And then there were 5--that's how many shifts of work I have left. So hard to believe. I don't think it's truly hit...but I think I am starting to get there. I am at the point where I am saying goodbye to amazing friends and coworkers who I will no longer be working side by side with every night like I have for the past 7 years. So weird to think about. I am ridiculously excited for what's to come, that's for sure! But saying goodbye and knowing that I will no longer be working there every night just seems so final. Any other time, even on my 3 month leave of absence, I knew I was returning. And of course, I will come back for visits and stay in touch thanks to WhatsApp and Facebook. But it will definitely be different. I just want to take a timeout to say thank you, thank you, thank you to my coworkers...and honestly, that doesn't seem adequate at all for how grateful I am of you guys! You guys are truly amazing. Not only because of what we deal with and experience every day and night, but for the friendships that have occurred from there, whether it was from something that happened at work that just shook us to our cores, something that we can only shake our heads at, or something in our personal lives. We've definitely experienced and endured a lot, but have come so close because of it. I am truly grateful for all of you and can say I have worked with some of the best teammates, friends, and family ever. Thank you especially for all of those nights where you helped with my crazy trainwrecks, got me to laugh when I was about ready to lose my crap, and stuck by my side through my toughest year of my life, even if it was just to push a piece of chocolate my way, give me a hug, make me laugh, or let me talk, vent, cry, or step away for a hot second. You guys are just absolutely amazing! Thank you for the encouragement for all these years when I would go to Guatemala "yet again," for pushing me to take the leave of absence that I desperately needed and didn't realize how bad of shape I was in until I got there, and for being so supportive of my move to Guatemala even though I know a ton of you are either dreading this or in denial. I will definitely miss working with you all, doing the challenging IVs, getting that trainwreck of a hot mess patient, and the many laughs we have together despite a difficult night. (So you all need to stay in touch often...and come visit often! Not even kidding!!) But I know that this move is the right call at this point in my life. The details are falling into place way better than I could have planned it. Clearly, God is all over this!
So as most of you know, January 3rd is my last night at work...and yes, it's a "princess" shift (Night before is a 12...if that makes any of you feel better). And then I need to hardcore focus on this "little" thing called packing. I have one box mostly packed and some more to go. I keep telling myself that I can get it all done once am done with work. Well, that time is quickly approaching and filling up with things to get accomplished. But one way or another, it is getting done before this little trip to Haiti...and then Uganda...and then final stop in Guatemala. I just spent this past weekend at my parents' for Christmas and we had a great time. I stopped in at Martinsburg Mennonite Church one final time before I leave and was able to say goodbye and thank you so much for your continued love, prayers, and support! Thank you to all of my donors and people willing to give so that I can do what God has called me to do....and He's pulling you guys into it...partnering along side and making a huge impact on so many people because of your donations and support! You guys are making a huge difference in so many lives! Honestly, so no need to say this is all me doing the work...it's not at all. It's all God and He's using all of us to do this...so again, thank you!!
Many of you donated for food for kids and their families this Christmas and because of the amazing donations from you guys, they were able to receive not only food, but helped to buy school supplies for the kids, Bibles for patients and kids at clinic who don't have one, activities/crafts/decorations for Christmas parties, and the food for the party. Huge, huge THANK YOU! I about cried happy tears on more than one occasion at work when you guys were giving. I think Peter and his mom were a bit shocked at how much you guys were able to provide for. It's so humbling and amazing to see it! I had faith that you all would provide...something about Christmas time and my coworkers...they love to give! We certainly have a history of that :) (I still see kids running around down there with their fleeces that were given a few years ago). I have also received some blankets to give to families who live in tin shacks, sleeping on either one bed or no bed on a mud floor and lately it's been getting into the 40's at night in that area. So these families will be able to stay warm at night because of these blankets. So again, thank you!
