Thursday, July 24, 2008


Earlier today we were freezing while waiting in line to pay mama's hospital bill. William made the suggestion that maybe we should go sit in the operating waiting room. They had an electric heater and a TV there. We are having a horrible time with the weather here. It is so cold and wet! My teeth have been chattering.

A few minutes ago I was heading out to take a shower. (Bathrooms are shared in most Kenyan guest houses and motels.) I didn't know where William was so I called him to ask if he wanted me to lock the door or leave it open. He told me "Go ahead and lock it, I'm just watching some TV." As I was showering it occurred to me that there is no TV at the motel. He had gone back to the hospital to warm up and catch the news!!!


I find myself sighing this afternoon. Mostly with relief but I confess there is a bit of frustration mixed in there. For the last two weeks I've been dreading this week. I must say I'm thankful that it is soon coming to a close. Too many things going on. Taking public ground transportation all the way to Kijabe and Nairobi (shudder!). Mama's double surgery. My grandmother's funeral back in the States. Trying to pick up William's passport. Dealing with the US embassy regarding immigration issues..... A lot for one week!

This afternoon mama was discharged from the hospital She had an extremely successful thyroidectomy. (Meaning they took out her thyroid!) She also had D&C to deal with some uterus issues and that went off without a hitch as well. What is amazing is that the cost wound up being less for both surgeries than just one would have been at our hospital back home. Not to mention that I was at least twice as happy with the quality of care here than I have been back home. She is now resting in her motel room downstairs. She was so happy we got her out of the hospital and into her private room with the big double bed here.

I have to give great thanks to Leann, an American physician here in Kijabe. She has been a HUGE blessing to us. I honestly think we might have still been in the workup process without all of Leann's help.

Yesterday William and I headed down to Nairobi to pick up his passport. Well it was the same old story, no passport! "But maybe it will be here next week." Yeah right! I'm also having fun dealing with the US embassy. They are giving me the typical US run around. Call this number. But that's the one that just referred me to you! Who knows if we will ever make it to the USA? I'm just glad that it only cost us $7 to use public transportation to get to Nairobi and back again!

Tomorrow we will head home to Kipkaren. It's sounding like transportation is going to be a bit of an issue. (Another big "what else is new!") I must say I'm looking forward to the weekend!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hot Water

No, not like we are in trouble, hot water... real genuine hot water!! Last night I got to take a shower with real hot water running down on my body. What a magnificent thing!!! It was a bit of a long day, so that was a great way to end it.

Saturday night before leaving for Kijabe we were finishing last minute packing. As I zipped up my travel bag the zipper broke. Well one of the good things about living in our village is we have an excellent seamstress who lives practically next door to the training center. So yesterday started BEFORE 6AM when we got up to unpack my travel bag, take it to Prisca, get a new zipper, repack the travel bag and load up the car.

Our friend and colleague, Adele, offered to drive us to town where we would catch our bus. As we turned off of the dirt road and onto the main highway something just didn't sound or feel right with the car. When we got to the gas station and William hopped out of the car to see what was going on. We were leaking oil like crazy. We had to add 2 quarts after just driving for 20 minutes. Not a good sign! So we had to turn around, drive back, get another vehicle and start over again.

We finally arrived in town and were able to catch our matatu (over an hour late and it was still there!). It's like an extra big van. All of my past experiences with matatus have been horrible. It seems like you stop every few feet for people to get on and off. And they have always been way overcrowded. But thankfully we were on a direct shuttle trip. So they sell each seat and you stay in the same seat the whole way to your destination. What a concept!!

The road was actually in much better condition than the last time I took it (about 7 months ago). There is this 30 or 40 min stretch where you feel like your teeth are going to rattle out of your head. But once you get through that part it is pretty smooth going. We finally arrived at Kijabe medical center around 5 in the afternoon.

We got checked into the motel and were pleasently surprised to find that there is wireless internet for only $1.50 extra a day. And I was exstatic to find that there was actually hot water in the shower.

When we arrived we got to meet my internet and phone friend, Leann, in real life for the first time. She is an ICU doctor here at Kijabe Mission Hospital. She advised that we get registered right away so that we could avoid the long lines Mon AM. Thank you Leann! It only took about 10 minutes to get the case file. So we should be seeing a doctor for mama this morning. They will be doing a biopsy of her uterus and starting the preperation for her thyroid surgery. We should know in a few days if she needs a hysterectomy or not. If she does then they will do a double whammy surgery.

In the meantime William and I are going to try to duck out to Nairobi at some point to hopefully pick up his passport and get the ball rolling with his visa. I'll keep you posted. As I said before, it looks to be a full week!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Hard Week

This week has been a hard one for me. On Thurs morning I got a phone call from my mom telling me that my grandmother had passed away. Her circumstances over the last year have been pretty bad. My mom (who also happens to be my hero!) has been bending over backwards trying to do everything she possibly could for grandma. What is really hard for me is that I never got to say goodbye.

I never understood before why people would fly great distances to attend a funeral. It's too late to say goodbye to the person. But now I'm understanding... There is something about the ritual of a funeral that brings a sort of closure. Due to our financial situation and the fact that I'm half way around the world, I won't be able to attend the funeral.

My grandmother was an amazing woman. She faced so many obstacles in life. She became a single parent of four in an era where divorce was not okay. She went back to school to get an education so that she would be able to provide for her family. As a young girl my grandmother insisted that I learn to type. She had one of the first computer models that was available to the public. Every year she would throw swimming parties for all the kids in the neighborhood and her grandchildren. She used to take my sister and I on trips to stay with her in her condo at the beach or in Palm Springs. She was never a huggy, cuddly, type grandma. And she didn't use the words "I love you" very often. But I always knew she did.

