For many months, I have been meaning to write about my experiences working at the hospital. I think that in some way, I am hoping that writing these stories down will help validate the time spent; that as a physical memory it will give a tangible result beyond a paycheck and a good feeling.


birth record.

Yesterday, a man came up to me and said, “Where are the birth records?”

Now, 95% of the people who ask this are intending to change records from a recent birth (middle name, etc.) So I asked him, “When was the baby born?”

He said, “Well, it’s me. So 24 years ago?”

Confused, I said, “What do you need?”

He showed me his birth certificate. “I want to find out who my father was married to when I was born.”

I looked at the birth certificate. “Is that her? Where it says ‘Mother’s Name’?”

“I don’t know.” He said. “I don’t think so.”

germ theory.

This Friday tested a theory of mine that began in the Dominican Republic. I was on a mission trip there in the spring of 2005, led by this fabulously gorgeous blond (who eventually let me marry her). We spent a good deal of the time playing with children, and we each experienced this moment where a child would run to us, begging to be held, and carried, and loved – but covered with sores, patchy skin, blood or who-knows-what-else. In these moments, we realized that no amount of hand sanitizer would protect us, but that we would have to rely on something much stronger and all-encompassing for our safety.

After fruitlessly trying to maintain our distance, we each gave in, trusting that God would keep us safe from the love of these crusty, dirty, sick children. And he did. A few people experienced some traveler’s diarrhea, but no one got sick.

And so on Friday, I was passing through the ER to escort a patient somewhere, and I saw the strangest man I have ever seen receive his discharge orders. I first noticed his wig, jet black , cut in the Southeastern Asia Dictator-Style, but sitting askew on top of his head, exposing thin grey hair underneath. Something about this detail was fascinating, and a little horrible (you never see people’s wigs exposed, why didn’t anyone fix this for him?) He was elderly, Hispanic, but wearing the most stern, thick black-rimmed RayBan glasses over his bloodshot eyes. His clothes were smeared with blood, and cut, as if the first responders had had to cut him out of his clothing, and no-one had given him new clothes, so he wore the old pieces home. He was dirty, smiling, and speaking incoherently to everyone.

I have learned to notice and help burn victims, people with horrible disfigurement, and all kinds of mentally unbalanced people without batting an eye or making them feel uncomfortable (I hope), but I just stared at this man. The whole scene was unnerving, because no one was paying any attention to him or helping him leave.

A few minutes later, my task in the ER completed, I was walking outside, back to the main hospital entrance, when I passed this man waiting at the corner bus stop. Somehow, he recognized me,  his eyes took on this happy gleam (presumably identifying me with the help he had received from the ER department), and he leaned forward, mumbling a quick string of garbled Spanish, and to my immediate (and now regretful) embarrassment/disgust, he held out his dirty (possibly bloody?) hand for a handshake.

In a split second I felt surprise, disgust, conviction, disgust with myself, and pity. Remembering our theory from the Dominican, I immediately (I hope) shook his hand and said, “Buena Suerte.”

Good luck.

May God bless that poor man, and may He work on my protected heart.


First of all, I cannot believe that people would still read this blog when I only write once a month. (But they do – six people yesterday!)

I owe it to them (and my little wife) to write more often. I think that when I commit to doing something EVERY DAY it scares me.

So, henceforth, I will not blog EVERY DAY, but rather, I will blog “frequently.”

Today, for the first time, while I was running, my legs and feet sort of floated away, and it felt like they could run for miles without ever getting tired. Unfortunately, my lungs and chest couldn’t keep up with them, and eventually I had to stop.

But it was an incredible feeling.


my wonderful wife bought me a computer game, among thousands of dollars worth of other presents, for my birthday.

it’s called Pirates.  i love it.

unfortunately, i can’t stop playing it long enough to blog.

please excuse my absence.

which my wife finds totally inexcusable.


I have had a few big changes in my life lately, some deep conversation and lots of questioning prayer. I think it can be best summarized by this 200-300 word essay I wrote for an application this morning:

Growing up in a small farm town in Minnesota, I always knew that my place would someday be out in the larger world, exploring and impacting for the better however I could. As I worked my way through high school and college, learning came quickly, thanks in part to parents who had given me a love of reading and an academic curiousity. In college, I eventually chose as my career interests history and journalism, with mission work as my largest extracurricular interest.
After graduation, I worked at a Bible Camp in the native village of Unalakleet, Alaska, and then took a full-time position as the Mentor for Male Students in a missionary organization in California and Mexico. In these places, as well in the mission areas I traveled to on college mission trips, I was staggered by the lifestyles of these people, and overwhelmed by the ineffectiveness of my impact. In Mexico, I worked side-by-side with a medical mission team in the work camps of Culiacan, where I was struck by the real, physical impact that medical treatment could make in the lives of those workers. After returning from Mexico, I married my college sweetheart (and mission companion), and began working at a local hospital, where I saw these same issues daily affecting the large first-generation immigrant population in my area.
As a result of these past months in the hospital, helping these patients understand where they have to go and what they have to do, I have had a career goals shift. I now hope to combine my desires to write, teach and travel with my love of academic knowledge and my strong passion for the poor and suffering by becoming a medical doctor. On this path I hope to be God’s hands and feet to people in desperate medical and bureaucratic need, both here in America and around the world.


Today at work, an elderly woman asked me if I was a boy or a man. I showed her my left hand with wedding ring.

“Oh, you’re a man,” she said.


Today, while I was running, I passed a man I didn’t know. I nodded, and he said, “what’s happening?”

I said, “I’m running.”

Later, I passed him again, and felt sort of bad about it.