Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Love Abounds

Ezra, Elijah and Enoch

Good morning America!  We have already finished our first week of service here at Tenwek!  It has been a week of renewing friendships and making some new acquaintances.  The needs here continue to be overwhelming especially since secondary school fees are due now for the coming year.   I have been approached by many already asking for help with these fees. Knowing when to say “yes” and when to give an empathetic but firm “no” are extremely difficult.  That is especially true when you know that you can help them but that it is wrong to build up a dependency on missionary help.  As we all know it is better to give them seeds and let them produce their own crop.  Again, not easy

The twins that I was helping with have gone home.  The tradition here seems to be to name the children with the same initial so they were called Louis and Lewis!  You must know that Louis is pronounced “Lois” here!  Still a bit confusing!  Now I am helping a Mom with triplet boys named Ezra, Elijah, and Enoch!  Mom has a family of seven now having had four girls before the three boys!  She assures me that her family is complete. Thankfully her mother-in-law is here helping too so it will be a community effort raising these babies!  I am impressed with both of these mothers and grandma. They are all loving and smart.  It is not easy keeping track of how much formula versus breast milk each tiny premature baby receives every three hours around the clock.  Over the years I have been generally very  impressed with African moms; their love and devotion to their children is to be admired.

Love is in the air here at Tenwek!  I have been surprised with how many of my young nurse friends have gotten married during the past year.  They are quite secretive about it and kind of spring it on me in a quiet moment.  Yesterday, two young women whom we have known and helped through the years also announced that they are in love; one is getting married on March 11!  Not only that, the minister preached on Love and the importance of fidelity in relationships. 


Saturday, February 17, 2018

On Call

Tenwek Rainbow

Taking “OB Call” at 76 is probably a little crazy - but here I am.  The reality is that there is and will be limited senior staff here at Tenwek Hospital - so here I am.  In a bizarre way it is an exciting place to be serving with young residents, interns and medical students.  The service contains some obstetrics and gynecologic challenges - a new diagnosis of rheumatic heart disease in pregnancy, intraperitoneal TB, malaria in early pregnancy, placenta accreta, severe thromobphelbitis, et cetera.

For the expatriates like me, these are rare opportunities to learn about and provide care for these women and their babies.   It is for many of the learners a life changing experience.  

It is also a time to be with young Kenyan interns.  It is more difficult to assess your presence with the Kenyans who have seen so many different consultants come and go.  It takes some time to “learn together”.  

More later as the opportunity to be “on call” continues.



Hage ML (2018) Healing Together

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Returning Joys

Another beautiful morning in rural Kenya!  It is eight o’clock and I have done two loads of laundry , showered, eaten, and now ready to blog with you!  Life starts very early here and what we have to remember is to go to bed earlier to compensate.  This old body needs its rest!

Yesterday, I had the joy of going to nursery and seeing my nurse friends. The nursery is as hot as ever!  The census is currently low with only 20 babies. Unfortunately those 20 seemed quite sick.  However there are triplets and twins among the 20 so I think that there is work for me!  I have not brought the knitted caps or the blankets lovingly made by friends at home up there yet. I have to spread out the excitement!  Yesterday’s Valentine Hershey kisses were enough for the day!

We had the most fun experience on Sunday night.  At 7 PM we streamed in the 11 AM church service live from First Presbyterian in Wilmington, NC!  It was as though we were there!  No problems!  It is the miracle of science and very hard for me to fathom!  When Marv was here in 1997 the only thing available was the BBC!  Now we are connected to the world except when the power goes out!  How marvelous!

Marv is back in stride and loving being a physician again!  In fact after a sabbatical from night call last year they have put him back in the schedule.   Fortunately last night was very quiet but we will see how this works at his grand old age!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Day

Happy  Monday morning!  We are finally here at Tenwek and getting settled into our tiny studio apartment on the third floor of the guest house.  I think they forget how old I am or else they remember and think that climbing steps will keep me in shape .  I have not attempted  to go up to the hospital yet so that will be the real test of my stamina.  It does take a few days to get used to an altitude of 7000 feet  coming from the flat land of eastern North Carolina!  

