Monday, June 26, 2017


On this blog I've always wanted to be honest about  my flaws and humanness. Just because I'm a missionary does not mean I've even remotely got things figured out. As soon as I start thinking about outward appearances I see it first here, on social media. "What can I post or write or show pictures of that make me look good (or at least like I'm not falling apart)"?  So here is me trying to be honest again. I need to admit that I'm a bit unmoored right now. Webster says this means "to loose from anchorage." But the second definition is "to bring to the state of riding with a single anchor after being moored by two or more" and I like that one better.

I know in my head that I can't keep functioning the way I was in Soroti. After this break I could go back to it and survive and maybe even do some good for people for a bit again but I'll be right back to this place. The suffering and needs are just too much. I don't know how to give what I can and not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the remaining needs. So, something needs to change. I don't know what that is. Do I need to find a medical team to join? Possibly in Karuma, or Jinja or Mbale? Do I need to do something radically different in Soroti?  Am I still being called to work in Karamoja?  Am I supposed to be done in Uganda for now?  I don't have the answers to any of these questions and God has been very quiet when I ask (over and over again.)

So for now I'm resting and praying and trying to take small steps. I'm trying to deal with false guilt and real anger.  And for the first time in awhile I experienced God's presence in a reassuring way. I'd been missing it for a frustratingly long time. God reminded me in my quite time today how important my daily bible reading was. I was still readying and studying it but merely as a hoop to jump through early in the morning. Thanks so much to all of you who have been praying for me because "you have not because you ask not" applies to our scripture reading as well.  I had not been asking or expecting anything from the scripture I was reading for quite a while now.

Setting your mind on things of God leads to enduring delight, genuine joy. I'd been missing this for too long. The suffering and daily grind seemed to be all I could see. There was no joy in it. But, He is restoring His joy. Mostly it is in swimming and my nieces and lots of manual labor but I'll take what I can get.

Monday, June 19, 2017


I sent an update/newsletter out early May but I'm realizing how few people got it. For those of you who didn't, sorry and here is the bulk of it.....

It is always an adventure here in Soroti. My watchman just came to the door to tell me he saw a cobra in the garden and he suggests I keep the kitchen door closed. So besides snake hunting, I’m keeping very busy with regular clinic work three days a week, lots of home visits and occasional teaching in a variety of venues.

Because my work permit is now being issued through the church in Obule I’m in the village almost every day of the week and the needs are overwhelming. It seems like there is almost always a woman laboring in the clinic or someone who needs to get to the hospital or malnourished kids who need follow-up. I love working with my tiny village church that really has the heart of God and serves sacrificially. The daily grind, however, has really worn me down. The needs are endless. I’ll be honest, I’m struggling right now. So I’m taking some time off. I’ll be back in MI for six weeks to rest, pray, spend time with family, take a break from this place and get my head on straight. June 21st to Aug 7th. It is a short time and isn’t a furlough so I won’t be doing the regular home assignment activities.

Prayer Requests:

  • Wisdom and discernment. I’m inquiring of God if He has ministry changes in store for me. Please pray with me that He would show me His will and I would have the strength to be obedient to it whether it is to change or keep doing what I’m doing. 
  • I’ll be attending a spiritual retreat for cross- cultural medical providers and also meeting with a counselor to deal with some burnout when I’m in MI. 
  • Rest in God’s presence and trust in His goodness.  Peace, contentment and joy in Him alone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


If you ever have the opportunity to travel internationally with me, may I make a suggestion?  DON'T. I do not have a good track record lately. I'm pretty sure I've missed more connections in international airports than any other person I know. This last trip was no exception. I left Soroti at 6am and got to the airport in plenty of time, around 4pm, with a scheduled departure of 6:30pm. By 7pm the plane was still not to the airport. We learned later that Saudi airspace was closed and so the incoming Qatar plane had to add two hours of flight time in order to go around. Then turn around for the plane in Entebee took at least an hour because Ugandan's just can't move quickly so our departure was more than three hours late. Then the five hour flight took seven so I arrived in Qatar more than two hours after my flight into the US left. So I was re-booked (along  with the majority of the plane so it took awhile) at 4am for a new flight that didn't leave for seven more hours. We were all given meal vouchers and reminded that it was Ramadan so food couldn't be purchased or consumed after sunrise. I was so tired I found a tolerable chair and fell asleep for awhile, was woken by a cleaning crew at 5:30am only to discover I missed sunrise.  I tried to tell myself I would be fine but after doing the math and realizing that it would be more than 12 hours since the last time I'd eaten if I waited for the next in-flight meal and I was already too tired and irritable I'd be dangerous if I added really hungry to the mix, I pretended to be pregnant so I could buy a juice. This lie doesn't bother me at all.  Another challenge in Doha was that I somehow needed to get word to my family that I would not be coming into GR on the flight they thought I was. But my little Ugandan phone was useless and due to the airline electronics ban (for all flights into the US from middle Eastern countries), I had checked anything else I could have used. The airport does have a place where you can use computers so I got a message out but I suspect it was a bit cryptic.....

