This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Debbie Dortzbach (CN 402, T2) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Christian Sawyer and was completed in August 2001.
Collection 402, T2. Interview of Debbie Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen, September 27, 1988.
ERICKSEN: Now, Karl was working with a pastor and also doing evangelism work, is that right?
ERICKSEN: And you were working in the hospital.
ERICKSEN: What were the major health needs that you were seeing come into the hospital?
DORTZBACH: The major health needs tended to be with children that were under five and a lot of malnutrition, a great deal of malnutrition, mostly from ignorance. It wasn't because there was extreme poverty or inadequate food supply. It was more just ignorance about what was good. We saw a lot of typical things like TB [tuberculosis] and pneumonia, malaria, things I hadn't been used to seeing at all were.... And...and so I had to learn a lot from other missionaries, a doctor and nurses I worked with. But we also...I also began to see where health education could play a big role and where you could help families have healthier lives just through better understanding and through them taking the responsibility for their own health rather than imposing that responsibility on a....a health-care provider. So that year began my, sort of, revolution in my own thinking about medical missions and where our focus ought to be, in curative and or preventive...preventative.
ERICKSEN: So is the primary focus of medical missions tend to be curative?
DORTZBACH: Historically, that's been the case. Medical missions has tended to build hospitals and clinics, even in elaborate ways, and has tended to ignore prevention or teaching. There hasn't been time. We've been overwhelmed by the..the masses of people requiring curative services that we haven't been able to focus our attention on the unseen masses that were there who could effectively do something to prevent illness. We...we became "nexperts," instead of experts, to use Roy Shaffer's term. And we just said, "Next, next, next," instead of...of really understanding what was the cart and what was the horse. And I...I saw that in Ethiopia, very vividly. I saw it when I was kidnaped too. And I think it is exciting to realize that a lot can be done without hospitals, without clinics, without a lot of people, without a lot of expatriate help.
ERICKSEN: Now, was there much preventative work being done in the work you were involved in?
DORTZBACH: Very little.
ERICKSEN: So you were seeing what...
DORTZBACH: That's right.
ERICKSEN: ...what should be done rather than what was being done.
DORTZBACH: That's right. Yes. And there was...there was some inkling of it, but I also saw some resistance in our mission between...you know, a kind of power struggle between curative and preventative a bit. And it was historically a time when missions was beginning to ask some hard questions, globally. And...and it tended to center around where priorities will...will lie. It was even before the Alma-Ata Conference [International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma-Ata, Soviet Union, September 6-12, 1978] when the nations of the world got together and talked about health for all by the year 2000, you know. So there were the seeds for a new approach, but it was just beginning to be felt and it was definitely observable to me then.
ERICKSEN: You...you mention...you and Karl both mentioned that you felt being missionaries was being confirmed. What con...how were you thinking concretely about that? What were you thinking as next steps?
DORTZBACH: Well, in terms of how it was confirmed, I think.... In part, it was confirmed by a responsiveness from the local people, particularly church leaders. If...if there hadn't been any of that....
DORTZBACH: It's easy for a missionary to perpetuate himself and not be sensitive to...to what others around him are thinking or how...or perceiving how he fits in and...
DORTZBACH: ...it was critic...it is critical, I believe, to be aware of...of...of the national perspective and how you fit into their picture, because it is their church and...and we're...we're just players in it, we're not managers. We're...we feel that we're there to serve, not to control. And so part of that confirmation had to come from them. Now, in different cultures it doe...it isn't real obvious, that confirmation [laughs]. They're not going to sling you on the back and say, "Great job, Debbie!" That's not part of that particular culture in that part of the world, but.... So it took searching to...to understand what were confirmations there. And I think that's why it took some time. I don't think you can know that two week...in a two-week mission hop. I...I...for us, anyway, it...it...it had to have the level of...of being in people's homes and having them in yours and beginning to understand a little bit about the culture and people. Other confirmations came from other missionaries and that was important to us. And all of that was...was secondary to what the Lord was teaching us in His word. And I know that different missionaries have different ways of expressing what a call means to them. There wasn't any bright light or, you know, words that jumped out of the Scriptures. It was much more of a gentle nudging of "This is the path you're in. I want you to take the next step that I'll show you when I give you that step. And if it changes, I'll let that be known to you too." But God never did let us see ten years down the road. I...I don't think He does with any of us. And...but each step was confirmed as He brought it along with a sense of...of prayerful consideration before that step was made and of being in tune with His word. [chair moves]
ERICKSEN: So were you thinking, "Let's come back to Ethiopia," or...?
