Thursday, March 31, 2011

El Salvador: Day Three (and Four)

Buenos Dias, mi amigos!  I'm writing after our break day at the beach.  I had a wonderful time just sitting in the shade, reading, enjoying the view of waves crashing on the beach and then dipping in the pool, which had a fair-sized crab along the wall.  He was rescued and brought back to the ocean.  And yes, Mom, I got a little sunburned.  We all really need the time off, to recuperate and rest before our final push for the last two clinic days.  Tomorrow we are going to Remar, the orphanage.  I think it's going to be a tough day for me, emotionally.   Those sweet orphans are tugging at my heart strings right now.  We'll see...

Yesterday, though, was quite the day in El Sunza!  We set up in a school and things were pretty steady all day.  We like those kinds of days in pharmacy.  We don't want to wait for patients.  We like to just go, go, go all day.  (Hence the need for a rest day!)  There wasn't a huge line until closer to the end of the day.  Then things got a little harried.  People started pushing into the room a bit and it made me a little nervous.  They actually slowly pushed the table we were counselling over, further into the room.  So, I put on my teacher hat and raised my voice, asking them to "Sientese, por favor!" (Sit down, please!)  That didn't work for too long, so I simply pushed the table back.  Yup, little me.  We miss Dashina on these days, because she would get her mother hat on and yell at them all to just move back and wait patiently.  She's from Guatemala and has always been with us in the pharmacy, until this trip.  Things settled down soon enough, but it was definitely tense for a bit.

I took some time at lunch to walk around and take some photos.  Here are some of my favourites:

Checking out the glasses a family member would receive.

Had to take a photo of this girl.  Her name is Ariana, 6 1/2.  My daughter will get a kick out of seeing someone with her name.  I showed her and her mom a photo of my daughter and they thought that was pretty fun.

Dental area, working hard.  They loved the open-air.  Much cooler than a stuffy room!

Some kids hanging out.  I'm not sure if they'd seen the doctor yet.

Such a sweetie!  I couldn't resist a photo.

This 81-yr-old woman was waiting to see the doctor.  Her name is Adonica and she had never had a pair of shoes!!!  We gave her a pair of running shoes at Distribution.

With all the blessings we passed along to her.

Two sweet boys playing in the courtyard.  They were actually banging those bricks down on the edge in front of them!  Boys will be boys, no matter what country you're in.

It seems the weather may not be so great for the rest of our stay.  We still have two clinic days, one of which is in a slum, no walls or roofs to protect us from rain.  Please pray for clear weather for us!  I'd better get to sleep now.  It's going to be busy, regardless of the weather.

By the way, for more photos and stories, you can check out the Speroway blog here.

Buenos Noches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

El Savador: Day Two

It really doesn't feel like only day two.  It feels like we've been here for a while already!  We've done so much work so far.

Today we were in a community called Santa Maria Ostuma.  I don't have a final count, but medical was around 570.  The mayor and other dignitaries were there to greet us with a little speech and a plaque.  They put in a lot of prep work to make things run smoothly.  We set up in some community spaces, not sure exactly what they were before we moved in, but it was not a school.  The rooms were much larger and, thankfully, cooler than yesterday's.

Our day went fairly smoothly, a little slow at times.  And although we don't like to wait for patients, it did give me a chance to take some photos.  But first a couple from yesterday:

One of the little cuties I got to provide with meds.

We even take care of our security detail.  This particular police officer was with us last year as well.  She's tough!  And yes, that is a semi-automatic weapon on her shoulder.  They carry them around all day, along with at least one hand gun, maybe two.  We are well-protected.  That's Douglas, one of our interpreters counselling with her.

This is Flor, counselling with a whole family.

This afternoon was a bit crazy.  We really had to stop seeing patients so we could get out of there at a reasonable time, but there were still about 100 people in line.  Unfortunately, sometimes this happens.  We just run out of time.  Some of these times it's important for us to leave on time because if we stay later, we could be in danger.  I don't know if that was the case today, but I do know it was a long bus ride home, 1 hour and 40 minutes!  So, even though the medics stopped seeing patients, we gathered up some Medbendazole and vitamins and the medics handed them out the people in the line, while we gave meds to the last people and dental started packing up.  It's sad that some of these people walked for a couple of hours to get to our clinic, only to be turned away.  It's truly out of our hands, especially when the police are telling us they're concerned about the crowd forming.  We don't feel good about telling people they're too late, turning them away empty-handed.  It's very difficult to do that.  But there are things we just can't do and one of them is stay until every single person in line is seen by a medic, even when it's starting to get dark.  It's times like that when I remind myself that those people are in God's hands.  He is there, even when we're not.

