Sunday, November 13, 2011

That's Gonna Hurt!!

At times Mike comes up with quips that completely crack me up. Like the day we were groping our way around Rome trying to find our way to the Metro. He must have been thinking about our upcoming senior mission (although at the time we had no idea where we would be assigned) and he remarked, "You know, in a foreign country it's really helpful to know the difference between the signs that read 'Bathroom' and the ones that say 'Danger! High Voltage!'"

That reminded me of nearly being run over in Germany a few years ago while walking next to a sign that read "Ausgang". I'm a quick study, so I figured out right away that means "exit-cars will run over you". Well noted, once my breathing resumed its normal pace. So, when in Germany I pay close attention to ausgang, and eingang (entrance-meaning they hit you coming in, not going out).

Thankfully, I read a little more Spanish now than I can speak. Of course this isn't always a comforting thing. The first thing I saw upon arriving at my hotel in Venezuela in 1994 was a large graffiti sign on the side of the building next to the hotel that read, "No mas muerte!!", which means, if you know the really important words in Spanish, no more murder. That little piece of information I would have slept better not knowing, especially given one of our first days in the hospital a man was brought in with severe machete wounds from an assault, which caused his death. Our daughter Amanda was with us on that mission and she was up on the 5th floor surgical wing when the Americans tried to save his life. What a harsh, real-life experience for a sixteen year old girl!  Despite a few harrowing situations, as a family we learned an enormous amount from the medical missions we participated in with Operation Smile and Children's Surgery International.  We gained a tremendous education in Venezuela, Peru, Ghana and Haiti-the kind you simply cannot get in a classroom.

We tend to take America with us wherever we go and think that we can parade around without any cares. Not so. When we were driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland our tour guide told folks, "Remember: Traffic is coming at you from the opposite direction that you're used to in the U.S. Look over your right shoulder for oncoming traffic, not your left. One of our fellow travelers was nearly run over by an oncoming car when she momentarily forgot.   I'm so grateful for all the years we have hosted tours for Holiday Vacations. Not only have we made terrific friends, but we have had a mini college history course in each country we've visited thanks to the in-country guides. All of this experience makes me so much more prepared for the chicken buses in Guatemala, another way to suffer an ignominious death if you're not attentive.

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