Farewell for now…

As the week comes to an end our group is met with a bitter-sweet feeling. We must say goodbye to our new friend Cambodia and say hello again to our loved ones.
Today we said goodbye to our wonderful friends at the hospital. One of the nurses made us a feast that was served Cambodian style, called “hot pot”. There is a hot plate with a pot of broth in the middle of the table with vegetables, meats, noodles, and other yummy things such as pork rinds to put in the pot for cooking. It was a huge meal and we shared it with our friends who showed their immense appreciation. We tried to express our gratitude to them since we have found them to be truly servant-hearted, gracious, generous and full of love. We were showered with gifts. Different team members expressed their feelings and explained that our experience here in Cambodia has been one full of love. The main highlight that most everyone from the 2011 team shares about this country is the love. We can sure learn from this abundance of love!
At night we joined the Phenom Penh church to be amazed by God. We were challenged with the question, “are you still amazed by God”? It was so refreshing to join this group of believers to worship and fellowship. Their passion and zeal is obvious and contagious.

    I jotted down in my journal different lessons I have learned during my treasured time here in Cambodia:

  • love without hesitation
  • be happy where you are while you are there
  • instant friends can be made with just a smile and hello
  • the body of Christ is everywhere!
  • laugh when the language barrier is just a big struggle and no one gets it!
  • don’t eat noodles and rice for every meal…it gets old fast!
  • love is contagious and much can be learned from simple actions

Needless to say, I have learned things that I would not have been able to learn anywhere else this trip. I am so thankful and sure that this is where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be 🙂
Suzanne Hutson – nursing

Back in Phnom Penh

Arm WrestleMay 31
We are back in Phnom Penh and starting home visits outside the city while the rest of the group is working in the hospital. Today was my first day back in the hospital since arriving from Ratanakiri. My clinical experience today was spent in the OR where I was able to witness a surgery on a patient who had been cut by a large knife or sword on both hands. It is only the second surgery I have seen, but I would like to try and compare and contrast the two. First of all the one I saw in the U.S. was an open heart surgery while the one I witness here in Cambodia was a reconstruction of the patients hands and wrists, so the surgeries had many procedural differences already. The surgery here had already started when I arrived in the OR. The surgeon started work on the left hand where he needed to fix two broken fingers through the use of screws and repairing tendons in the wrist. The same was done for the patient’s right hand as well. From what I saw everything the surgeon did for the patient here would have been done for a patient in the U.S. But like I said I have not witnessed this type of surgery yet in the United States. As for the staff in the room it was very much the same as in the U.S minus the perfusionist who is used in an open heart surgery and was not needed for this procedure. There was a first assistant who was helping the surgeon directly with the surgery whether it was cutting sutures or helping with moving the patient’s body into the correct position. There was also the anesthesiologist who monitored the patient’s vitals and another nurse assisting with supplies and lighting. Compared to the surgery I witnessed in the U.S I would say there is not much difference except for maybe the equipment here is slightly older. I left the OR feeling fascinated about how much they can repair the body after such extensive damage.
Children GroupLater in the day pharmacy and nursing students went to visit a local orphanage. The purpose of the visit was to assess the children to make sure there were no underlying health issues that were going unnoticed, but also to interact with the children through games and playing. This was our second visit to this particular orphanage and both times I left feeling uplifted by the joy of the children. They have a lot of energy and were happy to see us again. In the home they live in there are around a dozen or more orphans and never once did any of us see them quarrel or argue it was incredible to see all of them get along so well with one another. The people who run the orphanage are loving to each one of them and the children are well off. Each of them goes to school during the day, they all have beds to sleep in, and they all eat dinner together. It is safe to say that these children are better off then many others we have seen during this trip. I am thankful for the people who give these children homes and the organizations that make it possible for these children to thrive in a country where so much of the youth live in extreme poverty. It is truly a blessing to be able to witness such a place.

