Sunday, December 9, 2012

Good News!

Erik has returned from Ethiopia and we are so pleased that all of the Kijabe candidates who took the COSECSA exams passed.  Frehun, the pediatric surgery candidate, is the first person to successfully pass the exam for pediatric surgery!  We are so proud of his success and praise God for it!  He is now working in Ethiopia as he and Dan Poenaru begin a new BethanyKids site there.  We are so grateful for your prayers!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trip to Ethiopia

Erik headed to Ethiopia today where a meeting of the College of Surgery of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) is being held.  One of his pediatric surgery trainees, Frehun, will be taking his oral certifying exams there on Monday and Tuesday.  Erik is traveling with one of the general surgeons here and two of the general surgery trainees who will also be taking exams.  We would appreciate your prayers for safe travel and for Frehun and the two general surgery trainees as they takes these important exams.

Erik and Frehun at Frehun's graduation celebration

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Petting Zoo

We have added baby chicks to the petting zoo that we call a home.  You might remember this hen that wanted to peck my arm off; we've named her Meanie.  

Well, Meanie was starting to brood and wanted to sit on her eggs all day so we got her some fertilized eggs to sit on.  21 days later - we have 6 baby chicks!  Right now, they are very soft and cute and a lot of fun.  

You can add raising chicks to the list of things I've done in Kenya that I would have never imagined myself doing.  The list is getting quite long!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


We hit a milestone a few weeks ago for the pediatric surgical service at Kijabe.  We had our first survivor of a condition called “esophageal atresia and tracheo-esophageal fistula” (EA/TEF).   This is a congenital anomaly where the esophagus (food pipe) is not intact and part of it connects to the trachea (windpipe).  If not corrected within the first few days of life, the child will die.  We’ve cared for a few children with this problem, but for a variety of reasons, have not had any survivors.  “Moses” (alias) had been born at home and had some problems with bleeding from his umbilical cord.  His mother took him to the local hospital and there it was noticed also that he was throwing up all his feeds.  By God’s grace, they were able to make the diagnosis of EA/TEF and referred him to Kijabe.  At about 5days old, he and his mother made the 8h bus trip to Kijabe Hospital.  We were able to operate on him and then through the coordinated care of the pediatric and pediatric surgical teams watch him recover and go home. It was such a special blessing to see “Moses” nursing and thriving.  His young mother was all smiles on the day of discharge.    I thank God for how He works through His people to bring His hand of healing and provision to the least of these.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mass Casualty

Kijabe Hospital does a lot with relatively limited resources.  The bed capacity is 281 and the hospital operates with a bed-occupancy rate of 98%.  While most hospital administrators in the USA would love to have this occupancy, it makes for difficulties when many patients show up at once in need of care.  There is a doctors’ strike currently in the public sector here in Kenya that has caused the patients to turn to non-governmental hospitals to get care.  This has further stretched the ability of hospitals like Kijabe which shoulder the added healthcare load.  Add onto that a bus crash and you have the makings of a potential disaster.  A few days ago, over 40 patients arrived at once to the emergency room at Kijabe Hospital after a road traffic accident.  This would stretch even the largest of facilities in the well-resourced world, so imagine the strain of a limited resource mission hospital in rural Kenya already stretched to capacity when such a patient load alights at once.  Our small, 6-bed emergency room teems with patients and caregivers.  The scene is nothing less than controlled chaos.  Nurses, staff, and physicians from throughout the hospital, including many not on duty but coming in from home, pitch in to care for the wounded.  This “all hands on deck” response is a picture of teamwork and commitment that amidst the tragedy is wonderful to see.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Prayer Request

Please pray for the doctors, hospital staff and patients here at Kijabe Hospital.  The government doctors have been on strike so the mission hospitals are the only affordable healthcare option available for most Kenyans.  Our hospital is beyond capacity and its resources are being stretched.  Just this evening, we received patients from a mass casualty and reports are there are more than 50 patients involved.  This will be a long night for our very tired physicians as well as for these patients and their families.  We pray that in all things, Christ will be glorified.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pediatric Surgery Training Program - Prayer Requests

We appreciate your continued prayers for our family and for our ministry here.  Here are a few specific things you can be praying for in regards to the pediatric surgery training program.