DORTZBACH: Definitely, we were thinking co..."Let's come back to Ethiopia." Our...our hearts were there when we left. Even after the kidnaping our hearts were there and we did want to go back. And it was very, very hard for me to say, "Yes, Lord, I'll stay in the U.S.," when that became God's next step for us, very hard. I had said, "I'll go anywhere you want me to go, but not to the cornfields of Illinois." And that's exactly where God sent us for four years. So it was...it was important for me to learn that submission, you know. Sometimes, we think that missionaries really know how to submit and we don't [laughs]. I think we...it's...it's a process that goes against our human nature and that God constantly has to deal with us on.
ERICKSEN: How long did it take you to work through that?
DORTZBACH: A long time. Certainly the first year in Illinois. It...it was rugged. Karl had taken a church-planting experience there and, you know, it was his first pastorate. That's always rough anyway. We had two small children. We lived in a very cold, drafty, windswept house. I didn't know anybody. I wasn't doing nursing that I loved. I was confined and all of that played into my whole attitude on life. But the Lord is gentle. He really does know how to meet us where we're hurting. And He did. He provided some key people in that church t...that ministered to me and began to change my level of anger toward God for not sending us back to...to Ethiopia.
ERICKSEN: So I gather yo...at that point you were at home with the children.
DORTZBACH: I was. I wasn't...I did get somewhat involved in the church through women's Bible study and that type of thing, but not very much. [unidentified object dropped] Our children were young and I felt that was my priority at that time.
ERICKSEN: What was it like...? I guess this is backing up just a little bit, but what was it like after, you know, the kidnaping, after you were released and you were back in this country?
DORTZBACH: We didn't know how God was going to use that experience. We said to Him, "What You do with it is up to You because You're...You...You were the author of it and...and the finisher of that ordeal and so use it." He gave the opportunity to write our book, which in itself was another whole experience, it was almost like being held hostage again. [Ericksen laughs] And...and...and that was beneficial for us. He gave a lot of opportunity for speaking and sharing and I can remember times when I said, "I can't say that story one more time." And there were people that tended to be goggle-eyed with experience, but not really with content, not really with...with facing, you know, "Well, what difference does this kind of intervening God mean to me or how can He change me in my life situations?" It was...it was too removed from them, you know. It was a nice story with a nice ending. And I was frustrated by that sometimes. On the other hand, I think that God did use it and He gave us an opportunity to really share that it was His story and...and...and...and how He used it was up to Him. I think we would loved to have seen even more opportunity in terms of a film or more impact in some way. And...and the Lord several times brought us to the edge of a big media production of some sort, whether it was on being on AM America television or having a major movie pro...produced and then He slammed the door in our face. [airplane flies overhead] And I didn't understand it, but it was again a way that God needed to teach us submission, that it was His story and if He didn't want that opportunity in the media that was fine and I needed to...to remember who was in charge and that it wasn't my story.
ERICKSEN: What was it like having your...having th...your name in the news and having your photograph in the papers? I guess that may have been more while it was actually...the kidnaping was happening than wh...right when you were released, but....
DORTZBACH: Well, yeah. Of course, I wasn't aware of all that was going on when I was in captivity. Coming back, it was overwhelming to me, especially at Kennedy Airport with AP [Associated Press] throwing a microphone in your face and...and all the rest. But...but the Lord did give opportunity to...to speak and.... I think one of the greatest thrills for us was to see the next day in the headlines of The New York Daily News, which has a wide readership, a placard that some church people had made at Kennedy Airport that said, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." [James 5:16] And so God's message did get across even in The New York Daily News [laughs] which tends to be a very sensational type of newspaper. So, we were just players in it.
ERICKSEN: What was it like writing the book?
DORTZBACH: Well, the actual writing [Ericksen speaks, but not understood] wasn't so difficult. Well, I mean, it was very tedious and time consuming and we labored over it with a simple, little typewriter instead of a lovely word processor which we're blessed to have now. Can't imagine having done without one before. But the actual compiling of it together with Karl was difficult because we slashed each other's writing t...in order to fit it together. And when you have labored days over one paragraph and it's slashed, it's like, you know, part of your personality is being tackled. And so, it...it became interesting [laughs] at times and sometimes a strain and with a new baby it wasn't easy. But again, God provided vents. Our church ministered to us in so many ways through bringing us all our meals for about two months. So that we un...when we're really under the pressure, we could get that book done. Karl was in his final year at seminary and professors allowed parts of our book to be papers [both laugh] for who knows what, evangelism or some course. So...missions. So it was really wonderful to see how God fit it all together and.... We went with Harper and Row as publisher because we wanted a wide readership in the secular world. And I'm not sure we...we...our goal in that was accomplished. I think perhaps a Christian bookseller might have accomplished that even more, but, again, that was the Lord's business so....
