Thursday, July 22, 2010

Last Day in Yantalo

Today was our last day in Yantalo. As I write this we are on a bus headed for Lima. I was surprised how sad I was to leave. It is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I was also surprised to see Junior and Freddy at my house to say goodbye. Freddy was crying as I hugged him. “Te quiero ver profesional,” I told him. Junior, for the first time, didn't have a smile on his face and didn't make fun of me (He`s usually like a parrot- he repeats everything I say and laughs- except parrots don´t laugh). I will miss those kids. You know, I always thought that maybe these kids were coming to our english classes, our web design classes and everything else just because they were bored and didn't have anything else to do. I now realize that it was just because they wanted to hang out with us. I have to admit, sometimes they really tried my patience. I feel like now it was never really that hard to suffer through. This has been a really awesome time and I´ve gotten really close to the people.
Dr. Vasquez called us a couple days ago and said we are the best volunteers he´s ever had. That means a lot. I know we´ve worked really hard here, but I think what has made the biggest impression is that the nature of our work has dealt so heavily with people. We´ve lived with and learned from and taught them for months- most of the other volunteers have not been here very long and have worked on projects that are a little less personal- perhaps. Anyway- it still feels awesome to hear that from him. He seems like he can be kind of hard to please.
I´m off to visit my converts and friends in the rest of Perù now. It´s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 5, 2010

I had a productive day today, although I didn't finish everything I set out to do. I was hoping that today I could finish my next physiology and anatomy lesson- which is supposed to be about the digestive and nervous system. I also wanted to write one of the papers for my cultural proofs class and do 50 pages of reading. I started on my presentation and did about 30 pages of reading, but I didn't start on my paper. I think the important thing is that I worked the whole day without stopping. We continued teaching about parasites in the colegio. I often fail to mention these day to day things that are part of our work here. I don't know why, but I guess since they have become such routine tasks I feel like there isn't much to report.
There are some exciting things that are happening with the parasite education and treatment, however. Linnea, Xochi and I are teaching the high school kids so they can then teach the younger primaria kids. They have come up with some great ideas so far. The most exciting thing for me is to see that the kids are taking part in the learning experience. I know that this will mean that they retain and apply more of what they learn here. Another exciting thing is that the kids came into the nurses office to get their names on the list so that on Wednesday they will get their first parasite cleansing pills. The government is sponsoring this project so all the kids in school get the parasite cleansing pills in the next month.
I continue working with the students from Rochester to finish their prostate cancer research. I was able to give the surveys to 5 men over 50 this evening. If we continue at this pace we can be done in the next couple days. It's exciting that we will be able to finish the whole population so quickly. There is a possibility that we may go to a smaller village just outside of Yantalo before we leave, but our data may be sufficient with the surveys we do here in town only.
I'm excited to continue working. I want to work hard this week because we have a fun trip planned for the weekend. Wish me luck, I want to be really productive in the next couple days.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy B-Day Mom!

Things have been going really well down here. I started a few new things this week. I'm now going door to door with my buddies Thilan and Viral and we're talking to the men over 50 about prostate health. I grew a beard (sparce) and a left the mustache (still sparce). Photos to follow. I also started working out with my new roomies (T and V) and we're going to get ripped! haha
In other news, my Mom's birthday is tomorrow! Let's make it a special day for her! Love you mom! I miss you!
This week the PE professor, Jorge Lucana started teaching the Anatomy and Physiology material in the school! Jenny and I are really excited that he's doing it himself. Next week we start on the nervous and digestive systems. Every time I have to prepare a lesson I learn to love it a little more. :)
I'd like to close with a scripture I've been thinking about lately.
Helaman 11:23
And in the seventy and ninth
year there began to be much strife.
But it came to pass that Nephi and
Lehi, and many of their brethren
who knew concerning the true points
of doctrine, having many arevelations
daily, therefore they did
preach unto the people, insomuch
that they did put an end to their
strife in that same year.

I want to be able to recieve that kind of light. There are a lot of distractions in the world that take our focus away from what is important- and cause strife (all kinds of problems) but if we know the true doctrine by filling ourselves with light, we can solve these problems.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

After a week of Fiestas...

It was awesome to have a week off. Tomorrow it´s back to the old grind, but I´m super excited about it!
I have had the last week to go to some fiestas, go camping and be a tourist here in moyobamba. Tomorrow I will start helping two of the medical students with their study of prostate cancer.
I would write some more, but I think that´s all I have time for right now.
Peace and love!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today I found out that because of the Fiesta de San Juan tomorrow, there is no class. There isn´t class on Friday and the President of Peru also told the whole country to take off Monday and Tuesday.
I´ve been so busy lately, this is exactly what I need! I´m going to go visit a city that´s a few hours away and hit up some of the local fiestas this weekend.

PS- I´ve invented a new sport, I like to call it Yogacycling. Photo credit: Starla Awerkamp

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Heart Problems, Tingana and Parties

I vow to never let myself get atherosclerosis (if I can help it).

These last couple weeks we've been working with a new group of students from the University of Rochester Medical School. There are 5 girls and 2 guys who have come to do a study of the population. There are 3 studies: cardiovascular health, prostate health and cervical cancer detection (or health, I guess?). Anyway, most mornings and afternoons they hang out at the municipal building and take blood pressure, height, weight, waist size (in girth units) and then they have them fill out the surveys.
Dr. Vasquez gave us some education on a certain case of artherosclerosis. A guy came in with a chest x ray that showed an enlarged heart and a wall of plaque on his aorta. I remember seeing some of those huge hearts in the anatomy lab, and Dr. Vasquez says a normal heart should only occupy 1/3 of the chest cavity, as seen from a chest x ray. After talking to the gentleman he told us his doctor told him to change his diet and lifestyle years ago, but he didn't want to.
The sad thing is that tests like x-rays, mammograms and pap smears are all free here, but nobody in the "hospital" in Yantalo knows how to read any of these tests.
On a happier note, the clinic construction continues on schedule. Dr. Vasquez's hope is to have the first phase of the clinic all up and running in 1 year. They will start treating patients while they finish the second phase.
On Saturday we went to an amazing place called Tingana. This is a small stream that feeds into the Mayo river and we took a canoe up to a lodge and then went up the river to see the jungle in a way I've never seen before. There were monkeys and tropical birds. It was rad.
That night was the doctor's last night in Moyobamba with us so he invited us over to his hotel in Moyobamba and we had a band come play for us. Dr. Vasquez is 75 years old but he still knows how to cut a rug! It was really fun but I was dead tired.
Church was good, as always. I don't know if I mentioned this, but they have called me to serve in the young men's presidency! Cool huh? Anyway, we are working with 7 or 8 young men and trying to get them all active in church. We've already had an activity with them and we had 7 in attendance! :)
This is a special time. I just realized the other day that I'm halfway through this trip and I have a lot more I would like to do. I feel like the key to the work I do here is SUSTAINABILITY. I want my work to have a sustained impact, and I think by collaborating with the teachers to teach Physiology and English, spending time with the kids and making long lasting friendships I'll be able to have that impact.
Starla and I stayed up late talking about agency, among other things. There is so much to do and we will be most useful as we use our powers for good and influence others for the same. The scripture we discussed comes from 2 Nephi 9:51
"Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The doctor is in!

So the doctor is in town. We went to look at how things are going with the clinic.
Also, a new group of 8 students will be doing studies on cervical cancer, prostate cancer and cardiovascular health. They said I could work with them! I´m really excited about this!
Here´s a photo of me and Dr. Vasquez.