Bereket is Safe

I got the best phone call this morning. Bereket is back at his family’s house. I don’t know any details, but he is safe! I just love this little boy and am so relieved he is ok. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around him. I don’t know how parents do what they do with grace. I want to jump up and down with joy, yell at him, hug him, ask him what was he thinking, punish him, throw a party that he is ok… Mostly, I just can’t wait to see him.



Time to Celebrate!!!

I signed a contract today!  I will be joining Ob/Gyn Associates of West Michigan in Muskegon, MI starting in July.  I am so excited to get started and feel honored to be able to work with the group of women that I will be joining.  I start in July if anyone needs an appointment :-).  The job will allow me to do missions work for several months out of the year.  I don’t know how balancing a practice and missions will end up looking, but I am jumping in and going to give it my best try!

I haven’t shared too much about Kebede, my fiance.  It is, well,  interesting dating someone and straddling two cultures.  The things that are ingrained in us as “normal” are really just cultural norms.  We have both had to compromise along the way.  I can’t claim to be an expert on Ethiopian courtship or how it works.  Here are a few examples as to how we have navigated through it.

In southern Ethiopia, when two people are dating, it is a secret.  If you see the family of the one you are dating, you literally are supposed to run the opposite direction and hide.  Now for anyone who knows me, this is NOT at all me.  I am much more likely to hug you, kiss you and search for you to say hello.  This was probably the hardest part for me.  We did, somewhat, break this tradition, but not by much.  My family and a few friends knew, but they were all sworn to secrecy.  I was really excited that my mom could come and visit because I wanted her to meet the man I intended to marry.  This brings us to the next tradition.  Normally, the man in the relationship is to go to the family of the female and get permission to date.  This permission usually has a price tag of butter, chickens, blankets, sheep, goats or cows.  So, prior to my mom coming, she and Kebede skyped to set the bride price.  I tried really hard to tell my mom I was worth at least five cows, while my mom was telling Kebede he didn’t need to get her anything and  that if he hid in the bushes she would jump in after him.  Kebede was quick to reminded us that it would be very insulting if my mom left behind any of the gift!  I just kept picturing my mom convincing immigration that she HAD to bring the cows home.  After a short time the “price” for me was set.  It was so interesting, for me, watching Kebede that day.  It was like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.  This was a really important thing for him and it was decided.

Most weekends, Kebede and I would go and visit his family.  We didn’t tell them we were dating.  I was just always there with him.  It has been such a pleasure to get to know them all, to hear their stories from the week, to drink coffee together and a lot of times to just sit and watch them interact as I didn’t understand most of what was being said.  Towards the end of my time in Ethiopia, Kebede’s father made the comment that earlier in the week he had been drinking tea at a shop.  The lady who owned the shop mentioned that Kebede and I might be getting married.  I think Kebede’s response was something like, “So, how was the tea?”  The question was diverted and answered all at the same time.  Now his family knew for sure.


We are now going through the immigration process, which for now, is primarily a waiting game.  We hand in the papers and wait about 5, 6, 7, 8…. months.  We are in our 4th month of waiting.  Next week, I will be returning to Ethiopia.  We wanted to do some sort of celebration with his family and friends, but we can’t get married until he comes to America, so on May 4th we are going to have a ring ceremony.  I am still not exactly clear on what will happen at the ring ceremony, but I do know that we will exchange rings (that have to be identical) and then have a big meal to celebrate all that is to come.  I am just elated that we will be able to celebrate with family and friends in Ethiopia.  Once he has a visa, he will come over to the states and we can at last get married!

In the next few days, I have a lot going on.  I will be taking oral boards (AGH!!!), packing… This reminds me.  Guess what I was able to buy because of all of your generous donations?!?!  A cryogun to treat precancerous lesions of the cervix.  This was one of the projects I had hoped to complete before leaving Ethiopia.  It is packed and ready to go.  Once I get to Ethiopia, I am hoping to locate Bereket.  After I returned to the US, he ran away, so I am hoping to find him while I am there.  This has been heart breaking for me.  He really took me leaving very badly and I blame myself, but don’t know what I could have done differently.  Dr. Mark Karnes will be returning to the US for a few months, so I will be back working at Soddo Christian Hospital for about 3 weeks.  Mid June, I will be returning to the US to start work.  Please keep Kebede and I in your prayers.  We have a lot of exciting changes coming up!


