Thursday, August 25, 2011

Take 2 Recipe: Pepper-Honey Cedar Plank Salmon

If you remember my Pepper-Honey Cedar Plank Salmon post, I was left with three salmon fillets and some sauce that I let hang out in the freezer for about a month until I thought "I want that salmon again!"

This is such a fast and easier dinner, since I had already done all the work!  I just let the salmon and sauce defrost in the refrigerator for a day, threw together a quick salad, placed a fillet on top, and drizzled with the leftover sauce.  Matt pretty much inhaled his...but he was also really hungry :) 

Bon Appetite!

Mission Trip to San Ramon, Nicaragua: June 23 - July 2, 2011

As promised, I'm going to share some more details regarding my mission trip to Nicaragua.  I've had plenty of time to process the experience and I've done my best to share the experience with friends face-to-face.  I kept my journal updated constantly while in Nicaragua, and here are some excerpts from my daily entries along with some pictures, my best attempt at keeping this as condensed as possible...
June 25 - Saturday - 1:00 a.m.
We made it to La Quinta in San Ramon and it is lovely!  I am in a room with 5 other ladies.  The girls' dorm downstairs is a huge room with about 20-30 beds.  Although I'm sure that would be a fun experience, I'm so glad I'm's SO much quieter up here.  We don't have running water yet, so we brushed our teeth with bottled water and used the toilet...but no flushing.  I was impressed with how quickly everyone (about 120 of us) had the buses unloaded.  All the bins and luggage full of supplies and donations went downstairs.  It's awesome to see all those donations! 
Entering La Quinta

Dining Room

My bed under the painting

All that luggage is full of donations!

June 25 - Saturday - 4:30 p.m.
Today was the first clinic day for some of us while others stayed behind at La Quinta to keep working on unpacking and organizing supplies and donations.  The clinic was a small, short day to help us get used to what we'll be doing next week.  We bused about 15 minutes from the Quinta and set up the medical clinic inside a church and the dental area was inside the pastor's home next door.  The home was made of cinder blocks and wood planks and corrugated metal.  The walls were not complete in many areas, there were no doors, and floors were dirt.  I believe we were set up in what would be used for bedroom.  We didn't have a translator at first and that made it very difficult, but then we got Elina and she was awesome and so helpful!  Along with Lyne and Lynet (mother and daughter from the Bahamas, Lyne was the only other hygienist on the trip) we were the dental team for the day.  None of us have been on a mission trip before, so we are learning as we go.  This morning, we gathered supplies we would need (gloves, fluoride varnish, garbage bags, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc...).  By the end of the clinic we were working very well together and had a great system going.  It breaks my heart to see such decayed teeth that need to be extracted or a filling and not be able to do anything but show them how to brush, talk to them about what sugar does to their teeth, and apply fluoride.  There will be dentists on the trip in February and they know how to use the mobile dental units...maybe I'll return then. 

I asked our translator to thank the pastor's wife for allowing us to use their home and the wife responded with many thanks to us and how grateful they are and said she will ask God to bless us.  Day 1 was short yet tiring for many reasons I'm not familiar with.  Language barrier, 97% humidity, rain, mud, standing.  I got a blister from all the walking in my flip-flops in the previous days and it burst open today from being in my sock and shoe today.  Luckily I have 2 nurses in my room who hooked me up with some neosporin and moleskin.

One interesting fact I learned today from our translator:  It's common to see t.v.s and radios in a home but no bed.  Also, 1-4 families will live in one home, sharing food and rent. 

My shower felt amazing after the mugginess and muddiness today (and since there was no hot water it was especially refreshing).  I'm in the room alone now and thought this would be a good time to journal.  I'm going to go find my dental team so we can tally how many people we saw and how many donations we gave away and prep for tomorrow.  I'm so ready for dinner and bed! (48 patients treated in dental today).
In the home we used for our dental station.

Our translator for the day, Elina.

