Tuesday, April 29

Fw: Check out this album!

You followed the conference through reading the updates, you read the children's testimonies, now see these precious children and the GOA leaders and Partners for Care staff in pictures. Notice the Camp Highland shirts everywhere! Enjoy! Blessings, Connie

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Check out this album!


GOA Children's Conference

You read the updates and saw the children's testimonies, now see the pictures! Enjoy these beautiful pictures of the children at the children's conference. Blessings, Connie

Testimonies from the children

These are some of the testimonies from the children who attended the GOA children's conference:

"The food was good, I wish I would have such food everyday. I wish the conference would continue all the time. May the Lord bless all who contributed money for us to have delicious food."

"We had enough blankets to cover ourselves at night. Kinangop area is very cold but we were very comfortable"

"It is so wonderful to have my own journal. The cover page was so nice. I wish all my books were like my journal."

"I'm so glad to have my own gift bag. I have never had so many personal items like toothpast, toothbrush, soap, pens. May the Lord bless those who gave us our gift bags."

"I'm suprised that I could wash my hands with hand sanitizer."

"May the Lord bless those who gave us the money to build our tent for shelter - we didn't get rained on."

"Thank you for giving our teams balls and uniforms. We never imagined we would get uniforms."
"A 17 year old girl told us after she received a certificate that she had never been recognized for anything in her life."

Bless all those who prayed, funded and followed along with the conference through the updates, Connie

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Tuesday, April 22

Looking for Blackberrys

If you have or know anyone that has a Blackberry they aren't using we can use them in Kenya! Perhaps you or someone you know has switched to an IPhone and are not using your Blackbberry. We have found that we can pay to have the Blackberyy unlocked and then we can give them to the GOA pastors and leaders and they can use the Safaricom cards with the Blackberry. So far the Bishop and Pastor Muturi are using a Blackberry. If you have one or know someone who does we will cover the costs to unlock and then take it to GOA on our next trip. Blessings, Connie
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Message from Connie

First I want to thank so many of you for reading all those Blackberry updates from me! It is really a blessing when I receive an email back from you and I know you are reading the updates.

Second I want to tell you I have changed this email group from Kenya Releif to Partners as Kenya is now moving to the next phase of their post-election crisis to resettlement. The ministries are now all sworn in (all 42 of them) and Kenyan goverment is starting to function again. There are still people in IDPs and we visited two of them this last trip but they now have food for the most part and are preparing to resettle somewhere. There are still needs including funds for school uniforms, sanitary pads, things for the children to do, etc.

I wanted to share with you some iniatives GOA/Partners for Care are beginning. If God leads you to be involved you are needed to partner with us to complete these iniatives!

First is mosquito net distribution. GOA/Partners for Care distributed 5,000 nets last year thanks to our partner HEART - Vickie Winkler. We distributed nets in areas where nets had never been distributed - Turkana and in Marsabit. This year we hope to distribute many more nets. 92 children a day die in Kenya from malaria and every year 6,000 babies are born below birth weight because of malaria creating a life-time of problems. Kenya goverment is distributing 3 million treated nets over the next year for children 5 and under and pregnant women. Distributing the net is only part of the issue - delivering the net to the far remote areas of Kenya and teaching the proper use of the net is necessary to ensure a reduction of the malaria. Partners for Care/GOA nurses and social workers will help with this process. If you want to "cast a net" and support the transporting of bed nets you can donate to Partners for Care at
PO Box 1005
Carrollton, GA 30112 or on-line

and designate the funds for "cast a net".

Second is the Partners for Care/GOA Reach a Million/Test a Million youth HIV/AIDS iniative. Led by SN and partnering with Emory Faith-based office Partners for Care/GOA are targeting the youth as the chosen generation to create a HIV-free generation. Using sports, music and testing this team of counsellors, pastors and musicians will travel throughout Kenya leaving behind sports programs in churches throughout Kenya with the focus of HIV prevention. This iniative was launched this last trip in Mathare slum where 5,000 youth were reached with the message of HIV prevention and 400 tested for HIV. The team has its own van now and this week travels to Bungoma for three days of sports, music and testing. If you want to support this team you may send funds to Partners for Care and designate - Reach a Million. This team is committed to end both the ever increasing number of orphans and to stop children like Rebecca, Emanual, Faith and so many other children from being born infected with AIDS.

Last is GOA will be having another children's conference in August. This one is for children who attend GOA churches. So if you liked the updates from the conference and want to help with the next one please let me know. This time we are hoping for more more financial support early on so the conference can be held in a school with better accomodations for the children and the staff. Although I must admit Tumaini was really a wonderful place to hold the conference and nobody seemed to mind sleeping on mats on the floor! I don't think that conference could have been any more special than it was!

Also please let me know if you want to be off this update list! Also please pass this on to those you know who want to help widows, orphans and who have a heart to eliminate the diseases that rob children's lives or that infect them for a lifetime.