As I mentioned earlier, I got the chance to take a number of photos.  Enjoy!

The line greeting us when we arrived.  Click to get a better feel for this.

The sugary coloured water that everyone drinks, being poured into a bag.  That's the the way they drink it.  But we really wish they wouldn't.  Just an example of the poor diet.

We saw a lot of people in their 70s and 80s, with some even older.

This sweetie was waiting for her mom to finish with the sugar drink.  She just would not smile, no matter what I did.  It's good to see her drinking bottled water.

A little guy who was completely enthralled by what Chris was telling his mom.

Well, it's off to bed for me.  Thankfully tomorrow we don't have as long a drive.  We're going to the home town of one of our dental assistants and her brother, both of whom are with us on this trip.  Pretty neat!

Buenos Noches.

Monday, March 28, 2011

El Salvador: Day One

I am back from a delicious dinner and just before I fall into bed, I thought I'd post a little update about how our day went.  I don't have time for photos, and honestly, didn't have a lot of time to take many.  I will try to have some up later this week, maybe tomorrow or Wednesday.

Our first clinic day was at a community called El Cedro.  FTC has a feeding centre there.  Five times a week they feed 83 children!  Amazing.  We set up in the school of that community, taking over classrooms and changing them into Dental, Medical, Pharmacy and Distribution areas.  We were able to give some hope to 604 medical patients and 65 dental today.  669 people felt the love of Jesus and were given a brighter tomorrow.  It's incredible what 25 Canadians, when joined with local El Salvadorans can accomplish!  God is so good, allowing us to serve in such a wonderful way.

I heard a couple heartbreaking stories just tonight over dinner. One woman hasn't been sleeping well because her two brothers were recently shot to death.  We gave her something to help her sleep.  Another woman told of being shot in the head, while riding a bus through a gang fight, just a couple years ago.  She was holding her baby, spent 8 days in the hospital and part of the bullet is still in her head!  I know that both these women will feel better, no matter what their symptoms because someone was willing to listen to them.  We don't just give out meds, we also hand out love.

If you've spoken to me about this trip before we left, you'll know that I had a goal of doing some counselling with patients, explaining in Spanish what their meds are for and how to take them.  I had been doing some practicing before we left.  It turns out that only one of our Canadian team is actually doing the counselling, my husband, Chris, because of the way we set things up with our two translators.  So I may not reach that goal this time.  We'll see, but I'd be okay doing it this way.

Speaking of translators, Flor and Douglas are incredible!  We get all the medications together, put them in nice neat piles on a table and they explain everything to the patients.  They are on their feet as much as the rest of us and they're talking almost non-stop.  Almost all our translators are Grade 12 students from a local school and I have to say, we are pretty blessed by them.

I spent the whole day on my feet, filling prescriptions.  No bagging drugs for me this time around, although I think I'll need to take a few breaks and do just that tomorrow.  My legs and especially my feet are so very sore right now.  Hopefully a good night's sleep will take care of that and I'll be raring to go for our early departure, 7am!

Now I'd better get to sleep.  Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for me, my husband and our whole team!

Buenos Noches.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

El Salvador: Prep Day

Hola, mi amigos!  I am writing from sunny, warm, comfortably breezy San Salvador, El Salvador.  Today the weather is beautiful and it's a good thing because we did a lot of prep work for our week.

There have been an incredible amount of issues and problems we have had to deal with, even before we left Canada.  First we found out that our team from Guatemala, a group that comes with us each and every mission, would not be coming this time.  They needed to stay in Guatemala to help with another team from the US.  We also discovered that a man, Efrain, who does a ton of leg work for us before hand, such as purchasing all the medications we hand out, was fired from his position and wouldn't be here, either.  That also meant, no drugs.  We found all this out last Sunday, a week ago.  YIKES!

Then, when we arrived at the airport, we found out that 3 of our medics had either an injury or family crisis and wouldn't be coming with us either.  Another YIKES!  We also discovered this morning that our 1000s of patients sheets were photocopied incorrectly and that some of the meds were just too expensive or not available. 

(Just as an aside, being a Christian, I, and other members of our team who are also believers, firmly feel that Satan is trying to side line us.  He's fighting hard to keep us from doing the work God has placed us here to do.  Please pray for our spiritual protection!)