Perspective of an Overwhelmed Soul

Small SpaceSo many wonderful experiences occurred today. We all went to church at the Phnom Penh Church of Christ from 9:30 until 12:00. The speaker covered the subject of second chances and used Jonah as a Biblical example of how God seeks people out regardless of what trials and tribulations are happening in our lives. Three different people shared their experiences of second chances and every one of them were very moving. After church, we got to see a man be baptized.
Once we left the church, we then rode the bus to participate in a rice drive for different families who are in need of food for themselves and baby formula for their children. From the second I stepped off the bus and
looked into the eyes of the beautiful people, I was instantly moved. Regardless of what these families lack they expressed a happiness that I have never witnessed before. Boys around the age of 7 were holding their infant-aged siblings as if they were their fathers. Every child took care of one another. Many of the breathtaking mothers are currently pregnant. I met one woman who was holding a baby and is expecting her 9th child within the next few months. Another woman has four children and has not received contact from her husband since the last time she saw him four months ago when he left for work as a fisherman. She and her family live in a two room house that is the size of many living rooms in a middle class American home. This woman
held such dignity and optimism when I was around her, and it really amazed me that she could have such a beautiful outlook on life when it seemed like she was in a binding situation. It was truly moving.

Loaded Cycle   Supplies

ChildrenThe whole group and others involved with this project are so very thankful for the donations put forth for this community. Today I have realized how privileged I am and how selfish I act sometimes. Things that many people, like myself, take for granted such as: a glass of clean water, a plate of warm food, a bed to sleep on, walls to protect us from the storm, and the ability to wash and clean our bodies are blessings to these people. Once again, I am living this day from the perspective of an overwhelmed soul, and I am so thankful to have been graced by the presence of such extraordinary people today.
Arin Turnham (Nursing)

Day #10: Surviving the “Dry Season” (PharmD Perspectives)

Rachel - WaterfallThis is my very first blogging experience so please bear with me! I am excited to be able to blog about today, somewhat because it’s my birthday, but mainly because of what an AMAZING day we had. We are in the distant Ratanakiri province and after having to endure the 12 hour bus ride on a bumpy dirt road to get here, our day today has made it worth every mile. We had a very adventurous day!
We began our day by eating breakfast poolside. I would describe our hotel as a resort in the middle of a tropical garden. The buildings were carved out wood and the grounds were filled with deep green leaves and bright pink and orange flowers.
Our first adventure was swimming in a waterfall. We were so excited to be able to go swimming because the climate in Cambodia is extremely hot and humid. I am originally from Florida and I thought it was hot and humid there, little did I know, it can actually be worse! The waterfall was surreal like something from a movie set. The water felt great! Since we were the only one’s there it felt like our own secret playground. We swam around and climbed on the rocks. Some students claimed they could feel fish gently nibbling on their legs and feet. Luckily, this did not happen to me!
Our next stop was another waterfall which had a store that rented traditional Cambodian dress for both men and women. Many of the students rented clothing to take pictures around the waterfall. The store also offered elephant rides! I really wanted to ride the elephant, but the animal lover in me would not allow it. When I found out we could buy some of their sugar cane to feed the two elephants I decided to that instead. The elephants had a big appetite! They were so cute and despite being so big they seemed to be very gentle. After I fed one it let me pet its’ trunk.
After eating peanut butter sandwiches on the bus we set off for our last adventure…more swimming! This time we swam in a moderate sized lake. The lake was created by a volcano and we were told it was over 160 feet deep. The water was nice but there were spots of hot water located right next to spots of cold water. After we were tired of treading water, we decided to head back to the hotel to eat dinner.

