Tuesday, December 30

Fw: End of Year Gifts

David Gruber co-founder sent this very nice message to his friends. I am blessed to have him as a partner in Partners for Care, Connie

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Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 13:56:05 -0500
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;><Invalid address>
Subject: End of Year Gifts

In case any are interested in making an end of year charitible contribution, and have not done so, please let me know. I would be happy to meet with you tomorrow (Dec 31) in order to be sure the donation is processed for a 2008 tax year deduction.
Connie just returned from a very successful trip, through which more than 10,000 were presented the Gospel and learned about HIV/AIDS prevention and how living according to God's principles, HIV could be eradicated in Kenya and beyond. During the stops on this "what if?" tour, more than 300 accepted Christ, and hundreds were tested to learn their HIV status. You can read more on the blog site, http://partnersforcare.blogspot.com. The theme of these events was "what if there were no HIV pandemic?" - what could God accomplish in lifting the people of Kenya out of poverty and broken families and lives which have resulted from this disease. We are supporting our Kenyan friends in trying to accomplish something so impossible, that it is doomed to failure unless God is in the middle of it - to create an HIV-free generation in Kenya. Pray how you might be a part of that, whether by praying, giving, or going on a trip - or go for the Trifecta, and do all three.
Connie and I are grateful for the support provided in the past, and pray for a healthy and prosperous New Year for each of you.
God Bless,

Friday, December 26

What If? Concert tour a success

The last of the What If? Concerts were held in villages near Mombasa. The team returned to Nairobi on Christmas Eve day travelling through the night. The team was tired but not too tired to arrange to meet and interview Dr. Lumumba for the TV story to hear his words about the What If? Concert tour and the next steps. He launched the tour in Lumuru at the first What If? Concert so we wanted to end with him. He was so inspiring and encouraging. He has become our spokesperson for this What If? campaign. He said it is time we win the war against HIV/Aids, declare victory and have the NGOs pack and go home. He said we need missionary zeal to fight this disease that is destroying people and the economies of developing nations. He said this is a marathon not a relay. He wants us to do a big What If? Concert in Nairobi using all the media and the chuches. I will meet with him when I return.
During this tour over 10,000 were reached with the message of living pure for Christ. And 323 people said yes to Jesus! All were given bibles and taken by a local pastor for followup. Thousands signed the committment cards committing to do their part to create a HIV-free generation - to wait until marriage, be faithful to one partner and to test and know their status. The team from their experience of doing 8 What If? Concerts have developed a four hour What If? presentation. The Temples of Worship open with some worship songs, Pastor Omondi then asks the audience What If? there was no HiV/AIDS. What would the world look like? What would Kenya look like? Then more worship songs. Then Pastor Omondi preaches a powerful message of Living Pure for God. He asks the audience to sign committment cards that say Yes We Can create a HiV-free generation - committing to test and know their status, wait until marriage and stay faithful to one partner. Then as the cross is raised and the Temples of Worship sing Remember Me he asked those not born again to accept Christ as their personal savior. Those who step forward are taken to a private area and given bibles from local pastors who record their names and contact information. This approach not only focuses on awarerness but calls for people to accept Jesus and live pure for Him.
The next steps will be going to as many venues as they can with these presentations - high schools, colleges, universities, large church youth groups, etc.
Thank you for your prayers and support. We travelled all over Kenya sleeping in small hotels, eating local food, and sometimes not sleeping much but the team did well. The team also had many spiritual challenges but we prayed through them.
Fighting AIDS in Kenya, Connie

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Wednesday, December 24

What If? Concert Tour

If someone doesn't believe the difference sin and salvation can make in an individual's life and even in an entire community they should come visit the two villages near Mombasa where we have held the What If? Concerts. The first village MTV was so oppressive with sin and darkness you could see it everywhere and even feel it as you walked through the village, as you went into the shops. Everywhere and I really mean everywhere you see old white American men with young (as young as 16) Kenya women. Prostitution is very common here. Pastor Jack, our host GOA church told us there is widespread drug use and child trafficking. He said the village sleeps at 5 am and wakes up late in the afternoon.
Pastor Omondi leading people to Christ

When Pastor Omondi preached and made the call for those to accept Christ he could feel the resistance of the crowd, feel the hardness. A few stepped forward. In the morning after a powerful message from Pastor Omondi a dozen people came forward which was a big victory for Jesus.
We prayed for the people of this village the next morning as a team before we moved two hours further up coast.
A picture of the people present during the concert

Now we are in Watamu - an entirely different village. The people are gentle, respectful and welcoming. We worked with about a dozen pastors here on the ground. After meeting with them and showing them Dr. Lumumba's speech they have formed a pastor's group to address the HIV/AIDS issue. They will keep in communication with us. I have referred them to Rick Warren's web site on how churches can get involved in the HIV/AIDS issue. And when Pastor Omondi made the call the first night 73 stepped forward to accept Christ. The second night 85 gave their lives to Christ. All names were recorded by the church leadership and each was given a salvation bible.
We were blessed once again to visit Justus' and David's home, meet their pastors and walk their village. They have become the village heros. People from the church where Justus slept for three years cried when they saw Justus on the stage singing. They have many family members in this village. Franko another Temples of Worship member also has many family members in and around this village. The Temples of Worship performed their very best for their hometown crowd. David sang to the crowd "Smile Again". With the cross on the stage they sang "Remember Me" with Justus singing to the people where he wrote the song.
The Temples of Worship singing Remember Me

It was all most impossible to leave. The crowd stayed around the bus as we tried to load and leave. The pastors and the people just want the team to return and stay longer.
We have much of the What If? Concert Tours recorded as Elly is still with us and recording for a TV story. Blessed to see so many say yes to Jesus, Connie

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Friday, December 19

What If? Concert Tour Update

The What If? Concert tours focusing on calling the youth to create a HIV-generation were inspired from Louie Giglio's Passion conferences. Having been blessed to volunteer for Passion for two years and watching the Passion Conference DVDs over and over I wondered What If? The youth of Kenya came together shouting praises to God and believing Yes We Can wipe out HIV-Aids in our generation. The Partners for Care Kenyan team of course doesn't have the resources Passion has been blessed with. And the audiences attending walk from their villages or live in a slum and could never afford to pay to attend the concert - some of them barely survive because of a lack of food. We have as they say "gone interior" to the village people. But, the team does have some of the things Passion has. It has passion. Passion to wipe out AIDS. Almost every member of the team has an infected family member, has lost close family members who have died from AIDS and some are caring for the orphans left behing. Even in the Partners for Care house where many of them live we have with us Brian. Brian is one team members' nephew, who at age six has AIDS. The team has Temples of Worship, a gifted group of artists who want to see AIDS eliminated from their Nation. We don't have Louie, Beth Moore, John Piper or any of the other wonderful speakers from Passion, but we have Dr. PLO Lumumba, one of the most elegant orators in Kenya who has agreed to be a spokes person for the What If? campaign. And we have good, strong, passionate pastors like Bishop David Thagana and Pastor Omondi to preach the purity mesage that will wipe out AIDS. And, the former Youth President of Kenya Mwangi Mukami is working with us speaking at some of the venues. Most Kenyans know both Dr. Lumumba and Mwangi Mukama and respect what they say. It is God's favor that we have the blessing to work with these men of God.
The What If? Concert in Siaya was all we had prayed for and more. The on the ground work the Partners for Care staff had done was deep and wide. They worked through families, friends and Muma Churches Fellowship an organization of 22 churches in the surrounding villages. The pastors from this organization had posted the posters, distributed handbills and announced the event from the pulpit. They came and met with us before the event. We asked them how they wanted us to conduct the day. We asked permission for Pastor Omondi to preach. They said very much so and one of their pastors interpreted. A very known artist, Sara, from the area performed. Also a local theater group performed a HIV/AIDS awareness drama skit which was very much accepted by the people.
The day was amazing starting in the morning at the hotel. The hotel staff had seen our hats and our t-shirts What If? and knew we were there for HIV-AIDS awareness. One hotel staff came to Sam our communication director and said please test me now. I want to know my status. I am tired of living without knowing.
We moved to the village market area where the concert would be held. We knew we were deep in the interior where poverty and lack of opportunties is great - signs were everywhere. No cars - everyone walked, poor unpaved roads, children in torn and ragged clothes. The people from the villages come to this marketplace on Tuesdays and Fridays in the afternoon.. When we arrived there was a "stage". Not what you typically see even in Kenya. It was constructed from boards.....well you would just have to see it to understand. But, that stage performed very well!
After we sat up we walked around this market. It consisted of small wooden structures with small stores, two table restaurants, shops etc. In a large grassy area were wooden structures. One by one women carried in produce - potatoes, onions, clothes, fresh fish, fruits and soon there was a full "shopping" center with hundreds of people shopping. The What If? Concert was opened by the chairmen of the Muma Churches Organization. He introduced Pastor Omondi who explained the purpose of the What If? Concerts - to create a HIV-free generation. He introduced the Temples of Worship who sang and danced. One of the Temples of Worship - George comes from this area. His whole family including his parents were there to hear George worshipping on the stage in the open market village.
The local leaders estimated the crowd at over 2,000. The cross was raised to the platform as Pastor Omondi asked those that did not know Christ to come forward. Over 100 people stepped forward to receive Christ.
People giving their lives to Christ

