In this space I will post stories, events, photos, during the time I live in Malawi, Africa working with Adventist Health International. Please come back often (or subscribe) and comment frequently so that we can be connected.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Many of you are on my "group" list and have received an email update from me. However some are not so briefly I want to update you that I am leaving Malawi on June 15. This will be the end of my time in Malawi with the 10 days after returning spent in a "re-entry" class for returning missionaries at Andrews. The last three years have been a journey - many days it has been painful but I have also fallen in love with Malawi - the people, the mission, and the land. So how do you say goodbye? It is something I'm learning as I go and am glad to have people around to help with the process.

In my last blog I wrote about "possible job options"... that has become a reality with a whirlwind trip to California to interview/meet with faculty at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University. They offered me a job as faculty of the MBA program there. Having a lot of time over the past few months and during that week to evaluate the option and possibilities, I accepted the offer just before getting on the plane to come back to Malawi.

My replacement as CEO, Ed Martin, was here in Malawi when I returned. He is transitioning from Zambia where he has been for 6+ years. I was able to spend a little bit of jet-lagged time with him and go over some of the main things that are happening here. I am afraid by the end he was overwhelmed and starting to have a glazed look in his eyes. There is so much going on here that has become "normal" that I forget that someone new will feel like a mac truck hit them when they take over! Please pray for him through the transition. I am confident he will do wonderfully - but I am not ignoring the fact that is a hard position to fill.

Otherwise I am taking each day on its own. I am also looking for a place to live and a car to buy when I get back. I know things will work out and I'm happy that I have some time in the US before starting a new job. This last weekend Cristy, Nicole, Diane, and I had a "girls getaway" and went to Zomba plateau to go horseback riding and stay at the forest lodge. It was so lovely and important for me to do that as it was a special place for me while here.

So my blog "missionmalawi08" seems to not be applicable any more. I think when I leave Malawi I will stop writing here... I don't feel it necessary to have a personal blog when I'm living in the US (especially with Facebook now). I will probably have one more post but then it will be the end...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blah, blah...

The month of having my parents here is almost coming to an end. We hope to leave tomorrow on a trip to Liwonde National Park to see elephants and hippos and then on up to Lake Malawi. However our plans may be derailed by yet another fuel shortage! We are hoping and crossing our fingers that we will find some gas tomorrow morning since our vehicle is on "E" and the closest gas station is about 12 miles away.

On another note this week was birthdays. Wednesday was Trevor's 4th birthday and today is Mom's 62nd. It's been fun to celebrate with family here. I find myself not "into" birthdays much here for some reason. Mostly because there is a distinct lack of Hallmark stores and almost no where to buy a gift. Because of that and being here for a long-ish time I've fallen into the mode of not giving cards or gifts to anyone - even those back home where I could order something online and have it shipped. Hmmm - I think it might be laziness.

In general I'm doing ok. I feel distracted some and have trouble focusing at times. I am praying for whomever will replace me and that they will come soon. I am getting closer to a date for departure and it is getting close! I am also in the midst of discussions about a job possibility when I get back. There is so much unknown and unpredictable about moving back to the US and re-assimilating to the culture. In some ways I'm avoiding thinking about it because it will be sad and difficult - in other little ways I'm getting excited.

A depressing part of life is the annual tax deadline. It is especially frustrating here when I make a pittance as a volunteer and then have to pay medicare and social security out of my meager earnings. It is frustrating to be considered "self employed". But that is life and within the next few days i have to pay and file. But the silver lining is that next week I'm going to Zanzibar! (google it if you haven't heard about it)

Life seems uneventful now except for the frustrations that come up like the Malawi government not paying salaries, the annual audit, Malawi Union church meetings, and other challenges that come along daily. I don't want them to sound trite - i have lost sleep over the ~$40,000 bank overdraft we took in February to pay salaries (paid off about 10 days later) and the threat of another one this month. [It was not required because when we got to the point of taking a loan the salaries came through! Thank you Lord!] But I guess sometimes it feels like this is "normal" and a high stress level is standard but it is tiring and I'm weary...

For now I'll end my rambling comments on life here. I have much to be thankful for and turn my focus in that direction...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

“Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles with warm woolen mittens…” Does that bring back memories??