And last but not least....my website is done! Conner, my grandson (see previous posts about how I have 2 grandsons if you have no clue what I am talking about), has finished it and I have to say, it's pretty awesome! Here's the link, save it, and spread the word about it: 1lifeatatime.com
There are 2 videos on there: one explaining what I will be doing in Guatemala and the other is the blooper reel. There is a tab with pictures from the previous medical team that we had this past October with Reading Hospital's very own Mark and Deb, and pictures from my 3 month leave of absence when I was volunteering at some clinics, and when we had camp with the kids (same kids who received the food this Christmas). My blog will now be posted on this website...just to keep everything on one site and that way you don't have to bounce around to different sites and try to keep them all straight. And the last tab has a button to click and will take you to where to donate (It will redirect you to the same website that you have been using to donate: cten.org/donnadelp). Again, I will not be getting paid in Guatemala and am relying strictly on support from you guys. So please, spread the word! You can give monthly and/or as a one time donation. It is tax deductible. So honestly, any amount is a huge help and blessing. Thank you to those who have donated and those who are considering and for those of you who are praying and have been a major support and encouragement! Love you guys! And MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the pictures below of the Christmas party and the kids who received the food and gifts from your donations that were given specifically for that! You guys are awesome!!
“Cutting it close, Delpinator.” That’s the text I received when I wasn’t even home from work yet…but Mark had arrived at my house, ready for Dorothy to come and drive us to the airport. I was pulling my typical MO: work the same night that we need to head to the airport. And of course I still needed to stop to get a few last minute items to pack. I just laughed when I got that text and said, “I’m on my way home. We have time.” I finished my last minute packing, while Mark was pacing in my house. It was quite amusing to see how excited he was to go to Guatemala for the first time…getting his first stamp in his passport period. That was hilarious at immigration in Guatemala to be honest. I thought for sure he was going to try to crawl over the counter to watch the guy put a stamp in his passport. We arrived to Guatemala to be greeted by Deb and Peter. Everyone was exhausted, but so relieved and excited to be there. Once we arrived to Palin, we visited an elderly woman who was short of breath, had a distended abdomen, was dizzy, and was nauseated. We went to the pharmacy and got her some medications to try to help her. That night, we had the youth kids come for the evening. We were beyond exhausted by that point. I found everything amusing and Mark was in his hyper-tired mode. While playing beach volleyball, the ball kept getting caught in the tree. Mark used his awesome Spanish skills, took off his shoe, and yelled, “ZAPATO!!!!” and then would throw his shoe in the tree to try to knock the ball down. I was losing my crap at this point. Laughing so hard, I was crying. The kids thought it was absolutely hysterical and started calling Mark “zapato.” At one point, this one kid took Mark’s shoe and threw it straight up in the tree…but it was dark by this point and he didn’t see the shoe until the last second as it was coming straight for his face. That kid hit the ground so fast in an attempt to get out of the way! That whole scenario started the #teamzapato. Later that night, we played apples to apples the Spanish version. Mark won that easily. Nailed it! Lo clavaste! (The day Mark yelled ‘nailed it’ in Spanish, Peter’s mom laughed so hard. It was hysterical). I had warned Peter before we came that I didn’t think he knew what he was getting into with Deb and I together and then throw Mark in the mix….whew, buddy. I think he figured it out quickly on night one of us being there.
The next days were a blur of events. So much happened. We bought meds for our clinics, sorted everything out that we had all brought down for clinics (honestly, it was like Christmas! Especially for everything Deb brought down!!! ), serenaded by Mark playing the guitar…and singing for Frank the gecko, went to Antigua, picked up Yelsi to help translate, ran 2 clinics, got clotheslined by a tiny bag on a string like a kite (that kid screamed, thinking I killed her kite. Peter and I laughed so hard the whole way back to the house), taught Peter how to put in an IV (I volunteered to be poked and Deb volunteered to let me put an 18g in her to show him how to do it…but apparently I went too fast. No one at Reading would be surprised by that comment), played games, did activities with the neighborhood kids who live on the railroad tracks, and made amazing food (and Deb wore Mark’s sneakers just to walk to the other house and Peter’s mom laughed so hard once she found out that Deb…who wears like a size 6 shoe was wearing about a size 14 shoe), and had a birthday party for our October birthdays. And we all laughed…a lot! The random one liners that were said…absolutely hysterical. I think Deb won with having the most on the quote sheet we had.
