Attempt Great Things

I saw this lectern in Westminster Abbey when I was 19 years old. I wrote it on a bookmark and discovered it again about 5 years later. As we try to figure out what to do in the future, this simple phrase keeps coming back to me. Simply "Go for it. The Lord is with you."

(For some reason, I had thought it was a Lord Byron quote, but it's actually from William Carey, the founder of modern missions, and the full quote is "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.")

It has seemed to me that the appropriate corollary to this is the Apostle Paul to the Phillipians. "But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from you faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." Thus, attempt, and even if it is nothing more than an attempt, then your life is an offering poured out. So be it.



This was taken outside Nairobi. If you understand it, the humor needs no explanation. If you don't, it's not worth explaining.


Farther than We've Ever Been

Sam: If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.

Frodo: Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

It's official: This is now the longest period of time Eric and I have ever been away from the United States. One-twelfth of our time in Kenya has come to a close. It is different, not being here for a short trip. It's starting to feel like home instead of this weird foreign country. Not even thinking about it much, it feels natural to be meeting people, getting used to life at the hospital, investing. We of course mostly miss the easy communication with family and friends. But otherwise, we've compiled a list of things we do and do not miss about the US. Maybe it will be a surprise what we don't miss!

Things we miss:
Knox (both the church and the community)
Being able to go out--to a movie, to dinner, to anywhere
Trader Joe's
Great L&D nurses at St. Joe's
Ancillary staff
Things getting done at the hospital when you write an order...
Chinese dumplings
Washtenaw Dairy
Our bikes
Fast internet
Surgeries getting started on time
Being able to effectively communicate with at least 90% of our patients

Things we don't miss:
Documentation and dictation
Traffic/commuting to work--only a 5 minute walk
Cold weather
Monthly cell phone bills (pay as you go!)
Owning a home and all the maintenance that comes with it
Doing our own dishes (mostly)
Convincing patients they don't need antibiotics with a viral disease
Owning lots of stuff
Trying to convince a doctor from another specialty to help you take care of your patient (since we all know each other, it's a very friendly process)
Evil Michigan squirrels...the Mara safari park is a nice trade off
Our garden (we have a larger one here!)
Good neighbors (while we had some great ones in Ypsi, the Faders and the Cropseys suffice!)


Knox Kids Update

We are really blessed to have a great "home" church in Ann Arbor, which we've mentioned before (Knox Presbyterian). So many people have supported us--financially, through prayer, or encouragement. Before we left, we had several chances to share with the entire congregation what we're doing, and another fun aspect was getting to share with the kids' Sunday school classes about our work in Kenya. The kids were pretty receptive, and each McCropder family was adopted by several Sunday school classes. We recently received a binder full of pictures and notes from our classes, grades 1 and 2. They asked lots of questions, and I just wanted to share our "newsletter" response with all of you as well. There were pictures as a part of this, but I couldn't get the letter up on our blog in "letter" format, and besides, all the pictures we used have already been posted on our blog.

Dear first and second grade classes at Knox,
Greetings from Kenya! We have been here for two months now and are getting used to living in Africa. It has been very fun so far. Dr. Eric and Dr. Rachel work in the hospital—Dr. Eric takes care of babies, and Dr. Rachel takes care of mommies. Maggie stays home and plays. We live next door to the Fader family and the Cropsey family. There is a nice church that we walk to every Sunday, but we miss going to Knox with all of you!
We had Christmas here at the hospital (Tenwek) and it was fun. There were lots of parties, and singing, and some church services. Maggie's grandma lives in Arizona, but she got to watch Maggie opening up her presents on the computer! We shared a nice meal with the Cropseys and
Faders, as well as some new friends in Kenya.
Here are the answers to some of your questions:

What kind of sports do you play in Kenya?
We have played soccer (but they call it football here), frisbee, and racquetball so far.

