Not On The Border.

For those of you who this reaches, thank you for reading. I know you may be wondering why we are still writing as we’ve now officially been home from Mexico for two days, but we indeed finished up our “class” today. This morning, joined by family and friends, we were able to present some information on the differences in health care and the hospitals between Mexico and the United States. We all knew what, in general, each other’s presentations covered, but it was interesting to hear more in depth the explanations and points made on the different topics. Blair went first, presenting on the differences between nursing schools in the U.S. versus Mexico. Next, Katie talked about the differences in labor & delivery, the nursery, and the neonatal intensive care unit while I talked about differences in pediatrics. Becky followed, comparing and contrasting private and public hospitals in Mexico, and Brittany finished up with the roles of the different professionals in the health care system between the U.S. and Mexico.

After the presentations, we all went our separate ways. I was able to eat lunch with Katie and her family along Lake Macatawa, at a nice restaurant named Boatwerks. Since coming back from Mexico, I have noticed a few differences, and realized more the things that I missed. I will make a list:

  1. At lunch, we ate out on the patio overlooking the lake. I think I’d always taken for granted sitting outside in peace, without people coming up to beg at your table. In Mexico it was very common to be asked multiple times throughout the course of your meal if you would like to donate money, buy a bracelet, a small doll, or something of the sorts.
  2. The driving in Mexico is crazy. People weave in and out, left and right, and there are quick transitions between laying it down on the gas and slamming on the brakes. It is also uncommon to see much greenery in Mexico, unless traveling across mountainsides to different cities, so today while riding in the passenger seat, I soaked up the smooth sailing and all-encompassing foliage.      FullSizeRender (50) FullSizeRender (51)
  3. I really missed dogs. Especially ones that are wet and shaggy and covered in sand.        FullSizeRender (53)
  4. High up there on the list as well is water. I missed being able to shower with your mouth open, brush my teeth with the tap water, and most importantly, swim in and ingest the beauty of Lake Michigan (and not worry if you swallow a big gulp of water), be this by simply floating around, playing frisbee or catch, or bopping around a volleyball. FullSizeRender (52) FullSizeRender (54) FullSizeRender (55)
  5. Last but not least, I really must miss the Mexican food. I don’t think it really got old for me while I was down south, as I was able to eat a variety of foods. So, of course, I found myself enjoying some nice Enchiladas Suizas with some good company at On The Border for dinner.

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I even found some (fake) succulents!

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It was truly a blessing being able to spend the three weeks we did down in Querétaro. As Katie mentioned, there is so much to take back and incorporate, culturally, into your life at home. It was great to spend some quality time with some people I missed the past month, focusing more on each other that the upcoming obligations we have. I learned a lot, about the culture and the different aspects of traditional medicine or the health care system, but also about myself. I also was so blessed to meet so many wonderful and impactful people in my time in Mexico. My eyes were opened to the workings of God in my surroundings, as well, and in the people I had the privilege of meeting.

It’s been fun fellow readers. Thanks for following along. I’d also like to thank you for bearing with us through all of the puns, long descriptions, laughs, and wonderful pictures, and I hope you enjoyed hearing about our experiences while we were away. May I leave you now with this plaque I encountered while winding down tonight, because it pointed my eyes back to God and emphasized just how beautiful life is.

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May we treasure life’s every moment, and be thankful for every morning God grants us to live and breathe through another day.

So long for now, my friends.

Hasta luego,




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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Please don’t stop the music…or good times.

Hola a todos!

Let me start off by saying today was a great day. As you’ve heard from some of the other chicas, we’ve had our first two days of clinicals in the hospital. As you may know, Monday and Tuesday were spent in TEC 100, a private hospital, but today was the first day we visited a public, government hospital, Hospital de Especialidades del Niño y la Mujer (the hospital for children and mothers). The difference between the private and public hospitals was astounding, and immediately when we were dropped off at the gate the hospital sidewalks were lined with people, and inside people were smooshed against the walls just waiting for a visit with the doctor.

We began the day with a tour of the whole hospital. The first building we visited had a few beautiful murals, the first depicting the journey of a fetus in utero over the 9 months until birth.

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This building had several administrative offices on the second floor, and on the first were specialty doctor’s offices, such as for pediatric nephrology or hematology/oncology. The second building consisted of three floors, with units such as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), nursery (cuñero), pediatric hematology/oncology, nephrology, an emergency department (urgencias), and then also an intensive care unit for respiratory illnesses. We then walked down a long white hallway at the end of which was the labor and delivery unit. Keep your eyes peeled as this is where we will spend most of our day tomorrow, in a room of many beds occupied mothers in labor. The miracle of life!

