looking back.

i didn’t post my kenya blog anywhere but facebook, so i’m going to put it up here in case anyone didn’t get a chance to read it… 🙂 beware, it’s long!

4 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

we saw over 100 children today, plus some of their parents. it looks like we’re directly working with a group of Christian schools which are sponsored, just like Compassion International children. So they’re children from the slums who can come because people are paying for their food and education. i’ve walked through some of the slums, peed in a whole in the ground, walked through sewage, hugged tons of children with ringworm, malaria, tuberculosis… etc. let me tell you, it’s been an experience and we’ve been here two days!!! specific prayer requests are for energy – i’m doing ok, just get tired a lot, but i’ve noticed several people on the team get really uptight when they’re tired, and start to get on my nerves. not that anyone ever gets on my nerves 😀

today i charted height, weight, and temp for all the children/adults we saw. oh yeah, and add 17 more children onto that number, ’cause rob had 17 in his dental chair.

i have so many more children that i will never, ever forget. and stories to tell like none other. today, we got done before our nurse did (because we were screening for her)… and so i started playing with the kids in the yard. it went from 3 girls, to about 20-25 kids of all ages singing and playing with me. don’t worry. i have pics!

tonight we had a cookout (hamburgers) with the American interns that are here with CMF. then we walked down to a school and shot off (about 5) fireworks. lol. it was a great 4th! i’d spend every one like this for the rest of my life.

we did get our last 5 bags today… wonderful.

and we had TWO eight hr flights to get here (plus the one to Atlanta from Wichita!!). talked about crammed and tired. lol.

6 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

it’s almost 9 pm on the 6th here. we had our second day of clinics and saw close to 200 kids including both medical and dental. i took temperatures, sang songs with them, took their pulses… over and over. but still the time flew ’cause it was a new kid all the time. i can’t wait til i can actually do some of the nursing stuff.

it’s been a lot different of a trip than we were expecting, which is difficult in and of itself… i thought it would be harder, but i’m not sure i could handle harder. but we’re still helping out a lot. that’s def good.

um. yeah.

i’m learning swahili!!


i love to get emails from each of you when i get on. (i highly anticipate them!!) i’m thankful for the internet communication.

tonight we had american food (i had a turkey/bacon/cheddar toasted sandwich). it was amazing. i must admit i just love american food the best. i can tolerate other foods, but i love american food. last night we had ethiopian (it tasted just like kenyan), and was a little too much for me on top of all the kenyan food we had. oh well. twas good. tomorrow night we’re eating at mary’s (one of the kenyans who lives here.. the director of the schools)

7 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

So, update number… I really don’t know. .. 🙂

Today was our second day in Kosovo, the second school we’ve worked at so far. We saw even more children than yesterday, maybe about 150? I did temperatures and pulses and chief complaints until lunchtime, then worked with Diana (the RN) after lunch and was able to look in ears and stuff. We only saw about 5 children after lunch in our booth (lunch was way late), so hopefully I’ll get to do more tomorrow. Jessica and I are going to trade off so she can help Diana and learn, too.

We ate dinner at Mary and Wallace’s house with two of the interns and Doug and Jen (the American missionaries). It was mostly Kenyan food with a few other American dishes thrown in – such as spaghetti, and a wonderful ramen noodle salad. MY FAVE!!!

The smog is starting to get to me, and the smoke from all the fires burning trash, and cooking fires. My throat is scratchy, and my head has begun to hurt. But I think I’m over jetlag for the most part, so switching up the painful areas of my body is… alright… I guess. Haha.

I’m sitting in the computer room next to a girl who speaks Spanish, she could easily be Peruvian… so I want to talk to her, but I don’t want to interrupt. Maybe I will.

I love the children. They all speak some English from being in the school, and I am learning Swahili. Lol. Kinda. The only pictures I have with me are of Ella and Titus (Thank you Tiff!!), so I show them to all the kids and they love to see them. I am learning to say “They are the children of my brother (that was easier to learn than sis-in-law) ;).”

