Thursday, June 28, 2012

And then it was the end


It’s my last official full day in Linz today!  As I’m writing this I still have a lot of things left to accomplish (packing, cleaning, paperwork, studying…), and it keeps me so busy that I’ve barely had time to think about my last week in Austria.  Thank goodness my Economics final is over now – and I was actually able to put down some sort of answer for all of the questions this time, so it already went better than the midterm did! (It’s the small victories that keep me going.)

Leaving a place and people you’ve come to love is hard, and I’m feeling the strange mix of emotions I always feel when I move back to Georgia for the summer and move to Maryville again for the start of the fall semester.  When there are people you care about and will miss on both sides it’s always difficult to decide how you feel.  I’m unbelievably excited to come back home and see everyone I’ve been missing, but I’m leaving some really extraordinary people here.  I know that I’ll see the people who are the most important to me again sometime, because that’s how it usually works out (and, really, it gives me yet another excuse to travel more around the world!).

So, as my time here winds down, I’ll be trying my best to learn some last minute German for my final exam, to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I’ve met here, and to get everything else squared away.  I’ve had an incredible time here, and to all of my dear, dear friends I’ve made in the last five months – I can’t wait to see you again!

Now, here’s hoping that my suitcase won’t be too heavy for the plane…    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hallstatt


This past weekend a girl from my German class and I took a day to visit the town of Hallstatt, which is considered one of the most picturesque villages in Europe.  It sits on the edge of the Hallstättersee on one side and on the edge of sheer mountains on the other.  We traveled south by train from Linz for about two hours or so and then took a ferry across the lake to the village on the other side.  Luckily, we had excellent weather (I actually got a pretty bad sunburn there) considering that the past week and a half or so had been rainy and miserable. 

From across the lake, Hallstatt doesn’t even look real.  I almost felt like I stepped into some sort of fairy tale.  When you are gently floating across the lake towards the village, you can see houses and shops of almost every color, and the steeple of the town church dominates the top of the line of buildings.  Upon arrival you could probably walk around the entire town in about 2 hours, depending on how many places you wanted to see.  The streets are narrow and winding with small ivy grown allies around every corner.  The architecture of the buildings is old and graceful.  If you walk further away from the shore of the lake, you end up heading up the side of the mountain.  Here there were more personal residences and hotels with winding stone steps and beautifully overgrown gardens. 

One of the things Hallstatt is known for, besides its otherworldly beauty and its amazing hiking trails, is its salt mines.  There is a large deposit of salt in the area, and this allowed permanent settlement to appear in the area at a very early point in history.  The mine is up in the mountain above and behind the town, and you can choose to hike up or take a lift.  Even though we didn’t get a chance to visit the mine while we were there, others have told me it would definitely be something to check out if you are ever there.     

After wandering around the village for a couple hours or so and admiring the scenery, taking lots of pictures, and visiting the small shops, we had a quick lunch.  Then, we got to walk high up on the hill in order to take some pictures of the village overlooking the lake.  Afterwards, we went back down to the shore and found a place to rent a paddleboat for the economical price of 5.50 Euro an hour (per person).  So, we got to go out on the lake and all the way to the other side, and it was great!  By the time we got back it was mid-afternoon already, so we went around the other side of the town and admired the view of the lake and the mountains until it was time to take the ferry back to catch our train.

