This May I went on a weeklong mission trip to an "hogar para los niños"(children's home)* in Tlacolula, Oaxaca. It was AMAZING. For seven days my team gardened, washed dishes, helped prepare meals, did maintenance, helped test the kids in English, (and my personal favorite) we hung out with them.
If you're familiar with lupus you might be thinking: "That is the worst idea ever! That's too much sun and too physically demanding on your body."
To which I say.... I personally painted, helped with some meals, washed dishes, washed windows, tested the kids' English, weeded (from a seated and shaded position), and spent time with the kids.
Although I am tired while I am there, it's still worth it (plus most days we had nap time). I was pretty good at not over exerting myself with everything except the day we did tourist things, we went to the Yagul ruins (Zapotec civilization).
For the most part, this was the level we started at. It was so beautiful and so well taken care of. I had gum in my mouth that I wanted to get rid of, but throwing it away out there felt like I would be defiling it. It was absolutely beautiful... It seemed that its beauty increased with altitude and the others wanted to go higher. I'm pretty laid back so it didn't matter either way. Just one thing... Definitely didn't have elevators when the Zapotec built this so we had to climb the cobblestone stairs.
With Lupus unless the person has a flare up, no one can look at her and see she is sick. If my joints are revolting against my body, if I am fatigued, no one can see that. When I use the elevator to go up to the third floor, I can tell by people's faces and mumbles that they think I'm too lazy to walk the stairs. But I digress---
This picture was taken when we finished climbing. Once again, I am very thankful there were stairs (always cobblestone and sometimes loose or broken, but stairs nonetheless) so I didn't have to rock climb up there. There were times that I wanted to quit, I was sweating and my pain was about a 6 and getting higher. I pushed through it. I didn't want to stop and have someone feel obligated to sit with me. Exploring ruins from a civilization that goes back farther than 2,500 years is not something people get a chance to do everyday. I couldn't ruin that for anyone. The week after we came back I rested. If I had not been able to rest that week, I don't know what would have happened.
I'm leading the trip this May which is really exciting. It's a whole lot of preparation but I can't wait. It's sad that a week is all I'll ever be able to spend there. I'd love to stay for a month or two, but that level of activity and all the sun would make it unbearable.
*This children's home takes in those that have been abandoned, parents are in jail, and/or DIF (their version of children's services) has declared their home unsafe (usually due to abuse or neglect). They range from babies to students in college.
I find the Spanish equivalent of cheers to be extremely appropriate for those of us who are broken. It literally translates to "Health!"