Blessed to be able to serve,

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Saturday, April 19

12th Update

In Amsterdam now and am excited to share with you some of the highlights from the GOA/Partners for Care/Camp Highland Children's Conference. It is such a blessing to reflect back on the last five days of this conference. From Monday just receiving news that the children were on their buses all over Kenya heading for tumaini to the last evening watching the children receiving their awards. I want to share highlights, tell you about some champions for Christ and hopes and dreams for the next conference.
*The first time we saw the tent! And Bishop David saying how it reminded him of the tents in the IDPs. And it really did but the fun was knowing that the children who would be under this tent were not one of the many displaced people in Kenya but children GOA has rescued from the streets.
*The first meal served and watching the cueing of 320 children being fed five times a day. Good nutrition is a challenge in any group living setting and it is a challenge for the children's homes. The children loved the food and asked the Bishop if they could eat like this everyday.
*The response from the children about the "group talks" for the teens. They really liked having the Bishop's wife talk with the girls and Francis talk with the boys. Remember these children don't have moms and dads to give the "talk" so providing that opportunity in a safe setting, with their peers and from a Christian leader was very appreciated by the children
*Learning of the boy Mathew (conference leader) found one night cleaning the toliets. When Mathew asked him why he was doing that he said so he could serve others.
*Watching what children can do with a half of a bandana!
*A young girl (name not given to protect her privacy) who SN met several years during sports evangelism. She was saved and prayed for. Later someone broke into her home and raped her. She gave birth to a child three years ago at age 14. Recently she was locked out of her house for lack of rent payment. She contacted SN who paid her rent so she could get her stuff from the home. She is a star soccer player. She helped SN with the sports tournaments at the conference. She has been told she can stay at Tumaini with her child and return to school. She received two award certificates at the conference. During the last evening meeting with the group leaders she told us how happy she was to receive two certificates - it was the first time she had ever received an award of any kind.
*Watching the order and discipline of the children! They were in their places under the tent and in small groups as scheduled. They cued for meals and helped the little ones.
*Watching each children's home perform what they had worked on for weeks. Tumaini choir sang, CCRC sang I Am and it was amazing!, Beat the Drum recited a poem telling the children never to give up hope in God their Father who would never leave them as others had. There is real talent in some of these children.
*Watching the Kenyan leaders organize 320 children for a group photo on the soccer field - all in their Camp Highland shirts.
*Probably the highlight of the conference was watching SN give out the sports awards! SN had asked me (well ask doesn't exactly explain what SN does when he wants something for the children) if we could give something to each children's home to promote the children's homes sports program. He said it would be $1,000 dollars. The conference was already struggling with having to use what we raised which was $10,400. They had cut costs everywhere they could. I said yes because God told me to not because we had the funds. Three days later David Gruber notified me that Courtney's school Milton High School had raised $750.00 to give to Partners for Care. You can't out give God! SN gave small balls to the little ones and uniforms and balls to all of the children's home and two Peace balls each! The children were estatic to receive uniforms! And the winner of the soccer tournament Tumaini received soccer shoes!
*The distribution of the t-shirts and the group photo of everyone in their shirts.
*Watching the confidence of the 32 group leaders grow over the week. In the beginning of the week they didn't share much but by the last night they shared and wanted to stay late into the night to talk!
Champions for Christ
*Bishop David Thagano is surely a Champion for Christ and for the children in the GOA children's homes. From being on the field, to passing out t-shirts, to holding a child the Bishop is in the game. The children know him not only as their Bishop but as their Dad.
*Jane PFC social worker who organized the conference. Many meetings moving up and down Kenya in a dress and heels on a mutato. She did a wonderful job of putting on this conference.
*Mathew who is GOA's children's minitry director. What a champion he is! From opening to closing he led the staff and children with clear directions, humor and fun! The children looked to him for what to do next. I was honoured to serve with him at this conference.
*The small but mighty US team - Cintia, Mindy Miller, Rachael and Bobby. they served as servants for the GOA leaders helping where ever they were needed - anything to support the GOA leaders. They held and loved children all week! And they never once complained about their accomodations. Please don't ask them how often they showered or how long they slept at night!
*The 32 group leaders who served their children so well all week! They were flexible, loving to their children and had long endurance as the days went from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm every night.
*Sammy, David and George who led praise and worship - as the Bishop said brought us to heaven with song and dancing.
*All the Partners for Care staff! 16 staff from Partners for Care who were at the conference including Njokie who led all the cooking, Paul, Daniel and Elizabeth the nurses who treated staff (one with malaria) and the children, Nick., Charles, Ann and Priscilla who tested 40 children for HIV (sadly one more child was found to be infected at Tumaini and will be moved to Beat the Drum), the social workers Moses, Mare from Marsabit and Andrew from Turkana, and the muscians Sammy, David and George and all the MsaMaria staff Agnas, Peter, and Veronica.
. *Of course all the funders for this conference!
What we learned
*The children want to know each other. They want to visit the other homes. They do think of GOA as a big family and they are part of the family. *Children and staff are happy even in difficult situations - hot under the tent, sleeping side by side on the floor, cuing with 300 others to eat.
*A ball and a uniform can transform a child.
Hopes for next time
*Better accomodations so the staff and children can sleep in beds.
*Walkie talkies so staff can communicate easier.
*Better plan for the little ones - a special curriculum for them.
I hope this update shares with you the joy and blessings from this Children's conference. God is indeed a good God. I have sent in a seperate email some photos for you to enjoy! They will also be on the blog - reliefforkenya.blogspot.com.
Thank you for all your encouraging responses from the updtes. It is really always a blessings to know people read these BlacKberry updates!
Blessed to be able to serve in Kenya, Connie
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Fw: 8 great iPhotos from the Children's Conference