On Sunday we hired a driver and went to Kijabe Mission Hospital which is about an hour and a half outside Nairobi.  We had worked there about six years ago so we were eager to see if things had changed.  We were able to see some friends and Marv was able to talk with several people in the OB department.  He also was able to talk with the doctor who is in charge of their medical education which is a primary interest of Marv’s. The best part was that her husband was wearing a U of M t shirt!  The world is very small as he  had spent a short time in Ann Arbor.  

The four hour trip up here was uneventful thankfully.  We noticed how dry everything looks until we got very close to Tenwek.  Things are dry here too but a bit greener than along the way.  The bougainvillea is blooming as are many other flowers.  The tea leaves cover the hillside with a lush green .  We are right next to a road the leads to the back of the hospital and so we have a fair amount of traffic; especially of  small motorcycles or boda boda’s , as they are called ,coming and going.  It is fun to wake up to the sound of children’s voices as they walk to school  around 6:30 AM.  
As I look out my window I have a clear vision of the building that burned last Friday night.  It was a very big deal!  Stories are emerging of patients fleeing their hospital beds, Moms gathering up their babies and running.   The fire was not immediately threatening the maternity wing but the sound of the flames and breaking glass petrified patients.  African women wail when tragedy strikes.  I am told that the wailing could be heard for miles and miles as people could see the flames leaping into the air. 

I plan to visit the nursery this morning but will probably wait till tomorrow too really begin working there.  I wonder if the heat in the nursery will be a problem for me .  It is like a sauna !  Since it is Valentine’s Day tomorrow I will bring chocolate!  Many things are universal!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fire & Ice

Snow in Paris

We have  arrived safely in Kenya!  It was a frustrating trip as we were delayed by snow in Paris for eight hours.  We arrived at the Guest House at four AM but non the worse for wear!  That would amount to a 24 hour trip!  The good news was that there is very little vehicle traffic in Nairobi at 3 AM!  

We fell into bed to be awakened at 10 by the news that our driver was here. We had arranged for a driver to take us to a couple of shops while we rest up here today and tomorrow as our housing  at Tenwek is not available until Monday . Sadly we received awful news from Tenwek this morning that a major fire broke out there last night.  It sounds like it destroyed the restaurant, laundry, sterilization room, and some offices.  Fortunately they were able to move patients out of a ward in the basement and no one was injured.  They believe that the fire started in the kitchen of the restaurant. Please pray for the hospital, employees, and administrators as they work on a plan to rebuild.  It will impact surgery, sterilization, food prep for patients, laundry for patients and staff and countless other details that help a hospital function.  It will be a major undertaking.  

As I write I am sitting on a patio surrounded by beautiful plantings, the sound of children playing in the yard, and birds chirping in the bushes.  All is good!  We are always so grateful to God for safe travel.

Micki & Marv

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gifts, Gratitude & Grace

Caps from the knitting ministry for the Nursery at Tenwek Hospital

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers,
but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
Ephesians 2:19 (NIV)

We all just finished the Christmas ritual of gift giving…as well as the returns!  For us gift giving/delivery continues as we prepare to leave!

We have been collecting and packing gifts to take with us to Tenwek Hospital.  These gifts range from medical supplies to donations for a cow!   It is with grateful hearts that we thank all who made or gave these gifts.   So why does this happen?   Why do people need or want to give gifts, great or small?

Let me share a recent unlikely “big gift” Tenwek story - (click here).

So one explanation is that we are commanded to do it.  Another reason is the Tenwek community is family and we are not “foreigners and strangers”.

Thanks for the gift we all have been given by the Grace of God,

Marvin & Miriam


Monday, January 8, 2018

Another Kenyan Trip?

Every year the question returns..."Are you going to Africa again?"  We are fortunate to be able to answer "Yes" to the question.  We leave on February 8, 2018.

The answer this year is more complicated with more family participation, a focus on the Special Needs Clinic and continued development of a curriculum for a residency in obstetrics and gynecology.

Your support and prayers are so important to us as we share stories and photos.  We will continue to respect the privacy of patients and our friends.

Thanks for reading and responding to this blog.

Marvin & Miriam

p.s.  For an overview of Kenya in 13 1/2 minutes see: