Monday, April 4, 2011

Dear Sonya, Liz, and Hans,

This is a letter to my 3 comrades from my time in Chad, Africa. I think of you often while down here in Nicaragua. My experiences with you in Bere have shaped so much of how I view things down here in Central America. I imagine how we would joke together at the many luxuries here that most see as hardships. Outhouses with real toilet seats on them! Rice and beans to eat every day (I know! Real beans! Not just some spit sauce). Real, large, metal-framed cots to sleep on at night that never collapse. Free email through the ham radio each week.

I am grateful for the examples the 3 of you gave in Africa and have incorporated a little bit from each of you into my life and work here. Every time I'm tempted to stand back and let someone translate to English for me, I think of Hans, and how despite his excellent French that he could already communicate with, he still spent time studying and learning Arabic and Nangjere to communicate even better with the level of the people. I remember his interest in the politics behind culture and understanding why people do what they do. So here I keep trying to engage myself in the culture with the Miskito people. Ask questions about why they do things. Repeat all the Miskito words that I can. Build relationships with the locals.

In clinics I am constantly reminded of Liz and all the medications and nursing procedures she took the time to teach me. Her commitment and love for patients was so apparent in the way she treated and cared for them. It has encouraged me to spend more time with my patients, touch them, talk to them, explain what I'm doing or giving them. Rushing babies to Waspam at night always makes me wish for Liz, my CPR buddy back in Africa.

And Sonya, I was always so amazed to watch her creative interactions with the people and especially the children. No matter the language barrier, she could always make them laugh. And such simple games with bottle caps, crayons, or rocks, she could make friends within minutes and entertain for hours. On the most recent clinic I suddenly found myself pushed out of my station with nothing to do for the rest of the day. Starting to get annoyed with the turn of events, I looked around and though, what would Sonya do?....Of course, she would entertain the children! So I grabbed the bag of balloons, made a crazy ridiculous balloon hat to wear that would have made Sonya proud, and proceeded to blow up millions of balloons for the kids. Remembering how she would get creative and find ways to include kids, soon James and I were blowing up balloons within balloons and adding little rocks to make them rattle. I tasked a group of boys with finding good smooth rocks and another group to be in charge of telling me whether a kid was being honest or not about receiving one already. Soon we had a real production and game going on that lasted all the way till dinner.

Oh my life is so much richer down here by remembering your examples! Thank you for that! With a bigger group down here, it is harder to have the same comraderie, deep love, and understanding that the 4 of us shared in Chad. But I get excited when the breakthrough does happen here and there. The last few days, our group has been hit by some kind of explosive diarrhea phase that makes me start singing about Giardia. A month or so ago, most looked at me with disgust or disdain as I would try to describe the fun moments of a true diarrheal episode. With the recent personal experiences had, however, we've had such great conversations already with no holding back. I know you guys would have no qualms about joining in on descriptions on what it is like to be peeing out of both holes, to have an "accident" when you thought it was just gas passing, and to be burping up yellow metronidazole. So good. It bonds in such a unique way :)

I hope you are all well. Sometime we will have to get together, don our scarves and turbans, and ride in the back of a truck on a bumpy dusty road, singing "Ka Kongdi."

Love, Esther


  1. L'Esther!! Oh I miss you and those times! Thank you for this letter. It touched me, I'm so glad that God has been able to use my passion to encourage you to try new things! Keep your chin up friend!
    I can't wait to sing Ka Kongdi with you :)

    Love Wife #1,

  2. Ester my CPR buddy,

    Those times will never be forgotten. Someday the four of us must work once again overseas together. Who would've ever thought that four of us so different could bond in such a deep way. Miss you tons and am praying for ya!

    Love Wife #2,