We had a little bit of a misadventure trying to get back to Linz.  We got back on the train, but at one point that was way before the stop where we had to change trains, the train just stopped.  Then, one of the train officials came around and said that there was a problem and we would have to get out and wait for busses to take us to the train station.  The first two busses that were there when got there had just filled up, so we had to wait 45 minutes or so for the next one to come around.  And when it finally did, it was standing room only.  We eventually got to the train station where we could catch a train directly to Linz, but we almost missed it!  The conductor of the train was leaning out the window and yelling at us to hurry up as we ran for it, and thankfully he let us get on in time!  Once we got on this train, we thought we were in the clear, but once again the train stopped and there was an announcement that there was a problem at one of the stations on the way, but we were only held up for about a half an hour or so.  So, instead of taking two hours to get back it took three and a half, but it was worth every delay.  If you ever get the chance to go to Austria, VISIT HALLSTATT!!!  You won’t ever regret it. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A TALE OF THREE CITIES (AND THREE MUSEUMS!) 06/12/20130 Comments Picture by Katie Fair Vesalius, Belgium Bonjour! I have so much that I want to share with y'all about my last week or so! I have had the chance to explore some of the museums and exhibits here in Brussels last week. Then I spent my 3-day weekend in three different cities: The Hague, Antwerp, and Bruges. First up, the museums! While Brussels does have a ton of museums, I only visited two of them and one traveling exhibit. The first museum I visited was the BELvue, which is basically a museum dedicated to the more recent history of Belgium (from around the time of their independence in 1830 to present). Although pretty much all of the exhibits were in French or Dutch/Flemmish, I was still able to learn and to see many really cool historical artifacts. The second museum was the Musee de la Ville, which shows historical artifacts from the city of Brussels. One of the coolest rooms (and one of the sole reasons I went there) was for the costume gallery of Mannekin Pis. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed, so I couldn't take pictures. Mannekin has hundreds of costumes, but they rotate which selection are shown in the room. I was fortunate enough to go at a time where they had the Elvis costume on display. That is a sight that I will never forget! Picture The traveling exhibition that I was able to go to was on Leonardo daVinci. While they did not have the original artwork available, they did have replicas available to view (including both the front *and* the back of the Mona Lisa). They also had journals of daVinci's. The exhibition included many re-created inventions of daVinci's from his notes in his journals! It was so amazing to see some of the things he came up with, and how similar some of them are to things we use nowadays! Friday I went on my first trip out of Belgium. I visited The Hague in the Netherlands on a solo day trip. I took a 3 hour (ish) train to the city. While there I was able to see some of the main city, but that was not my main focus. First I visited the World Forum area, where I saw the buildings for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Europol, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Next, I went to the Peace Palace and did the short tour through their visitor center. While I did not get to see the International Criminal Court (but I get to go back to visit it in July), I did walk down a couple miles to see the beach! I had no idea there was a beach there, so I wasn't really prepared to get in the water. It was a lot of fun to visit, though. Saturday I went with Alina, Rachel, and Mollie to see Antwerp. We had originally planned to go to Amsterdam, but we hadn't planned far enough ahead which meant tickets were super expensive! Being the flexible travelers we are, we instead bought tickets for the next train to Antwerp. The city of Antwerp is very unique in its mix of old and new, often side-by-side. Most of the other areas I have seen have old sections of town and then newer, more modern sections in a different part of town. So that in and of itself was really cool to see. We had a great time walking around, and we had these huge "personal" pizzas. I'm using the quotation marks because I'm pretty sure that our personal pizzas were only a little smaller than some of the mediums back home. Anyway, it was a beautiful city, and it was both warm and sunny (which we don't tend to see too many of here in Belgium). Last, but certainly not least, I went with Alina and Rachel to Bruges on Sunday. Bruge is by far my most favorite city I have been to. Ever. US and Europe combined. Aside from the tourist shops and modern conveniences, the town could have stepped right out of history. I joked with my friends saying they could just go on back to Brussels without me. There were horse-drawn carriages, boats on the canals, beautiful bridges and buildings, and huge churches and cathedrals. All of this with no real "modernized" city in sight (ie sky scrapers, huge apartment buildings, etc). If I ever decide to one day live in Europe, Bruges is at