Little girl and her journal

Joyce Thagana speaking to the children.

Feeding the children lunch - almost always included ungali.

The whole group in their t-shirts saying thank you to Camp Highland.

Boys from Christ Compassion Rehabilitation Center singing "I am" (by
Casting Crowns).

Soccer team from Tumaini warming up - just before they won the
championship. Notice some have shoes...some not.

Our kitchen staff preparing the cabbage for dinner (again...and

The Tumaini soccer team is praying - giving thanks for their win -
surrounded by their fans.

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Friday, April 18

11th Update

Anyone who knows and loves a child at either Tumaini, Merciful Redeemer, Good Shepard, Christ Compassion, Beat the Drum or has visited the children at Msa Maria should be very happy that the GOA Children's Conference was declared a success. The goals set in the beginning with the 32 group leaders were for the children to have fun, increase their self-esteem, have hope in Christ for the future and that no child would be injured!
These goals were met. Bishop David opened the conference and closed the conference. In his closing remarks he told the children he came on Monday night to open the conference and then planned to return to Nairobi for other work. But each day as he watched the children in worship and in small groups, , listened to the worship music, played on the field with 320 children he decided to leaving the next day. But he never left and he told the children he decided to join where God was working. He said he saw staff, teachers, leaders, and children leaving enlightened, free of stress and depression. He said he saw enough poured into these children during the week to turn the world upside for the world to make disciples out of all nations. He thanked Camp Highland for the t-shirts as it was an equalizer for all children making even the poorest child feel like everyone else He also thanked them for their help with the curriculum and sending Rachael to help them with structure and low ropes. She made a spider of rope for the children to transverse. Rachael was easy to find - she was the one with the huge smile and at least one, sometimes two or three children on her lap. You could also find her serving ugali out of a 50 pound container!
Bishop thanked all supporters and said that their support would continue to produce fruit!
Cathy Armors class wrote a song changing the song Pray for Peace in Kenya to We pray for Peace in Georgia Peace for Good Shepard, Merciful Redeemer, Msa Maria, CCRC, Tumaini, and Strong Tower. They recored a DVD with their song and greetings. Cathy's room is decorated with pictures of Kenya iand other items from Kenya ncluding a Kenya flag as a curtain! The children really enjoyed seeing Cathy's class.
Will write more in Amsterdam. Plane leaving Nairobi, Connie
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Thursday, April 17

10th Update GOA/Partners for Care Children's Conference

There is so much to share about what has happened over the last three days with the Children's Conference. There were many challenges as each children's home prepared to travel to Tumaini. But once again God's mercies were on GOA and one by one the children's homes arrived. . Excited children jumped off the buses coming from Merciful Redeemer, Good Shepard, Msa Maria, Good Shepard and Christ Compassion. Rebecca, Eunice, Dennis, Julius and Abigal from Beat the Drum who previously lived at Merciful Redeemer ran to greet the children from Merciful Redeemer! It was just like a family reunion. They have all requested to visit each other at their respective children's homes. Faith from the Turkana region was happy to see her sister Aline who lives at Tumaini.

One of the most touching moments for me was when the boys arrived from Strong Tower. There is no one that would believe these boys have been off the streets for only two months!!! They were dressed "smartly" as they say in Kenya - had bags for their clothes and were so polite and organized! They have been noticed by everyone for their polite and discplined behavor. Having been at the opening of Strong Tower it is wonderful to see the fruits of this ministry.

To keep costs low GOA staff made the tent that has been used for the conference.. You really have to see pictures to appreciate this tent. The front is decorated with ribbons spelling out the theme of the conferecne - Becoming a Champion for Christ. Our tent is hot in the day and cold in the evening - but there have been no complaints from the children! Nor have they complained about sleeping 20+ in one room on mattresses on the floor! In fact the 320 children haven't complained about anything. They are having so much fun. The children from MsaMaria who are OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children) who live in the Kiambiu slum but not in a children's home said they wanted to stay here at Tumaini and not return to the slum.

The children are given 5 meals/snacks during the day to give good nutrition. That means 5 times 320 cue through the serving line! Have you seen ugali for 400 people? The children are loving the food!