Are there forests/mountains/ jungles/trees/oceans/flowers in Kenya?
There are some forests and mountains where we live. The hospital is at 7,000
feet elevation, more than a mile high! There are beautiful flowers, some you'd recognize (roses outside our door) and some exotic ones, too. Kenya is on an ocean, the Indian Ocean. But that's a long ways from our house, so we haven't seen it yet. There are no jungles where we live.

What language do you speak?
We are able to speak mostly English, but are also trying to learn Swahili. Do you remember some Swahili words we taught you last spring? Jambo means “hello”, rafiki means “friend”, and habari is “how are you?”

What kind of animals are in Kenya?
There are lots of cool animals here. On a daily basis, we just see cows and dogs and birds. But there are some special places called game reserves where the animals live, and we just went to visit. We saw giraffes, zebras, lions, wildebeasts, jackals, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, and lots of kinds of gazelles. There are also leopards and cheetahs, but we didn't see those.

Are there shepherds in Kenya?
Yes! There is a tribe of people that live near us called the Masai, and they herd sheep,
goats, and cows. Many times they don't have a permanent house, but travel with their animals all over the country.

Are there schools in Kenya?
Yes. Most children go to school, although you have to pay a fee. And they all have to wear the same uniform. Some children even live at the school.

What kinds of food do you eat in Kenya?
We eat mostly all the same food as you do. Some unique foods that we eat here, like the Kenyans, are called ugali and sukumu wiki. Ugali is a corn mush (like cream of wheat, only
thicker and you eat it with your hands) and sukumu wiki is a green vegetable like

How do you go to the bathroom/take a shower in Kenya?
We have a regular bathroom and shower in our house with flush toilets and running
water. It's even hot water!

What kind of clothes do they wear in Kenya?
Most people wear the same clothes as we do, except women don't wear pants
here, only skirts and dresses. Some people also have a special brightly colored cloth that they can wear as a skirt or shawl, called a kikoy.

Thanks for all your questions! It's nice to know that you're remembering us and praying
for us. Let us know if you have any more questions.
Eric, Rachel, and Maggie McLaughlin



What? 11 days and no blogging? Are Eric and Rachel becoming "one of those blogs"? You know what I'm talking about. Take heart, and allow me to allay the fears that I'm sure have been plaguing your days and your nights for the last 10 days and 23 hours. We recognize the problem and will be working to fix it. There have been a couple temporary roadblocks, namely Eric out of town for a conference with no internet access, and downage of our home internet as well. Things are slightly improved now.

While out of town, Eric did not lodge at the above hotel. However, there have been requests for pics of our nearby surroundings, and this venue is right outside the hospital. There's actually another titled "Extreme Hotel", and I confirm that it indeed looks much more extreme, but maybe not in an advertising-friendly sort of way.


The Mara

We just spent a 24 hr period in the Masai Mara game park in southern Kenya. Words cannot describe the awesome experience. The pics speak for themselves.

See the baby!


Our swanky "tent" room at the Fairmont Resort


Universal Tendencies

Some things in this world cross all cultural barriers. Today at the hospital:

Eric: Yeah, I tried to talk to that nurse on the phone, but apparently after she hung up, she didn't relay my message because she couldn't understand my accent. I wish she would have told me.

Kenyan colleague: Don't worry. We get used to the American accent after a while.

E: Sure. Same thing with the Kenyan accent.

KC: Kenyans have accents?!

Priceless, especially since Michiganders are among the guiltiest Americans on this front. Points to the American South, who are aware of their accents, and proud of them.


Maggie Turns Nine! (months)

I can't believe that Maggie has been with us only as long as my pregnancy lasted. She's been "out" the same amount of time she was "in"! And even though those last few weeks of pregnancy seemed to take forever, it's nothing compared with the sense that Maggie has been a part of our life for so much longer. Three-fourths of a year, wow! I think this will be the month she starts moving on her own. We'll see...Showing off how cute she is.

Half a zucchini picked from the garden. For some reason, she immediately grabbed it and started gnawing. A new favorite food?