the top of my list! Add Comment "I CAN TELL BY YOUR TEARS THAT YOU WILL REMEMBER IT ALL." 07/23/20120 Comments Picture Caitlin Campbell University de Savoie Wow. I don't even know where to begin. It seems impossible to sum up my experience here in a few words. There's no way to explain how much I loved France, the people, and how I'll always cherish the memories. Why do goodbyes have to be so hard? This last week flew by! On Monday I went canoeing, on Tuesday and Wednesday we went to the lake for the last time (we really loved the lake). On Wednesday evening, we had dinner on a boat! We went on the biggest, natural lake in all of France. It was a great opportunity to get pictures of everyone one last time. Friday, my friends Antoine and Marco hosted a cookout for me and my friends and after we went out. This last week was absolutely perfect. If I think about the initial goals and fears that I had before I came to France, I feel so accomplished. I was really nervous about making friends. Not only did I make friends, but I made best friends. It's remarkable how in six weeks you can meet people who you feel you've known forever. The best friends I made were Ivana (from Canada), Ariane (from New York), Katie (from Montana), Antoine (from France), and Marco (from France). I am literally so happy that I made real French friends. It was amazing to learn the real slang of France and not just what the teachers tell you. They helped us out so much by telling us where to go, what places are dangerous, what's happening in the city, and they helped Katie send her baggages to Rome. Maybe it's just because I'm in a good mood, but...I have faith in people. There are marvelous people out there in the world. I'm never going to forget the ones I met here. We've made promises to see each other again, and I believe it will happen. How can I not see people who were with me when my dreams came true? Goodbyes are so hard. They have always been hard for me, and always will be. It's hard leaving a place and people who have been such a big part of my life. Will I remember everything? I don't want to forget anything! Pictures can only do so much. I'm afraid this will all become a dream to me; it's too good to be true. On a brighter note, I can tell that I've changed. I feel that I'm a little more confident in myself now. Navigating airports and depending on public transportation is so stressful, but I think I can do it. It's nice to know that I can depend on myself and that if I need help, I can ask someone in French. I also think I've become more personable. Meeting people and conversations are so important. For me, I need to keep my eyes open to meeting as many people as possible. For example, when I get back to Maryville College, I want to become friends with as many International students as possible. It's easier now to see where they are in their lives and how to talk to them. We're all the same, and it's wonderful when we realize that. Add Comment "WE ARE JUST THE SAME" 07/17/20120 Comments Picture Caitlin Campbell University de Savoie One day when I was at the lake with my friends Katie and Morgan, this guy approached us. He said he heard us speaking English and he wanted to introduce himself. After a few words of greeting, he sat down right next to us and continued talking. Seeing as how I was in my bathing suit and not knowing who this guy was, I was a little unnerved and even a little annoyed to be honest. He surprised us by inviting us over to hang out with him and his friends later that day. Are people just nice over here or does he have some other intention? By trusting our instincts, we decided that he was a good guy. And indeed, he is. When we went over to his friends house, he introduced us to everyone, translated for us, and walked us home. From all the times that we've hung out with Antoine, I've come to know him as a funny, fun-loving young man. He loves to say, "Swag," "D-O-Double G", sing American pop songs, wear American brands, and listen to rap. He's has also actually taken care of me and my friends. Every time we hang out with him, he walks us home. He is persistant that we shouldn't walk home alone because the park that's very close to our apartments is very dangerous at night. And the other day we were going to go see fireworks, but he told us that the area that we planning to go to was the most dangerous in Chambery. And today, I'm going to a huge music festival where LMFAO, Blink-182, and Garbage are playing. I wouldn't have know about he festival if it wasn't for Antoine. He lets us know what's going on and where the best places are to visit. I'm glad we've made a good friend here. Two days ago Antoine took us to his friends' concert. While there, he introduced us to all his friends and bought me a drink. On the way home, I asked him, "Hey, do you think Americans are cool? Because we think French people are really cool." And he said, "Of course! Americans are great! The more I spend time with you, the more I think we are just the same." I was very happy that he said that because internally I have been thinking the same thing about people all over the world. I'm glad my persona doesn't scream, "I'M AN AMERICAN!" Antoine has also said he would make me a French culture list full of music, movies, songs, and sayings so that I can continue to learn French when I've returned. Add Comment LITTLE 'OL ME FINALLY WENT TO PARIS!

