Thursday, June 26, 2008

Opportunities and Sad Goodbyes

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:7-10

It’s so nice to have the opportunity to be here. I was thinking about what beauty it is that the Lord has given me and my husband blessings that allow us to give two months of our lives to come to East Africa and be amongst other believers that are like-minded. He knows we needed experience and guidance in the call we feel on our lives. The history at Tenwek is unbelievable. Just 50 years ago this was an un-reached area and now it is home to thousands of Christians! In this Galatians verse I am encouraged by the command to do good to ALL people, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. I know Joey can testify that it is amazing to give care for his fellow kinsmen in Christ that would not otherwise have received care. But it struck me when reading this verse that the Lord always sets up appointments for us to do good to all people. It is His motto; to serve others and “…in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3) I need to be more mindful of how I can serve others daily in the small things and consider others better than myself.

This week has been kind of sad, our friends, the Champions: Greg (gastro. Doc), Laura (wife), Joshua (16), Sarah Baskin (13, almost), Abby (11), and Luke (9), left yesterday. I’ve gotten so spoiled with the girls b/c they watch Bethany if I want to go to the bible studies or up to the hospital to help out. Bethany has gotten attached to all of them. She calls for Abby and “Baskin” when she sees them from across the way. She was asking for Abby all day yesterday! I am thankful we will be able to meet up with them once we get home. They live in Birmingham, AL and we’re planning to meet up when we go for a wedding the weekend we get back from Africa! This is also Julia's last day here. She has been such nice company and a help when my computer wouldn’t cooperate with me. We're having a dessert party tonight to send her home.
On Sunday Abby, Julia and I went to the pediatric ward and made bracelets with the kids. Some kids were too sick to even sit up in the bed and others were so grateful to have some entertainment and smiling faces to greet them. I am touched by how this culture is very family focused. The mothers or fathers stay in the beds with the children and never leave. Joey commented the other day the he has yet to see a patient who is without family. In the US he almost always treats elderly people with no family members present or visiting and it’s just not that way here. Last week I went out with community health with Julia and the nursing students. The community health program here is in crisis b/c it’s main donor for more than 20 years pulled out their giving. The donations funded vaccinations to children and pregnant women, orphans, and community awareness of HIV/AIDS and more preventable diseases. This organization is such a backbone here. Julia’s project has been getting pictures and footage for a movie for fundraising efforts and updating the website so others are more aware of the monetary needs for Tenwek and it’s programs.
I also spent some time in the NICU. I don’t feel very comfortable going up there b/c there’s not much we can do to help. I remember when my sister was in NICU for 1 month after her birth, no one was allowed to visit except immediate family and only at certain times. Also, after having a 4lb baby myselft, all those feelings of trying to protect my small child from sickness comes back to me up there. It wouldn't be acceptable for us to come into a nursery in the US, especially a NICU, so I feel like I should give the Kenyans the same respect. I feel like by going up there I’m doing more harm than good. The Kipsigis people are arguably the most common in the world to have multiple births! There have been 2 sets of quadruplets just since I’ve been here and numerous triplets and twins! Most are so tiny and some don’t survive. Many of these stay the NICU nursery. After the nursery visit we went to see the mothers in the maternity ward. Many of them are up there b/c they can’t leave until they pay their bill! It doesn’t really make any sense to me that you would keep them day in and day out to only rack up more of a bill. Several of Joey’s discharged patients are still in the wards eating and sleeping!
Well, it’s been another long post but there is always something fun to write about. Tomorrow, Krista and I are taking the babies to a nearby market. We are borrowing a missionary’s car so this should be a very interesting trip. The roads are so bad here that it’ll take us all day just to get there!