The local pastors were there to receive them into their churches. Each new believer was given a salvation bible. There were so many people who wanted to sign committment cards we couldn't pass them out faster enough.
One of the women from this region signing a commitment card

At the conclusion of the event as darkness came we met for tea with the pastors to ask them to evaluate the event and how we could do better next time. Everyone of them said just "stay longer" and "come back". They took committment cards for their churches to distribute to members who could not attend the concert. And the best of all they committed to not just encourage a pregnant woman to test to see if she is possitive but to take the woman by the hand for testing. They committed to stop babies being born in their village with HIV/AIDS.
Tomorrow is Mathare. We hear the Bishop from our host church announced the event Sunday from the pulpit. We have heard he will attend.
We feel your prayers as we feel these What If? Concerts have had God's favor.
Praying for the concert tomorrow in the slums in Kenya, Conie

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Wednesday, December 17

Devastation of AIDS

Today God took us to see first hand how HIV/AIDS has had a devestating impact on families. He showed us this in two families of people we love.
We left Eldoret heading for the next concert in Siaya district. Siaya is in Kisumu - Nyanza region which is the second largest region in Kenya after the Rift valley region. The HIV/Aids rate here is 15.3% - the highest in Kenya.
I didn't tell you yet that we have a TV, radio reporter with us called Elly. We met him during the last Eldoret sports mission. He is a young Christian man who works for Sayare, a Christian TV, radio station which partners with GOD TV. He loves the worship team and is marketing their CD now from their station. He also likes the work of Partners for Care. He joined us on the bus and he will be producing a feature story for TV on the What If? Concert tour. He was with us yesterday recording by video as we met and saw first hand AIDS in Kisumu.
Pastor Omondi had earlier asked me if we could stop to deliver Christmas gifts to a widow group he helped form and had been helping in his rural home Ugunja town in Siaya district Nyanza province which is highly infected with HIV. We bought bar soaps, kangas (wraps), sanitary pads in Eldoret before we left for the visit.
Our tour started well though the group members looked tired from their previous performance, they were excited to get to Siaya.
The journey wasn't that easy as anticipated by many. We travaced through hills, valleys, poor unpaved dusty roads. In about four hours we arrived in Ugunja where we met this wonderful group of women called Widows 'Moyie'. meaning "widows who have accepted their status and are ready to move on with life"
It was fun to watch Pastor Omondi's excitement at the anticipation of delivering the small gifts we brought them. There are 20 members in total, and 14 of them were present..The widows had gathered and waited for us in a small hotel in the rural area in the outskirts of Ugunja town.
Pastor Omondi (front) with the widows present during that visit

When we arrived and greeted the widows, Pastor Omondi introduced them. He introduced the organizer of the group and said, "this is Eunice my sister". Eunice is also a widow and has four children of her own to take care of. It was then that I realized that is why he had helped with this group - Eunice his sister is infected. Pastor Omondi had co-ordinated with her to start the group. The purpose of the group is to find ways in which the widows in the area can become self reliant and earn a living and boldly carry the message of HIV prevention to the community.
Most of these widows are deserted and stigmatised because of their status. Many of them are infected with HIV. They need someone to show love just as we did. It was difficult to understand how many tribulalions they were going through. The question that kept running through my head was, "What If? there was someone to stand with them when they needed help the most? What made me cry is that these women have no one to turn to when in real need. Worst is that they have either children or grandchildren to provide for regardless of their health status.
"That is what touched my heart and I felt the need to do this" says Pastor Omondi.
As a group, they practice small scale farming, work in people's farms, sewing children's clothes with a machine which Pastor Omondi bought for them. They were all dressed so beautifully and most appeared healthy in spite of their povery, the hardships in their life and the diseases they suffered from: AIDS, TB, malaria. We gave them their gifts and they loved them but mostly, they loved meeting the Partners for Care staff. We gave them bracelets written "Remember Me" as we told them we would remember them as they remembered us. The Temples of Worship sang Remember Me for them before we left. We promised to visit them again.
Next we went to Nick's family 'boma' (small piece of land with houses for family members) or what is left of it. Nick the first born in his father's family was born in Thika a town a few hours drive from Nairobi the capital. The family moved to Mathare the second largest slum in Nairobi after Kibera slums but his family is from the village of Ligega in Nyanza.
His grandmother has lost 10 of her 12 children - many to AIDS. Nick stood and introduced all of us to his grandmother. He told us how death stole his whole family. He told us at one time he used to come home for Christmas to a large family. Now it is just his grandmother and the children left behind. So many children - orphaned. Nick had ealier this year taken six of the children to community Transformers rescue center in Mathare so he could raise them. He told how he had to choose some of the children because he couldn't take them all. The last orphan from the deaths in this family is little 2-year old Elizabeth who has AIDS. Her daddy died four months ago. She now lives in the rescue center.
Nick's grandmother humbly served us tea and bread and roasted corn cooked outside over an open fire. We brought her food - Nick had said that was best gift we could give her.

Nick's family with the Partners for Care team

Charles is the the co-director with Nick of Community Transformers. He too grow up in Mathare. Nick and Charles did not know their families lived in walking distance from each other until after they began to work together helping people infected with HIV/AIDs. We were able to walk to see Charles' father. We called Charles on the phone so he could speak with his dad. His dad has been sick for several months. He had refused to test for HIV the last time Charles was here. I assessed him the best I could with my limited nursing skills. His left leg is swollen and painful with an open sore. I suspected he has cellulitis. The best was for him to go to the clinic. We arranged for transport on a motor bike and for someone to take him. The team left funds for him to be transported and assessed at the clinic. He agreed to test.
Faced with this challange of how to help not only their families but other families Nick and Charles have started Community Transformers here in their village. They have identified volunteer leaders and trained them on how to run Community Transformers. It was very humbling to see these young leaders in this village devastated by AIDS trying to transform their village.. Just like Community Transformers in Mathare they have organized volunteers to visit those infected with HIV/AIDS. They are seeing 15 clients. And just like Community Transformers they have an afternoon program for children to tutor them in their studies. They have reached into the schools teaching a program called "Choosing to Wait". At the conclusion of this program cross necklaces are given to those young people who choose to wait. We saw a young girl with her necklace - she has chosen to wait. Does she knows how important her decision is? The change begins with her. She is begining the transformation that will occur in this village as other young men and women choose to live pure for God. They can create an HIV-generation.
We left in the dark travelling on to our hotel in Siaya.
Nick and Charles have taken their anger at the disease of HIV/AIDS, their compassion for those infected and affected and moved to action - to do something to change this next generation. I envision a time once again when Nick can go home for Christmas to many people celebrating the birth of Christ.
Please continue to pray for us as we complete the What If? concerts. Pray we stay strong both physically and spiritually as we focus on the mission.
Fighting the disease of HIV/AIDS, Connie

