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Sunday, March 7, 2010


Khaled- thank you for the beautiful words. I miss you!!!

I miss you. Pictures to come so soon!! I'm uploading now-- I have two cards, and on one I have 1,046!!! Haha, I can't wait.

I love and miss you all back home. I can't wait to see you soon!


Love, Always-

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Last day of Surgery

Today was the last day of surgery for the mission. I wish I got to go to the hospital, but I went to the school instead which was equally amazing.

We went to the Baptist School- it is a private school.. one of the nicest in Jordan. It is like a million times better than my school! And our school is pretty nice! So we went and did presentations to the KG1, KG2 and 2 other classes. Together, Taylor and I still had over 200 toothbrushes easy- so we gave them to each of the classes we presented to and then we met with the Principal of the school. Two students showed us around the campus which was SO wonderful. They were a year older than us. So nice. So we started our first presentation and then the translator started talking and the kids are all like uh.. ok.? ALL the kids there know English and Arabic. A lot of them are actually caucasian or asian, irish.. The school is from all over. And not everyone there is Baptist either. So it was a really cool thing. They ate up our presentations and we did a really good job. I LOVE teaching. I seriously am in love with children. I think I will be found in the childcare center at school if you can't find me.

Well, once we met with the principal, they treated us to a lunch and cookies and the principal talked to us about the school and how it stresses service and integrity and all these values. I saw all of it evident in the students. A lot of students came earlier in the week to volunteer during the mission. They took time off of school and so I was REALLY glad that I got to see them and go to their school. They are fantastic people and new wonderful, wonderful friends. After our really official and intimidating meeting with the school officials, they gave us beautiful gifts and then we were taken to the upper school. All the kids- even seniors- have a 20 minute recess! Ahhhh. So jealous. It is really cool they go outside and they hang out and eat and just take a breather. But we got to go see them while they were at recess so I ran outside and instantly I saw my friends and we all screamed as girls do and hugged and oh- it was just one of the best moments of the entire mission.

So we talked for a minute but we were rushed and so we went back inside and the girls were taking me to their physics class and they were so girly and oh my gosh we were like best friends. It was so sad when we left.. but I just ran in their classroom really quick and met the teacher and he shook my hand and everyone laughed. It was so priceless. Then all the guys were like laughing and saying something while the girls we were just all hugging and havig an amazing time together. My tears welled up in my eyes as I watched my new soul sisters wave bye to me. Even after maybe a day or two together, we have become such good friends. I felt wetness on my face as I walked away from the classroom. I would have sat in Physics for 3 days if I could be with my friends. Even now, I am kindof choking up at the strength, friendship and love that brings us together. It was so hard to leave, but I didn't say goodbye but I said 'See you soon'. Because I'm going back to Jordan (So far my list is 1) Ireland. 2) South Africa and now 3) Jordan).

After, our volunteer that was showing us around took us to get K'nafa and Falafal. The MOST amazinggggggggggggggggggg things to eat ever. I will struggle until I have some in my stomach back in Utah. K'nafa is like cheese- it's sweet though. It doesn't taste like cheese, but it's cheese and it has this sugary syrup and crunchyish stuff on top. it is DIVINE. Falafal (pronounced fall-ah-full) is ground up chick peas, beans, and other stuff that is fried and then put in pita with some homous and other things. Oh it was freaking delicious.

Taylor and I have laughed so much together while we've been here. It's fun to talk about the differences and similiarities we both have. She is doing great- we have become good friends and we have so many memories together that no one  else will understand. Last night, we bought a ton of stuff at the souvenir store and so when we got back to the hotel I was jsut getting ready for bed and I was like trying on one of my scarves or something and I was saying "Oh Taylor- why don't you.." and I turned around, and Taylor just is standing there with a traditional red and white head scarf

like this
that the people wear with a huge smile on her face. I laughed for ten minutes straight. Serious. So I put on one of my scarves that I got and we made a video. So dont' worry. We're cool.