We set up clinics in churches in 2 different villages closer to the sugarcane fields where it was pretty humid. We put out coloring pages and crayons for the kids and set up everything on tables or pews depending on what was available. It’s funny. Before we went, we had bought meds for it. Went down the list of meds that seemed pretty popular especially for the 3 months that I was there: meds for pneumonia, diarrhea, and fever. Those were the main things that pretty much every patient needed. So we bought plenty of meds to cover that. We came home and realized that we didn’t buy cough medicine. Later, Peter remembered they had meds left over at his mom’s house from previous medical teams/clinics. I went over and sorted through them: mostly cough medicine, liquid antibiotics, diabetic, gastritis, and allergy meds. We packed it, along with the meds we just bought. Both clinics: we went through that cough, diabetic, gastritis, and allergy medicine like crazy. God provides! I remember when I was working at the dump and resources were pretty limited and just when I was certain I was out of a medicine that I needed, I would find some more and would have just the right amount by the end of the day. I also bought a special ear wash thing and brought it down with me since Reyna was the queen of ear washes the whole time we did our medical team in March. We did a few ear washes this trip and since Reyna wasn’t here…I became the ear wash queen. Deb and Mark did awesome at adjusting to limited resources compared to the States, seeing different ailments than we do in the States, and banging them out. Reading taught us well how to keep it moving! At the end of the first clinic day, Mark took a picture of the empting out church as Deb and I finished up with the last patients. His comment: Deb and Donna cleaning out the waiting room like old times! Peter and Yelsi are amazing translators and sure know how to kick butt with medical teams! We just need to clone them. End of story.
There were a couple patients who really stuck out to me. Deb may have more to add to this…she was so self-sufficient as usual; she didn’t really need me to help get meds or assist with any triages. She was all over it as usual! This is why she could run the ED pretty much herself. (Miss working with you, FYI!!). We had a 12 ish yr old boy who had fever, RUQ pain, chest pain, vomiting, and just looked like crap. We gave him some meds and followed up with him a few days later to set up an appointment for an ultrasound if needed and he was feeling better. We had quite a few kids who saw us for the usual: fever, cough, some with diarrhea. This one kid was screaming bloody murder for Mark. It was amusing since when I came over, she stopped crying immediately. Mark was like, “Oh. Of course. Stops for Delp.” There were quite a few patients who came and were newly diagnosed with diabetes or didn’t have the correct medication to keep it controlled. So we provided them with some meds and diabetic teaching. After the first clinic, we went to the house of a family who had mentioned that the brother-in-law was urinating blood and couldn’t get out of bed because of having a stroke recently and really weak on one side. When we arrived, he’s in the hammock, unable to get up, has been urinating blood and having burning with urination. We provided him with antibiotics for a urine infection and then prayed with him. That was a special moment praying with him and his family. Peter’s mom prayed and most of us were teary by the end of it. He was so grateful for our help and being willing to come and see him.