Caitlin Campbell 
University de Savoie
For my program, we were given a handout that listed the trips that were open to us. A while back, I "starred" the most important trips to me and visiting Paris was number one. When we walked off the train and I took my first few steps, I just couldn't believe I was finally in Paris. Paris - the place where Roland Garros tennis champions played, where the Mona Lisa is located, and where the most gorgeous building in the world was built.
    The first thing our group did was visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Instead of graves, this cemetery had what  seemed like tiny houses with one single room. In the single room there was usually one window made in the shape of a cross. Some rooms had chairs, branches, or other seemingly random things. But the more I thought about it, I came to realize that these little rooms are probably prayer rooms. The architecture of each grave was so different and each had a unique door. The size of this graveyard amazed me. It was so beautiful and creepy at the same time. It actually inspired me to image stories or photoshoots that would capture that certain beauty. This graveyard was also the place where I glimpsed the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
    In the morning, our group went to Roland Garros. This was my second place to see in Paris because my brother is a huge tennis fan/player. I pleaded with the guard to let me in, but he said that the facilities were being cleaned. I still can't believe that I was near the place where Roger Federer, Steffi Graff, Bjorn Borg, and so many other tennis players have been. I wish I could have traded places with my brother so he could have seen it with his own eyes.
    Next we went to the Champs-Elysées. I have to be honest - I didn't really know what was the big deal (haha). Yes, it was beautiful and there were plenty of beautiful, expensive stores, but that's pretty much it. In fact, the friends I was with at the time decided to go off onto one of the side streets to eat. There, we found this little pizza place called Flam's. I was rather shocked at Flam's because they gave us English menus and our server willingly spoke English to us. I had always heard that Parisians were not fond of tourists - let alone Americans. I guess generalizations aren't accurate anywhere.Of course, the only monumental thing on that street is the Arc de Triomphe. It was such an experience to see it with my real eyes. So much detail came in sight and I was able to appreciate the grand size of it. This was also the place of the greatest roundabout I have ever seen. Cars were driving and swerving all over the place while honking and slamming on breaks. 
    THE EIFFEL TOWER. The Eiffel Tower is where I went next, and my mind was blown. Pictures, movies, and postcards do it no justice at all. Upon walking under the Eiffel Tower, I started to cry. It's hard to explain how I felt at that time. It was like a big, seemingly-impossible dream finally came true. After having so many little replicas in my room, pictures plastered in lockers and walls, and necklaces with it, I was finally under the real tower. I am a little embarrassed to admit that over half of my pictures taken that day were of the Eiffel Tower. It seemed to look different from every angle and under different weather conditions. I might sound like a dork, but it seemed like a structure from out of this world. It's size is unbelievable. It creates shadows over everything else in the city around mid-day. Luckily, Ivana (my Canadian friend) and I went back the next day and actually went up to the second floor. If anyone has seen Disney's Pixar movie Ratatouille, they know was I'm talking about when I say that the view was spectacular. I have finally been on the most beautiful building in the world. Now, when I look at my little replicas, I'll be able to imagine me on the second level looking around.
   Next, our group went to Notre Dame where I tried to imagine Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame take place (I love Disney movies, by the way). The gargoyles were actually real! I wanted to go into the building and explore, but the line was too long and my friends wanted to move on. Again, actually seeing the real life building took my breath away. I decided to actually run up and touch it to see if it was real. Paris most definitely has the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.
    The Moulin Rouge was next on our list. After leaving Sacre Coeur, the walk to Moulin Rouge turned from relaxing and beautiful to scary and strange rather quickly. We were warned ahead of time about the district that the Moulin Rouge was in, but that still didn't prepare me (haha). Let's just say that I'm not ever going there when it's dark. But the Moulin rouge itself made me smile. It had the red tower and the sign that I saw in the movie. It's hard to believe that one city contains all these monuments. 
   Now, my three friends and I literally saw everything that was on our list: Roland Garros, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer, Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower at night. But to do this, we had to descend into the depths of Mordor (at least it seemed that way to me) and travel on the Metro. Oh, the metro. At first, I was lost beyond all comprehension and  followed the others. But throughout the day, I became more comfortable. There were a few instances when musicians would hop on the metro and ask for money. There was one guy in particular who had an amp and was singing. That was actually really fun (haha). By day two, Ivana and I had mastered the metro and were able to spend time at the Eiffel Tower and eat our last Parisian crepe by the Seine before heading back to the hostel.