When we walk through the slums we hear “how are you” from every doorway and direction on the street. Americans use that phrase so much that all the Kenyan children say it when they see us, thinking we must be named the “Howareyou’s” after all. 🙂

The last two days we have been working with 4 Kenyan nurses as well as Diana, so we screen for all of them. It keeps us hopping. If we ever get ahead of the nurses I grab a book and read it to them, or sing a song with the kids in line. And all of them get a treat such as a bag of fruit snacks or a little cup of trail mix to eat while they wait. DeeAnn is handing out salvation bracelets to each of them as well and explaining what the colors mean. And when they leave our clinic Vickie gives them a sticker as they head to the “pharmacy.” Each of them makes sure they get each gift, but I haven’t seen many of them try to weasel us out of more than one each.

The girls all have cornrows, and the boys all just have little fuzzy heads. The first day the only way we could tell the girls and boys apart was if they were wearing a skirt or shorts. Sometimes I still have to check, but we’re getting better. There are many Kevins, Grace, and Faiths. I don’t know where they come up with their American names, but most of them are random American names. I love it. Wendy, a little preschooler at Pangani has stolen our hearts. She comes up and grabs our hands and asks for a picture. No one can turn her down.

Some of the children with the sweetest smiles have the hardest backgrounds. One youngster brought in his little sister, because his mother recently had passed away by her own hand. He was emotionally distraught because his father refused to tell him that she was never coming back. The father still tried to tell them she would be back, even though the children had found her dead. Their state of mind was incredibly distressed, as you can believe.

One little boy lost his hearing 4 months ago when another boy stuck a stick down his ear, then later hit him on the head with a rock. Diana referred him to the hospital, so hopefully he can get some help.

We will go back to Kosovo tomorrow, and hopefully finish them up early so we can bus kids in from another school nearby. Many of these children have not been out of the slums very long, so we are the first medical care they have ever received. I sure hope we’re doing a good job! We are doing our very best.

Rob had no electricity in Pangani today, so he did only extractions…. No power for his tools for fillings. I guess he saw like 46 patients, and pulled more teeth than that. They are very thankful for him!

My new sister’s name is Alice. She is 23 and a social worker here. She is Kenyan. She told me that since I had no sisters she would be my sister. She is very sweet… I worked with her the first day and we have gotten close.

Today my scrub bottoms are turquoise and my scrub top is purple (I forgot my khaki scrub pants I guess), so I named myself a fruity pebble. I’m so hyper so much of the time that most of my team thinks I’m fruity anyway. Hehee.

Okay, I didn’t mean to make this this long, but I’ve not had time to journal, so I thought I would write some things down that I didn’t want to forget!

8 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

We saw the last of the Kosovo children today; 151. Tomorrow they will start busing them in from Bandini. I did more of the same; taking height and weight, or pulse and temp, handing out snacks, singing songs, keeping the lines moving… etc. I like it.

We finally got our laundry back from several days ago, because the sun came out enough to dry it. Jessica and I washed some of our smaller things in the sink tonight… turned the water brown from all the dust and dirt… and we hung up my airline headphones as our clothesline. It is working well. Now we are crossing our fingers that ANY of it will be dry by morning.

It is cold and humid here, though it never rains. I wear so many layers to bed, and still freeze. The dust in the air leads one to believe it is dry air, as our eyes and throats burn, but our towels are often wet before we shower due to the humidity.

We ate at Doug and Jennifer’s; “real” Mexican food. Oh my goodness. It was amazing. Nothing against chipote and rice, but I will always love me some good ol’ Americanized cookin’ the most. When I went to sign their guestbook, I noticed Anna Michaelson and Julie Svymbersky’s names had just been signed from when CCC came a few weeks ago. That was really cool to see! Also, Sarah Hachmeister (sorry if I butchered the spelling!), who I just graduated with is here with CMF as a summer intern. I really didn’t expect to run into anyone I knew in Africa. Haha. There’s an intern from KCU (Kentucky Christian) and CCU (Cincinnati Christian), and several other schools in our division, so I feel right at home with them.

I appreciated Mom’s note today. Life never stops, you know? Good things and bad. Whether I’m here or there, it just continues on. I have several new things to pray for from back home, and it reminds me of how much I am unaware of that is going on thousands of miles from where I am. For those of you helping to keep me in touch, I appreciate it so very much.

A thug was executed near Pangani last night. He was caught by the police, then shot, I guess. Such a strange and different world here.