ERICKSEN: Whose idea was the book?
DORTZBACH: That sort of emerged. I was...while I was keeping notes in captivity, I did it more for my own sanity and opportunity to express myself. I had always liked writing. I never perceived myself to be a writer per say at all and still don't, but when I was asked, coming home in New York, by a reporter if we would consider writing a book, I sort of off-handedly said, "Well, I kept notes. Maybe, someday." And subsequently, publishers began to call us. So it was a very easy...I mean we didn't have to go out hunting. We had to discern what the Lord's will was in terms of which publisher, but the opportunities just presented themselves for that. So it became very clear that this was what God wanted.
ERICKSEN: It's already fifteen years now since that happened.
ERICKSEN: What's it like to look back on it now?
DORTZBACH: Well, it's strange to look back on it. It has certainly made an impact in our lives and always will, but I guess that's behind me. I guess sometimes I think I wish that I didn't have to learn those same lessons again. [laughs] I don't know why I am so pig-headed and stubborn, but I go threw periods of depression, I question God's control, I feel like I'm sinking. On the other hand, God's faithful to remind me that He has been faithful, even as He was to the Israelites. And I have that experience to look back to. But I also...I also believe that God gave that to us so that as Corinthians tells us we can minister to others in times of need. [2 Corinthians 1:4] So I'm grateful. I'm grateful as we look back that we've had it, that God continues to use it, not only in people that we talk to, but in my own life to challenge me, you know, "Where are you today after fifteen years from now...from then? Are you...are you following Me like you said you were going to?" [laughs] I hear the Lord asking me. So it's humbling to realize that God gave me life again and He did it for a reason. He...He could have taken me so easily when He took Anna, the nurse that was killed, but He didn't. And I don't know all His reasons ex...except that He wants me to live for Him right now. And I sometimes have to really stop short and think, "Am I doing what He wants me to do?"
ERICKSEN: [pauses] You then moved, after the pastorate in Mundelein.
ERICKSEN: Then you went to Kenya. What were...what were you doing while Karl was pastoring the church?
DORTZBACH: Well, we...when we went to Kenya, we lived initially in the city of Nairobi and I was trying to get familiar with the culture and the people, trying to orient our family and provide a home for them; and I taught our children, the early years, at home.
ERICKSEN: How old were they then?
DORTZBACH: Our youngest was six. I mean, sorry, our oldest was six and the youngest was just a year. And...so six, four, and one year. Then when we moved to the countryside, it was a...a complete readjustment again because the city and the country are so different. And there I was...we were living in a...a...more of a Kenyan-style structure and didn't have electricity. And so just simple acts of daily living took a lot more time. It was a different language so we had to re-orient our language training and begin that. Then I was teaching two children, not just one, and helping our kids get oriented to the culture as well. So it was really [laughs] more than a full-time job and opportunity.
ERICKSEN: What was involved in your decision to...to teach the children at home at that point?
DORTZBACH: Well, we...we never saw [pauses] the opportunity to send our kids away to a boarding school. We felt that...that our children were given to us by the Lord to nurture and we...we didn't want to give that up to anyone else. So it was a very personal decision to keep our kids with us. We also wanted them to have experience in that culture themselves and not be isolated in a little America. And to accommodate that then, we needed to do two things: teach them at home and give them opportunities to be in a Ken...in a true Kenyan culture, both of which were afforded them while we were living in the countryside. And I think...I pray that it's made an impact in their lives that...that would be far-reaching.
ERICKSEN: What was it...? You said it was quite different...different living out in...in the rural area. What were the people like?
DORTZBACH: The people were....
ERICKSEN: Was it Kikuyu there?
