Tuesday, July 27, 2010


While in Kenya the past 20 months we've gotten 2 new nephews, 1 sister-in-law, missed 10 cousins' birthdays, 8 sibbling birthdays, parents birthdays and anniversaries, and major holidays with extended family. I don't write this feeling sorry for ourselves, just to say that the calender reminds us of what we are missing most: family. So when I asked Malin to plan our vacation time it was no surprise when he said we should come home to spend time with my family and to see all his family at their Crescent Lake Reunion.

Searching for the cheapest, missionary flight lead us to fly Nairobi-Dubai-San Francisco and then Seattle. Amelia and Meredith enjoyed all the new movies and TV shows on the 15.5 hour flight from Dubai. They also liked all the drink choices only managing to spill 6 of the drinks received! Amelia gasped in amazement as a toilet automatically flushed at the airport (Meredith thought it was a little scary). Both think Nana's hot pool is fabulous. Amelia was able to celebrate her birthday with a beach picnic and got to eat the shrimp and fish she's missed (yes, she has high taste and also asked for crab).

Tonight Malin and I are going away for a night to celebrate our 10th anniversary and the girls will be spoiled by Nana and Papa. We pray this time refreshes us, reconnects us with family, and allows us to solidify what God wants for our family in 2011.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thanks to Christian Hospitality Network

It's been a fun week. We were invited by Christian Hospitality Network to come relax and enjoy a Kenyan Getaway on them. After the 45 minute drive to Brakenhurst Conference center we were warmly greeted by Southerns (at least I think Tennessee is part of the south coming from Washington). There's something about a drawl, a warm hug and a huge smile that draws you in but what really got the girls was an enormous gift bag filled by families who don't even know them. The spoiling continued as Malin was taken golfing. Amelia, Meredith and I went to a tea farm, enjoyed a four course lunch and walk in the forest. Then there was the jewelry give away (you can see me telling the girls just one piece). And of course haircuts, massages, hand massages, physical therapy and a chiropractor all at our disposal. Sometimes being a missionary is rough and sometimes its just plain fun. We're so grateful for the many people, none of which personally knew any of the 150 missionaries there who freely gave us a time and place to rest and relax.

Who do you write like?

Occasionally readers of our blog tell us they can't determine if it is Sara or Malin blogging (unless the blog title is Marvelous Molars or Lithotomy Position) of which case it becomes quite obvious.  Sara and I think differently.  I tend to use deductive reasoning (observations about the world).  Sara is a stronger writer using inductive reasoning (observations within one's self).  Sara's blogs often tell a story to convey an emotion; grief.  My blogs are filled with statistics to lend power behind an argument; poverty.   Ask me (Malin) to describe an Apple: red, round, about the size of a fist, hard.  Ask Sara to describe an Apple: you can use it to make Apple Pie, Granny Smiths taste sour, in the Autumn they can be made into Apple Cider. It should follow that our writing styles would find our own voices.  I thought I would put that claim to a test.  

"I write like" (http://iwl.me/) is a website that claims to find which famous writer you write like.  The process is simple. Cut and paste a story, blog, e-mail, or letter you have written and you will find your author-double. 

As I clicked on the site I began to wonder who would be my author-double-ganger(Malcolm Gladwell--great sociologist, JD Salinger--recluse, Rick Reilly--humorous sports journalist).  So I pasted 8 different blog entries into “I write Like”  Five of those said Malin you write like Dan Brown (The Lost Symbol, DaVinci Code).  I’ve heard literary gurus claim Brown is  hack, but on the upside he’s popular, entertaining, but also hard to decipher between fact or fiction.  

Sara's author double-ganger is split between Earnest Hemingway (novelist-A Farewell to Arms) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein).   

So who do you write like?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Amelia's Blog Interview

1- What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be the first one to make dogs and cats dance.

2- What was the hardest part of 1st grade?
Meeting new friends.

3-  What do you like best about Africa?
My friends all live close together.

