Monday, March 22, 2010

Sister Jardine!!

It's true! :) My mission papers are in the works and almost wrapped up! :) I couldn't be more excited. I've been considering serving a mission for quite some time and am honored to have the opportunity.
I think I first made the decision to serve a mission when I was a kid as my Aunt Amy was serving, but EFY made me consider it for the first time in reality. Seeing Hermana Sazo, the posterity of the church and the work she and my aunt Amy did. The youth from a small corner in the vast world coming together in the gospel. And having Michelle speak of her mission experiences, studying with her, working with her. My first companion. I had a strong desire to share what I've been given. It feels so right!
So here it begins.
I am excited to serve!
And take on the name used last by Aunt Amy........ Sister Jardine :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sé un ejemplo de los creyentes

So I figure it's about time I update this :)

November 20th-28th 2009 was the best week of my life thus far! And here's why:

I had the incredible opportunity to be selected as a Health Counselor (one of two, my good ol' partner Alberto Marves) for the first EFY program in Latin America located at the Las Colinas LDS grounds (near Chimaltenango) in Guatemala.
So many incredible miracles made this possible. I had debated about paying tithing on my student loans because I wasn't sure if I was meant to or not? I felt like I should and chose to do it.Amazingly, Alberto then told me about the opportunity, I applied and was accepted, and recieved a special scholarship to make it possible. It also just so happened to be our Thanksgiving break at BYUI during my last semester so no school was missed. I still can hardly believe the many miracles that fell into place to let me be part of such an incredible opportunity.

I left the Idaho Falls airport on November 19th and spent the night with the incredible Old's family in Las Vegas. They are such great people! So warm and welcoming and I'm so glad I met them. :)

On Friday November 20th, at around 10 pm I landed in beautiful Guatemala City, my home away from home.

Just getting off at the familiar gate brought back so much nostalgia. In this small country through the past few years I have learned who I am, the potential I hold to serve, and how true the gospel really is.

Alberto and Mamita Marves met me at the airport and welcomed me into their home. We stayed up till 2 am laughing and talking in the kitchen. It is amazing how instantly they felt like family. Mamita is so warm and generous, always encouraging us along. Rene can always put a smile on my face. :) He's such a hard worker and incredible example. Mi hermano de Guate. And Alberto's great friendship is what made this whole experience possible. I will forever be grateful.

Saturday November 21st was a busy day of sight seeing and taking in the side of Guatemala I've never seen before, Guatemala City. I've seen humble homes with dirt floors and patched roofs, but the sky scrapers and fancy malls would put Salt Lake to shame (many times). I'm still amazed at the stark contrast between the 'city and suburbs'.
I LOVED the opportunity we took to do baptisms for the dead at the LDS temple. Ha, I even ran into one of my friends from the states in the waiting area. :) No matter where you are, the spirit is the same and the church is just as true. The buses in the parking lot humbled me, to see this strong families coming from other countries to do the work they know they should. When in Rexburg or Logan, I could walk to the temple if I wanted. It was an opportunity I will never forget.
Haha, though I realized just how much practice my spanish needs. I'm comfortable buying things, asking for directions, or carrying on simple conversations. But when a sweet temple worker dressing me tried to discuss the matter of my 'cycle' with her I was clueless? Haha. Some things they just don't teach you in spanish class.

By the time we came home from our many adventures including shopping, and the best ice cream in the world! (Nutella!) my poor white skin was tomato red.

I got to meet my amazing future compa Michelle and we all stayed up talking and laughing again. Mamita even made me a beanie and scarf to keep me warm through the nights. haha. I came from snow in Rexburg so it made me laugh. I miss these nights. :)

Sunday November 22nd I felt like a movie star. We went to church and EVERYONE knew my name. I only wish I could have gotten to know them all better!
The Douglas family was so cute! And such great examples to me. :) Someday I would love to follow their example and teach my family worldwide to know their brothers and sisters and love this gospel. Sacrament meeting was incredible. I caught on to most of the spanish and enjoyed some great talks. I love that no matter where you go it's the same. :) Cute kids dressed in their best sitting with their families with a calm peaceful spirit. The ordinances never change.
And I FINALLY got to meet my adpoted lil sis Casey!! Such a gorgeous and incredible girl! The Robertson family is one I will never forget. I got to tag along to her Sunday school class, meet cute little Nicole, Robin, Evie, and Allyson. I LOVE these girls. :) My barbie sistas. Haha. We are the gringas. Their parent's are down in Guatemala on various assignments and so they're living a few years of their highschool days in beautiful Guate.

