Search Results for: Dr. Mary

Update on Dr. Mary

Dr. Mary is a doctor who for years has been working in a poverty-stricken region in Ethiopia, (the Wollaitta/Soddo area, for all you Ethiopia-adopt families).  Two of my daughters were born there, and last summer my parents and my sister worked there with Dr. Mary. For many years Dr. Mary has been providing for the medical and physical needs of the poorest of the poor in Ethiopia. Last year she was diagnosed with cancer, and was forced to take a break and come to America for treatment.   Yesterday was her final cancer treatment, and she hopes to return to Ethiopia in a month or so.   Joining her in her work will be my sister Sophie, who is a registered nurse.   You can read Sophie’s blog for more about Dr. Mary, as well as more about Sophie’s plans to work in Ethiopia for the next two years.  On April 20th and 21st I will be holding a fund-raiser for Sophie’s work in Ethiopia.  I hope that you will prayerfully consider supporting her work with struggling people.

Dr. Mary

I have written often about Dr. Mary, the wonderful American doctor who is doing great work in the poverty-stricken area of Ethiopia where two of my daughters were born. Recently she went to Kenya to get a diagnosis for her abdominal pain. Unfortunately they found she has advanced cancer and has been given only a short time to live. She will be returning to the US for treatment very soon. If you are so inclined, please pray for her and for her family. Pray for the people to whom she ministers. Also pray that workers will step forward to continue her work in Wollaitta, Ethiopia. Her legacy is one of great compassion. My three year old daughter is well and healthy and happy –and here in my arms — because of Dr. Mary.

Part 8: Visiting and Driving

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7


After the enormous events that had unfolded on Saturday, we felt kind of in a daze– ‘did that really happen?’– on Sunday.  But Sunday was our last day in Soddo and it was packed with going-away activities for my sister Sophie, who has worked there as a missionary for 5 years.

Sophie and sweet Jake, the assistant guard dog

The morning was spent making a birthday cake for little Elen, a toddler Sophie has cared for since she was born. We also prepped the fixings for fried rice, since later we were making dinner for a missionary family who had been in Addis for awhile and was just driving back to Soddo that day. The mom has been one of Sophie’s best friends in Soddo, and Sophie was very eager to have a little more time with before we left.

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At noon it was time to head off to Amarech and Elen’s house for the birthday/ going away party. Our trusty driver Dawit dropped us off, and then on our request headed off to the town where Emily’s birth mom has lived in the past.  Maybe, maybe he could find something about her while we went tot the birthday party.

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Amarech’s house was full of people whom Sophie has loved and known for years, and it was really fun to be in on the celebration. As is typical in Ethiopia, we were urged over and over again to eat, eat, eat. They served us injera and wat for the meal, and then there was fruit and coffee and cake for dessert.

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The girls and Sophie and I sang happy birthday to little almost-4 year old Elen American-style, which everyone found very funny. And then Sophie and Lidya sang it Ethiopian style too. Little children hung in the doorways watching the party, and periodically neighbors dropped in too, greeting Sophie, some of them staying and eating too. Goodbyes were hard that afternoon. So many people love Sophie and are sad that she is leaving.

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One interesting side note. Amarech, adoptive momma to little Elen, has been a foster mom to many babies for many years. We learned after talking to Dr. Mary that Amarech was also Julianna’s foster mom during the month or so before she went to Kidane Mehret in Addis. When Amarech heard that Julianna was one of ‘her’ babies years ago, she gave Julianna extra kisses.

After the birthday party we headed back toward the Soddo Christian Hospital compound on foot, and were good and sweaty by the time Dawit caught up with us in the van. Unfortunately he hadn’t been able to track down Emily’s birth mom, but she was still so happy to have met her dad that she felt peaceful about not finding her.

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In the evening we had a nice meal with Sophie’s friends, who have 6 children. In an interesting ‘it’s a small world’ set of circumstances, the family will be moving to Kenya soon where most likely the dad, who is a pediatrician, will be working alongside our daughter’s sister in law at Kijabe Hospital. As they are all such nice people, I am sure they will enjoy each other.


One interesting side note: The Soddo Christian Hospital compound is an absolutely lovely place with comfortable homes in which doctors and their families live all ringed around beautiful gardens and a big playground for children.  Every effort has been made to help missionaries feel comfortable, right down to a huge generator that kicks in within 90 seconds after a power outage, which is a huge luxury in a place where the power disappears often.