Last weekend a carload of us loaded up and headed to Cape Maclear for a three day weekend. It was a perfect time of resting, swimming, reading, and eating and getting some sun. Not sure how the mix of water, sun, and sand always brings so much refreshment! I realized that Cape Maclear is my favorite part of Lake Malawi!
me at the lake

When I got back to work Monday I was flitting about the hospital checking on everything and talking to the staff and a nurse asked me if we could get some burettes to use in Peds for smaller doses of IV solutions. After asking around in our warehouse we found something that might work until we can find them here in Malawi (and the money to buy them). I realized finding solutions to problems and making a difference in the resources available to the staff here is one of my favorite parts of my job. I just wish it could happen more.

cristy, nicole, leona, gene, & randy
Monday evening was our last evening with Gene and Leona Augustine. They had been here two months volunteering. So last minute and with not much in our cupboards I invited everyone over for soup for supper and a farewell for the Augustines. The soup was a success, Nicole brought cornbread and we had a lovely evening. Another favorite thing is having people over and feeding them with yummy food!

Tuesdays have become special because we have started a Women’s Bible Study group meeting at Cristy and my house. We meet late enough that the ones with little children can put them to bed while the husbands watch over them. We are studying a little devotional book about contentment which is so appropriate for all of us here. Good discussion, warm drinks, and a few snacks went a long way this week to help me recover from a long meeting with unhappy staff that ended 15 minutes before Bible Study. It is a blessing to have a time to be together in a spiritual setting with friends here… spiritual community is one of my favorite things.

Mrs. Kamwiyo (our head nurse) handing out buckets
Wednesday is the day we have ADCOM (departmental head meeting). This meeting is good but usually long and dealing with different challenges facing the hospital. I decided a needed a break from these meetings and got the idea of surprising everyone with the chance to give out treats to the children admitted in Peds. We had little red buckets donated from Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, some snacks, and stickers all just sitting here waiting to be distributed. So instead of ADCOM I piled everything up on the table and we put together about 70 buckets and handed them out to the kids at the hospital. After the other committee members realized I was serious and that we weren’t having a meeting they got excited and there were smiles on everyone’s faces – young and old, healthy and sick! Malawians love to laugh and smile and are so happy with little gifts like this and it is heartwarming! Surprising staff members, patients and all with a special treat and break in the monotony is definitely one of my favorite things!
a family who's baby is admitted for malnutrition (ok so candy may not be the best - but the smiles are!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Full House

We have many people coming and going here so I wanted to talk about the volunteers in this blog – I’ll share a little bit. I was trying to come up with pictures of all of them but I don’t have them so – I’ll just tell you about them…

Chris Greenly is a student missionary from Andrews University and is a Physics major as well as a computer expert. He has been here since August and will stay until May. While here he is working on our computer network – both the internet and the internal network. He has also set up a small computer lab and started basic computer literacy classes for the hospital staff.

Jacquie with Ryan (my nephew)
Jacquie Cunningham is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner from Tennessee. She was able to come between jobs and spend about six months here to help during the busy malaria season. She loves kids and enjoys her time here. She’s become a favorite of the missionary kids too. She’ll be here until the end of March.

Diane (pronounced “Gi-anee”) Lemos is a Physical Therapist from Brazil. She came in November and plans to stay one year. We have not had PT services here so she has had to build up her patient base. Many people come who have had strokes or other problems and she is able to help many people. She is enjoying the patients.

Megan Morton is a student missionary from Walla Walla University. She just joined us on New Year’s Day. She was in Namibia teaching at a mission and it had to be closed down. After Randy had contacted WWU about the possibility of them sending a student missionary here it worked out for her to come here to finish her SM year. She is teaching about 10 students in a room at the church and Nathan and Ryan are going to that school and enjoying her teaching. She is a natural born teacher and does a wonderful job with very few resources.

Gene & Leona Augustine are from Tillamook, Oregon here for two months. He is a retired contractor and she a retired nurse. Funny enough they lived in Tillamook when I was little and remember my family. Gene is working on various maintenance and construction projects and Leona is helping organize the supply closets and warehouses at the hospital. They seem to have endless energy and are a real help to us here.

Both Jacquie and Diane have spent time staying in our house. Our housing for volunteers is limited so Cristy and I cleaned out our “middle” bedroom and put a bed there so we can have space for a guest to stay. It is more like an office since there is no closet but both girls seemed to do ok. The challenge was three girls trying to get ready for work in one bathroom in the mornings. They have both moved out to different places so we have space for Cristy's parents to stay with us. We have also been working on adding two more rooms to the guest house so we have more space for short and long term volunteers. The first room is finished and is self-contained with a small fridge and hot plate and Diane has moved there.

