Too sappy to be punny

Today started with sleeping in (my favorite)! Because we had a free day, I woke up around 9am. We had plans to go to a museum, but unfortunately, it is closed on Mondays. So instead we went to eat lunch at a restuarant we visited our first few days here in Mexico. Lunch consisted of baguettes, salads, milkshakes, frappes, and other fruity drinks.

Blair, Brittany, and I decided to walk around, to do some shopping, while Katie and Kyrian stayed back to work on homework. Later, we all met back up and walked around browsing through all the street venders in order to buy the last of  our souvenirs. Kyrian and I decided to celebrate the day with a nice, refreshing icee! After shopping, we all returned to our houses to do various things; I packed :/

IMG_5308

We all met back later that night (around 8pm) for a final dinner. Dinner included us 5 girls, our host families (mothers & sisters), UAQ faculty and their loved ones, and anyone else who we worked closely with while we’ve been here. As you might have been able to gather from this blog’s title, tonight was a very heartwarming night. Mary started with some words of welcome and a prayer, followed by words of welcome and thanks from a UAQ faculty member. Tonight was full of gift giving, happiness, many hugs, and great conversations with even better people. It was a very nice dinner, with wonderful food, and I felt it was such a blessing to be able to spend the night in the company of such outstanding people.

After dinner, my host family and Brittany and I, walked around el centro and enjoyed a nice night out. I think tonight was one of my favorite nights because I feel I’d reached a level of Spanish where I can joke around with others rather than just talk the basics. Tonight, I was able to joke around with my sisters, like I would with someone in English. I feel I bonded even more with my host sisters and mom.

IMG_5353

As this is my last blog post, I would like to express how grateful I am for this opportuinty to have spent 3 weeks in Querétaro. It has gone so much better than expected, which I didn’t think was possible and I know the reason for such an unforgettable experience is primarily because of my host family. Their continuous compassion, understanding, and friendliness is overwhelming at all times; not to mention how much fun they are to simply spend time and joke around with!

There have also been so many other people that we’ve had the pleasure of building relationships with – UAQ staff, nurses, students, and more. Also, all the faculty at the university are beyond welcoming, which helped make staying here so much more wonderful. Of course, the other 4 girls I traveled here with are another reason as to why this trip is so amazing. We all were able to bring something different to our group and have all been able to bond so well with eachother. It’s been a real pleasure to get to know each of them more and I would not have wanted to spend my time in Mexico with anyone else!

IMG_5310

It makes me sad to have to leave Querétaro but I know this will not be my last time in this city. I know I will see my family again – as I already have been planning to return to Querétaro and to stay with them, again. I truly feel like I have a home here, thanks to all the wonderful people I’ve met over the past 3 weeks. 🙂

And thank you, to all the readers, for following along with our blog posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about all our great adventures in Mexico. It’s been more than fun!

-Becky

LOL.

LOL: (n.) lots of love


Today was a free day, perfectly timed to allow us some rest after a long day at the Temezcal yesterday.

I started out the morning with a delicious breakfast at a local breakfast joint here in Querétaro called Nico’s. I had a casserole type soupy dish made with eggs, beef, and a spicy sauce. We went with another nursing student from the Universidad Autónomo de Querétaro, Valeria, who had previously spent a semester at Hope. She and her family picked Mary, Mark, and I up and we spent the morning talking about travel, nursing, and getting to know each other better over some delicious, traditional Mexican breakfast dishes.

After breakfast, they dropped us off back at home and we did a little relaxing. We sat around the table and chatted, and I was able to catch up on some journaling and read some of my Bible before venturing out on the town. When we all felt rested and ready for some walking, we headed out in the direction of El Centro.

FullSizeRender (22)

We continued past El Centro and headed to a local market, where we encountered birds, clothes, food, and anything you could imagine. The market was about as far as you could imagine from a traditional farmer’s market in Michigan, but it was bustling with people, young and old. Upon entering, we walked past numerous cages full of birds of all types, ready to be adopted.

FullSizeRender (18)

After the birds, we ventured through racks and racks of clothes, shoes, and little trinkets. Moving onto the food, we walked past shop after shop full of various meats, rice, vegetables, and fruits, which looked so delicious. My favorite part may have been at the end, as we walked past several boxes full of mini cacti.

FullSizeRender (17)

As we headed back to El Centro, we stopped in a few dainty shops full of wooden ladles, intricately woven bags, hand painted ceramics, and wonderfully scented lotions. One thing I’ve found interesting and quite disheartening here in Querétaro is the number of children that are out begging for their older siblings or parents.