We headed out of Soddo on Monday morning. Emily and Julianna were both wishing they could have somehow had more time with their families. But we’d done the best we could with the limited time we had, and were so grateful to have gotten to see them.
On the way out of town we paused at a roadside stand for Coke since my stomach was threatening revolt, and Coke usually helps on car rides. We had two extra people with us—an older missionary couple who was headed to Awassa for a little rest and relaxation.
Apparently Awassa is a bit of a tourist spot. Awassa is a 2 hour drive from Soddo, and we got there just in time to drop off the missionary couple and then eat lunch with Marcus and Esther, friends of Sophie’s. Marcus is the helicopter pilot with whom she’s been flying heli-missions for several years into remote parts of Ethiopia.

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We ate at an interesting restaurant which is actually a culinary school. You pay a set fee for the meal and are served a 5 course dinner, something different every day, depending on what the students were being taught to cook that day. This day’s offering consisted of a very nice quiche, potato soup, a salad, crepes wrapped around a filling that reminded me of rich meaty spaghetti sauce and then cake for dessert. Most of the girls liked the potato soup the best—its taste was most familiar and least intimidating to them. I really liked the quiche.

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After lunch we were treated to a tour of the helicopter place, and spent some time visiting the families who live on that compound. The kids there have a sweet spot to grow up—a big yard with swingset, slide, trampoline, and even a zip line—all looking out over Lake Awassa.

soddo (9)After visiting them we went next door to a rather posh looking hotel where Emily and Julianna swam, and the rest of us just chilled out. We had dinner there too—some very underwhelming hamburgers and fries—before heading over to the Norwegian Guesthouse which was just a little further down the same lake.


By then it was getting on toward dark. It has been a really nice place of quiet retreat for Sophie, and it is run by friends of hers.

Our elderly cabin was up a little hill and consisted of a living room, tiny kitchenette and a couple of little bedrooms where each bed was equipped with its own mosquito netting. It’s malaria country, you know. I found the mosquito netting both charming and concerning, and spent several minutes making sure the girls had been properly mosquito-sprayed.


The toilet was attached, but outside, and in desperate need of bleach and a scrub brush.  I was less than impressed.  But hey, we were only staying one night. It would be fine. Sophie went to visit with her friends for a few minutes, and a little later she came back with some bad news.


The couple we’d driven to Awassa, who was also staying here at the Norwegian guesthouse, had gone out to dinner nearby, and then decided to walk back to the guesthouse in the dark through a rather sketchy area of town. They ended up being assaulted and robbed. Sophie saw them right after it happened, and invited them to come sit in our house with us for awhile to settle down and catch their breath.


They have been missionaries in Africa for decades, and are obviously the sturdy sort. But they were shaken up emotionally and beaten up physically, and definitely were distressed from that terrible turn of events. Sophie decided to sleep next door in their cabin with them, just in case their injuries ended up being more serious than it seemed at the moment. (They ended up being ok, though quite bruised.)
We were all shaken up by this happening, Lidya and I especially, and wondered if we were safe with that crime happening so close by. But Sophie reminded us we were in a guarded, gated compound, not out walking on a dark road like they had been. Still it ended up being a restless night of sleep.


The next day we were up and away at 7, eager to get back to Addis at a reasonable time. Dawit, our wonderful driver, had been away from his wife and baby daughter for 4 nights by now, and I was thinking happily of our lovely guesthouse in Addis, which was sounding even better in my mind after the less posh digs down south.
We were in Addis a little after noon, and before heading to the guesthouse we stopped for lunch at one of the most popular ferengi (foreigner) restaurants in Addis, a hamburger place called Sishu.
It first opened in a lady’s house, but soon became so hugely popular that she moved it into a warehouse.

It is decorated less ornately than is typical in a fancy Ethiopian restaurant– it feels clean and modern and western– and has  utterly fabulous hamburgers and fries– yum!! Heaven for foreigners who can sometimes feel tired of eating Ethiopian food or questionable imitations of American fare.

It also has the second-nicest bathrooms we’d seen the trip—the nicest being in our Addis guesthouse. Ours (we decided) were an Ethiopian 10—as nice as you were ever likely to see in Ethiopia. The ones at the Sishu were a good solid 9, and even had paper towels to dry your hands after washing. It’s the little things, people!

More on bathrooms later.  After one more night in our posh Addis guesthouse, we were headed to Harar the next morning.  And that’s when the bathrooms really got memorable.

What’s happening at the Owlhaven

I’m definitely still catching up from vacation over here.  Here are some of the last pictures we took there– I’ve been meaning to edit them for quite awhile!  As usual, you can click on them to enlarge.

