Monday, April 18, 2011

A little rain in the desert

I can't believe that my time here in Arizona is almost over! I feel like I just got here! I guess time really does fly when you are having fun! I must say that I was so jealous that Alabama was getting rain (and tornadoes). Only because it hasnt rained here at all and anyone who knows me knows that I love me some tornadic weather. I hope everyone in the great state of Alabama is safe!

My time out here has been so amazing and I am so glad that I was able to come out here and experience all of this! My last day at the hospital was so sad! I truly will miss the people that I worked with! They were all so fun and so helpful. It was hard to say good bye! Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll make it back out here to work!

So in true Arizona fashion, it wouln't be the desert without seeing a little of the desert wildlife.  Two nights ago I was walking outside to get something out of my car when I though I saw a dog over by the bushes next to the house. When I walked closer, I realized it was not a dog but a huge bobcat.  I think I scared the poor thing more than it scared me but I did freak out a little. Valerie, it reminded me of the person you know who moved out here and had to beat away a wild animal with a beer bottle. That thought did run through my mind if that cat decided to attack me! Luckily it went on its merry way before I could get a picture! Gosh it was such a gorgeous animal! Now all I need to see is a big ol' rattlesnake and that should do it for me.

It is almost time for me to make my track by across the country to the great state of Alabama. I will definitely try to give some updates while we're on the road. You never know what's going to happen on a road trip with my family.  We might even stop by the largest ball of yarn...actually I don't even know where that is, BUT I have no doubt there will be stories!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dreary Day

Who would've thought there would be rainy days in the desert? At this particular moment I'm sitting by a fire while it pours rain outside. Don't get me wrong, the "plants" need it but I need some quality lay out time! Life has been kinda hectic trying to get back to my regular routine after being in Ecuador! It was so weird to come back to America. It was kinda boring at first and then Stevie came to visit for her spring break! We had so much fun! We went to Williams, Az which we found out was only 2 and half hours away and not 3 and half (gave us a little extra time to take a nap) and rode the train from there to the Grand Canyon! It was so fun! I highly recommend it to anyone who plans on coming out west.  Williams is such a cute town which Route 66 actually runs through! After the train ride and the awesome grand canyon (which can not be described) We headed to Sedona. Another great place to stop off at if you have a chance to ever go there! We took a pink jeep tour which was so cool because you get to go down into some small canyons and really get to see the beautiful landscape up close.  It was breath taking. We watched the sunset at Sedona Airport (another great thing to do). I know, I'm starting to sound like a broken record. Just know, Sedona is pretty great.  We then headed back to the great land of Scottsdale.  We found out while shopping around one day that a saloon around here has bull riding on Wednesday and Friday nights.  So leave it to us to go try and find it. We did. And did we look like out of towners.  We were dressed up from dinner so we obviously didn't have cowboy boots and jeans on. This is probably the only time thus far that I have felt like I was back in the south. Just a little bit.  It was so much fun (watching, not riding) the bull rides. And it didnt hurt to watch the cowboys either ;). After a couple more days of shopping and relaxing by the pool we had to say goodbye but not for too long!

This past Saturday, my aunt, uncle, and myself hiked black mountain in Cave Creek and let me tell you. It's called black mountain for a reason. It's pretty much a 1,500 foot vertical climb and I thought I was going to die for most of it.  Don't get me wrong, the view from the top was great, but on the way up I've never prayed so much on a hike.  Embarassingly, my uncle beat me up there but he does run marathons so I don't feel too bad. I was just glad to be at the top and to be breathing. I wish I was exaggerating! One cool thing that happened while we were at the top of the mountain was meeting a fellow Auburn grad who is a veterinarian, lives in Washington part time like my aunt and uncle, his wife was a teacher like my aunt, and he is neighbors to one onf my uncle's good friends.  Talk about six degrees of separation. All jokes about dying aside it really was fun and and another thing I can add to my check list!  

I feel like my time here is flying by! I only have a month left and I feel like I haven't been here a week! The Lord has definitely been showing me a lot while I've been here. This has truly been a eye-opening experience and I've loved every second of it! But I will be glad when I get to see everybody back home! I miss everyone so much!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The First Week and Ecuador!!

Wow a lot has happened since I've posted last! I had my first week of work which went great! I love my preceptor, she is definitely an answer to prayer! I can't wait to get back there and keep working!

Now onto the best trip of my life!

Ecuador is quite possibly one of the neatest places I've been too.  I left Atlanta last Saturday and headed towards South America with no clue as to what was going to happen next!  We arrived in Quito after a 6 hour flight and some interesting in-flight food and luckily my luggage made it! The hotel we stayed in was actually really nice and we had running water and a toilet which was more than I thought we were going to have!  One of the things that you had to get used to right away was that you cant flush toilet paper there. Gross I know and its something thats really hard to remember especially when you have to pee at 6 in the morning and you're half asleep.

The second day we were there we went to the equator which was really cool! They showed us some really neat things that happen because of the magnetic forces from each the north and south poles. One we all know is how the water flows in opposite directions on each side of the equator but right on the equator it flows straight down.  We also got to try and balance an egg on a nail while on the equator which is a lot harder than it sounds! Somehow my egg stayed on the nail and I have a certificate to prove it! ha! The coolest part was standing on either side of the equator and being in the northern and southern hemisphere at the same time!