DORTZBACH: It was Kamba tribe which is probably the...I guess, the third largest tribe in Kenya. Very, very poor, subsistence farming. Very rural, very [pauses] simple. We found that there was a lot of cultural adjustment to understand people and to have them understand us because up till then, they...they weren't really used to living side by side with missionaries. Missionaries tended to be in stations and a bit removed. So we were a bit of a phenomena and everybody wanted to experience this phenomena. So protecting privacy while at the same time being involved became a daily struggle. We did live in a glass house. I don't...I didn't feel I lived in a glass house when I was growing up as a preacher's kid, but I sure felt it there and our kids did too to a certain extent, but we...we did cope with that. We had our retreats. We could get away to a hillside for a picnic. And the people were gawking only from, you know, a hundred feet away, not five. And we...but we...but I think along with that whole thing was a real beginning understanding of where people were there and how they...how they worked, how they thought, how they lived, what life was like for them and that was critical to establishing trust. And I feel it was foundational to our whole mission experience to relate with people on their level instead of assuming that people come to our level. And we do that through a number of ways: our mannerisms, our lifestyle, our...our behavior, our speech, our knowledge. And if we instead would...would attempt to meet people where they are, I think, our foundation in missions will be much stronger. That was our desire. We certainly didn't succeed in all of it. And we made many mistakes, [laughs] many, but....
ERICKSEN: Can you think of one or two that [both laugh] ...that aren't too painful to remember?
DORTZBACH: Oh. Well, let's see, I guess, it's.... You...you're...you're never quite sure how to...how to behave in a market place sometimes or in a home, what's appropriate. I think I was too aggressive sometimes as a woman, not giving enough cultural understanding to the man's role there and, yet, wanting to be a model that women, as well, had a place to...to grow and understand the Lord. They didn't need to take a backseat in that. I...I broke some traditions. And one in particular was that in that culture the women felt they always had to wear head covering to go to church. And for a long time, I did that too. I was a...a good woman and I had my head covered in church. But one day a woman came to my house and we were going to have tea and in a customary fashion the Christians pray, even before tea. So we prayed. And this particular woman, because she was on a social visit, didn't have a head covering so she was frantic. She didn't feel that she could pray to her Lord unless her head was covered even in my home. So she grabbed a table cloth and wrapped it around her head, you know, before she would pray. And I thought, "From now on I may be very rebellious, but I'm not going to wear a headcovering because I want women to see that they don't have to come in that fashion to meet their Lord." And I didn't. I don't know whether I was right or wrong, but that was a decision I consciously made to...to live out my Christianity and to be a model.
ERICKSEN: What was the religious background of the tribe?
DORTZBACH: Historically, they were animists, having a lot of superstitions in physical things. They believed in spirits and witch doctors and a very oppressive type of religion. The...the Christian church had been there for some time, but was very, very weak and I don't think really had made an impact in the culture yet. So there was a lot of deeper teaching that needed to be done. Ther...you know, the...the gospel was explained and spread and diffused, but those roots had not gotten deep yet and we believed that was our primary purpose to...to assist in...especially, in some of the church leadership, to deepen those roots in the Word.
ERICKSEN: So that was the purpose of setting up the school?
DORTZBACH: The Bible school. Yes, that...that was and it was to be a rather non-traditional Bible school where you didn't just come to learn in a class room, but you learned in every day experiences. So Karl, for instance, went off on a bicycle with the other men and did teaching in villages with other elders and men there, and that...that type of a non-conventional school.
ERICKSEN: Now, what was the...what was your mission's sort of expectation of how the mission, missionary wife, fit into the whole matrix of what gone done?
DORTZBACH: In our mission, there was a lot of different expression of what a missionary wife would be. We had the role models of an older, forty-year veteran missionary wife, who had always been very involved in women's activities and knew the language perfectly and continued to be very instrumental. And then we had other women in our mission that were younger and stayed at home all the time. So there was no real pattern that was universal. And I think, fortunately, in our mission the...the choice was between the husband and wife, primarily, what the wife's role would be, depending on her gifts and status [chair moves] of her children and time. So we had that freedom to decide. And I wanted...I wanted both, I guess. I...I'm not sure how realistic I was. I...I didn't want to compromise my family and I felt that they were my priority, but I didn't want to stay at home either.
ERICKSEN: So how did that work out in everyday living?
DORTZBACH: It wasn't easy. Well, the first year, I think it's important for every new missionary to realize, is really a...a time of learning and growing. It's not a time of necessarily of service and giving, although part of that learning and growing is involved in serving. They're inter-related always. But I wasn't able to have much impact at all outside my home because I didn't know the language and I didn't know the culture. My home was the center of my ministry. And that could be accomplished with people coming in, even if I couldn't do any more than serve tea and...and do the greetings in Kikamba. There was something conveyed there that, "I want you here and I want to know more about you." So it began simply. But it also involved taking our children with us when we went places, to homes, to villages, either to minister, to practice language, to understand people better. So they became part of our ministry with us. [car honks] And that was one way I felt that we didn't have to compromise or put...pit one against the other.
