Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A "little" catch-up

Hello family and friends!

I am still alive! I promise! Sorry it's taken me so long- blogging is really not in my nature... and Anna does such a beautiful job that I cannot compare to.. but I suppose it is my turn to share a little of the bliss that I've been experiencing. I am very overwhelmed by how much there is to catch up on and tell... but I'll share with you what I can.

Ok...umm... where to start.................. Egypt?

Anna gave a great run down of what we did... and it was A LOT. I think being in a third world country was a MUCH needed experience for me. It was good to look beyond my comfortable USA middle class mormon perspective and see a life that I've always heard about... a level of poverty that I've read about... but never a state of despair that I've seen.

Yes- we did take a little sail boat down the nile,and it was BEAUTIFUL. We rode camels- a very necessary tourist attraction. It was all very exciting..the native children running around.. the grunting and putrid fumes of the camels... the sun setting,the glistening nile-all very exciting and memorable.

Yet, I think the most real and vivid part of that last evening in Luxor... was riding around the little farming villages along the nile and really truly seeing the people. Seeing their homes-basically ruins or huts.. seeing families together- working and playing together.. I felt guilty sick looking into their faces... seeing the struggle and humility in their eyes as they looked back at me- a silly, selfish and spoiled tourist up on my high camel using their reality as visual interest and entertainment for a measly $1.

It was painful to see their depleted way of life and to know that I'd be returning to such a beautiful and comfortable hotel and still hear complaints about not being able to drink the water.

I left Egypt with a renewed and burning desire to do my little part in making a change in the world around me- an ambition I don't intend to lose.

Speaking of not drinking the water.... "Pharoh's revenge" took great vengence on my bus on this trip. I was a bus nurse for my group... but most of the time I felt more like the group "mommy". I was surprised by how sick people really got (I was miraculously one of the few to walk away unscathed) and how busy I was... but most of all how much I loved doing whatever menial thing I could! Between explosive diahrrea and/or vomitting, the flu, dehydration.. whatever else.. I did nothing super advanced or life saving... but I experienced a few very profound moments in which I truly felt like a tool in the Lord's hands. I felt like I was really led by the Spirit to bring certain drugs or supplies that seemed random... but I ended up spontaneously needing every single "random" item. Things came to mind to teach or answer togive that I know I didn't have previous training or knowledge on- nothing to do with my own capabilities.

I tell this not to "toot my own horn"... but to give whole recognition to the Lord's tender mercies. In those moments.. I was tangibly taught through the Spirit that yes... I am a young, silly, and incompetent nurse... BUT it's not about me! Once I turn it over to the Lord, seek His guidance and allow the Lord to work through me to bless the lives of His children- only THEN can I get ANYTHING done. It's so humbling and even more comforting to know that this principle will remain true throughout my new and daunting career as long as I am worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

One of my favorite moments in Egypt was the last day as we were going through the Egyptian museums. I was off on my own just browsing and enjoying all the artifacts when I came upon a really cool colar and I wanted to share my awewith someone else at how rad this jewlery was! I looked around... but the only person near me was a cute little arab woman. So, I motioned and expressed to her how neat it was and for her to look, and she started talking to me in Arabic. I responded that I only knew a little and then she started speaking pretty good English. She was SO sweet and SO loving from the very start. She took me by the hand and we walked along looking at artifacts together- it wasn't in the least weird or awkward that I was holding this stranger's hand- we loved eachother- it was so natural!
When I was telling her why I was her from America and that I was a nurse- she got so excited. She told me that she was from the Gaza strip andthat she had to come to Cairo to have a colon surgery done (which is scary because Egyptian hospitals are NOT the greatest)because she wasn't able to get it done in Jerusalem because she couldn't get permission to cross the border. Her eyes filled up with tears and she asked if I would stay with her at the hospital and make sure everything was ok because it's a dangerous proceedure and she was very scared. My heart broke. I had to tell her that I was leaving in an hour-she asked if I could visit Gaza- I had to tell her that wasn't possible. She was so sad. She gave me her phone number and e-mail address and kissed me goodbye.Her name was Laila Nassar, and she made my day. I told her I would pray for the Lord to bless her..and she was obviously muslim but SO appreciative of my thought and faith for her. I was so touched by her ease and quicknessto love this random American girl. I want to be like Laila. I have been trying, but I haven't been able to get ahold of her because contact to Gaza from Jerusalem is nearly impossible. I still pray for her.

On our way back from Egypt, was stopped in the Sinai Penninsula, woke up at 2 am and hiked to the top of Mt. Sinai and watched the sunrise. Sunrises have always been my favorite- but nothing will ever come near what was experienced here.We welcomed the new day singing hymns on a holy mount used by prophets to commune with God. Really? This is my life?We had a beautiful and incredibly powerful testimony meeting... I wantto feel the Spirit that strong ALL the time-if my body could even withstand it. Such a great morning.

I will scavage beautiful pictures and post them later.