After church, we packed up our gear and prepped for EFY! The counselors went up Sunday night to set up and get everything ready! So we loaded up Michelle's car and made the drive to Las Colinas. Such fun adventures! haha. We drove through familiar areas from my previous trips.

Youtuv! :)

When we pulled in to the beautiful campgrounds I was amazed. EFY music filled the air and I couldn't wait for the week to begin!
One area of the camp site at Las Colinas
We all unloaded our gear and helped with what we could! Then had a great lunch with infamous TIKY! :) My favorite Guate drink. I met so many wonderful people!!
We spent the evening training and helping with various tasks to prepare Las Colinas for the week ahead. I remember sitting among rows of chairs filled with counselors ready to serve these great kids of their country and realized I was sitting among some of the best people in Guatemala. :) STRONG youth, who have chosen the right despite so very many adversities. They have chosen to be worthy examples for the great youth ahead of them. I was honored to sit among them. And though I was the only person in the room not a Chapino/a. I could feel it in my heart. I LOVE these youth. I will ALWAYS love them. Though I may never understand their background or fully erase the language barrier. They are my brothers and sisters just the same, and I will forever hold them in my heart.

Tiky! Best pop in the World :)

Monday November 23rd we woke from our first night at Las Colinas. I was amazed at how cold it got at night despite the sunburning heat during the day. Thankfully Mamita made me a warm scarf and beanie. :) We prepped the registration tables with eager assembling hands. Stacking together manuals, CD's and DVD's. Prepping t-shirts, armbands, and lanyards. The buses of kids began rolling in and so did the health problems. Poor tykes. :( We had quite a few bee stings right from the get-go. One poor girl came back a second time from another sting! Poor Analucia, who should be named dulce since all the bees were after her! :) But it gave us the opportunity to meet. :) My sweet hermanita!
Health Counseling fell into a rhythm of Alberto and I attending the various activities with our med packs responding to different ailments. For the most part everyone stayed healthy which we were happy about. :)
Night rolled around and we had our 'Family Home Evening' with all the youth. INCREDIBLE. A man from the states, working with the 'Brand New Year' production introduced us to the song 'Sé Fuerte' or 'Be Strong'. They've spent the past year recording youth worldwide singing the same song in their native tongue.
I remember watching it for a mere two seconds before an overwhelming burning hit my heart. I couldn't hold back tears. I have such a strong love for the youth of this gospel, worldwide. I couldn't help but think of my friends on missions in all these great places, the gospel going forth, and all these youth growing up and being faced with so much adversity. I pray they stay strong, and I will do everything in my power to encourage that throughout my life. When the time came for us to sing, seeing the gymnasium full of faithful youth in a third world country, encouraging one another to be strong, I truly wondered how and why I was so blessed to be standing among them. I will never forget it.
Immediately after the event however, we were ambushed with many patients at once. Lechuga de Muerto! haha. Lettuce of Death we decided was the probable cause. Many great people helped us take care of so many. I became good friends with Luisro. He's a medical student in Guate and it was so neat to meet someone taking similar college courses half a world a way. He holds the same passion for medicine. Not to increase income or show off skills, but to better these people. He was so helpful in giving anything and everything he had to help us with our patients. Most weren't bad, but one poor tyke, Carlitos, who was the size of my 8 year old brother took a bad hit. He couldn't keep anything down. We gave him an antibiotic and a blessing. After than he slept peacefully. Michelle and I spent the night with him in our little 'clinic'. Mish is my hero! :) She truly is my role model. So strong, so serviceable. She had so many other responsibilities but she was so willing to help me, teach me and encourage me. My amazing companion. :) I will always cherish her friendship.