Amanda is also great. Everyone here thinks she is one of us and then she rolls her eyes when she has to say she is 26 and our chaperone. She is like the Elle Woods of Operation Smile. It's hilarious. I have actually started to pick up some of her mannerisns and the way she talks. She is so funny it just cracks me up. Just the things she says and the ways she says them. Whenever she says something.. I always just say "Amanda, you would". Like we were driving around to the Refugee camp yesterday and she's like "Oh! A bug!! :) " so Taylor and I are kindof nervous saying where?! Because I got bit by a bug a few days ago and started rashing all over my face for a while (Idk if it was bc of the bug). But she was pointing to a little green, (tunacan haha) VW bug like the car. And then she went on to explain that she drives one. And it's convertible. A convertible silver bug. "Amanda, you would". And then someone was asking about if kiwi's were expensive here or plentiful and stuff bc we have seen a lot of them at the fruit stands and she gasps and says "that's my dog's name!" And then I was thinking Ya, Amanda would name her dog Kiwi. And then we found out that it was an 8lb miniture weiner dog. She would. :) I love it. She has been a great sponsor. I am jealous of her position. She has one of the best positions ever.

I don't know if I will post again from Jordan- so I just wnt to thank all the volunteers and people who have helped me grow this week and a half to want to become the best person that I can possibly be. Thank you for your love, your care, your respect, your hospitality, your smiles, your laughs,  your jokes, your rides, your lessons, your helping hand, your offerings, your children, your patience, your kindness, your instruction, your generosity, and your sincerity. They have changed me. They have made me want to change. They have motivated me to become as wonderful of a person as you. Thank you.

Also, thank you to everyone back in the States who have supported me all this time. Your comments and your love radiates all the way to the middle east. Even though there is an enormous amount of love already present here, It just magnifies it even more.

Tonight is our final party. I really hope to see all of the kind souls that I have met this week there. Tomorrow, we are going to Petra. It is one of the 7 wonders of the world. I am so excited.

our flight leaves at 12:10am on Saturday (Fri night) and gets into new york at 6:15 I think (13 hours!). Then my filght from JFK to SLC is at 9ish and my flight lands in Utah at 12:58pm or something in the afternoon. I expect balloons, posters, banners, and an entourage there!! Hahah just kidding.

I can't believe that this is already over. We have changed lives. We have made the world a little bit better. Some kids have a few more toys. A lot of people smiled. Jordan has changed me.

I can't WAIT to post picutres. Each and every single one has a beautiful story.

Always, Liza- ps: I totally know how to write my name and i put it into translator and they did it right!!!! :D

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I can't believe that it is Thursday already. It is our last day of surgery. Sorry I didn't post last night, I was so tired and we got home really late.. haha..

Today we are going to a school- I'm really excited because a LOT of the student volunteers that have been volunteering over the week are from that school. They are all my new friends and I am so glad I get to see them again.

Last night, we went out with our new friends- Abdullah and Hassan. They are wonderful, wonderful people. They tolerated us shopping for a million scarves and then talked to the owners of a souvenir shop in the mall for like 10 minutes so that we could negotiate us coming in after it was closed. We bought so much stuff it's so cool. I feel way selfish though because I want to keep everything that I've bought for people.. haha I will probably keep some things. They took us out to dinner and they just told us to keep eating and eating.. Ahhhhhhh. The food here is FANTASTIC. It will be such a downer till I can find somewhere close to it in Utah. My favorite foods are obviously the kobiz which is SO good. The kind at the hospital is dry and not very good at all but the stuff we've had at nicer restaurants comes out warm and and fluffy. Ahhhhhh that and humos (hummous) and the eggplant dish I was talking to you about-- Those are divine. I humored our amazing hosts with my arabic (Or lack thereof) but they said they were super impressed. I don't know much, but I catch on pretty quick and I learn pretty well so it is good. I genuinely want to learn. Most everyone that I have met here is bilingual to some degree. Almost ALL of the students and geez even some of the patients study English, Arabic, and French and even sometimes Spanish. I feel like such a stupid amerrrrrican when I say I only speak like 10 phrases in Arabic, spanish, and can hardly get by in my English class! Haha, they are an inspiration. I have learned a lot so far though. I learned how to write my name correctly in Arabic-- (idk if I already posted but our posters for our presentations were made with google.. the first time that google has epicly failed us. Let's just say thye got a few laughs from the students..) Anyways, I had been doing it wrong because it is written right to left. I am picking up so fast and I LOVE it.

