Sunday, October 31, 2010


Amelia taught Meredith how to jump rope Saturday morning. They then skipped-up to RVA and back twice that day. Honestly I think that is more of a work-out than my runs.


It's seems churches, Christian schools and other religious institutions find a way to get kids to dress-up and then distribute candy on Halloween under the guise of a different name. At my childhood church we dressed-up for "Reformation Day". Amelia's preschool had a fall festival. Well in the case of RVA it's called "Carnival." Malin learned that two 50 pound suitcases were transported from the States loaded with candy for the event (to a dentist this causes chest pain or at least makes them think about getting the drill ready). Amelia chose to be cats with her school big sisters and Meredith went as Aurora complete with high heals and make-up. They had a great time. Only coming home with 4 pieces of candy each from the games they played. So I'm just wondering what the record out there is for the number of pieces of candy collected in one evening?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Amelia & Meredith

"It's hard playing against 3rd grade boys, but pink sweat pants make me run faster."

Some of Meredith's theological thoughts, "God is God. God is always by your side even when you go to church. God can take your heart and scrub it clean."

My favorite song I am learning is "Jingle Bells." But I usually play with my eyes open.

Me and Flower eating some carrots.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


#9 treated 4 years previously (incomplete GP?) and DFL composite. PARL with fistula present at MCJ apical to #9. Percussion Positive. No suppuration present today. Dx- Failed RCT or Incomplete RCT--CAP (Phoenix Abscess).

Access through cotton pellet to find one canal. Strong, foul odor present, vital tissue was entombed and became necrotic.

Irrigate NaOCL, Dry, Thermaseal, 50x.012 Tulsa Rotary, 25 mm length, Warm GP, EPA, DFIL Comp. BU shade C-2.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What makes A Great Counselor?

With certainty we will all have experiences in our life (loss of a loved one, fired from a job, tragic car accident, watching your child make wrong decisions) that make no sense. And many of us will ask God, "Why?" Thankfully, there are many of you out there; pastors, friends, teachers, family, doctors, and counselors who are gifted in listening and giving timely Godly counsel. Without these relationships I think many people who suffer would move from faith to despair instead of slowly returning to God and hope. But how do great counselors engage people in a Christian context when they are suffering?

David Powlison in the book "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God" give a few timely hints...

People... often focus exclusively on "the problem." They ask about "the problem." They offer advice for solving "the problem." They care for you! They are well-meaning attempts to be helpful. But the effect can become unkind. Many significant sufferings have no remedy until the day when all tears are wiped away. Your disease or disability is incurable. Your loved one is dead. The marriage is over. The money is gone. There may be partial helps along the way. There may be partial redemption. There will be no fix. Often the biggest problem for any sufferer is not "the problem." It is the spiritual challenge the problem presents. "How are you doing in the midst of what you are going through? What are you learning? Where are you failing? Where do you need encouragement? Will you learn to live well and wisely within pain, limitation, weakness and loss? Will suffering define you? Will faith and love grow, or will you shrivel up?" These issues are more important than "the problem" in the final analysis. They take asking, thinking, listening, responding. They take time. People are often clumsy and uncomprehending about the most important things, while pouring energy and love into solving what is often insoluble.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mr. G's Salon

Walk down the dirt road past the hospital, vegetable ladies, supa-duka, the old gas station (with no working tanks) and you will find Mr. G's Salon.

Mr. G's Salon has a plenty of mirrors, vigorous vines, electricity from a car battery, Kenyan tunes on the radio, and a barber chair with a heavy hub-cap as its base.

Mr. G. makes it easy to select your desired hairstyle (1-50) by displaying all your options on the wall. I picked 48 without the goatee. I'm not sure if your cutting instruments affect a barber's options; but I found it interesting that Mr. G has 3 electric clippers in his Salon but not even one pair of scissors. Interesting??