There are 32 group leaders who each have 10 children. These leaders have been guiding, loving and growing leaders among these children. There is so much heart and passion among these group leaders. They have amazed me with their skills and knowlege of how to work with these children. I am learning much from them.

Each children's home prepared presentations - some reading poems, some skits, others dancing and many sang. We have been entertained by the children. We have laughed at their funny skits and sang along with them praising and worshiping. Haniel video taped throughout the name and last night showed their presentations on the screen. The children were amazed to see and hear themselves on the big screen!

Will write more later to share,

Enjoying being with all these orphan children here in Kenya, Connie
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Wednesday, April 16

Children's Conference.jpg

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Fw: AJC Article

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-----Original Message-----
From: david.gruber@comcast.net

Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 19:10:44
Subject: AJC Article


Kathi's House founder returning to Kenya
North Fulton resident working with orphans with AIDS and HIV

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/04/08

David Gruber is returning to Kenya.

The North Fulton resident first visited the African nation in November to dedicate Kathi's House, the first building constructed in a complex for orphans with AIDS and HIV.
• Photos: Earlier trip to Kenya

His emotional visit to Kenya was described in a story and photos that ran Dec. 5 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on ajc.com.

That simple cinderblock building was named after Gruber's wife, Kathi, who died of cancer last June.

Gruber wanted to honor his wife's memory and, through members of his church, became involved in mission work for Kenya. Though Kathi never visited Africa, she was an orphan herself and had a soft spot in her heart for displaced people.

This trip will be a little different.

After revisiting Kathi's House and the orphans who live there, Gruber and others from the Atlanta area will deliver supplies to camps serving Kenyans displaced by the political chaos that occurred recently in that country.

He'll also prepare for a conference on helping Kenyan children before leaving Kenya next Friday. David and Kathi's teenaged daughter, Courtney, also made the trip.

Gruber will post a running account of his trip and experiences. To read his postings, go to http://reliefforkenya.blogspot.com.

Monday, April 14

9th upate

A cabinet has been announced in Kenya. The country and the world had become very impatient with the leadership in Kenya as they were unable to name a cabinet and the government was in a waiting mode as many in high positions knew people would be shifted from positions once the cabinet was set. The remaining people in the IDPs (internally displaced persons camps) and those responsible for the IDPs were of course very affected by this delay. Everyone I met in Kenya says we just want peace. Let them announce the ministry positions and get to the work of running the government. The people are weary from the post-election violence.

Yesterday GOA concluded the four day Peace Football tournament in Mathare. It also meant we would leave the people we had spent four days with at the IDP. The second day in the IDP a group of older women called Pastor Maturi over to speak with him. They told him that when we came they thought we would be like so many others who had come. Come for a few hours, take pictures, test for HIV and leave. But when they heard and participated in the Praise and Worship, listened to Pastor Muturi preach and watched Pastor Karanja's message on Forgiveness, they say that their hearts and spirits had been lifted, the bitterness from the violence was gone. The team felt very encouraged by this.

The GOA team has worked very hard for these last three days. Please pray for God to continue to strenghten them and give them energy to do their work. The work was hard as they carried equipment from the soccer field to the IDP and back again - setting up several times throughout the day at each place. People at the IDP wanted the music - and they wanted the music on the field. Today we leave early this morning for the children's conference for the week with no rest between these two major events.

The football tournament was exciting to watch as 16 teams played for four days with the final match on Sunday. Winning events like this in the US is always important to the kids who play the games - here in Kenya it can literally change and transform a team, a boy's life. These teams are mostly made up of very poor young people. Some are orphans, some of their parents currently are sick with AIDS, most don't have jobs and all live in poverty in Mathare. Most of the teams don't have uniforms, some players don't have proper shoes and other equipment. The winner and second place teams each receive uniforms. They played with such passion to win. Even though the stakes were high they played without incident - there was no poor sportsmanship or aggression demonstrated. Nick and Charles had established a football team with Community Transformers in December. Charles has been coaching them. It was exciting Sunday morning when they won the semi-final. While they lost the final match to a very good team, they did well. The other team is coached by a professional coach and were much older so for this young team of boys coming in second was wonderful. It was great to see them receive uniforms. Njokie and I have become team moms to this team.

Remember all of this focuses on evangelism and HIV prevention. SN reached 5,000 over the four days with the message of the Lord and HIV prevention. 400 were tested and all the team captains are expected to know their status and to lead their teams to know their status and to remain safe from the virus.

One last person I want to tell you about is George who is the Kenya Red staff person responsible for this IDP. He has been with the Kenya Red Cross over a year and has been in IDPs throughout Kenya setting up sanitation and now is stationed in this IDP in Mathare. He has worked very long hours since the violence broke out. When I asked him if Kenya Red cross pays similar to the government pay, he shared with me he is a volunteer. He said many of the IDPs are managed by volunteers. Watching this young man over the course of four days challenged and inspired me to be a servant like him. He is a Christian man felt called to serve. He was gentle, loving to the children and patiently listened to the people's concerns. One day I saw him meet in his small Kenya Red Cross tent for two hours with a committee of displaced people to discuss their concerns about food delivery.

