Friday, April 30, 2010

it's snowing :/

Well, I finally took a picture today. It was the first picture I've taken since getting in Provo... so now you are introduced to my roommate Suzie Richards (well, at least a picture). She's amazing. Yesterday was a really great day - I got up nice and early to go to Nicole's wedding - the first sealing that I have been to - it was BEAUTIFUL! They were both so happy and so in love... the way it should be :). I ran around to class (you can see my notes for my literature class on my other blog) and then came home and got ready for the reception. Sarah took photos on her camera, so I don't have any to post here yet - but I'll post some when I can! The reception was lovely and the food was quite tasty :). You know, I've always been kind of afraid of marriage, and I think that going to their sealing really helped me out! The spirit was there so strong and there was so much peace in the room. Really, a beautiful experience.

Today was fun. I did about 4 hours of spanish homework before running to my spanish class (I was almost late again!). The teacher, Hermana Reyes, is a bit cooky (is that how you spell that word?), but I love her. She goes off on a lot of tangents - like asking the whole class who was married (1 person) and who had significant others (2 more people) and then chastising all of us for not "putting ourselves out there enough." Gotta love BYU. I then ran some errands to the Provo temple and to the management office... while talking to Dan (it was so good to hear from him!) and mom (always a treat :) ). Yep, a good day. And now, I am going to bed early because I am getting up early to go to the temple in the morning. SALT LAKE temple - live session! Woohooo. I'm really excited. Love you all!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

response from MTC

MTC Student Employment

This is the email I just got from the MTC :) It's a bit vague... but I'll take what I can get!
Thank you for your interest in teaching and serving the missionaries at the Missionary Training Center. We appreciate your participation in the application process and we hope that it was a good experience for you.

We are pleased to inform you that you are ranked among those we feel are likely to become successful teachers. You are therefore being recommended for a possible teaching position.

This does not guarantee you a position, but as positions become available you are likely to receive a phone call or an email inviting you to come to the MTC for a second interview. It is not possible for us to tell you how soon this may or may not happen, but you are among our top applicants. Please make sure that the contact information on your application remains correct and up-to-date.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

little less stressed

I did it - I did my interview! Both of them - the one where I got to teach 2 seasoned MTC teachers and the one where I spoke in Spanish with a lady on the phone for a while. Both went well - not amazingly fantastic like I was naturally hoping, but maybe good enough. I know that if God wants me working at the MTC, then He will let those who hire know that I should be there! If not, well then I will not gain those experiences, but I will use my energy in other capacities to help others! I was also able to volunteer at the MTC tonight with some Spanish missionaries practicing how to teach the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom. They did a FANTASTIC job - their Spanish was very impressive - especially because they'd only been in the MTC for 7 weeks! Rockstars. Missionaries are rockstars. I hope to be able to volunteer every week :).

Self defense class was amazing - it might turn into my favorite class!
Spanish class was good - my teacher is a little wacko, but she is from Chile and that is neat.
Weight lifting - I drank some chocolate milk.

It snowed today. It's going to snow tomorrow. Also, Nicole is getting married tomorrow and I get to attend my FIRST SEALING EVER! Oh boy :) :). Should be great. I'll take pictures!

Buenas noches mis amigos!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I am a student.

It is an interesting concept - I just spent about 2 years generally being a "teacher." Of course I was learning the whole time too... but I was, more or less, sitting in the teacher chair as a missionary and as a volunteer in Guatemala. It was NICE to be a student again! I am excited for both of the classes that I went to today - weight lifting and literature/the Bible. Lit/Bible is going to be AMAZING... I really can't wait. The teacher is so humble and so loving - and he knows his stuff. It's going to be a very rewarding class, I can already tell! And... well with weight lifting I was informed that as a girl, I will never get "bulky"... only "toned." This is good news that I had heard before but I was happy to have it be reaffirmed. I mean, there are few things grosser than a woman body builder. Ew. The teacher also gave us other good news - we are to drink CHOCOLATE MILK in the mornings before we go to work out! He said it's the best weight lifting food. Now... I don't know if I believe him, but I am definitely willing to give it a try :)

I had my temple interviews with Bishop Shearer and President Wilson tonight and it was such a great experience. They are great men and definitely men of God. I am very happy to be in this ward and in this stake.