June 25 - Saturday - about 10:30 p.m.
We sorted SO MUCH clothes and shoes tonight!  I even found a shirt Matt donated because it shrunk and no longer fit, so I took a picture with it.  For a moment it was like he was here with me...I wish he was.

June 26 - Sunday - 9:30 p.m.
Today was a great day despite my neck/headache.  The other hygienist and myself will split up and go with different teams for the remainder of the week (3 teams go to 3 different villages each day).  Bill and Danielle (father and daughter) were my dental team today.  We didn't have a translator, but Bill was so helpful and I wrote down phrases in Spanish for myself.  We handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste and, if needed, denture cleaner and Rincinol.  We also showed them how/when to brush especially after eating/drinking sugar. There is a frozen sugar substance in little plastic bags, like Sno-cone, the kids are constantly sucking on and it rots their teeth.  It's heartbreaking not having a dentist with me, and not having the experience to know what else to do.  We saw 56 people in dental today, plus whatever the other dental team did in their village clinic.

We had chapel tonight for the 1st time and I SO needed it.  My heart was so heavy from not being able to provide the needed treatment for the Nicaraguans today and I needed the refreshing.  Several villagers asked me if I could pull teeth for them and it broke my heart to say, "No, lo siento." I am sorry.

Danielle and Bill reading through the helpful
Spanish dental phrases.

"Abre le boca, por favor."

June 27 - Monday - 7:45 a.m.
I just finished breakfast and I sat next to Bill worked with me in dental yesterday.  He told me he didn't get a chance to tell me last night how great a job I did yesterday.  That was a blessing to hear, thank you Bill.  I woke up with my neck/headache feeling so much better! I need to stay hydrated so it lasts.  I need to go find my dental peeps for the day.
*          *          *
Today was great!  We served 60 people on our dental team today and I had Kyle and Stuart from Colorado with me today.  They were great, jumped right in speaking Spanish and Kyle was eager to apply fluoride varnishes.  It was the first time Corner of Love has been to this village so no one knew what to expect.  We originally set up under the roof of the church but the sun moved and so we moved to the shade under a tree.  Not soon enough though, because I got burned on my left arm, face and neck.  There were tiny ants in the grass that stung/bit/burned...not sure how to explain the sensation.  Sitting around chatting with others tonight, the joke was that I literally had ants in my pants.  I had one up near my hip under my scrubs while with a patient and I was using my elbow trying to get it since I had gloves on.  The gal as was treating at the time was looking at me like I was crazy and I wasn't able to communicate with her, so all I could do was laugh and say "lo siento". 

I had fun with Kyle and Stuart!

The clinic setup inside the church.

The "ants in my pants" location (dental station is the chair in the center; very basic setup on this trip).

June 28 - Tuesday - about 9:00 a.m.
This a.m., we got to sleep in.  We had a Bible study with Pastor Chuck from Colorado, just about 10 of us there.  We read Philippians 2 - perfect!  (You can read more about this in my Like Stars in the Sky post).
*          *          *
6:00 p.m.
This a.m., we went to Nelson Amador's parent's house down the road from La Quinta in San Ramon.  They were kind enough to let us tour their house/property full of fruit trees and had the opportunity to buy items from their store.  We then headed to the construction site of the leadership school Corner of Love is building.  It will also be used for supply/donation storage and clinics.  We blessed the property and then distributed shoes and clothes.  We washed feet first, then fitted them with socks and shoes so kids can continue to go to school (Nicaraguan law has a specific dress code for school children).  I was so blessed with opportunity to massage their little feet.  My limited Spanish prevented me from talking with them as much as I would've liked, but I said what I could.  Oh ya...I almost stepped on a tarantula!
*          *          *
This afternoon is nice and relaxing.  Nap, shower, dental supplies packed and ready for tomorrow.  I'm now sitting upstairs in a rocking chair near the porch listening to people chat and guitar coming from the chapel.  Feeling such peace right now.

