peru, round 2!
December 8 - We went to our friend Gady’s house because she invited us to come over for her church’s 4th year anniversary at Ivan Sikic (where we did our first big medical campaign). That afternoon they held a concert with two other churches to celebrate, and during the concert they asked if us Americans would like to sing, too. Well, we did pretty good to come up with six songs on the spot! Then Sunday we returned to help them with a benefit that they were planning for their church. They had soccer games, and each church brought a soccer team that put in 10 soles per team and they also sold lunch to help raise money. It was good to see our friends again; they are always a fun group.
During our big campaign we had a malnourished one-year-old come in to the clinic, and he might have died within a few days if they hadn’t brought him in. We saw him this Monday and he looks so much better! They put him on a baby formula and vitamins and some other stuff to help him to grow and so far he’s gained 2 kg. His name is Wilfredo, and he is quickly becoming my favorite patient. He smiled and cooed at us last time he was in to visit.
In other exciting news, we figured out how to cook steamed broccoli! I’m not really the hugest fan of boiled or fried vegetables, so we got a little creative and took the plastic bags that we use for meds in the pharmacy and filled them with broccoli and a little water. Then, we placed the bags into a pot of boiling water and voila! We had steamed broccoli! Creation of the week. God bless you in the Christmas season!
- Caleb is always there to lift people up and to thank them for their work
- Chris always offers a witty little comments that makes everyone laugh, and he also has good spiritual insights anytime he gives worship
- Jonathan is another one of the funny men and always is betting everyone that they can or can’t eat something be it a turkey foot or a large bowl of sweet potato casserole
- Anthony is the one who always smiles and teases the chicos right back when they give him a hard time
- Rachel and Stephanie are the team nurses when anyone of us is having issues; recently they’ve been getting calls late at night to administer meds for upset bowels and stomachs. They are also my companions here at Km 8, and we have a good time together.
- Cecilia is the newest addition to our group; she’s very helpful in getting bargains when it comes to shopping in the market and she is also a very fun doctor to work with
- Jenessa is the organizer of the group and all of her many responsibilities
- Rebecca is the other teacher who always has available time to talk to anyone who needs to talk
- Laura is always teasing everyone and giving us a hard time
- Hanna is the person who knows everything about everyone in the group; she also keeps us all together and is very concerned that everyone in our group is happy.
- Alfonso is the quietest of the chicos, but he loves to laugh
- Elias is the little brother to everyone, and he hates Monday mornings
- Erick is also quiet, but when he does talk it’s usually pretty funny and good for a laugh. He is also a very hard worker and a leader for the group
- Daniel Pua is Elias’ older brother, and very good at building stuff (like the majority of stuff here at Km 8)
- Daniel Ruiz is well-known for his love of music during worship times, and blasting his computer in the mornings with praise music, in Spanish of course
- Doctor is most definitely the leader of the group, like the dad of the group, and I respect him very much for all of the work he does here. If a man ever had a full plate, he does
- Shirley, the doctor’s wife, is like the older sister/mom figure of our group here. She doesn’t mind laughing at us girls when we mess up cooking in the kitchen, or teaching us better, more efficient ways to cook for so many people
- Hermana Welfa is a grandmotherly figure, and a very stable spiritual example for all of us. Her sermons are very good and personal. She also is great at teaching us how to make empanadas.
November 11 - This week has been a lot of fun! We started building on to our new home at km 8... On Tuesday, poor Rachel was sick from a bad mango, so just Steph and I went to help the boys. They were building the frames for the rooms and they gave Steph and me the job of cutting the wood planks for the walls. Using a hand saw, we cut over 90 pieces of wood! My arms were a little sore at the end of the day, but it felt so good to just work hard and accomplish something! By the end of the day we had completed the front walls for two of the rooms and a door, and the boys had finished clearing the tall grass and such from the property.
November 7 - As of right now, the km 8 property doesn't have a bathroom, shower, or a stove, and we will be hauling our water every day because it doesn't have running water either! This should be a new adventure! :) Hopefully in the next two weeks the manual labor team will make it out there to build us a bathroom and add some more rooms to make it better for a clinic.
October 15 - This week, hmmm, a word to describe it? Okay, maybe three words, recovery, change, and slow. Because of the robbery on Friday we are making a lot of rule changes here at the base. As of right now, I don’t really have a defined job because the mobile team that I was part of is being reevaluated for safety. There are three girls on the mobile team so we need to figure out what would be the safest way to do our jobs. A few other changes such as curfew have been adjusted as well and more lights are going to be installed at the base.