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Sunday, December 14

What If? Concert Tour Launched

With a packed church in Lumuru Dr. Patrick Lumunba lauched the What If? Concert Tour. What If? Dr. Lumunba asked the audience there was no Aids? What if this next generation in Kenya, in the world made a decision to live holy for Christ and create a HIV/AIDS generation? The people listened in silence as Dr. Lumumba passionately described the impact in the world of HIV/Aids. The sickness,, the deaths, the orphans.
Dr. Lumumba launching the concerts, in Limuru

What If? He asked if there was no Aids. Every village could have clean water, every school a computer, roads could be built connecting the unreached tribes in the distant parts of Kenya. What If? Hon. Mwangi Mukami, former youth President of Kenya, spoke and called the youth to follow God's principles and say no to HIV/AIds. He said it was not too late to change their behavior, repent and declare their intent to live holy lives.
A picture of a section of the audience present during the Limuru concert

The Temples of Worship sang and the people shouted to sing more. Hundreds of people made the decison to sign a committment card saying "Yes We Can" create a HIV-free enviornment. They pledged to do their part - test and know their status, wait until marriage, be faithful to one partner. Pastor Mungai of our host church asked his sister to come forward and she told us she was infected but God was good and she was on ARVs and felt strong. The pastor shared how she was the person in his life that encouraged him the most. She works with infected women in Lumuru encouraging them. The team worshiped through the night and as morning came a wooden cross was placed at the front as a reminder that He died for all people and He offered redemption for those who accepted Him as their savior. Lights were dimmed and candles were lit illuminating only the cross. The Temples of Worship sang Remember Me as David and Justice knelt at the cross when they sang "we come to you". When they finsihed Pastor Omondi took the microphone and in a quiet voice said "halleluiah". He closed the concert asking who wanted to receive Christ. Twenty people said yes to Jesus. They will be disciplined by the host church.
Thank you to those who have been praying for these concerts. We ask your continued prayers. We travelled all day when a bus full of sleeping people arriving in Eldoret by 5:00 pm. We arrived in time for the award ceremony of A-Step's four month Peace Tournament. The second concert will be Sunday at 1:00 pm. I will share more about the A-Step Peace Tournaments in the next update.
Blessings, God can create a HIV-free generation. Connie

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Thursday, December 4

Maggie's School

Sometimes you get news that just makes you smile. Praise God. We just reveived such news! 160 Turkana children are now attending school at Maggie's School! I know Maggie knows this and is smiling, too. It wasn't easy to get this school open. There is a reason why this is unreeached people group. Far, far away in the desert there is now a school. 160 children wake in the morning and for the first time go to school to learn. There are three teachers and a cook. The cook is important as she will prepare lunch (outside over fire) for the children because food is very scarce in this area. We are grateful to Bishop David Thagano GOA who sent GOA missionary Peter Wagura to the school last week to help complete what needed to be done to open the school. He along with two GOA pastors and Andrew, Partners for Care social worker gathered supplies for the school and headed out in a vehicle through the desert to the school. After completing over only one hour of the four hour drive the vehicle broke down stranding them in the desert. Fortunately another vehicle came along and took Peter back to town where he secured assistance for the broken vehicle. Somehow they all made it to the school with the supplies! After sending us news the 160 children were now enrolled and teachers were in place Peter took the long 24 hour bus ride back to Nairobi. He has pictures which we are all eager to see. I will send them to you as soon as I receive them. Next the toliets will be built for the children thanks the Christian school Maggie went to who has adopted this Turkana School and raised the funds for the toliets. My sister is planning to visit Maggie's School with many of her friends in July. I will be blessed to be with her as she witnesses first hand how she has honored Maggie in this wonderful way that will literally transform a generation of Turkana children.
Blessed to witness the building of Maggie's School in the Turkana desert, Connie
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Sunday, November 30

Temples of Worship Tour

Everyday in Kenya 473 children under the age of five die. Most (90%) die from preventable diseases - malaria, HIV/AIDS, malnutition. And 180,000 children are infected and living with HIV/AIDS. The Temples of Worship want to do something to change these statistics. They want to use what God has gifted them with - their music. Starting December 12, 2008 they are embarking on a five city, eight venues tour - What If? Supported by other Partners for Care staff - Sam, Moses, Njokie, our newest staff member Pastor Maurice Omondi and our Partners Nick and Charles these concerts will call the next generation to be HIV-free. They will ask the question What If? there was no AIDS, no orphaned children, no street children, no babies born infected with HIV/AIDS. What If? every child slelpt under a bed-net? Drank clean water? Had enough to eat? Honorable Mwangi Makami, former Youth President of Kenya and Dr. PLO Lumunba will speak calling the youth to avoid getting infected themselves. Testing will be offered at each site in cooperation with the National AiDS and STD Minisitry (NASCOP). and other AiDS organizations. And because the concerts are also a call for the youth to accept Christ and follow His principles Bishop David will preach and ask the youth who are not believers to accept Christ.
See attached posters being used in Limuru, Eldoret, Siaya (near Kisumu). Nairobi (Mathare) and three venues in Mombasa.
This is a large undertaking as they want to reach many youth with the message of saving children, being HIV-free and living for Christ. The team would appreciate your prayer support. Pray that those who come to hear the music will hear the call to wipe out HIV/AIDS - to do their part - test and know their status and keep HIV-free by following God's principles. Pray for each team member as they continue to plan these concerts, mobilize the communities, practice their music and prepare themselves spiritually to win souls for the kingdom. Pray for the team as they travel together on a bus for 10 days throughout the Kenya - for travel mercies and safety.
Everyone in Kenya has the feeling "yes they can" and it is with this spirit the Partners for Care staff are planning these What If? concerts. I will travel to kenya December 9 to travel with them on this tour.
Bless you for your support of what God is doing in Kenya,
Connie .

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-----Original Message-----

From: Connie Cheren <ccheren@aol.com>

Date: Sat, 29 Nov 2008 19:39:18

To: Connie Cheren<ccheren@aol.com>

Subject: what if

Monday, November 17


I wanted to let you know that the updates from this last trip came from Dan Kellenberger as I lost my Blackberry while in Kenya this time. Some of you have told me his email went to scam. Remember you can see all the updates and pictures on www.partnersforcare.blogspot.com. Thank you for all your prayers and support. I missed reading many of your encouraging emails when I was without my Blackberry! I now have a new Blackberry but have lost recent phone numbers. I hope not to ever lose my Blackberry again! Blessings, Connie
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Friday, November 14


The Partners for Care team are all eager to learn and grow in many ways. Many have started reading books and enjoy reading books about great leaders, Christian leadership and other good books. If you have some books you could send them I will be happy to carry them when I go next time. Also any good CDs, videos and even old tapes (one of them still uses a cassette tape player) They share them with each other when they finish reading them. Also there can never be enough bibles taken. I If you have extra bibles not being used I will take them to Kenya. wish we could give every pastor in Kenya the John Maxwell Leadership Bible. If you want to purchase one for a pastor for Christmas let me know. It is an awesome bible and every leader should have one. We ask John Maxwell's company if the made one in swahilli and they do not. I wish they did. Christian DVDs are also needed. I watch them show DVDs at night and translate them. David Gruber sent End of the Spear and they loved it. They love anything from Louie Giglio. Especially the Passion DVDs. I need more of those - they love the Nashville one. If anyone has a video camera they would like to sell please let me know. The team wants to be able to video tape performances so they can evaluate themselves for improvement. Partners for Care works to enable, equip, and encourage Kenyans to help each other. Good Christian material helps.
Thanks for any help you can give, Connie

Temples of Worship CD Release

Temples of Worship releases their new CD
The GOA/Partners for Care worship team - Temples of Worship has released its new CD. All of the songs were written by the team members and some are in swahilli and some in English. The album includes Justus' song Remember Me When You Come. I have bought 200 copies home with me. They would be great Christmas presents for anyone who knows the team and for your Kenyan friends. They are $15.00 each and all the proceeds go to support the ministry work of the team. Just email or call me and I can get them to you. The producer told us it believes it is the best album he has ever produced. He is releasing it to the radio stations in Kenya this week. If you can help the team sell the CDs let me know or if you have any ideas on how we can market it.
Thank you for your help!