On our way home tonight after dinner we were stopped by the police. Scary. Nothing happened, but a little frightening nonetheless. It was just a traffic stop, to see if they could find anything wrong like our seatbelts unbuckled or our insurance out of date. Everything was good, however, so we were able to continue on. Unlike the other night when some of our group were stopped with Doug driving, and it was a much more difficult situation.

It is almost 11 pm, and I am very tired. Our days are so full. Yet, not… Hmm… that didn’t make much sense.

Oddly enough, I have found a good use for facebook. Our internet is so slow here sometimes that it won’t load my email account… but somehow facebook will always load… often… after… a… few… excruciating… minutes… 😀 I am sorry if I owe you a personal email or fb message… sometimes it just doesn’t load and I get tired of waiting.

Oh. I forgot to tell you that I’m having to be twice as careful because I have an open wound on my hand. I stapled my fingers trying to fix the stapler. Yes, I did. I know I’m brilliant. They bled everywhere, and I’ve been bandaging them and double gloving. Hehe. I look like I’m terrified of little kids’ germs. Obviously not, because I let them hang all over me. Precious, precious children they have here. With aching stomachs and rotting teeth… but along with medical care we are giving out Bibles and love and teaching them simple healthy tips (such as how to brush their teeth, why not to give tetracycline to children, and the importance of moving their cooking fires away from their doors).

I am falling in love with some of the Kenyans we are working with, such as Rebekah. She laughs a lot, and informs me I must learn Swahili (I’m doing my best!). And Alice, I think I already mentioned her. And some of the translators, I don’t even know their names (oops).

Mom, I’m sorry about hanging up on you this morning… twice. The phone cards only lasted a few minutes, maybe because it was the middle of the day. I hope you didn’t wait around the phone too long.

Anyway… I should go to bed so I am good to go tomorrow. But somehow, writing to y’all, I feel like I’m talking to you. So, to keep up with your end of the convo, you should write me back. 😀

Love you and miss you all!!!
9 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

Things I’ve learned since coming:

– ask a child a question in Swahili, they will answer in Swahili…
– you do not even need a full inch in between your car and another to make it through safely…
– blue eyes are a novelty…
– so might be a 6’ tall girl [ok, i knew that one already]…
– mosquito netting around a bed can be comforting…
– bus rides in Kenya are much more bearable if one wears a mask…
– although i am not allowed outside of any walls by myself to run, a 5/6 story building makes for great stair running, and jumping jacks in the room are boring, but productive.
– there are only so many ways one can wear their hair curly…
– boys do not like shopping in Kenya either. nor do they barter well [at least the ones we brought]…
– my pedometer is still my favorite toy. almost 6 miles walked today.

Today I got to work with Diana, our RN, for the whole day. In all we saw almost 200 children today, and a few teachers as well. My favorite part about writing scripts/diagnoses for her was that I really got to know the children and learn some of their stories.

**Stories from the Journey**

“Kuja hapa,” said the girl in the blue scrubs. “Mtoto. Kuja hapa!” Her Swahili was not excellent, but it was sufficient that the child understood she wanted him to come to her. His smile could charm the hardest of hearts, and the way he shyly glanced her way made hers absolutely melt. He wanted to be a doctor, he said, as the red-haired American nurse used her otoscope to examine him. He was the top in his class, so it was a definite possibility. As the girl sat there listening to the nurse work, and jotting down notes, she began to cry. Here was this beautiful child; perfect skin and a smile that would delight anyone. He was intelligent, motivated, and hard working it seemed. Where would he be had he not been found by this mission? The small growth in his nose and infection in his ears are now not a worry since he has access to medical care. He now has a chance to pass his 8th grade test and get into highschool, and from there maybe even a university. Yet, if the social workers had not found him, if the school had not been there, ready to welcome him with open arms, he might have had no chance at all for survival, much less a possibility to thrive. That is why the girl cried. Such a beautiful child with such a beautiful future. Praise God.

She was translating for the nurse and the girl. Her English was proper, her smile quick (as is common here). She lives far away from her husband, because that is where he has found a job. She works for the mission as a social worker, so that she may help others who are growing up just as she did. You see, she grew up here, in Village 1, in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. She made it, and she gives her life now to make sure that others will as well.

