27.3.09

Hitting the Big Time

We McLaughlins and Faders were of course excited for John when he was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer for his international medicine interests several months ago, but secretly jealous as well. Angling for some fancy publicity of our own, we finally landed a magazine deal and photoshoot just this past week.

Seriously, Jason and I (Rachel) were surprised to find out last week that St. Joe's recommended us to a Detroit area magazine called the Ambassador for a medical doctor "human interest" feature the magazine was doing. Basically, every year they feature area doctors who have a unique story to tell. Last year two of my OB-GYN attendings, who happen to be married to each other, were featured and interviewed about family life and their son, who they had recently adopted from Vietnam. This year, we were invited to talk about our plans to head to Kenya after residency.

So, two nights ago a reporter and photographer came by our place and spent a few hours with us, getting our story and then doing a fairly professional-looking photo shoot in our kitchen. I know, sounds like a weird place for a photo shoot, but I think it worked. We even got Anna to participate in the fun as the pictures demonstrate (she gathered up some props from around the house). The magazine article should be coming out in early summer, before we leave, so stay tuned and we'll provide a link when it's available.

13.3.09

Where Moth and Rust Destroy

March has come, and two McCropder homes are for sale. With this come thoughts of moving, and with this comes rising excitement. And with this move comes a process of shedding a large portion of our "things".

I may be somewhat sentimental when it comes to keepsakes, but overall (with the help of my wife) I think we have done well to minimize our focus on things. Saturday morning, we were laying in bed pondering what will find a place in the seven pieces of luggage that we're allotted to bring to Kenya for two years... Well, there are the obvious things... but the food processor will be incredibly handy... and maybe our down mattress pad... whoa, my guitar takes up a lot of space. And then there's our baby. She'll be small, but man does she take up a lot of luggage...

Let's obtain a little perspective. We heard about a Peace Corps volunteer who brought 90 pounds of toiletries. That is not us. I can get by with less clothing than any other American I've met (possibly excepting fellow McCropders), and Rachel and I together will take a single small backpack for an enire weekend.

And yet I'm forced to admit my attachment to "things". My piano, my CS Lewis books, the pottery I made in college, my awesome antique copy of The Book of Common Prayer. They will likely all stay behind. This thought broadens my horizon, and I remember that this life itself is finite, and all things will be left behind. The music I've recorded, our family photos, our wedding rings.

Paul says that he counts it all as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus. There is no clenched fist, but a joyful casting aside, like a river rejoicing to fling itself over a waterfall, to crash on the rocks below. Jesus tells us to store up treasure in heaven, for here on earth moth and rust destroy; thieves break in and steal. He says to put our treasures in a safe place, away from these destructive elements, and our hearts will then be safe as well.

This is true, universally, but I earnestly need the reminder, for the rubber is meeting the road. I wish I could say that it is easy. I wish I could say that my treasure is not on earth, for that has serious implications for the place of my heart. But honest acknowledgement is a necessary beginning, and so I know I need help. Thanks be to God, my ever-present help.

12.3.09

Aid and Accountability

More and more, I'm learning that international aid and its ramifications are quite complicated issues, and I'm far from a nihilist on the issue. Nonetheless, I think the following comments from Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda are very interesting, and bear close scrutiny. The context of this video was found here, and the comments to the original post provide some necessary feedback.


Andrew Mwenda on Taxation and Accountability in International Aid from DRI on Vimeo.

What about the kids?

One of the more frequent questions I am asked when people find out I am moving to Kenya concerns raising my children there. Far from being a reason to stay here in the U.S., raising my kids in Africa is one of the more compelling reasons for me to live there.

Having spent much of my childhood in Kenya, I experienced many things of which I would hate to deprive my children. I attended school at Rift Valley Academy, which is attended by children from over 20 different nationalities. This environment provided a wonderful perspective of the diverse world we live in. Family vacations consisted of driving to game parks and watching lions play, or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or scuba diving in the Indian Ocean. I had a dirt bike (see picture), and my friends and I used to ride down to the Great Rift Valley, which I could see from my bedroom window. I was able to spend a lot of time in the operating room starting in 5th grade when I watched cardiac surgery. Being in the hospital gave me the opportunity to see many desperately sick patients and certainly had an impact on my desire to spend my career back in Africa.

Sure I missed out on some things… We rarely watched movies. I did not always have the newest toys. There was no McDonald’s for thousands of miles. And my sense of fashion was always several years behind (though my sister tells me I still have a lot of work to do on this one).

Although no place is perfect, I feel very blessed to have grown up in Africa, and I hope to provide my children the same opportunity.

- Jason