"I can do anything..."

by Keli Shipley
Intern at Porch de Salomon, Guatemala

"I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me." -Philippians 4:13

June 14th, 2012

bible study in Concepsion [same village where we are building a house for Olga]

all the children held up the masks that they decorated. the bible study lesson involved "the lost sheep"

adorable siblings under a piece of plastic to protect them from all the rain
June 15th, 2012
This was the group's last day in Pana and to start it off, some of us went zip lining through the mountains. It's relatively inexpensive and is set up so that there are 8 (i think?) different zip lines that you go across. You wear gloves (one of them having leather on it) and use the gloves to physically slow yourself down before the guides help unhook you.
Zip lining with Element 3! The place is about a ten minute drive away from Pana
area at the bottom of the zip line course
the starting point


Element 3 zip lining group!

harnessing up
almost all ready
at one of the 8 "take off" points

tons of bridges

beautiful scenery
elizabeth getting ready to go across one of the zip lines
here are my attempts at taking pictures while on the zip line. i may or may not have gotten in trouble for paying more attention to my camera and less attention to slowing myself down..

yes, i realize that this is upside down


After a morning of zip lining, the group packed up, grabbed some lunch, did some last minute shopping, and we headed to the docks [about a five minute drive].

trying to avoid the rain...
Pana from the lake 
Carl & Evan had to hold down the tarps over the luggage in the lancha
Our destination: La Posada Santiago [http://www.posadadesantiago.com/]
view from the lake

unloading the lancha
tons of stone buildings to stay in

where we all stayed. there is a dorm area on the top and then single rooms below for the married couples 
camp "element 3" as we called it haha

Lloyd's band played that night after we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner with fresh lemonade, beef curry, and homemade bread
Because I have become a grandma, I was in bed by 10:30 p.m. Guatemala has definitely turned me into a party animal...

After a delicious breakfast, we had to say goodbye to the Element 3 team. They were the most amazing group that I could have asked to have as my first "mission group" in Guatemala (and anywhere for that matter). They had such a wide variety of people coming from all different paths in life, but they all could come together with the mission of helping Olga's family and working in the medical clinics. I will miss them and hope to cross paths with them in the near future

loading up the van to go to the airport
After they left, we ended up staying a bit longer and enjoying the beautiful weather in Santiago. Side note: Because Guatemala is so close to the equator, the sun is so much stronger; therefore, always wear sunscreen...

star-shaped, reminds me of MC

beautiful landscaping

small grill area

stairs on the way to our lodge


palapa. you can order snacks and drinks or just lounge with a book

pool area was amazing

walking down towards the sauna

dock area

After a morning of relaxation, we travelled on a took-took to the dock and then a lancha to Pana. Was a little bumpy, but the trip back was a lot faster than the trip there.

Santiago Atitlan

supposedly where the Mayan's used to hide their gold
This week has been absolutely amazing and it was wonderful to spend the first part of my weekend with the Element 3 group at La Posada Santiago. I hope that all the other groups are as wonderful as this one and I hope to keep as busy as I did this past week. I enjoy feeling useful and keeping busy makes the time go a bit faster. In one way, I want the time to fly by so I can get back to my friends and family, but I also want to enjoy and appreciate the time while I'm in Guatemala, an opportunity I may not have again.