There was a woman in her 30’s. Married and has 3 daughters. She had come to us because she had pain in her throat, short of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and looked like crap. She was pale, diaphoretic (sweaty). Heart rate was 120’s. We thankfully had some IV supplies with us and a liter of fluid. So we took her in the back room where there was a bed and conveniently a nail in the wall to hold up the bottle of fluids. I put in an 18g in her arm and we ran the fluids in as a bolus. It helped her heart rate greatly and she was down in the 70-80’s, but irregular and she was still really short of breath. She was telling me about how her husband had be laid off from work recently, didn’t have a source of income, has been to the doctor recently for this and given some anti-anxiety meds and a heart medication, but none of which were helping and she felt like she was just getting worse. We took her to a local public hospital, which we were warned wasn’t exactly the best. But it was the best we could do at that time. The previous night, Mark had showed us a TED talk about healthcare and how within the first 14 seconds on average, a patient will be cut off from what they are trying to say. Well, we arrived at this hospital and she went back to talk to a medic. She still had the IV in her arm and within 3 seconds of her and/or her husband trying to speak, the medic cut her off and didn’t let her explain why she was there/what was going on. Meanwhile, I’m standing there super annoyed at this point and then they put her out in the waiting room…IV still in arm…no vital signs taken…just to hang out and wait while she is continuing to struggle to breathe. We gave the husband some money to use for the tests since you have to pay up front to get anything done and we had to go back to where we had clinic set up. While trying to find where our driver went, Mark insisted on buying chicken that was made along the street. That boy sure loves his chicken! Meanwhile, Peter’s mom, Yelsi, and Deb had it all under control at clinic. They had cleaned house. Although, when I walked in, Deb shot me a look and I knew exactly what was going on. I know Deb’s facial expressions. She was trying to wrap it up with this one mother and she kept adding ailments for her son who wasn’t really complaining of anything. We finished up and debriefed about the medical system in Guatemala. That woman didn’t really get any medical treatment while at the hospital. Since we came back to the States, she has had labs, ultrasounds, and a chest xray done. She’s still really sick, short of breath, diaphoretic, now possibly has a fever intermittently, has been vomiting and unable to keep anything down for days, and is pretty weak. Continue to pray for her and her family. For those of you who have donated and been praying for her, thank you so much! Thank you doesn’t even seem like enough. But please know that you are making a huge impact in their lives and it’s greatly appreciated!! You are helping to pay for her medical bills so that she can have the labs and imaging done, paying for food for her and her family, and paying for her medications that we have been buying for her. So thank you so much!!
On Saturday, between clinic days, we had the kids from the railroad tracks at the house for Sunday school. We played games, sang songs, talked about a Bible story and did a craft with them making fish out of plates and letting them decorate them. It was so great to work with them again! They are great kids! So many have a pretty tough life. But that day and when we walked down to the tracks where they live and you can see for yourself where they live, you can see how poor of a community it is, but the kids are resilient and can have fun no matter what they have or don’t have. We watched some of the kids play marbles in the dirt and Mark made a comment, “Now that is how kids are supposed to play. Not with 8000 electronics in hand 24/7.” Plus, on the days we do activities with them, for many, it is their only time they can be just what they are: a KID. They don’t have to take care of their family while their parents are working or whatever else they are responsible for. But instead, can be a kid, take a break from their hard lives, and learn about how they are so loved by God.
On our last day together before Deb and Mark had to go back to the States, we hiked Pacaya, an active volcano. Peter was a beast and walked the whole thing. The rest of us were getting over our lovely coughs and had some help by going up majority of the way on horseback. Even though it was a cloudy day, it was still an amazing view. Most of us wore shorts and t-shirts. By the time we reached as high as we’re allowed to go, we could see our breath. Deb was so excited to finally be in Alaska spring weather! There was a shop near the top with jewelry made from lava and the guys there were awesome. They explained everything about Pacaya and then were really interested in our medical team and what all we had been doing on this trip. There were 2 dogs that live up there in a cave and one mother just had 8 puppies. We walked the rest of the way, on top of rock that was over lava. We were able to roast marshmallows in some of the holes that had steam coming up from the lava. We picked up some of the lava rocks to warm up our hands too since it was windy up there. That night, a girl who I helped while I was there on my 3 month trip came to the house to color and eat some food. She is such a sweet kid. She has been handed the raw end of the deal of life, but can still smile. Love that girl! I of course snuck her a piece of the no bake brownies we had made earlier in the week.
This is just the start of everything. Peter and I have discussed having medical teams come down and it finally happened! Huge thank you to Deb and Mark for being the guinea pigs and being the first ones to come down for our own clinics!! Thank you to those who have put so much time, effort, money, and prayers into this so far! If you would like to donate to help pay for meds, stuff to keep doing activities for the kids, food for people who don’t have any, etc….the list goes on honestly, click on the donate tab in the top right corner of this page and it will direct you to the correct website to donate funds. All donations are tax deductible. You guys truly are making a huge difference and we couldn’t do this without your help. Honestly. Thanks to Conner for giving us the idea for this hashtag…Mark for making the push to actually do it, and Deb for being the first one to use it officially: #helpdelp.