Shannon- Will you email me so I have your email address? Tell me what happened. It’s so weird b/c I was just thinking of her since I’ve been here!
My email is

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

my first blog

Tia has threatened to rename the blog to Tia's blog if I didn't contribute so I will share a little about all that I am experiencing and seeing here at Tenwek. Last night I was on call for both medicine and pediatrics. So last night I was called to the hospital because two of our elderly medicine patients were not doing well and were dying. After explaining the situation to the families(which family members are always present and at the bedside caring for their loved ones) I prayed for the families. Talking with family members as their elderly loved ones die is something that I frequently do in in Greenwood so it is not out of my comfort zone. After I left those families I went to the ER because several young children had just arrived and were sick. One of the children (a three year old boy) was having a seizure as I arrived and had been sent from a nearby hospital because he had become unresponsive after having many seizures. His father reported that two days ago he had stopped talking and would only cry DaDa and then today had been either seizing or unresponsive all day. We worked on the child for the next several hours and finally he stopped seizing and we transferred him to the ICU. It seems the child has Herpes encephalopathy which is a version of meningitis. I fear his prognosis is not very good and this aspect of dealing with children who are so sick is not something that I have had a lot of experience with in the states. Please pray for the parents of this child and the others like him and for more experienced doctors to answer the call to serve in a place where their impact could be so huge for the patients and the young Kenyan doctors so eager to learn from experienced doctors.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The BIG 5 plus 1

We're back from the Safari and it was wonderful. We took a matatoo (cab) in from Tenwek to Masai-Mara and it was a treacherous ride in! The matatoo is like a little hatch-back Mazda and it was doing some serious mudding'! Bethany had to ride in the front seat b/c it was the only place in the car that had a seat belt to strap her car seat into. She looked so funny b/c she was on the driver’s seat side of the car since the driving is on the left side here! The first 45 minutes are on a paved road but the final 75 minutes were all on a dirt/rock road. Besides the road conditions it was a nice drive.
West Kenya is nearing a state of famine b/c of the lack of rain. The cash crop is maize (corn) and it is the livelihood of many families, but the lack of rain has caused failure for the crop. We passed fields of partial and total crop failure. The families must now rely on their dairy animals for survival. Dairy herding is the main skill/means for the Kipsigi and Masai people that we work with. Maize is only harvested once a year so there is no hope for more maize until next year.
Once we got there it was wonderfully luxurious. We stayed in a "tent"; it was nicer than a lot of hotels I’ve stayed in, on the river. The hippos were sun-bathing all day right outside our tent. They made the loudest noise though and it woke me up every morning at about 4 AM. Bethany slept in the bed with us so she was all hyped up every night b/c she never sleeps with us at home. So between the hippos and Bethany I didn't get much sleep!
The Safari was great. We could do two rides every day, one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon. They were 3 hrs long. We only did the late afternoon ones b/c it was hard in the mornings with Bethany. Our first ride was good we saw plenty of wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, and a cub leopard all on our first ride! I had no idea that many of the missionaries have been on numerous safaris and never seen the leopard! We then met a pride of young lions and one was having a small gazelle for dinner. It would growl anytime another lion got near! It was pretty cool b/c they were only feet away from us. We were pretty amazed. It's wonderful to see God's beautiful mind in his creations. The next day we went to the hippo pool and saw probably fifty hippos and two crocs. We then went to the Masai village where we PAID to go in! The fee was for a school and we could take as many pictures we wanted and shop at the "duty-free" market inside the village! They were so primitive yet savvy to all lingoes that would draw in tourist! We were greeted by this particular clan’s son of the chief, Jackson. All the Kenyan's we've met so far have two names, their Kipsigi or Masai name and a Christian name. I'm not sure why it is a Christian name b/c several aren't biblical they just sound American, example, Jackson. I later met several more of the chiefs sons b/c he has 39 children and 12 wives! Jackson allowed me to ask anything and we spoke about the beliefs. Jackson was a Christian and had only one wife. While I was browsing the duty-free market Joey was speaking with two young guys, Patrick and William. Joey later told me they were very curious about how many cattle that he had to give for me before marriage. They were interested that he gave no cattle or goat for me! Patrick and William had both went away to boarding school for high school, this is customary in Kenya, and wanted to live more modernly than how they grew up. They were both waiting until the girls they intended to marry finished school before they left their village. Bethany ran around with the Masai children and was soaked up all the attention from the Masai's. Like I said earlier, all Kenyans she has come into contact with treat her like a princess!
Later that afternoon we went for our second game drive and it was by far the best! We saw the big five in one drive! The big 5 are lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. We were able to get out of the jeep and walk next to the Rhinos. There were two full grown ones and a baby. A few antelope came running towards us and the keepers had to chase them off b/c they can irritate the rhino. Once all this started to happen I got nervous and walked back to the jeep with Bethany. We then found another leopard by the creek. This one was full grown and more aware of our presence than the cub. He didn't stay long before he took off down the creek. We then found a herd of elephants and this was my favorite. The elephants aren't like any of the other animals; they will just walk right up to you. The herd was in front of us and went then came herding pass us on all sides of the jeep. I could have reached out and touched them! There were about 3 babies in the herd too! One looked right at Bethany and me and flapped its ears to scare us! We later met up with a herd of buffalo which can be easily irritated and most likely to charge the jeep. Our last sighting was a large pride of lions with two big males. They were waiting for night to fall to hunt! Our final surprise coming in was a very big troop of baboons! The safari was great and the food and service were wonderful! We ate lunch by the river and the hippos would come grace us with their presence! If it had not been so cool we would have went swimming in the really nice pool but it was too cold. We were one of a few guests. It was very private. Evidently this was the clubs busy season but many people cancelled b/c of the post-election violence. My friends at the club asked me to tell my American friends that everything was fine and to please come to the Masai-Mara.
Oh, and the big five plus one!!! I almost forgot! We got one more bonus at the Fairmont Safari club, Terri Hatcher!!!!!!!!!!!! I know all my Desperate Housewife friends are freaking out right now! Terri was there with her daughter, Emerson, and a few other family members! She was shooting some promotional thing. The Kenyans are so funny b/c they told us everything! Our driver got a call from his radio telling everyone she was there and he told us. Then our cleaner apologized for his late service b/c he was cleaning her tents and then told us the tent numbers! I didn't get the nerve to go speak to her but had the chance several times. I also felt like the resort was so quiet and she must have been enjoying the low profile of her stay. I did speak to little Emerson about her Safari ride. She was a sweet and shy girl.
All in all our safari was a once in a lifetime deal but I hope I have the chance to do it again!
I have so much more about my Thursday out with community health and also my Sunday afternoon in the pediatric ward. I'll update later though.