Abdullah and Hassan-- they are two genuinely incredible people. And only 2 years older than me! They are so amazing. Thank you, Shukran and Domo Arigatou for everythign you have done for us. It is such a joy and a great feeling to know that there are kind, altruistic people all over the world. Especially in Jordan. I already told you this but everyone here is SO hospitable and have such beautiful, accepting souls. So many parents have come to me and brought me down to tears when they take my hand and tell me with such conviction in their eyes and voice in a language I don't understand yet how much they love and appreciate me. I have to catch myself before I break down and I have had a hard time controlling my emotion when I get around them.

My new friends (all students my age and a little older) have opened my eyes and widened my appreciation for new cultures and people we do not know. My opinion of the media is even further of disgust. All my new friend have asked me- You probably thought we were all terrorists and stuff like that before you got here right? Were you, your friends and family scared? And it makes me sad that a lot of those things were true. One person was telling us yesterday that one of his friends in the US asked him if he knew any terrorists.. He was like uh.... what??? It's not like there are terrorists walking into our hospital saying Hi, I'm a terrorist- nice to meet you. Can I bomb you? He told us that if there was even any sort of hint or anything like that of terrorism, that person would be imprisoned, as well as his family and friends until it got sorted out because they want to keep their people safe. A lot of people were so scared for me- and oh yeah, let me tell you that I feel so scared when we drive down the street and there are kids and people waving at us and blowign us kisses! Haha, wow. I was not scared- but my family and friends were nervous and I had a lot of hater comments before I left that I already hated- just about don't get shot in Jordan, when are you leaving to get killed in the Mid east? like.. even now I have that awful feeling in your stomach you get when you feel guilty or bad. These people-- those people.. They are my friends. They have embraced me, accepted me and loved me more than I know some of the people back in Utah would treat a foreigner even with awful poster translations and sad excuses of Arabic knowledge. They I know would do anythign for me. Each and every single translator and volunteer has kindly and genuinley told us they will do anything for us- take us to go eat the best local food, take us to see the best places to see-- given us their cell numbers so we can call and ask them for whatever, whenever. My eyes are watering as I type this because I truly, the mission is all about and for the kids- but the mission expereince as a whole is so much more. It is the new best friends you will make, the new appreciation and love you will feel for a people you do not know. It is the evergrowing testimony of love and altruism that helps to shape you into a better person.

I have learned so much about stereotype and generalization on this mission. I have never been that bad at stereotyping I think, just because I have been judged so many times by people who do not know me, nor wish to know me- and also by people who do know me. It is so easy to point fingers and to  judge others-- but honestly, what is that saying about ourselves? My new friends brought up a point that if anything in the news is about a European, it is news written as if he is just any other person. If it is about anyone here, it is "Arabic man does this... and that"... I learned that so many of the assumptions that we have are ridiculous generalizations and that most everything we hear is all butchered by the media and basically all of them are extremes. It has been really really enlightening to just see that everyone here-- they are just like me. They have different standards and not everyone wears scarves on their heads- they go out and watch Blindside and Mean girls on the weekends, they go bowling, they go to dinner with their friends, they think school is difficult sometimes and they have all the same drama and lives as a normal 17 year old back in utah-- except they are like very few people back in utah.. They are very, very different.

I guess I am just posting to vent some feelings that I've been having. Please, next time you feel like judging someone or stereotyping... think twice and think about me and my new friends.