Spending time in the hospitals here have been... such beautiful experiences. When they were handing out assignments they asked who wanted to go the ICU. I jumped on it. As my instructor was taking me there... we were going down a hall passing the pediatric unit and I was glad that I wasn't there- I thought to myself, "wow, I couldn't handle the heartbreak of the children and families here- good thing I'll be working with adults!!" Then, my instructor said, "almost there!" but I saw no stairs, but rather a sign up ahead that said, "Pediatric ICU". My heart stopped. "Oh no... nono... I can't do babies on ventilators! NONONO!!!" but I didn't want to be a wimp. =

My heart sunk when I walked in.... this hospital is the best in the area- so they get all the really hard cases. Most of those babies were near their end. I was told many stories that involved the difficulties of getting from Gaza to Jerusalem or from Jordon- all because of the war- because of hate of men- this children had to suffer because they couldn't get help- and are now dying. The technique and instruments were pretty modern... but the mentality of the families and the people were still old. In the Muslim faith, or just between tribes, they marry first cousins all the time to stay in the tribe or family. So... there are tons and tons of genetic disorders. Knowing that the parents couldn't be there with their sick or dying baby because they couldn't get permission to cross the border- imagining the pain and the sorrow that these mothers must feel as they call the floor all throughout the day is so much to handle. Watching a baby on a ventilator cry without being able to make noise and my not being able to pick them up and hold them- kills.

I learned lots of new medications... techniques and theories... but mostly of how much I hate war, how important families are, how blessed we are, a glimpse into my families struggles with my sisters, and that I will not be a pediatric nurse. I'm not strong enough. I couldn't handle trying to sooth these babies and imagining my sweet sisters in their place. I was such a boob.

Yesterday I went to a different Palestinian Hospital called "Red Crescent" that is just for delivering babies. Again, another completely beautiful experience. A nurse put me in a room... gave me the chart of the laboring woman in front of me and rushed off to another patient. I started going through the chart with my classmate... but when the contractionscame to her... I stopped caring about how many previous births she'd had or what her blood type was. She didn't speakany english beyond "thank you very much"... and I didn't know if it was even ok.. but I took her hand and stayed with her for the next 7 hours. All I could really verbally tell her was that I was Kali, a nurse from America. At first I was a little frustrated by the language barrier... but by the end... I'd forgotten that we couldn't talk to eachother. It may sound cheesy... but we didn't need english or arabic. Our spirits connectd- and we spoke human. I felt like she was a good friend and I was so honored to be there through it all to remind her to breath, to hold her legs, to stop her from hitting the doctor, to try to transmit my love to her. I loved her so much- I was overwhelmed my how strongly I could feel about this woman that I didn't know and couldn't understand...but it pained me to see her in pain.

It was SUCH an exciting experience!! Medically it was a pure miracle- just an awesome process to watch and understand. Spiritually... it was out of this world- literally. After they took the baby... the mother asked me to run after them and look at him. When I came back and expressed to her how beautiful her boy was... she got the biggestsmile on her face and finally relaxed and started to rest. Saying goodbye to my new friend "Yadweh" was surprisingly hard,but I walked away from that little hospital on cloud nine- totally in love with love.

Ok... I just accidently went on a mother Theresa rampage- but those really are the main highlights and "life changing" things that I've been experiencing!- isn't that what I'm supposed to write about? I just haven't mentioned all the silly and fun little joys and pleasures that I've selfishly enjoyed.

Such as... my roommate bought a hammock. So perfect, huh? We had a patio party. Imagine.. a warm Israel night... patio overlooking the city lights of Jerusalem.. rocking in a hammock surrounded by the chatter and giggles of some of the most loving people I've ever met with the soft strummingof a ukulele in the background. Such events are not rare here. Yes, I live a dream in my wakened hours.

The other night we went to West Jerusalem to enjoy the night life of the Jews and watch them live it up for "Sukkot". We watched Jewish men vigorously dance with eachother to very catchy Hebrew music surrounded by a crowd of families-the joy and excitement was SO contagious. We proceeded to watch a man play the harp AND harmonica (at the same time) and a very eclectic woman play the violin and... recorder? (not at the same time.) Then we ate dark chocolate gelattoin a Sukkot, fell upon a piano and base jazz jam in the street, and just enjoyed the company of good, unique, and loving friends.

I got to be in the lowest place on earth and see the oldest structure in the world- a tower in Jericho- estimated to be from 8,000 BC (the exact date can obviously be argued).

There was SUCH beautiful produce. Oh fruit. I think I've bought more fruit than anything else in this journey. Oops.

We traipsed through Hezikiahs tunnel- nearly 3,000 years old-it was the route used by the
Babylonians to overtake the City of David.- so rad.

Yet, in the end, undoubtably the most important place I've been is the Garden of Gathsemane. We went early one saboth morning and it was such a sweet and beautiful experience. I can't tell or express all the feelings and impressions I received that morning... but I can testify to the power I felt there. Being on the mount that the most important event in all the history and future of the world... the very mount that the course of my eternities was altered... in the presence of trees that may have witnessed my Savior pay the price for me- was extremely humbling and impactful. I felt so much peace and so much awe at the reality of it all, and overwhelmed with gratitude for my Redeemer. No matter the grandeur or the fame of all that I have or will see here.... this site was the most important one I have and will experience.

The other day we did the via delerosa walk- the "walk of sorrow" - the path that is said to be the one that Christ walked in His last days. It was interesting to see these sites and the road that may be similar to those that He saw during trials. Though this path is probably not historically accurate- it stands as beautiful symbolism for such undeniable and powerful truths. I know that Christ carries my cross and has paid the price for me. I know that He lives, and I am constantly filled with such peace and pure joy because of Him. I know these truths not because I have now walked where He has walked- but because He walks with me every day.

Wow. Sorry this is so long. Yet, at the same time, I suppose none of you are obligated to read all of it...or, any of it. I would just feel very selfish to keep all of these things that I find so wonderful to myself. So... I feel better now that I've taken the opportunity to share with you. :)