Some of these children have more diseases at this moment than any person should have in a lifetime. We saw one little girl name Cynthia who had rotten teeth, malaria, scabies, lice, UTI, a lung rub, and burst eardrums. She is a beautiful child, but sat silent because she was in so much pain. Her clothing was ripped and soiled, but it was her school uniform so she wore it. I wish I could see what she is like when she is not in such tremendous pain. She stole a huge piece of my heart today.

Precious children. Angel children.
Brought out of darkness, given hope.
What about the others? There are so many more.
I knew this feeling would come. Yet how do I combat it?
I cannot fight against reality.
I am so thankful I am here to help the few that I can.

Hakuna Mungu kama wewe [there is no God like You]
10 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

so. the market is interesting. maybe even more tiring than those in latin america.

if anyone’s wondering what they’re getting for christmas… it perhaps might be african in nature.

um. those two sentences are not worth posting. but my brain is tired and my body is calling for bed. i feel like i’ve done 3 days worth of activities today, and i can feel it.

we only worked a half day of clinic today, but still saw about 100 children. some of them were returning from previous days. like cynthia (a different one), who had ripped her hand open on a gate a week ago. she went to the hospital and got a tetanus shot, and they should have stitched her up, but they only bandaged the wound. since she likes to play in the dirt, the wound was open and infected when we found her three days ago. it is already healing much better.

after the clinic we spent some time back at pangani eating lunch. then we headed off to the market. and that was an experience unlike any other. and now, i think i will go crash a little earlier than usual.

oh. a few funny/memorable moments from the market are:
– being called “mcc” because that is what my shirt said and they wanted to get my attention.
– being called “sister” by everyone else. all of a sudden my family is huge.
– realizing they only wanted to shake my hand so they could hold me at their booth.
– after the exhilaration of a great purchase i still had to stop and realize that it still had cost me money. no matter how much of a bargain i got.
– rice and meat can taste absolutely different if you place a “kenya” title on it or a “china” title on it. chinese is still a fave. even in kenya.
– on our way home we were stuck in a non moving line of cars for the 5th time. john, our driver, decided to take things into his own hands and we drove on the wrong side of the street for a few miles. saved us hours.

mom, cade, and colin leave for a world changers mission trip with the church in the morning. and with cal living in alaska, i feel like my family is getting spread all over. dad, don’t forget to pick me up from the airport on tuesday, ok?

it is insane to think we only have one more day of clinic left. and the four kenyan nurses will not be there, so it will just be us again. maybe a little slower, but definitely good.

goodnight, all 🙂

11 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

I think they opened the clinic up to family members of students today. We had mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings. The only medical care I have ever given has been on children this week, so today was a completely different experience. It was good for me.

A baby came into the clinic today with a 100 degree temperature. We found out she has TB and was coughing blood. One and a half years old. Her grandmother has it, too. Hopefully our meds will help. Mary reminded me today that we treat the patient, but the Lord heals the patient. So true.

I had been asking Rebecca [one of the social workers] if we could walk back from Kosovo to Pangani one day, so I could see more of the slums. She has been trying to work it out for me, because she saw how much I really wanted to. Today we had time since the clinic closed a little early for lack of patients. So, Rebecca, Vickie and I set off across Kosovo, through Village 1, and through the village of Pangani the main center. The most interesting sight was a fairly new pool table being used under one of the overhangs in the middle of the Kosovo slum. I didn’t take many pictures, as we were three women walking and I didn’t want to draw more attention to us than two white women will automatically, but the images will forever be burned in my mind.

When we got back to the Pangani center we realized the children were preparing something special for us. We had a praise and worship service, then 5 different classes of children sang for us or recited poems, or said memory verses. Trust me, this is unlike any presentation you have ever seen. Then, a few of the teachers spoke, and the director of the mission. Then all the teachers began to come up front and sing and dance around us. Eventually they had grabbed all 15 of us and had us dancing too. They wrapped skirts around the women and put shirts on the men. We were all laughing and crying and singing and dancing. It was pretty sweet, and almost impossible to explain. Then, they brought out a huge cake, cut it into a million pieces, fed us each one [like wedding cake, using the same fork, Mary placed a bite in each of our mouths], and then gave us plates full of cake to hand out to the kids. Each of us ended up with the equivalent of a bite or two, and the cake was completely annihilated. It was really fun, though not completely sanitary. They made such a big deal over us, and thanked us in so many ways, it made us feel extremely special and honored. We weren’t expecting anything. We had more cake tonight for DeeAnne’s birthday. I’m a little caked out.