Rachel - Elephant   Cold Drink

When we arrived back at the hotel, Blair, Candice and I called dibs on the first available massage appointments. The massages in Cambodia are so affordable! We had a little bit of time before dinner so I decided to get a foot massage poolside while drinking my favorite banana and mango smoothie. All in all it was a great and adventurous day!
Rachel Franks

Bumpy Road Adventure

Sun and WaterWednesday, May 25
Today we checked out bright and early at 6am for a nine-hour trip to Ratanakiri. We stopped along the way for a chance to stretch our legs and eat some authentic Cambodian food. Much to one of the nursing student’s surprise, there aren’t many roadside rest stops so when you have to use the bathroom, the side of the road is your best bet! The dirt roads proved to be incredibly bumpy and the trip ended up taking twelve hours, but it was twelve hours of singing, laughing, and fellowship. Throughout the bus ride, it was apparent how connected the nursing and pharmacy students had become over the past two weeks. It was dark when we arrived at our destination, and as our road-weary group piled out of the bus we realized that the primitive bungalows we had been expecting to stay at were actually more comparable to a resort seen in a movie. After a delicious feast prepared by the hotel staff, several of us donned our swimsuits and hopped in the pool for an evening swim. Now we are all headed to bed for an adventurous day of waterfalls and hiking tomorrow.

swing_sm.jpgRachel Bettis (Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2013)

Unimaginable and Unbelievable

VendorsMay 23
Today we ended our trip to Siem Reap and began our 7 hour bus ride back into Phnom Penh. As you may have read the temples we were able to see during our time in the province were unimaginable. I could not explain to myself how an ancient people were able to construct such magnificent structures. I do not think I have the words to describe what I saw. As for the trip back that was a little more forgettable, I thought a 14 hour plane ride complete with my own personal entertainment system was bad but try sitting in the back of a bus over the most uneven roads you have ever been on.

s21a_sm.jpgAs soon as I arrived in Phnom Penh a group of us were able to experience something just as unbelievable as the Angkor Wat temples but indescribably horrible. What we saw were acts of pure evil which took place in a camp known as “S-21”. The inhabitants of this camp were exploited, tortured, and murdered. The cells these prisoners were kept in were barely large enough to lay down in, and the paintings which depicted the torture they were put through were gruesome to say the least. My heart sank when I read story after story of the victims of the camp. However, although there are many terrible stories from that time and place it is easy to see that Cambodia and its people are overcoming the tragedy and growing as a nation.

Experiencing Cambodia

ChristineWaking up early to exercise in Cambodia has become one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip. People are able to participate in the morning routine of running, walking, dancing to music, or any other type of exercise. Furthermore, it helps everyone to get ready for the day. This morning I had the opportunity to see monkeys as they ran around looking for food.
Today I was in the operating room with Emily, and we were able to watch doctors perform a thyroidectomy. This surgery helped me review the concepts I have learned from my nursing classes this past semester, such as the risk of people developing hypothyroidism after their thyroid is removed. The doctors were very helpful in explaining the most important precautions for the particular patient too, such as hemorrhaging as a complication of HIV and multiple surgeries. The second surgery involved the doctors removing a gallbladder. For this surgery, I inserted my first NG (nasogastric tube) tube! Even though we left before the gallbladder was removed, participating in the preoperative care of the patient was exciting.
It is hard to believe that our time in Cambodia is near. We have all learned a lot—culturally, socially, and educationally. This trip is a memory we will never forget!

Out of Touch for a Few Days

If you have been following along with the blog posts and the Cambodia team’s itinerary, you may have noticed some odd references to dates that don’t seem to match up with the calendar here in the states. As I write this post early Frrday evening (6:00PM) here in Nashville, it is already Saturday morning (6:00AM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Just imagine posting a story from Cambodia knowing that it will be seen in the states yesterday….it can be a little confusing. All that to say: The team will spend the next couple of days in a village that probably does not have internet access…and without that access, there will be no stories posted here on the blog.


During their absence from being connected electronically, I would ask that you look into the faces of these six women and (continue to) pray for this team…their health, their safety, their attitudes, and their impact on those who they minister physically and spiritually. So many of you have already supported this team financially, prayerfully, and publicly (including your comments here). Thank you for that. When the team returns, I assure you they will read your comments and understand even better just how much support from family and friends means to their Cambodia experience.

I Thessalonians: 16-18
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.