Anyway, I did finally arrive in Chicago though that continues to be the worst airport in terms of courtesy and reasonableness. You are treated like a criminal in customs and immigration, even if you are an american citizen. I can't imagine what it is like for foreigners. I want to make a shirt that I'll call my travel shirt. It will say something to the effect "I have not slept prone for more than 36 hours, I'm eight time zones ahead of you,  I've eaten nothing but airline food and I've tried to use several currencies. I want to be compliant but I need you to speak more slowly, enunciate a bit and stop yelling at me." I know it is too much for a shirt but a girl can dream right?   Three or four weeks ago, in Soroti, my watch broke and I kept trying to duct tape it but when it got wet the tape would slip. So I used a heavy gauge retention suture and stitched it on. I didn't even think of it in the airport and had made it through at least six security points before Chicago but it was there they pulled me out because I had to take my watch off. I tried to explain that it was sutured on. They said it didn't matter, it had to come off. I said, I'm willing to take it off, just not physically able. If they wanted to give me something sharp to cut it I would. They explained it was a security point, no sharp things allowed. I kid you not, it took me more than an hour to clear this check point.
Anyway, 9pm Thursday night, almost exactly 48 hours after I began traveling from Soroti, I arrived in Grand Rapids. I think my mom fed me and I'm pretty sure I found a bed but it is all a bit hazy.
So, cat is out of the bag.  A few of you saw me at church on Sunday. I'm back in MI a few weeks early. I came back because.... you know, if you say "I'm not sure I can do this anymore" out loud enough times, it becomes true.
Friday AM found me headed to the hospital to do some teaching about HIV and I got a frantic call from the grandmother of baby Jennifer. (First blog here.) She told me Esther had dropped the baby and she was now "acting strange."  I met them on the way in from the village and it was obvious from the moment she handed her to me this was a dying baby. We rushed into the hospital and I commandeered a treatment room for a set of vitals. Later, upon further questioning it seems Esther actually shook the baby because she wouldn't eat. She was extremely dehydrated when I first got her so I'm not sure if there was something more going on before the trauma or not. We rushed into the NICU where we did all we could with our limited resources but at noon I unhooked her from everything and handed her back to her grandmother to take her final breaths. Then grandmother needed help transporting the body back to the village so I took them home. Esther didn't know yet the baby had died and it was terrible to see. This mentally handicapped mother knew she was the cause of her baby's death. She started screaming and throwing herself on the ground. Most of what she was yelling was in Ateso but she would switch into English and tell the baby over and over that she was sorry, so sorry. The culture uses wailing to notify all of the neighbors of a death and everyone comes over to see and mourn together and this was no different. Grandma and Esther started the wailing and each new woman who arrived added to the weeping and keening. This baby's death just seemed so needless. We had done so much to give her a good shot at life. I loved this little peanut.
Between her and a few other cases I just needed a break.  The suffering and need is never ending. I tried to take Saturday off and my phone rang all afternoon and there were several people knocking at my gate. It is just as hard to say No and send them away as it is to engage in their need. On Sunday at church a woman brought me her two extremely malnourished children and with tears in her eyes begged for help. I just wanted to go to church and not be responsible for a few hours. But it seems there is no way to be off duty. I feel wrung out and like I've got nothing left to give. I can't seem to find contentment and I know I'm working in my own strength instead of God's. So it is time for a break.  Some prayer and perspective.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Another little one to pray for

Jarod is one year old and is suffering the effects of someone dumping concentrated quinine into a sub-q scalp IV. Poor little guy has been in for surgical debridement twice and still has a long road ahead of him. 

Holding him down as anesthesia wears off before they are finished.

He is at very high risk for sepsis, meningitis, or any of a whole host of other unpleasant diagnosises on top of the fact that it is really painful and he is terrified. He is extremely malnourished (as is his mother and five year old sister who is the size of a three year old. His cheeks look nice and fat but that is edema from Kwashiorkor.) His father is an alcoholic and I've been out to their home three times and never met him.
We have him admitted at Bethesda because he needs twice daily dressings under sedation and IV abx but I really had to push for his admission. (He was discharged after the first surgical debridement but was feverish and lethargic yesterday and I just can't give him the care he needs at home.) I'm having a terrible time trusting him to the staff there and I just really want this little guy to have a good outcome. Please pray for them and me.
6/6  Update for all of you praying: He is doing really well and loves eating atap and meat at the hospital. He is still inpatient there but all signs look good. Praise God!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Esther's little baby

Esther's little baby died early this afternoon at 18 days old in Bethesda's NICU. She weighted 1900 grams. I wrote about them last here. Please be praying for Esther and her mother.