From Monday to Friday we conducted a health clinic for the women of the community where we educated them on things from nutrition to birth control and everything in between while they were waiting to see the nurse practitioner.  Every day we switched working between different places like the pharmacy, working with the children, triaging patients (getting their height/weight/blood pressure/etc.), and then doing exams with the nurse practitioners.  My favorite part was working with the nurse practitioner, which starting out the week, I was not real excited about seeing as I'm not a huge fan of women's health. But it was so neat to have a relationship with each of the women that we saw and then helping them with their problems and seeing that they left you different than when they came. The women that we saw were so sweet and they were so eager for someone to help them. All they were looking for was encouragement and someone to show them hope.  Throughout the week I would estimate that we saw near 200 women.

On Thursday night we went out to old town Quito which was such a beautiful part of the city. We ate at this amazing restaurant and then toured the city. When we got to one of our destinations a party bus pulls up and it took us around the city and the sights were breathtaking.

On Friday it was really sad to leave the people we had been working with all week who we had grown to know and love. I cant wait to go back soon and see the children we played with and see the women that we helped.

On our last day we got to go to a zip line in a cloud forest.  While we were zip lining we got to see a monkey that was swinging in the trees which was a surreal experience and then we went on a nature hike through the forest which was really neat to see because of all the pretty flowers, little water falls and to see that beautiful places like this still exist.  Then sadly we had to leave to go to the airport to catch a 12:30am flight. Talk about culture shock.

Now back in the US I realize how the Lord has truly blessed my life and I have realized that I love doing medical trips and I will be taking many more.  Please pray for the people of Ecuador, that the Lord will stir in their hearts.  In their society it is very male-driven and the women have very little say in what happens.  This past week we saw a lot of hurting people and I pray the Lord will comfort them in their struggles.

Also, a lot of the kids we worked with are being sponsored by compassion international and if anyone would like more information on how to sponsor a child please let me know!

For now I'm going to bed since I haven't really slept since yesterday morning and then its back to Arizona in the morning!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Well this post has taken just about long enough to write! I haven't had internet connection for the past 5 days and I still don't have it on my computer. I'm writing from my aunt's computer. But as soon as I get it up and running these posts should come more often!

We finally arrived in Arizona on Friday night and I was so relieved not to have to get back in the car for a very long time.  We drove through the rest of Oklahoma, then Texas, New Mexico, and finally Arizona! I have never been so happy to see an exit sign. Before we arrived at my aunt and uncles we took a detour to go to the Grand Canyon so my dad could see it! Wow. There are no words to describe that place. Even with this being my second time to be there I still can't take it all in. It is truly somewhere to see God's workmanship! After spending most of the morning in the Grand Canyon we headed off to see Sedona which was a really cool town.  It is said that in Sedona people experience "vortexes" or something resembling a spiritual wind tornado where the earth's energy comes through your body. Weird, right? Well I'm sad to say I did not get to experience a vortex on my own but we did find an elvis impersonator named VJ that would gladly marry you and then take you on a vortex tour. and if that wasnt enough, he could also take a picture of your aoura (sp?) and your pet's aoura to see what the color was.  Sadly, I didn't get to meet this character, who had apparently been on America's Got Talent, but I have his brochure if anyone is interested!  

When we arrived at our destination it rained for the next 2 days. Which will probably be the only rain that I see while I'm here! We went antiquing all day and at first I was a little weary about this seeing as I don't do that very pften but after Saturday I'm hooked! I found so many different things that were so neat, including a nursing cape from the 1930s that was orange and blue! After that we went to this awesome German restaurant that happened to be on Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives which is another one of my Food Network Favorites! After a long day of shopping we came back and got in the hot tub and looked at the stars which are so much prettier here! Probably because there are no street lights anywhere!

Sunday was a bittersweet day. We went to church and then it was time to say good-bye to the parents.  I knew it was coming and it really wasn't that bad until my mom started crying when I hugged her! Talk about ripping your heart out! But I reassured her she would see me in 5 days when I leave for Ecuador so it wont be that bad!

These past couple of days have been great.  I feel like I'm somehow on vacation. My aunt and uncle are great hosts and we've had so much fun! Playing a rousing game of scrabble and speed scrabble, which I had never done before, was quite interesting! I met with my preceptor yesterday and she was an answer to prayer! She is easy going and so nice and I think we are going to get along really well! My first shift is tonight so it should be great! I've never worked a night shift so looks like sleep is on its way in like 24 hours.

I still can't believe the Lord is allowing to be on this journey and I am so grateful for this opportunity! I'm sure I will have plenty of stories (seeing as I've already seen a bobcat in the front yard and heard coyotes ripping something up in the back).  Only 4 days until my team leaves for Ecuador! Be in prayer for the people of Quito that they will have open hearts to receive the word of God!