Yesterday we went to a refugee camp. It was so eye opening. I had no idea what to expect. When I think refugee camp, I think like a litte fenced off area that has tents and people with nothing. Haha. Stupid me-- assumptions. But we went there-- it is actually a community- like an entire city. Except they are all Palestinian. They have been there since the 1940s and have continued to live there. They are like contracted almost, to be there and wow. It was amazing. SO many people and shops and the conditions were rough. We went to a school within the camp and gave our presentations to them. They LOVED it. We left sooooooooo many donations there and I left one of my suitcases we filled up to leave. I felt like Santa. As we were leaving, there were so many just random kids out in the streets and we started passing stuff out there-- yeah. scary. We were like celebrities giving out free .. idk.. something stupid- ipods or something. But they were just toothbrushes and toys. Well, we were like completeley surrounded and we were told to get in and out asap because as soon as word got around that American girls were giving out free stuff.. it was going to be bad. So we left as fast as we could and it was crazy but fun. All the people there in the camp hate Bush and therefore have a lower respect for Americans so it was good that we got to go there and show them not everyone is the same.

My girl- Rahaf. She got surgery yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't convey how happy I was. She was the girl I met the very first day of screening. She is SO beautiful and she was my little sidekick that first day. I was so sad when she left that morning because I didnt' know if I would see her again., But I got to see her and help her through her surgery process and see her in Post op- She is so brave. She is 10 years old and had a Z plasty on her entire neck and collar bone area from when she was burned when she was 4 years old. She is my girl. I love her and I am proud of her. I broke down a little bit when I had to leave last night because they told me she wuold probably be discharged in the morning whhile I was at the school. So I spent some time with her a few minutes before I had to go and even through all the pain and meds she was going through, she gave me a kiss on the cheek and I held her hand as long as I could. I kissed her on the forehead and had to get out before her and her wonderful mother and aunts made me break down even more. I sent a note with one of the nurses today to give to her in case I never get to see her again.

Tomorrow we are going to Petra for our team day since today is our final day of Surgery. with today's scheduled patients, 104 life-altering surgeries were performed that will impact these people's lives forever. I have fallen in so much love with these patients and their families. They are so wonderful and just like us. Like I said earlier, I have a really hard time remembering who had what deformity because all of them have such lively and incredible spirits that radiate so much wider than anything else. It is hard for them though, because not everyone has the opportunity to be in the hospital and on a mission in my position and therefore they are subject to teasing, ridicule, embarassment, harassment and being an outcast for something they did not choose to have, nor had any control over. For something so Aesthetic and superficial-- it is disgusting. I can't believe that just because of some anomaly on their body, they would not be as loved or respected or appreciated by someone. And it's not just the people around them at home. Think about yourself. If you saw a baby with their eyes 4 inches apart, drooling uncontrollably with an inch and a half HOLE right below their eye, or a toddler with a tooth growing out of his nose, or a baby girl that had half of her entire face covered in black hair and skin that looked charred all of whom were being held by distressed mothers or family members with their faces and bodies-- eyes, hands, feet- everything completely covered by a black veil. Would you be quick to judge? It's not just something that they deal with at home. Just somethign to think about.

I have blogged way too long. All I had to say is that I love it here and that I am sad to be coming home. I have promised my new friends that I will be back here. And soon. It is beautiful.

Another tip- it would help if you are fluent in child games, songs, rhymes, and crafty things before you leave. Thankfully I am happy homemaker, mini martha.. so it all comes way easy to me. But if you keep a pack of bubbles and pipe cleaners in your backpack at all times. They will halt any tears or sadness. I pull out a few colors and let kids choose their favorite and then make a flower for them and tie another color around the inside and make a stem too. I can make butterflies and people and really anything. The kids LOVE it. imagine when you were little and the scary balloon man who came up to you at places and asked you what you wanted- you told him- and you awtch in amazement as this magnificent thing was created before your eyes. You CAN and WILL be that person.. except for the part about being a creepy clown. Haha-- I think the biggest asset to you will be your creativity. You will seriously feel so amazing. Like Santa. Literally. so start gettnig  crafty. I'll make this into a mission tip blog after I get back to Utah.

Another thing- don't let ANYONE go without something. If you try to conserve- don't. It's our last day and we still have easily a whole suitcase full of stuff. Give away- give away- give away. And I would give about half away during screening. You will see the most pateitns then because we have only seen 25 patients a day after that for surgery with their siblings and it's not enough people to give everythign away.