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I had the privilege of spending my day in the pediatric oncology/hematology unit in the first building, which was such an incredible blessing. I have always felt a tug on my heart to work in this unit, so it was a great experience to have exposure specifically to this specialty, especially here in Mexico. There were several moments in which I felt the urge to shed tears of joy because I felt so at home, exactly where God was leading me. Not to mention I ventured into a back room to get a drink of water and this crucifixion was right in front of my very eyes:

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I was able to take on the role of the nurse in assisting the doctor in performing bone marrow aspirations and cerebral spinal fluid cultures on 7 or 8 patients. As it might sound, this is indeed incredibly painful for the poor little kiddos who suffer from cancer. In addition to helping the doctor performing the procedures, I was able to help comfort the patients, and even felt comfortable enough to converse with them. I was afraid they would feel uneasy due to my obvious blonde hair, blue eyes, and dampened Spanish accent, but they were so personable and friendly, and incredibly willing to chat and share  with me about their lives.

God works in mysterious ways and I am continuing to see this here in Querétaro. On a recent trip I took, I learned much about how much He gives us to relate to one another, and how closely our stories can parallel. It was so powerful to be able to connect with the patients and nurses in the pediatric oncology unit, and it is so apparent that He is at work in every place I go.

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After heading back to the university to watch a dance competition with traditional and modern dances, such as salsa and hip hop, I spent the night with Becky and Brittany and their host sister Gaby and her two friends. We walked through El Centro and then back to their house where we went to a sports bar named Vancouver Wings to sit and chat. We had some authentic boneless wings, BBQ and Buffalo, and watched some soccer on the various televisions. We were able to befriend Gaby’s two amigos, and it was cool to see the connections forming and similar interests between all of us.

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I know we are all looking forward to spending another day in the hospital for niños y mujeres tomorrow, so I hope you are looking forward to continuing along with our adventures!

ta ta for now, friends, nos vemos pronto!


Water your plans this Saturday?

Okay, okay, so you might be asking “what’s with the title?” It was my best attempt to throw in a little pun about water, sorry to disappoint. Today, our first Saturday here in Querétaro, we were blessed with the opportunity to visit a pool on campus that is used for hydrotherapy. This type of therapy is used to make patients more aware of their movements with the help of the resistance to the water. Some are able to learn to walk again, or even simply stand, as the “floatability,” as they called it, allows them to have less impact and stress from the force of gravity and bearing full weight. After our night salsa dancing and being on our feet touring the city, this hydrotherapy came as a very relaxing activity. We all partnered up and were taught different techniques to testing and mixing different movements to achieve ultimate relaxation. I’d even go so far as to say some of us were on the brink of taking a nice snooze in the warm pool for how relaxed we became.


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After taking a long dip in the pool, we had the privilege of attending a lecture and laboratory session on traditional Mexican medicine. In the theory, or lecture, portion of the day, we were taught about various infusions, ointments, and even masks that can aid in detoxing and healing various illnesses or wounds. After this, we headed over to the laboratory where we were able to make and test out a few traditional medicines.

The first thing we made was a facial mask consisting of clay and water boiled with dried chamomile stalks. The clay and chamomile each have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help to reduce inflammation, promote circulation, and assist in reducing acne. We applied this clay mask to our faces and allowed it to dry to test out this traditional remedy. It essentially looked like we stuck our faces in mud, but let me tell you, our faces were smooth as a baby’s bottom!

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In testing out various traditional medicines, we were able to make an infusion of lavender and mint leaves to create a calming and soothing herbal tea. The lavender allows the mind and body to relax, while the mint helps to invigorate and allow digestion to be more effective and smooth. Lastly, we made a traditional ointment out of several ingredients I am sorry to admit I was not able to retain (also they did not translate to English). However, these two plants combined with a type of bark had various antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects, which promote circulation and healing of damaged tissue. So, if any of us have a run in with any mosquitos or sharp objects we should be set with some nice ointment to promote healing!

Overall, today was very eye-opening to various aspects of culture and the incorporation of cultural remedies into medicine. Medicine here in Mexico has many traditional influences, so it was neat to see how these are still used and concocted today–and also to see how beneficial they can be!

Peace and Blessings for a wonderful Sunday.

It’s been neat to see how God is working here and throughout the people with whom we come into contact, and a verse I read today reminded me of just that:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” -Acts 1:8

God does not call us simply to be content in our faith in the places we are comfortable, but to go out and spread His love and word to the ends of the earth to all with whom we cross paths. So, I challenge you to go be a witness! Show others through words and more importantly, through actions, just what the good news is about!

much love,