Last update from Kenya

God is blessing the team in Kenya
It was a great blessing to be in Kenya these last few weeks. No matter your political position it was fun to watch the Kenyans celebrate as a son of a Kenyan was elected President of the United States. There were many goats and bulls slaughtered in celebration the next day. We had been to the village right next to where Obama's grandmother lives when when went to see George's family. It is a very poor area of Kenya with no electricity or paved roads. It is also the hardest hit by HIV with a 15.3% infected rate. Many, many deaths from malaria. As most of you probably know President Kibabi declared Thursday of that week a National Holiday to celebrate. Everywhere Kenyans were saying "yes we can". He and American has inspired the people of Kenya to aspire to greatness. Dr. Patrick Lumumba who people call the most eloquent speaker in Kenya said at our press conference - Kenya has been great in theory for a long time let us make Kenya great in practice.
The Partners for Care worship team - Temples of Worship Reach-A-Million initiative has used sports as a way to reach people with the message of HIV/AIDS prevention. To date they have reached over 100,000 with almost 1500 people accepting Christ . They have now decided they want to try to use music, worship, etc. to reach the youth. I had shown them several of Louie's Passion DVDs and they want to do something similar in Kenya. We have organized for a five city tour in December playing at 8 sites. The concert theme is "What If? David Gruber got donated "What If?" hats from the artist Nicole who wrote the song "What If?" Kathy his wife had bought David one of the hats at a women's Christian conference. He wore it to Beat the Drum and we have pictures of the children wearing the hat. The concerts will be dedicated to the 463 children who die everyday in Kenya from mostly preventable diseases - malaria, HIV/AIDS and sadly malnutrition. God has blessed this initiative as the Bishop will speak as well as the former youth President of Kenya who is very well known and Dr. Patrick Lumumba will speak. We have good relations now with the the Christian TV and Citizen TV who will cover the events. They will hold the concerts in Lumuru, Eldoret, Kissmu, Nairobi (Mathare) and Mombasa (three locations). The venue in Mathare will be Redeemed Gospel Church right in Mathare which is one of the larger churches in Kenya seating 5,000. Pastor Karanja preached here when he came. The Temples of Worship team are from all parts of Kenya - so they wanted to go to their homes to spread the message of hope and health through prevention and the message of salvation. The new Director of Youth for the National Aids Control Council who I met with this time will attend some of the concerts and do public tests of some of the worship team and speakers in encouraging the youth to test. We will also have the major organizations on site providing testing. Two of the events will be all night with the others four hours. The team has been given an incredible gift from someone Deb Zinn knows of 8,400 salvation bibles. The team has set of a goal of converting 8,400 people and giving each one a salvation bible. This goal will take time but it is a worthy goal. The theme What If? will ask the youth What If? they could be a HIV-free generation, what if they could eliminate the diseases that costs millions of dollars to treat and take so many lives of children and adults leaving 2.1 million orphans in Kenya. And of course the attendees will be asked What If? they believed - Yes We Can? Please pray for these events and for the people God is calling to know Him and to worship Him. This is a major undertaking and most of the Partners for Care staff are involved to make it happen.
The enemy was certainly was challenging the team this trip. To impact on someone the enemy knows to attack their family. This trip several of the team had a family illness or death. George found out his father, second mom and last born is infected with HIV. Njokie's sister had a depression episode and was hospitalized. Franko's aunt died. Justus' mother went back to drinking leaving his 14 year old sister head of household (I hate the disease of alcoholism). Through all this team supports each other sharing what resources they have sending funds back to their families.
We have added a pastor to Partners for Care. Pastor Ombundi from the Nairobi church has joined the team. And we need a pastor. He not only pastors the team but is helping in Mathare with Community Transformers and will help to reopen the project in Kiambiu slum. He will supervise Paul (nurse) and Moses (social worker). He will help Moses with setting up the Partners for Care public health training that will be given to all the GOA churches and at every GOA training. This has been a goal of Partners for Care and it is good to have someone who will help with this project. He is also responsible for connecting the What If? concerts with the GOA local churches and ensuring all those who answer the call to be saved are connected to a church to help discipline them.
The team worked hard these last few weeks. We have implemented planning, meetings, follow-up, evaluations, quality improvement, and personal development. They are eager to learn and could see how much more they can accomplish when goals are set, daily work plans made, meetings are held for accountability and encouragement and they are all using yellow pads now with lists of things to do! I came home with none of my yellow pads and will take many for them when I go back. They do less now spontaneously and challenge each other with "what are your plans for tomorrow?' They have implemented many systems from list of equipment to take when they go to perform to tracking systems for the sell of their new CD. I watched as they conducted a strategy meeting on how to market their CD. They now ask the questions what needs to be done?, who is going to do it? and when will it be done? They are growing as leaders both leading themselves and others. It is a privilege to see them take the leadership role.
Please pray for them as they grow. The more they do for the kingdom the more the enemy will attack.
Thank you all for your support and prayers while I was in Kenya this trip.

Monday, November 10

10th update

Team participates in press conference
Last night we participated in a press conference with our friend Hon. Mwangi Mukami. He called a press conference to discuss what it really means to Kenyans that the son of a Kenyan has been elected President of the United States. Using the foundation of the words of Martin Luther King Mwangi called the youth to do what God called them to do. Work hard, study and live with honor and integrety. Many well known people were there. There were TV and newspaper reporters and we are setting up follow up meetings with some of them to discuss how they can help create an HIV-free generation. The team enjoyed seeing themselves on the TV. Mwangi announced his involvement with Partners for Care. We are blessed to have such a leader working with us.
Blessings, Connie

Thursday, November 6

9th Update

Issac goes to school
Today we took Issac to school at Merciful Redemeer. It was not the same boy we met just two weeks ago. Then he was drinking and spending his days gambling. After he got saved he told us he just wanted to go to school. He had never gone to school. He cannot even spell or recognise his name. He came from Eldoret on a mutatu on Friday. He has been with us since then. He worshiped with us on Sunday. Pastor Omondi of the Nairobi GOA church is his spiritual father having helped bring him to the Lord. Issac saw him on Sunday
And he went with us to take him to Merciful Redemer. There is a nice relationship between the two. Both of Issac's parents have died so Pastor Omondi plays an important role in Issac's life.