DORTZBACH: There needs to be a balance in how much of that you do with your family, but I...I still think it's a...a big opportunity to grow together as a family and a ministry. Then as my children gradually got older and later on when I wasn't teaching them myself, I had more time to be involved in other areas. So I just had to accept for awhile that this was God's plan for me for this time. There would be time later to develop other gifts like nursing which I really wasn't doing at that period.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Now, you were in Nairobi in...starting when? 1970...?
DORTZBACH: No, this was in 1980's. We...we returned to Nairobi in 1984. We went home for our furlough...
DORTZBACH: ...and then returned to Nairobi in '84.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Hadn't you been in Nairobi for a short time though...
ERICKSEN: ...at the very beginning?
DORTZBACH: That's right.
ERICKSEN: And when was that?
ERICKSEN: And then you were there about a year...
DORTZBACH: And then a year-and-a-half in the countryside.
ERICKSEN: Okay. And then you had your first furlough.
DORTZBACH: That's right.
DORTZBACH: And then...then we returned to the city, which had been our goal all along.
DORTZBACH: And the opportunities in the countryside really afforded a broader background for understanding life in the city. So it was...it was definitely beneficial even to be in the country for awhile.
ERICKSEN: And so when you got back to Nairobi in '84...
ERICKSEN: ...then were you able to re-enter nursing, the medical...?
DORTZBACH: Slowly, I did. By now all of our children were in school...
DORTZBACH: ...full day. And they commuted to a missionary school and came home every evening so I was freer during the day. And I...I was keenly aware that I did not know much about urban community health, completely different ball game than rural community health.
DORTZBACH: Because you have masses of people jammed into small acreage without adequate housing, without farm lands for growing food, without jobs, without sanitation facilities and the crow...overcrowding and the number of small children and the fatherless families and on and on and on were all things to cope with which I didn't...you don't have to do in the...in the countryside. The erosion of the extended family, many social ills (the brewing of local beer, alcoholism) really are focused in the city (and prostitution). So there were a lot of issues that I didn't know where to...where to begin. So I sought out another organization that was working in the city already and asked if I could kind of be an intern with them and I worked with them for two years, part-time, to gain a...an understanding and a foothold in urban community health. Now this was not in a se...clinic setting. It was purely in the community with people, assessing and training local people in better health. So that gave me the background then for pursuing more actively [recording volume fades] the diaconal outreach through the church with whom we were working in that area [?].
ERICKSEN: So how was that set up?
DORTZBACH: [recording volume returns to normal] Well, the...the church that we were working with, which was the African Evangelical Presbyterian Church, invited interaction and discussion on how they could minister more effectively to some of the nee...physical needs of one of their smaller satellite churches which was in a slum area. And in exploring further with them what they had in mind and what I already observed in terms of preventative health, they ended up giving me basically a free rein to...to go ahead and...and get something going. So we...the church established a committee and I was just one member of that committee. And we began to talk about how we could make a difference in this community and how we could incorporate evangelism with our health training and not be exclusive of each other. And those were the seeds...the early seeds for...for the ministry I'm currently involved in, still in a [door opens, traffic noise] an embryonic stage to some extent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
DORTZBACH: Just a second. [tape stopped and restarted again] [chair shifts] By embryonic I mean that I don't believe we can come in with our ideas (I alluded to this a little bit earlier in terms of living in the countryside) and set up programs that we feel are going to benefit the people the most. I think the people are the best deciders of their needs and how they can change. And they need to be actively involved in the planning and implementing of what they're involved in, whether it's church-building or planting or health care. So with that premise, it was important to know where the people were and that couldn't be understood without really getting in there and spending time. So a lot of my early work in the slum areas was just spent in homes with people: talking, talking, talking, asking questions, finding out what was...what were they're concerns, what was it like to live there, being...just spending a great deal of time with them and visiting their neighbors and...and becoming part of that church in that...which was located right in that community of thirty thousand people on the border of the industrial area. So gradually, I...I hope a trust relationship has begun to develop. Now, it's risky because people don't see the traditional, obvious health care coming to them. They don't see a clinic being erected. They don't see my stethoscope. And they only see a relationship forming. But slowly, I hope they begin to see that they can do something and that ultimately that will have a longer impact in their lives and the lives of their children and their neighbors than me doing something for them. So it's a process of growing and self-discovering. A lot of this has been influenced in my life through various organizations. One is MAP International that has been a strong proponent of preventative health care. I have attended a lot of their seminars and have been very much influenced by their work. And I...I'm really one of their disciples, I guess. Roy Shaffer, another Wheaton graduate [graduated 1949], has been very influential with...in my life in helping me in the beginning points of...of...of health care and what's really essential and simplifying what we do so that it's manageable and controllable and preventable for people. And the people themselves have a say and are actively involved in doing things that have...will make them healthier. I'm really grateful that the vision is beginning to be caught on in the church. Virtually every woman in the church is involved in these small groups of health talks and health discussions. And we begin with Bible study every week. And they have begun inviting their neighbors. And they're beginning to learn evangelism skills themselves. And a number of neighbors have come to express not only an interest, but the women in this church themselves have been able to reach out and share their faith and some other women have become actively involved in the church and have become Christians through the people themselves reaching out. So I don't see myself as a health care provider in any sense of the word. It's more a facilitator of helping people see for themselves and develop their potential in health.
