Thursday, January 21, 2010


Oh, I am just so ready to come home! I’m getting terribly homesick in these last few days. Today I was asked to give the morning devotion. I was speaking of the Psalm that says, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” I thought I would be fine - it’s easy to be joyful about this Psalm. But I found myself speaking about my children and losing all composure. I miss them so. Clinic was not too eventful today. They did see a couple of things that were interesting. A 1 ½ year old child that looked like he was about 6 months old and a child who had a very strange rash all over his body. I even filled a prescription for someone who’s diet consisted only of potatoes and ugale. No wonder he was having stomach issues! I wished my sister were here today because we had someone here who was deaf but spoke American sign language. I can only sign a few things for my children, so I wasn’t much help. But I knew Stephanie would have saved the day. I came back and packed up all of our things while it was still light out so I could see what I was doing. I have been told that we’re not able to take carry-ons on the plane from here to Brussels, so I’ve been trying to wrap up all of our souvenirs carefully. Hopefully nothing will break. I ran back up to clinic to say my good-byes and was surprised by the entire Dispensary Board who had printed off certificates to thank all of us for coming. It was very thoughtful of them. Afterwards, we had Fantas and talked for a while. One of the members of the board asked Chris if he was married yet. Chris said yes and graciously reached over to introduce me. The man looked at me and said, “If your husband lived here, he would quickly become a polygamist.” I laughed and tried to be gracious, but I must say, I really didn’t find it too funny. Polygamy is common here, so I’m sure his comment was just a product of his culture. In all honesty, however, I wasn’t quite sure how to take it. Somehow I felt like I just didn’t quite measure up to his expectations. I was glad for the sympathetic smile from across the room from my dear husband that assured me that he knows that I’m all the wife he needs! There’s definitely no more room for another wife in our life together! Ha! J Mama and Papa Kibarita arrived today. They have been living in Canada for the last 3 years and haven’t seen their family through that entire time, so the Kibarita household has been busy preparing for their arrival for several days. I know that they are so excited to see them, so I feel a bit like I need to just stay out of the way and let them have their time together. That’s not, however, panning out so well. Yesterday, I was supposed to learn how to make chapati with a lady from the church at her home. She went home to take a nap, however, and never came back to get me, so I figured she just forgot. Today, however, she asked me why I never came. So after I explained, she said she would come to the Kibarita’s tonight. I told her Mama and Papa were coming and perhaps it wasn’t a good night…but I could come to her house. She, however, is insistent upon coming to the Kibarita shamba. She says they’re very good friends and wouldn’t mind a bit. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I ran home to tell the Kibaritas and ask their advice. Luckily they think it is funny because they know she just wants to see Mama and Papa. The funny thing is, though, they weren’t even sure who the lady was. “Very good friends,“ indeed. So I’m learning to cook chapati tonight over an open fire. It was pretty interesting. It's quite a complicated process! We enjoyed our evening with Mama and Papa Kibarita and their entire family. We had about 30 people crammed into one living room. We enjoyed our fellowship immensely.


Our day began at 2:30 AM when Chris woke me up with a really sour stomach and was sick for the majority of the day. He didn’t get out of bed or even go to clinic today. I went up with Dr. Bunge to have an early morning devotion that Pastor John had prepared for us. Dr. Sams was sick, as well, so he, Chris and Adam stayed home. Dr. Sams wasn’t feeling too terribly, so he was going to go out to pump some water. Somewhere in the middle of the night, we ran out of water, thus running out of the capability to flush the toilet. Not a good problem to have, I assure you, especially with two sick-o‘s. Unfortunately, however, we have not had rain for a few days, so we were left waterless for the majority of the day. We were all so glad to see the rain clouds approaching mid-afternoon because it meant that we may no longer have to use “the hole” out back. It’s not a fun thing to use at anytime, but especially when you’re sick. That’s pretty much been our day…Dr. Bunge and Dr. Sams worked the clinic which was finished very early. I stayed with Chris for the majority of the day. We’re praying for no more sickness. And lots of rain!


It’s been yet another busy day here in Mukeu. Dr. Sams made French Toast for breakfast…I was so excited for something familiar. But I still felt like I had something stuck in my throat. I figured it wouldn’t be so bad, but after eating just a little bit, my throat started having spasms again. I took a little nap and felt much better when I awoke and headed up to clinic around 10:00. When I got there, I was amazed at how many people were waiting. I guess the word had gotten out about the Muzungo doctors being in town. They saw some pretty serious situations today. One lady had given birth by C-Section a couple of weeks ago and had what they were pretty sure was a pulmonary embolism. We sent her straight to the hospital. Another young girl came in with blood pooling at her feet and soaking her skirt. Her index finger was just barely hanging on as she had cut it really severely using a machete on the farm. An elderly man who had already suffered a stroke came in because he was having altered mental status. He had a pretty bad infection, so they tried to give him an IV but weren’t able to get it in. After giving him some rehydrating solution, he appeared to be back to normal so they sent him home. He appears to be on his last leg…it’s only a matter of time for him. There was a patient with paranoid schizophrenia, and someone just diagnosed with congenital heart failure. There were lots of emergencies…what a day! I worked in the pharmacy for a while again today. I’m amazed at how the pharmacy works here. I was pretty concerned about it, so I talked to Chris, who explained that it’s just a cultural thing. This is the way they do things here. There have been numerous times that the American medicine names are different from the Kenyan medicine names. Sometimes when I ask about it, they will say, “Oh, I think this is the same thing.” Key word being think. When I press them about making sure it’s the right medication, they just take it from me and give it to the patients anyway, without being sure that it’s what has been prescribed. Today, a man was given his medication and he said that he was having stomach pain and wasn’t given anything for his stomach. The pharmacist asked me what to do and I said that we should ask the doctor if something should be prescribed whereupon he turned around, grabbed a medication off of the shelf and gave it to the man without a doctor’s prescription! Later, I was filling a prescription…I guess I am a bit of a rule follower and when the prescription says something, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The other guy working with me followed me around and kept taking pills I had just put in, out of the medicine baggie and putting them away. I asked him what he was doing and he said that the patient didn’t really need all of the medication. Just some. He evidently knew better than the doctor did. It really bothered me and finally I just stepped out. The pharmacy wasn’t the place for me today. I think the British tea tradition has had a deep impact upon the culture here. The British, afterall, were the settlers here. Every day at 10:00, clinic stops and they and have tea. Then at 2:00, they stop clinic again and have lunch. Then at 4:00, there is another tea break. The poor, sick, hungry patients just sit there and wait. It’s been hard for us to get used to. Especially today, since we really had life and death situations. The girl who was bleeding profusely and had a finger dangling off was sitting waiting to be seen, and Chris was trying to find someone to help him with interpretation. He asked two girls and they said, “But first we will go take tea.” I explained to them that in the US, they don’t get to take breaks until their work is done, and a girl was really in serious condition and needed immediate help, and they said, “But sometimes we get hungry.” So sure enough, the doctors waited for all of the interpreters to take tea before they could see their next patients. Tea must be a very intricate part of their culture. At 2:00 this afternoon, we were going to go to Kijabe to visit the mission hospital there with Pastor John. We were going to go on Wednesday, but Pastor John wanted to go with us and visit a patient as well as meet with the medical director, so we agreed to go with him. So we climbed into Pastor John’s car and headed out to Kijabe. We learned a lot about the hospital, and we had a productive meeting regarding Kijabe partnering with Mukeu in creating a larger outpatient clinic where more services could be offered, perhaps even Kijabe supporting the building of the maternity health center that we’ve been talking so much about. It was interesting because the medical director said that they had just made a 10 year plan and in that plan, they had decided that the next outpatient clinic they’d like to start was in Mukeu. It seemed perfect timing that we approached them about supporting the dispensary and maternity center. It’s so neat to see God’s hand at work. We got to see Margaret, the lady who had a stroke last Monday. She seemed to be doing well. She still cannot move the left side of her body at all, but is talking and able to eat soft foods. We were able to talk with her for a few minutes and pray with her. All in all it was a productive day. But I must say, I’m so ready to come home. Papa Johns sounds really good tonight! :)