George, Pastor Omondi and Isaac at Merciful Redeemer

Thanking God for the miracle of transformation, Connie

Tuesday, November 4

7th update

Story of conversion of Oscar
Today the Bishop shared the story of Oscar. In the disco Isaac came to the Bishop to talk. With alcohol on his breath he got close to the Bishops face. Moses took a photo.
The Bishop leading Oscar to Christ

In the darkness of the disco Oscar saw the flash of light and grabbed the Bishop and asked "has God come?". The Bishop told him God was there. Oscar said then I want to get saved. With beer bottle in hand the Bishop took him outside to pray for him. The Bishop invited him to meet him at the GOA church the next day. Oscar showed up. He is a talented young man who God can use to lead worship in the church.
Witnessing the winning of so many souls for the kingdom, Connie

8th update

Partners for Care ministers to its own
Soon after I arrived George one of our worship leaders came to speak with me. He said his sister had just informed him that his father was infected with HIV. George was concerned about his Dads second wife and a small child from that marriage. While Georges Dad is a believer he has two wives.
George with his family
The team with George's family

A common practice in his village. As Georges family was two hours from our last mission stop we made the decision to go visit and help George and his family. The team was excited as we boarded our bus at 5:30 am to leave Bugoma for Georges family. We travelled down very rural roads until George said to stop. We were at his familys burma. What we would call a small farm. There were 4 small mud houses - one for the first wive, one for the second wive and each wive has a kitchen although the cooking is done outside over open flame.
The welcome was so special. Many came from all the village to see George. Introductions took 2 hours. We could see how the people in the village love George. George waisted no time in assessing the health status of his family. It is not easy to determine a persons status because of fear, stigma, and denial. George found his father, the second wive and sadly the small last born infected. George told me he with sadness in his heart that he thought AiDS was far from his life, far from his family and now he knows it is so close.
The family prepared a feast for us. Some of the best food I have eaten in kenya. All preoared over open fire outside. Amazing.
Under the tree the worship team set up their equipment and led worship. A local preacher preached a powerful message and two accepted Christ and many knelt to be prayed for. A revival right at Georges
Later we brought the family together to give them bednets and teach about malaria, water borne illnesses, and HIV prevention.
It was time to leave for the long drive back to Nairobi. We were leaving George so he could help his family. It was hard to leave. Even in this short visit we had developed a closeness to Georges family.
Praying for George and his family, Connie
Sent from my BlackBerry®

6th update

More from Eldoret
I shared with you about the A-Step program that did the on the ground organizing of the tournament. I would like to share some of the story of their leader and founder - Tim. Ti m was once a street boy in Nairobi. His mother was hurt in a matatu accident and Tim got seperated from her for several years. He struggled to eat and to go to school. As with many Kenyan boys sports saved his life. He played for mathare association and was good. Winning best player in a tournament he was given a cash award. Mature people in his life told him to use the money to buy a piece of land. By then he had been reunited with his mother. He bought a piece of land in Eldoret where he eventually moved with his mother. He has struggled over the years as work was hard to find. He was desperate one day and he looked up to see a church. He decided to attend on Sunday. There he heard the pastor say he takes vision, faith and work to accomplish your dreams and aspirations. He left the church committed to make a diference for God. Today he is a very influence leader of thousands of youth in Eldoret through A-Step. They struggle with funding but are committed to work and they have faith God will substain them.
Tim shared with us that his mother is infected - he believes from blood contamination during the accident. He told me she was very sick. I asked if he wanted me to visit her. Late that night the local pastor drove us in the rain to a very humble home to see his mom. Tim had built two homes on the piece of land he bought with his money from winning best player. He lives in one house with his wife and two small children and his mother lives in the other house. His mother was very ill barely able to sit up. The pastors prayed for her. I assessed her the best I could as I checked her breathing and the pressure sore she had on her back. I advised Tim she needed to go to the hospital as I suspected she had pnemonia. As we sat with her Tim told me he comes home  every night to his sick mom  and that is what motivates him  to fight the disease that is killing his mother. The next day Tim took his mother to the hospital. She is now being treated for the pnemonia.
Tim is an an amazing servant of God.
Grateful to know a humble servant of God, Connie

5th update

Forwarding for Connie....
Going deep in a pub in Bugoma
The hotel the team is staying in has a very large pub and disco.  The first night of the mission we were unable to show the film due to the rain. We were all sitting around drinking tea with many who were drinking beer and many already drunk. We realized we were in a mission field. We asked the management if we could show the film in the disco. She refused. Hanniel would not accept that answer and asked me if I could try to use my white skin to influence her. So Hanniel and I approached her to ask again. She continued to say no even though by that time we were just asking if the worship team could sing one song. When she saw we were not accepting her no she said she would take us to her boss and he would tell us no. I entered a darkened room to meet the owner. To the managers suprise he said let them sing one song. When I went back to tell the Bishop he asked me if he could preach 10 minutes. I told him that was pushing it but as it turns out God used George to preach with music. In a disco where the entrance fee was two beers George just let the holy spirit give him the words  He sang:
It is true Jesus lives. It is real Father lives
We proclaim that He lives
We've seen the work of His hands.
Those who are heartbroken for the situations that they undergo through
He  is much able to save them and restore them.
Gods love is so amazing
His mercies are new everyday Gods  saving power is present
Come to Him and He'll save you When the worship team finished 7 came to the pastors asking to be saved. So with the beer bottles on the table the pastors met with and led seven more souls to Christ. The mission field is wherever God places you.
Blessed to witness so many led to Christ, Connie

Monday, November 3

Fw: 4th update

The harvest is plenty.

Jesus called us to be fishers of men. He said the harvest is plenty and the workers are few. This trip to Eldoret and Bugoma the harvest is indeed plenty. Hundred have been saved. From the football field to open air to the door to door outreach people have eagerly said yes to Jesus. And we have given the message of HIV everywhere we have gone. People want to test - to know their status. And as always AIDS is everywhere. We visited a grandmother who has lost two daughters. She is caring for the 5 childen left orphaned. One of the childen is infected and they are waiting to find the status of the baby. The child appears sick and looks infected. There was no food in the house and they need medication. We bought the medication and food for them. As we were leaving the house Njokie said. "I hate AIDS". She is committed to fight this disease that orhans children and leaves babies sick.

Njokie leading a woman to Christ on the field

Spreading the message of hope through salvation and prevention.

ConnieSent from my BlackBerry®

Fw: 3rd update


I told you about Isaac in another update. He is the young man from Turksna living in Eldoret. He never had the opportunity to attend school. He was drinking when we met him and just gambles during the day.
         Isaac giving his life to Christ

The last day of the mission he was on the stage leading the children and others in worship. As the team watched Isaac on the stage we knew that only God could transform a young man the way this young man has been transformed. The day before we took Isaac to test for HIV. Praise God he was negative. Isaac wants to go to school. He wants to leave this area because of the negative influence of the people he has been spending time with It is difficult in Kenya for a 20 year old to get an education when they have missed all of their schooling. Pray with us that we can help this young man so he can be discipled to grow in his faith and fulfill his dream of education. Blessed to be in the mission field,

ConnieSent from my BlackBerry®

Connie Cheren's Updates

I'm sorry that I haven't been in communication over the last week and a half but I lost my blackberry up in the mission field in Eldoret and I am just now able to send updates. You will be getting the updates from Sam Wachira, Partners for Care Communications person.

Blessings Connie.

Wednesday, October 22

2nd Update

Removing the bitterness from the heart

Yesterday GOA leaders held seminars for over 50 youth leaders. It was easy to mobilize these leaders because the GOA pastors is on the board of A-Step. A-Step is an Community Based organization founded in 2003. Their funding has been sporatic coming mostly from well-wishes. They work through sports. Their founder and director Timothy is passionate about reaching the youth through sports. He himself was a street boy in Nairobi and played football for Mathare Association. He told it was playing football that changed his life. He seeks to give that change to other youth. They are very organized with football happening every weekend all over the city. They have 24 boys teams and 6 girls teams. There 50 core volunteer leaders and 150 other volunteers.

One of the speakers was a GOA pastor who shared his testimony how he was affected by the violence. He is Luo and his wife is Kikuyu. During the height of the violence angry men were going door to door looking for Luos. They came to his door and threatened to kill him. They had killed and cut a Luo man to pieces just nearby. Only by the grace of God was he not killed.

After his testimony three young men came to him and confessed they had bitterness in their heart. While they and others are working with other tribes it is only on the surface. They still have bitterness in their heart. They told the pastor they wanted to heal the bitterness in their heart because they believed if after what the pastor went through he could still be a pastor and love and believe God and forgive those who hurt him then they too could forgive.