1.  Our plans are to return to the US at the end of March and formalize our transition to SIM before returning to Kijabe, God willing, at the end of August 2013.  Please pray for God to provide a couple of pediatric surgeons in the short term to help cover during our home assignment in 2013 and for a long term pediatric surgeon to join us in the work here in Kijabe.

2.  Pray for Frehun Ayele and Dan Poenaru as they move to Ethiopia to expand BethanyKids' pediatric surgical work in Addis.

3.  Pray for Aiah Lebbie's paperwork to clear in a timely manner so he can go to South Africa to complete his final year of training.

4.  Pray for Erik's trip to South Africa in September.  He will be meeting with various pediatric surgeons there in hopes of establishing an ongoing partnership for the training program.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pediatric Surgery Training - Part 4 (from Erik)

As I mentioned previously, our trainees hail from multiple different countries in Africa.

Heuric Rakotomala is the first graduate of the program and is currently working in partnership with BethanyKids back in his home country of Madagascar.

Frehun Ayele, will be expanding the work of BethanyKids in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Catherine Mung’ong’o spent two years at Kijabe Hospital and is now back busily working as a pediatric surgeon in Tanzania.

Aiah Lebbie has just started his third year of training during which time he will spend about 10months on an away rotation in South Africa.  After his training is completed, he plans to return to his home country of Sierra Leone where plans are in the works to begin a partnership with BethanyKids.

Ken Muma has just begun his second year of training and is our first Kenyan pediatric surgery trainee. (We are also extremely fortunate to have his wife, Sarah, working alongside us at Kijabe Hospital as a pediatrician).

Martin Situma, a native Ugandan, has just joined us in July after completing an initial two years of pediatric surgery training in South Africa.  After his year with us, he will be eligible to sit for COSECSA exams and has plans to return to Uganda to practice pediatric surgery in partnership with BethanyKids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pediatric Surgery Training - Part 3 (from Erik)

As part of Kijabe Hospital, BethanyKids and PAACS, we view training as a holistic endeavor that encompasses not only clinical and didactic learning but also nurturing of the spiritual side of life.  As part of this effort, we have a weekly Bible study that allows us to gather together outside of the hospital setting, to study God’s Word and to pray for each other.  We all share the leadership responsibilities on a week to week basis and learn from a diverse breadth of cultural perspectives that are unified through the Spirit of God. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pediatric Surgery Training - Part 2 (from Erik)

In June of this year we commemorated Frehun Ayele’s completion of the 3-year pediatric general surgery training program as well as Humphrey Okechi’s completion of the one-year pediatric neurosurgical training program.  
Dr. Okechi receiving his graduation certificate from Dr. Albright
Dr. Ayele receiving his certificate from Erik
Dr. Okechi will join the Kijabe Hospital staff to partner with Dr. Albright as part of the pediatric neurosurgery service.  Dr. Ayele will be returning to his home country of Ethiopia where he will be joined by Dan Poenaru as they begin pediatric surgical work as part of a partnership between BethanyKids and Myungsung Medical Center in Addis Ababa.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pediatric Surgery Training - Part 1 (from Erik)

The next several posts will be on various aspects of the pediatric surgery training program at Kijabe.  I am so grateful to be able to be a part of the pediatric surgery work at Kijabe and to build on the foundations laid by Dick Bransford and Dan Poenaru.  BethanyKids of Kijabe Hospital is a partnership between BethanyKids and Kijabe Hospital that is multi-layered and serves to provide compassionate, Christ-centered healthcare to kids with surgical disabilities as well as structured healthcare training to physicians, nurses, community health workers and patient families.

The pediatric general surgery training program is run under the auspices of the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) in conjunction with Loma Linda University and accredited by the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (  To date, we have had 6 surgeon trainees from six different African countries participate at the fellowship level. 