4- What do you miss most about America?
I miss my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and friends.

5- What is your favorite food?
fish and shrimp

6-  What have you learned about God this year?
If I memorize my bible verses I get a trophy.

7- If you could change one thing about your little sister Meredith what would it be?

That she would not talk so loud in the morning.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Meredith has a way about her that's all her own. Probably every parent appreciates the uniqueness found in each of their children and look at certain traits in their children and wonder, "Where did they get that?" or "What possessed them to do that?"  

The other night Meredith got down from dinner stood near me with her hand raised and bowed as she said, "Queen mommy, may I please be excused from the dinner table." Last night she said at dinner, "Mommy, would you be so kind and please just get out the strawberries for me from the fruit salad?" I'm not sure what has triggered this fantastic and funny display of manners, but hope it continues!

"Have Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire?"

Does the term missions itself hold a negative connotation?

What do you think of Francis Assisi's often misused quote, "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words."?

Has the pendulum of missions swung too far from spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth to fighting social injustice?

How has missions changed in Africa now that the majority of the pool of potential converts is not up for grabs (90% are already Christian or Muslim)?  

Are we directing Christian Missionaries to the right locations (82% of missionaries go to the Christian 3rd World)?

   If you have ever wondered about some of these questions go to:


to read Brad Greenburg's column in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Have Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire?"

By all means if you have an opinion share it in the comments!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How Can A Church Support Its Missionary Kids?

  Yesterday back at our church in Ohio (Westminster Presbyterian) over 100 kids "Gathered At The Baobab Tree" for Vacation Bible School, just as Amelia & Meredith did at WPC in 2008.   Denise and the other VBS coordinators picked an Africa themed curriculum (Baobab Blast) to help bring their VBS kids and our kids (Meredith & Amelia) together in God's ultimate mission even though we are continents apart.
So how could a church bring its VBS program and our MKs (Amelia & Meredith) together?  A skype date was arranged.  Below you can see Meredith talking in our back-yard on our computer in Africa with the entire VBS crew back on their projection screen at our church in Akron, Ohio.   
The kids at VBS had a lot of good questions about what it is like to be an MK in Africa for Amelia & Merdedith:  What is your desk like at school?  What is the name of your dog?  What season is it now in Africa?  What kind of animals do you see?

      The VBS kids sang us their "Babobab Blast" theme song with lots of spirit.  Amelia taught her friends how to say "school" in Swahili.  To end the VBS kids packed up a box of stuffed animals and toys they gave and are sending to Africa.  This generous donation will be graciously received and distributed in the Children's Ward here at Kijabe Hospital.  

Amelia & Meredith say Asante Sana (Thank-you very much) to the VBS crew at WPC!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Imagine... A Day Without Chai

Chai (Kenyan tea) which is a mixture of milk, sugar, tea leaves, and boiling hot water is served daily at 10:30 AM.  I don't know of a Kenyan (baby, teen, or grandmother) who doesn't take Chai (you don't have chai, you don't drink chai, you take chai.)        

First rule of Chai: If you come, you must take.  Try sitting without a mug of chai in your hand and it quickly becomes awkward...Doctoriae no Chai today?... Doctoriae will you take chai?...Doctoriae why don't you take chai?...Doctoriae how can you not take chai?    

Second Rule of Chai:  You must retain the mug in your hand at all times like the ladies above.  Like a Nascar fan and his beer, a fisherman and his rod, or a prom king and his queen, a chai-drinker and his mug are inseparable.  

Third Rule of Chai:  If you think something is more important than chai time...take a look around.  At Chai Time (10:30 AM) everything in the hospital stops.   Doctors in ER retreat to the chai room.  Clerks disappear to the Jiccho.  Scrub Techs descrub.  Nurses are suddenly done rounding.  For a brief moment the earth stops rotating.   

Fourth Role of Chai: Chai is the high-octane petrol that keeps one going.  It's served piping hot to warm the tummy.  It's loaded with sugar for instant energy.  It's loaded with whole milk (straight from the cow) for high fat long term energy.  Lastly, the chai leaves are loaded with caffeine to keep you alert.  