October 5 - Well, we just ended a very exciting week. We went up river this last week to do some clinics in various town along the river. The clinics all went fairly well, and we helped a lot of people. Tuesday we began our adventure up river starting from the Peru Projects launch in Pucallpa on two small boats. In reality, they were more like canoes just twice as wide…The first night we spent on the river was very scary for me. First of all, I don’t have a tent, so that meant that I had to sleep outside, which isn’t so bad except Peru has some unusually large bugs. Fortunately, I brought a mosquito net so I set that up between two tents and laid my sleeping bag on the sand. We had just gone to bed and I was lying there looking at an incredibly clear sky with millions of beautiful stars when I heard this hissing sound. and felt something moving under my sleeping bag! I took my fist and smashed whatever it was through my sleeping bag. Then I thought, “okay, good, I got it.” Not five minutes later, I here that hissing sound again! I turned on a flashlight and starting peering around my little mosquito net tent and right next to where I was laying was this humongous beetle! It was about two inches long and it made hissing sounds! I grabbed my shoe and tried to smash it, but it's exoskeleton was so hard that it didn’t work. I rolled it onto my other shoes and it took me three tries before I killed it in between the two shoes. I had a very hard time getting back to sleep after that...
September 19 - I pulled my first teeth this week! At first it was really scary, because I was afraid of hurting people, but as the week went on I got more confident at it. We had a clinic everyday this week and there were six surgeries. The doctor is so amazing...he does so many things and he sees up to 200 patients in one day! I had a little girl ask me for a Bible this week and fortunately I had brought a little Spanish Bible with me, so I gave it to her. We're starting a week of prayer this week at my church and I'm preaching on Thursday. Please pray for me - I'm not a sure that I can be a preacher!
September 13 - Yesterday [morning] at about 3am the electricity was out until about midnight last night. We don't use electricity a lot so that wasn´t an issue, but we do need electricity so that we can pump water to drink and to cook with. For about half of the day yesterday we were without water. We made the best of it and actually had a lot of fun! When night came, we lit candles and us girls sat around the table and told stories about friends or things we used to do as kids and we read books we each had brought.
September 11 - The most interesting adventures we've had of yet (besides the kitchen cockroaches and giving each other anesthesia), usually involve the bathroom or the shower. We have a huge frog that usually dwells in either place, he looks like he weighs four or five pounds. Also in the bathroom lives a bat. Each time we use the bathroom we have to stomp around to make sure the bat is not going to fly up at us! This morning, early, I was headed to the bathroom and had a double whammy! To start off, I didn't grab my glasses in my half-asleep state so I was pretty much blind. When I got to the bathroom, I could tell there was something on the floor, but had no clue what it was. I got closer and it was that frog! So, I put a bucket on top of him and tried to move him but he wouldn't budge. I put the sack of sawdust on top of the bucket so that he wouldn't jump on me as I was going about my business. As I was preparing to escape from the monster frog, a black object swooped in and flew into the hole below! Safe to say as soon as my blurry vision figured out what THAT was, I started screaming! It was not an experience that you want at 4 or 5 in the morning, especially without your glasses... I quickly got the bag and bucket off the frog and slowly backed out of the bathroom hoping that the frog who was staring me down wouldn't jump. I RAN back to the house. God has definately been working on my character and gives me strength and comfort daily!
September 3 (MAA exclusive) - My first impression... Peru is such a beautiful place! The people here are very friendly, too. The hardest part about being over here is not having consistent communications with family and friends. Sunday, I start dental training; Tuesday we practice anesthia on each other (eek!), and on Wednesday we will practice pulling teeth on a pig. It should be so much fun! This week I have been mostly preparing for my classes and getting to know my fellow missionaries. I love getting to know everyone and my Spanish is improving daily!
August 31 - I'm in Peru! The flight down here from KC all the way to Pucallpa was about 10 or 11 hours with a layover in Atlanta and Lima. I miss home so much! My brother sent me a Bible verse today that really helped me out (Psalms 112:7,8). It helped because when Dr. Mathews (our supervisor), went over the duties and his expectations of us, they were extremely high. I doubted whether or not I could perform the necessary tasks to succeed here as a student missionary. I was scared. But this verse was perfect because it reminded me that my heart is secure in the Lord and there is no need to fear for anything. :) God is good.
August 28 - My name is Lauren Christensen. I graduated from Midland in 2008 and I am 20 years old. On August 29th I leave for Peru to begin a nine-month journey as a Student Missionary. I will be 4 km from a town called Campo Verde, working on a dental team pulling teeth and when I am not doing that I will be teaching English, Music, and Art as a Community Ambassador in different villages along the river. I would appreciate your prayers, thank you! God Bless!