Friday, June 20, 2008


We are leaving in about an hour to head to Masai Mara, the game park!  We are pumped!  It's one of the nicest in the country and one of the only one's with a hippo pool.  We'll be gone until Sunday so you might not have an update from us.  This is the link to the gaming park,  It's not far from the town we are in.  In fact, the Masai people are one of the most interesting people groups around here.  They are what you typically think of as "African".  They wear all the beaded jewlery, have big, drooping holes in their ears, and can seem a little stand-offish.  They won't let you take a picture of them unless you pay first!!!!  They've figured out that tourist love taking their picture. Anyways,
Travis: You get the first shout out on here.  We can't wait to see you in September.  You better have something good planned for us!
Linda and the other Panama members:  Have a safe flight and productive time. We'll be praying for you.
Kara, Sam, and Anna: Hope ya'll aren't spending too much time in the pool!  Take a swim for me!
Anna: Hope the beach was fun.  Give Cruz a hug and kiss from us when you get home.
Stephanie- We're here for 7 weeks total.
Karen and Russ:  Are you back yet???


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This week in some pics

Don’t get use to the pictures! Right now Julia (NYU student has all the things on her computer to shrink the size of pictures that we can’t find on ours, so once she leaves we won’t be able to download anymore unless we figure something else out!

Joey has been doing ‘Casualty’ (ER) this week and feels much more comfortable with this b/c it’s more along his line of work at home. He has Thursday – Sunday off. On Thursday I’m going to go out with community health to some surrounding villages for clinics and Joey will spend some time with Bethany. On Friday we leave for our Safari!!! We will spend the weekend their. It’s like a resort so we are looking forward to the experience and I know Bethany will love the animals. There are 12 game parks in Kenya and this is one of the best so I’m pumped. Yesterday I went to the missionary bible study with the wives. It was more of a prayer time and it was nice. One of the volunteer families with 4 children watched Bethany. Their 11 year old daughter, Abby, read while Bethany napped. B loves her. We ate dinner with the Fitzwaters (John, Krista, and Ann Marie). They are here for about one year but severed here for two months when John was a student.
Bethany is better adjusting. We got a fan to drown out some of the noise in her room. Poor thing, she has to wear extra socks and a sweatshirt over her PJ’s b/c it gets chilly here anyways at night! She has had a steady dose of ‘time-outs’ since we’ve been here. Almost every morning starts with one but after that she understands my threats later in the day and obeys! She also got one real pop the other day. She bit me sooooo hard! She’s talking really well and calling people by their names. We practice all family members and her favorite is Ra-ty (Rusty) and Hud-see is fun too!
Today we had lunch at the hospital. I wait all week for the coke and fries!!!
I’ve gotten emails from everyone planning their summer vacations to the beach and I felt a little jealous! Then I realized I’m in Africa, a tropical paradise, seeing what few will see in a lifetime! I’ll have plenty of summers, springs, and falls at the beach! Hope everyone is doing well. We sure are!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's been a long night....