FullSizeRender (19)

This young boy stole my heart as he held out his hand and gave mark a “fist bump” after receiving a few pesos from Mark. A few verses from Colossians have made themselves apparent over the past few days, and one of these, in particular, comes to mind as I think of this situation.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.”     -Colossians 3:12-14

God does not call us to judge others or pick and choose who to love, but to be gentle and patient with all people, no matter your differences. Mark did not hold a grudge against these young boys begging for spare change, but instead put on love to unite under God’s love for us.

Soon after this encounter, the skies opened up and it started to rain as we were making our way back home. It did not let up, and in fact began to rain harder and harder. We decided to take shelter and grab some dinner in Hank’s New Orleans Oyster Bar. There was some nice Frank Sinatra playing overhead, but this was soon overpowered by a four-man Mariachi band singing just across the patio.

FullSizeRender (20)

The rain let up just as we finished eating, and we quickly made a break for it to get home before the storms started again. It has been raining quite a bit over the past few days, and this is starting to become quite apparent:

FullSizeRender (21)

Today was a nice day to rest and relax after a long final week at the hospital, and to prepare for the last few days here in Querétaro. To further expand on the passage I mentioned above in Colossians, I found this wooden decor hanging in the kitchen here at Mary and Mark’s, so I will leave you with this:


“Look at the past with understanding…

The future with faith…

and the present with LOVE.”


FullSizeRender (23)

-kyrian

Temazcal Me Maybe

My what a day!!! I think I am more exhausted at the end of this day than I have been any other day this trip, and let me tell you why…

Our day started by meeting at 7am at the university. Once there, we piled into a van and headed off to the Mexican hillside, to the home of a wonderful woman named Lupita. On Lupita’s property, there is a small clay hut (kind of like an igloo), that was the purpose of our excursion. This hut is called a temazcal, which is a type of sweat lodge that the prehispanic people of Mexico used for traditional healing ceremonies, as well as for it’s general health benefits. Indigenous cultures all throughout Central America still utilize temazcals to this day, and we had the awesome privilege to experience for ourselves just what a temazcal is all about.

IMG_4133[1]

Julio, our leader for the temazcal experience, explained what to expect and the proper, reverent way to enter the temazcal. Everything is done with thankfulness and respect to the earth and what it has provided for us. One by one, we crawled through the small opening into the dome, and took our seat on benches all around the edges of the hut. The temazcal experience was split into four sessions, overall lasting about two and a half hours total. The four parts were focused on (1) earth, (2) water, (3) wind, and (4) fire. The cool hut didn’t stay cool for long, as one by one, red hot volcanic rocks were added to the pit in the middle of the temazcal. We started the first session with nine of these rocks, and nine more were added for each following one, making it progressively hotter!

A large bucket of water was also used in each session, as little by little it was poured over the rocks, along with various essential oils. At first it was hard to breath in such a steam-filled environment, but as my lungs adjusted, it felt pretty good to feel the first drops of sweat start to roll from my body.  But we were just getting started! During each of the four parts of the temazcal, we would sing/chant a traditional song in Spanish, as well as use the maraca-like instruments we had brought with us into the temazcal. After this was a time of silence for introspection. All the while the heat and steam would build, and it didn’t take long until we were all completely drenched! During the last session, each person was given a bundle of herbs we had collected earlier, and these were used to apply heat to specific parts of the body that needed healing.

IMG_4131[1]

At last, we made it to the end of the fourth part of the temazcal, feeling totally exhausted, but also extremely relaxed. It was quite a shock to crawl back out into the open, cool air! After drying off and changing our soaked clothes, we were rewarded with an amazing home-cooked meal made by our hostess Lupita. It felt good to have made it to that point, because it wasn’t easy! This traditional practice we got to take part in was an experience unlike any I’ve ever had, and although I wouldn’t be too eager to do it again, I’m grateful for the unique, awesome experience!