1/17/2010 Another Sunday in Mukeu

What a different day today was as compared to last Sunday. The sun was shining, and we were actually hot at times. The whole time we’ve been here, I’ve practically been freezing, so it was a nice change. We were a bit tired today because Chris had been up all night running to the bathroom. Something didn’t sit well with him and he was one sick boy. He was taking it easy, trying to feel better so he could make it to church. I started getting ready for church by taking a shower. Showers here are different than back home. All we have is cold water, so to get warm water, you heat it over the fire and pour it over yourself. So I gathered my warm water in a bucket, took the pitcher of water and poured it over my hand. Thinking that it was a good temperature, perhaps a bit on the warm side, I then commenced to pour it over my hair, only to wince in pain because it was burning my scalp. I mean really burning. I tried to turn on the shower to put some cold water one it, but all the cold water was gone, so I had nothing. I threw on my clothes and did manage to finally get some cold water and went back to finish my shower, wincing in pain every time I had to pour even cold water over my head. Chris looked at it and couldn’t see anything wrong with my scalp, so I hoped that it wasn’t too bad and continued to get ready for church, though every time I‘d touch it, it would bring tears to my eyes. We got to church and were asked to sing a song, so we sang with the family that is hosting us for the entire congregation. And then Dr. Sams and Dr. Bunge shared a sermon that encouraged the people here in Mukeu to allow themselves to be the light. Afterall, faith without works is dead. It was very good. A short way through the 3 hour service, I noticed that all of my hair was dry, except the back of my head where I had burned myself. When I touched it, it was just a sticky mess. I burned myself worse than I thought. So now I have lovely scabs and ooze back there. Lovely, huh. I can’t wait to take a good old American shower back home! It’s amazing the things I’ve come to appreciate. Chris slept most of the afternoon after we got home from church and started to feel better by the evening. We made macaroni and cheese from the box tonight. The poor Kibarita family could hardly get it down. It wasn’t my favorite, either, but I’d eat it over ugale any day! Poor Harrison, 6 years old, was forced to eat every bite. And he did it without complaint. He’s such a good boy. Right before bed, I remembered we had to take our anti-malarial pill. I got the pills and forgot to get myself water, so I just swallowed it without a drink. Bad mistake. It got stuck at the bottom of my esophagus and irritated it so immensely that I began having esophageal spasms. I’ve never had them before and was amazed at the pain I was in. The burning and pain were so bad that I couldn’t go to sleep and around 1:00 AM I finally started throwing up. Afterwards I finally was able to go to sleep and slept until almost 7 AM. But when I awoke the next morning, it’s obvious the esophagus is still inflamed and it still feels like I have something stuck in there. It’s causing great pain and inflammation. I’m praying that it will get better very soon. Eating only makes it worse, so I think I’ll abstain from food until it’s not so swollen in there. I learned my lesson. I’ll never be too tired or lazy to get a drink of water with my pills. J So all in all, Sunday was a rough day for me. Between my burn and my esophageal spasms, it’s been a painful day!

01/16/2010 - What a fun adventure!

We had been looking forward to this day all week long. We were going to the equator and Thompson Falls today. We hopped in our Matatu which kind of reminded us of a 70s “Love Machine” and sat and sat and sat. I think it took about 3 hours on a bumpy, bumpy ride to reach the equator. We saw lots of zebras on the way and even some giraffe. We had to stop many times for police checks and even once for an entire herd of cattle to cross the road. Suddenly, the bumpy ride stopped, we pulled over to the side of the road and we saw a sign. “Equator.” Wow…that was it. At first I thought, “Well, this is kind of anti-climactic” but then we started taking pictures, a man showed us how a piece of straw in a bowl of water right at the equator just stayed still, but if you went about 20 meters south, it spun counter clockwise. If you went about 20 meters north, it spun clockwise. It was so cool! There is a road that goes right along the equator, so we walked along the center of the earth for a while. We even found a crossroads, so we all stood in different directions - North, East, West, and South. Harrison stood directly in the center. It was fun. Chris haggled with this lady for a figurine for a long time and they finally agreed upon a price. It was much harder to haggle at the equator than at the market in Nairobi. We drove just a few miles to Thompson Falls. Again, I thought, “This is nice - a waterfall, but it’s kind of anti-climactic.” And then we realized that we could hike down to the falls. So we hiked down a very steep cliff. About half way down, I realized that my legs were already feeling like jelly. And I still had to hike back up. I’m finding it’s harder to hike up here at 8000 feet. I get out of breath so quickly. Elevation makes a big difference! Harrison, Victor and Mike practically ran down the mountain and back up. I was really fighting it every step of the way. But I did make it, despite the burning in my chest. And I enjoyed it very much. You know me and waterfalls. Despite my familial heritage, however, I did not stick my head in this water…it was very brown in color and smelled of sewage, so I didn’t even think about it. Sorry, Dad. I’m sure you would have done the same. J We decided to drive to Lake Naivasha and see what we could get ourselves into there. There’s a park called Hell’s Gate that we had considered, but when we got there, they said it was too late. So we pulled into a campground and asked if we could look around the lake. We walked clear out to the lake and there was a man sitting there in a boat. He asked us if we wanted a ride to see the Hippo Family that lives there in the wild, so for 1500 shillings, or about $18, all 10 of us got to go on a boat safari. So we crossed the marshy land on long planks of unstable wood and climbed in the canoe with an engine on the back to embark upon our journey in the mucky, dirty brown water of Lake Naivasha. It was so cool, and definitely the favorite part of the day for all of us. We thought that was funny, because it was the only part of the day that we had not planned. None of the Kibarita family had ever been on a boat before, or seen hippos, so it was quite exciting for them. It really amazed me…they live right here in Africa and many of them hadn’t seen zebras, giraffes, or hippos before. You should have seen the hippos. I was so amazed that they were right there in the wild. We could ride right up next to them. And I got some incredible pictures of them. What a thrill! The Kibaritas kept talking about how funny hippos looked - big heads, little ears, huge bodies and tiny tails! They thought they were so funny. I enjoyed watching them experience this for the first time. It brings a fresh perspective to life. We ate at the Silver Hotel in Naivasha because Adam remembered getting “Chips” (French fries) there the last time he was here. He was craving something familiar, so we all ate chips for dinner. We are so exhausted. The 10 mile hike from last night and our hike up and down a mountain to the waterfall really has us beat. Bed sure sounds good for tonight!


Today wasn’t too eventful in clinic…at least not for me. The doctors did see some interesting things. One man came in who had had a brain tumor removed some time ago; now it is back and is making one side of his face protrude. He wanted the US doctors to fix him. He’s essentially blind and moves very slowly and looked to be in his mid 30’s. So young to have something like this affect him. Another young man heard there were going to be US doctors in Mukeu on the radio all the way down south of Nairobi. He had fallen 12 years ago and his leg had never repaired itself. He thought perhaps the US doctors could help him. There was really nothing they could do. He needed hospital care and probably just needed a rod stuck in his leg to repair it. But he couldn’t afford it. It makes you feel so helpless. Chris, Adam, Ruth, Carol and I went into the village today to talk to people about HIV/AIDS. There is such a stigma here about it. If you find out you have it, you’re essentially ostracized from the community. Our goal is to start breaking down those walls. Start talking about it, and encourage people to come to the VCT (Voluntary Counseling Center) to be tested for free. Most of the people just laughed at us and I felt like perhaps it was a futile effort, but we did end up having 2 ladies come to be tested today because we went out to talk to them about it. That’s encouraging. I think the more people talk about it, the better it will be. I did fill a prescription for a lady today who is 16 weeks pregnant and was tested and found positive for HIV. I just cannot imagine. HIV seems rampant here. The orphanages are filled with children who have lost their parents because of this disease. It’s a big problem. After clinic was over, I spoke with my mom for a few minutes. She told me that Mason had had a fever of 105...I was doing really well here until I heard that. At that point, I decided I was really ready to come home. My baby was sick, and I just wanted to be home. He got on the phone and the first thing he said was, “Mommy, I choke.” That’s how he tells me he is sick. Poor baby. Mom said she was playing with him the night before and he looked around and said, “Where’s mommy?” Mom said, “Where’d she go?” And Mason responded with a pouty face, “Mommy gone. Mason baby sad.” We were supposed to go on a nice country walk tonight to Hezekiah’s house before we had dinner at Benson and Dorcas‘ home. Hezekiah is one of the directors of the dispensary. So we set out on our journey, expecting a nice little walk, and ended up walking for about an hour before we finally got there. We had tea, fried eggs and boiled potatoes, visited for a while and then set out to Benson and Dorcas’ house for dinner. It was pitch black, we all pulled out our flash lights and set out on our journey. About 45 minutes later, after trudging through mud in our gum boots in the dark, climbing over barbed wire fences (me in my skirt), climbing through holes in wooden fences, walking through many farms and getting ourselves completely lost, we finally made it to their house for a late dinner. We enjoyed our time with them immensely and were so thankful for their hospitality. They don’t have electricity at all, so we ate with a single lantern in the room and listened to them share a history of their country. It was all very interesting. We walked back to our house admiring the darkness and the vivid brightness of the stars. They are incredible! We picked out a few planets, and even saw the Milky Way. What a wonderful adventure. I think we’ll sleep quite well tonight after our 10 mile trek through the country side.