I find the overall haircut experience at Mr. G's Salon pleasant from the initial seating with a cape to the final hot towel dressing of the neck at the departure. Mr. G. cut my hair and told me I looked, "smart and young!" And all for under 70 KSH. Amelia, Meredith, & Sara haven't yet followed my lead.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Rift Valley Academy held its annual pine wood derby race today. PWD has evolved tremendously from my childhood days of carving a block of pine with a pocket knife, a little red spray paint, and then attaching some nails and wheels on to a car with Elmer's glue. RVA 1) has to keep a lot of boarding kids busy and 2) has a lot of adult-kids with lots of time to imagine how we can keep the kids busy and 3) just plain likes to do everything bigger and better than ever imagined. So they have created what I call PWD on Steroids.

Students have spent weeks sanding, cutting, painting, adding lead weights to achieve the allowed weight (must be under 350 grams), truing and oiling wheels all to achieve the fastest or for some the most creatively designed car.

As you can tell this is no ordinary PWD track. It is the length of a basketball court and the height of a two story building. An olympic style electric timer releases 6 cars all at once as they race to the end of the track (video recorded for instant replay) in just under 5 seconds. Each of the 6 cars' times are recorded (4.567 seconds), ranked (1-6), and then rerun in multiple heats (to count for A-F track speed discrepancies).

Amelia created Duma (swahili for cheetah) because cheetahs are the fastest animal on the planet. Besides cutting with the jigsaw Amelia did all the design, gluing, and painting herself. As it is with rules she was racing against the men. Duma raced out of the first round but could not find his legs in the second round and was defeated by a drag racer.

Are any of your kids doing PWD these days?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Waxing & Waiting (A Walk Through Kijabe Dental)

Take a quick pictorial walk through Kijabe Dental Clinic.

Caroline (COHO) developing intra-oral x-rays with the old fashioned peripro-light box using the hand dip method.

Louis (COHO) scaling teeth with the old fashioned patient spittoon (now eliminated in the US because of OSHA) in the foreground. Patients always tell me they miss having this spittoon available to clear their mouth.

Just like in the U.S. our patients wait as well (or Queue as they call it). We try to recycle old magazines and leave them in the waiting room for their pleasure.

Dr. Friess at the Dental Clinic in a rare appearance with a suit and tie the day President Kibaki visited Kijabe. The comments were remarkable, 1) Dr. Friess you look smart today. 2) Dr. Friess you are being smart 3) Dr. Friess you are looking smart wearing a tie. 4) Dr. Friess- yes it is smart for you to wear a suit. I guess I said, "thanks! Imagine all the smarter clinical decisions I could make if I wore a suit and tie everyday. But on the other hand...if I'm smart when I wear suit and tie, how am I the other days?"

George (laboratory dental technician) waxing up a denture with a burner just as I did years ago in dental school.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


フライス家族 (Friess Family in Japanese)

I'm not sure how or why, but readers from the following countries have found our blog: United Kingdom, Tanzania, India, Canada, Germany, Spain, Philippines, Chile, Romania, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Lithuania, Japan, Portugal, Poland, Norway, Netherlands, Jordan, Hungary, France, Egypt, Australia, Venezuela, Czech Republic, Austria, Cote D'Ivoire, Colombia, Uruguay, Finland, Peru, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Moldova, Korea, Tunisia, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala.

As much as I really don't anyone in Tunisia or Uruguay or India; I am excited that readers from these countries are following God's story playing out in our family in Africa. Whether you are Christians, non-Christians, dentists, doctors, mothers, pastors, missionaries or something else...I am glad you are reading. Indeed it is true as Amelia recently sang at multicultural day at her school, "God's Love Goes All Over the World."

Regardless of your view of big corporations, I think Google is making the world an easier place to live. Not only is Google taking pictures of every street in America to provide better driving directions, and making a car that drives on its own that is much safer than a human can ever be, and guessing your search results before you type them to save the average person hours in a lifetime; Google is also translating blogs into languages all over the world.

If you are a reader of our blog who prefers a language other than english please scroll down to the widget on the right titled "Translate our Blog." Then click on the blue box with the white question mark. A new screen will be open. Select one of over 55 languages (swahili, french, chinese, hindi) in which you wish to read our blog. This is an example of how it will work.

