Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oaxaca, Mexico!!!

This post is WELL overdue, but life did not slow down just because I was out of the country for a week...if anything it sped up! I expected to come back to craziness since I was leaving right at midterms, but the first week back I was still super busy and swamped. Things have slowed down a bit, so I wanted to take a few minutes to recap why it's been so long since I've posted!

As the title of this post says, I was in Oaxaca, Mexico a little over 2 weeks ago with my church. It was a mission trip to take solar powered mp3 players and load them with the New Testament recorded in the indigenous language of 3 villages in the state of Oaxaca. Many of the villagers, especially the older generation, do not speak Spanish and cannot read. While there is a translation in the Mizteco language, the high illiteracy rate means it's more or less useless. The missionaries that we went down to support work on doing the recordings in the indigenous languages and distributing the mp3 players. We got to visit 3 different villages and hand out almost 100 players!

Sunday night we led a church service in a village that we also visited later in the week. It was a unique experience because everything would go from English to Spanish to Mizteco and back again. It was also so incredible to be worshiping alongside the villagers, different languages and cultures, but knowing that we all serve and love the same God.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning we were in the villages helping to distribute the mp3 players. Monday the guys also helped with a construction project at the church and cementing the dirt floor. I got to help the women prepare lunch, and learned how to make corn tortillas by hand! The women kept saying how much it meant to them that we traveled all the way from the USA to just spend time with them and give them the mp3. It was really special to be able to just live alongside the villagers and experience their lives.

Tuesday was one of my favorite days because I had a cool opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and let God use me. In the morning we split into 2 groups with each of the missionaries and went to the various homes to explain the mp3s and show the families how to use them. At the 4th or 5th house, I had the chance to use my Spanish and actually talk with the family because they understood Spanish and we didn't have to go to Mizteco. I was pretty nervous, but a few houses later, the missionary asked if I wanted to translate for one of the other team members! That was really cool, and definitely helped me feel a bit more confident in my speaking ability. God truly gave me the words to say each time. In the afternoon, the missionaries decided we were going to split into 3 groups so we could reach more homes and asked if I would be comfortable translating for the 3rd group! That was an awesome experience because God definitely answered a specific prayer I had prayed about being willing and confident to use my Spanish when the opportunity came. He gave me the words to speak, and I am very thankful to have had that opportunity!

Wednesday and Thursday morning we were back in the village where we had the church service. Both days were spent going around the towns and handing out the mp3 players to the families and explaining how to use them.

Thursday afternoon we drove back to Puerto Escondido (where we stayed the 1st night) for the last 2 nights of the trip. *Fun fact about Puerto Escondido - it's ranked #3 in the world for surfing waves!* Some of us decided to try surfing (although not on the world ranked waves...) on Friday which was a free day. I was able to stand up a few times, and we all had fun! We returned to the USA on Saturday.

Overall health-wise, the trip was really good. I had been very nervous about all sorts of medical related issues going down - would I be able to eat anything, was I going to have BP problems, would I have bad reactions to anything - more than anything I did NOT want to be a liability to the team. I did have one night where I got pretty sick from a meal and felt off for a few days after. We discovered later in the week, when someone else had the same dish, that there were onions that had probably caused my reaction. Other than that, I had no health issues while I was in Mexico, even after being served and trying armadillo!

UNFORTUNATELY, I did have a bad reaction on the plane ride from Mexico back to the USA. At the time we had no idea what caused my reaction. I started feeling bad in the airport which just got worse when we got onto the plane. About 10 minutes into the flight I knew something was really wrong...I was having trouble breathing, my HR was 2x my resting HR, I broke out in hives on my torso and arms, I was shaking really hard, I was conscious but not completely was NOT good. I took benadryl and was on oxygen for a while, which definitely helped. For a bit the flight attendant was saying we were going to have to turn the plane around, then we were going to divert to Mexico City, but I kept saying I just wanted to get back to the USA. I did NOT want to end up in a hospital in Mexico. With the benadryl and oxygen, I improved enough to where we were able to fly straight to our destination. The next morning when I pulled out my pillow and sweatshirt from the flight, there was a scent on it that I remembered smelling in the airport and on the plane. I started breaking out in hives again and feeling like I had on the plane, so I'm pretty sure I reacted to someone's perfume...having the oxygen mask on must have helped me breathe cleaner air so the reaction stopped.

I'm still kind of in limbo with doctors and trying to figure these reactions out...but it's getting to the point where I know I can't ignore these symptoms. That reaction on the plane was scary and the closest thing I've ever had to an anaphylactic reaction. I am not looking to repeat that EVER! In August I saw an allergist who made a preliminary diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome based on excluding other possible conditions. I was managing things pretty well, but obviously not completely... Unfortunately, we're in an insurance battle over that doctor so I can't go back and see least not yet.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be a quick update about the trip - apparently it turned into a LONG post of more medical issues...oh well, what's the title of this blog again - Maintenance Required...yep, story of my life =)

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