1/14/2010 - Orphanage

I was very excited this morning when I woke up to find that Adam and I were going to go with Pastor John to the orphanage to which he is the Director. They were celebrating their 2 year anniversary and we were invited to participate. The ride to the orphanage in Nukuru was really quite lovely. We drove down the mountain into the Great Rift Valley and drove through the valley for about 2 hours. Half way there, we saw some baboons on the side of the road, just walking alongside the traffic! They actually live there - in the wild! It was so cool. Drivers here in Kenya are crazy! I actually thought that we might end up in a head on collision today. I’m not really sure how we avoided it afterall. Pastor John wanted to go faster than the other vehicles so he pulled out into the other lane of traffic, with a car coming straight at us! The other vehicle was flashing his lights and honking his horn, but not slowing down at all. So we started moving into our own lane before we had even passed the car in front of us, managing to cut him off terribly! It certainly got my adrenaline going, that’s for sure! I have laughed all day long about our “hit and run” as well. We were in Naivasha, which is a crowded town and has lots of pedestrians. The pedestrians here do not have the right-of-way, so Pastor John honked his horn as he tried to pull off to the side of the road, into the sea of pedestrians, warning people that he was coming. One of the guys on his bike didn’t pull off far enough quick enough, however, because as Pastor John pulled over, we heard a loud thump and noticed that we had whacked the poor biker really hard! But Pastor John didn’t even flinch. He just kept going. There was no, “I’m sorry - are you okay?” We hit him with our car, and just kept driving. His wife did turn around and look at him, but she didn’t say anything. It’s a different world here. The orphanage looked very nice. I was a bit disappointed because I didn’t get to see much of the facilities. We just participated in the anniversary and didn’t even really get to play with the kiddos. Bummer. It was neat to get to see a part of their culture nonetheless. We were seated at the table of honor along with the Director and board. It was interesting. There were no decorations until after the ceremony started. Then, one of the men who works there started bringing out mismatched decorations: putting streamers behind the table of honor, tying balloons to the pillars (which kept popping because of the extreme heat in the valley), etc. So by the end of the ceremony, the whole table of honor was decorated. The children did various presentations for us. Mostly they sang songs and recited memory verses, but there was one group of kids who did acrobatics. They were very good and looked like they were having so much fun. They even painted their faces with “war paint.” They were cute. That was my favorite part. We had picked up Pastor Kariuke along the way, who was a lovely man - full of information about Kenya and curiosity about the US. He was the guest speaker this morning. He was very gracious and asked me to read the Scripture, so I read an entire chapter full of very difficult words! J I’m not sure if anyone understood what I read because I read it in English, but it was kind of him to invite me in to participate in the ceremony. After he preached, they had a time of prayer which he led. In our country, the Pastor leads in prayer, and then it’s done. Not here. We sat in the blazing hot sun for at least 30 minutes while 4 different people prayed. I’m not sure how they determined who prayed, for how long, and when to stop it. But by the end, because I couldn’t understand a word and we were sitting in the warmth of the sun, I felt my body start jerking! I was so sleepy. Pastor John said a few words, and then we had another 30 minute prayer time. I was convicted a little bit that at home we have our meetings, our celebrations, and then, almost as an afterthought sometimes, ask God to bless it and thank Him for his provisions and seek His guidance. It seemed to be at the forefront here. There was cake at the end of the ceremony. They were very gracious and called the Director, speaker and board up to eat a piece of cake in front of the entire gathering. They then called their “friends from America” up, as well, and we had to take a piece of cake and eat in front of every one. It was a little awkward, but very kind of them to invite us into their celebration. We had a meal and visited with a few people before we left. I learned today that if you take a bite of food and then drink some orange Fanta while you chew, you can’t taste the food and you can swallow much easier! I think I’ll have to take advantage of that tactic more often! Ha! On the way home, we saw a few more baboons and I even think we saw some zebra in the distance. We also saw what they told us at first was the Kenyan President in a motorcade. Tomorrow is National Tree Planting Day and he was headed up to one of the mountains for a huge Tree Planting Ceremony. Later, they suggested it might have been the Prime Minister, too. Not sure. The scenery on the way home was incredible. The sky was full of clouds, but the sun was shining through the bottom of the clouds, revealing individual rays of sunshine on the earth below. And the clouds themselves were outlined with a bright rim of yellow sunshine shining out upon the Great Rift Valley (and a volcano by Lake Naivasha! You can see where it exploded years ago. So neat). We didn’t get home until fairly late and were quite tired. One of my favorite pictures that I will hold in my mind happened right before we got home. People use their bikes and motorcycles here as a means of transporting large items - wood, water jugs, etc. There was a man driving a motorcycle this evening that had an entire 3 piece sofa attached upside down to his motorcycle driving down the road. I couldn’t get a picture, but I laughed so hard when I saw it. Can you imagine driving a motorcycle with a sofa attached to it!? Crazy!


We awoke to such a strange rhythmic sound. I got my camera because it was a beautifully sunny morning and I had heard the mountains are glorious on clear days. When I got out there, I figured out the strange sound: Dr. Sams and Dr. Bunge were outside pumping water on a machine that functions just like a stair stepper in the US up to a holding basin on the roof of the house so that we could have running water this morning. Otherwise, we’d be using the outhouse! So they got their exercise this morning, and we are so grateful! The mountains and sunrise were glorious, indeed. So peaceful. When I got back to the house after taking a few pictures, Chris was donning on his gum boots and said he was going to milk a cow! He did great! I must say, he has a very quick response: the cow starting going potty half way through and Chris snatched up the bucket of milk to save it and backed clear up against a wall to escape the deluge before I hardly knew what was happening! Wednesday is immunization day at the clinic. More than 70 mothers brought their babies less than 12 months old for weighing and immunizations. I got to weigh the babies. They have a scale with a hook on it that hangs from the ceiling. You lay the baby in a fabric sling and take the 2 fabric handles and hang it on the hook. The poor babies just dangle there and you can’t help them from banging their heads lightly on the wall as they hang there. I really think I almost dropped one when I tried to “hook” it. Scary! Adam and I went to one of the primary schools around noon today. Adam took his guitar and played some music while I helped with hand motions. The teacher asked several of the older girls to present a few songs to us, as well, which I really enjoyed. They dance with everything. I’ve enjoyed that very much. After they sang, the teacher asked us to tell the students a little bit about our country. I looked at Adam, he looked at me, and then he turned around and sat down. The little punk! Ha! I guess the “history lesson” is up to me! So I told them about where we live, talked about the schools, etc. Then we let them ask a few questions. The first question they asked was, “Who is your President?” They knew full well who our president was…Obama’s family is from Kenya, and they are very proud to have Kenyan roots in America. We had a great time with the kids. After our presentation was over, we walked through them to leave and they got ahold of my hand. I really was afraid that I might lose my arm because they were pulling so hard. Everyone wants to touch you, feel your skin, your hair, your nails. They haven’t seen many white people, so they’re very curious if you feel different. It’s fascinating. They do have a bit of a mob mentality, however. If you pass out stickers, you’re surrounded and mauled. Just walking through them, I was being pulled so hard, I wasn’t strong enough to keep myself ahead…I really was afraid for a moment. I was glad the teacher was there to help me. It makes me wonder, when Jesus walked on this earth, I wonder what it was like for him…was he mobbed? Were people so curious about him that they’d run along side him just to watch him? Did the children want to know where the healing from his hands came from and nearly rip his arm off? I can imagine it was like that at times for him. I’m praying that the Lord will give me a bit of His grace to handle it like He did. Because there are times I just want to wrap myself up so no one can touch me and spare my arms from dislocation! Ha! I laugh when I say that, but I am a bit serious. We made dinner for the Kibaritas tonight when we got home. We decided we were going to make Pancakes, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. Were we in for a big surprise. Nothing turned out like we wanted it to. I tried to make the potatoes. We peeled them using great big long knives, then I cut them into small chunks, put some vegetable oil in a pan and stuck it over the fire. All they have to cook with are wooden spoons, however, so I didn’t have a spatula to get the “fried” part to stay on the potatoes. It just kept building up on the bottom of the pan. So we ended up with potato mush. The pancakes kept burning because we had to cook them long enough, but the pan was too hot. And when I went out to make the eggs, they said they were already done and showed me the pot. When I looked inside, I didn’t see scrambled eggs….I saw hard-boiled eggs. So we had pancakes, potato mush, hard boiled eggs and ugale (they weren’t sure they’d like our dinner so they make a traditional Kenyan dish that looks like mashed potatoes. It’s corn meal mixed with water and stirred until it’s so stiff you can’t stir it any more). I was laughing so hard by the end of it. Such an adventure here. Surprisingly, everything tasted really good. It’s as close to “home-cooking” as we’re going to get, I think. Fun memories. I’ll treasure them for the rest of my life.


As we walked to the AIC Mukeu Dispensary this morning, Chris looked exhausted. He kept telling me just did not know if he could do another day. The last few days of clinic have been emotionally and spiritually exhausting! It seems every day had has held a life and death situation: women with gaping leg wounds, children trapped in the hospital, a woman covered in terrible burns because she was locked in her house which was doused with kerosene and lit on fire, and now a woman with a stroke. It has been intense, to say the least. Chris and I spent some time in prayer this morning, asking for a quiet, uneventful day, and the grace to handle whatever might come our way. The Lord must have heard our prayers, for today was very uneventful; even boring at times. I found myself in the pharmacy again, which I enjoy for a number of reasons: 1) The ladies who work in there with me are hilarious and I enjoy them very much. Today I was teaching them to use a camera - they’ve never used one before. It was very funny. 2) I feel connected to and a part of Chris’ ministry I have actually wondered if pharmacy school might be in my future when our children get a bit older. I’m really enjoying it very much. I took our 5 suitcases full of medication and unloaded it in the pharmacy here in Mukeu. It is so nice to see full shelves and know that the people here will be taken care of for a long time. Chris saw his patients today, but there was nothing too exciting. We were finished with clinic by 4:00 and convinced Chris and Dr. Sams to get a hand-made suit from the village, as well, so we went back to the tailor’s shop where they picked out their material and were fitted for suits. It’s just a tiny little shop with several foot-powered sewing machines. There was hardly enough room for the 5 of us “Muzungoes” (White people) in there, but somehow we managed to squeeze in about 25 of the neighborhood children, as well. It’s funny - you walk anywhere here and you inevitably end up with a stream of children following you. I often wonder where their parents are. Most of the people here seem very comfortable with us. The girls in the clinic told me my hair is “Smart” and want to know why I would ever cut it because they thought it would be beautiful long. It made me laugh because here I have no blow dryer or straightening iron. I have not had a “good hair day” in my opinion since we’ve arrived. It’s nice to know that even when I think it looks bad, they think it is “Smart!” Ha! The children in the village all want to pet my hair. They tell me it is so soft. The comfort levels and boundaries are so different in the US. It’s not too often you pet a stranger’s head at home! One of the ladies, Carol, has a little girl named Nympha. She is adorable - about Mason’s age. Her mother is so welcoming, warm and kind. From the moment I met them, she has been encouraging her daughter to “Go to your auntie.” It seems like I’ve adopted a niece. Everyone is anxious for you to love them. It’s fascinating. At home, we shield our children from strangers…especially strangers that we perceive to be different from us. We ate sheep for dinner tonight. It was disgusting! Every bite I took was full of fat and bones. Finally, I decided it was better to just leave it on my plate than to continue gagging so obviously. Tomorrow night, we are making dinner for the family we are staying with. Boy, I can’t wait! J Chris and I came to bed early tonight. We haven’t had any time alone since we’ve arrived in Mukeu, and I think we were both looking forward to just talking and processing the things we’ve seen in the last few days. Usually when we do go to bed and try to talk, we’ve been falling asleep while the other one is talking. It is so nice to connect and hear what is going on in each other’s hearts without falling asleep!

1/11/10 Thoughts from Chris

Wow, where to I start - what a day - it’s about 20:00 and I’m just now getting back to the farm. I’m not sure how to start. So it goes something like this: This morning, after about a 1 mile muddy walk in the rain down to the dispensary, Victor, one of the persons living at the Kibaritas, came running to the clinic saying that Margaret, one of the ladies who works on the farm, was found passed out in the field and that she wasn’t making sense, or that’s at least what I could make out from the broken translation of a frantic Victor. My immediate thought was, “Oh, great. Someone who has been working in the field and didn’t drink enough water because most Kenyans don’t drink enough water. She must be dehydrated. No big deal.” So I walked another mile back to the farm to check it out. I did not run - I really thought it was no big deal. Was I in for a rude awakening! By the time I got there, she was laying in the grass face down in her own vomit. I immediately took her vitals. She was found to have a Blood Pressure of 260/140 - yes, that is correct - not a typo. It was repeated 3 times on each arm. Her heart rate was in the 50’s. So, as an aside, it had been raining and if you haven’t been able to catch up with Sara’s blog, the road from the town to the farm is passable by a donkey or dirt bike. There’s no such thing as 911 or an ambulance out here. Long story short, we were, by the grace of God and a very generous man with a 4 wheel drive truck, able to get her to the front gate at Mukeu, after which I carried the lady to the dispensary as by this time she was becoming even more unresponsive, responding only to painful stimuli. We were able to administer 20 mg Hydrolyzing (a blood pressure medication via IV to help lower her BP) and it dropped to 200’s/100’s. Our immediate concern was….stroke. In the US, we can call 911, have a rapid response team arrive and wisk her off to the nearest latest and greatest stroke center. But this, as you know, is NOT the US. We were finally able to call a family friend who has a taxi as most people do not have vehicles here, which would have to suffice as an ambulance, myself and Monica, a family friend, would travel with Miss Margaret through muddy roads to the nearest hospital, Kijabi, a local mission hospital. The drive was somewhat treacherous, even nauseating. It was all I could do not to choke from the stench of her own vomit all over her and now me. After getting to Kijabi, I was very blessed to have run across another American doctor working there. I told him the brief story and we were able to take her back immediately to “Casualty,” which appears to be their equivalent to the ER. After speaking to one of the residents taking care of her and examining her with him, it appeared as if she indeed had suffered an MCA stroke and he requested basic labs/etc. “Sure!” I thought. “Sounds good to me!” A few labs and a STAT CT of the head to look for evidence of a bleed/stroke, right? Well, not exactly. After speaking with the resident, the nurse handed me a bill and instructed me to go to the cashier window. And so commensed my education of the Kenyan health system. Before obtaining these labs/etc, you must pay upfront. If you want a CBC, that’s $5 or 35 KSH. If you want a chest X-Ray, that’s about $20. All in all, just for the basic work-up (not truly an admission) was 4500 shillings in cash. Then after you pay, they give you receipts and you, not the nursing staff/MA’s, take the patient to the X-ray lab. You must help hold the patient’s arms and lift them to get the x-rays. Let’s just say this is a different experience than in the US. After all of the tests were obtained and we had been waiting for quite some time, the brewing, impatient Muzungo (that’s me - Muzungo is the Kenyan word equvalent to Greengo/white person), found out that there is no CT Scan available; in fact the nearest one is clear in Nairobi. Even if it was possible to do this, neither Monica, the family friend, nor myself, the “rich “Muzungo” could afford the cost of transportation, let alone the expense of a CT Scan. And, by theis point, it was too late for any immediate intervention. The damage had been done. I was unsettled to say the least. Finally, after composing myself from all of this frustration, the determined, by this time angry Muzungo (that’s me, again) forced one of the “consultants” as they call them (we call them admitting docs) to review her story. He was a fellow American Family Practice doctor. He agreed that she would be admitted to the hospital. Finally, after nearly an 8-10 hour ordeal, I could rest assured that we could get her admitted. But this thought came too soon. To keep this story from getting any longer, I will just say that after 2 hours of negotiation with the disposition counselor who informed us that we would have to pay a 10,000 shilling deposit before the patient could even be admitted, I finally convinced them to waive the fee, and she was admitted. What I thought was going to be a bogus call for a syncope episod, turned out to be a devastating stroke and a raw education of a somewhat different medical system than I am used to. I wish my story ended here. I wish I could say that this lady, Margaret, was not a single mother of 5 children, the oldest of whom is 17 years old. I wish I could say that she recovered completely to go home to her children. I wish I didn’t have to tell a 17 year old boy that he is suddenly the caretaker of his other 4 brothers. While I may never understand, I do pray again for a miracle and a fresh touch of God’s grace. What a day.


