Nicaraguan Adventure // The Medical Clinic

8.13.2014

*I didn't take this picture. This was taken by our associate pastor after one of the church services.

When I left off in part 1, it was Sunday morning, July 20, and we were headed from the mission house into the village. I've gotten a few questions about our trip that I'm going to go ahead and answer now so you'll have a better idea of things before I dive into a recap of our week in the village.


I'm really glad some of you are enjoying hearing about our trip! It's hard to condense into just a few posts all that happened and only share a small portion of the pictures I took that week, but it's nice to have a place to write all this down. 


What organization did you go through?
Our church works with an organization called the Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International (BMDMI) to arrange these trips. Currently BMDMI works primarily in Honduras and Nicaragua, and a team from the United States goes every week from I think April to October (although don't quote me on those months). Our church takes a team every year, and this year was actually Jordan's mom's fifth trip to Nicaragua. His dad also went last year. After meeting the missionaries in Nicaragua and seeing how the organization runs, I really can't say enough good things about BMDMI.

Do you have to be a medical person to go with the medical missions? You do not have to be a doctor, nurse, or dentist to go on the trip, although our team did bring a dentist, nurses, a few ER doctors, a pharmacist, and other medical professionals. There are also local medical professionals that BMDMI pays to work in the clinic. If you're a regular person (like Jordan and myself), there are still many ways you can help and areas you can work.

Did you get to choose what area you worked in?
Yes. We signed up for this trip back in January, and we did get a choice. I chose eye care because I have worn glasses since the fourth grade and know what it's like to not be able to see. Jordan wasn't sure where he wanted to work, but then the leader of the vet team asked Jordan to be on his team, so that's how that worked out.


* * *
We left the mission house on Sunday morning around 8:00 and drove to the village of La Pintada. Every group who comes goes to a different village to set up the clinic, and this year we were actually staying relatively close to where the mission house was. It was only about a two-hour bus ride to the village. Last year I think Jordan's mom said they drove eight hours away. 

BMDMI pays a group of translators to go to the village with us, and they were a lot of fun to get to know. I showed you a picture of Miguel, the vet team's translator, in my first recap. Mario was the translator helping us in the eye clinic.

*I left my big camera in the safe at the mission house, so these pictures are all taken with my point-and-shoot. There are a few from Jordan's phone camera in the bunch too.
^^^This is the view of the school where we slept every night and where we set up the medical clinic. Those mattresses leaning up against the outside were what we slept on, and the Toyota to the left is Dr. Nicaragua's truck that the vet team took out every day. They actually still did have school while we were there, but they moved all the desks outside under some tents.

Below are a few pictures inside the school. We slept in some of the classrooms and had the medical clinic in a few other rooms. The eye and dental clinics shared a room, so occasionally we heard the cries of a little kid who was getting a tooth pulled. The dentist pulled over 50 teeth a day!

There wasn't any air conditioning obviously, but we did have some box fans, which we hung from the windows with string so we could circulate some air. At night we put the fans on the ground so they could face our beds.
^^^Lory (Jordan's mom) wrote this on the chalkboard in the main medical room where all the people came through after they had been to church and gotten registered for the clinic.

After the people had gone through the clinic, they went to the hygiene room, where they got rice & beans, a Bible, and clothes for their family. I got really good at telling people in Spanish how to go around the corner for arroz y frijoles.
We arrived in La Pintada and started seeing people in the clinic on Sunday afternoon. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we held clinic all day, and believe me: it was a full day's work. Breakfast was at 6:30 a.m., and then we always had a short devotional time before we had to start getting things ready for the day. We started clinic around 8:00 in the morning, stopped for a half-hourish lunch, and then worked until dinner.

Everyone who came to the clinic had to go to a church service first. We had three services a day and saw over 2,500 people total that week go through the clinic.
^^^This is a picture of Jordan's dad speaking to a group of people after the church service. Scott is the one is the blue scrub pants and red backpack. His translator is behind him in the green shirt.

People arrived to the clinic on horses, motorcycles, cars, buses, and crammed into the back of carriages.
^^^While in the village, girls were only allowed to either wear scrub pants or long skirts. Boys could wear jeans or khakis. No shorts were allowed, which was unfortunate because it was hot and humid. We're talking like 95% humidity. No joke.

A couple of people actually got dehydrated and needed IVs, which was kind of scary. One of the doctors Macgyvered an IV stand by duct taping crutches to the side of a bucket and draping the IV over the crutch. Legit. Meanwhile, I was in the corner pounding down the water. I did not want that happening to me.

The picture below is the treacherous patch up to the kitchen area.
^^^This was the kitchen setup. We had to wash our hands with the bleach water and then file through the line. Our cooks did a fantastic job with the food. It's a tough job!