We appreciate your prayers for the Childen's Conference, Connie

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Sunday, April 13

Friday, April 11

8th Update

This is the story of how three desperately needy children ended up in the Partners for Care apartment in Nairobi all the way from Marsabit. Pastor Hirbo felt the call from God to go to Marsabit to reach the unreached. In Novemebr Bishop David travelled to Marsabit to ordain Pastor Hirbo in the Marsabit GOA church. Haniel was with the Bishop and recorded the desperate conditions in Marsabit - lack of food, shortage of water, extreme poverty, etc. Haniel produced a compelling video and the Bishop wrote of his trip - both showing and describing the conditions of Marsabit. After seeing the video and reading the Bishop's report Partners for Care supported GOA in the hiring of a social worker in Marsabit.
Mare who is from Marsabit was just graduating from the University of Nairobi with a degree in social work and wished to return to Marsabit to help her people. She started her work in January as a social worker with Partners for Care working for Pastor Hirbo.
Within a month she had identified 125 orphans many in desperate conditions. After reading her report the other Partners for Care nurses and social workers wanted to help. They planned a trip to Marsabit on the PEACE bus in January taking nets, HIV/AIDS test kits, medications and sports evalgelism.
While there the team went to the very places described by Mare in her report. They met the orphans who she had told them about. Plans were made to move the most desperate at risk children to GOA children's homes.
Mare spent the entire month working to obtain the necessary paper work. Many of the people in Marsabit are illeterate and some children are born outside of the hospital. It is difficult to obtain "papers" for the chief to release the children. She walked 17K one way just to help rescue one of the children.
The decision was made that when Mare came to the children's conference she would travel with Sade her 18 year old sister and bring three of the orphans with her.
They travelled for 16 hours through the night to Nairobi arriving yesterday. The three children are with them. Two will go to Tumaini and the lttle boy infected with AIDS will go to Beat the Drum. They are very thin and two have very bad jiggers. Last night Njoke and her friend John spent an hour removing the jiggers from the toes of Hawo. Hawo is the. 7 year old sister of the twin babies who are birth weight at 10 months old. Hawo would cook for her family outside over a fire with one of the babies on her back. Tonight they will remove the jiggers from Dika brother to Hawo. The ends of his toes look almost destroyed by the jiggers. For those interested jiggers are white fleas that get in the skin, lay eggs multiplying. As they multiple the feet swell. And they are painful! Njokie removed them with a needle and we put her her an antibiotic.
Today David Gruber and Courtney will buy them clothes as they came with nothing except the very dirty clothes they were wearing. Pray for these specail little children that they may grow in the Lord and grow physically as Rebecca has. Rebecca also came from Marsabit in this same condition.
Blessed to be a part of GOA answering the call of God to care for the ophans, Connie
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Dika, Barako and Hawo.jpg

Children "rescued" from Marsabit
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Thursday, April 10

8th Update

I have struggled with what Steve Haas, Vice President World Vision told me at the Rick Warren conference on HIV/AIDS - in trying to help you can do harm. As a nurse we are taught first do no harm. His words scared me as I did not want to cause harm to the very people I felt called to help. Dr. Griffin and Joy who have mentored me and help grow Partners for Care and I have had many discussions about this.
Yesterday in the IDP we were in as I sat on the floor just holding a sick little girl watching GOA leaders do what God has called them to do I could see that maybe I am just called to help them do just that. They are so good at what they do. Let me share about them. SN, sports evangelist has mobilized a football what we call soccer tournament for the Marthare slum. He has met with 50 youth football leaders who represent 7,000 youth and thousands of family and friends. It is over four days with the finals on Sunday afternoon. The purpose is to witness to them and tell them the message of AIDS prevention. All SN needed from me was funds for the PEACE balls, uniforms, a trophy and cones. It was sad though to see some of the young men playing without shoes bacause they are too poor to buy shoes.
Near the football field overlooking all of Mathare slum is one of the five IDPs in this area. There are 650 people (there are so many children) who are sleeping on the floor of a building. They have been here since January. We went there to do praise and worship and offer testing for HIV/AIDS. Sammy, David and a friend of theirs George played music for hours praising and worshipping. This IDP camp was transformed! People were dancing, singing and worshiping - thanking God. At one point they did what we call a dance train dancing all through the building.
When George, the young man from the Kenya Red Cross responsible for this IDP, who had been to some of the same IDPs in Kenya as us asked me how long we would be there - I told him 4 days. He said "I think I am being blessed". All this worship team needed to do what God called them to do was to have access to equipment - which Pastor Karanja from Christ Harvesters church in Marietta, Georgia, bought them.
One of the highlights of the day was when Pastor Muturi took the microphone to preach. I don't know what he said as he spoke in the language of the people in the IDP, but I do know the people knew what he said and they responded with shouting and praising. He was giving them a message of peace and hope. Truly a blessing to watch a man called to preach the word of God to people who desperately need to hear God's plan for their lives. All Pastor Muturi needed to do what God called him to do was to have a microphone.
People lined up to test. Today we are bringing more VCT counselors as so many want to test. All the football teams will be asked to test.
I hope there is a role God calls me to be able to help and not harm because I know I feel blessed to be a part of what these GOA leaders are doing to reach the lost, heal the sick and feed the hungry.
Pray for those waking up today in the IDP camps in Kenya.

