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Paraguay- May 2017

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     I recently had the amazing opportunity to go to Paraguay with the LDS charities (Humanitarian Department) to teach Neonatal Resuscitation. This is the 5th trip that I have had the opportunity to go on. I have also been to Colombia twice, Honduras and Mexico. Matt was able to go with me to Honduras and he always lucky enough to go to Nepal for 2 weeks as well a couple of years ago. 
     The cities in Colombia were Bogotá, Cúcuta, Maicao, Florencio, and Montería. We went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Cuernavaca, Mexico. I was able to train about 400 healthcare providers in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program and the Helping Babies Breath program. It has been an incredible opportunity for me. I am so grateful that I was able to go to Paraguay for my 5th trip. 

     We trained about 80 doctors and nurses in Paraguay on this trip. I went with the Zollinger’s and Dr, Gary Wold. 

    We did the trainings in Asunción and also Pedro Juan Caballero which is in the border with Brazil. 

     I loved it. Matt was my hero and encouraged me to go. He watch our two little girls who are now 4 and 2 years old. He always helps my dreams to come true and encourages me. He is a wonderful husband and father. I’m really lucky to have him. ❤️

     I really enjoyed this trip. It’s starting on May 20 and we flew from Salt Lake City to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to São Paulo Brazil and then another flight to Asunción, Paraguay. We traveled for about 24 hours to get there. We worked very hard all week and were able to work with the Ministry of health and some amazing doctors and nurses from local hospitals to train 46 doctors and nurses in the 7th edition of NRP. They had all previously been trained. They were very good and learned quickly. I loved Wilma and Aida. They were nurses like me and they work in the ministry to perpetuate these trainings throughout Paraguay. They were very grateful for our help and for the equipment that we donated. 

     They Paraguayan people are some of the kindest and warmest people that I have ever met. I feel like the people in Columbia were also amazingly kind and warm. On Monday night, we went to the mall after the training. I was able to eat empanadas. It was the biggest smile that I have ever seen in the world. I was surprised that they had such a nice mall in a country does struggle so much with poverty.

     On Tuesday, we finished the training in Asunción. The doctors and nurses expressed so much gratitude to our team. They had greatly improved their scores from the pretest to the post test. There were some people who came by bus from as far as 12 hours away. I loved taking pictures with all of them after the training. 

     We then went to a pediatric hospital in Asunción. It was a “level 4 NICU” but it failed to have some of the basic needed equipment like CPAP, compressed air and oxygen blenders. Other people at the training said that they don’t have x rays or other basic equipment. They do a very good job with the limited resources that they have. It was so fun to see the NICU. I always feel a connection with the nurses in the hospital’s that I have visited in South America. 

     I found it interesting that the families stay at the hospital day and night and sleep outside so that they can take care of their children. 

    On Wednesday we made the drive from the capital to Pedro Juan Caballero. It was a terrifying 8 hour drive to get there and old van on a windy dual carriageway. I actually cried after two hours because I was so scared. Driving in those conditions is one of my worst fears. But I knew that we would be OK because Matt gave me the most beautiful blessing before I left on the trip that I would be safe and return home safely. I felt the spirit very strongly during his blessing and it calmed all of my fears.

     We are arrived safely and it turned out to be a beautiful drive. We stayed in a hotel that was on the border of Paraguay and Brazil. We were able to go to dinner in Brazil for one of the nights. I was surprised that only two blocks into Brazil, and it was a completely different country. The people spoke a different language and looked different. It was fun. 

    The training went very well in Pedro Juan Caballero. The people were so happy to receive the training. My favorite part of the entire trip was on Thursday after the training when some of the local doctors took us to a waterfall and on the way back it was very dark and we could see billions of stars. We could see the southern cross and the Milky Way. It was beautiful. We then went to the local regional hospital to see their Special Care nursery. Resources were very limited there. Mothers share rooms and sometimes give birth on cots when there aren’t enough beds. The doctors and nurses were so kind and some of them had attended the training that day, would work all night and then go and finish the training the next day. 

     I really enjoyed the trip back to the capital. I say in the front for most of the time with the 1st counselor in the mission presidency. I called him Presidente Miguel. We laughed and drank Mate the whole time. It was fantastic. 

    I think the trip was a great success and I’m very grateful that I could go. I love the Chipas in Paraguay. They are delicious cheesy soft bread things. I also liked Sopa Paraguaya. I bought some spider lace and some little purses for the girls in the airport on the way home. The lady in the airport was so sweet and went out to get me some purses from the indigenous women who were selling outside of the security. She was so nice to do that. 

     Matt emailed me a long letter every single day. He was so sweet and it meant so much to me. I left a little gift for the girls to open each day and that was fun. I wa so happy to be reunited with them. I missed Matt and the girls so much. I’m grateful for the spirit that I felt on the trip. I felt renewed and had some great opportunities to share the gospel. I hope to go on many more of these incredible trips in the future. 