As you can see we have many people coming and going. Housing is a challenge as well. Some of the volunteers are staying in the house where Wes and Chrislyn Lutz lived except until about 10 days ago when the sewer blocked up (some were relocated to the guest house – others are staying there but using the neighbor’s bathroom). We are trying to get the sewer finished so that a group of 25 high school students from Laurelwood Academy can stay there for the month of March while they build One Day Churches in the area. They will not be doing much on our campus but needed a place to stay out here. They will be working with Maranatha people and helping with their projects.

There is never a dull moment around here. Over the past few weeks many people have been sick with some Malawian virus. The Hayton family was all sick for about a week, Randy was sick for a few days, and I felt bad for about a day. I’m not sure what it was but it had us all knocked down. It is the malaria season too so that is always a concern too. We seem to have avoided that so far. I’m thankful that I haven’t gotten anything serious and the little care that we need is available at the hospital. Unfortunately Ryan Hayton injured his knee in January and had to fly to South Africa for orthopedic surgery. Thankfully he is better and off his crutches without any pain now.

Cristy’s parents are here visiting for about 3 weeks. It is nice to have them here and we enjoy having a full house. Most days when we come home it is full of friends – whether our Peace Corps neighbors stopping by to use internet or take a hot shower, others coming by to drop something off or ask a question, or people staying for a meal – our house is always busy.

Although there are times when I wish for some peace and quiet, there are many blessings to having a welcoming house. I enjoy preparing food and a comfortable place for people to come and find rest. I’m thankful that people feel comfortable here and that we can share our home and food with others.

So you are always welcome! We still have an empty futon in the front room that is very comfortable.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On A Personal Note...

Well I realize this blog is about "Missions in Malawi" but it's also wrapped around my life so as you know my writings have been fairly slanted towards my viewpoint on everything (since I write them, what do you expect?) and my experiences. Mostly though, I haven't delved too deeply into my personal joys or struggles in order to avoid unnecessary worrying or misunderstandings or other things that may come from sharing my frustrations. This time, though, I want to share some personal news that is GOOD!!

So if any of you are on Facebook you will have seen a recent photo album and have asked yourself (or me) "who is that guy?"... well I'll introduce you - his name is Drew Rogers from Walla Walla, WA and to answer your next question, yes, we are dating. (Here is a link to the photo album in case you haven't seen it yet: PHOTOS ) So to give you some background - we met in October of 2009 here in Malawi. He is working as the Director of Finance for Maranatha building churches in Mozambique (about a 24 hr drive from me). At the end of 2009 Maranatha moved their headquarters to Malawi and he was here to set things up. He went back to Mozambique to continue the project there. After seeing him briefly again at Thanksgiving 2009 I didn't see, hear, or think of him until a phone call out of the blue in May when he was back in Malawi for a week or two. Since then we've realized that the distance of one country isn't too much - phones work (sometimes) and email works (more often) and after he moved about 10 hrs away he came to Malawi every month or so.

One of the things that we have in common is loving to travel especially road trips. We had a long conversation one time about all the places we wanted to visit in the world - Greece, Alaska, Italy, Switzerland, Zanzibar, and others. One of those on the African continent was Cape Town, South Africa. So with some planning it worked out for him to meet me in Johannesburg when I flew back from the US just after Christmas and we drove to Cape Town, then back along the Garden Route and north to Johannesburg in 10 days and over 1,800 miles. This was a good chance to spend some time together and see an amazing country! It was a lovely trip - we got along well and had lots of fun - exploring little towns, taking pictures, getting lost, Drew went bungee jumping, learning history, shopping, hiking, and looking at the amazing stars in the African sky. So after such a trip - what is the consensus and what's next?

Hout Bay, South Africa (on the Cape)
As for what's next - only God knows and He's in control so we'll see. Drew is headed back to the US in February and will settle back in Walla Walla for now. I have not fully decided, but it looks like I will be back in the US for good by September so for now it looks like it will be a very long distance relationship. Neither one of us came to Africa expecting to meet someone special so this is all an amazing gift that we will see what God has in store!

This development sort of adds another dimension to "mission in malawi" but it wasn't part of my original plan. I've always been of the opinion that God knows wherever I am and if I'm meant to meet someone it doesn't matter where I am in the world - I guess this is true! Most of all it's important to be doing what I feel like God wants me to do and be doing it the best that I can. It's exciting to see what God is doing and be open to his plan so I continue to trust Him to guide my life in every area.

P.S. I am back in Malawi now - glad to be back after 6 weeks vacation. Things at the hospital are still challenging. We continue to face many financial challenges and staff seem to be unhappy right now (also due to financial problems). Please continue to pray for wisdom and guidance for our hospital so that we can make the best decisions for the future as possible. We are thankful to have many volunteers here right now... next post will be about them.