Tia Sazo
One of the neatest experiences came when talking to the Sazo couple. Claudia was asking me where I was from, and we found out my Aunt was her old mission companion. They served here in Guate together. We were so excited! She instantly became my 'Tia'. My aunt.

Tuesday November 24th began another great day! Carlitos was still shaky but feeling better and on his feet. He woke up in the morning looked over at me and simply said 'tengo hambre' haha. The poor little guy was starving. We spent the day tagging along with groups and attending classes. I got to spend more time with mi Tia catching up. She speaks little english, and my spanish needs lots of work, so we were good for each other. It truly is a testimony to me that love holds no barriers.
My Aunt Amy and Tia Sazo on their mission together
She is so sweet and I can't wait to spend more time with her on my next trip someday! She and her husband are such great examples. Such loving giving people.I can't wait to visit and meet my 'cousins' someday. :)

I decided to be a kid again and check out the tire swing. :) I pulled a few friends into the adventure.
It was so fun!
I hung out with Luisro at lunch and got to got to know Nery. Wow. Nerypapa te amo! :) Nery will always be one my best friends. He is one of the purest people I know. His heart is so open, so willing to serve.
We loved spending time with his group, especially Casey! :)
We played games, jumped rope, danced and spent the afternoon laughing. I am honored to 'Be an example' to those around me. It makes me want to be and do better. And continue following the great examples before me. :)

One of my favorite miracles happened this day. Madison County Fire Department back at home gave me uniform patches to trade with departments.
On Tuesday, I decided to get to know the 'Bomberos' (Firemen) better. They don't speak much english and my spanish is limited. I knew Luisro and love working with him. I passed Ronal and asked him to wait a second. I gave him one of the patches and he became elated! I will never forget his serious demeanor drop instantly to warm friendship.
He ran back to the ambulance and came back with his 'bombero' hat and gave it to me. What an incredible gift. One I will always cherish.

It was so neat to work along side these men and share our duties. Abuelo :) my sweet fireman grandpa. :) haha. I felt like I could poke him and he'd fall over! But he was so happy and eager to help.
They had me sit in the ambulance and we talked and laughed forever.
Then we had our dance! SO fun! SOOOOOO different from the states! haha. They played a few similar songs, including 'you're the one that I want' from Greece. YES! ha. They all thought I was crazy, maybe I was. :) But if you exchange every church dance 'slow song' for a Guate tango then you had our dance. haha. Needless to say I was lost. Even with a good teacher, pretty sure my hips weren't made in Guatemala and can't hold a rhythm haha. :) But we had a blast as counselors finding poor innocent kids to dance with us and then making them dance with one another. :) It was great.
Near the end of the dance, Los bomberos came over and said they had something for me. We went over to the ambulance where they had tiky torches lit, and proceeded to dub me one of their Guatemalan Scouts! I have never been more honored in my life! haha. Even if it was a made up ceremony. ;) I love my tios.

We had a few medical issues arise and I had to be a vampire with a few needles. The poor Guatemalans. :S They will forever remember the crazy American who poked them with needles. But at least they're healthy :) Rene and Nery were so kind to help me with one particular patient. It was so neat to learn more about who they are and see them drop everything to serve those around them. I love my Guatemalan brothers. :)

Wednesday November 25th was a busy day. IV's in Guate are so different from the states. Haha, and we had quite a few that day. I helped Luisro practice and he did great! Proud of him :) He'll be a great Doctor.
We also had our first hospital call that night. Poor Marjorie hurt her ankle pretty bad and since we don't have the resources to check for breaks at our clinic, we loaded her up and took her to Chimaltenango. Wow. My experience in the Guatemalan ambulance and hospital cemented my driving passion for completing my schooling to have a medicinal career and help.
I could tell Luisro and Ronal wondered what I was thinking and how I was comparing it to the states. There was not one thought running through my head of snobbery. But rather awe for the few people like these who are trying to help with the poor healthcare. Who despite lack of pay and benefits choose to be helping in an area so poor with so much sadness. Humility was overwhelming.