I have soaked up each and every minute while I am here. I don't think I have any major regrets. Only in prepartion I have regrets. Like getting stuff for the team and stuff.

This is so long. I'm so sorry!


Jordan is home.



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day... ??

I've lost track of what day it is. I just got back from dinner with the team and I am so exhuasted so this is a recap in about 5 sentences

1) Spent almost all day in the OR today. We got to observe several surgeries. It was really crazy just seeing how the amazing doctors, surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists work together so well to do these surgeries. I got to see some surgeries for some kids that I had the chance to get to know before and it was so awesome to be able to follow them from pre op to the OR to recovery to post op. I have so much respect for these incredible doctors who make miracles.

2) It didn't rain today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Though I've LOVED the rain, we went to breakfast (The  restaurant on the top floor of our hotel-- It's alllllllllllll glass on every wall and overlooks everywhere. It is GORGEOUS) and we saw the sunrise up on over the city and it WASN'T raining! Wow. It was really nice

3) The Orphanage we visited yesterday was.. interesting. We got to do some presentations in a kindergarten class. Pictures will explain better than words.

4) I have had hiccups all day except for a few hours we were in the OR. The kids got a kick out of it.

5) Pita bread is NOT called pita bread and you WILL get made fun of if you choose to call it so. It is called "Kobiz" pronounced "Hubez" but with that throaty sound that I can't make. You'll also get made fun of if you try to do it. haha

6) I am going to a refugee camp tomorrow for Palestinian people. It should be awesome. Can't wait to tell you all about it.

7) I had a really tender moment today as I was in recovery- One of the recovery nurses-- Omar, (He is one of my good good friends now), he was doing his thing and he handed me a little like hose type thing that had steam coming out of it with something that  helped the patient breathe and not cough after their surgery that he gave to me so that I could hold it close to her mouth and help her. I took it and held it clsoe to her mouth (She had a palate surgery) and started rubbing her back and just calming her. With her tiny little fingers, she grabbed mine and held on. She was a brave, beautiful soul. I also got to watch and follow a patient that was my age. 17. She was so brave and wow.. I couldn't do it. It was so inspiring.

8) Jordanian people eat. A LOT. and it's DELICIOUS. I'm going to be obsessing trying to find somewhere or somethign to eat that reminds me of home when I get back to utah.

9) I could eat kobiz all day, every day- especially when it's brand new and warm and puffy and delicious-- and I actually ahve. Haha I made that comment at dinner and Amanda was saying that I do. I've eaten Kobiz at every meal since I've been here. There is also this stuff that is like hummous but it's eggplant. Oh it is DIVINE.

10) I went to the grocery store here tonight called Food City and got a ton of candy and treats that are from Jordan:) It was like the Walmart of Jordan. Their food is funny like the drinks we got were called Fizzy Wizzy and there is another drink kinda like Fanta that is called Linda. Hahahahaha I LOVE it.

11) Jordanian people are the most welcoming, hospitable, polite and incredible people ever. All of the parents and the staff at the hotel and everywhere we have been-- they are SO nice to us and when the parents talk to me, they call me "Liza" and they always ask where I'm from and compliment me and they love that I am with their children,. I am honored they trust me with them. I have been able to make so many friendships and relationships with the parents, as well as the patients. Today, I walked into Post Op and guess what?!?!?! That boy, Yousef-- I wrote about him in my first or second post. HE GOT SURGERY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! His mother was overjoyed when she saw me. She reckoned me over to her and smiled and just was like wanting me to see her beautiful boy. She told me a few days ago that she wanted me to tell Yousef's story back  home. And I will.

12) My knees are bruised and permanently sore from kneeling on the ground with kids, running getting balls and playing volleyball, chasing kids, blowing bubbles for crying kids, giving presentations. I love them. They are my battle wounds from the most amaznig experience of my life.

