Monday, July 23, 2012

Our first stop in San Ramon

I thought I should write about the non-medical part of our trip.  It will probably take up a couple of posts.

On Monday we flew in to San Juan, Costa Rica and then we had our first Costa Rican meal.  Denny's!!  It was late and right by the airport. ha ha  We then drove about an hour to San Ramon and got checked in to our hotel. 

Tuesday we went to the orphanage there in San Ramon.  This was a hard day for me.  I had never been to an orphanage and I didn't know how it would affect me.  I was a little bit afraid to go, if I am completely honest.  When we got there they had a big door, like what I had pictured the big, blue door in front of Home of Hope to be.  The property was surrounded by chain link fence for security purposes.  We walked down a concrete slope to something like a concrete basketball court.  We saw a few children here and there and they were very curious about us.  Once they realized we were there to do something for them, they were very happy and open to us. There were about 9 children in this orphanage.  Some of the girls ran up to get hugs and the boys showed off on the two bicycles they had.  We started out with a story for all the kids.  A lady from our missionary's church came with us and told them a story which ended in telling the kids about Jesus.  Then we broke out into the different activities we had for the kids. 

Paul and I helped some boys make God's Eyes. 

Some of the ladies painted the girls fingernails and then let the girls paint their nails.  Others helped some children make bookmarks with their fingerprints on them.  A couple of our girls did face painting too.  It was sort of like a vacation bible school.

After this we played with the kids for a while.  Paul started giving back rides, which wasn't the smart move on his part.  You know, since he is old and falling apart.

The little girl did NOT want to get down.  When Paul tried to put her down she would wrap her legs around his neck and hold on for dear life.
We brought ice cream and let each child pick out their own stuffed animal.

I knew there was a baby inside and I really tried to avoid going inside.  I didn't know if I could handle it but how do you pass up showing just a little love to this baby.  There were moments when I was looking down into the crib making silly noises that my vision was so blurred by tears I couldn't see her.  Then a friend of mine came in a caught me holding her.  I told her not to take the picture but she did it anyway.

It physically hurt me to put her down and walk away.  I remember every bit of me wanting to turn around but I had to keep telling myself to keep walking.

This turned out to be a longer post than what I thought it would so I'll end here at the end of our time at the first orphanage.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The "Event" that lasted an eternity

After everything that has happened in the first half of this year, I wanted to start out the second half with a bang.  Well, I got a bang but it wasn't exactly how I had pictured it.  We went to Costa Rica for a short-term mission trip.  It was my first ever mission trip and I was so excited!  We were going to work with lots of kids, in orphanages and in villages around Costa Rica.  It was a great trip and God was VERY good to us.  I want to blog all about it but first I'm going to skip to almost the end of the week.  I'll go back to the other days later, but right now I'm going to talk about Saturday.  I think this is the day about which people are most curious.
We had spent a full week in Costa Rica working with kids and were preparing for our last bible club.We got up that morning and ate breakfast, made some God's Eyes to give to the kids, and then Paul walked to the bakery.  After all of that, we had just a little downtime (meaning 30 minutes) before we left for lunch.  While in the room, Paul said, "I feel "off".  There was nothing I could do for that so we just laid on the bed to rest.  We walked about 7 blocks to the restaurant where we would be having lunch.  We placed our order and then I was talking with another lady on the trip about walking back a couple of blocks to the grocery store to pick up some items that we wanted to take home.  I leaned over and asked Paul for some money.  I thought he was ignoring me because I asked again.  Then it happened.  We have forever dubbed it as "The Event".  I couldn't figure out why Paul wasn't answering me.  He even moved his hand toward me with his finger up like he was telling me to wait a minute.  Then his hand slapped down and we all knew something was wrong.  I started yelling his name. Our pastor, who was there, remained calm and said he had seen this before.  He got behind Paul and held him up during the whole seizure and didn't let him hit the floor.  After it was over and Paul was passing out (I'm not sure if he ever lost total consciousness), our pastor laid him on the floor, with the help of others in the restaurant.  During all of this I kept trying to get to Paul, but others in our group were trying to keep me out of the way.  I was crying and telling people that we shouldn't have come on the trip, and telling them that he can't go to the hospital because I just knew it would be dirty.  When the seizure started, the remainder of our group that were not sitting at our table grabbed hands, lifted their other hands in the air, and immediately started to pray.  The Costa Ricans in the restaurant called the ambulance.  There was probably 7 people on the phone.  Another stranger was holding Paul's feet on a chair so they would stay elevated.  One young boy came up and said he could speak English.  His family followed the ambulance to the hospital and that young boy stood there and help me speak with the doctors and translated Paul's passport for the registration forms.  That boy and his dad, I later heard, sat outside and waited with a lady from our group for hours.  After it was done, they wouldn't take any money or anything for their help.  We got their e-mail and information but I heard later by the next morning, no one could find it.