Now for the showers and toilets. 
I use those words loosely.
So, the bathrooms were pretty gross; I'm not gonna lie. First of all, they didn't have toilet seats. Luckily, however, my crazy mother-in-law had BROUGHT her own toilet seat. So that happened. 

Secondly, we had to "flush" the toilets ourselves using a bucket of water that we dumped into the toilet after we had gone to the bathroom. Let's just say sometimes it needed three or four buckets to fully flush. Also, there wasn't any light, so I had to wear a headlamp to go to the bathroom. Also x2, there wasn't any toilet paper, so we had to bring our own.

It blows my mind that this is what these people live with every day. It really puts the phrase "first world problems" into a whole new perspective.

The showers were brought in by BMDMI. They put these metal boxes together and throw a hose over the side. Again, no light, so I wore my headlamp in the shower. I didn't take a shower every day, because I was too tired by the end of the day to wait in a long line of people, so I used a lot of baby wipes on myself. Again, legit.
^^^A view of the children's church tent right after dinner as the sun was setting. The sun set pretty early down there. I think maybe around 6:30-7:00 or so it started getting dark.

Okay! So that's a rundown of our time in the village. I've decided that there will be two more Nicaragua posts. Next, I'll talk specifically about what happened in the eye clinic and on the vet team and show pictures of what Jordan and I did during the week. The last recap post will be about our free day on Friday after we returned from the village.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have that I haven't answered already!
What do you think about our trip so far?
Have you ever manually flushed a toilet with a bucket of water?

(If you haven't yet, catch up on Part 1.)

28 comments:

  1. Yes, I have manually flushed a toilet with a bucket of water. And used a toilet with no seat.

    Baby wipes are awesome, by the way. They have far more uses than what they are intended for! I just told Mike that I'm not going to stop buying them any time soon even though we really don't need them anymore. :)

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  2. Great recap. Love it. So proud of you guys for going. Can't wait for more stories.

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    1. Thanks, Mom! Excited to tell you about our adventures in person this weekend!

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  3. This is fascinating!!! Love reading about it.

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  4. All I have to say is: you go girl.

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  5. Girl, I get you with the toilets. When I got to my dorm in France--FRANCE, mind you--there were no toilet seats or toilet paper. Silly me expected FRANCE to have first world conveniences. So, I feel you there. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the trip!

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    1. I love your France stories so much. They never get old :) MISS YOU MOVE BACK FROM TEXAS RIGHT NOW.

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  6. I'm cracking up at the toilets and showers! I don't know why I find it entertaining, maybe because I've had to do a lot of weird bathroom things .... squatty potties in Korea & all of Asia!

    I can't believe the amount of people you all saw each day! That's a huge amount of people but I'm glad that they were able to be seen.

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  7. I am so glad that you continued with this post!!! You answered pretty much all of my questions in it. :) Medical needs are a great door into being able to telling people about God and the Good News of the Gospel! I'm glad you got the opportunity to take part in this trip. :)

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  8. This is so cool! Your toilet story reminds me when I was in Mexico and if you wanted toilet paper you had to pay for it. Crazy! Being on a medical team sounds so cool! I'm so fascinated! And your mother-in-law bringing her own toilet seat. She knows what she's doing!

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    1. She does for sure! She's been 5 times, so she knows the drill. But I thought it was hilarious when she pulled a toilet seat out of her suitcase! haha.

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  9. Wow! Sounds like it was an amazing, life changing trip!

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  10. This is so far out. Wow. What an amazing experience.

    The manually flushing toilet situation makes my squatting over a hole in China seem quite first world. At least it flushed with the push of a handle.

    -Amy

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  11. I totally now understand the shower thing after being in Maine. Sounds like you did a lot of good while you were there.

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  12. Your MIL's toilet seat made my day.

    (FWIW I'm the one that asked you why your trip was called a mission. And now I'm back with another question/comment...I hope you don't think I'm trolling you!) You touched on an issue that's a real divider amongst Catholic social services in my area, and that's whether to require anything (translation = church attendance) of people before they can receive services. Thoughts?

    I work in an area of the US where people have options. So going to a faith-based provider is an actual decision. It's not the faith service or nothing, so I've never seen an issue with these requirements. However, some are saying that true selfless service is low-barrier, and that religion shouldn't be pushed upon people whose other option is to go with nothing.

