Honey I’m Home

And we’re back!

Being back in Holland almost makes it seem like these past three weeks never happened. Today I moved in to my summer house in Holland, caught up with lots of friends, and already my time in Mexico seems pretty far removed.

When coming back from a trip like this, it is easy to act like it never happened and to fall back into normal routines. However, I think it’s important to incorporate what we’ve learned abroad into our everyday lives back at home. To me, one of the coolest parts about getting to know another culture is that you can take the good parts of that culture and incorporate them into your own personal culture. For example, one part of the Latin American culture that I have come to value and appreciate is the emphasis on relationships as opposed to schedules. What I mean by this is that the people in this culture are not so focused on time as people are in the United States. Often this manifests itself by arriving to events late, such as when my host family was a half hour late to our final dinner on Monday night, ūüôā but to me, it is much bigger than this. From what I’ve seen of Latin American culture, the people would rather sit and chat with a friend over a cup of coffee instead of arrive exactly on time. I’ve grown up with the opposite culture, that tells me the clock should rule my life, and that you’re not on time unless you’re at least five minutes early. My first instinct is still to by ruled by time, but having spent time in Latin America has made me often stop and think about what should be my first priority.¬†I now see that a conversation with a friend has more value than always being on time to class, and that in everything, our relationships should be the most important aspects of our life.

This is one of many lesson’s I’ve learned through immersion in another culture. What an amazing opportunity we have as people in this global community to learn from one another, and to become better people because of it. I hope that each person reading this is encouraged to step out of their comfort zones to meet new cultures. And this is way easier than you think! You don’t have to go to Mexico to encounter people different from yourselves; often all it takes is a walk across the street. My challenge to you is to press¬†into the relational life you are called to lead, and to see the blessings that come from meeting new people and new cultures.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

-Katie

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.

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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.

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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!

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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

 

ISSSTE

Hi everyone!

Today we had the opportunity to visit another hospital here in Queretaro, called ISSSTE. This was another public, government hospital, but to me it seemed more similar to the private hospital TEC 100 we had previously visited, than the public women’s and children’s hospital we also visited last week. Although the hospital ISSSTE is public, it is reserved for more of the middle class people. The hospital had 99 beds and very up to date technology, but as we took a tour of each floor, it felt fairly empty. After the tour, we split up on two different units to shadow some nurses. I was on the internal medicine unit, and got to see the routines of some of the nurses that work there.¬†The biggest difference I noted between the routines of nurses here and the routines of nurses in the U.S. is that here everything is written by hand instead of computerized. The nurses here have to be very on top of things so as to not miss anything they have to do for one of the ten patients they care for during a shift! Personally, I’m thankful for the computer charting we use in the U.S., because if any of you know me, you probably know that nothing I write is ever legible!IMG_4115[1]

Well, I think we’ve hit that point. The point where we’re more than halfway done with our May term in Mexico, the point where some of the newness of Queretaro has worn off, the point where we feel confident taking public transportation, the point when we start missing some things about home. To be honest, I personally didn’t expect to ever get to this point during this trip, since were are only here for three short weeks. However, I think it’s a good thing! I often find myself so in love with different cultures in Latin America that I forget the good parts about life in the United States. I idealize other cultures and look down on my own. Reaching this point in the trip has made me remember that each culture and each country has its good and its bad. Different is not better and different is not worse, it’s just different. What a blessing it is to not only be able to immerse yourself in a new culture, but also to have your home culture to go back to! Although spending time in other countries sometimes makes me feel ashamed¬†of the reputation the United States has in other parts of the world, I know that God made the U.S. my home for a reason, and until he tells me differently, I’ll always look forward to the good parts of returning home.

-Katie

Days Off and Babies

During our two weeks of clinicals here in Queretaro, we have Wednesdays as free days with no planned activities. So today, we took advantage of this and had a fun, relaxing day! The five of us met up in El Centro for lunch at a cafe, and then walked around the Centro for a bit, checking out some shops along the way. Some of the clothing stores we visited had pretty low prices, so we all made at least one cute and cheap purchase! We spent some of the afternoon at a plaza in El Centro, called Jardin Guerrero, where we relaxed in the shade and worked on some homework. I think we all needed a chill sort of day!