Rammi & Molette

Rammi is the third of the triplet lambs that just delivered.   I cannot tell you how many times I have checked on mama lamb (AKA Spotted Face) over the last three weeks.  Imagine the relief when I walked in and all three lambs were out!

Spotted face with her triplets just after birth

Spotted face with her triplets just after birth.  Notice Rammi is not standing.

Lambing is easy, as long as there are no problems.  The other night, when I found the lambs in the stall, all was not well.  The third lamb was still in its sack and not breathing well.   The doctor inside me took over.  Basic rules of resuscitation are drying off the baby, stimulating it, warming it, and giving it oxygen.  I didn’t have typical medical supplies, so here is what I used for resuscitation:

  1. Towels.

    Infinity Pro By Conair

    Infinity Pro By Conair

  2. Hair dryer.  I used the Infinity Pro by Connair.
  3. Gloves-  Ok.  This is a lie.  I couldn’t find any.  But if I had remembered where they were, I would have used them.

I tried drying it and rubbing it hard to stimulate it, but that wasn’t enough.  I didn’t have any suction and in the last lamb birth, the lamb was swung around to clear its airway, so I grabbed the lamb by its back hooves and swung him over my head a few times to remove any fluids from the airway.  Don’t forget to use a towel, if you try this at home, they are slippery.  Side note… any future mother I may take care of, I promise to not swing your child in circles over my head.  His mom started licking him, and his breathing improved, so I went inside.  I was a bit concerned though because he still wasn’t up walking like his siblings.  So, I kept checking on him.

About 4 hours later, me and my blow dryer, took a trip to the barn.  He was weaker, a lot weaker.  He couldn’t hold up his head, so I tried heating him.  This is where the hair dryer comes in handy.  As I was blow drying him, he was getting stronger, but when I stuck my finger in his mouth I got real worried.  It was like ice cubes.  Change of plans.  The blow dryer, even being a Pro, wasn’t going to be enough.

Dear Farmers Wife,

I am guessing you do not like farm animals in your home.  I broke the rules.  If it makes you feel better, I did it to save your husband’s lamb.  I know that makes me feel better.  Here is my full confession.  I got scared and knew that if I didn’t do something drastic, the lamb was going to die.  I brought it inside and gave it a warm bath.  (I have since cleaned the tub).  After drying him off, I made diapers for him out of some towels.  Don’t worry they were towels I brought with me.  I then wrapped him in some of my pajamas to try to contain any animal smell, dander, etc.  We are taught that skin to skin contact for a baby and mom helps a baby regulate its temperature….  I did wool to cotton (my pjs) all night.  I didn’t sleep at all because as Rammi was warming up all he did was make lamb noises.  By morning, his mouth was warm and he was starting to eat, so he went out to the barn.  He has not been back in the house since.  He is now jumping around, eating like a champ, pooping like a champ and becoming friends with the other lambs.  

Warmest Regards and Apologies,

Stephanie Hail

That may be the end of my apology, but it is not the end of the story.  When I brought Rammi to the barn his mother had rejected him.  The placenta was still there, so I tried to rub him down in placenta goo.  Yes, placenta goo is a technical term in Stephanie’s School of Veterinary Medicine.  Mom rejected him.  I laid him on the placenta.  I put the placenta on top of him, but when he wiggled it would fall off.  He was still rejected.  I tried to put him on her teat.  He wasn’t sure what to do, so I sprayed him in the face with her milk.  Still didn’t work.  She kept kicking him away and ramming him.  No milk for Rammi means I got to feed the little guy every 4-6 hours.  I am now attempting to space it out to 8 hours and he seems to be doing well.  So far, so good.

He has been in the same stall as mom since birth, but she won’t care for him.  Today, I let him join the other lambs.  I may not have been able to get his mom to take him back in, but I am going to call this a success.

While on the topic of animal resuscitation, here is the story of Molette.  It doesn’t have a happy ending.  My sister had an indoor goat named Molette.  At night, she slept in a cage.  She wore diapers.  She thought she was a dog and would lift her leg when “peeing”.  There is a chance that my sister is just a crazy as I am.

One day, I went to visit my sister and her family and little Molette was very sick.  They had to go to soccer, so I was left taking care of her.  She was dehydrated from all of the vomiting, so we were feeding her gatorade.  She was doing so much better with her hydration and even walking around.  I called my sister to tell her how much better she was doing.