In addition to the pediatric general surgery training program, Dr. Leland Albright, a pediatric neurosurgeon working full-time at Kijabe Hospital, has begun training in pediatric neurosurgery.
This map scales the regions of the world to show the proportion of physicians working in that area.  Southern Africa is arguably the neediest part of the world.  Rwanda, for example,  has 1.9 physicians per 100,000 people.  The USA, by comparison, has 549 physicians per 100,000 people.  The surgical workforce is even smaller.  In the East/Central/Southern African region, there are 400 trained surgeons for 400 million people. Compare this to 1 surgeon for every 2,000 people in the USA.  The need to train physicians, including surgeons and pediatric surgeons, in SubSaharan Africa is desperate.

We are in Kenya to join the work that God is doing to further His Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."  Part of this Kingdom work is training and discipling Godly men and women in surgery to be His hands and feet to their own communities throughout Africa.  It's a huge part of why we are in Kenya and it's a privilege to be a part of the work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mt. Longonot

One of the things my sister and her family wanted to do while they were here was to climb Mt. Longonot, a nearby dormant volcano.  Our family hadn't ever climbed it before and we weren't quite sure what we were getting into.  Originally, we'd planned on leaving our 4 year old in Kijabe, but he insisted that he would walk the whole time and he would keep up with his cousins.  Amazingly, they all did great and the 4 year old was a real champ.  

Here is the crew a the top.  Behind us is a straight drop off into the crater - and no railing!

At the bottom with my little champ

All the cousins celebrate at the bottom

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Catching Up

It's been a while since I've stopped by the old blog!  The kids have been on a break from school (we can't call it summer, since this is actually our coldest time of year) and we have enjoyed sleeping a little later and not having much on the agenda.

My sister and her family came to visit us for two weeks and while they were here they replenished our chocolate chip supply, encouraged our family and helped make many fun memories!  I just pulled out Erik's memory card to upload photos from their visit and my computer tells me that it will take a while to upload all 2000+ pictures!  I will not be posting all 2000, but I'll use the next few posts to capture some of the highlights from their visit here.

Outside our local church
No visit to Kenya is complete without a safari so we took them to the Maasai Mara for some spectacular animal viewing.

Typical road trip in Kenya - flat tire

quick dip in the "pool" before our first game drive

The shy rhinos came out for some pictures

wart hog with her babies

posing for a family portrait

Our Massai host gave our 4 year old some "very nice grass" as a parting gift!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Our daughter is home from the hospital and is sleeping comfortably.  I've downloaded the US Olympic Trials so we will be spending the next few days curled up in bed with gymnastics, swimming, track & field, ice cream and Jello.  Doesn't sound too bad to me!  Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Prayer Request

We would appreciate your prayers as our daughter will be having a tonsillectomy tomorrow morning (9:30am our time, 1:30am CST time).  We are thankful to have a wonderful ENT and anesthesiologist who will be there and I'm sure her daddy will not be far from her either.  We are so grateful for your prayers.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chicken Update

I was able to open the door to retrieve 2 eggs and feed the chickens without getting pecked! Success!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost


I've written before that Erik and I are not animal people and we had not planned on having any animals here, but one thing has led to another and we ended up getting Rascal, who after a slow start has turned out to be a great mouser, and Mocha, who is loyal, sweet and most importantly, low-maintenance.

Again, one thing has led to another and some friends have given us their 3 chickens.  I know this is the part when you laugh out loud and think, "She must be joking," but I assure you that I am not joking.  We are now the proud owners of 3 hens.

I know that it I could have gotten a better picture of the chickens if I had opened the door to the house instead of taking the picture through the chicken wire.

But this one looked like she wanted to peck my arm off.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Western Kenya

This weekend we took a trip to western Kenya to visit some good friends who help run a children's home.  We had a great time with our friends and with their Maasai community.  We were warmly welcomed and Erik preached at church on Sunday morning.  It was a wonderful weekend!