In the US everything is almost excessively organized and charted. Down there, it was just done. We pulled into a cramped ambulance bay full of mix-matched ambulances, some merely pick-up trucks. What I assume was eager friends and family waited outside in the night air looking into an open adobe wall leading inside the Emergency Room. The waiting room held those waiting to receive care, leading to the triage room filled with more patients. I glanced and saw briefly a mother calming a crying two year old with burns, a teenager holding her bleeding abdomen, and one I will never forget; A still and lifeless girl with areas of her skull open to the air.

At any of my US hospital clinicals these patients would have been surrounded with instant surgery, pain medication, and soothing nurses. But this is Chimaltenango, and they are doing the best they can. I will never forget Luisro's response in wanting to change it. To better his country. To leave people better than he found them. I am honored to know him and hope to help him in that endeavor someday.

Going back to game night that night, the air of humility still surrounded me. I looked at all the kids laughing and smiling at one another as they completed various relay races.

I wondered what each of their stories were, what trials they've faced that I will never understand. I have never known hunger, humility, injury, or servitude as I suspect many of them have. And to see them smiling, laughing, singing along to the encouraging lyrics I can't help but be proud of them.
I feel honored to call them friends.
Haha. A funny event happened that night on my way back to the clinic. Everyone was rounding up into their tents for bed. I had been changing and brushing my teeth, then had to make the hike back to the clinic. I distinctly remember wondering what felt so different, and then thinking it was the first time I had ever been completely by myself in Guatemala when a black dog (stray) darted across the wooded moonlit pathway a few yards ahead of me. I jumped and it started barking. So I barked back with 'Chucho Negro' and bolted the last few yards into the clinic with it behind me. I bolted the door and looked at Michelle. We ended up rolling around laughing haha. No me gustan el chucho negro!

Thursday November 26th Thanksgiving day. At home it would be spent relaxing, reading a book, helping cook and eat the traditional well rounded meal and enjoying family and friends. But today I think I learned what gratitude truly is.
Thursday is the personal spiritually oriented day of EFY and so we wore Sunday dress all day. After an amazing devotional by Sister Morales on Faith I had a lot of time to ponder. I thought of my family and how much each one of them means to me. My blessing to be born in the covenant, to have sufficient finances to cover my needs, to have an education and ability to learn. My healthy body. I thought of the many people I love and of their love for me in return. My great friends. I truly am among those with the most blessings. Even my trials, have all left me stronger and a better person. I have so much to be grateful for.
We counselors spent the talent show along the walls of the gym singing and dancing along. Applauding with the rows of great youth. So many fun kids :) It was neat to see them all become close friends. Afterward, when we all sat down for dinner, a black bag was revealed for us 'gringas' to have our Turkey (Pollo compero) Dinner on the grass of Las Colinas. :) There were Guacamole chips for potatoes/green beans, sweet bread for pie, and fried chicken for turkey but it's the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had. I think of the many people that made it possible, our great friends. :) And I am honored. Thank you so much. I will never forget that day.
Testimony meeting was a night to remember. I have never felt the spirit as strong as I did at that music program. Singing the EFY medley in spanish surrounded by my brothers and sisters. So many strong youth stood up at once a long line was formed of those eager to share and encourage one another. There are so many words I didn't understand literally but the spirit was so strong. Following such an amazing event I am still in awe at the adversity that followed. One of the counselors brother's was killed in an accident and the mood grew solemn. The temperatures dropped almost instantly sending our clinic into a frenzy with hypothermia, treatment and prevention. Many of the youth grew scared as devotional was canceled and they were ordered to go to their tents and dress warm. We went around giving extra blankets and doing what we could to help. I started to feel sick, adding myself to the patient list. I remember being in a daze and yet feeling calm as the campsites changed with booming voices singing church hymns. The spirit of the air changed and peace spread.
Adversity always comes. But we overcame it.