Monday…our first day of clinic in Mukeu. We arrived early and excited to begin our work here. Right as the clinic began, Chris came and told me he was going to make a little house-call. Someone had passed out while working in the fields. Do you remember the Mike I spoke of yesterday? It turned out to be his mother. So Chris grabbed his medical supplies assuming this 48 year old woman was just dehydrated and headed out to pay her a visit. When he got there, however, he quickly realized it wasn’t as simple as he suspected. He blood pressure was dangerously high and he knew he had to get her up to the clinic ASAP. I was working in the pharmacy when Chris came back. There was a lot of commotion, all 3 doctors and 2 nurses were trying to get Miss Margaret to respond to them. I kept hearing them shout her name, trying to get her to open her eyes, follow directions, etc. It seemed like an eternity of controlled chaos. I tried staying calm and finish my duties in the pharmacy, but I was really afraid for this woman. It did not sound like things were going well at all. My eyes were filled with tears and all I could do was pray for my husband, and pray for Miss Margaret. I was really afraid we were losing her. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. So I stood in the pharmacy right next to the room where Margaret was having a stroke right before their very eyes and they could do nothing to stop it and prayed for a miracle. As I looked up, a faded, wilted Bible verse that was taped to the wall jumped out at me as if it was as plain as day: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15. No other words could have touched my heart any deeper than those. It was my prayer for the remainder of the day. Chris took Margaret in a taxi to Kijabe, the closest hospital to our small village (still an hour’s drive). They got a few tests done and waited all day to get her admitted. I was a bit worried about him. I don’t know that I had ever been so glad to see him as when he walked in tonight. We had finished the clinic, walked through the village where Dr. Bunge and Adam were measured by a tailor for a handmade suit (you should see their irons! They are about 6 inches tall and the handle lifts up so they can put hot embers in it to heat it. So cool!), I passed out stickers to the village children (you should have seen them putting stickers all over their faces…the extreme joy from such simple pleasures is incredible) and walked all the way home through the mud before Chris made it back. He looked exhausted! I must say, no longer am I merely proud of my husband. Today, I really was in awe of him. I could not do what he did today in a million years. I’ve heard him speak often of such situations at work. I know what he does. But I’ve never seen it. Today I did, and I’m truly in awe. I’m so glad to be able to understand him better now. Because it was a dear family friend who had the stroke and also because Mike is hired help at the Kibaritas, Mike came there after school to help milk the cows, etc. He didn’t yet know that his mother had collapsed. We naturally assumed that he did, so he was quite shocked when we told him what poor shape his mother was in. He silently listened as he held himself up with the assistance of a table, and then dutifully went to finish his chores. He and his brothers came for dinner, but they stayed in their own home without a parent tonight. They, tonight, are essentially orphans. Mike really amazed me. He asked the blessing over our food and spoke with such strength and grace as he prayed for his mother in Kikuyu and then proceeded to pray for every single person in our circle. Then, after his prayer, he graciously got up and passed a plate to everyone. He was selfless in his servant hood, even in the midst of his sorrow. I learned a lot from this 17 year old boy tonight. He is a gracious servant. I pray that others might say the same about me some day. I have a lot to learn about selflessness.


What a lovely day we have had here in rainy Mukeu. We awoke this morning to a chilly, cloudy day, but it certainly did not put a damper on the Lord’s Day here in Africa. We walked into town to go to the AIC Church of Mukeu where we were greeted with very loud music in the native tongue of Kikuyu. The west has obviously had a bit of influence here because they sang with microphones and a keyboard despite the relatively small size (I’d say there were about 150 in attendance). Someone played the keyboard and added synthetic drums to a retro beat. It didn’t quite go with their traditional African singing. My favorite was when they sang acapella and played hand drums. Then I really felt like I was in Africa! It was wonderful! We didn’t understand a word that was spoken, but we did recognize a few melodies and sang along in English: How Great Thou Art and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I also surmise they said the Lord’s Prayer after prayer time and joined with them in English. What a blessing it is to worship along side brothers and sisters in Christ even though we cannot communicate together. The Body of Christ is an amazing thing. The service was filled with a lot of dancing, singing and clapping. It seemed like we were truly immersed in their culture. Isn’t it amazing that God understands every tribe, every tongue, every culture? Isn’t it amazing that God binds us all together in Christian unity? How incredible! I do think I made a bit of a fool of myself today. For the offering, everyone went forward to drop their offering in the basket. I was sitting between Dr. Sams and Chris in a very small row. Chris had gotten up and Dr. Sams wanted to, as well, so I just got up and went forward with Chris so as not to disrupt the flow. Once I got up there, I looked around only to realize that I was the only woman who had gone forward. Everyone else was male. I hope I didn’t commit a major cultural faux-paux! After church, we came home to rest for a while. We went for a long walk through the country side. It really is incredibly beautiful here. We’re surrounded by mountains. It’s amazing to see how people live…one woman lives in a small tin home with 5 of her children. Her oldest son, Mike (who is employed by the Kibarita family with whom we are staying) lives next door. The tradition here is that when you are a 14 year old boy, you build your own house. So several years ago, Mike built a home for himself of sticks and mud. He is so proud of it. And he is thrilled that he has a cow and a few goats to go along with it. Can you imagine building your own house at 14 and still living in it 3 years later? Wow! We had a meeting with the AIC Dispensary board to discuss what we will be doing this week. It was great - they are trying to build a maternity ward here, so we had a brainstorming session to come up with some ideas to make this dream a reality. It looks like Monday-Friday we will have clinic at the Dispensary. Then on Saturday, we are going to Lake Naivasha to see some hot springs as well as to the equator. Right now, we are on the south side of the equator. It’s not every day that you get to see the center of the world…I’m excited. I’ve heard that if you stand on one side of the equator, a piece of grass will spin in a bowl of water in one direction. Then if you switch to the other side, the grass will spin in the opposite direction. Isn’t that so cool!? We came home tonight through the pouring rain and were soaked to the bone and covered in mud. It was so nice to sit by the fire and warm up a bit. After dinner we sat around in a circle and sang songs - both in Kikuyu and English. It is so amazing to me that even though we are worlds apart and speak very different languages, the Lord hears us just the same. I told Chris tonight that I feel much better about this “mission” experience than I did the first week. I feel like here we are immersing ourselves in their culture. We are living in their homes, eating their food, listening to their dreams and trying to help them. And in turn, they want to hear our dreams and ideas. This makes my heart much more at ease.

1/9/10 Mukeu, Here we come!

We started out nice and early this morning…4 AM! We loaded up our bags and set out on our next adventure. I’ve really been looking forward to this! The drive started with rain…not a good sign of things to come! Tabitha, our hostess, called shortly after we left and said it was raining very hard in Mukeu and parts of the road were impassable. Things got pretty interesting! Most of the ride was pretty uneventful. It was a shame it was raining because as we went up in elevation, we had beautiful views of the Great Rift Valley. It was too foggy to see anything, but hopefully it will be clear on our way home so we can see it then. After we got off the main highway, it was like we took a step back in time. We did not see any cars. Instead, if people went anywhere, they rode their bikes or on top of a cart pulled by donkeys. We got to the road, “Keep Left” and some men were standing there motioning us to go another way. It had been raining so much that a few spots in the road were nothing but mud. There was no way we could pass through. So we had to find another longer, still dirt, road. We made it to the AIC Dispensary which was wonderful, but from there, we had no way to take the matatu to the home in which we were staying because the roads were so bad. We weren’t sure how to get our suitcases and groceries there. No fear, however, for they had already thought of that…we had a cart with 3 donkeys attached to it waiting for us. So we loaded up our stuff on this rickety old cart, donned on our ever-fashionable gum boots which we were able to find in the village and followed the donkeys 1-½ miles through the sticky mud to the Kibarita “shamba,” or homestead. J I’m not kidding. This really happened. The home in which we are staying is very nice. It is a concrete block home with several bedrooms and even a working toilet! We do have to pump water every day to a holding basin on the roof so we can use the toilet and shower. There is no hot water, though, so in the morning, we heat water in a big pot over a fire and spoon it over ourselves in the shower to bathe. It makes it really hard to shave your legs. Ha! There is no kitchen as we think of it. Instead, they have a smokehouse with a large stone in the center of the room with 2 holes cut into it where the flames come up and heat the pots. You stoke the fire with wood under the stone. It’s very smokey. They all complain of asthma and burning eyes. It is no wonder! I was in there for 5 minutes and I couldn’t breathe and my eyes were burning. These ladies are in there all day every day! They have my deepest respect. After getting settled in, we all took a nice long nap in our beds that are basically about a 1 inch mattress laying on top of a piece of wood. When we awoke, they had lunch for us…we are now eating the local fare…I did manage to get it down without gagging…I can’t say the same about dinner. J We went on a walk down to “Keep left” where we found a truck stuck in the mud. Chris and Dr. Sams helped the local drunks push it out of the mud. We grabbed a Fanta and walked back after receiving a very skewed history lesson. Did you know that the US gained it’s independence in 1948 and is not really independent at all but is owned by Africa? We enjoyed a beautiful view of the mountains as we walked back and even saw a rainbow. It is lovely here. So green, lush and fresh. The crops are plentiful, though I would imagine a lot of work. They do everything by hand here. When we got back to the shamba, we even got to watch Victor milk a cow! I’m determined to try it at least once before we leave here. What an experience! I will say, however, I’m not so sure about this whole no refrigeration thing. After milking the cow, he went in the barn to get the milk he’d gotten that morning and had set out all day for our dinner. Hmmm… I think we did not bring enough warm cloths. It is very cool up here, especially in the evenings. We both crawled into bed with long pants, long sleeve shrits, socks and 4 blankets tonight. Hopefully we’ll stay warm enough with each other’s body heat. Here’s hoping for a good night’s rest!

1/8/10 Happy Birthday to Me!