So, what does all this mean?  There was some serious scrambling this week to purchase meds, copy sheets, find more medics, and just make sure we had everything we needed.  It also meant that when we arrived, we had a lot of preparation to do.  The boxes where we keep the medicines as we dispense them were still empty.  This is something that is usually completed by the Guatemalans before we arrive.  On top of the usual prep of bagging children's chewable vitamins and Mebendasole, an anti-parasitic med, we also had to fill the boxes, and make sure we had all our drugs. 

The chewable vitamins, to be divided into bags of 30.
The big bottle in the front of this table is the Mebendazole, divided into different numbers for families.

Boxes of meds, ready for our distributing boxes.

Distributing boxes, almost ready to go, lined up down the hotel hallway.

Other team members went through the dental equipment and made sure it was ready.  Some worked on getting the items the medics would need ready.  Still others sorted through the huge pile of donated items for distribution. 

Boxes used to sort items for different days.

The piles are big, which is great.

Checking if the individual items are suitable.  We got a lot of used clothing, not in good shape this time.  Take note, if donating used items, make sure they look almost new, no holes or stains, please!

As I'm writing this, Chris is meeting with all the medics and they're going over what types of sympotms they can expect to see, diagnosing, how to fill in the patient sheets, etc.  It's been a busy day, but the fun hasn't even started yet, really.  Tomorrow is our first clinic day and we'll be busier than we were today by far!  But it's what we're here for, to work, to help, to bring God's love to these people.  I can't wait to see who will touch my heart tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Masculine Cards, Mostly, and Special Japan Stamp Set!

I've got a quick post before I leave for El Salvador!  We're heading to the airport for 8am on Saturday.  It's going to be an interesting trip since we've had a few hiccups come up just this week.  Stay tuned here for updates and photos.

Since we're going away, my calendar hasn't been full of workshops, gatherings, etc. and I've had a chance to play, just for the sake of playing.  I'm really enjoying one of the workshops in Wishes, which I used for my own bulk birthday card workshop earlier this month.  I'll post those photos when I get back.  I've only got a few done from this set using Lucky, but I really wanted to share them and I promised another consultant I would post them soon.  The Just Because workshop allows you to create 20 cards, 2 each of 10 designs.  I had fun making them each individual.  And although I was thinking mostly of masculine cards, I ended up making a couple more feminine ones as well.  I used the Lucky Level 2 paper kit, our new Kraft paper (love, love, love working with it), Olive cardstock and our Colonial White card bases.

 Card 1:

Card 2:

Card 3:

Card 4:

Card 5 (one of them):

I used so many different stamp sets, too many to list.  They were spread all over my tables!  I also used the Lucky Level 2 Assortment chipboard embellishments.  They are awesome to work with, kraft chipboard with colour and clear embossed designs on them.  In fact you can even ink them up like I did on the arrow on the left card 4.  Click on the photos to see them bigger and you'll really get a good look at this fun product.  I dug into my Outdoor Denim Mini-Medleys for these cards as well as adding some hemp and Twill ribbon.

That's all I've got for you for now.  I'll post the rest of the cards as soon as I get them finished and can get them up here.

On another exciting note, CTMH has announced a fabulous way for you to support the relief effort in Japan and get a gorgeous stamp set out of it.  Until April 30, you can purchase the Hope for Japan stamp set, retail of $8.75, for just $5 and all the proceeds go to the Red Cross effort in Japan.  How great is that?  Here's what the set looks like:

Isn't it just beautiful?  Add it to your order today!

Please pray for our team in El Salvador, for safety and peace and that everything will go smoothly despite some issues.  And pray that I get up the nerve to do some patient counselling this time, in Spanish!  Yikes, I'm nervous about that.

In the mean time,
Happy Creating!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Want to Win???

I know I do.  A fellow CTMH Consultant has opened a new business, making Ribbon Carousels, and these are gorgeous and incredibly functional!  I can just picture this sitting on a shelf or on my table in my studio.

You can win one of these!  Just check out Katie's blog for details.  But don't wait too long.  This contest is over at noon today, MT.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Using Up My Paper

I'm trying so hard to use up my old paper and I find the best way to do that is to make cards.  I don't have to worry about finding photos that match and can just play with no limitations.

These cards were made with a paper kit we had as a promotion a long time ago, called Tickled Pink.  All these designs are from either Originals or Wishes.  I've also used some of the die cuts that came with the kit as well as lots of different embellishments, stamps and rub-ons.  Here are some individual photos of each card.

This card also used our Irresistible sticker alphabet.

I have made two 2-page layouts, all these cards and I still have some scraps left!  I will finish this kit.  I will finish this kit.  I will finish this kit!

I'd love to hear which one you like best.

Happy Creating!