Joey has been working since Tuesday and has been on call 4 of the 6 nights we've been here. There has been a shortage of docs volunteering to come here since the strife in Kenya some months ago so all volunteer docs are very needed.  Yesterday Joey worked all day and didn't get home until about 7:15.  He's currently working in the NICU and Pedicatric ward. He has been his own supervisor b/c the Pediatric doctor here is sick and has been unable to work along side Joey.  Joey doesn't have much experience in the NICU b/c in the US there are specialist that care for those children.  He has felt a little overwhelmed and inadequate. Late in the evening yesterday a baby was brought in that seemed to only be about one day old.  He was found abandoned in a latrine.  I will spare you the details but you can imagine that he needed some serious medical attention and prayer.  It is suspected that the mother is a primary school-aged girl (primary school goes to 8th grade) b/c she has run away.  Later last night the baby passed away.  
Please lift up prayers for Joey and the other staff here at Tenwek who can often get overwhelmed and burdened by the things they see.  Pray for that little girl fwho felt such desperation that she abandoned her baby in a latrine. 
On a different note, Bethany and I had a good day yesterday visiting the local dukas(stores) with Krista (missionary) and Ann Marie (daughter who is Bethany's age).  Later we hiked to the waterfalls with Petra (German medical student) and Julia (NYU student).  It was a nice hike and we got plenty of exercise.  On Friday night we had a pizza party in the guest house with all of us staying a the guesthouse and the Robert's (career missionary family).  Tonight we will have an omlette and waffle night with everyone!  Yummy I can't wait. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Greatest Privledge

Since being here I haven’t written much about the reason we are here. My spiritual life is uniquely mine and I am often moved and spoken to by God. Since being here I haven’t really felt like I had heard from God, until today.
A song describes it well;

"All the time you held so much in me and I am living proof, that
although my darkest hour comes your light can still shine through.
And though at times it’s just enough to cast a shadow on the wall, well
I am so grateful that you shine your light on me at all.

Who am I that you would love me so gently?
Who am I that you would recognize my name?
Lord, who am I that you would speak to me so softly?
Conversation with the love Most High,
Who am I?

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wrench like me,
I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
And the more I sing that sweet old song the more I understand
That I do not come bringing this love that’s coming from your hands."

The Lord impressed it on my heart today that I am such a blessed child of His. Not because whom I was born to or what part of the world, it’s because I am a daughter of the Most High God, given full access to approach the throne of God! Full access to His love, comfort, joy, blessings, forgiveness, and mercy. I have learned that it is my greatest privilege to be his servant. That I can somehow be used by God for a mighty kingdom purpose is the best life I can think of.
It is easy to get overwhelmed here. My step-dad always worries that I try and save the world. While I know that I can’t save the world, I do know that if I just simply follow the lead of the Lord he will produce a great work in me and also in any of his servants who are willing to listen and follow. That’s what our family is doing, just taking one instruction at a time. Trusting. And hoping that we will one day be called faithful servants by the Lord.

“Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord; He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
His is my God, and I am trusting him…. For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go.” Psalm 91:1-2,11