Outside the Amador's general store.

June 29 - Wednesday - 7:45 a.m.
Last night I got dressed up (kind of) to go out to dinner at a restaurant in Matalgapa and it was SO good!  Local chicken and beef with onions, salsa verde, rice, beans, tortillas.  Sounds simple, but it was divine.  I sate with Corey and Doug from Florida, and Melanie and Ashley from Colorado.  We had a great time, many laughs, and Melanie had a great conversation about intentional friendships. I missed the bus yesterday for the home visits....COL sponsors a few families who are desperately in need.  During the bus ride back to La Quinta after dinner, Corey showed us pictures he took during the home visits.  One woman has a 25 yr old son with Down's Syndrome and before COL started sponsoring her, she would have to lock her son in a "cage" while she went to work because he would wonder off.  Another family has a 4 yr old who is severely malnourished, and COL delivered a new stove to another family.
Ashley, Melanie, Myself, Doug, and Corey.

About 6:00 p.m.
Today, one of our buses got a flat tire on its way to pick us up and we didn't leave La Quinta until 10:00 a.m.  Our village clinic location today was gorgeous!  A large, beautiful house on a coffee plantation with flowers and lush green vegetation everywhere.  We saw about 107 people in dental today (plus whatever the Red team did)!  After applying fluoride varnish on a 15 yr old girl and then turned to start with her father.  The next thing I know, the girl has fallen off the chair and landed on her face on the stone courtyard.  She was having a seizure.  Before I could even process what was happening there was nurse Irene and doctor Cat.  The seizure was over very quickly but then the girl was limp for a minute, and we helped her sit up and Irene placed ointment and an ice pack on her scratched cheek.  With the help of a translator, her father told us the seizures started about 2 yrs ago and she will have them multiple times a day with little memory of the occurrence.  He brought her to our clinic in hope of receiving medical attentions for her, but we are not equipped with those types of medications.  Although my heart broke for this young girl and her father, I was also encouraged to see everyone come together so quickly to help.  The father and daughter were scheduled to go to prayer station next, but instead, we had prayer station come to us and we all prayed with them.  About 6 teenagers and ladies circled around the girl and her dad and prayed in English and Spanish.  When we finished praying, the dad went around and hugged everyone and thanked us.  Doctor Cat spent more time talking with him, giving advice for the seizures, and hopefully COL can follow up and help him seek the medical attention his daughter needs. 

Tonight it rained...HARD!  Everyone in La Quinta had to just stop talking because we couldn't hear each other any more, so people flocked to the balcony to just watch and listen.  Very cool.  We've been very blessed to only have a few sprinkles during our's their rainy season. 

Wednesday's dental team

Applying fluoride varnish
(carefully keeping glove use to a minimum)

June 30 - Thursday - 7:20 a.m.
Yesterday, 2 little girls showed up at La Quinta after walking 1.5 hours because they heard we were giving out shoes.  People are desperate here and very grateful for what COL is able to offer.  It reminds me of something I read in Max Lucado's book Outlive Your's not their fault they were born here in an area of Nicaragua with limited resources.  I'm getting mentally prepared for prayer station today.  I'm excited to be doing something other than dental, but am apprehensive and a little nervous, yet very excited at the same time.  I think this will grow and challenge me.  Buses are here...time for our large clinic day...all 3 teams are working together in one location today!

9:30 p.m.
Today was mentally exhausting and overwhelming but I'm glad I got to end the week in prayer station.  I pretty much cried my eyes out all day long while we prayed with about 150 people and it was so difficult and heartbreaking listening to the prayer requests.  Husband is alcoholic, son is in jail, husband out of work for 5 months, daughter in hospital with diabetes,one lady told us she has to be out of her house tomorrow and has nowhere to go.  Many problems we'd hear in the U.S. I heard here as well...but here, there are no resources.  No work source, no welfare, no unemployment checks.  Even if they have a home church, their church can't do much to help either.  My partner at the prayer station today was Lisa from Colorado and she was fantastic.  I was "forced" to finally go eat lunch at 2:30 after praying with people nonstop for about 5 hours.  When I returned, we had acquired an additional interpreter and Youth Pastor Zack from Colorado.  We continued to pray for people for about 3 more hours, but the afternoon was not as busy with the extra help.  We would hand out the Book of John and would fill out a card for them in Spanish that said who/what we prayed for, a scripture pertaining to their prayer request, where we were from, our names, and told them we would continue to pray for them once we returned home.  "Dios le bendiga" --"God bless you". 

