Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 27- Traveling and Thank Yous

Thank you to all of our readers. It has been a joy blogging for all of you to read about our trip.

Dr. Gerbens wanted me to post a picture of Tyler and I so you know who has been blogging.  He also wanted to thank us for our hard work, “Thanks to our bloggers, Calah Metz (our lead blogger) and Tyler Mink (assistant blogger), for all of their long nights of blogging. It looks great.”

Thank you to our team for being positive upbeat people. I am so glad that all of us gelled so quickly and grew to love each other. Thank you for working so well together and encouraging each other. Thank you for all the laughs and the memories we created. I will never forget the journey we took together.

Thanks to all of the Pastors and their families of the churches that hosted our clinics. We are very appreciative for you opening your churches and assisting us with our ministry. It was so fun to meet all of you and learn from you.

Thanks to our San Diego host families (especially the Guldens and Seibles (I am a little biased)). Thank you for opening your homes and allowing us to be apart of your families for a week. I can honestly say that I have never felt more welcomed into a family as I did yours. Thank you for all the delicious home cooked meals, the bonfires, surfing lessons, game nights, and investing into our lives. You all are such wonderful kind hearted people whom we will never forget.

 Thank you lions club for donating all of our glasses and making this trip possible. It has been so fun volunteering with your group. 

Thank you Calvin College for seeing Dr. Ubels passion for this trip and allowing it to happen. 

Thanks to Ralph De Haan, our Optometrist, for coming along with us on the trip. We could not have done this without you. Thank you for lending us your auto-refractor and teaching the pre-optometry students how to use it. The knowledge you shared with us will be taken on to our further schooling. You were so patient with us, and encouraging every step of the way. Thank you for your thoughts in our discussions and your generous heart. We appreciate you so much!

Thanks to Scott and Marcia Geurink for being our amazing missionaries for our two weeks in Mexico. We admire the both of you so much. You have been such incredible role models for our group, and we all love you guys. You both have such loving and giving hearts and have touched our lives forever.

 Thanks Larry and Mary Gerbens for your eternal laughter. It is so nice to see a couple that has been together for so long and can still laugh with each other. You guys became grandparents to us on the trip. It was so fun getting to know you and learning from you. Mary that's for your generosity and loving spirit. Thanks for always hugging us and showing how much you care. Dr. Gerbens thank you for teaching us all about the eye. You are so enthusiastic about eye care and your passion for ophthalmology just bursts out of you. It's contagious. We are so grateful to have met you and gotten to know you over the past several months at the lions club and on our trip. We love ya Gerbs.

Thanks to Professor Ubels, the man who made this trip possible. We could not have done this without your leadership. Thank you for all of your extra ‘behind the scene’ work. We know you put a lot of your time and energy into the trip to make sure all of the puzzle pieces fit together. We value you as our professor more than you know, and couldn’t have asked for a better professor to lead our trip. Watching you serve the people of Mexico made us want to work harder as a team. You have been the piece that has held our team together and united us. Thank you for protecting us and encouraging us every step of the way.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26- Surfing and Sunsets