I feel emotionally drained right now. My computer is completely broken. I'm trying to make arrangements for it to get back to America to be repaired. In the meantime I've been incredibly blessed with a loaner laptop. But all of my addresses (including my e-mail address book) were in the other computer. I have pictures and data that haven't been backed up in months. We are getting ready to head to Kijabe to take a family member and patient for surgery. We will be taking public transport which is always incredibly draining and exhausting to me. We also need to make a side trip into Nairobi to work on William's passport and visa. I get overwhelmed just thinking about it. It looks like another long and tiresome week ahead. Big sigh.........

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A New Challenge

Over the weekend my computer suffered a blunt trauma to the head. As in it slipped while I was putting it in it's case. It only fell a few feet but something has been jarred loose. The monitor is now pitch black. I was told about a month ago by a computer techie in Nairobi that if my Sony every breaks don't even think about trying to repair it here in Kenya.

I'm praising the Lord that I had the sense to purchase the extended warranty on the computer when I bought it. So now it's an issue of trying to get it home to the USA where it can be repaired. I'm likely going to be sending it with some short term missionaries who I've never met. Then once it is repaired we will see if some more short termers can bring it back to Kenya.

In the meantime I'm on a loaner computer from the clinic. My entire address book (e-mail and snail mail) is in the computer I can't access. So it's a bit frustrating to say the least. Some days I just feel like asking "Could something please go right??" Oh well, such is life.

On this coming Sunday (July 20) we will be headed to Kijabe Mission Hospital. We are taking William's mom for surgery there. It looks like we will likely be there for about a week. I'm not sure if I will have any internet access or not during that time. Kijabe is close to Nairobi so we will be trying to pick up William's passport and start work on his visa while we are in the area. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated during this time!

Friday, July 11, 2008

William at Work

William at Work, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

Most of my posts are centered around my daily life, thoughts, feelings etc. So today I decided to share with you a bit about what my husband, William, is doing with Empowering Lives.

William's background is in agricultural education. When I met him he was working as a demonstrator/trainer in the ELI farm. His job centered around teaching others techniques for improving their crops. He worked with small-scale farmers, taught in the practical program of ELI's agricultural program and took visitors on tours of the center.

Earlier this year William moved from the Training Center department to the Tumaini na Afya department. (That means Hope and Health.) He now works with patients in the Home Based Care (HBC) program. The above picture is him tending to the HBC garden. It was taken by our friend Adele.

William spends part of his time caring for the garden which produces food for our patients. The rest of his time is actually working with the patients themselves. He is currently going from home to home giving teachings about nutrition and agriculture. He assists the patients in planning a garden that will suit their needs and work with their current resources and capabilities. Then he brings them seeds and works with them to get the garden going. He also has plans for beehives, and chickens in the works.

This morning I joined him on a few home visits. One patient told me that she was so excited about her new garden that she was going to wake up early tomorrow to start turning the soil.

Thank you William for your hard work and dedication!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Unusual Patient

This morning I encountered an unusual patient. The clinic sits on a hill so we often can see our patients coming towards the clinic. I noticed one of the employees from ELI's training center carrying something towards us.

At first I thought it was a small baby, but as he got closer I realized it was an animal. Kenei brought me a baby goat!!! The poor little girl is only three days old. She was attacked this morning by one of our guard dogs.

I am no veterinarian!!! But I do know how to do a bit of wound care. Unfortunately this kid really could have used a vet. The tear went deep into her muscle and severed a few tendons. Stitching the muscle of a goat would have been a bit too much for our little clinic. (Especially when we have patients who have a hard time affording to pay for their suture jobs when they need stitches!) So I just did some basic wound care and antibiotics. I think some people were pretty surprised that I even agreed to treat her.

William told me over lunch that people at the training center were already talking about how I was nursing their goat back to health.

Her caregivers from the training center have decided to name her Survivor! I checked on her this afternoon and she seems to be doing okay. Just another day in Kenya!

Friday, July 04, 2008


OK, so today is the fourth of July and I confess I am feeling homesick. I've had waves of homesickness that come and go over the past few months. At first I felt really guilty when I would long for America. In many ways I feel like I should think of Africa as home. But a few months back when William and I were at the Mayfield (a missionary guest house in Nairobi) we were talking to some missionaries of 20+ years who were talking about looking forward to going "home" to America. It made me feel a bit better.

Maybe it makes me a bad missionary; but some days I long for a cup of Starbucks with the companionship of one of my lifelong friends. There are days when I'm exhausted at the end of the day I wish I could swing by Baja Fresh to grab something for dinner. Or even run into the grocery store to get a can of soup, a real salad and some fresh bread. Making everything from scratch on the stove top gets old every now and then. Sometimes I actually miss just driving down the CA freeways. I never realized how blessed I was with the excellent Biblical teachers I sat under at church. Worshiping in English with a body of believers is something I look forward to doing again whenver we make it back to the states. I miss going to the beach for the day. I miss being able to talk to friends and family without one of us stressing over how much the phone bill is going to be. Sometimes I just feel downright lonely.

But all that being said I know that I am where I'm supposed to be. And I have to smile when I remind myself of the many years that I longed to live in Africa. Every now and then as I'm walking through the village I stop and say to myself "Wow! I live here!" I've been blessed with the world's greatest husband. He is so gentle and compassionate when I have days like today. And the reality is that none of this is home. My true home waits for me. The day that I leave this earth will be the day when I finally begin to understand just what home really is.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Flovia's New Family

On Sunday Flovia was welcomed into her new family. She is joining Joseph and Maggie Simatwo who are parents at our children's home here in Kipkaren. She now has 24 new brothers and sisters!