Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Month!

Well, this Friday marks my one month anniversary in Sierra Leone. Hard to believe! At home I volunteered with an organization called Young Life. The leaders met every week but once a month we'd have a big group meeting in which we talked about the awesome things God had done in the last month. We called them "yea God's." :)
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In honor of that tradition and my one month anniversary here, I'd like to share some of the "yea God!'s" that I've experienced so far!
I arrived in the airport safely and with all my luggage.
I found the guy who was supposed to pick me up from the airport (even though the sign said "Amy Winehouse) instead of "Emily." Chad.....
Although they threatened to leave me at the airport because I brought more than two bags, the water taxi people didn't abandon me and I made it to the right landing station.
I am living with a GREAT family!
Our team here is growing in our relationships with each other and in our vision for WMT
God has humbled me in several ways already!
I haven't gotten sick.
I am able to talk with my family (even if it's only over e-mail) almost every day!
I can still get on Facebook. :)
My little friend Owen got sick with Malaria last week. His mom ran out of ibuprofen the day he was diagnosed....which was also the day someone from the States came and brought her a lot more....that we had asked for weeks ago!
After just a few days, little Owen is back to his old self.
I've gone to the beach three times since arriving (it's our favorite weekend activity).
We have a medical team coming at the end of the week.
I went to an international service and there "happened" to be a doctor there who runs the hospital I'll be going to. It was both of our first time at the service (although she's been in country for 3 years) and we sat right next to each other. I got to pick her brain about what I'll be doing next month.
He loves me....this I know! Yea God!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's getting hot in the generator on!

Wow, it's hot. March is supposed to be the hottest month here and boy am I feeling it!! After I showered and dressed today, I went to put on a little make-up but ended up just kind of swirling my liquid concealer around on my just showered but already sweaty face. Not pretty! I think it marked the end of my make-up days.
Today I went to town with Chad (one of my fellow team members). We had lots of errands to run. Now Chad is a fast walker. And those of you who know me well, know that fast walking is not my forte'. I'm more of a mosey er (I have no idea how to spell that). Anyway, Chad had to run to a couple places to get car parts and since I have no idea/interest in car parts and literally slow him down while he's walking, I decided to stay in the car and read my book (just started the Lord of the Ring series!) Wow. Bad idea.
We cracked the window so I would have some airflow but it was NOT enough. I started sweating. I sweat like I have never sweat before. It was dripping down my face, neck, back, everywhere! Chad has a rag he uses to dust the car so I grabbed that dirty, dusty rag and turned into my sweat mop. I was afraid I was going to have to ring it out!
I was leery to open the door because I was in charge of guarding a large sum of money Chad had just received from the bank. But I finally couldn't stand it anymore. I had to open the door to let some air in. Another big mistake!
I set the car alarm off. And I had no idea where Chad was to bring the key to turn the alarm off. After opening all the doors multiple times, trying to do anything I could to turn it off, I finally gave up.
So there I was, sitting in the middle of a busy shopping area in a sweltering car, sweating from every pore in my body, and trying to nonchanantly pretend like it wasn't MY car who kept incessently screaming BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP by continuing to read The Hobbit......nice. One guy from one of the stores came and asked me if I could please turn it off because it was too loud. Like he thought I just hadn't noticed it or something?!??! Oops!

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's a sometime world

Yesterday one of the kiddos (5 year old) that I live with started to complain of a stomach ache while we were in town. In order to get to town we go over this ridiculously long, bumpy road, so his mom thought it was just some carsickness. However, a couple hours later, he felt pretty febrile. Of course I went into medical mode and came home and brushed up on malaria. I have a book in which I rated his symptoms and if he got a score of 7 or more, he most likely had malaria. This little guy rang in at a six. After we got home he took some ibuprofen and with about 30 minutes was laughing, playing and seemed almost back to his old self. If he would have come into my office I probably would have diagnosed him as a viral gastroenteritis and instructed mom to treat his symptoms. Well, his fever kept coming and going and this morning he was 104.1....and he just looked sick! His mom gave him a malaria test which was +++.
This kiddo is the first one of our team to get malaria. They went 13 months without getting it so....I'd say that's pretty good!
So now I'm back to reading up on malaria, looking at what I should expect, etc. I was just struck today at how my list of differentials has expanded and I have to learn a whole new set of potential problems. It's a sometimes world.........

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I drive I drive!!!

Well, I’ve had quite a delightful past few days! On Sunday I went an international church service in Freetown. It was fun to meet with believers from all different places who have converged upon Sierra Leone. So at the beginning of the service we went around and said our name and what we were doing here. Since I haven’t really done a ton yet in terms of working for WMT, I said that my name was Emily and I am a nurse practitioner who will be going up to Kamakwie hospital in a few weeks. And lo and behold, the next person to introduce herself said, “My name is Karen and I run Kamakwie Hospital.” Ha! This was the woman that I’ve been e-mailing for the past year but haven’t spoken to since the two seconds I met her at the ferry last year. It was both of our first time being there so I got to pick her brain about the hospital, what I’ll be doing, etc. I was really nervous about going up there and so I was elated to get to talk that all out with her. She was really great and I’m now even more excited to get up there! Soyeah!