This morning we were once again spoiled by a delicious home cooked meal, or breakfast at a local restaurant. Each of us drove with our host families to their church, The Anchor Church for fellowship. Service was led by Pastor Rick Myatt on peace. When the service was over, some of us gathered for lunch out in the courtyard, while others went with their host families. Lauren and I went with our host family to grab lunch at their house (once again, delicious) and got ready to go surfing. Dan, their son- in- law, got us wetsuits and a surfboard to teach us how to surf. We loaded up the car and drove to Ponto State Beach where Lauren and I, as first time surfers, would charge the Pacific Ocean at the time of their biggest swells this winter. Lauren went first, while I struggled to put on my wetsuit. She got out in the water and took control, standing on the board at least twice! She rocked it! Then it was my turn. Scared and terrified I got out there and was able to stand up and ride a whole wave in. Dan was encouraging both Lauren and I the whole time we were out there; giving us little cheers when we got up on the board. Meanwhile, the other part of the group went to the beach and two members attempted surfing  (which didn’t end well). After surfing, our host family drove us down the 101 along the south coast through the beach cities such as Leucadia, Del Mar, Solana Beach, and trough the Torrey Pines Forest. Torrey Pines only grow in this area of San Diego, and are different from pines trees by consisting of 5 pine needles per leaf verses 3 pine needles per leaf.  We stopped in La Jolla and had an excellent pizza dinner at The Spot. Lauren and I were so thankful. We were able to fulfill that craving for pizza! After dinner we walked around La Jolla. We oversaw the Children’s Bath Tub to see the seals, and watched the waves crash in. Meanwhile, the other part of the group went to the O’Brien’s house for a pizza dinner and a good dip in the hot tub.  We all are beyond blessed to have met our families. They have exuded their generosity towards us and we could not be more thankful.

I will have one last post dedicated to our last day of travel as well as everyone who has made this group possible. So make sure you look again to see the last post and more pictures!

January 25- Old Town and Whale Watching

Sleep is a great thing. We all got to sleep in until 10 today and then met up at the park and ride. We gathered in a 15-passenger van and drove to Old Town, a small town with a Mexican feel. After walking around Old Town we quickly realized that it was supposed to be a make up of Mexico, however, after being in Mexico for the past two weeks, we would all say that it was very Americanized. We all ate lunch at Rockin’ Baja. The food was good, but not as good as authentic Mexican food like we were used to. After Old Town, we drove down to the docks where we boarded a boat for whale watching. While out on the water we saw 7 Gray whales, around 10 dolphins, and lots of Sea Lions. We had a great time out on the water, and got very lucky to see as many whales as we saw because they are all migrating south for the season. The whales came relatively close to the boat, and the dolphins were playing in our bow water and swimming under the boat. Once whale watching was over we drove back to the Kamps house to change and get ready for dinner at the Wierenga’s house. The Wierenga’s served a greek style dinner. As a group we all shared our ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of our trip to give the host families and hosts an overview of our trip. I was impressed with everyone’s’ response. Just by listening to everyone speak about the trip; it was evident that the Mexican people touched all of our hearts. Later, we gathered at the Youde’s house for a group bonfire. When we got there we were all full of laughs and giggles and played two great games of Mafia. Three Calvin prospective students who were at dinner joined us at the bonfire. They added a little spice of character to our group, and fit right in with all of us. We hope we persuaded them to come to Calvin.

January 24- Jules Stein Institute

This morning our host families dropped us off at a park and ride. All 15 of us gathered in one 15-passenger van and drove to Los Angeles. On the drive there we were singing Party in the USA acapella style and playing Candy Man to pass the time. There is never a dull moment with our group. When we got to UCLA’s campus we met Dr. Dean Bok, the Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Retinal Cell Biology Laboratory. Dr. Bok discovered that the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) plays a role in the daily disposal of light-sensitive membranes that are shed by retinal photoreceptor cells. He showed us around his laboratories, including the electron microscopy. We got to go down to the test center where Dr. Gerbens and Aaron had an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) performed on them. After we left UCLA and thanked Dr. Bok for his time for showing us around, we drove to Huntington Beach and walked the pier. There were so many surfers in the water, which was neat to see. We met up with a Calvin alumnus, Kelly Johnson, who goes to graduate school at Azusa Pacific. It had been a while since any of us had seen her, so it was nice to catch up. We walked around the shops for a bit then met back up at the van to head to dinner. For dinner we stopped at In and Out Burger, one of the go to restaurants of California. We all got fries and a burger and left very satisfied. It was a nice to have a good hardy burger and not tacos for a change. After In and Out burger we got dropped off at our host families’ house. Lauren and I watched the Bachelor with our family, making fun of it most of the time. Tomorrow we head to old town for lunch and go whale watching on the Pacific Ocean as well as have a get together at a Calvin alumni’s house.