Peace from the desert.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stories From the Road Part 1

AHH! Im already in love with the midwest. We started out a little off schedule which is totally usual for a Riley family trip. I drove the first leg to Memphis, TN. Driving though Mississippi was about as interesting as watching paint dry. (no offense to mississippians, of course, you're not bland!). We did pass through Tupelo, so in true tourist fashion, we said our respects to the king and moved on. You can't go to Mississippi without talking about Elvis! Onto to Memphis. I was so excited when I realized that The Neely's (who are chefs on the food network) have a restaurant in Memphis! If you know me, you know I am a huge fan of the food network. Therefore, you can understand my excitement! We found the restaurant and it was delicious! I had their specialty which was BBQ spaghetti. Weird, yes. But absolutely amazing! Definitely something I'm going to have to add to the recipe book.

Next leg I switched to co-pilot and mi padre took over. We drove through Arkansas, hitting the major spots. At this point we've been in the car for 8 hours and everything is starting to look the same and I feel like we're driving in circles. All the while I've been torturing my parents with Justin Bieber, Hanson, BSB, and any other boy band I can think of. I mixed in a little Mumford and Sons/Civil Wars before they decided to mutiny and throw me out of the car. It's been really fun so far getting to hang out with my parents. I had my reservations at first, who wouldnt after being at college for 4 years without them. I'm glad they both decided to come, I feel so loved. Especially since my father informed me he was missing Lord of the Dance in Birmingham this weekend for me. I am one lucky girl :)

By this point we've made it through Arkansas with little issues besides construction and people driving like they are in the Indy 500. Crossing over the Arkansas-Oklahoma line I felt the need to belt out that forever endearing line, "OOOOklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains", and that was about it seeing as I don't really know the rest of the song...but who does? It is starting to get dark by this point and what do we come across? Checotah. Sound familiar? It's where Carrie Underwood hails from! They even have a massive sign on the interstate in case you forgot. And being the tourists we are, we stopped and took a picture of the exit sign.

So now we are stopped for the night after exactly 12 hours of driving and we are pretty much half way there! Tomorrow we'll get to see the likes of Texas, New Mexico, and then finally Arizona! I cant believe this is actually happening! Today while I was driving it hit me what I was actually doing and for 2 seconds I had a moment of panic and wanted to turn the car around to head back to my safety net.  Then I realized that was even crazier than driving out here in the first place so I changed my mind.  I'm sure I'll have more stories from the road tomorrow! Until then.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3 days+10 page paper+packing=chaos

3 days til the road trip begins! I still can't believe I'm actually doing this.  Tuesday is my last day of "nursing" school.  How bittersweet this week is going to be.  I'm still not sure if it has totally sunken in that I am actually a SENIOR in college. Seniors in college are supposed to know what is going on and have their life together. yeah. whatever. This adventure is going to be amazing but sometimes I still get a little sad thinking I won't see anyone I know for 2 whole months. Thank goodness for skype.

I was in the car yesterday and Mama's Song came on by Carrie Underwood. I don't know if you've ever heard it before but even though I've heard it multiple times it struck a heart string and I bawled through the whole song (which seems to be the theme lately). Not that I'm getting married and leaving my family but thinking about my family and how I'm not going to see them for 2 months is a little sad :( I think every song I've heard on the radio lately has made me cry! Goodness.

My sweet sister along with my roommates threw me a going away party and it was awesome! Thanks to everyone who came! It meant so much to me! It makes leaving Wednesday a little bit easier. Sorry if this post was a little scattered, it pretty much sums up how my brain feels right about now.

Next post I'll probably be in Arizona or somewhere in the middle of the desert trying to get there! Pray for safe travels!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

14 days!!!

Oh my goodness. I can't believe it! 2 weeks until I pack up the Edge and head to the wild west with the parents in tow. I am so excited that both of them are going to be able to go out there with me. It will make the 23ish hours a lot more exciting! I've started my packing list and its stressing me out just a little. No worries though, there is always FedEx and UPS just in case I forget something!

I have found out that I am going to be working in the Pulmonary Med/Surg unit which is similar to a step down unit from critical care. I am really excited about it! At first, I was a little hesitant because it has "med surg" in the title and if you ask anyone in nursing school that word is pretty much taboo. But there is obviously a reason why the Lord has placed me there and I know in the end it'll be worth it. I also found out who my preceptor is! I didn't realize how nerve wracking it was actually going to be to call a complete stranger in hopes that she actually knows that she is going to precept me. After dialing the number and psyching myself out a couple times, I finally called. Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring...answering machine. I have never been so happy to hear an automated voice. I left a message and now I'm waiting to hear back from her. Although, if she doesn't have a clue that she is precepting me, she probably thinks I'm some crazy hick that has no idea what is going on. Let's hope she knows I'm coming!

The more I think about my trip coming up the more excited I get! It is going to be such an adventure and I can only hope to impart a small piece of our southern culture on these people. Definitely making some Paula Deen recipes for the nurses at the hospital!

One thing I do ask is that y'all be in prayer for our medical/mission trip to Ecuador that is coming up in 3 weeks! It is going to be an awesome trip and I know the Lord is going to do great things there! Pray that the villagers will be receptive to us and to the message we are bringing them!

I leave you with this:
"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28:19-20