Upendo huvumilia, upendo ni mwema. Hana wivu, haina cha kujivunia, lakini si kwa kiburi. Si rude, si ubinafsi, si kwa urahisi angered, hakuna anayeshika rekodi ya makosa. Upendo hana furaha katika uovu, bali hufurahia ukweli. Daima inalinda, daima amana, daima matumaini, daima hudumu. (1 Kor 13:4-7.)

प्रेम रोगी है, प्रेम दयालु है. यह ईर्ष्या यह दावा नहीं करता, यह गर्व नहीं है नहीं करता है. यह कठोर नहीं है, यह-, यह आसानी से नाराज नहीं है की मांग नहीं कर आत्म है, यह गलतियों को सुधारने का कोई रिकॉर्ड नहीं रखता है. प्यार करता हूँ लेकिन सच के साथ बुराई रमण में प्रसन्न नहीं करता है. यह हमेशा की सुरक्षा करता है, हमेशा पर भरोसा करता है, हमेशा की उम्मीद है, हमेशा perseveres. (1 कोर. 13:4-7)

L'amour est patient, amour est aimable. Il n'est pas envieux, il ne se vante pas, il n'est pas fier. Il n'est pas impoli, il n'est pas égoïste, il n'est pas facilement en colère, il ne garde aucun disque des maux. L'amour ne se réjouit pas de mal mais se réjouit avec la vérité. Elle protège toujours, toujours confiance, il espère tout, elle supporte toujours. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Amor patiens, diligo est pius. Non aemulatur non glorietur, non superbi. Non rudis, non ambitio, non irascendum facilem record sustinet malum. Non gaudet in iniquitatem congaudet autem veritati. Is usquequaque servo, semper deposita sperat perseverat. (I Cor. 13:4-7)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Does the google translation seem accurate in your native language?

Buffalo Country

2010 Rift Valley Academy Class Picture

The arrangements of the kids in red, white, green, and black are representative of the Kenyan Flag.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A recent conversation with a friend:

So let me ask you a question.

You live in Africa, right?
Yes, for the past two years.

You have kids right?
Yes, I have two daughters.

So, I just trying to make sense of this. You have young kids who will need college tuition. You are in in your highest income potential time. And you have decided to practice in Africa. Are you independently wealthy or something?

Are you getting paid a lot by your organization.
No. Certainly not, but we are grateful for their support!

So, this just doesn't make sense. Why are you doing this?
I'm trying my best to live out my Christian faith just like many others, and go where it leads me.

The conversation changed topics to sports at that point. But I appreciated this friend because he was simply trying to figure out why I (a logical guy) would make such a seemingly foolish professional decision. He is not the first to question what we are doing.

But I wonder how many of us have also been in situations where living out our faith seems foolish; coaching a kids team when you could be earning some overtime pay, declining a promotion to be a better mother or father, donating money that could otherwise be used to shore up a retirement fund, giving a way valuable things to someone in need that could be sold for profit, spending your spare time pounding nails to build a house for the homeless when you ought to be resting, teaching a Sunday School class when it isn't at all your gift, forgiving an angry neighbor when they don't deserve your kindness. I think it happens all the time...what foolishness have you accomplished?

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

1 Cor. 1:25

Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Generosity Has Done This...Part VI

We want to keep you (friends, family, our churches) aware of how your generous donations are being used. Travis & Lydia (with their two boys Meshack and Silas) have been missionaries in Nakuru, Kenya for over 9 years. Sara and Lydia were roommates back in 1999 at Wheaton College and it has been fun to reconnect. The Klingsforths are involved in Urban Ministry of Discipleship in Nakuru for the past 9 years. Travis and Lydia are encouraging because they are everything a missionary should be; fluent in the local language (swahili), immensely patient, relational, flexible, cross-cultural, evangelical, and just plain friendly.