The hospital was not big, and no one was allowed inside to visit.  You had to sit outside on a bench and wait, where a security guard stood at the door and regulated who went in.  Not armed or anything like that just a security guard.  The door the ambulance pulled up to reminded me of an old garage door.  One that slides side to side instead of up and down.  Once in there, there seemed to be people everywhere.  There were several stretchers lined down the hallway.  By the time we got to the hospital, Paul was starting to talk some but still had no memory of anything.  He didn't know where we were, who was with us (even when I told him he didn't know anyone), or what had happened.  Nothing, he knew nothing.  Except me.  He remembered me, thank goodness.  I somehow got across to the first doctor what had happened and that he had a heart attack 6 weeks ago.  They did an EKG with a machine that had little silver domes and blue suction cups at the top and big clips for his ankles.  They then moved him down the hall to a room with 8 beds in it.  Nurses kept trying to come in a give him aspirin, and I kept telling them "No!".  This happened about 2 or 3 times and then the doctor came in and tried to ask me why I wouldn't let them do anything.  I tried to tell him that his heart doctor had said no aspirin after his daily dose of medicine.  We couldn't really understand each other so I started crying.  He put his had on my shoulder and lead me out of the room.  This is the point in my life where I learned to thank God for Steve Jobs.  The doctor pulled out his iPhone and he had a translation app.  I could type in what I wanted to say and then the app translated it to Spanish for the doctor.  Wonderful!!  In the end, we gave him the aspirin.

At this point, I was still all alone because they wouldn't let our pastor or anyone else inside the hospital, but it wasn't too long after that, one of the missionaries we were working with (I haven't gotten her permission to name her here, so I'll call her "L") showed up.  I'm not sure how she got in the door, but once the doctor knew she could speak Spanish he let her stay.  The doctor told L that he was afraid he would say something and scare me (again).  The catch was that two people were not allowed to visit a patient, and one of the nurses let L know that in no uncertain terms.  L, however, is not one to be pushed around, and so she stood her ground.  For the confidence she showed to the nurse and to the doctor, I am forever grateful!!  L sat with me a long time and sitting at the hospital is no fun at all.

There wasn't too much excitement.  Paul asked the same questions over and over again, and after a while, he could remember more and things started coming back.  It was interesting to see what he remembered and in what order.  The oldest memories came back first and then, by the time we went home, he could remember pretty much everything, but our trip was still a bit sketchy.  The next morning you would never know it had happened.

They ran another EKG on Paul and did some blood work.  All the tests came back normal.  We had to wait until 8pm and they ran another EKG and more blood work.  L and I had been told that if another patient came into the room we both would have to leave.  This really worried me early on, because Paul couldn't remember much and I didn't want to leave him when he couldn't remember where I was or what had happened.  Thankfully, no one else came in until about 7:30pm and he could remember why I was leaving.  He even told me later that he took a nap after I left.  L and I went outside and met up with R (her husband, they are the missionary couple we were working with).  L and I talked and waited and she was so very encouraging to me.  You just can't imagine.

We came home from the trip late Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning and Paul went to the doctor here on Thursday.  They are going to run a CT scan and an EEG soon.  He can't drive until then so the sooner we get the results, the better.

Later I was told that the other mission group staying at our hotel (they were with I Am Second) ran into some of our group on the street during "The Event" and were told what was happening.  As our friends ran on the the hotel to meet up with our missionaries, they turned around and the I Am Second team had knelt there on the street to pray for Paul.

This blog post is already so long and there is no way I can fit everything into it but this trip/this one day has made me realize the importance of prayer and that God really will give me the strength to get through anything.