Thank you to Dr. Schilling for sharing his story about a Rotary volunteer mission trip.
From the hillside where I had been working I became aware of a distant sound unfamiliar to me.  It grew in volume appearing as a brown cloud above. The brown cloud swirled, morphing in to different patterns.  In a few minutes, I realized that what I was watching was not an interesting phenomenon of nature, but a terrorizing threat to my life---African Killer Bees.
I was working as a Rotary volunteer dentist at a remote hospital in the Highlands of Africa.  I was the only trained dentist in an area that extended to Lake Victoria and home to a quarter million Kenyans.  My work at the hospital was unique each day. My schedule was packed and I was often presented with pathology I had only studied many years ago. There was no resemblance to my dental practice at home. Happily, my weekends were free to explore the countryside.
I had another job during the months I worked at Tenwek Hospital.  Two authors had contacted me to illustrate a book that they were writing called The Kalengin Heritage.  As a watercolor artist, I was excited by the challenge. The book would remind and teach the local tribe (also known as Kipsigis) about their heritage that was beginning to be lost to younger generations.  My instruction was to meet up with a patriarch of the Kipsigis tribe named, Henry Tui, who would search out specimens of flora, fauna and artifacts of culture for me to illustrate. 
It was on one of these adventures that Henry and I were invited to have lunch with Daniel Salat at his farm (Shamba) before venturing out to paint subjects for the book.  Henry had been a school teacher, and Daniel had been his student many years before.  The two gentlemen wanted me to illustrate beaded jewelry that was important to their culture.  The pieces were too valuable to remove from the property, and I took leave of the hut to find a comfortable spot on the hillside that was bathed in the Equatorial sun to begin the illustration.
I was to illustrate two beautiful examples of Kipsigi’s beadwork. The first is called Semwet .  It is worn by older women in the Ceremony of peace making.  The warring parties go to an elder woman to borrow her Semwet.  It is placed on the ground between them and symbolizes to each “we shall carry this [argument] no further.”  The second piece is called the Nariat.  Young men wear this crown during the final stages of their initiation ceremony. Cowrie shells decorate the leather strip. It was a beautiful day.  I could look down into the valley and see the Nyangoris River snaking between the verdant hills.  The hill on the far side of the river looked like a patch work quilt of 2 and 3 acre farms outlined neatly with bushes of brambles. Except for a cobalt sky above, the hills were nuances of the color green.
I began to sketch the articles with pencil to be followed by watercolor.  My technique was simple and required only a few essentials that could be carried in my backpack.    I had just begun when the brown cloud appeared above me.  The sound was thunderous much like giant industrial fans. Quickly, the bees were on the ground and covered not only me but the fields around me.  It was too late to flee.  I remained motionless except for my hand which moved slowly across the illustration.  I had to maintain my concentration to prevent being frightened.  Some bees found their way to my ankles and entered my pant legs.  I have pronounced environmental allergies.  If I should attempt to shake the bees off I would most certainly be stung multiple times with the possibility of death-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Twenty minutes later, as if a bugler had called his troop to arms, the bees all at once began to crawl out of shirt sleeves and pant legs.  They came from my hair and out of my ear canals.  In seconds they were gone leaving me unharmed but shaken.
I learned the African "killer bee” is a hybrid species from mating of African and Brazilian honey bees. Their sting is no worse than that of a single honey bee.  However, they are very dangerous because African bees viciously attack in mass.  They are persistent and have been known to chase a victim a quarter of a mile. 
Tenwek Hospital is a “light upon a hill” providing compassionate care to Africans from far and wide.  It has grown from a small mission hospital to one of the finest on the African Continent. My work as a Rotary volunteer there was challenging; at times exhausting from long days treating patients who may have walked miles for my help.   My world view of the need for medical and dental care in remote areas had greatly influenced me.  I began thinking of ways to provide sustainable, free dental clinics for children in need.  I returned again as a Rotary volunteer the following year and a third time to deliver a gift of a dental unit and chair donated by Smiles Without Borders Foundation.  The foundation was created with the assistance of my Rotary Club of Loveland.
Dr. Richard Schilling
Dr. Richard Schilling is a dentist, artist and author.   He left private practice twenty five years ago in order to devote time to Christian missions, and to a dental foundation that he helped form, Smiles Without Borders Foundation. The foundation assists with the installation of sustainable dental clinics for children in schools, hospitals, and churches.  In addition to volunteer service in several countries, Richard and his wife, Marlene, serviced as dental officer and dental assistant for a major cruise line for 10 years.