I think I had the coolest birthday ever today! We woke up very early and boarded a bus to Nairobi National Park, a reserve just outside of the city. Here, they have all of the African animals except the elephant in a protected but free environment! The first thing we saw was a giraffe. He was standing right in the middle of the road so we couldn’t pass. At points, we were so close that if I would have put my hand out, I’m sure I could have touched him! Chris and Adam crawled out of the windows up to the top of the bus so they could see better but were promptly reprimanded and made to get back inside. Sometimes, boys just never grow up! J We saw a few Eland and then in the distance, our driver noticed a group of lions! So we sped over to where they were and watched them for a short while. Right after we left the lions, our bus got stuck in the mud. I was a little bit freaked out because we were so close to the lions in their natural habitat where they hunt for their food. It’s not like a zoo where they make sure they are fed daily. We had to pile out of the bus to push it out of the mud and I felt like a walking target. Yikes! Luckily it didn’t take long to free the bus from it’s bonds of mud, but I assure you, I was definitely on constant watch! We had what the World Hope group said was the best safari any group had experienced thus far. We saw rhinos, water buffalo, Eland, Impalas, various birds, ostriches, zebras and it seemed like hundreds of giraffes. Everywhere you’d look, you’d see a tall head sticking out of the horizon. While we were watching a pack of zebras, suddenly we realized that we were not the only ones. There was a pack of 5 lionesses that were watching them, too. And they were obviously on a hunting trip. You should have seen the slow, stealthy rhythm of their walk with their heads lowered and tails curved. They were really quite graceful. So we watched them furtively sneak up and prepare for attack. Then, before we knew what was happening, there was a stampede of zebras, a lion leapt up, swatted at the zebras and pounced! At first, I thought these lions were surely successful, but they only wounded the baby zebra. They all got away. I was really amazed at how easily the lions gave up. I guess they wanted an easy kill. So they started scouting out their next target: a giraffe…we didn’t stay to watch the attack. Our driver said that it would be a long time. But, we did sit about 6 feet away from hungry lions as they rested between attacks. We were instructed not to lean out of the van even to take pictures because they were so hungry, we were a viable lunch! Wow. It was definitely cool to be so close. You should see some of our pictures. A short while later, we saw some baboons. Our driver said we could get out for a closer look, but he said we had to close our windows or else they would come in the bus and steal our food/money/whatever they could get their hands on. So we all dutifully closed our windows and got out to take a closer look. The last person out of the bus, however, forgot to close the door, so when we got down to the baboon, he ran up to the bus, got inside and sat down in the front seat. We were lucky we were able to get him out quickly and safely. I thought we might have quite the predicament. I must say, I was a bit frightened when he charged out of the bus. He seemed wild, dangerous and frightened. Yikes! But I did double over in laughter when I saw him get on the bus. It was so funny. It was an experience that definitely added to the adventure. All in all, it was one amazing safari. What a cool birthday gift! After our safari, we went to the market where we haggled for various items…I think we got our Christmas shopping done! We found some really cool things and had fun discussing prices. We came home to rest and the rest of our group prepared to leave Kenya. We wish them well and enjoyed our time with them so much. Our remaining time in Kenya will be much different without them. Tomorrow morning, we board our Matatu at 5AM for Mukeu. We hear the roads are extremely muddy and impassable at points. We tried to find gum boots here in Nairobi, but were unsuccessful. We could have a couple of filthy, muddy weeks ahead of us. Please pray for us.

1/7/10 - Clinic/Home Visits/Orphanage

Yesterday was such an exhausting day…we were all very tired this morning. We had about 20 more patients left over form yesterday to see, so Dr. Sams and Dr. Bunge worked on that while Chris worked on some procedures. I watched Chris and, once again, was so very proud of him. He’s good! He really knows what he’s doing. It’s nice to know that even after 6 years of marriage, he still impresses his wife! Ha! He drained fluid off of a man’s knee and removed an implant from a woman’s arm. I watched both procedures and took pictures without a problem. After the arm procedure was finished, however, I suddenly felt very light headed and had to sit down. It’s not for the faint hearted, for sure. Chris had a patient today who told him that her 7 year old daughter had fallen and broken her arm in November. It was so bad that it required surgery to reset it. When it was time for her release from the hospital, however, the mother could not pay, so the hospital is refusing to release the girl! Isn’t that incredible? Every day she stays, the bill goes higher. They have been known, we’re told, to hold patients for 3 years or more. One translator even said that sometimes they finally just withhold food from the patients until they die. So sad! Chris sent someone from the Hope Center to the hospital to verify this story and sure enough, it is true! It is going to take $500 USD to get this child home with her mother. We brought it before the rest of the group, hoping that we could raise enough money to get this child out of the hospital. And yet it’s only one child. I wonder how many more are out there… After we finished seeing patients, Chris and I went our separate ways. He went deep into the slums on home visits, whereas I went to the orphanage. Chris saw some amazing things. He said he’d write a post on that (including the woman who had been locked in her house while she was sleeping, had the house doused with kerosene and lit on fire. Luckily someone heard her screaming so she got out, but is covered in 3rd degree burns and may not even live, the fish market on a table by the ground right next to a flowing river of sewage and flies, and two parents who had AIDS). So since he’ll go into more detail about that, I will tell you about my experience at the orphanage. I have always wanted to work in Africa in an orphanage, so it was very important to me to get to one while I was here. In my mind, I guess I expected to see 1or 2 ladies in a room full of screaming babies. What I found was much different from that. It was a welcome respite from the extreme poverty and neglect we had been seeing. It was beautiful, clean, and there were so many workers that I actually felt like I might be in the way! The children were loved. They were ere clean and smelled so good. And they were so happy and well-adjusted. They were so happy to sit in your lap an sing and play. I was amazed. It was so lovely. And I came away feeling a strange dilemma; one that broke my heart: If I were a mother in the Kilamgari Slums, could I keep my child with me while knowing what a lovely life he could have in the orphanage? Is it better to have a mother and father and live in extreme poverty and filth and disease in an unsafe place, or live in a safe place that is clean where they regularly receive medical care and are loved by the many people who work there? I’m still not sure of the answer. What a terrible quandary to face. As we left, it was time for the kids to come outside and play. So they ran after us all the way to the gat and stuck their little faces and hands out of the bars and watched us go. It is a picture that I think will be stuck in my mind for the rest of my life. I just wish we could help them all. Beautiful, sweet, loving children who need a mommy and daddy to love them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Few Thoughts from Dr. Chris

So I don't do this blog thing so much but I did see some interesting but very emotionally draining patients today so let me give this a go: After my first few patients today, I thought I was just going to have to quit! My first 6 patients took me an hour and 1/2. Mind you between the 3 docs, on average we are seeing 80 patients a piece per day. We tested many people who were HIV positive. *I saw a mother of 4 who had just 3 weeks ago lost her 4 month old son to some unknown illness and now was complaining of vaginal bleeding. She was obviously depressed, to say the least. She needed further testing, which I couldn't provide. I could do nothing medically for this patient, and I'm sure she probably won't be able to afford the testing. * I saw a 23 year old lady who had gone up country for a job, left her 2 year old son with the grandmother. When the mother came back, she found out that her 2 year old son had died from overwhelming sepsis. She was just married and had been trying to conceive again and had been trying for nearly 2 years. She begged me to help her. She wanted a child so desperately. Once again, she needed further testing. I could do nothing. * I saw a single mom with 2 young children with newly diagnosed HIV - just diagnosed today. She has no support. She has no husband. She has no money. When I told her the news, she looked at me as if I had given her a death sentence. And while there are programs available for her to receive treatment, I, personally, could do nothing. * I saw a mother who complained of multiple pelvic symptoms and had a child who had a fairly large lesion on his groin. After further questioning, she admitted that the family was being sexually and physically abused by her husband. I have a dispensary of Tylenol, a few antibiotics, steroid cream and a few other random medications, none of which can treat this. I could do nothing. And these were just within my first...6....patients. I wish I could say the rest of the 70-some patients were not so complicated, but many of them unfortunately had similar stories. I've gone to four years of undergraduate. I've gone to four years of medical school. And now I'm half way through my residency. There's nothing that prepares you for this. While I may say I could do nothing, I did do something. I prayed. I prayed like I've never prayed before. I prayed for a miracle. Miracles. While I don't know if any of these circumstances will change immediately, I do know that God has me here and brought them to me. I pray that even if their situations don't change, and even if I may never see them again, that they will find comfort in Christ alone and that we may experience eternity with Christ together. As you read this blurb in our blog, please pray with me.