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Sick child in IDP

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Courtney with some new friends

Sammy and David Lead Worship in IDP

Worshipping in an IDP - Marthare Slum
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7th Update

Yesterday we once again saw the devistation of this disease called AIDS. We were asked by Linet from Liverpoo to go assess the situation of 10 children infected by AIDS who live in a slum near where Laban lives. Laban had previously gone to see these children. The needs were truly overwhelming. There were so many infected people - couples where both are infected, infected children single and double ophans, and even a baby infected. Almost all of the problems associated with AIDS were here - long rides on a matatu to get their medication from Kenyetta hospital and lack of money for fare, lack of food to take their medication, some had also been infected with TB, discrimatation - loss of jobs because ithey are nfected, myths about the disease. We were told if people know you are infected they won't even buy vegetables from you. As we met and talked with these people infected you could see the sadness in their eyes, you could feel their despair. I remembered an article I read once that said the AIDS crisis is an opportunity to witness and reach people. Both because people are dying from the disease and need to know the Lord and because their families look at the Christians and wait to see if we respond as Jesus taught us to respond - to love and to serve and to care for the widows and the orphans. Maybe that is why the GOA church continues to grow - they are serving as God instructed them to. When the Bishop learned of Linet's request for these people he asked his staff to go to to see how they can help.
Some of you know of Nick and Charles two young Christian men who started Community Transformers in Mathare Slum. Two weeks ago Charles' brother was hit by a Lorry (a large truck). He had been revovering from a coma in Kenyetta hospital. We went to see him and he has dramactically improved. He still has some memory issues from the head injury but he was being discharged. Home.
We also saw our friend we told you about who is sick with AIDS. She had been moved to Kenyetta hospital. She seems to be improving although she is still not able to walk as she is so weak from the illness.
Courtney (David' Gruber) and David my son have done very well this week. David has been here several times and is used to the slums, poverty, etc. But Courtney has never seen these things. She has really done well - going with us everywhere - the slums, hospital, etc. I heard her tell someone yesterday she was the daughter of Kathi as in Kathi's House. She has talked of returning with her friends.
Everyone is busy preparing for the Children's Conference. Planning to transport, house and feed 330 children all in one location is a challenge in any country but even more challenging in a developing country. Everyone is focused on making this a wonderful experience for the children!
Blessed to witness God working through the leaders of GOA,
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Monday, April 7

6th update from David Gruber

It is Monday night, and today was much different than the previous 2 days - with much time devoted to planning, administration, and building of relationships essential to growing the capabilities of Partners for Care Kenyan staff in delivering Hope and Health.
The day began with meetings in Nairobi with SN, GOA's sports evangelist - to discuss ongoing work of the Peace Team as well as the need to develop a detailed plan to reach one-million youth with the message of HIV/AIDS through an initiative Partners for Care will be partnering with Emory to achieve. During this meeting, it was also decided that, due to the return of peace, the Peace Team will be renamed possibly the Hope Team - working to deliver hope, including hope for an AIDS-free generation in Kenya.
We also were blessed to meet with Pastor Justus Chenge to discuss current funding needs at Beat the Drum Children's Home as well as the plans to begin construction of the next home, adjacent to Kathi's House. Justus is the chairman of the oversight board for Beat the Drum, and is working with the GOA Construction Manager to gather construction bids in order to begin building within the coming weeks. For those interested in supporting this construction., funds are needed to complete and furnish this home. The need to build additional homes is great, since there are already 7 infected children at Beat the Drum, and there are others on a waiting list - and tomorrow we are going to meet 10 additional orphans infected with HIV/AIDS in slum. This request comes from Liverpool as they identified these children during a testing iniative. We will be meeting with the Chief responsible for this area to inquire about providing for their care at Beat the Drum.
Connie also had meetings with Lynette with Liverpool and with Mary Mugo discussing the project with Emory University.
In mid afternoon, we went to Mathare Slum, the second largest slum in Kenya, to meet with Nick and Charles - young men who founded Community Transformers, to deliver health solutions and care to children and HIV/AIDS patients living in this slum, where they grew up. Seeing the impact these young men are having in the lives of those they serve was heartwarming and inspiring. They are currently caring for 22 children, many of which either lost parents during the post-election violence, or were separated and a reunion has not yet been possible. They had many more children, but have been successful in reuniteing some with family. Nick and Charles are only rescuing these children. We have asked Mary Mugo the proper steps that they should take to follow goverment protocol. They have kept the Chief informed and now they need to inform the Social agency under the Ministry of Homeland. We visited the school that these children attend and had the opportunity to meet with the principal, who was gracious to explain how the school system has been impacted by the.violence and displaced people. One very encouraging thing he mentioned was the government's policy of taking in any child who appears at the school, in order to provide a refuge from the displaced persons camp (and previously from the violence) and to ensure displaced children do not fall behind for lack of school availability. What was somewhat astounding was learning that the school we visited has 1,843 students as a result of this policy.
One of the three boys Brian Connie "rescued" from the streets of Nairobi is with Nick and Charles. Nick and Charles found his parents and took him home. The mom said do not leave him we cannot feed him and please take his sister as we can not feed her. The mother was at the project when we were there - nursing the 5th child a baby. The oldest boy is on the streets somewhere. She had come to Nick and Charles for help because her husband is sick and they have been locked out of their house for failure to pay their rent.
Courtney got her first glimpse of a slum, walking through piles of garbage, foul smells, dirty water running in gulleys alonside of the roads, and a mass of people everywhere. She handled it very well, and enjoyed greeting the many children who were attracted to a young white lady. Seeing the grace and faith displayed by Nick and Charles at such a young age - and an attitude that reflects the absence of the word "can't" in their vocabulary - as they minister to anyone God puts in their paths, is incredible.
Blessed to be in Kenya, David
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5th update