Our prayer station was set up inside a classroom.

Lisa and I with our amazing translator Scarlet.

I'm never going to forget crying with a grandmother while holding her hand while she told us her son passed away this year and she is now the caretaker of her 3 grandsons, their mother had to move for work.  She had 2 grandsons with her who had accepted Christ 2 weeks ago.  She wanted prayer for strength to provide for the in her old age.  The boys are 9 and 11.  We prayed that the boys would continue to grow strong and healthy and grow into men full of integrity and Christ's love; to be head of household for the future families.  Men here are not the best at providing for their families nor staying around.  STDs are rampant along with parasites from the water, tooth decay, and many other issues.  The need is great in the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (after Haiti).  I feel like I could keep writing about my experiences this past week, there are so many stories.  I also won't forget how desperate and grateful Nicaraguans are for a pair of shoes.  They will wear 1 pair for years. 

July 1 - Friday - 9:00 a.m.
Today is my last morning at La Quinta in San Ramon.  In a couple hours we head back to the hotel in Managua.  A bunch of local artisans were invited to set up outside this a.m. so we could have a chance to buy some souvenirs and support their crafts.  Last night we got to watch a 30 minute video of pictures taken throughout the week.  It was amazing...and emotional.  I am packed and ready to go, my bed is stripped, email addresses exchanged, and I just watched the artisans walk up the hill with their left over goods to head home.  I hope they made a lot of money today.  I had a great time rooming with Leslie, Camille, Lisa, and Michelle...all mothers, most here with their daughters.  I hope to do the same when we have kids. 
My roomies for the week (plus Lisa #2)

8:35 p.m. - Managua
I'm back at the hotel in Managua and in bed ready for my early departure tomorrow.  I have to be in the lobby by 5:30 a.m.  We stopped in Matalgapa on our way to Managua for 1 hour to see La Catedral de San Pedro de Matagalpa, built in 1874 and reflects the opulence of Matagalpa in that era.  Tonight was relaxing...dinner, some time updating the blog, and some chatting before giving hugs and saying goodbye to new friends.  And my forehead is already peeling :(  Buenos noches y adios Nicaragua!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Last Shall be First

"When a child is withering away it really does not matter whether the cause is drought, ignorance, or social injustice. It is a precious child that is dying. If we determine that any person is of less value because of where they were born, we have lost our humanity."
- Dave Eller, president of World Concern.

(click to enlarge)
Courtesy, Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS) projection of the 2011 Horn of Africa famine for July-September, using the IPC scale.

I am paralyzed with disbelief, especially when I see the images.

I cannot begin to comprehend what walking for 200 miles in search for food feels like...only to reach the destination and find little or none.  To have parents die along the journey from malnutrition and starvation because what food they did find was given selflessly to their children. 

I don't know why afflictions like this occur.  I don't know why.

I am not even sure what to pray anymore.  I have Brooke Fraser's song 'Flags' constantly running through my head, especially the last portion of the song.  Matthew 20:16 "So the last will be first and the first will be last". 

These lyrics continue to run through my head as I pray for the 12 million people suffering in the Horn of Africa...

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
All the last shall be first
Of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first
Of this I'm sure

I don't know why the innocent fall
While the monsters stand
I don't know why the little ones thirst
But I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first

To learn more about this crisis, to read what World Concern is doing to help, and to contribute to their relief efforts, please visit