13) I've basically eaten anythign and everything that I have had set in front of me. I tried lamb, so that is off my goal list. I have tried something new every day, which was on my goal list. I even so ventured to disobey doctors orders and eat fruit and veggies that can't be peeled. Oh well. I'm with a team of over 100 dcotoros and nurses and they are eating it, so it's ok. If I die, I die Happy and content:)

14) Yesterday, Omar took a bunch of us to a Lebanese place called Lebnani Snack. It was way good. Leslie and I were looknig at the ice cream and it came only in 1 Kilos. So we ordered it hahahahaha and then the guy must have been so taken aback by Leslie's beauty that he gave us an extra half kilo for free. So like 3 pounds of ice cream came out and we just asked for every flavor. We called it the Tastes of Jordan. It was incredibly fun just being with our team of 8. We joke and Dr. Marty calls me Mountain Girl and we just have such a good time. The night before, Amanda, Taylor, Leslie and myself went to the chinese rest. right across the street from our hotel because we were tired and we heard it was good. We were SO tired. So you can imagine how much we laughed. Well, in our packets we got it said there was a 15% discount for Op smile ppl so we go and tried to explain the discount and oh wow.. I guss you had to be there. There was no discount, but they gave us "special chinese tea  on the house" since they felt bad but it was the EXACT same tea taht they had brought out for us when we got there that is like complimentary anyways. We had a laugh as Leslie and I watched Taylior and Amanda drink.

15) The really nice guys at the restaurant upstaris where we eat breakfast daily were SO nice and they remembered that we had gotten hot chocolate the day before and they brought it out for us today! It is all milk and frothy and delicious. It was way nice of them. Breakfast is SO good every single day.

16) Well, this post was only going to be 5 subpoints.. haha I'm about to pass out in exhaustion.

17) I wil sleep for 3 days when I get home.

18) I underpacked.

19) Tomorrow is the refugee camp. Oh wait. I already said that.

20) Ok well I'm losing my mind. I can't wait to see you all. I love you, I don't really miss you, haha but I definitely am praying for you all wherever you are.

21) Whoever is going on your missions next: I will post an especially long post on here and oscentral on the best mission tips that I can offer. I have thought of a TON.

22) I don't think it's legal to be this exhausted. But I have never been happier in my life. I am so content here.


Monday, March 1, 2010

QUICK Update

I had to wait a bit for the computer when we got back from the hospital, but we are leaving in 10 minutes for dinner so this is a quick update and I will post again when I get back if I'm not completely dead.


We got to sleep in  today because we didn't go to the hospital with the rest of the team since we went to an orphanage today. I'll writa more about that later.. it was an interesting expereince.

We got to go around Jordan for a bit and it was AMAZING. Likle.. I can't wait to post pictuers of how spectacular it is. I'm thinking about studying abroad or something. I want to come back,,. and I will.

More patients got surgery today that I fell in love with! Yay!!!! Ah I am so happy. I was so suprised at how quickly the surgeries go. Seriously, it's 40-45 minutes. AHHHHHHHh life changing.

Just a few hints that I will post on OSCentral when I get home include
Bring pictures of your family and friends to show people. I wouyld laminate them in a little book or something. I wish I had something that I could show people and patients like look- I have nieces that are about the same age.. these are my friends, my family.. I wish I had done that.

Make contact cards with your name and email and stuff on it- I want to find all my new friends on facebook aned stuff and I've just had to write it and give it out. Make cards. You have time.

Don't hesitiate. Take Initiative.
Thjat is the biggest hint I can give to you. Don't wait for the next time you see someone on the team to get comfortable with them and get to know them. I wont see my new amazing friends for a longggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg time. So take advantage of the time you have and don't have regrets. Everyone there is there for the same reason and they are amazing. So don't hesitate. You also need to be albe to take a lot of initiative and just go up and start something with someone. Don't let ANYONE just sit there and watch. Even the stubborn ones.

The number one thing I can tell you: A smile fixes everything.

I will fill you in on more stuff when I get back hopefully. Going to dinner with my family.

Love you love you love you.!!!!!!1

Shukran for reading!

Comment! I've gotten all of like 2 comments while I'm here I feel like I'm writing to no one! haha

What day is it? Monday? Tuesday? It's monday. ohhhhkeyyyy. Well- I'll talk to you soon!

Love, Liza