I kept trying to push the gatorade and next thing I knew she was dead.  I knew CPR, so I wrapped my hands around her little chest and pumped the life back into her.   It worked!!!  She let out a baaa then, she was dead again.  This time, dead for real.  She wouldn’t come back.

So far in my life I have a 50% success rate in saving small animals in distress.  Let me just encourage you, that you too can make a difference!

Luna cuddling her kittens

Luna cuddling her kittens


Today has been a big day on the farm.  Luna, the three legged cat, delivered quadruplets.  She has four long haired cats and they all have 4 legs!  🙂  Spotted face also delivered… TRIPLETS!!!

Spotted face with her triplets just after birth

Spotted face with her triplets just after birth


I have been living at a “farm” for the last two weeks.  So, with my vast experience I thought I would share with you a few farming pearls.

What the sheep look at all day.

What the sheep look at all day.

1.  Sheep like to have pelvic exams as much as most women do.  Imagine me in carharrt bibs and jacket with a glove up to my shoulder, chasing a 300 pound ewe in circles.  If that doesn’t make you grin, you may want to consider Prozac.  I thought that maybe she was in labor and I didn’t know if there was a problem or not, so I thought I would ‘just’ check her cervix.  After about 10 minutes of trying to check her, I gave up.  I figure if she had that much energy, she must be ok.  If only I knew if she was really in labor or not!

2.  You do not have to look at the genitals of a sheep to know the sex, you just have to wait for it to pee.  If the urine comes from mid abdomen, it is male.  If it comes from near the rear it is female.

I know this isn't the best picture of me, but look at how cute he is!!!!

I know this isn’t the best picture of me, but look at how cute he is!!!!

3.  Chickens like cat food.  When I go get the cat food, not only are the cats waiting by their bowls, but the chickens are all there, as well.

4.  If you feed a lamb, it will follow you anywhere you go.  I have grown pretty fond of this little lamb.  Every time I go to the barn, he gets so excited.  I can’t seem to get the stall door open quick enough.  He is dancing and prancing and sometimes ready to ram the  door down to get to me.  Ok.  Ok.  Ok.  I know he is just trying to get to his food, but it sure makes me feel special!

Feeding Black Lamb.

Feeding Black Lamb.

5.  The formula for the lamb doesn’t taste all that different from cow milk, just a bit sweeter.  It reminds me of the powdered milk I had in Ethiopia.  I am thinking it would be great in my morning coffee.

6.  Animals may appear to live in harmony, but it isn’t true.  Last week, a huge wing was in the barn.  I don’t know for sure what it was, I just know it was HUGE.  The feathers weren’t white, so I am going to suggest they are not the wings of an angel.  Based on the animals in the area, it was most likely a turkey.  Assuming it was a turkey, who killed it and where is the rest of it?  I can’t imagine that the roosters killed it.  It wasn’t in the pens with sheep.  So, I am going to blame the cats.  There are eightish of them.  Then, today, a rooster was killed.  I came on the scene of the murder shortly after the slaying.  Are the turkeys taking revenge?

Black Lamb, White Lamb, White Face, Black Face, Spotted Face and Ram having lunch.

Black Lamb, White Lamb, White Face, Black Face, Spotted Face and Ram having lunch.  The little white one hiding behind White Face on the right is the one I helped deliver.  Spotted face is on the far left… the pregnant one.

7.  Sheep would rather be sniffed than touched.  Seriously.  I have never had a sheep run away from me when I sniffed it.  But if I put my hand out for them to sniff me or to touch them,  at least half the time they run the other way.  Next time you are around an animal try it out.  Lol!  And please let me know how it goes.  Do they prefer the nose or the hand?

8.  Just because he is called a ram doesn’t mean he will ram you.

Ram with his mask on to prevent ramming.

Ram with his mask on to prevent ramming.



I thought that coming back to America I would have absolutely nothing to write about.  I was wrong.  This last week I got a job!  I kept thinking I was going to be the person dancing on the street corner holding the sign, “We buy gold!” or “$5 pizzas”.

Last week, I was sitting at home and got a phone call from a friend asking if I could help deliver a sheep.  I have only delivered humans, but surely I could help with a lamb!!!   My friend was in surgery, but would give me a call when he was done.  In the mean time, I needed to read about difficult lamb births.  Forgive me for saying this, but I have never looked at a sheep’s vagina, so I figured I should start with basic anatomy.  I figured it would be easy to tell, but I didn’t want to look dumb or stick my hand in the wrong hole, so my dear friend google helped me out.  It is amazing what you can find online!  All sorts of videos of sheep giving birth, but none were difficult births.  No worries, though, there are many articles with pictorials on the complications.