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I’m going to post again b/c we have some good internet connections right now! I love reading everyone’s comments and emails. I might not get to write everyone back individually but I appreciate all the connecting. We just had morning Chai. This is like a Kenyan thing at 10 am and then at 3 pm everyone has chai, a Kenyan drink that’s a milky sweet taste. Not bad. We are eating soooo well. The food is great and the helpers are awesome cooks. Every Wednesday the missionary families have lunch at the hospital restaurant and we get sodas and French fries there!!!
We are staying in the guesthouse quarters in a family apartment. It’s nice but we are right beside the public road (dirt road) and it is soooo loud. Our first day here I set Bethany up in her room and laid her down for a nap and I heard a cow mooing in her monitor! It freaked me out b/c I thought it was in her room! She loves the cows though. She moos everytime we see one, which is often. She started calling us Mommy and Daddy all of the sudden. We never refer to each other as that but she just started and is big on saying it all the time. She’s also gotten the hang of saying “please” and doing the sign that goes with it.
The compound is nice. The career missionary’s homes are all very nice compared to what I had in my mind. The compound is more open than I thought but there are security people out and about and several nursing and FP residents that live and go to school here. We really enjoy it here except at night, I start to get homesick. There’s nothing like your own bed!
The weather is great! 70’s during the day and cool at night. The Kenyans where toboggans and all but for us it’s wonderful! Well, I need to go before my luck runs dry with the internet. Hope everyone is good.

. Hannah, that is the right website. It’s very outdated and there’s a team here right now changing the website to help raise money and be more informative for the missionaries coming in.
Anna, keep sending the emails. I don’t care if they’re random! Tell me how ATL was. Oh, and we didn’t forget the backpack but I ‘m kicking myself for not bringing it! I am having to tie Bethany in a Conga on my back. My helper showed me how to do it. It's sort of like a sling thing.
Kara, Sam and Anna/Mark and Tanya- thanks for the cards. I read them a lot for encouragement.
Sara Huber-Janet says “thank you Sara I received your message. I still love you and remember you. Thank you for the time I spent with you. I hope you got home safely and I hope your family is doing well. My family is doing well and all of us are remembering you. And thank you for visiting my house. And I heard there is something you are sending me and I’m excited to see. Thank you for your prayers. I don’t have much to say maybe I’ll write to you more. Pass my greeting to your boys and your husband. Have a nice time. Love, Janet.”
Adrienne- tell Hudson that Baby said hey and she misses him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cool Kenyan Nights

Hello Everyone! I have so much to say and little battery on the computer. We are finally here in Tenwek! The planeride was close to a nightmare with Bethany. She didn't sleep for a long time and then would crash and burn. Once we finally touched down in Nairobi we had to wait for over an hour to report that our 2 actionpackers were lost with all our food. We just got them today though. We stayed one night in Nairobi and it was great but I couldn't sleep b/c I heard something scratching at the tin roof and I was sure it was a giant lizard trying to get in b/c we had pizza in there! We then got up and went grocery shopping with the help of our driver, a sweet guy named Gerald. I'm surprised we made it to Tenwek without any neck or spinal injuries! The ride was rough and I thought at several moments I was going to hurl everywhere!
With all that said the journey was worth it to get here. I am in love with Kenya and it's people. It has the most beautiful flowers and birds and the landscape rivals our most costly American neighborhoods!
Bethany is doing great. She is having a hard time adjusting to the 7 hr time difference but we're working through it. Every morning we have a play date with two other little girls on the compound that is her age. She also loves the Kenyans big smiles and their warmth. They love babies and all try and hold her.
Joey has started working and already had an oncall night. The sad part of this trip is seeing the hospital full of sick people and them not having access to easy treatments to save their lives. It's a sad place. We were touring the hospital yesterday and a baby 2lbs or less was dying right in front of us as we walked in the NICU. Another little boy had galzes in his mouth to keep from bleeding out b/c of a blood disorder he has. Joey said the treatment is easy and simple but not available here:( He later had a bad bleed and Joey said he was terrified. Joey also had a father come in who's wife had just left him with all the children and he tried to poison himself. He was so bad that the 3 foot long tapeworm was coming out of him!! He later died today. The upside is that the hospital is a gospel preaching hospital and there is many Christians here.
My helper started today. She will cook, clean and laundry for me 3x a week. *Sarah- I got Janet, she misses you deeply* I love her already and know that we are going to be great friends. The most simple things here are very laborsome and I need some domestication!!!!
I have so much more to share about an amazing revival that is reaching more than 3,000 women that we know of in less than a 1 1/2. Im thankful I get to watch and hopefully participate in this amazing thing. The battery's dying so I have to go. I miss you and love you.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Excitement around the House!

We are less than 24hrs away from leaving for Africa. Our family is so excited about this trip. We want your prayers for the entire time we are there. Pray for us to have safe and easy travel. For a healthy stay in Kenya and for good friendships to be formed. We can't wait to update you on life at the missionary compound and general African living. Lots of love to everyone.