Tomorrow: church at Mabatini for half of us and Kosovo for half of us. Our last day in the valley. So weird. We’ve been talking about how time has flown, yet it feels like we’ve been here for a lot longer than a week and a few days. Some of these faces I will never forget. And the medical training I’ve received in a week [thanks to all of the pathology we’ve seen] will be incredibly helpful in my next steps in life.

To God be the glory.
12 July 2009 – Kenya – Chandler Hiebsch

Did I mention that I’m sleeping under gargoyles? The hotel we’re staying at – Gracia Hotel – primarily hosts missions type teams. And our bedspreads in our room are gargoyles. [Maybe they were donated to the mission??] Hehe. The boys across the hall – Alec and Joe – are jealous. But Jessica and I are quite content to keep our room as it is. 🙂

We learned tonight at Oliver’s that dowrys are still required for a proper marriage in Kenya. One of his [Oliver’s] jobs as a pastor is to council a young man to go the woman’s family and pay the dowry so that the marriage will be respectable. In fact, it is disrespectful for a woman’s family to turn down a dowry because it shows the man is truly committed and that he realizes the significance of what he is doing. A girl’s family can ask for as many as 200 head of cattle. That’s quite a bit for a youngun from the slums. That might be another reason that it is common for young women in the slums to have children by more than one man.

Tomorrow: Safari, and then we board the plane back home. This trip has flown. I am realizing my exhaustion a little more every day. Since I have a 5 am wake up call [Kenya time], I think I will make this note short and call it a day. Hopefully I will write one last one when I get home on Tuesday afternoon.

Much love from Kenya,
– Chandler

16 July 2009 – Kenya Remembered – Chandler Hiebsch

I woke up this morning, not by choice. I fought to stay in bed until 5 am, because I knew I needed sleep. Craziness. This has never happened to me before. Usually I am fighting to wake up at the sound of my alarm. Kenya has flipped me upside down.

I blew my hair dry and straightened it for the first time in two weeks. Worked on a few projects before I got ready to go to work. Everything seemed normal, yet strange. My whole body just seemed outta wack; like not even I know whether I’m hot or cold, fully awake or only halfway alert, hungry or full. Kenya has flipped me upside down.

I remembered what rain was as it fell from the sky. I’d only seen that once in the last two weeks. I remembered to climb in on the left side of the car, just as I’d been doing for the past two weeks, but this time it was to be the driver. I paused to ensure that I knew which side of the street to drive on, and was pleased to realize I did. I turned on the car after a try or two; I guess it had been sitting too long. And I took off through familiar streets that felt strangely odd. I wasn’t used to this construction site being there, or that new building going up. I drove by places that I had hundreds of times, yet it just didn’t seem the same.

I was especially glad I remembered that on a two land road, only two cars can be side by side in America. And I didn’t try to weasel around anyone then get angry and honk my horn when they almost hit me. That’s the Kenyan way, not American.

I set myself to thinking about my pin and password needed to log onto my computer, and the passcode for the parking lot and the passcode for the back door. I managed to remember all of them by the time I made it safely to work 20 minutes later.

It’s weird. Two weeks does not seem like a very long time to be gone, yet Kenya has flipped me upside down. Any free moment brings images of smiling children to my memory. Images of sick children, healthy children, children with horrible wounds on their arms and legs, children who could put any drama class to shame, children with beautiful voices, beautiful hearts, and beautiful dreams.

Where in the past I used spare moments to think about me, and my future, now it seems that I can’t stop thinking about them and theirs. How can my future most impact theirs, or children like them? Not to say that’s not the direction I’ve been headed for a long time. Yet now the feelings have been intensified. I personally was able to help over a thousand children receive the medical attention they need. I cannot wait ‘til I can go and bring the same help to thousands more.

I’m glad I remembered the usefulness of how to run the mail meter at the office this morning. And I’m glad that I haven’t forgotten how to do my job. But I’m also incredibly thankful that I will never, ever be able to forget these children and the impact they will forever have on my life. They are such a huge part of the passion that drives me.


One thought on “looking back.

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