Little 'Ol Me Finally Went to Pari(s)!

by Caitlin Campbell
Universite de Savoie  

 For my program, we were given a handout that listed the trips that were open to us. A while back, I "starred" the most important trips to me and visiting Paris was number one. When we walked off the train and I took my first few steps, I just couldn't believe I was finally in Paris. Paris - the place where Roland Garros tennis champions played, where the Mona Lisa is located, and where the most gorgeous building in the world was built.
    The first thing our group did was visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Instead of graves, this cemetery had what  seemed like tiny houses with one single room. In the single room there was usually one window made in the shape of a cross. Some rooms had chairs, branches, or other seemingly random things. But the more I thought about it, I came to realize that these little rooms are probably prayer rooms. The architecture of each grave was so different and each had a unique door. The size of this graveyard amazed me. It was so beautiful and creepy at the same time. It actually inspired me to image stories or photoshoots that would capture that certain beauty. This graveyard was also the place where I glimpsed the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
    In the morning, our group went to Roland Garros. This was my second place to see in Paris because my brother is a huge tennis fan/player. I pleaded with the guard to let me in, but he said that the facilities were being cleaned. I still can't believe that I was near the place where Roger Federer, Steffi Graff, Bjorn Borg, and so many other tennis players have been. I wish I could have traded places with my brother so he could have seen it with his own eyes.
    Next we went to the Champs-Elysées. I have to be honest - I didn't really know what was the big deal (haha). Yes, it was beautiful and there were plenty of beautiful, expensive stores, but that's pretty much it. In fact, the friends I was with at the time decided to go off onto one of the side streets to eat. There, we found this little pizza place called Flam's. I was rather shocked at Flam's because they gave us English menus and our server willingly spoke English to us. I had always heard that Parisians were not fond of tourists - let alone Americans. I guess generalizations aren't accurate anywhere.Of course, the only monumental thing on that street is the Arc de Triomphe. It was such an experience to see it with my real eyes. So much detail came in sight and I was able to appreciate the grand size of it. This was also the place of the greatest roundabout I have ever seen. Cars were driving and swerving all over the place while honking and slamming on breaks. 
    THE EIFFEL TOWER. The Eiffel Tower is where I went next, and my mind was blown. Pictures, movies, and postcards do it no justice at all. Upon walking under the Eiffel Tower, I started to cry. It's hard to explain how I felt at that time. It was like a big, seemingly-impossible dream finally came true. After having so many little replicas in my room, pictures plastered in lockers and walls, and necklaces with it, I was finally under the real tower. I am a little embarrassed to admit that over half of my pictures taken that day were of the Eiffel Tower. It seemed to look different from every angle and under different weather conditions. I might sound like a dork, but it seemed like a structure from out of this world. It's size is unbelievable. It creates shadows over everything else in the city around mid-day. Luckily, Ivana (my Canadian friend) and I went back the next day and actually went up to the second floor. If anyone has seen Disney's Pixar movie Ratatouille, they know was I'm talking about when I say that the view was spectacular. I have finally been on the most beautiful building in the world. Now, when I look at my little replicas, I'll be able to imagine me on the second level looking around.
   Next, our group went to Notre Dame where I tried to imagine Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame take place (I love Disney movies, by the way). The gargoyles were actually real! I wanted to go into the building and explore, but the line was too long and my friends wanted to move on. Again, actually seeing the real life building took my breath away. I decided to actually run up and touch it to see if it was real. Paris most definitely has the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.
    The Moulin Rouge was next on our list. After leaving Sacre Coeur, the walk to Moulin Rouge turned from relaxing and beautiful to scary and strange rather quickly. We were warned ahead of time about the district that the Moulin Rouge was in, but that still didn't prepare me (haha). Let's just say that I'm not ever going there when it's dark. But the Moulin rouge itself made me smile. It had the red tower and the sign that I saw in the movie. It's hard to believe that one city contains all these monuments. 
   Now, my three friends and I literally saw everything that was on our list: Roland Garros, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer, Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower at night. But to do this, we had to descend into the depths of Mordor (at least it seemed that way to me) and travel on the Metro. Oh, the metro. At first, I was lost beyond all comprehension and  followed the others. But throughout the day, I became more comfortable. There were a few instances when musicians would hop on the metro and ask for money. There was one guy in particular who had an amp and was singing. That was actually really fun (haha). By day two, Ivana and I had mastered the metro and were able to spend time at the Eiffel Tower and eat our last Parisian crepe by the Seine before heading back to the hostel.

