Spit in the bag, please

Today was a day. I felt like I was given a toothpick and asked to paint the Sistine Chapel. Actually, I was given a needle, a vestibule of anesthesia, and asked to numb someone’s mouth. I have never felt more inadequate or nervous in my life. I mean, people go to school for dentistry for over 10 years. And you want me to give injections and pull out teeth? After only 4 days of training? Wowzers. All I can say is, Dear God, Help me. Ayudame, por favor. Help us all. I guess that’s kind of what being a missionary is all about. Feeling inadequate and completely scared, but then just letting go of yourself and your fears and letting God work through you. Because I know I’m no dentist. Not in the least. I’m an art major. I don’t know anything about the mouth. I know how to draw. And take pictures.
I think that’s one of the things I really like about being in Peru, though. People don’t ask you if you know how to do something. And frankly, I don’t think they care. All I know is, that when things need to get done, they do. Everyone works together and tries their hardest. Everyone jumps in even if they don’t know what they’re doing. I never cease to be amazed at the amount of things that can be strapped to the top of a motocar or truck. You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to give your best. I guess it’s just a little more scary when you have someone’s mouth in your hands.
I typed up a paper of things that we’re supposed to learn how to say to our patients in Spanish. Stuff like, “Voy a ponerle una inyección para anestesiar la encía.” Which roughly translates into, “I’m going to give you an injection to put your gums to sleep.” And also, “Escupa en la bolsa, por favor.” Meaning, “Spit in the bag, please.” The dentist told us today that if we don’t specify that la bolsa, or the bag, is the place to spit, the patient will just spit on your feet. Or on you. Or on whatever is near. Tomorrow the dentist is bringing in a pig’s head. A big dead pig’s head to practice extracting teeth.
“Hello, I’m going to be your dentist today. The only other patient I’ve had was dead. And it was a pig.”  But seriously, all I can say is God, help me. It’s not going to be easy, but I know You will go with me where ever I go. You promised me that You would. So I believe it. 

Ormigas, sudado, y ampollas

Even though I’ve only been here for a week, I already feel at home. We have a schedule. We are a family. We work together to prepare meals. Morning and evening worships are my favorite times of the day. Culto, as it is called here. This week has been kind of slow as far as my job goes. I went with the boys to la selva. Deforestation at its finest. They handed me a machete and I went at it. I learned some new words in Spanish: ormigas, sudado, and ampollas. Ants, sweat, and blisters. Which pretty accurately described my morning. It was the greatest feeling in the world though, to be able to chop at thick vines and plants and have them fall at your feet in a heap. But when the ants come pouring out of the trees onto your back and down your pants – yeah, not such a good time. But nevertheless, I feel like I got a lot closer to the boys after going to work with them. It was cool to be able to just sit and talk with them. Even though my Spanish still sucks. Yesterday and the day before, I designed a new newsletter template, took lots of pictures, and just helped around the house. There’s a lot to do before the first health campaign and clinic. This morning I got a little distracted from my work and played the two little boys that live on the base, Jean Pierre and Alex. We ran around together and they showed me how pick and eat all the fruit on the grounds. We have guavas that don’t look like the guavas I’m used to at all, mangoes, cashew fruit, and ubillas which are a kind of big grape fruit. They were so squishy and gooey and so so good. And the best part: they’re right outside my front door. Right now, I’m sitting in the airport in Pucallpa and all the locals are crowded around a window watching the planes come in. The internet is painfully slow today so I don’t even know if I’ll be able to post this today. Oh well. Next time. My next goals are to learn how to ride the motorcycle and to make papusas for dinner.
I will never take internet for granted again. I feel like I wrote this blog ages ago, but I haven´t been able to post it until now. 


A prayer and naked people

Dear God,
I have many things that I am thankful for. I am thankful for taxi drivers who will take us all the way to the front door of Km 38. I am thankful for air conditioning at the corner market. I am thankful for homemade tortillas and freshly harvested honey at every meal. I am thankful for Rut, the owner of the vegetarian restaurant in Pucallpa, who makes amazing food. I think I had the best meal of my life today. I am thankful for soccer, the sport that brings us all together. No matter what language is spoken. I am thankful for calling cards and satellite phones. Hearing the voices of the people I love made my day. I am thankful for squat pots. ¨Less mess, no stress.¨ I am thankful for the Spanish language. It flows off the tongue so smoothly and sounds so beautiful. Of course not from me. Yet. You´re going to have to help me out with that one. I´m thankful for your love and grace that keeps me going and keeps me sane everyday. Y finalmente, gracias por mi famila nueva aqui en Peru.
P.s. This is not part of my prayer. But today when we were in Pucallpa, we saw a guy walking down the street. Naked. Just walking around. And then we saw him a little bit later just sitting on the ground. I never in one million years would have guessed that I would have seen such a sight when I woke up this morning.