Yesterday while Kyrian, Blair, Becky, and Brittany were all on a hospitalization unit at the private hospital TEC 100, I spent the day in the nursery, or “cunero,” with some cute babies. Even though there were only 6 babies on the unit that day, I enjoyed the experience of talking with and learning from the doctor and nurse working there. Since I have already had my OB clinical at Hope, I was able to compare the way things were done at this hospital with¬†the methods used at the Boven Birth Center in Holland Hospital. Overall I would say that the hospitals did things very similarly, with only a few differences.

When the babies are born at TEC 100, they first come to the nursery for observation as they get acclimated¬†to life outside of the womb, and regulate their temperature, breathing, and heart rate. ¬†When I arrived at the hospital, the nursery nurse was about to prepare one baby who had been born earlier that morning to meet her family. I checked the baby’s vital signs, then was able to give the baby her first bath and to help dress her in the clothes the family had brought, and finally to wrap her up in soft blankets. I loved doing all of this, but my favorite part of the day was when I got to push the bassinet into the mother’s room. The baby’s parents and much of their extended family were all waiting excitedly, and I got to hand the baby to her mother for the first time. The joy and love I saw on the mother’s face were incredible and, I’ll be honest, almost made me cry. Being a part of this moment made me realize how privileged we are as nurses to experience such memorable moments with our patients. From the very beginning of life until the very end, nurses get to enter into the good, the bad, the painful, and the joyful moments in the lives of strangers. What an amazing opportunity! A nurse I know once encouraged me to pray for each one of my patients I care for, and as I do this I pray for myself; that God would open my eyes to see his children as he does, and that through my brief interactions with patients in the defining moments of their lives, they might see the God I serve who cares for them more than a nurse ever could.

-Katie

More Similar Than We Think

Hola a todos!

Today we had our first completely free day, with no plans or activities scheduled. I’m thankful that with our free time, our group prefers adventure to just sitting around! In the morning we found our way to a big park called La Alameda, where we walked the paths through beautiful trees, flowers, and grass in the middle of the big city, played on the playground, and relaxed in the shade by the fountain. After this we found a café downtown in the Centro, where we had a delicious lunch and spent a few hours catching up on homework. Later we explored some more of the Centro, ending up at a delicious gelato shop.

IMG_4052[1]What has struck me the most so far in¬†my time in Quer√©taro has not been the differences I have seen, but rather the similarities. I think it is easy to assume that life is completely different in a different country. Some of the more obvious aspects, like the language and the culture, are different than those of the United States, and so we overlook the fact that people everywhere are more alike than they are different. The opportunity we have these three weeks of living with host families lets us see how much we have in common with people of this different culture. The five of us students are all living with nursing students from Universidad Aut√≥noma de Quer√©taro, the university Hope partners with for this program. My host sister, Isa, gets up early every morning to go to ‚Äúpr√°cticas,‚ÄĚ or what we nursing students from Hope call clinicals. I can definitely identify with the struggle of those early mornings! It has been cool to learn from her what she is learning in her studies, and to compare that to my classes and practicums at Hope. Yes there are differences, but in the end we are both going to be nurses!

On the first day I met my host sister and her mom, they said they had heard that Hope was a Christian school, and wondered if that meant we were Christians also. Right from the start, it was incredibly comforting to me to know that my family here in Mexico is ultimately exactly the same as I am, in that we both look to Christ for life here on earth and life eternal in heaven. All the beautiful churches and cathedrals we have toured the past few days in Querétaro have reminded me of the supremacy of Christ, and that he is above any divide there might be between humans-divides of country, of culture, of language, of denomination, of political views. What an incredible opportunity he has given us to get to know, learn from, and encourage our brothers and sisters here in Querétaro!

‚ÄúAfter this I looked, and there before me¬†was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.‚ÄĚ Revelation 7:9

-Katie