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Date: Hiking Up Milcreek Canyon

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Yesterday Oma watched the Bug while Matt and I went hiking up Milcreek. It was tons of fun. We parked at Church Fork and hiked on the trail going up to Grandeur Peak but took the trail that goes east along the mountains. It would be a great mountain biking trail. There’s still a lot of snow but it was sunny and warm! It’s so fun to go hiking with Matt. Lilah had fun hanging out with Oma, Grandpa Hart and Uncle Nate.

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I Love Being A Mom! And I Hate Being Sick!

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Well, our little Lilah is 2 and 1/2 months old now! She’s getting so big! It’s amazing how fast the time goes. I’m so grateful for Lilah. She and Matt are my best friends. I love them both so much. I love being a mother!!! I’m so proud of my little girl. She brings so much joy into our lives with her little smiles and cuddles. I never anticipated the deep love and concern that I’d have for Lilah. My mother bear instincts have really kicked in. I just want to protect her from everything and my worst nightmare is for something bad to happen to her. I love her so much. I need to have more faith that everything is going to be alright. I’ve just seen so many tragedies happen to families at work and I fear that something might happen to our family. I know that is dumb but sometimes I worry about that. I need to have more faith and even if something bad did happen to our family, we’d be alright because we have the perspective of the gospel, that families can be together forever.

The day to day life of being a mom is an adjustment but I really enjoy it! It’s my dream to be a stay at home mom someday. Maternity leave has been so much fun. I’ve been taking care of Lilah and all of the housework, including making meals. It’s been a big change from the working woman and student that I was before Lilah was born. I love this new role that I am fulfilling and I feel that it is truly the most important work that I can do in this life. I’m really dreading having to go back to work and leave Lilah, even though she’ll be watched by Grandma Thorup (Thank Heaven for Grandma’s help!). I just don’t want to leave my baby but I am so grateful that Grandma Thorup is going to help us out. She is so generous and I completely trust her with Lilah.

This last week was a little challenging because my poor baby got sick. She had a cough and a cold and had trouble eating because of it. Poor little thing. She is on the tail end of it but I just hate to see her sick. We’ve tried so hard this winter to keep her from getting sick but she did. I’m glad that it wasn’t worse. Matt and I have been a little under the weather too so it will be so nice for everyone to get better. Lilah still managed a lot of smiles this week, even though she was feeling so sick. She is such a sweet baby.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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     Yesterday was Thanksgiving and it was so great! I love Thanksgiving. It is probably my favorite holiday. I love that the day is focused on being grateful for what we have. Matt and I woke up and told eachother 20 things that we are grateful for. Matt went shopping for me and then he helped me make mashed potatoes. I also made my Grandma Payne’s corn casserole and honey butter. We went to the Thorup side for Thanksgiving at 2 PM. It was so fun. Grandpa Park was there, all of my brothers and sisters were there with their kids as well as Lenny, Brett and Madison. It was so nice to see everyone even though it feels like we have Thanksgiving dinner together every single Sunday thanks to my awesome Mom. The food was awesome and it’s so fun to be with my family.

     After the meal at my Mom and Dad’s house, we went to the Hart’s for another Thanksgiving dinner! It was really fun. I love my in-laws. They are the best. Mom Hart had surgery on her foot the day before so Dad Hart did a lot of the cooking. It was so good. Grandma and Grandpa Christen were there. I talked with them for a long time. Irene and Don were there. Chris and Megan and their kids were there as well as Nate, Ashlyn and Val. It was nice to see everyone. I just loved to spend the whole day with Matt. He is so awesome. I’m really grateful for such an amazing husband. He takes such good care of me.

     Here are some pictures. . .


Dinner at the Thorup’s!

Brookley. She is so sassy! She cracks me up.

Me and my Papa. He’s so awesome. My belly is catching up to his. 🙂 I’m 35 weeks pregnant here.

The awesome clean up crew. Left to Right: Monica (Madi’s friend), Christina, April, Madison, Grandpa, Me, Angie and Mom.

Justin and me. 🙂 He’s so adorable!!

Cute Victoria. I love her sparkly shirts.

Me, Delilah (Lilah) and Delilah

Grandpa Christen and me.

Physician Assistant School

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     Last week, Matt applied to 6 different schools for the Physician Assistant program. He still needs to take the GRE and he’s been studying really hard for that. After he takes the GRE he can apply to 8 more schools. I hope that he gets in this year but either way will be great. It’d be nice to spend another year here in Salt Lake. Matt applied to the U of U, and schools in Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. It’s his dream and my dream for that matter. I totally support him and I am so proud of all that he has accomplished. He’s really worked so hard for this and I hope that he gets in. He will be amazing as a physician assistant.

Week 21

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      Well, things are going great. I have been feeling pretty good except for a little reflux. I am so lucky. It’s been such a good pregnancy. I am so grateful that everything seems to be alright with our baby. I am so anxious to feel her kick. I think that I can feel her but it’s so hard to tell. The placenta is anterior so that makes it kindof hard to feel her move and it’s still kindof early to feel any big kicks. It’s so fun though. Today, for Grandma Christen’s birthday, we told her that we are going to name the baby after her. She seemed pretty excited. 🙂 Matt is still the most amazing husband ever. Our relationship is better than ever and we are so happy. Things are going well. We go to the doctor again on Wednesday. I can’t wait to hear her little heartbeat again.