Tomorrow I am going to apply for the MTC job - AHHH! Tender mercy of the day, however, was that randomly a teacher coordinator (who helps hire new teachers) came to our apartment today to visit Jess (a girl who is staying for the week). Well... we got to talking and I happened to mention that I was going to apply tomorrow. He looked at me for a moment and said, "Do you speak Spanish?!" "Yes, I do." "Well, I'm looking for 2 more teachers... maybe I'll be around tomorrow for your interview." What?!! What luck! Scratch that. What a blessing! I don't know if he'll be there or not (I can't go in the morning when he works, I have to go around lunch :/), but either way it helped me feel a little more confident. Also, the Stake President said that he thought I would do a good job there. Either way, I am just going to accept what happens as God's will... if He wants me to be a teacher, I'm there. If He wants me to be a caterer, well then that's fine too. I'm going with the flow - God's flow!

Monday, April 26, 2010


So... I started another blog. It's going to be my scripture study/other gospel study blog! For my next study project I am taking the notes given to me by my mission president at the end of my mission and using them as I study from the Book of Mormon... and because my mission president was literally the most knowledgeable (church-wise) person I've personally known, I'm sure I am going to be learning some good stuff! So, if you're interested...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

fresh starts

Well... I am officially in Provo! I should be here for quite a while - spring... summer... fall... winter... spring... (possibly off for summer?)... & winter = graduation! So, I guess Provo is my new home. I'm not going to lie though, I really miss the warm New Mexican weather - it is freeeezing here. I'm freezing my nalgas off. But, it's supposed to get warm quick so I am EXCITED for that - summer in Utah is beautiful :).

My family and I drove up here on Thursday and I've been getting settled in ever since. I have my bed up on cinder-blocks and I literally have to get a running start to get up there :). It will be good exercise at least... maybe it will increase my jumping skills for my self-defense class! Well, I don't know if I need jumping skills for that class, but I hope we get to do some cool kicks hehe.

It's been fantastic seeing people that I haven't seen in forever... I've missed them! I really like my new apartment and my roommates are amazing! Suzie is from England, Jen is from Utah, & Ana is from Mexico originally. They are all RMs and really really nice. The ward is supposed to be great as well - apparently there is a 2:1 boy:girl ratio in the ward - which is UNHEARD of here in Provo. That will definitely be a different experience... usually it's the other way around! I've only met a few people from the ward but tomorrow I should be able to meet a LOT more - church.

Sarah just came over and let me know about a job she just got and I might go for it too - she works for a catering company and gets paid pretty well. So... I'll see if they want to hire me for the busy season (weddings... every day.... this is Utah in the summer we're talking about!). She started a few days ago and I guess they're looking for people. I'm still thinking about the MTC but I just don't know.

But yes, things are GREAT and I can't wait for all of the adventures ahead! I think being in Utah during this time is going to be a blast - there is so much to do - hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming...etc. Yay :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's that time again... another change - Seems like I just keeping moving! But, change is good and I am excited for this one. It's time to go back to college and get progressing on my schooling. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a missionary and as a volunteer in Guatemala, I know that I am going to enjoy school again. Call me a NERD, but I love school! So tomorrow we're driving up to Provo and I'm moving all my stuff (you never realize how much you have until you have to move it all!). Monday I'll start classes - Spanish (yay!), Self-defense, Weight Lifting, and Literature & the Bible. Should be a good semester. I'm considering applying for a job at the MTC, but we'll see how the boat floats.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Squirrels are vicious

Life is G R E A T here at home... it's a shame that I have to go back to studying all day (hehe... yeah right) at BYU next Thursday. I feel like I haven't been home in FOREVER and now I just have to leave again. But, in the meantime I am trying to do lots with the family and make more memories! I love adventures :). And for this very reason my sister and I went camping on Thursday! It was awesome! It was quite the trip and we were so proud that we could do everything by ourselves... we found a campground (after finding about 10 that were closed), almost found the waterfall we were hiking to (we weren't the only ones that couldn't find it!), got attacked by killer squirrels, made smores out of MEXICAN cookies (the ones with the adorable marshmallows!) and dark chocolate, ate lunch by a lake, made our own fire - without lighter fluid or gasoline, put up our own tent (after a few tries with the tarp), and had a GRAND TIME. I love spending time with my sister - she's such a hoot! And I love camping and I love smores - so it was a win win win situation.