David Gruber has been doing most of the updates but tonight I want to share a couple special things that I have been blessed to see/hear and why I love to be here in Kenya.

Yesterday David told you Laban was the preacher for the service in the GOA Church at Maai Mahiu. This special little church in a rented building in a slum area - praise God it is not a building that makes a church. I am sure God doesn't judge a church by its building but by the worship of its people. Sammy sang a song in four different languages reminding us He is returning. Laban then gave the message. Laban is a wonderful speaker using humor and stories to tell his message. He honored David Gruber saying Kathi was in heaven with her arms around David directing him to love the children. It was through David that Kathi loves the children. And even though her children were white as he pointed out Courtney was white she was directing him to love the black children in Kenya. And he was. There we sat David, Courtney and me with little children who had follow asleep in our arms. We knew Kathi was happy.
The other story I want to share is about David - the singer with Sammy of the Pray for Peace for Kenya song. A small in stature young man with a mighty voice who sings for the Lord. He is from Mombasa the youngest of 12 children. I am always blessed and moved when I take the time to listen to the hearts of the people I meet in Kenya. I asked him what he would like to do. He said his family didn't have the money to send him to college but he would love to go to college to study music - instruments and voice. I asked what he would do with a college degree. He explained how there are so many young talented people in Kenya who have no exposure. He would create a music center for them to help them and then record their work for them so they would have exposure. He never said he wanted to go to college to get a job to be rich. But what I know is this young man is rich already in spirit and love.

It has been a blessed day in Kenya. Tomorrow we go see the 10 orphaned children in a slum Linet from Liverpool told us about. And I have an appointment with Professor Orego about some work we are doing for an Emory Faith-based initiative.

Blessed to know these people in Kenya who serve God, Connie

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4th Update

Leaving Beat the Drum Children's Home this evening was difficult to do, but we have many other projects to attend to in the limited time we have. Today, we were blessed to attend the GOA Church in Maai Mahiu, shepherded strongly by Pastor John. As expected, the Kenyan praise and worship time was rich and spirit filled, and was followed by a message brought by our dear friend Laban Gatau of GOA,
Before entering the church, Connie was greeted enthusiastically by a beautiful young girl (maybe 3), who recognized her from a previous visit. She wanted Connie to hold her, and so she did until part way through the service, when the little girl walked over and had Courtney hold her, and she napped in Courtney's arms. For those reading these updates in email, there is a picture of Courtney with her on the reliefforkenya.blogspot.com site.
After worship, while walking back to the van, sweet Eunice asked if I wanted to see the school that she attends. How could I resist this invitation? We walked to the private school that is attended by all of the children at Beat the Drum, passing by some very poor sections of Maai Mahiu to see the school which was like a ray of sunshine in the dark, backing up to a beautiful wooded hill that rises above the Rift Valley. This brief walk was a great time for me to connect with Eunice, who was clearly proud of her school and thankful for the support being provided through Partners for Care which allows her to attend with her brothers and sisters from Beat the Drum.
Once returning to Beat the Drum, we enjoyed another great meal with Pastor John, Mary, and the children, following which Courtney and Connie's son David enjoyed some time playing with the children, while Connie and I shared time discussing hopes and plans John has for Beat the Drum, and thanking him for the great time we had and for the amazing job he is doing with the children - all of which are treated as his own. Connie commented on how there is no way to know which are his natural versus adopted children, and John mentioned that their teacher at school knows all of them as his and Mary's children.
Before leaving, Connie and John orchestrated another dedication ceremony for Kathi's House, gathering all in the original home - having John remove the framed picture of Kathi which has been hanging in their home, handing it to Courtney, and allowing Courtney to lead the procession to Kathi's House, where this picture will now hang. This was a special moment, followed by the children honoring us by leading several praise songs - which included some versus altered to include phrases such as "There is clapping today in Kathi's House (in the House of the Lord)". Then they performed a few things they had prepared for our visit. We have these on video, and will be sharing to the web once we are able. What a rewarding and joy filled time this was!
Shortly after this we had to leave - after many long hugs and sad good-byes. Looking forward to the next visit. If Connie cannot find me one day this week, it will be because I have jumped on a mutatu back to Beat the Drum....

