“A person gives because the story they tell themselves is of greater value than the gift.”

Seth Godin recently told me this when I asked about charitable giving. Aside from the fact that I received a personal message from one of my heroes, this brilliant insight really touched my heart.

We heal. We give. We teach. We love.

We care about AIC Kijabe because we are the sort of people who see the intersection of need and opportunity and act.

We don’t count the cost of caring, because the cost of not caring would be infinitely more.

In the past two weeks I have watched our volunteer doctors work tirelessly, at their own expense.

Why? Because they are the sort of crazy, beautiful people who fly around the world to work on their “vacation” and know the paradox firsthand – we get life when we give our lives away.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

We must also recognize our brilliant Kenyan and East African colleagues working in the trenches before, after, and alongside the missionaries and volunteers.  They are learners and teachers, the present and future hope for African medicine, treasures of incalcuable worth, and our hearts are always with them!

Value Statement

What do you find remarkable about these two pictures?

For me, it’s the look of love on the faces of the parents as they hold Dominic and Josh B, children with cerebral palsy.

These amazing parents are fighting the hard battles of caring for a special need child, magnified by complex social issues of poverty and stigma.

The Needy Children’s Fund is not just about meeting a financial need, it is also a statement about values. You have sent a message to these parents, “We value you, we care for you, you are not alone, your commitment to love is so important. Carry on in the good fight.”

Superhero Sidekick

This has been a tough weekend – violence in Charlottesville and Kisumu with the Kenyan election results have shaken us.  

Arianna and I have oscillated between anger and helplessness; I’m sure you did too.  

Our best friends bought plane tickets to Kijabe 9 months ago. . .if the politicians say the wrong words, the long awaited plan for their arrival this week could fall apart.  

If you are like me, you question purpose and calling in these “valley of the shadow” moments. The sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday, but a shadow of brokenness hangs overhead.  

What are we doing in this world? What can we really accomplish? Will forces of hate and darkness overwhelm the good? Can I change anything?  

I read a brilliant response to Charlottesville by Sarah Benincasa, who advised taking action by aligning ourselves with those working for good in the hard situation:

I believe in the Superhero Sidekick theory of helping, which is to say that if you’re trying to ally yourself with the interests of an oppressed group of which you are not a part, you pull a Robin, not a Batman. You’re not the star of the show, so you don’t direct the mission. You listen, you learn, you assist. You definitely don’t lounge around and wait for the superhero to do all the work and then take all the credit. You also don’t throw up your hands and wail, “WHAT WILL WE EVER DOOOOOOO? THIS IS HOPELESS!” when Batman is right there going, “Um, Robin? There’s like ten things you could do today that would help everybody out. You listening?”

Here is the reality: I feel angry and helpless when I try to take a responsibility on my shoulders that was never meant to be mine. When I try to be Batman instead of Robin.

“Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Who are the superheroes around me – doing the hard work, continuing to struggle for good – day in and day out – in season and out of season?  

Who is the faithful nurse, intern, manager, or student? What do they need to succeed?  

Am I listening? And if so, how does the superhero need help?  

Let’s take tragedy as a reminder to be involved with the people and organizations doing good work in our neighborhoods. And if you would like to respond by contributing in Kijabe, we would be so grateful.  


Quiet in Kenya is unnerving. 

After a very busy two months in Kijabe elections week arrived and the hospital went strangely quiet for several days. Staff came to work late and left early to make it to polling stations, where they received a painted finger to show they voted.  

Volume is diminished, but as has frequently been the case during the days of the government nursing strike, and patients are arriving in late stages of illness. Hard cases and loss are the norm.  

The official results announcement should come at any minute, and we hope that peace will follow. . .but the country is braced for trouble, the memory of 2007 still etched in hearts and minds.  

Pray for peace to prevail, for wise voices to speak words of unity. Ask that kelele – the noisy African normal – would return.

Friends, Faith, Impact

Why do you study for years and years to go through the most grueling process of medical training, only to forego your salary and move to Kenya to work as a missionary doctor?

Why do you pay to go on “vacation” on the other side of the world, only to work brutally hard shifts in a complex medical system just as you are fighting jet-lag?

I’ve been asking these questions in the past months, and here are the three main answers our volunteer doctors have given.


Taking advantage of the opportunity to serve, to offer hope and healing to the least of these, to be the healing hands of Christ.


A close connection with a colleague serving at Kijabe – service gives you the opportunity to work alonside them, support them, or give them rest.


Teaching and supporting innovation in the East African medical system in ways that will change practices and patient outcomes forever.

We are grateful for you, whether you are reading this from Kijabe, Australia, North Carolina, Seattle, or another corner of the world. Thank you for your faith, your friendship, and for choosing to make an impact!

June in Pictures

Drs. Chen and Korteweg deliver the third of triplets, baby girl.

Mum from a country on our northern borders comforts her baby. Kijabe is a place of hope for people from Kenya and the surrounding nations.

PAACS surgery residents pictured with Drs. Davis, Galat, and Berg

Training of Trainers Workshop on “How to Prepare Effective Lessons: Developing Effective Strategy for Teaching and Learning” in collaboration with faculty from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre and Kijabe Hospital Kenya Registered Nurse anesthesia program.

Farewell and thank you to Dr. Nate Cook, who served in pediatrics for the past two years.

Evangelism – the courtyards are full of patients each day listenting to Pastor Stephen Kithae preach.

Dr. Richard Furman, founder of World Medical Mission and new WMM head Dr. Lance Plyler visiting the ICU.

Vendors at Kijabe madukani.

Masai Mara 





I have been taking a deep-dive into the needy patient situation at Kijabe and want to share a story with you:

Patient M came to Kijabe for orthopaedic surgery following a traffic accident.  He struggled with severe depression during the time of his hospitalization after a brother told him, “we have nothing to help you, it is better for us if you die.”

  1. Why would the brother behave like this?  It turns out his father had multiple wives, his siblings are not alive, and this is a brother by a different wife.  So M’s existence could jeopardize the sibling’s claim on inheritance.
  2. What would M do when he left the hospital? His bill and inability to raise funds are his primary issue today, but what will become reality when he is discharged?   He points to his burns on his hands and legs, saying that he not will do anything.

John, Kijabe Needy Patient manager, translated my encouragement to M, “your problem is not your hands and legs, it is your head.  If you believe you are crippled then you are. . .but you are young, the surgeons have done their work well, and you can be whole – if you believe that you can.”

M’s eyes brightened, as if he had never considered this.  In his depression, he has imagined his life to be worthless, but watching him process the idea of hope was encouraging.

As I relayed this story to my insightful friend Tony (spouse of Kijabe OB Catherine Chen), he had a remarkable observation.  “Today, you were not just a storyteller, you were a story maker.  You went into the room to hear M’s story, but in fact, you were shaping his.”

The goal of Friends of Kijabe is to give you – whether you are in Nashville, Adelaide, London, or Alberta – the opportunity to be a story maker in Kenya.  To connect real people with real hope.  And in turn, to have your story changed.

Even today, a urologist from Florida visited the hospital and was amazed to realize that his unique skill set could be so useful in a mission hospital.  Absolutely, we need sub-specialist surgeons! Just like that, a two-hour visit to Kijabe could change both his story and ours in coming years.  So very exciting!

What about you, would you share your story?
If you have worked at Kijabe, did you have a moment of being a storymaker?

Or, how has your encounter with Kijabe changed your story?
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:31