On Monday I took my second road trip. This time I was driving. Yikes!
We headed up to Mo Charles which is the area we will be taking our medical team when they come in a few weeks. My job was to finalize the lodging arrangements and preview the clinic site to make sure everything will be ready for us. It was also my responsibility to decide whether or not the road is good enough to take a 30 passenger bus on. Team, I decided we can do it. I apologize ahead of time if we get high-centered or the bus tips over. My bad.

This trip was different from my last one for a couple of reasons. For one, it was just me and two Sierra Leonean guys who are partnering with WMT. Road trip!! I love doing these kinds of things because you get to spend a lot of one on one time and chat about more than just work. There was a lot of joking about how different our cultures are.

The trip was about 6 hours each way so we had some time to kill. I brought my IPOD with me to play some tunes but had trouble finding something that they liked. The pastor told me that he liked country so I pulled out my lone Dixie Chicks CD and he bee bopped to that for awhile. Other than that, they weren’t too impressed….UNTIL! Michal. W. Smith. That’s right, they went crazy for some Smitty. They asked why I made them listen to all that other stuff when I had this all along. Whoda thunk? It made me laugh.

It is very expensive to live in Freetown. Therefore, when we go out into the provinces I have noticed that the Sierra Leoneans like to stock up on things that are more expensive to buy in Freetown like coal, etc. So I wasn’t too surprised when we stopped to get some pineapple (cause theyre much cheaper) and then loaded up the back of the truck with 3 huge bags of coal. But I was not expecting to have to ride the rest of the way with THESE!!

It was disgusting. I kept waiting for us to have to stop suddenly and find this thing in my lap. I forget what they call it, but it only cost about 2 ½ bucks. I’ll pass.

All in all it was a delightful trip. I was given the degree ofexcellent driverby the pastor (who incidentally does not have his drivers license) but I think it was later revoked. They didn’t want me to drive home because they said I drove too slow. I don’t know….I’ve never had someone tell me that in the States, but have had several friendly policemen tell me the opposite………

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two weeks!

Yesterday was a milestone for me, as it marked my two week anniversary of living here! Time has sure flown by! Although it's only been two weeks, I've learned some valuable lessons about surviving here that I thought I'd pass on. Who knows....they might come in handy for you as well someday!

#1. Hoard electricity. Every time the NPA (the national electricity) comes on or the generator starts running, it is vital that you plug everything you own in. If you do this, you will almost always have enough power to watch some of "The Office" as you go to bed. Very important.

#2. When going into the bathroom, if you have electricity, always make sure to turn on the light, count to 5 and then go into the bathroom. This gives time for the little geckos and anything else that might be enjoying the darkness to run away before you go into the bathroom and their sudden movement gives you a heart attack.

#3. Don't wait to do your laundry until you are completely out of clothes. This is due to the fact that after your clothes are hung out to dry, you must allow them to sit for 48 hours before you wear them. This is to prevent mango flies from deciding that the area under your skin is a perfect new place to live. (You can google mango flies. And be grossed out.)

#4. Early to bed and early to rise! Until we get solar power, we are running the generator at night to provide power for our security lights (but has the added bonus of powering a fan!) It's usually turned off around 5:30-6am. I've found that if I sleep in much more than that, I toss and turn in a puddle of my own sweat. So for now, my night shift habits have been broken and I'm in bed by about 10!!

Well, those are the little tidbits I've learned at this point. Who knows what I'll learn in the next two weeks! :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Medical Emergency!!!!

Well, I had my first medical emergency since arriving in Sierra Leone. I didn't realize that I would be the patient. It all started when I had to leave my Q-tips at home. I have an unfortunate habit of cleaning my ears several times a day and was excited to realize that since I whittled my Q-tips I would have to break that habit! Then I went shopping here....and found Q-tips! Not only did I find Q-tips, but I found many different brands of Q-tips. I saw the old, familiar Johnson & Johnson brand but decided that since I am now living in Sierra Leone (and the Johnson & Johnson brand was twice as much) I would go for the off brand.
So there I am, getting ready for bed and cleaning my ears like I always do when I pulled the Q-tip out of my right ear.....and the cotton stayed in my ear! So I went and notified my team members that I did indeed have a medical emergency. I didn't have an otoscope to look and see, but I knew it was still there because it was causing just enough pain to let me know!

So John and Chad tried to look but couldn't find it. Finally, John said "Oh! I think I see it. Man it is really down in there!" Not what I wanted to hear. But John thought he could get it so away we went.

Success!!!! My ear is saved!
This morning when I got up I looked longingly at my Q-tips but resisted the urge. Apparently there are some things you just don't try to save money on!