Life is hopping around here. Our son turned 13 last week, and our daughter turns 9 next week.  Both of those events require celebrating.  Shopping.  Ice cream. Cake.  Some has been accomplished.  Some must still be done.  Must get on it.

Yesterday I got to go running on the greenbelt with my friend Shana and several of her friends.  Good fun! One of our kids is getting braces next week and needs a tooth pulled.  We’ve had three consult appointments already to begin all that. Tomorrow I get to visit with my sister Sophie, and the wonderful Dr. Mary, who works with Sophie in Ethiopia.   Muchly looking forward to that.

I’m speaking at the CHOIS convention this week in Nampa, so I’ve been going through my talks from the Oklahoma convention, removing and improving bits, and adding ideas that I wanted to say in Oklahoma.  I’m excited for the opportunity.  Our 16 year old son will be going along with me to help with my book table.  If you’re at the convention, stop in and say hi to us, OK?

Planning has begun for a June wedding reception for our daughter Erika and her hubby who got married in Chile in March.  It will be great fun, and we are looking forward to it.  Also, as usual for this time of year, I’ve begun planning church camp food.  Five days in the mountains with 100 or so people.  My friend, my sister and I will be shopping.  Which, as you might imagine, takes a heckuva shopping list and hours of planning before you ever even enter the store.  Not to mention, some serious time in the camp kitchen, even if you delegate.  Which I will. I am trying not to twitch just thinking about all there is to do.  One thing at a time.  It will all get done and it will be lovely, I am sure.

Thanks to everyone for your book recommendations– I am enjoying reading them.  Perhaps later we should work on a similar booklist for girls. But now, off to bed.  Sleep is important when one needs to be productive.  Locking myself away from facebook might also help.   If I could force myself to do it.  Goodnight!



A Letter From Sophie

I wanted to share this recent update from my sister Sophie, who moved to Ethiopia this summer to do medical missions work. Last spring on this blog many of you contributed money toward the work Sophie is doing there in Ethiopia. Sophie brought the money with her to Ethiopia, thinking she’d know more about how to spend that money once she’d been there awhile. Here’s what she came up with. I think you guys will like it!


Hi there!
I was talking to Dr. Mary when we were driving home from clinic the other day about money. She had just placed her medication order for the year, and was blown away by how expensive things were. She had to greatly reduce her supply of several meds, including those for tuberculosis. I was trying to think of how I could help, and remembered the money that was raised in the fundraiser on your blog.

I offered to help with medications, and we talked about the logistics of that. Then she gave me the option of running and funding the feeding program. I loved that idea, so decided that I would do it. So, starting in a few weeks, I’ll be the one making the special granola and purchasing the corn that Mary provides for those on her feeding program at our Thursday clinic.

Adults can get on the feeding program if they are desperately poor, and that poverty is validated by their malnourished appearance, and by the confirmation of others in the community. Infants are also a part of this program. Currently, we have 3 sets of twin babies that are “fed.” The high-protein granola is given to the infant’s breastfeeding mother so that she can produce enough milk to feed them. In order to get a refill (every other week), the babies are weighed to ensure that they are getting the benefit of the food.

Two of the twins currently on the program are now 4 months old, and the fattest little Ethiopian babies I have ever seen! It’s always so fun to weigh them because their mom is so proud, and the babies are so smiley and adorable. Mary says that when they started 3 months ago, mom was completely emaciated, and the babies were not looking any better. She gave the mom the granola, and the next week, she looked less emaciated, and the babies were vigorous and bright-eyed–they were a whole different family because of their little tin of granola!

I am so excited to be in charge of this simple but life-changing program. And because of your contributions, you are a part of it too! I will take some pictures of the kiddos that this program feeds in the next few weeks so you can see the lives that you are changing. Thank you so much for being so generous, and God bless you!

Missionary to Africa

I just wanted to mention again the fundraiser I am planning for my sister Sophie on Monday, April 20th. She is moving to Ethiopia this summer to work with Dr. Mary in the Wollaitta/Soddo area of Ethiopia. As a registered nurse, she will be providing health care to the poorest of the poor in that region of Ethiopia. Click on Sophie’s Equip page to learn more about her ‘sending’ agency, or on Sophie’s blog to read about her preparations for Ethiopia.

This will be her fourth mission trip to Ethiopia. Her longest previous trip was 3 months, and this time she intends to spend 2 years in Ethiopia, so this is a huge commitment. She is planning to bring many supplies to help her with her mission. She has felt very blessed to see so many needs already provided for, but there are still needs. On Monday, if you wish, you have the opportunity to be a part of her dream to go and serve ‘the least of these’.

