Friday, April 26, 2013

Once Again: Good Times

Don't freak out. Please, I swear I'm ok. However, I was pretty bad: quite ill actually. I spent all of Wednesday in the Chulucanas hospital where I was treated for dehydration. "Oh no!" you're shrieking, "how could this be?" Well, it all began with some bad food --of what I'm not even sure- that gave me a bad stomach bug. All day on Tuesday, I stayed home from work, getting to know my bathroom R E A L well! Naturally Britt and Chantelle were a little concerned and urged me to visit the doctor if I failed to improve on Wednesday morning. Obviously, I wasn't feeling much better on Wednesday and brought myself to Centro Pastoral (where Chantelle works) to speak with Hermana Roxana, a nurse and Sister of Mercy. As soon as she heard the words 'fever, achy, and stomach problems' she announced that I must go to the hospital. Apparently my symptoms are exactly those for dengue fever, a dangerous mosquito born illness that is common in Peru. Awesome.

Once at the hospital, they tested me for dengue (negative by the way, I'm dengue free!) and started me on an IV to rehydrate me and give me Cipero. Finally, they let me leave at night after I promised to return again should my condition worsen. I spent today further recovering at home and retraining my stomach how to eat again. Once again: good times.

Right now I'm still kind of recovering but feeling much better and even sort of considering going to work tomorrow... Maybe- hopefully! I get way too bored with this whole staying home thing. Please keep me in your prayers and happy thoughts as I continue to heal and for my community members that they won't get sick too!

Health, happiness, and much love to you!

PS Please note that in the photo of the piece of paper from the hospital they misspelled my name at first then crossed it out. Chantelle and I think the result looks like "Lacie Dengue Michaelson" at a quick glance!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rang Out So Purely and Sweet

Just when I feel as though I am losing touch of what is important or that I am missing the point completely- it is thrust upon me in such a strong and beautiful way. Having our director, Pat, here this past week was a very cool experience. We had the opportunity to chat with him on our own and then all together as a community. I didn't realize how beneficial an outside yet understanding opinion would be. When I expressed my frustrations with the culture, Pat asked questions that I had not thought of and challenged me to redirect my struggles to positive energy. I now look forward to facing these struggles and recommit myself to a more patient attitude.

In addition to taking a new look at my own experience here, I was able to reevaluate my relationships with my community members. Recognizing our strengths as a community, deciding to work harder to alleviate our struggles, and promising to support each other unconditionally really made me appreciate Britt and Chantelle all the more. Although each of us has friends and family members supporting us from home, we are all each other has in this country.

This morning we brought Pat to the airport and from there decided to spend the day enjoying Piura. Some of my favorite moments with Chantelle and Britt are when we do absolutely nothing... Together! We wandered around Piura for a while and eventually stumbled upon San Sebastian church. It just so happened that mass was beginning at that very moment and we felt ourselves drawn into this impressive cathedral. It was the most beautiful mass that I have been to thus far in Peru. Thankfully, the priest spoke slowly enough that, despite the immense size of the building, we could understand everything perfectly. In addition, the music from the choir rang out so purely and sweetly which filled me in a way that I had deeply missed. I left the church feeling renewed in my faith and my commitment to this program. I realized that I am not in control and I need to stop assuming that I am. I don't know or understand everything (at times it feels I barely know or understand anything), but it doesn't matter because I'm not really the one driving anyways. Everything is not always roses, yet poco a poco I allow myself to be vulnerable enough to witness the presence of Christ.

Thanks for being you because that's what I love!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Culture Really Gets Me Down.

Cold showers with limited water pressure, lack of access to clean drinking water, change in diet, change in language, and a number of other little cultural differences were not a major cause of alarm for me. In fact, I looked forward to these differences and hoped to grow and delight in the challenges. Little did I know, these were only at the surface level of the culture shock.

Somedays, culture really gets us down. Somedays, I hate that I can't walk anywhere without being whistled at or called to (like I would actually ever respond or something). Sometimes I'm annoyed that I have to discipline my adult students in order to win their respect. Sometimes I'm infuriated when my fellow professors disrespect me by barging into my classroom-during the middle of a lesson- only to boss my students around and make it look like I have no control over the situation. Somedays I an irritated when my coworkers regard my work as unimportant and frivolous with the implication that 4 of my missing my classes would be fine for the students. Sometimes I don't have patience.

Cultural differences present themselves in ways that are often surprising- and obviously frustrating- to us. My prayer these days is for patience and understanding: please send me your prayers and good vibes on this one... I need all the help I can get!

Love you!

PS My heart weeps for the city of Boston. For all those affected or connected, I'm thinking of you.

PPS The director of our program just came to Chulucanas today to check on us and to see how were settling in. He doesn't speak Spanish so this should be interesting! My wonderful mother also sent supplies down with him: much appreciated and needed!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Do Wipe Your Feet Please

It surprised me to realize that I have gone so long without giving you a proper tour of our home! Forgive my rude behavior and allow me to show you around. Do wipe your feet please, we just swept and mopped.

The first picture that you see below is of the front room. The doorway in the back is our front door. There is a bedroom to the right of the door that we do not currently use except for storage.

Taken from the same geographic spot as the first but now with the viewer's back to the door, the second picture is of our kitchen. Believe it or not, we usually all crowd in there together to cook at the same time.

Although it does not show my bed, mirror, or table the third picture is of my room. The vivacious blue walls are adorned with pictures of my friends and family. I see and think of all of you each and every day!

Decorated by my laundry, the fourth picture shows our courtyard. This little patio is bordered by the kitchen, bathroom, Chantelle's room, and Britt's room. There is also another bathroom in Britt's room and a fairly large backyard.

Thanks for visiting, it was great to see you!

Love you!

PS Our bonfire last night was fun and our Peruvian friends now like s'mores!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Yo No Tengo Sangre Dulce

Chantelle and Britt and constantly envious of me. Why? Yo no tengo sangre dulce. "I don't have sweet blood." Although I do get the occasional and particularly itchy mosquito bite, I am generally left alone by the extreme number of insects that thrive in this climate. Unfortunately for Britt and Chantelle, their blood is quite sweet. Last week, Chantelle began complaining a lot more than usual about the bug bites on her legs. "I want to just cut my legs off their so itchy!" We obviously advised against this, and then we took a closer look. Those don't really look like mosquito bites, we thought. Hmmmm... After a while we began to consider that these bites might be something different than mosquitoes: like bed bugs. We were never able to find any bed bugs in Chantelle's bed so we're also considering fleas, but we did contact our landlord and got our entire house fumigated. This meant removing all of our food and having to stay out of our house for 3 hours (I'll take that to having bugs in our home!). Chantelle's bites seem to be getting better and we have less unwelcome house guests now.

In happier news, I found a great recipe for cinnamon swirl bread that actually came out really well, we're having friends over tonight for a campfire in our backyard, and I feel like I'm really starting to get comfortable and understand my computer class.

Life goes on. Life is hard, but there are small moments that make it worth it.

Love you!