Lydia approached us to team with then in an educational project. Lamaze International and Duke University Area Health Program have started a training program called "Giving Birth Lamaze Africa." This program trains Kenyan Nurse Midwifes and other lay health care workers in the concepts of Lamaze. Also, some concepts about bad outcomes (meconium present, water breaks and their is hemorrhage) are taught and when you need to get emergency help and get the laboring mother to the hospital. At least 75% of deliveries in rural Kenya are completed outside of the hospital under the supervision of lay staff. So, training of these health care workers can make a big difference.

Donations were needed to purchase the model placentas, umbilical cords, babies (Target), and replica pelvis openings to teach the course. A medical supplier can charge well over $100 per model (well above an affordable cost for the course). Thankfully some creative ladies by hand "created" a placenta, umbilical cord, and so forth for less than $10 per model.

You can see how the training you a model like this is far superior to a text book or verbal explanation. The instructor can show breach deliveries, foot presentation, twins, delivering the placenta, clamping the umbilical cord, etc.

We hope this training provides health care workers the knowledge to provide better outcomes with normal deliveries and also the know-how to get assistance more rapidly when things don't go as planned. Your generosity again has made a big difference here in Kenya. You bought 10 placentas (placenti??)! Thank-you for blessing others by giving to God's Kingdom.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How we come to church?

I admire the way Kenyans honor God on Sunday. Despite that a typical Kenyan family exists as subsistence farmers, walks 3-5 miles to church down a muddy dirt road, resides in a house with a dirt floor, cooks over smoky charcoal, and washes their clothes in a bucket; that very family will come to church wearing their Sunday best. It is remarkable. I don't know how they do it. Meredith manages to dirty up her dress and color her arms with pink marker just between our hospital and our walk to church.

The Kenyan men and boys wear suits, ties, vests, and dark shoes nicely polished. The Kenyan women and girls adorn themselves with their most beautiful dresses (well ironed), high-heeled shoes, jewelry, and hair neatly kept. I wonder if this is a way they are giving God their "first fruits" as discussed in Nehemiah 10. It may not be much but I wonder if coming in your "Sunday Best" is an offering to God? Is this their first crop, their new wine, their finest oils, their best grain, their purest ground meal.

When we were back in the States we came to church on "show your knees Sunday" where you were encouraged to wear shorts. Casual is in. Formal is not. "Come as you are" is the norm. Overdressing to church is almost more awkward than underdressing.

Have times changed? This is a picture of me and my siblings circa 1981. Yes, I am confidently wearing a bow tie and a Big-bird vest. Maybe this is Easter Sunday...I can't remember. But I know at that moment we came dressed to if this was really if something special was going to happen...and someone amazing would be in our presence.

What do you think? Is it church dress regional? Is church dress denominational? Have we become more casual? Does it still matter "how" we come to church?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What to expect when you go to a Kenyan law firm...

So, it's probably not fair to generalize after seeing 2 lawyers in Kenya yesterday, but still there are a few things to laugh about. But before I share those moments I want to emphasize that both of them were professional, did understand Kenyan law, and reassuring that all should be well.

First, the directions to the law firm were something like, "It's near this building," turns out it wasn't even on the same street as this building and we nearly got stuck in a military parade. Second, there's no parking at the massive building complex which in Nairobi can turn into a real hassle. Thank goodness for the gentlemen who nearly backed his Lexus into us as we walked just to say that he had previously owned Besley's car and we could have his parking spot--license plate numbers don't change here, so he recognized the plate which is amazing. He also told us that he was a lawyer and happy to help anyone who owned the car now that he had once loved. Third, you will be expected to sign in over and over at security check-points and then be asked, "Is this official business?" At which point I wanted to sarcastically scream, "No, the medical director of Kijabe, myself, an OB/GYN and my husband, a dentist, all thought taking a day off to visit a lawyer would be entertaining." Next when you get off the elevator at the 12th floor there will be no directional sign to the specific office so of course we went the wrong way. Then when you ask for the key to the restroom the secretary will say, "I hope you remembered your own TP." Yes I did, that's a permanent fixture in my purse now. Finally the lawyers will appear, look at the 3 of us, introduce themselves and say, "Our office is too small to meet in let's go to a restaurant in the building." Then you take a glass, outside elevator down 12 flights (at which point I really thought about getting on my knees and praying) only to arrive a dumpy, fly-swatting, non-airconditioned restaurant that is out of bottled water and serves instant coffee.