Praise God for the pastor who was willing to share what had happened to him even though it is painful to share the story. Praise God for the healing that is happening in this city, in this Nation one heart at a time.
                                              People give their lives to Christ

Blessed to witness God at work, Connie

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1st update from Kenya

Maggie's School touching lives in Eldoret
I am in Eldoret with a Reach-A-Million iniative. Partners for Care and GOA leaders have partnered with a community based group A-Step to do a sports evangelism. Football teams have been playing games all week leading up to the finals to be played tomorrow. This iniative is reaching people with the message of salvation, HIV awareness and peace. Eldoret was one of the places with the most post-election violence. It was a church in Eldoret that was burned and children in the church were killed. There has been months of working to heal the pain and hurting the violence created. There is much bitterness in the hearts of the people here.
Our team came to Eldoret during the violence. We saw the burning and were affected ourselves as we faced roadblocks and attempts to harm the bus. We went to IDPs here including the one at show ground where 10,000 people were sheltered in tents. Now the team has returned to join the efforts for peace and reconciliation.
Yesterday Pastor Omondi and I met a young man who is Turkana. I could tell he was lost and hurting. I told him about Maggie's School built in Akatmon. He knew of the village there and he thanked us for building a school there because he never went to school and never learned to read himself. I asked him if he was born again and he said no. I told him of the story of Bishop David going to Akatman and his 3 year prayer for a school for the Turkana people. We told him the school was built because God loves the Turkana people and we love the Turkana people. He said he would accept Christ if he could tell us what he was going through. What he shared was his struggle in not being able to read. We asked him if he had been tested for HIV and he said no. He agreed to test.
I believe Maggie's School helped us reach this man for Christ. I also believe God was showing us how important Maggie's School is. This next generation of Akatman children will be able to read. Praise God.
Praying for healing in Eldoret, Connie
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Thursday, October 9

HIV/AIDS - alarming rates in Kenya

Last Friday night I had dinner with Professor Orego, Director of the National Aids Control Council in Kenya. Professor Orego was in the US along with eight other officials from Kenya to report the findings of the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey to the Center for Disease Control and to officials in Washington, D.C. Professor Orego gave me a copy of the findings. I have read the report and wanted to share with you the alarming rates of HIV/AIDS and STD.
1. Number infected with HIV/AIDS in Kenya has risen from the last reporting year 2003 from 5.4% to 7.4% and this is only for ages 15-64. It does not include all the children that are infected.
2. Number infected in Nyanza is 15.3%, Nairobi 9.0%
3. Incidence rate (number of new infections) has not changed meaning just as many people are being infected as in 2003
4. More than 1.4 million Kenyans are living with HIV/AIDS in a population of 35 million
5. 1 out of every 10 pregnant women are infected with HIV/AIDS
6. 1/3 of Kenyans are have genital herpes and are at a higher risk of becoming infected with HIV. 81% of those infected with HIV have genital herpes. And 60% of women age 40-44 have genital herpes. There is no cure for genital herpes and many times people have no symptoms so they do not know they are infected
7. 4 out of 5 HIV infected persons do not know they are infected. That means 1.1 million people are infected who do not know they are infected.
8. Only 36% of kenyans have ever tested for HIV and the reason given by 61% of Kenyas for not testing was low perceptions of risk
9. In Kenya HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for adults 15-49.
I emailed this information to the Bishop and to Pastor Karanja. Bishop David emailed me back that he wants to call an urgent meeting of all Partners for Care staff and GOA leaders to discuss what can be done in response to this new data showing the war against AIDS is not being won. I go to Kenya next week and will work with the Bishop to intensify the Reach-A-Million iniative and to develop other approaches to address this pandemic. Pastor Karanja is also travelling to Kenya next week and I have asked for his help. With his influence in Kenya I know he can make a difference.
I am reminded of what Rick Warren said at the Global Summit on AIDS - in 2005 - until the churches get involved in this pandemic it is not going to go away. Praise God for the leadership of the Bishop and of Pastor Karanja to involve the church in this pandemic. This is the disease that robs little children of their parents leaving over a million orphans in Kenya.. This is the disease that infects innocent children like Rebecca, Dennis, Eunice, Brian (who lives with us in kenya), Faith, Baby Diamond and Little Elizabeth and many more.
Praying for God's direction, Connie
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Good news

I wanted to share some good news about one of our Partners for Care staff in Kenya - Sam Wachira. .He is the younger brother of Moses, a social worker with Partners for Care. When Moses came to work for us in Nairobi Sam came with him to wait out the months before he would report to college. Due to his excellent grades in high school, Sam was recruted to a college about 4 hours away from Nairobi. He planned to study buisness. After a month volunteering with Partners for Care Sam wanted to stay in Nairobi to continue his work with Partners for Care and he wanted to switch his studies to social work. He began what became a long process of applying to the University of Nairobi. After much persistence, continuall follow-up and prayer Sam received his acceptance letter today - four days before classes start at the University! We are very happy that God has provided this opportunity for Sam to stay with Partners for Care (he has become an invaluable asset to this ministry) and for him to be able to pursue his studies at the University of Nairobi.
Grateful for this blessing, Connie
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Wednesday, October 8

They will remember

When we first went to Turkana the men sat on one side and the women on the other in very traditional ways. They did not trust these white people who had come and would not let us take any photos. When Laban told them we were there to help them and not hurt them they say we could take photos. As we were leaving they brought to us an old man and said if we really wanted to help we could help him. I didn't need by nursing skills to know the old man had cataracts and they were "ripe" - ready for surgery. He was nearly blind at that point. Through Laban interpreting for me I told them that.
We left and God challenged me to do something. We visited the hospital in Lodwar and found they could remove the cataracts for him - they had an eye surgery department.
We gave funds to GOA and they wired them for his surgery. Dr. James helped to facilitate his surgery. I just received this email from Laban about this old man who is now a Christian!
Dear Connie Old man Akutan, he of the cataract removal at Sopel, is now well and seeing again without problems, thanks to your extended mercy and comfort to him.  He and his wife were at the Sopel church to meet the visitors (Joy and Richard) coming and, I believe, they had been told there was a lady missionary from America coming and he instantly imagined it was his dear Connie.
With his wife, they were in place at the church very early not to miss on the friend who helped to have his failing eyesight corrected.  He did not see you and that was somehow disappointing for him.  He summoned me at the end of the sermon and talk by Richard, Joy and myself.  He demanded to know where you were and I had to look for an interpreter to get the gist of his many words to me.
When we got on the same linguistic level, I was able to hear him asking about the lady who helped him see; the wife was there to put in a word or two when the husband hesitated in his expressions.  They said they had brought a goat as a gift and wanted me to take a picture with them with the goat of thanksgiving.  The constant reference to you was enough for me to know they had intended it for you.
We left with the goat initially intending to enjoy a barbeque with the pastors, but on remembering Pastor John Edung of Nayanae who is sick in Lodwar, we decided to donate the goat so that the mutton may add onto his lean nutritional base.  He needs a lot of proper feeding as he recuperates.   We continue to pray for him and he called me on my way back from Lodwar to tell me that he was feeling the effect of the prayers and that he was getting stronger.  Praise God.
My response to Laban - Laban thank you my special brother in Christ for taking the time to share the story of Akutan with me. How very special and how it touched my heart to know that God used me in this simple, humble way to do what He does for us everyday - just love us. I remember so clearly how the old man challenged us that day as if to say if you are Christian - show us - spread the gospel use words only when necessary. Without your guidance and God's clear direction I would have never paid for his cataracts to be removed. And I remember he has several very young wives who love him very much. May they know God and may all their children know our God of love.
They will remember our acts of kindness, Connie

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Tuesday, October 7

Prayer requests

All of you know Nick and Charles from the many updates I send about their work in Mathare Slum. Today Njokie (Partners for Care Manager) went to check on them and the children in the Rescue Center. She found both Nick and Charles sick. Both have malaria and Charles also has thyroid. Njokie has been sent money for medication and food for them and the children. She will return tomorrow to help and I have asked Paul (Partners for Care nurse) to see them. I texted both of nick and Charles asking how we could help and what they needed and Charles texted me back - he replied prayers. They are both young men of great faith. They are also "father" to many children and "comforter" to hundreds of sick people in Mathare. Please join in prayer for their rapid recovery. And as I pray I thank God for Njokie who cares for the sick as Jesus commanded us..
Praying for Nick and Charles, Connie
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Friday, October 3

PLAY with AFRICA - FALL Family Soccer Event

Greetings friends, as we enjoy the nicer and cooler FALL weather remember to SAVE THIS DATE – November 15th 2008 for the PLAY WITH AFRICA Family Soccer Event at the J.J. Biello Sports Complex in Woodstock, GA


This will be a great event so please bring your family and friends ready to have a truly unique & fun filled day.