Day 3 of Clinic

Whew, what a day! I worked in the pharmacy today and I really enjoyed it! I think I found my niche - at least for the time being. Yesterday and even on Monday, I felt a little bit useless a lot of times - I just played with the kids. I know, I know - that's important, and the kids need love, etc, but I got burnt out quickly from that. And I wanted to be involved medically with Chris. So today, working in the pharmacy, I was able to kind of see what Chris had been seeing, give them medicine, etc, which was a very nice change. Chris even came and found me a few times with patients that he had been working with and asked me to pray with them. And I felt a little bit like I had something to contribute. I have a good husband...I think he heard me loud and clear through my tears last night and worked hard to incorporate me today. He's so good to me. :) There was a baby today that visited. His mother tested positive for HIV, was a single mother and had 5 children. The youngest was 18 months old. The only thing he ate was breastmilk at a year and 1/2 (remember, his mother had HIV). He looked perfectly healthy...except for the fact that he looked like a 5 month old baby. He was itty bitty. Beautiful. But obviously not thriving. We suspect that he, too, has HIV, although he tested negative today. It's not unusual for children to test negative even when positive for up to 18 months. Time will tell. Nonetheless, AIDS was an overwhelming factor in today's clinic. It was kind of a rip-your heart out, I just want to take you home and love you kind of day. We started clinic 2 hours late today because the children had a program at the school today for us. The different classes sang songs, recited verses and entertained us for about an hour. It was wonderful! I loved the songs in Swahili, especially. It was beautiful to watch the children lifting their hands while they sang to the Lord. It was the best part of my day. After they were done, the headmaster said they could greet their guests and the children just ran full-speed ahead to us practically attacking us with huge smiles and hugs. Chris enjoyed playing with the of the first times he'd had that opportunity. We got some GREAT pictures. I'm trying to get them up, but it's taking a long time. I'm working on it, I promise. We had to close clinic before we saw all the patients today. We were shooting for 200 patients today, and they let in 240, even though we started 2 hours late. So it was getting dark, we couldn't see anything in the pharmacy because it was getting too dark, and the doctors were having trouble examining the patients. Not to mention, we're in the slums and it was getting dark. So finally, they gave tickets to the remaining patients and told them to come back in the morning. We almost had a revolt and they actually charged the doctors, shoving their children at them, pleading to be seen. It was actually a bit frightening and very, very sad. I'm glad we can see them tomorrow. So all in all, we saw 220 patients today and 14 of them accepted Christ! We're pretty excited about that. It's been very successful. We're excited. Tomorrow, I am going to the orphanage. Chris is finishing up the patients from today, doing some procedures (like removing a 6th finger from a child) and going on a few home visits for people who are too sick to come to the clinic. It should be another emotionally draining day. Much love to you all. Thanks for your prayers. They mean so very much.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 2 of Clinic

I'm weary tonight. I'm tired, worn out, sore and just plain mentally and spiritually exhausted. I played with the children today most of the day. I think I'm going to ask tomorrow to be in the pharmacy. I have two babies at home that I play with, wrestle with, who compete to get my attention, and I was really pretty excited for a break coming here for a few weeks. There's no break...not only do I miss my babies, but I have hundreds of other children playing with me, wrestling with me, competing and fighting to get my attention. I've been mobbed for two days by children- and I enjoyed it for the most part. But tonight, I'm drained. I'm looking forward to a change of pace tomorrow. Clinic was again a success today. Chris was just as wonderful as he was yesterday. He even got to practice a bit of osteopathic manipulation on his last patient of the day which was fun to watch, and I think he enjoyed it, too. He saw several interesting things again today in clinic including: * An umbilical hernia that contained intestines * A lady who had a broken leg from being run over and drug by a bus and also had a large laceration on her leg. * Some type of dwarf who had other congenital anomalies that none of the doctors had ever seen - after researching more tonight, it appears a mutation of the fibroblast growth factor receptor-3 (FGFR3) gene...duh what was I thinking. * A child with one eye that had a cataract, was recessed and was smaller than the other. * The lady with the leg ulcer from yesterday came back and it was markedly improved...a picture's worth a thousand words...I'll try to post the before and after soon. I got to go to the school today with Adam, Dr. Sams' son. He took his guitar and sang with the kids for a while. I helped with hand motions and singing and took a few pictures. the kids were amazing. They stood in perfect rows and would answer any question in perfect English in perfect unison. I stood there with tears in my eyes as I listened to them sing at the top of their lungs, "Jesus loves me." It was precious to listen to. Praise report for today: we saw 240 people in clinic and 17 people came to know the Lord!! Yeah! I'm tired tonight. Please pray for stamina for us both. I think we're just exhausted. Much love to you all. Missing you. Someone give my babies a kiss for me and tell them mommy misses them. I'm really missing them tonight.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pride and they mix?

Is it wrong to feel incredibly proud on a mission trip? If so, I am quite guilty today. You should have seen my husband today working in the medical clinic. The grace with which he handled the 172 patients we saw today was admirable - Christ-like, loving, gentle and kind. I stood and watched him handle these patients with such care, and I beamed with pride. We have been married for nearly 6 years. I've known him as a loving husband, great father, a meticulous medical student, a diligent resident (and quite frankly a work-a-holic, forced though it may be), a wonderful provider and a caring friend. But never have I seen him in the role of "Doctor." I must say, I could not be any prouder to be his wife than I am today. Because I saw a part of my husband that I have never known today. I knew what he did, but I've never seen him do it before. And I'm awfully proud. I was a bit nervous to return to the World Hope Center today. I shared with you earlier my experience in the slums. I was afriad of my reaction to it and spent a lot of time in prayer over the last few days, as I know many of you did, as well. Thank you. I was not sure I was ready to go back there again today. I started out assisting the doctors as they needed it today. Okay...maybe it was more like taking pictures like crazy for a while. Because of the doctors' great efficiency and ability, however, I quickly learned that there wasn't much need for me there. I decided to try to entertain the children for a while with 2 others. We sang songs, played "Duck Duck Goose" etc. It was amazing to me how many kids came to the medical clinic without their parents. Older siblings brought their baby siblings. This one little girl wanted to play so badly, but her hands were full with a baby, so I offered to hold the baby while she played. Sweet, sweet baby who didn't smell good and was wrapped in a black scarf that was soaking wet. As I held this sweet child that would not take her eyes off me (the Kenyan's told me it was because she'd never seen a white person before) she pottied all over me 3 different times. It was running down my skirt, soaking it, my shirt, and the floor. I prayed for miracles before we came and today I witnessed my first miracle on this trip: I didn't care. I didn't care that they were dirty. I didn't care that I had potty all over me (well, okay, maybe a little, but not like I should have). I didn't care when I was sitting on the floor playing that the little girls could not stop running their fingers through my hair because they said it was soft and silky. I actually had fun with them. They made me laugh, brought me joy, and I was able to love them. Two days ago, I did not think that was possible. Thank You, Lord, for my miracle. I must admit, I was never so thankful for a shower and clean clothes as I was tonight! Chris saw some pretty amazing things today: * A woman who's earlobes were huge - they were actually keloid scars from previous piercing. * A man with what they think is polio - I have never seen someone that when they walk, their toes are floppy. Amazing! * A boy with a partial ruptured quad - there was actually a divot in this kid's leg! * A woman with an open wound on her leg that she's had for five years so deep that you could visibly see about 4 inches deep into her leg, nearly down to the bone! Most of what he saw, however, were people who just wanted to be touched and loved. The most wonderful news came from the pastor tonight. Because of the evangelism shared today, of the 172 patients seen today, 30 of them came to know Christ! I'd say that's exciting and successful! If only one person came to know Christ through this trip, I'd feel like it was all worth it. And there's already 30! Praise the Lord. Missing you all. Thankful for your prayers.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

01/03/2010 What a Day!

What an interesting day we had. I think I needed a day like today to recover from yesterday. :) We started out with church this morning. I was a bit surprised by church. I guess in my mind, I pictured a bunch of words I couldn't understand, music I didn't know, drums and dancing. There was some dancing, which I found I really enjoyed. But the music was all the same music that we sing in the States. And everything was in English. We did enjoy it. I just expected a big cultural church experience difference. But it was very similar to what we would have at home. After church, we went to the Giraffe Park! What an experience that was! At first, I was a bit afraid that we paid extra money to look at Giraffes from afar. We couldn't get the giraffes to come up to the pavilion for anything. We went and listened to an informational talk about giraffes, and Chris and I both held a giraffe leg bone. Boy, was it heavy! Then we went back out to the pavilion and there were two giraffes standing there, waiting to eat. At first, we just hand fed them. And then we got brave...we put a pellet of food between our lips and the giraffe came at us with his tongue! We were kissed on the lips by a giraffe today...not an experience you can claim for every day. One of the guys in our group actually put the pellet on his tongue and "french kissed" the giraffe. That's where I draw the line. Gross. We had a quiet afternoon sorting medications for our clinic tomorrow. I took a little nap, we watched a bit of "Out of Africa" which was filmed right here where we are. We ate dinner at the Karen Blixen house tonight, which is who the movie is about. We actually saw the house that was in the movie tonight. Karen Blixen had a coffee plantation here years ago and was instrumental in preserving the land for the Kikuyu tribe. We are actually staying in the town of Karen at Karen Holiday Homes. We've seen the name "Karen" on nearly everything around here. She was obviously greatly appreciated and respected here. Dinner was very good. We had steak, broccoli and cauliflower with french fries, tomato soup and strawberry ice cream. I felt guilty eating such a nice meal. It seemed like I shouldn't be eating like that on a mission trip. I couldn't finish everything and all I could think about were those people a few miles away in the slums who probably didn't have dinner tonight. I'm sure they would have loved my ice cream. I think I'd be happier "roughing" it a bit more after seeing what I saw yesterday. We sure are a spoiled people group as Americans. I did enjoy our meal, though. We sat with a lady named Sue who was a missionary to a small tribe in Thailand for 26 years with her husband. She had so many amazing stories to share. I really enjoyed listening to her tonight. She was a great encouragement to me. Tomorrow morning we start our medical clinic. We're excited, but a bit nervous. Please be in prayer, especially for Chris, as he works with these people. Pray for miracles. Pray for healing. and pray for protection. Love you all. Miss you. Please check to see our pictures. Someone got a great one of me kissing the giraffe...I'll have to see if I can get it from her. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I'm not able to upload pics to blogger for some reason, but I can to Flickr. Feel free to check them out at