I did ask a friend; Would you go a day without Chai?  "That, I would even remain a single day without Chai....it would be unimaginable."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Would You Take This Job?

Your pay starts at 800,000 KSH ($10,500) per month.  That's your base salary.  If you actually come to work (because absconding from the job is the norm) you will receive a daily bonus called a "sitting fee".  On top of your generous salary you will receive keys to not one, but two brand new BMW cars.   Because you must continue to ride in style, we'll replace the Beamers with a brand new set each year.  And for your family full health care, a vacation allowance, and all private education from grade school to professional school will be paid.   A modest mansion awaits your family once you are hired.  The importance of your position dictates that you will not pay income tax.  If the new Beamers did not seal your decision, maybe this will.  A referendum is in place (you get to vote, not the public) to increase your monthly salary to 1.2 million KSH ($15,000 USD) per month (or $180,000 USD) per year.  Will you take the job?  

If you took job you just became a Kenyan MP (Member of Parliament), which there are about 200 in this country of 30 million people.  A Kenyan MP is the US equivalent of a Senator.  Being sympathetic to the MP's, you could argue that a US senators annual salary ($174,000) is equivalent to an MP.   But let's put it in perspective.  A US senator makes roughly 5 times that of an average joe American ($34,000 per year).  A Kenyan MP makes 574 times that of an average joe Kenyan ($314 per year).  If the salary raise referendum passes Kenya will shift its pay scale for MP's to second in the world, only lagging behind the UK.

Missionaries are encouraged to abstain from politics.  In one sense I have abstained.  I don't vote.  I don't have a voter card.  I don't campaign.  I don't wear political shirts. I don't have a sign in my front yard.  I haven't run for any offices here.  

But in the other sense politically, I can't be silent.  But it's their country, not mine.  So I asked a colleague of mine Michael, What do you think of this referendum?   

 "It's wrong.   They have BMW's, and we are grappling for peanuts.  The MP's trade free Mendazis (scones) for votes.   Our nation is struggling economically from the post election violence.  Even the educated can't find jobs.  It's a disgrace to see MP's get a raise, while the poor sit in IDP camps." 

Christians should react to disparity (a loaded term...but 5 times vs. 564 times?). We are called to be distinct from culture and engaged with culture.  We are distinct because our lives have been changed, turned upside down by a new covenant ushered in by Christ.  We engage culture because we recognize that sin has broken individuals (theft, drugs, abuse) but sin has also broken systems (greed, dishonesty).  We engage to show that Christ offered a better way.  And the better way is adorned if we are distinctly Christian.  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Numbers

 In some ways I think the statistics for the past year speak for themselves. Sharon and I have together done more than either of us was capable of individually. But honestly, we have been responsible for more patients than a group practice of at least 5 people. 

Sharon began her journey back to the UK yesterday where she will complete a fellowship in MFM. So, this blog post is not only a chance to share what we did together, but a plea for someone to come help! I can guarantee you a GYN surgical experience you will never forget, an opportunity to teach Kenyan interns so work can continue after you leave, obstetrical problems rarely seen in the developed world, and would gladly help arrange a safari or trip to the Indian ocean if that would make you come.

Summary of the work of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department AIC Kijabe Hospital, 1 July, 2009 – 30, June 2010

Total Surgical Cases: 1303

Total Majors: 336

Abdominal hysterectomies – 165

Vaginal hysterectomies – 26

Ovarian Malignancy – 37

VVF/RVF – 21

Tuboplasty – 24

Repair of ruptured uterus – 1

Caesarean hysterecotomy – 13

Myomectomy – 32

Vulvectomy – 1

TOA – 6

Abdominal pregnancy – 5

Ectopic with partial uterine resection – 3

Total Minors: 395

D&C – 165

BTL – 81

Ectopic – 18

EUA – 62

laparoscopy – 9

Other minors – 60

Caesarean Sections - 572

Outpatient load: ~2000 patients seen per month in gynae clinic, MCH, casualty, and labour ward as outpatients.