Today Jen and I crashed the youth dance my parents were chaperoning... it was a blast. I remember back to the days when I thought those youth dances were a big deal... "Will I get asked to dance?" "Will he ask me to dance?" "Why did I eat so many nachos?!" "Oh boy... Vanilla Ice again..." "why did they play THREE slow dances back to back!" Oh the stresses of being 14. Glad that is over. Now I don't have to worry about anything important like that - only stuff like what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life. Peace of cake ha :)

I also got to see one of my best buds today... DANIELLE! It's so fun to be able to catch up with friends - even though I've basically been gone for 2 years, I still feel like things haven't changed. Yeah, all my best friends might have gotten married while I was gone, but that's ok :) I'm so glad that they're all happy! Well, it's off to bed because tomorrow I'm going to the SPANISH BRANCH. I can't wait. Buenas noches!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The day I was told I had HIV

Well I guess it's about time that I updated my life! I know it's only been a couple of days, but a WHOLE LOT has happened! Looks like I need to back up to about last Tuesday when all of the craziness started... I woke up and felt a bit nauseous but I wasn't going to let that stop me during my last week in Guatemala! So, I continued as planned and got all ready to go to Brenna's mom's hotel to go swimming and read magazines (yes... we were going to have a lazy morning). Well, I kept getting more and more sick until I realized that there was going to be no way I would be walking home. So... Brenna's dear mother let me hang out in the hotel while they went out on the town and I stayed there and ralphed (sorry, but it is part of the story). I figured it was just food poisoning and had Eddy walk me home... and then it got worse! I won't go into details but let's just say that by the afternoon on Wednesday I was so weak I couldn't move. And then I got a phone call...

Magdiel: hello rachael... how are you feeling?
Me: ummmm.... lowsy.
Magdiel: Well, I'm coming over.
Me: ok, just to visit?
Magdiel: Not exactly. I'm bringing the ambulance.
Me: WHAT? No you're not.
Magdiel: Yes I am. We are on our way. See you soon!
Me: oooooboy. see you.

And thus started my adventure through the public healthcare system of Guatemala. They showed up in their ambulance van thing and took my vitals as I walked(ish) out to be taken to the hospital. I think I fell asleep on the way (don't they discourage that?). We went into the emergency room and they of course asked me a bunch of questions and then stuck me on a gurney... which was to become my home for the next 6 hours or so. To make a long story short, they figured out that I was reeeeally dehydrated and had something wrong in my tummy. They had me give a urine sample (in a glass baby food jar... no toilet paper or soap to wash hands with... hehe) and then stuck me with an IV. I'm still not positive what it was they put into me, but I think it was something like saline solution (except that it BURNED like CRAZY for the whole 2 hours it was going into my arm!). They also gave me stuff for the nausea so I would quit throwing everything up. I was pretty in and out for the next few hours. To check my hydration, the doctors would ask me to open my mouth so they could look at my tongue.

Ok, and then it gets worse... MUCH worse. Magdiel had come in to visit me for a bit (she's such a sweetheart for staying with me all day) and then the doctor came in and politely, but firmly asked her to leave. Uh oh. For anyone who has been in a hospital, you know that is a bad sign. And it was.

Doctor: Do you do drugs?
Me: no
Doctor: Have you had sex with multiple partners?
Me: no
Doctor: Have you been pricked by a dirty needle that wasn't yours?
Me: no
Doctor: Have you heard of HIV?
Me: YES. But... wha... umm.. wh.... WHY?
... ...

Doctor: We have your blood test results right here and your white blood cell counts are really really low... indicative of HIV....
Me: ... ... .. (starting to sweat and hyperventilate)
Doctor: Are you sure you haven't been stuck by a needle?
Me: well I thought I was sure! How bad are the counts?! (Being a nursing student, I wanted evidence!)