Side note:  Dear vetrinarians, vet techs, farmers, etc, please do not judge me!

At last, my phone was ringing and it was time to try out my newly learned “skills”.  I had my mental list of things that could be the problem… lamb too large, two lambs trying to come out together, lamb coming out sideways…  We go out to the barn to check the status of the sheep and her lamb.  The sheep is huge, a good 250 to 300 pounds.  I hope she doesn’t mind being checked!  I feel two hooves and a head, so the lamb is coming out ok.  I reach in to find out if the hooves are attached to the same body as the head.  Not the same body.  We have twins!

I won’t bore you with all the details of delivering lambs, but lets just say it is a work out!  It took an hour of pushing and pulling, putting the mom on her side and then her back (seriously!?!?!), trying all sorts of maneuvers…  We were both huffing and puffing, but finally the lambs were out.  The first lamb didn’t make it, but surprisingly the second was in good shape.  They were heavy!  This type of lamb is normally about 9 pounds, but these were 20 lbs.  This was much harder than catching a human!   So my job was done, right?

Well, there are three sheep.  Two have delivered and one is still pregnant, but the moms’ milk has dried up.  I spent this last weekend feeding the lambs, giving mom antibiotics for her infected uterus and taking care of all the other animals… nine barn cats, about 20 chickens and a ram, so we shall see what kind of adventure this turns into!  Next month, I will be caring for all the barn animals again.

In the mean time, life has been busy looking for “real work”.  Once my contract is signed, I will let you all know about my future.  While we are on the topic of the future, I would like to share that I am engaged to a wonderful Ethiopian man.  His name is Kebede, which means heavy.  He is still in Ethiopia and we are working on getting him here on a fiance visa.  Maybe I am being optimistic, but I am hoping he will be here this summer or fall.  If anyone has gone through this process and has any advice, I have open ears.

Kebede and I

Kebede and I

New Beginnings

I have now been back in the United States for 14 days.  I am looking for work and feel lost most of the time.  I spent my 34th birthday on an interview.  I guess that makes me all grown up.  Touring hospitals with the best of the best, well, it leaves me quiet.  I don’t even know what to say.  I find myself looking up Ethiopian restaurants in the area, even though it isn’t on my list of favorite foods.  I hear someone speak Spanish, I understand, but I respond in Amharic.  Part of my heart stayed in Ethiopia.  I am looking for work that will allow me to return to Ethiopia each year.  I, honestly, have been surprised how open practices have been to this.  America, we may not be ready for each other, but here I am beginning over again.

When I left Ethiopia, the library projects were not quite finished, but now they are!!!!

Books on shelves.  Quiet, well maybe not so quiet, rooms.  Story after story waiting to be told.  I want to take this time to RAVE about Daniel Thornton and the library projects he has now finished.  When I wrote and asked for donations for two schools, well, Daniel had enough books and was savvy with donations, he was able to put together three libraries.  I will let the pictures tell the stories….

Abiyot Chora School Library




Books waiting for a shelf at one of the schools

Books waiting for a shelf at one of the schools




In The Making

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Otona School Library- The Library Built From Scratch

The Otona School Library that Zeleka is building.

The Otona School Library that Zeleka is building.


The Markato School-  Enough Books for a THIRD School!!!

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All I can do is say thank you!  Thank you Daniel for getting all of this organized.  Thank you Zeleka for building a library.  Thank you to the students for helping move all the books and furniture, painting and having a desire to learn.  Thank you teachers for taking the time to teach the children.  And thank you to all who donated financially to make this possible!  The project may be finished, but this is just the beginning for the children.

Of the 4 projects I presented to you in October through December, three are now completed.  The ones completed are the libraries, the fetal monitoring, and the Bajaj.  The projects are done, but the funding hasn’t completely covered all of the costs.  I have put in about $2500 that has not yet been covered.  I would love to just be able to do all of these projects and more on my own, but it just isn’t possible at this time.  Once I am working, I will be doing the project for cervical cancer screening, if the funding doesn’t come in before that time.  My project accounts will stay open, so if you want to donate or continue to donate, you can.  I will let you all know when the projects are paid for or if I have another project on the horizon.  I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for the people of Soddo!!!