Maternal child health clinic: average 350-400 patients per week

GYN Out patient clinic: average 50-70 patients per week

Summary of Obstetrics Data

Total Deliveries – 2133 (previous 12 months – 1990 deliveries)

Caesarean Section – 572 (26%) (previous 12 months – 32% CS rate)

Instrumental – 33

Vaginal breech – 23

Twins – 57 sets

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Don't Song

I want to post this 3 minute video (Sara found it) but a link will have to do.   If you are married, and you occasionally have a hard time holding your tongue, then you will enjoy this video.  How many of the don'ts are you guilty of? If only I could have seen this video before I was married!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Can Something Small Hurt So Big?

Having a Root Canal (the proper term is Endodontic Therapy) is no fun.  I've heard it all...Having a root canal hurt worse than having a baby; and I've had 6 children.  I'd rather have hemorrhoids than have a root canal.  I'd rather run a marathon than have a root canal.  Finally...just pull it.  My friend had a root canal and said it was worse than boot camp.   

     We dentists don't find sadistic pleasure in  doing root canals.  I promise (The best and most successful root canal is the one I never have to do....said an endodontist).  We try to prevent the need for a root canal with many methods: bases, liners, sedative fillings, adjusting the bite, and our all time favorite...let's just give the tooth some time.  

And unfortunately there is too much mystery surrounding the "need" for a root canal.  Is it because the miniature x-ray the dentist is holding up to the light has some nondescript dark spot at the end of the root? Is it because my tooth throbs ever since the crown was done?  Is it because ice-cream makes my tooth scream?  Is it because I feel a pulsing in my tooth at night?  Is it because the dentist slipped with his drill when he hiccupped?  And how come he can never tell me if I need a root canal until after the drilling has begun (ohh Mrs. Smith, looks like you will need a root canal again).  

I do assure you there is a science supporting endodontics and specific indications for root canal therapy.  The diagnosis is made with a mixture of radiographs, patient symptoms, objective signs, and findings during excavation of decay.  Why can a tooth that needs a root canal hurt so much you might ask?  

      This tissue hanging off the side of a 30 mm Ni-Ti file is the extirpated vital nerve of a central incisor.  So if you were to slice and dice this tissue, slap it on a slide, and put it under a microscope- what would you see?  Axons, dendrites, and all the other things I have forgotten that make up nervous tissue.  

The core of endodontic treatment is getting this nerve out of your tooth to prevent it from sending nasty painful nerve stimuli to your brain.  So yes!  If you have ever received a root canal you know; something this small can hurt so big.  Has anyone had a good experience having a root canal? 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We Three Kings...

           Maybe these 3 Kenyans wearing Masai blankets and riding camels were getting an early July start on their way to Bethlehem from Kenya?  It isn't so strange to see camels in Kenya, but usually in Mombassa for tourists to take a ride along the beach.  But these camels came in behind Amelia, Meredith, Sara, and I in front of the hospital on our walk to Amelia's school.   One more good reason to come visit at Kijabe- when and where else would you get a chance to ride a two-hump camel?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stars & Stripes

    Amelia & Meredith scream, "Happy 4th of July!"

   Amelia, Meredith, Claire, and Ford....I think some firecrackers were exploding! 

Sunday, July 4, 2010


It would be so much better with pictures (but we forgot the camera!). Last night was Titchie Skating party. Amelia proudly rollerbladed around the basketball court too many times to count... of course the humungous, homemade ice-cream sandwiches the kids got gave plenty of energy. But Meredith stoled the show with one shoe, one oversized skate and a whole lot of energy! She also had a red koolaid mustache, bright green top with discordant skirt and leggings, pigtails and kept saying in her loud voice, "Look at me! I don't need any help!" This was a photo opportunity we really shouldn't have missed.