Related links:

The real victims of the global crisis

Africa Needs God

From Hazel in Ethiopia: corn for the poor

This weekend while I am away at Blogher, I am sharing several letters we’ve gotten recently from family on a medical mission trip to Ethiopia. Here is an update from my mom. If you were part of the feeding project on my blog a few weeks ago, be sure to read all the way to the end. You will be amazed at what is being accomplished with your gift.

Today we went to see Dr. Mary at her clinic. The sick folks and their families had all gathered in a clearing where Dr. Mary and Dr. Ruth were making their way from one to the next. The doctors held clipboards with many small pieces of paper on which they were making notations, one paper scrap for each patient. People were removing articles of clothing as needed for an exam in front of the whole village. No one seemed to mind or think the lack of privacy was strange.

The temporal thermometer (complete with handy pack) that we had brought from Idaho was being used with much gratitude – thank you, kind donors! We observed the scene with much interest, noting that there was no opportunity for the doctors to wash their hands between patients and wondering about those little pieces of paper. [The people] looked undernourished and we were told that most of them never eat meat and are very anemic. The beautiful, smiling children were everywhere, and no one left even after their turn with the doctor was complete. I stayed to help Dr. Mary at the clinic. She wanted me to give the shots, which was an easy job. What an experience – I’m so glad I stayed.

I found out that the little scraps of paper told what medication needed to be dispensed to each patient. Dr. Mary moved inside the building with her helpers, and through a window she dispensed drugs that had been pre-assembled in little paper packets or tiny plastic bags. Each person was required to pay a small amount, usually less than 10 birr ($1.00) and each was given verbal instructions about when to take his or her medication. Some were taken out of the package and placed directly into the hand of the patient to be swallowed immediately. This was to prevent selling of the medication to someone else. One person had no money, so no medication was given.

Partway through the process, Dr. Mary looked at me with a twinkle and said, “Don’t tell JCAHO how I do this – I don’t think they’d like it!” Sigh – if only the rest of us could do a fraction of the good that woman does…. When all the medication was dispensed, she packed her supplies into tackle boxes and large plastic bins with locks, and her helpers loaded them into her vehicle. She kept a sharp eye out, saying that “things have a way of growing legs.”

On the trip home, we got acquainted. She used to be an ER physician in Chicago; she has 2 children, one of whom is a missionary in Chad, and 2 grandchildren; she has attention deficit disorder that makes her a social misfit in the US; she wants to work in Ethiopia the rest of her life. She said her worst nightmare is having to go back to the United States! Her husband is dedicated to service in Ethiopia as well.

They are both the plainest looking people in the world, quite thin and somewhat haggard in appearance. Recently she has been suffering from unresolved abdominal pain, for which she will go for a medical workup to Kenya for a week. This weekend she plans to use the money donated by daughter Mary’s blog readers to bring a half ton of corn to the poorest of the poor up in the mountains. If it doesn’t rain too much, and make the roads impassable. She has a local helper who knows the people and determines who is most needy. Wow! Please pray for her mission and her health.

Leaving for Ethiopia

My parents left for Ethiopia this morning, loaded down with all sorts of supplies for the hospital AND $1800 and a new ‘forehead swipe’ thermometer for Dr. Mary, thanks to y’all!!   They will be arriving in Ethiopia on Saturday and will be there until August 4th.  I know my folks would appreciate prayers for safety and health and that they will use their time in the best way possible while they are there!   Thank you so much for your part in their mission.

We’re still feeding people!

I woke up this morning to $750 more of donations, which brings our total up to $1768.57! Wow!

Our window of opportunity for my folks to deliver the money to Ethiopia is just about closed, however. If you are desperate to get the money to me, at this point you’ll have to overnight me a money order. Email me privately for details: owlhaven @ aol . com

The other option is to donate directly to the Soddo Hospital , which is where my sister and my parents will be working until August. Follow the directions on the webpage and donate to one of the funds listed. This is the hospital where Dr. Mary sends her patients when they need hospital care. In my understanding, they are a well-run organization– Dr. Mary’s husband is actually on the board of directors– and they do lots of great work there in Ethiopia.

If you are interested in reading more about the current food shortage in Ethiopia, here is an eye-opening Christian Science Monitor story. And thank you again for sharing your resources with the poverty-stricken in Ethiopia.

8 PM

Wow!!! We are up to $698.67!! That includes $50 designated for a thermometer which I went ahead and bought on faith this afternoon from It will be here Tuesday, just in time for my folks to take it with them to Ethiopia. I am so thrilled — Dr. Mary is going to be able to help so many people!