Friday November 27th began our final full day at Las Colinas. Michelle and I were up most of the night between our patients, our sick selves, and chucho negro adventures. So, we woke up, cleaned up and out, and went back down for a nap. :) I love mi compa. That poor girl was doing so much! So many tasks and so much service when she felt so sick. And yet she was always asking how to help ME. She will forever be a great example and friend. When we woke up, we realized our uniforms were missing (taken prematurely to be washed) so we decided to dress up a little early. We enjoyed showers and put on our Sunday best. I spent the day soaking in the memories with these people I will never forget. Snapping as many pictures as possible. I remember looking at this group of great friends wondering what it would be like to spend everyday with them, studying, working, laughing and enjoying life. I am honored just to have had a week! I can't imagine how amazing that would be. But I needed just two more weeks of school to finish my bachelors degree, and knew for whatever reason Logan was where I needed to be for the time being.

I want them to know how much I love them and cherish their friendship. Miles and time will never erase it.

That night was a dream. Walking into the banquet I was amazed at how they had transformed the gym. Everything was so nice! And all the kids were so beautiful! It felt like Cinderella's ball. :) Haha. I got to sit at a table with my dearest friends soaking in our last night. Looking at the youth around us and how much they've changed in the past week. Seven short days and none of us will ever be the same.
We went back out into the night air to take pictures while they changed the banquet to a ballroom and we danced the night away. So many faces I'll never forget. We all smiled and told each other how much we'd miss one another, wishing it wouldn't end. Mi hermanos y hermanitas de Guatemala.

Rene my big brother always looking out for me.

Michelle always laughing by my side, my companion. :)

Alberto, all the hard work we'd done through the week to make sure everyone stayed safe and healthy.

Casey the beautiful girl I want to laugh and giggle at sleepovers forever with!

Allyson and Robin. Such sweet girls :)

Mahonrry smiling and giving a big bear hug.

Ana Lorena mi girla and forever friend.

Edie :) My Barbie Sista

Mi tia and our tears and hugs.

Nery the best friend I could ever ask for.

Luisro and his dedication to the medical work few but us understand.

Jose mi hermano chapin!

My Hermanitas :)

Juan and his encouragement to make me use my spanish. :) Brenda and Vicki and their smiles and encouragement. All the amazing leaders that made this possible. The youth who I never knew that smiled and hugged me. So many people I couldn't name. All these incredible people that have forever been etched into my heart.

Saturday November 28th Morning came, though I wished in a way it wouldn't have. We all packed up and our home at Las Colinas disappeared back into the open grass fields it was before we came. Nery, and Mi hermanos Marves sat at the water tank overlooking las colinas soaking in our last morning. Final goodbyes were choked out if we could. We all joined in for one final dance in the open field. Everyone moving in unison laughing and smiling. :) Hugs I'll never stop cherishing, faces I'll never stop seeing, and this burning in my heart I'll never stop feeling. Yo soy Chapina!!!
We packed up in Rene's car and my brothers and I left to make it to the airport on time. The second we left the dusty lane of Las Colinas to the paved streets of Chimalt my eyes filled with tears that wouldn't stop. Rene Alberto and I laughed about it but I couldn't help soaking it all in, cherishing every moment, every street sign, child laughing of my beautiful Guatemala. This land is forever etched in my heart and soul.

Hermano Youtuv :)
Mamita y Hermano Alberto
Mi compa Mish

Mamita, Michelle and mi hermanos hugged me at the airport and I won't forget their smiles,tears and waves as I turned towards the terminal.

That week changed my life. I will never fully understand why I was given such an incredible opportunity but I will be forever grateful I was able to be a part of it. A lone gringa from the states. The only one able to participate. These people will forever be mi hermanos y hermanas. That friendship will last forever and the legacy someday passed to my kids. I WILL see mi amigos again. :) And I will spend the rest of my life cherishing that memory and living worthy of it and more.