Friday, March 16, 2012

Oregon takes over Sierra Leone!! (Ok, with a little help from Arizona, Chile and Canada...)

Every year we have a couple medical teams that come over to Sierra Leone. The "March Team" is one of my favorites because it always has lots of
people that I know and love on it. It was on just such a team that I came to Sierra Leone for the first time oh so many years ago I get to sleep with coc
kroaches, sweat profusely while doing nothing, get "arrested" for bald tires and....pretty much have an awesome life!!
Since I didn't have internet access during the trip and am headed up country
tomorrow, I wanted to note some of my most memorable moments from the trip.

#1. We started off the team by the ferry. I've flown in and out of Sierra Leone countless time but have never, ever, ever missed the ferry. It has always
been one of my biggest fears in bringing a team in...missing the darn ferry. Well, this was the year. Since our bus couldn't make it on the ferry I had everyone grab their carry on luggage and walk on. My friend Robin was HUGE in helping us get that mess sorted out and John and Chad were amazing and came down in the middle of the night to pick up the team. Thanks guys!!

My dad, another hardcore friend Kim, and I decided to wait back with the bus so ....we buckled down for a night at the docks. At one point my dad got up to go the the bathroom and Kim and I drifted back to sleep. All of the sudden Kim bolted up and said, "WHERE'S YOUR DAD!!" (I felt horrible that it was SHE who woke out of her stupor while his own flesh and blood n
odded on....oops!) We prepared to go defend his honor when he sauntered back. Man, those potential bad guys are lucky....
#2. We got to stay in a village this year which was challenging in a lot of ways, but also really really neat. We got to know the people better and had a lot of fun. There was a downside to having one bathroom for 12 people (and we realized halfway through the week that no, it wasn't just shower water that was on the floor.....but our toilet leaked from the bowl when we flushed it. Thank you Jesus for shower shoes!

#3. One shower for 12 people working in Africa can pose a problem. However, we discovered a local shower....and it wasn't bad!! There was something kind of cool about showering in the middle of the jungle, under the moon. The smell of urine reminded us that this place had multiple uses, but if you just kept that out of your mind it was ok. One of my favorite quotes from the trip was when there was a group of us girls down at the shower and for some reason we were debating on going back up for some reason. From inside the shower we hear someone shout "HEY! You don't leave naked ladies in the jungle!!!" Touche' my friend....touche'.

#4. I love coming with first timers (especially nurses) because they always get to learn a lot. Any minor surgeries are always really exciting. Here's one of our nurses and our doc removing something (cyst? lipoma? some kind of alien lifeform? I'm not sure) from a patient.

#5 When I was home in November I bought some flannel graph stuff and then a sweet lady from one of the churches I visited gave me a lot more. I plan on using them during Sunday School but wanted to practice them out during the trip. They were a big hit! (Especially with the adults! :)
#6 I got to see my friend "Ali" who I met last year when he fractured his leg playing futbol. We've kept in touch over the last year and we were both really excited to see each other. His leg is doing awesome....which is....well, awesome.

#7 Math has never been my strong point. Right now, when I go change money I get 4,350 leones for every one dollar. We didn't need to have the giant bus with u
s the whole time so I decided to hire a "poda poda" (the local a van) to take us to and from clinic each day. Even though we only needed him for an hour in the day, you have to pay him for the whole day because he can't go make money on
his long transport runs. Great. Well, he was late picking us up (which was kind of annoying since he
only had to be around for an hour) and then his van ended up breaking down on the way home. I waschatting with some of the team members about how it was ridiculous to pay $200 a day and then still have to cart people home....later than we'd expected. So we decided to save our $200 and all cram in "African style." It was great! :) (Especially for me since I was driving so I had my own seat). Well, after carting people back and forth like (along with fans, coolers, etc) a couple times and more importantly, reviewing my math that it was only $80
and not $200 per day.....we hired a new poda poda driver. Emily, bad math but good memories.

#8 The limited bathrooms made us improvise. This was our teeth brushing station.
#9 My good friend from Seattle (well really Virginia if we're going to go WAY back) came all the way over here just to see me!!! (And maybe do a little medicine too). I was so blessed by her coming!
#10 We had some girls from Chile who came with us on our team this year. They were rock stars!! One of the girls started learning English just 2 months ago but was already seeing patients in English. Mad skills! On a side note, I found out that I now cannot speak one word of Spanish. Every time I tried to say anything, Krio just came out. Guess my brain is a 2 language max.

#11 Since we were sleeping in a village, night time was social time. It frequently became "plant (braid) the white people's hair time." I let them do a couple braids but so far have not succumbed to the pressure of getting my whole head braided. There's a LOT of scalp under this hair.....not sure the world's ready for it. But I'm afraid I'm weakening.....
#12 Of course it's always great to hang out with my family, so having my dad here was a special treat!!

I'm sure there are a lot more buy my brain is shutting down, along with my computer battery so thank you all so much for making it so great!!

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