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.
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