WEAR your PATRIOTIC COLORS as you represent your teams and country.


ü       Remember we will be forming 7–a-side Soccer teams – visit www.playwithafrica.org for more information.


ü       Register EARLY either as a team or individuals as we form the TEAMS.


ü       Soccer Shirts for the Little Kickers Team (4 – 7yrs old) will be providedGet them black soccer shorts and stockings.


Please PASS this on to your friends too & invite them to come Play with Africa.


THANK YOU - (Please see the attached FLYER)


Eric Mwangi

770 256 2280


Thursday, September 4

7th Update

Today the Partners for Care staff ministered to their own. If you recall three of the musicians from Temples of Worship come from Milindi a coastal town two hours north of Mombasa. There families are very poor. I have told you before in Kenya someone is not ok unless their mums are OK. And that is true for the worship team. One of the musicians Justus is now considered first born as his three older brothers have been killed in road accidents. Many in the community have told Justus it was because he became a Christian. We travelled to Malindi last time when his family was in crisis. It is then his mother accepted Christ as her personal savior and gave up brewing and drinking. We needed to return to help his family again.
Two of his siblings were not attending school for lack of school uniforms and did not have pads or mattresses to sleep on. There was only a bag of maize for food in the house. The team took mattresses for the family, hung nets for them and went to the school Justus' older sister attends. Her teacher had called for Justus to come see him. He shared with us that she was not doing well. We told him at 13 she had become the primary caregiver for her family but the mom was improving. Justus left his family money for her uniform and for rent and for food. It takes almost all Justus earns to support his family. He does that willingly and with love for his family. He talked to his siblings about doing well in school and working hard. He also found someone. Who lives nearby to be a "big sister" to her sister checking on her and encouraging her. Justus' mom is so much better from last visit. She has been attending church every Sunday since she accepted Christ. When she saw George who led her to Christ she greeted him with "praise God". She is also making makutis. (roof shingles made from a local plant) to sell so she can begin to support herself and her family.
The school we went to was the same school Justus attended. The headmaster and the teachers were delighted to see Justus. He is a success story from this school of 1,400 students. They told me Justus was a good student and hard worker. He was President of the Christian Student Association. They asked him to please come back to the school to sing for the students as this would be such an encouragement for the whole school. We will do that when we come to Mombasa. For Reach A Million sports evangelism
The Partners for Care team know we want to all have a place to live and food to eat. We are also concerned about their immediate families - their parents and siblings. As an organization we want their families to have their basic needs met and all their siblings of school age to be attending school. This provides a hand-up not a hand-out.
It is a blessing to help this team help their families, Connie
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Tuesday, September 2

6th update

Today was a simple but blessed day. We went with just a few of us Justus, David, Sammy and Franko to Strong Tower and Beat the Drum. Justus and Franko had never been to these children's homes. At Strong Tower the boys told the guys they remembered them from the children's conference. We went to Strong Tower to give them the extra large bednets our partner HEART had given us. The guys worked with the staff at Strong Tower and hung all the nets on the boys triple bunk beds. A very simple act, but so so significant for the boys. As Justus said no more malaria.for the boys at Strong Tower. It was wonderful to have the extra large nets from HEART.
Then we went to the Christian school the children from Beat the Drum attend. We met with the head of the school Lucy. She said the children from Beat the Drum are doing so well! Rebecca was number one in her class out of 55 children. DIko speaks Swahilli now and was number one in his nursery class. Dennis was number 5 in his class. She said no one even the teachers can believe the children live in a children's home. They are so well dressed and cared for. We got to take all of them in the van home to Beat the Drum.
The second house is complete and just finishing work is left. They plan to move in within a couple weeks.
They plantings are doing very well - corn, carrots, onions and cabbages. The children went into the tall cornfield and picked corn to give us to take home. They are growing the crops to keep the expenses down.
We went inside where the guys sang Remember Me for them and led them in worship. Then the children performed singing, dancing and reciting poems - even Diko.
Pastor John asked me to meet with 20 infected women in his church the next time I visit. He would like to help them in some way.
Beat the Drum is truly a miracle.
Blessed to know and love so many children at Beat the Drum, Connie

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Friday, August 29

5th Update

It seems to me that to really experience how people in Kenya are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS you need to do two things - make a home visit in a slum to a person infected with the virus and sit and listen to their story. The second is to hold a baby infected with AIDS. Today Lorri and Kimberly did both of those things.. They made a home visit to someone infected and they held an infected two year old child. I was proud of both of them as they empathically watched Partners for Care nurses Paul and Elizabeth along with Community Transformers (CT)volunteer community workers make a home visit. They witnessed first hand the suffering caused by this disease.
The two year child is the child from Nick's uncle who died from AIDS last week. The mother is infected and has left - she denies her status. Nick had the little girl tested on Monday and found she is infected. She most likely became infected from her mother during delivery. She will have her CD4 count done soon. I expect it will be low and she will join Brian, Faith, Rebecca and thousands of other children in the world infected with AIDS who take ARVs to keep them alive. She is very frail and has sores on her back and legs.
She becomes the 24th child Nick and Charles are caring for.
One of the home visits was to the family of one of the CT volunteers. He was one of the 40 group leaders for the children's conference. You would have never believed his family story. Five adults and three children live in one of the slum houses - a room, a very small room. You cannot imagine that many people live there. Elizabeth did a beautiful job at assessing the health status of those sick in the family. Three of his siblings have died from AIDs already. His father has died from the disease. His 21 year-old sister has AIDS and TB. She was bed-ridden and very frail. And his mother is infected and on ARVs. The mom has pneumonia. The ARVs are free but not the medication for the pneumonia. The family doesn't have enough money for the medication or food. We prayed for the family. We bought the medication for her. This is an example of the family destruction of this disease. Our hearts were touched by the the young CT volunteer who shared his smile and his love for the Lord last week at the GOA children's conference.
The worship team also went and are continuing their work with about 20 CT volunteers training them in voice and how they can teach voice and music to the youth of Mathare. These youth will then begin a music therapy program ministering at the bedside of those dying from AIDS in Mathare slum.
It was a good day for the team working where we think Jesus would go - to the sick and dying.
If you want you can pray for the little girl infected with AIDS - her name is Elizabeth.
Connie, Lorri and Kimberly
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Sunday, August 24