ERICKSEN: Do you have any feeling for how widely accepted this kind of idea is at the moment in missions in general?
DORTZBACH: It's not widely accepted [pauses] on two levels. On a government level, it's not very cost-effective in terms of seeing masses of people and seeing a lot of change soon. It's slow, tedious work. I mean, you think of a village of thirty thousand slum dwellers, a church of sixty people and a women's group of ten. That...that's not...those are not very impressive figures, but Jesus had only twelve men too, you know. And He really did make an impact because He did meet people where they were. And I think that's my guiding principle: that numbers aren't important. What people do and...and the way that God impacts in those lives are what's important. So I'm not bothered by the lack of [pauses] appreciation or understanding for this. Although, I'm sold on it and I...I feel that we do need [chair shifting] to...to be moving in this direction. And I think that MAP has done a lot to facilitate that. I should say I'm not in any way trying to say that I don't feel that curative medicine is important. It is and it must be there. But we have so long neglected this side of health education that I...I think we need to emphasize that at this point in missions. And it's so easily and readily [claps hands] gives itself to sharing the needs of the total man through evangelism. There...there are no barriers. You know, you can really share the Lord because you are not consumed with building programs or with long lines of people waiting to be seen. And it does build the church, which is our goal and ought to be our goal in all that we do.
ERICKSEN: So what's the status now while you're home on furlough?
DORTZBACH: Yeah, I wish I knew. [Ericksen laughs] I don't know. I guess it's...it's...it's some of the acid test of whether this system works or not because I don't...I don't want it to be dependent on me. And part of the rationale of building from the bottom up has been just that, that it can be self-sustaining. So reports I hear are that the women are continuing on and that the church is growing and it's strong. That doesn't mean it doesn't continue to need nurturing. And I think that involvement with this is a long-term involvement. It doesn't come with rapid change at all. And the answers aren't easy in communities such as this. Very complex answers, which is part of the reason I've gone...gone back to school to really interchange with other health-care workers in other countries to see what's worked, what hasn't worked in other settings, to interchange at an international level so that we can begin to provide some...some framework and structure for how this model can...can work in urban areas which is my concern right now, urban missions and urban health care. So it's still in a growing phase. Maybe ten years from now I'll have a little more insight, a little more experience behind me, to say what...what's good and what isn't. I really can't say.
ERICKSEN: How much have you found traditional Kenyan religious beliefs limit health care and preventative work?
DORTZBACH: It can be.... It's an interesting way to phrase it. It can be very limiting. At the...on the other hand, accepting those limitations and looking for the ways it can be enhanced is also there. For instance, the...the strong-willed, hard working mother who's strongly motivated, traditionally, to care for her family, but doesn't know how always to build on that. To build on the...the communal sense which is traditionally there, of being responsible for people next to you. Now, in America we've become more isolated. That's not Kenya at all. It's a communal culture. And that has tremendous implications for changing health behaviors and you need to capitalize on that. There's also an opportunity in...in terms of respect. If you find someone in the church or in the community that's greatly respected and they begin to change some of their health behaviors, it has tremendous implication for others to follow because there's a sense of respect and just real genuine concern for others that is a part of that culture. So there are limitations and...and they're many. I think some of them have to do with how a woman is perceived, how she perceives herself, the role of children, the role of discipline in the home, the eroding family that is coming to play in the urban areas is a tr...
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