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    1. If you're a troll, then I wish they all could be like you! What a great question. Jordan and I actually discussed this last night, because I wanted to see what he thought. He said that when he found out people were required to go to service before the clinic, he had a similar thought as what you brought up. Ultimately, however, I think people DO have an option: they can either go to the service or go with nothing. The latter is less preferable obviously to people who need help, but it is a choice. We didn't go from house to house in the village forcing people to attend the clinic. They made the choice to come.
      Another thing is that we didn't force anyone to do anything besides sit through a 20-minute service. They didn't even have to pay attention. We didn't require them to sign anything or sign up for anything or do anything else except sit there.
      Finally, I like how my father-in-law explained it: we were really there for two reasons: 1) to attend to their physical health; 2) to attend to their spiritual health. BMDMI's slogan is "more than medicine." Not requiring people to go to church before going to the clinic is basically saying that the medical was the more important part, which we don't think it is. The main reason we went is to share the gospel, so you might say that if we couldn't do the church service, we wouldn't have been there at all anyway.
      I hope that answers your question. Thanks for making me think!

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    2. I'm glad you mentioned this. The attend-church-don't-attend-church-to-get-help thing was a big point of contention on our trip too, but since we were with a small enough group, there wasn't much we could do as far as having people sit through a service, since we weren't officially partnered with any one specific church. I like the way you've described it though.

      Oh my goodness those showers… I'd have probably gone without and just used baby wipes too, egad!

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  13. I love reading about your experience!
    And yes, I have manually flushed a toilet with a bucket of watera nd used a toilet with no seat. :)

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  14. Dude. Baby wipes are amazing. I laughed at my friends (before I had kids) that would swear by them but Lillie hasn't "needed" them in over a year but you can bet your bottom dollar that I always have a pack near me. So, baby wipe shower? Totally legit.

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  15. I love hearing about your trip! So much feels very familiar as I have been on a few missions trips myself and I laughed out loud about the toilets and showers. When I was in India, we had to go #1 over bricks... no hole only bricks that we had to use a ladle with water to "wash off" after we were done...Thank the Lord for wet wipes for your legs :) Love missions work so much because it is so humbling to bring glory to God through obedience in serving others and it provides a much needed perspective on where we live and what we "complain" about. Can't wait to hear more!

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  16. I feel like I cant breath just THINKING of the humidity!!!!!
    That line of people who come for help - that just puts it all in perspective.
    I thank God for people like you who live uncomfortably for a while to make others lives better. What a blessing in Heaven you will receive one day!

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  17. I definitely have flushed a toilet with a bucket of water before and anytime I'm overseas now (anywhere!) I bring good ole toilet paper with me just in case because you never know when they won't have any OR where you're going to have to pay for some! I just love that you guys were all about the medical help, but emphasized that you were there because of Jesus! I've done a medical mission without the aspect of Jesus and it is just not the same- you are missing the most vital part of "health" that will last a person longer than their parasite pills will. Showering is kind of overrated, especially in third world countries so I don't blame you on the wipes one bit! Excited to read the next posts!

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  18. I love reading about your Nicaraguan adventure! Ok, I have some questions:

    1) Were the kitchen crew members part of your group? Could you have signed up to do that job? (Just curious)
    2) Did your mother-in-law share her toilet seat? (Like, I think it would be completely sanitary, and I share actual toilets all of the time---at least, this would be my argument for a chance to use a toilet seat.)
    3) How does wearing a headlamp in a shower work? (This sounds complicated to me.)

    It looks like you did a lot of hard work on your trip, but what a rewarding experience! It sounds like you had an awesome adventure!

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    1. Good questions! As always.

      1) Yes and yes.
      2) Yes. haha! She actually had Jordan attached it to the toilet, so everyone used it. There's just nothing quite so hilarious and ridiculous as someone pulling a toilet seat triumphantly out of their luggage.
      3) Should have clarified: I did not wash my hair. Dry shampoo and thick headbands were my friend that week. When I finally took my hair out of the braid and ponytail at the end of the week, it just stayed there on its own. I wish I were kidding. My MIL to the rescue yet again for people who did wash their hair: a flashlight that was magnetic and stuck to the side of the metal shower! Genius, I tell you. That woman.

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  19. This is so amazing, Amanda! What a great service you provided for those people. I'm sure they felt loved and cared for. The showers and bathrooms sounds pretty bad, but it sounds like y'all were good sports! I probably would have taken lots of baby wipe baths, too!

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  20. Why yes, of course I've flushed a toilet with a bucket of water. Really, do you even have to ask? I've also taken bucket of water showers and actually do this day I HATE taking showers and it's possibly related to the weird shower scenarios I've experienced over the years. I've only been in one bathroom situation in a mountain village where a headlamp would have really come in handy...and I really, really highly value bathrooms and I never complain about USA gas station bathrooms
    This definitely looks like a valuable experience for all involved. And don't you just love extreme high humidity? Not ideal if you feel like exercising for the fun of it, I suppose...

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  21. the more you post about this trip, the more i'm in awe not only of a) your awesome work but also b) you ability to convey everything you (and the team) did with such grace and humor. just lovely.

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