4th Update

It is almost impossible to tell you about the GOA Children's Conference but I really want to try.. I hope you will read this update and even share with others as it shows how God is working in a mighty way. I thought it would be best to give you a sense of what happened if I share what the days were like for Lorri, Kimberly and me.
There were 448 children from many parts of Kenya including as far away as Marsabit, Eldoret and Samburu and many tribes were represented with children speaking different languages.
We woke everyday at 5:00 am and felt blessed for the thermos of hot milk, cups, instant coffee and sugar Njokie had left us so we could make coffee. . We were sleeping in a room that Lorri likened to being assigned a cell block - cement walls and wooden beds so small we were suprised we fit in them. Remember we were in a secondary school that was converting to a training center. We needed to hurry to wake up as Lorri and Kimberly would start making 550 butter and jam sandwiches for breakfast. I was to meet with the 40 team leaders for worship, devotions, prayer and planning for the day. Devotions in Kenya begins with first singing to God to worship Him.
While Pastor Mathew and I were meeting with group leaders 40 ".Moms and "Dads were already helping the children prepare for the day Children slept on pads on the floor - two to three to a pad and up to 50 children per dorm room. It was cold and blankets were shared. Not one child complained of their accomodations the entire conference. Oh for the gift to be able to sleep anywhere.
The Temples of Worship team was up every morning for devotions with the team leaders so by 7:00 am as the children were filing in to take their seats on little wooden chairs and benches sitting smallest in the front to the tallest in the back they were leading praise and worship.
                Kids love their new bandanas, backpacks and t-shirts, and other supplies

The children led by their group leaders came for breakfast - chai from huge buckets and a sandwich of jam and butter.. After breakfast the children did presentations - singing, drama, memory verses, etc. As we watched we got to sit and hold little children who would come to sit on our laps. That was one of the best part of the day just holding the children. Then time for the children to have hot cereal. Once again the children lined up in an orderly fashion for food. During the conference we served almost 10,000 meals and snacks!
At 11:00 the children went to small groups with their leaders. The groups sat outside and inside - it seemed everywhere as the leaders took the children through their journals - how to change themselves so they could change the world. It was beautiful to watch the children in small groups - colored shirts, bandanas on their heads, their journals and new pencils. Back inside for lunch and and then 3 hours for games.
The reason for the red, yellow, blue and green shirts was for the games. The games are group games like tug of war with points awarded over the week to the the color winning the different games. Doing it this way creates team spirit and every child is included. The intensity of the cheering during the indoors games rivalled the super bowl!
Children took their seats again as the worship team sang. When kenya children worship it a sight to behold. They dance, raise their hands to the Lord and shout praises. It is amazing to watch little children worshipping like this. Then time to line up for dinner - cabbage and ugali served from buckets. You have probably never seen the chopping of cabbage for 550!. Everyday children were encouraged to think about ways they would change so they could change the world. And the program Choosing to wait was introduced by Charles from CT. The first day Matthew asked him to do in the main session but that didn't work as well because of the different ages so the next days Matthew had the 13 and above children meet with Charles. Some of the teens said one of the highlights of the week was meeting with Charles. The last night we hung a large cross at the front of the room and the room was dark except for the candles lighting up the cross. Sam from Community Transformers talked to the children about how it all begins at the foot of the cross. He asked those who hadn't given their lives to Christ to come forward to the cross. The children filled the stage and the front of the room. Pastor Matthew led the 150 children in the repentence prayer. The children were very serious as they repeated the prayer. Then all 448 of the children were asked to write on a piece of paper what sin they wanted to get out of their lives. Then the group leaders led their children outside to a bonfire where they threw the paper in the fire.
           The children give their lives to Christ at the cross
As I stood at the bonfire a little boy next to me said "we should do this conferene lots of time."
Earlier in the evening the Temples of Worship sang Remember Me. We called to the stage the many people who helped all week to make the conference a success and gave them gifts of appreciation. The children shouted and clapped loudly for their group leaders! There had been much bonding between the children and the group leaders throughout the week.
As the night ended the Temples of Worship sang a song David (a group member) wrote - It is Time To Say Farewell. Saturday we woke early to repeat the morning routine only this time the children were packing to return home. Lorri had asked me earlier if we could do a hug line hugging each child. Lorri, Kimberly and I gave each child a hug as they came for their breakfast. we bessed each child and told them to go change the world.
Each night in a our room Lorri, Kimberly and I shared the highlights for the day. Of course seeing 150 children come to the cross to accept Jesus was the highlight of the week but there was another very special momemnt that touched everyone. Before each meal George(one of the worship leaders and member of Temple of Worship) would ask for a child who wanted to pray for the meal. There were always willing children. On Thursday a five year old girl wanted to pray. George lifted her to the stage and gave her the mic. She took the mic, bowed her head and led 550 people in prayer thanking the God she loves and believes. Her name is Grace.
                       Grace reciting her poem
Truly God was working through the group leaders, moms and dads, and through the power of the cross.
Planning has begun for the next GOA children's conference. The bible says train a child in the ways of the Lord and he will not depart. The children's conference is part of GOA going deeper in their children's ministry.
                 Lorri giving hugs on the hug line 
Maybe God is calling you to be a part of this outreach to the next generation of Christian leaders in Kenya many told us the children that attended this conference will remember it for the rest of their lives. Lorri, Kimberly and I are blessed to be a small part in helping children to change the world.
Lorri, Kimberly and Connie

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Friday, August 22

3rd Update

I thought you would enjoy knowing Beth Casey called after reading the update to speak with Charles. The children helped me find him in the crowd of 450 kids! Charles ran outside with the phone and the biggest smile on his face so he could hear Beth. Later he came to me to thank me for getting him so he could speak with Beth. Then they came to remind Charles it was time for his medicine - Charles has AIDS. We found that out about a year ago when Partners for Care VCT counsellors went to test the children at Tumaini Children's Home. When they found he was positive they of course didn't tell him because of his age. They had to move him from Tumaini because in Kenya children with AIDS cannot stay in children's homes with children who are not infected. He lives with Pastor Paul and Martha of the Navasha GOA Church. When they told him he was infected with HIV/AIDs he said I thought something was wrong as I was the only child stuck twice. (When someone tests positive there must be a second test to confirm). He said he went to bed and prayed. He is a special boy.
             Charles (right) and Dennis (Left)
He is the brother of Dennis - the adopted son of Bishop David and Joyce Thagano. Praise God for ARVs that keep Dennis and Charles alive. Their parents have died leaving them and all their siblings orphans. In kenya we have daily reminders of this disease called AIDs.

Blessed to know special children like Charles,

Connie, Lorri and Kimberly

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Thursday, August 21

2nd update

We are at the National GOA Children's Conference - where everyone is a servant. There are 450 children here from all over the country of Kenya - Eldoret, Marsabit, Samburu, Nairobi, etc. We have 100 adults who are cooking, leading children in small groups, worshipping, praying, playing sports, putting children to bed, getting children up, and doing all the things you do to nuture, love and help a child change themselves to change the world. That is the theme of this year's conference. - Changing You to Change the World. And it is printed on the back of 520 t- shirts.

         All the 450 children, with their leaders
The children are colorful with all of them in either a red, green, blue or yellow t-shirt. The games divide the children by color so the children wear the colors to organize for games. And every child received a colorful soft back pack and a bandana. They have mostly tied the bandanas on their heads!
There are forty group leaders who stay with their group of 10-14 children all the time - meals, large sessions and small groups. That is where the change happens - In the intimacy of these small groups.
               Photo of one of the small groups in session
The children are happy, thanks to the kitchen crew who make more ugali than you can imagine and feed the children five times throughout the day .The children are not hungry. They are warm at night thanks to the extra blankets we bought. Even though children were asked to bring their blanket not every child could do that. In the Samburu families, sometimes four children sleep under one blanket. If the one child coming to the conference took the blanket three would be left without.
The children are wonderful - happy, smiling all the time and no complaining even when dinner is delayed because chopping that much cabbage takes a long time!
I am sitting surrounded by about 30 children who just suprised me as they started to read out loud as I was typing on my Blackberyy. When I asked them where they thought I was sending I heard a little voice say say to Beth Casey - and it was Charles. Beth Casey is his friend in America. He was right and I told him it also goes to many people in the United States who love them and pray for them.
The children asked me to tell you when you are praying for them they are praying for you.
How good is God to connect us through prayer.
So very blessed to be at the GOA children's conference, Connie, Kimberly and Lorri.

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