   Paris was the place where the majority of my bucket-listing took place. I finally got to see the Tower. I was literally jumping around like a little kid. This trip itself was worth going to France. Ivana and I have become good friends, too! France is just plain wonderful :).

Friday, June 15, 2012

"healing is a matter of time..."

 by Keli Shipley
Intern at Porch de Salomon, Guatemala
 
"Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." -Hippocrates


June 13th, 2012
Looks pretty similar to TN, right? There are tons of pine trees here. The difference is, a lot of the boys from the villages will come and climb the trees and cut down the branches to use for firewood. No, they don't use climbing equipment, they simply use their bare hands and feet. 

Bumpy roads make me miss my FJ. It's interesting travelling on these roads to the villages that we visit each day. I'll never complain about the road system in the U.S. Okay, I probably will because I'm human and American, but I can't help but hope that I would realize how truly our blessed our country is. 

Medical Clinic, Part 1. We travelled to Chusajcap, which is about a 35 minute drive. We set up the medical clinic. Apparently there was a huge celebration the day before in another village, so there were not many patients to be seen. We packed up after helping a dozen patients or so and were off on our way again... 

Juan. So adorable.

Chusajcap, village with rolling hills and beautiful agriculture

Linsey and Juan




Santa Catarina, a village about 15 minutes away from Pana. A couple years ago, a natural disaster came and wiped out part of the village. The building that we worked in was newly renovated and was very spacious. For about 5 hours, there was consistently people coming in and out of the clinic for help. 

Mario Jorge. Looks so precious, but was a little trickster. Couldn't help but like him although he kept calling me "Nancy"

absolutely adorable. 

precious children come into the clinics everyday. she looks so sweet and unfortunately has scabies, which is a skin infection dealing with bugs under the skin. there are treatments, but it is awful how many children life like this


For the past three days, I was blessed with the opportunity to help the Element 3 team with medical clinics. When I was first assigned to this task, I was a little bit hesitant because I was so unsure of how I would actually be able to help. Luckily, there was some basic math and organizational skills that I could provide. Also, I was able to talk to so many of the patients and explain, to the best of my ability, how to use the medicine and what they were to be used for. I was if I was bilingual which was a big compliment, but far from the truth. As Michael, one of the group members, said, it's easy to become pretty good at saying "un pastilla cada dia" and other basic spanish phrases such as that. Regardless, it was a wonderful experience and I hope that I get this opportunity again sometime in the future. Unfortunately, this was the last medical clinic that I will be able to help with this summer in Guatemala, but there are always other opportunities in the future and other countries.

Today, Abby, led the morning devotional. We discussed how you come on these mission trips to have your heart broken. You have to prepare your heart for that kind of aching that you are not used to. The thing is, you cannot dwell on the negative, but focus on trying to change what you worry about, what frustrates you, and what you actually are capable of doing. You have to wake up the next day and have your heart broken again. There are thousands of women being abused by their alcoholic husbands, children being left nameless to starve on the streets, and dogs being poisoned due to overpopulation. Sure, you can see these statements as cliche, but wait until you see these things yourself and you'll realize why so many people say these things. You shouldn't come to do mission work in hopes of making yourself a better person. It's about the people you are helping and the change in perspective that you receive. Everyone needs a little mission work in their life, or a lot of mission work for that matter. God blesses so many of us with opportunity and prosperity with the hopes that we will use the skills that we gain and the things that we are blessed with to help those that cannot help themselves. Call me cheesy and dramatic if you wish, but again, everyone will hopefully see these things for themselves some day. I admire the people who sell all their possessions and move to countries such as Guatemala to do mission work for a living. It takes so much courage and dedication and is probably something that I will never be able to do, in all honesty. There is always something to do in local areas and there is a way to maintain the "normalcy" of an American life while helping those around you and visiting countries to do what you can with the time that you have.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, 
and wisdom to know the difference. 

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