IMG_4136[1]

Experiencing the temazcal reminded me of how people groups from all times and all places have acknowledged a Being that is greater than themselves. Even some of the phrases we sang or chanted reminded me of passages from the Bible, like when we sang “we fly like eagles, we fly very high, with wings of light.” This made me think of Isaiah 40:31, which says “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.”  Seeing how people from another culture express their spirituality in a temazcal made me think about the ways God reveals himself to all of us every day, whether we realize it or not. The indigenous people of Mexico knew there is a God from the evidence of the earth and the healing properties that can be found from various plants. I look back on my life up to this point and know that I have a Creator, a Redeemer, and a Guide with me each moment of each day. Our God is powerful and is worthy of the praise and love of all people! 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

-Katie

 

I’m gonna “taco” ’bout my day

This morning we returned to El Hospital General. Becky and Blair were in the Emergency Room, Katie and Kyrian were in Post Surgery, and I returned to the Trauma today.  It was awesome to return to the same area because the patients felt more comfortable with me today and were joking around with me. I also got to talk to a medical student doing his internship at the hospital where he is specializing in spinal surgery. He really wanted to practice his English so that was the language our conversation was mostly in. Through our conversation, we discovered that medical school education  in Mexico seemed quite similar to that in the United States.

One of the most heartwarming things we saw in this hospital  is that on the main level there is a mural called el arbol del vida (the tree of life) in which the names of the families of organ transplants are placed on the tree.

13324096_1059311607478770_1638547115_o

Our host aunt also works at El Hospital General, so Becky and I met up with her for lunch and had a tour of the administration area where she works. This hospital, like many of the others we have visited, use paper records for their patients. There were many shelves of colorful folders with patient records.

13313474_1059311240812140_10190232_o

Tonight we all met up for a late dinner in El Centro at  El Portón de Santiago. The live music there was great! A young gentleman played guitar wish Spanish flair and sang sometimes getting the restaurant goers to sing with him. The food was delicious (those are chicken tacos below) and Becky and I walked home in the cool evening air just missing the beginning of a rain storm.

13313649_1059311257478805_398867493_o

13313343_1059311280812136_743089602_o

That’s all for now! Tomorrow we’re going to Temazcal which should be pretty interesting.

Buenas noches!

-Brittany

It’s not a Pun, it’s a “Pan”

*Just to clarify, “pan” means “bread” in Spanish. To hear about our adventures with pan, please read a little further*

Today we went to “El Hospital General,” a public hospital filled with a lot of activity. Since it can provide care for the uninsured and poor, the relatively small hospital is always packed with people. Funding for the medical care is limited: patients must endure stuffy rooms with no air conditioning, supplies such as gauze and gloves dwindle, and even some patients have to bring their own medication because it is not supplied within the building. It was sad to see the poorest of the poor come to this place, but also comforting to know that they were receiving care. As the nurses told us when we arrived, each patient is treated as a human being, not just a number next to a bed or a hopeless case.

IMG_20160526_135550241_HDRIMG_20160526_102702461_HDR

After a tour, the group split up to work in different areas: Katie got to experience the busy emergency department, Becky went to the surgical unit, Brittany helped in the trauma wing, and I went to the internal medicine floor. I saw many medications prepared and administered, and heard stories from the other girls about catheters, IVs, and bed baths.

After our work today we relaxed at Mary’s beautiful house in El Centro. When Katie and I saw dark clouds coming in, we decided we should probably begin our trek back home. Even with lightening ahead and the urgent feeling of a storm, we couldn’t help but stop at the local “Panadería,” a local store selling fresh sweet bread! I’d say it was worth it. At only 6 pesos (about 35 cents), I’d say my “pan dulce” even beat Good Time Donuts.

IMG_20160526_171448142_HDR

As for the rain…I have always liked rain. And with the incredible heat lately, I was ready for a rain shower. So when I finally heard the droplets hit the roof of our bus traveling home, you could say I was pretty excited. After getting off the bus, Katie and I had to span creeks of rushing water down the road, soaking our feet as we still felt the downpour. Eventually we made it back home and after that refreshment, I am quite content and dry.

IMG_20160526_175549907_HDRIMG_20160526_183556

It’s a night to relax inside, so Katie and I might watch a movie with our host sister Isa. She tells us her favorite movie is “Diario de una Pasión,” which we know as “The Notebook.” This made me giggle; Nicholas Sparks still captures the hearts of girls all the way here in Mexico.

That’s all for now, thanks for listening and God Bless!

-Blair

i’m always a soccer for a punny title :]

Today was our free day so of course we started the day by catching up on some sleep. I woke up a little after 10am and then ate a wonderful breakfast consisting of mango and melon with nutella, toasted bread with some type of cheese-butter and blackberry marmalade, pan dulce (sweet bread), and a glass of orange juice (all pictured below).