I think my favorite part though was when we had asked some specific legal questions and they graciously admitted not knowing the answers, but they had a friend who was a lawyer and a doctor. So yes, they phoned a friend and proceeded to talk to him as they talked to us. It felt something like a Who wants to be a millionaire life-line. Except instead of winning a million dollars I'm hoping to stay out of jail.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thumb sucker

Meredith has generally been a content child. We attributed some of that contentment to her ability to self-soothe by sucking her thumb. She sucked her thumb to sleep, when she fell and got hurt, when she needed to rest, or when she wanted to relax and listen to a book or watch a movie. Sometimes we'd even tell her, "Just suck your thumb sweetheart, then you will be alright." Although once we got to Africa the thumb sucking was probably the reason she had Giardia for 6 straight months. And Kenyans loved to yank that thumb right out of her mouth causing her to yell, "Stop, it's mine," frequently.

Well, by the textbooks (dental textbooks) by age 5 we needed to stop this self-soothing or we were going to more permanently impact her smile. Recognizing that it wasn't going to get any easier for her to stop we decided to find her currency-- you know the thing that she wanted more than her thumb. We suggested several things we could get her for her birthday only to have her say, "I've decided I have enough toys and only want cake for my birthday," i.e. no way am I giving-up my thumb. But then a high schooler mentioned she wanted to sell her American girl doll. I took Meredith up to see the doll. She wanted it and I think she wanted it even more because it was something Amelia wanted. But her thumb hasn't been in her mouth since. Those first few naps and bed times were hard, but she figured out other ways to soothe to sleep. I see now that along with contentment my child does have self-control (at least some of the time). I'm proud of her and will always picture her baby-toddler years with her thumb in her mouth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Kids Can Share God's Love From Afar...

Despite great care given by doctors, nurses, and chaplains; the Kijabe Hospital Pediatrics Ward can be a sad place for a child to be. This children's hospital doesn't have pretty aquariums, carpet with stars, air-conditioning, crayons, helium balloons, visiting puppies, clowns, or televisions with cartoons. This hospital does have rice and beans three meals per day, a dusty floor, lots of cement walls, multiple IV bags, too many tears, too many long needles, thin mattresses, patient stays that are much too long; and far too many incurable diseases, aggressive cancers, traumatic injuries, and untreatable disfigurements.

Imagine bed 1 sits a 12 year old boy who suffers from a mandibular tumor that disfigures his face. Bed 2 cries an 18 month old girl trying to remain still, wrapped in bandages recovering from 2nd and 3rd degree burns all over her body because she rolled into the fire place in the middle of her home. Bed 3 lays an 8 month old boy hooked to IV. He is thin, dehydrated, suffers from TB, and is likely just being diagnosed with HIV. Bed 4 has a 4 month old girl who goes for surgery almost weekly to drain the excess CS fluid in her head that is twice as large as it should be. Bed 5 has a 9 year old boy casted leg all the way to his hip, attached to a string and a few rusty weights dangling above the bed to keep the appendage elevated. The stories go on..but the pictures do better justice to these kids.

This past August the kids of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Akron, Ohio gathered around the figurative Baobab Tree for Vacation Bible School (African Theme). These kids had a great idea to help out kids just like themselves (but suffering from sickness) here in Africa. One by one our friends back at WPC donated stuffed animals, crayons, and coloring books to be given to kids here in Kenya. And gather they did...all in all over 250 stuffed animals, 200 coloring books, and just as many crayons were collected and packaged in an oversized action packer. In coordination we were able to pick them up in Washington and bring them with us to Kenya.

Well, Kids of WPC please see the happy kids below (and their new fuzzy friends) and how your desire to share God's Love gave these kids a little joy, some hope,and a piece of happiness. The pediatric chaplain said as we left, "Please thank those who have given from me and the patients. The kids are still sick and hurting..but they know someone thought about them. Today they have made the hospital a happy place."