01/02/2010 The Congo Slums

Thirteen years ago I have vivid memories of being at church camp and feeling a strong call to mission work. Since then, I have had a burden upon my heart for the people of Kenya, Africa. It has taken me 13 years to finally get here, but I was so excited when I learned that my wonderful husband had gotten me a ticket to go with him on the mission trip I've felt "called" to since high school. Africa was something I oculd do to serve the Lord. I could love those people. I could hold those babies and "be Jesus" to those who I would come in contact with. I could do this. Until today. We were dropped off in the slums of Nairobi today - in the Congo Slum - the worst of the worst. I walked around trying to take it all in, and was sickened by what I saw. There were thousands of people milling around these tiny streets that were covered in trash. They don't have trash pick-up in the slums, so everything ends up just littering the streets. We didn't just see people, however. We also saw goats, sheep, cows and even chickens running wild, eating what they could, relieving themselves where they wanted to, and living amonst the thouseand of people. I saw people sitting washing the shoes of those where were perhaps a bit better off and could afford someone to scrub their shoes with their bare hands. You see, they needed their shoes scrubbed desperately because their is no sewage system in the slum, either. There were many streams running through the streets that you had to walk around or jump over because they were not streams of water, but of human waste. I watched a little boy bring a bucket out of his "home" and dump it into the stream of sewage. I watched little children completely barefoot running alongside these streams, playing, jumping, laughing, working, caring for siblings, etc. I saw babies who's families didn't have enough money for diapers, so they'd run around with bare bottoms. While our pictures do show a bit of the desolation, they cannot capture the stench that permeated the entire slum. Someone described it as raw sewage mixed with marijuana and alcohol. I've never smelled marijuana, so I cannot attest to the accuracy of that statement, however, I can say that it was so strong that it took your breath away and made you sick to your stomach. I had to fight back the gag reflex many times today. I just cannot imagine. People live like this. It's their normal life. I was amazed at the children. They were so excited to see us and we gained quite the gathering while we walked through their streets. At some points, I was absolutely fighting the urge to panic, because there were so many children surrounding us: posing for pictures, trying to hold our hands, etc, that I couldn't see our whole group. It scared me. I couldn't imagine being lost in those slums. I'm certain that I wouldn't survive. And yet this is where these people live. Babies live here. Babies who don't have diapers, who can't take baths, and who play with deflated bicycle tires for their toys. What would I do if I had to raise my babies here? Wow. I found myself struggling greatly today. Not only was I shocked to see and smell what I saw, but I was shocked at myself, and my reaction to all of this. I always knew that I could love the people of Africa. This was something I had dreamed of for years. I could do this. Until I got here. And I didn't want the children to come near me. I didn't want to touch them. They walk around in raw sewage all day. It's all over them. They're filthy. Their clothes are dirty and they don't smell good. They haven't washed their hair in perhaps years and you can easily see the build-up of crud on their scalps. And yet they want to be touched. They come right up to you with huge smiles and their faces and want to hold your hand. They place your hand on their dirty, smudged faces and on top of their heads just to feel the warmth of your touch. They wanted to be loved. I had a little girl on each hand today as we walked; and I didn't want to. I cringed. I didn't know what to talk about. I didn't know how to react. How can I do this, Lord? How in the world can I love these people? Help me to get past appearance, filth, stench, and love these people with Your love, Your grace, Your compassion. Because I cannot do this on my own. I did hold their hands. And I did try to talk to them. They said they knew who Jesus was because of the good the Hope Center does in the midst of their slum. We sang "Jesus Loves Me" together, and one little girl sang me some songs in Swahili and in Kikuyu (her tribal dialect). So I'm trying. I'm praying and am just TRYING to love them at this point. But right now, I feel numb. And I just don't know how to do this. So pray that while we (I) are in a place of inadequacy that the Lord will fill us with His presence and that He would meet the needs of His people through us. I know we cannot do it on our own. It's raining here tonight. Here I sit in a nice dry hotel with a full tummy while thousands of people just 10 miles away sit in the slums of Nairobi in their homes with water pouring in, hungry and trying to stay dry as they sleep. Yet, they'll still be at church tomorrow with a smile on their face and without a single complaint. It sure is a lot to think about.


It’s 9:00 AM…good morning! Strange to think that it is 1:00 AM back home and all of you are sleeping soundly in your beds. I have been awake for a couple of hours. I was awakened by a rooster this morning. J It was difficult sleeping last night. I kept hearing strange sounds - dogs barking, strange bird sounds that I don’t think I’ve heard before, etc. At one point, I jumped awake because Mason was crying and he needed to know which room we were in so he could find us. Ha! It just turned out to be some animal howling. Kind of made me sad. This morning I am listening to several men hand building a convention center next to our house. It’s really amazing. It looks so different than construction back at home. I wish you all could see it with me. Missing you, praying for you and thankful for your prayers today. It’s going to be a busy day.

Friday, January 1, 2010

1/1/10 We Made It!

Happy New Year! Well we finally made it - here it is - about 4:30 PM back at home. It’s 12:30 AM Kenya time! After embarking on our adventure at 7:30 AM EST yesterday, we’ve finally arrived at our destination, Karen Holiday Homes in Nairobi. I’m sitting here having already been confronted by my own materialism and selfishness and we really haven‘t even begun to see anything yet. At the airport, all I could think of was how very hot it was and how I couldn’t wait to take off my sweater. And now we are here in a very nice hotel…much nicer than many of the homes here. I am thinking of my nice queen sized pillow top mattress that affords us luxury and comfort every single night at home in my air conditioned house as I sit here in my very hard bed in an itty bitty (but nice, don‘get me wong) room surrounded by a mosquito net that we just sprayed with OFF with the windows closed because you definitely don‘t want to let in any stray mosquitos. You can imagine, it smells pretty good in here! Ha!

Our trip getting here was pretty uneventful, although Dr. Bunge’s bags were completely lost once we made it to Nairobi. We were met by two gentlemen with very big smiles who welcomed us warmly and carried our bags out to our matatu - a Toyota vehicle that has room for 12 people to cram in. I guess it is similar to 15 passenger vans in the States, just much smaller and you pack in like sardines. Evidently, they are quite the popular vehicle here. Did you know they drive on the wrong side of the road in Kenya? That took some getting used to. There were a few times I jumped because I thought traffic was coming head on! At first, the roads seemed pretty normal, but after we got a few miles away from the airport, true Kenyan roads showed their faces. I thought of Mason who, whenever we go over bumpy roads, just says “Ahhhhhhh” for as long as he can to hear his voice bounce. He would have had a hay-day here. I’ve never been on such bumpy roads - and they were even paved! Have you ever seen the movie, “Cars,” where Lightning McQueen fixes the road in about 2 hours? That’s exactly what it was like.

Our driver, Pastor Charles, told us all about the political uprising that happened here a few years ago between the different tribal groups. Thankfully that’s all over now, but there still is a lot of animosity amongst the people. Pray for peace to come over this land. I just cannot imagine.

Tomorrow, we are going to sleep until about 9:30 or 10 (if we can - this jet-lag stuff is really tough!) and then at noon, we are going into the slums of Nairobi. I’m sure it will be a wonderfully educating and very emotional day. Pray for us, please, as we go into this part of Nairobi - for our safety, that we would see these people with the eyes of their Loving Father, and that we would be effective witnesses of His Grace and Mercy.

And the adventure begins….Good night.

(I have been trying to add pictures for a while, but it won't let me. I'll keep trying...could just be a weak internet connection. Sorry)