CHAPTER 15: First Retirement 1991-98


Having reached retirement age, and with the MAP team more and more African I felt it was now back to America time. We retired to Albuquerque, NM where our oldest son Dan had lived for many years. We became Americanized through enrolling in Social Security, Medicare and buying a house. But, I kept in touch with the community development field by helping in training sessions run by YWAM in Texas and Hawaii. I also did some volunteer coaching at University of New Mexico Medical School of Medicine. (UNMSOM). In 1996 to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary we took a trip around the world, with important stops, of course, in Tanzania with daughter Marilyn.


We had a farewell celebration (Oct.91?) in Nairobi attended by a great variety of colleagues. Then we flew to Sweden to give a lecture at Upsalla U. and a mission medical conference later at another venue (Maurice King being the main presenter). The lecture at Upsalla U. was to the students of Prof. Hans Rosling. Ten years later he became well known for his unique presentations (On TED talks etc.) making demography very viewer-friendly. He took me to his office which he said had been his mother’s hospital room when she was sick with TB in the pre-antibiotic era.

In the US, before going to Albuquerque, we went to Nashville where I had a procedure related to prior prostate trouble. We stayed with the Manns and enjoyed the charms of Nashville., including Pres. Andrew Jackson’s “Hermitage”.

We then came to our destination, Albuquerque, New Mexico. An early responsibility was to establish our credentials in the Social Security System and Medicare. Also, to update our driver’s licenses.

We settled in with Dan and Gretchen in Albuquerque while house-hunting. In early ’92 we found a house ten minutes’ walk from D&G and settled in. The settling in was disturbed by a break-in soon after we moved in. TV and computers were replaced by insurance, but it was not a happy “welcome” to US. In Nairobi our only house robbery in many years was when monkeys entered an open upstairs kitchen window and stole some bananas.

Dan referred me to American Cancer Society regarding volunteer work. My contact person there in turn recruited us to attend Desert Springs Church. We attended there for six years until we returned to Africa. At that church I came to realize how different congregational worship had become. In my younger days, at places like Moody Church, Wheaton College and Westminster Chapel (UK) congregations raised the roof in joyful, virtual a-capella singing of the grand old hymns. The hymns were pitched at the people’s pitch. The lyrics of those hymns were poetic, narrative and of deep theological meaning. That all changed in the 1960’s when the rock-band worship team mode took over. My soul is not stirred by the artillery-like percussion, the banshee-like song leading, the subway-like din of the PA system or  7-11 dittys. I miss the days when the most important element of congregational worship was the voice of the congregation.

During this time, I did a bit of mentoring at UNM Medical School. I coached freshman med students in the art of patient interview and physicals. I had been attracted by the school’s “problem-based” philosophy of pedagogy. Once, earlier, a third-year medical student at UNM had come to Kenya on a clerkship. He asked to attend my TOT course because of our emphasis upon “problem-based learning”. I was surprised when he said that his medical school emphasized that approach. UNM was one of the first US medical schools to do so.

After arriving in Albuquerque We got to know that student’s in-laws   Dale and ___ Erikson. Dale is a leading nephrologist in Abq. That connection was of particular interest in later years when our son David had to have a kidney transplant (2005), his donor being his sister Carolyn. Further to that, our granddaughter Rachel has done well working for ASN (American Society of Nephrologists) in DC.

Trip East; Grand Canyon Reunion;

Betsy to Malawi then South Africa;

Missoula (Elder Hostel);

YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Texas;


Jan. 13   Bombing of Saddam in Baghdad starts

Jan 21-22 We went to Soccoro with Harry and Dorothy for birthday and visiting Bosque del Apache bird refuge. Stayed at B&B. Home via Mountainair where there was a Shaffer Hotel.

Jan 29   ELS surgery for varicocities, Felt like being “warehoused”.

March 12 – 16  Road trip to Tucson. With Dr Pust heard Dr Koop talk. Returned via Phoenix (Barnetts), ElMorro and Acoma.

April 13 – 15 Albany friends Jim & Jean Burns visit Abq.

May 13   Started trip to the East: Oklahoma City (Mildred Downing), Norman (Carol Shaffer), Little Rock (Grace etc)Nashville (Manns), Robbinsville (Teasdales), Ashville (Rice), Boone (Pat Barnett) Blacksburg (Good), DC (Smiths), New Oxford (Dell n Lou), Warminster (Gokoo & Dr Kim), Delmar (Miners)

May 29   With Bamfords in Manchester, Vt.also Armine Berberian in Loudonville.

May 31   Lake George (Armes), DC (Ruth Smith)

June 3   Visit w Clarks in Charlston, S.C.

June 5-9 International Conf. on Mission Medicine in Ga.

June 10- 12 Ft Walton Beach, Fl. with Gini and John and Destin, Fl. with the Nones (AMREF colleagues).

June 13 through Louisiana to Linda in Dallas

June 14 Amarillo and outdoor history show at Canyon, “Texas”.

June 18 Hike to Sandia Peak with Bamfords

June 20-22 Shaffer Sibling Reunion at Grand Canyon

Eileen was born Dec.8, 1992


Some trips for YWAM to Texas and Hawaii. (July 92)


“Shafari” Reunion

July  1-5     Lane Sib. Reunion in DC

Aug 1-5 Ruidoso family camping by riverside.

Aug 10 Emily starts as student at Abq. High.

RS coaching UNM Med. 1st year students

Sept. 26-30 Fort Collins Conf. on development

Oct 1 Emily met “DC Talk” music group after their concert.

Oct 4-5 RS to DC for Wendell’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery

Oct. 17-22 YWAM  workshop in Texas.

Oct 28  RS makes “Headless Horseman” display

Nov 29 – Dec 3 ELS To DC to visit Todd and Betsy

Dec. 18 Flew to NYC then rental to Christ Home to visit Gokoo

Dec. 21 Flight NYC-Schiphol-Kili-Nrb.

With CLAMSS at Usa River and Xmas at Tarangire Safari Lodge.


The outstanding event of 1994 was daughter Betsy’s encounter with cancer. In Lilongwe, Malawi, soon after their posting there she suffered seizures. These proved to be due to an “astrocytoma”, a highly malignant brain tumor. She was flown to Johannesburg, S.A. where she underwent surgery followed by radiation. Betty flew out to be her companion through much of the ordeal. She eventually recovered most of her health. However in 2017 the problem has recurred.



Southernmost tip of African continent on our Round-The-World trip.

Our 50th Wedding Anniversary event at TSL (Tarangire Safari Lodge in Tanzania)

Stained glass window with Maasai/ Flying Doctor theme commissioned by our children for our 50th anniversary

June 1996. We “struck gold” with this event. It combined history (songs and plays), geography (attendees from far-away places), nature (wildlife galore) and love (special bonding in a much-blessed clan).


My mother, Ruth T. Shaffer “Gokoo” celebrates her 100th birthday.

Ruth T. Shaffer “Gokoo” celebrates her 100th birthday

Link to Photos for this chapter (15: Retirement 1 1991-98)

Link to next chapter (16: Kilimanjaro 1998-2000)

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