And they were really bad. If I remember right, one count was around 6 when the normal range was 17-48. Not good. I was terrified.

So, she told me that they were going to give me some antibiotics and send me home with prescriptions and orders to come back and get an HIV test the next day.

It was a loooooong night. It was a very interesting time for me. I went through the last few years in my head and couldn't think of a single incident where I could have really gotten HIV. I did work with HIV children at the beginning of my volunteer experience and I thought that maybe I had accidently and unknowingly touched some blood and it had gotten into a micro-cut on my finger or something. Sometimes freaky things happen. I had to think about alternate futures for myself. A MILLION thoughts went through my head... a few examples:

"Can I even be a nurse anymore?"
"How am I ever going to have a family?"
"I guess I won't have to get old and wrinkly after all"
"I'm going to write a book and call it "Souvenirs I Brought Home from Guatemala"
"Maybe I'll just move to Africa and be a nurse there."
"Maybe I can find a cure!"
"Uggggggg. Que horror."

I surprisingly slept well (thanks to the nausea drugs!) and woke up with a ton of anxiety. Needless to say I wasn't feeling much better than the day before. I had called my parents and they were very supportive (although since coming home I found out that they too had been freaking out) and helped me feel a little better. I called a friend from church and he came and gave me a blessing. Then it was off to the hospital again.

They layed me on a bloody sheet and took more blood (even though they knew it was for HIV, she still didn't wear gloves! Crazy!). They told me I'd have the results by 10:30. Around 3:30 they had the results for me. It was the longest afternoon of my life. It is an interesting place to be in and I did a lot of talking with God. I am so grateful to say that I was able to find peace. I told Him that if that was what He wanted for me and my life I was going to do the best I could with it and help as many others as I could. As hard as it was, I decided that I would just have to be happy with whatever the results were and live the life that He had planned for me.

As you can probably guess, the results came back NEGATIVE. Even though I had thought of good futures with HIV, I am so grateful that I get to hold on to my current HIV-free planned future. I went home full of relief and full of gratitude (but still a little worried about my little white blood cells) and went to sleep. My white blood cell counts are now back up and I am feeling much better. I stayed in bed all the rest of Thursday and most of Friday and then Saturday morning I got on the airplane around 7am.... after the shuttle never came to pick me up and I had to get a taxi and barely got to the airport on time... but that is a whole different story.

I made it home.

HIV free.

Life is beautiful and I have a whole new appreciation for good health. I think this experience will make me a better nurse. More careful, that is for sure, but more compassionate as well. I know what it feels like to be on the other side of really bad news. Hopefully I can use a bit more tact than the doctor (bless her heart) :). Thank you for all your prayers. It's good to be home and with the family!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

que horror!

Very interesting couple of days...

very very sick :/
ambulance ride to the public hospital
IV for a few hours...
interesting prognosis
waiting for the blood test results with a lot of anxiety

and finally... ... relief. Everything is ok.

More details next time but for now I am going to take a nap.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Semana Santa is over!

You see this in every procession - kids swinging around flaming incense. It reeks... but supposedly has a lot of significance. They only use this specific type of incense during Semana Santa.... and the kids are always excited to be swinging around fire :)

I just had to take a picture... apparently it's the new way to prevent theft!

Out on the dock at Lago Atitlan! Beautiful!

Lago Atitlan! It is surrounded by volcanos and beautiful little towns... I loved it!

We got to ride in one of these little boats to go to San Marcos... REALLY bumpy ride... but I love boats and so that in itself made the trip out there totally worth it.

Working on the alfombra...

This is the cutest baby in Antigua. His name is Anthony and he's only 1.5 months old. But, his mom thinks he is always cold so she bundles him up like crazy even when it is 80 degrees and so he is always a sweaty mess. When you hold him you are guaranteed a damp experience.

Flying over Antigua at the Cerro de la Cruz!

