More Beginnings


So it appears that my journey in the world of public health in developing countries overseas is really only just beginning. I am going to be designing prosthetics for Vida Nueva for my senior project and it appears that another class i am taking is mostly a design project as well, for a small city in Guatemala. I also found out about a conference in Kentucky in the fall that gathers all the organizations interested in public health in the developing world, and they are all Christian organizations. I am hoping that I will be able to make it to that. If you would like to start praying for that opportunity that would be great. I am so excited to see what God is going to be doing with all these open doors in the coming year. It is a bit overwhelming to think about all the work to be done, but I really think that there is a lot of opportunity great things to happen.

Looking back on the trip I have now seen what would have been good projects to do during my time there, and it is easy to lament and wish that I had more time, but of course there is no use in doing that. I am hoping that my club this year can send some sort of support to the hospital and that I can maintain some contact with them.

I am also quite sad to see how quickly the Spanish slips away. I am hoping that I can find somewhere to maintain my Spanish this year.

Things that you can be praying for now is that I would really be able to make an impact with my senior project, i would be able to make it to the conference in the fall, and that God continues to direct me in where I can be taking this further.

Thanks so much for your faithful following of this blog. If you want to stay updated on what happens next feel free to shoot me an e-mail or find me on facebook Jen Van Donk

Your support and prayers have meant so much to me and I am so excited to see where God is taking me next!

The last few days at the hospital were filled with a lot of sadness but also a lot of joy at seeing how we had actually left an impact on the hospital. The staff threw us a going away party the last day, with balloons and cake and everything. The cake said "Para Yeni y Ambar." My name while I was there became Yeni. They said that they had had a lot of other students but they would always remember us as the ones who had fixed the washing machine. They said they were thinking about putting up a plaque in our honor, and they also never wanted to have male students again, only female students. I took that as a huge compliment in such a macho society as that is. It was really clear how they began trusting us so much more over the course of the month.

They also bought some shirts for us that had the Olanchito iguana on it, possibly the ugliest shirt I have every owned, but one that I wear with great pride because it represents tons of incredible relationships that I formed.

That weekend we traveled to Nicaragua for the final conference. I did not want to leave Olanchito at all, but once I arrived in Nicaragua I was ready to just leave. I think I wanted to either be in Olanchito or be home. The conference was cool though. It was great to reconnect with all the EWH participants and hear all their stories of their summers. I think the best part though was that I got to speak to a woman who works in the Guatemalan government in the Department of Health. She was extremely informative about the issues they deal with in receiving equipment. She also challenged a few of my preconceived notions. And hopefully she can be an asset in my future interactions with Central American governments

I could tell that the team was eager to get back home. We were pretty bushed. The trip back was very uneventful, but when I got to the airport I met a woman from Honduras and got to talk to her a little about my time there. I was with my parents and they got to hear some of my newly acquired Spanish skills. They were impressed ;)

And suddenly I was home. It almost felt as if I had never left and I had simply dreamed it all. It was kind of sad how easily I readjusted to everything, though i suppose good that i didn't go through the supposed stage 6 of depression.

Anyway, more thoughts and reflections post trip next.

Saving Lives


Alright so here is the long awaited concluding post. I apologize that it is so long in coming, but the past few weeks have been a slow flurry of events. Not that I was actually doing all that much besides hanging out with people, but you know how it goes when there are people around, you just don't feel social sitting down and writing a blog posting. ANYWAY I found this blog posting that i had not posted. I will write a conclusion in the next posting

Ok so I am sure that many of you who read this will be furious that I did what I did, but today I donated blood. I have been wanting to for a while but didn’t have an opportunity until today. I made sure to ask around and make sure that things were safe, and I was very aware of the procedures they used ( and when I wasn’t happy enough with their method of cleaning my arm I cleaned it more myself). Anyway, all is well so far. However the more important thing is that I actually found out right away who my blood was going to. Turns out that Jose Manuel Reyes needed A+ blood, and the hospital did not have any to give him. His mom was fervently praying that there would be some way for them to receive the blood, and I happened to decide to donate today. It was such a sweet moment of seeing God work in mysterious ways. I will not be able to donate for about a year after I get back which is why I was so eager to donate here, and it is so sweet to know that someone could use my blood right away.

Tonight we went to Delia’s house again for dinner. We had so much fun with her and Paula. Delia has not been working during the days this week and so we were really concerned that we would not see her again before we left, and we were not getting a hold of her by calling her so we decided to just walk to her house. As fate/God would have it she drove by as we were walking and we got a ride. Paula was there too and we spent the evening dancing, learning new Spanish, teaching more English, making topoios, calling random men that they were trying to hook us up with, etc. Everyone here is absolutely obsessed with matchmaking, boyfriends, marriage, etc. It is pretty incredible.

Today was also an interesting day because Amber was gone to La Ceiba so I was in the hospital on my own. I was planning on helping Jairo with rewiring a room, however he had Cutin helping him and I was literally just sitting on my butt, so I decided that I could do better things with my time. So I left and tried to do some interviews. I had a fairly good interview with Tanya in Laboratorio (which is also why I decided to donate blood today, cause I was sitting in the donation room) and then I also conducted one with some of the nurses and doctors in Labor y Parto. It seems to be difficult to really find needs that it will be easy to focus down into one specific need, but hopefully there is some useful information that results. Sandra has been really helpful and she said that she was going to ask around and get more info. It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming people here are. For example, I had a lot of free time today, so I went and bought the women in laundry a pepsi and just sat and chatted with them for a while. Then I was really hot and the room for x-ray is airconditioned so I decided to just go sit in there for a while and I met Jackie and chatted with her for a while. It really doesn’t matter if I don’t know them at all, they are just so willing to welcome us into their rooms and chat for a bit. The other day there was another x-ray technician who also invited us in to the room to just relax for a bit and cool off. I have been really trying to take advantage of my free moments to build relationships, sit and listen and ask questions. I think it really has been such an encouraging experience for me to see how much just building relationships really can help. In the states I feel like there is less opportunity to just sit and drink a Pepsi together, but here that is what life really is about. And that is certainly something I will miss!

Anyway, it is late, and tomorrow is our last full day here so we have LOTS to do!! I wish I had just a few more days, but even then I am sure it would still not be enough.