IMG_5272

Brittany and I decided to laundry for the first time since we’ve been here. We put all of our clothes into the washer and when it was time to dry our clothes we hung them up on the line outside. We learned that most people don’t have dryers because of the heat here.

After finishing with laundry, we met up with everyone in el centro for lunch. We all ate paninis at an italian cafe; they were wonderul! After lunch, Blair, Brittany, and I walked through many streets looking for stores while Kyrian and Katie started working on their homework. We met up a little while later so we could meet up with Isa (Blair and Katie’s host sister) so she could take us to play futbol (soccer)!!!

IMG_5273     Soccer was so much fun – and so tiring!! Two of Isa’s friends joined us so we were able to play 3v3 plus a goalie. After an hour of some great teamwork, sweet goals, many water breaks, and a few minor injuries we decided our legs had had enough and we soaked up plenty of sun for one day. Please enjoy the picture below of the aftermath of us playing soccer in 90 degree weather – I repeat, it was 90 degrees outside when we played (and it was already 5pm)!!!

IMG_5279     After soccer, we all returned to our homes (big thanks to Isa for driving us there and back) to enjoy the remainder of our night. Tonight has been fairly relaxed in our house. We waited for our host sister to get back from work and then all ate a lovely chicken, vegetable, and pasta dinner! We attempted to continue with our homework but ended up watching a Spanish movie instead – hey, we’re just trying to improve our spanish 🙂 I suppose that’s all I have to report on for now. Talk to you soon!

-Becky

Today was certainly not a crepey day.

Alright I know I know, here I go again with the puns. Today certainly was not crappy, although it was full of some delicious crepes. On our tour of El Centro with Norma our first weekend here, we passed a crepería that has 2 for 1 crepes on Tuesdays–score! So, naturally, after visiting the hospital today, we headed to El Centro in search of this crepería. First, let me tell you a bit about the hospital.

FullSizeRender (9)

FullSizeRender (8)

The hospital we visited today was named HITO, which stands for Hospital Infantíl Teletón de Oncología. This hospital is the first hospital in the whole country of Mexico that is designated for pediatric oncology. The tour through the hospital proved to be marvelous, and the technology and architecture of the hospital were very modernized and up to date. I would liken the hospital to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids. In many ways it was very similar, and I have to admit in some ways it was even more advanced and well thought out than Helen DeVos. We toured all of the units of the hospital, and then headed over to the Casa de Teletón, which was a whole building specially designed for patients who stay longer than 24 hours. It was equipped with playgrounds, music rooms, a library and little market, and even had several classrooms where the patients could experience and receive the education they miss out on due to hospitalization because of various cancers.

FullSizeRender (14)

As I said before, after we got back from our tour of the hospital, we changed and headed to El Centro on a conquest to find some crepes. (traveling tip: when visiting another country, always try the crepes. they never fail) I think a picture of one of the crepes will suffice to show how absolutely satisfied our tastebuds and tummies were.

FullSizeRender (12)

We sat for a while after finishing our crepes doing homework, and then headed home to get ready for a dinner tonight at Mary’s house, prepared by the sweetest woman named Galinda. Galinda is a master chef, let me tell you.

FullSizeRender (15)

She made steamed vegetables and cut up mountains (bowls) of fresh fruit. She cut up and squeezed a cantaloupe into some cantaloupe water, which was so thirst quenching. Not only this, but she prepared a killer cauldron (pot) of guacamole with the freshest and most ripe avocados.

FullSizeRender (10)

She did not stop here, however, and continued on to make some traditional Mexican dishes, including Mexican white rice and vegetables, a pepper slaw, beans, and some quesadillas filled with pepper-seasoned chicken and tomato and some delicious cheese. I really hope I’m not forgetting anything, but even still, my description does not give the meal justice.

FullSizeRender (13)

Mary and Mark picked up an “impossible” cake, made of rich, moist chocolate cake topped with a layer of flan. We also had a little taste of home amidst the Mexican meal, with some traditional American flag napkins. The host families thought this was quite comical, and joked and said that they most likely came from WalMart.

FullSizeRender (11)

Today was great. We ate lots and are tired and happy with full bellies tonight.

John 3:16 really sticks out to me tonight, as it says “for God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I have been blessed with so many people here in Querétaro, and have enjoyed so many incredible moments. If life here is so great, the hope for that eternal life He promises is unmeasurable, just like how we could never fathom the extent to which our expectations of this eternal life will be exceeded.

Anyways, que Dios te bendiga! I’ll talk to you soon.

-kyrian