For Brenna's birthday on Sunday we of course had a pinata... and little Damaris just couldn't wack it enough... we practically had to pry the stick out of her hands

Little Anthony in his hammock. Yeah, that's right, he sleeps in a hammock... brilliant!

Ok, so I finally have a little bit of time to catch up on the blog! It was an amazing weekend! Let's see if I can remember what happened...

friday: In the morning we got up early to go out to breakfast before hiking el Cerro de la Cruz but because there were SO MANY people in Antigua, the restaurants were all full (even at 7:30 in the morning!) so we had to settle with buying a yogurt and some banana bread before hiking up to the cross. Brenna and I got a weave in our hair in the park and these two little girls almost got in a fist fight trying to sell us bracelets...The "hike" was really simple but led to an amazing view of Antigua! We could even (sort of) see the parades going on for Holy Week. Afterwards we watched processions, ate some food, took naps, then went to help make alfombras! I didn't realize how much WORK those beautiful rugs are! We worked on our rug for hours and we had about 10 people helping out... and we just barely got done before the parade came and destroyed it all!! It was really quite relaxing to make and strangely satisfying to know that it was going to be destroyed. Weird. When we got back home we watched Avatar on Eddy's computer (he got it at some little kid's birthday party... I guess around here you can give movies as party favors because they are so cheap :) ).

saturday: Lago Atitlan! We got up nice and early and headed out on our minibus. I am seriously going to miss those rides. If I really think about it, they are probably the most terrifying parts of my whole Guatemalan adventure. I won't go into details to spare your nerves, mom :). Anyway, we arrived in Panajachel around 10 in the morning and took a little boat out to San Marcos (a more tranquil part of the lake). It was a really layed back day but I LOVED being on the lake! It had been a loooong time since I'd been on a boat and the area was just so beautiful. The water was clear blue (or turquoise in some parts) and the weather was perfect. It was a shame that we only planned on doing a day trip. Next time (because there WILL be a next time - I'm definitely coming back to Guatemala!!) I'm going to have to stay there a few days. Brenna's mom is in town and she went on the adventure with us too. We got back into Antigua at night and crashed... it was an amazing day.

sunday: Easter and CONFERENCE! I spent part of the morning trying to catch up on the sessions that I missed on Saturday and then was sad to see that I couldn't watch the Sunday session because the computers I had access to didn't support the media. Daaaang it. So, I listened to a lot of Saturday session on Sunday instead! Incredible. I LOVE CONFERENCE! I can't wait to listen to the rest! It was also Brenna's birthday so we brought the pinata that we never busted for my birthday over to her house. We had a delicous lunch cooked by her host mom and then smashed the pinata... the kids were so excited! Especially Damaris... she's such a cutie. It was a good day.

All right... I think that's about up to date! I am so sad that I am leaving on Saturday but excited for the adventures ahead too :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Feliz Pascua


It has been an incredible Easter weekend. Conference is amazing. Lago Atitlan is amazing. Life is good! I don't have time to write more, but I will write tomorrow and post beautiful pictures! But for today I just want to say how grateful I am for my Savior and the sacrifice He did for all of us. I know that He lives and I am so grateful for this time of year when we get to celebrate it a little bit more. I know that God's plan is perfect and we only have to follow the example of Christ to be truly happy! I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life and for the amazing family that God blessed me with to help me experience life to its fullest!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


It´s been a great day! I got a lot of spanish studying done and we planned out part of our weekend. I played some April Fools jokes... and hung out with my new little friend... she wanted to see the Semana Santa pizaz...
Introducing my NEW BEST FRIEND! This little girls is awesome. She may be a little crazy and a little violent, but she is so stinkin´cute. She is part of the host family that Brenna lives with and today we went out and checked out the happenings of Semana Santa... she LOVES the rugs. Loves them. I do too... so it was a good time.

They CARRY those huge floats around. I can´t imagine that it´d be very easy....

The three of us :)

Making the rugs... so the first layer is just a layer of sawdust and then they put more and more layers of designs on it to make it beautiful... and then within hours the parade comes by and destroys it. Kind of a shame if you ask me!

She wanted to do my hair... about 20 times. I think I am now partially bald...

You also might like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...