Blessed to be in Kenya.

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Sunday, April 6

Children's Choir - GOA Maai Mahiu Church

Children's Choir Mai Mahiu
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GOA Maai Mahiu Church

Courtney at GOA Maai Mahiu Church

David at GOA Maai Mahiu Church


GOA Maai Mahiu Church
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3rd Update

Written by David Gruber
It is early Sunday morning (6:30 am) and I awoke to sounds of a rooster crowing outside of Kathi's House, where we slept. As the sun rose, I went outside to enjoy some quiet time, thinking I would surely be the only one up, having gone to bed at about 2am, and most of the children having stayed up to 1am looking at pictures and video from the dedication of Kathi's House in November. Happily, I was mistaken, as I quickly found children coming out of the other home at Beat the Drum - each doing chores or playing as they came out.
What a blessed sight, as the younger children were enjoying playing with each other, and the older ones each tending to their short assignments. All were cheerful and greeted me warmly as I hugged and wished them good morning. I had a delightful time talking pictures and videotaping, and allowing them to take a turn at each. It was a beautiful scene accompanied by a glorious sunrise orchestrated by God. How happy I am to not have slept in this morning! For those of you who have supported Kathi's House, I wish for you a portion of the joy I had this morning as I observed firsthand the miracle being worked by God in this place through the love, care and patience of Pastor John, Mary, and the others serving Him and these children.
It would take hours to recap the many interesting events of yesterday, so I will just give a few highlights. We were blessed to visit Catherine Oyugi in St Mary's Hospital in the early morning, and found her to be doing better than previously reported. We praise God for that. Connie was able to spend some time with her doctor, and got a good report about her prognosis - how great to have a nurse along, while she is still very ill they are trying to save her life.
Upon leaving the hospital, we headed to Beat the Drum to spend 2 days. We arrived to find 13 happy children, which included John and Mary's 4 natural children, their now 7 adopted children, and 2 of the children of John's brother. After playing a bit, we headed to Lake Nukuru, experiencing a flat tire on the way. Once we arrived, we very much enjoyed driving through this beautiful national park with the top raised on the Partners for Care van (just purchased at a very good price from some US missionaries who were friends to Sammy and were leaving Kenya). There were many happy children standing with there heads out the roof to see the many animals. We saw zebra, monkeys, baboons, wildebeast, water buffalo, flamingos, gazelle, rhinocerous, and a giraffe (among others which don't come to mind). We enjoyed a brief picnic, photo taking and a drive to an overlook known as "Out of Africa" picnic site. What an incredible view! How joyful it was to have my picture taken there with Courtney, and then with all of the children. I hope to repeat this experience with the rest of my family
Now it's time to prepare for our worship service at Pastor John's church. We pray for you a blessed day - and wish I could bottle some of the blessing and joy of this place to bring home to you. If I could figure that out, I am confident we could sell it at such a price that Beat the Drum would never have worries about funding! Please pray how God may want to use you to support this joyful place.
Blessed to be in Kenya - and taking advantage of the best grief counseling I can imagine,

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Saturday, April 5

Beat the Drum 2.jpg

This one has Courtney in the picture. Connie
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Beat the Drum.jpg

We spent the day with the children and Pastor John and wife Mary at Lake Nukuru. Blessings, Connie
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2nd Update

We are enroute to Lake Nukuru with all of the children from Beat the Drum. What a blessing it was to be warmly greeted with hugs and smiles when we arrived! I was so happy to see the children's new beds and beautiful dining table in Kathi's House. The children proudly showed us their own beds, each equipped with the personalized blankets we had given them during the dedication ceremony in November.

It was a great feeling to see Courtney, Kathi and my youngest, walk through this special home named for her Mom. We played a while with some balls, frisbee and jumprope we brought, then headed towards the park - which the children are so excited about. Watching Courtney help the girls - and even Mary, Pastor John's wife - jump rope made my heart smile. Seeing Faith Arupe sitting with Courtney in the front seat of our overloaded van as we prepared to leave brought me much joy.

As soon as possible, we will post some pictures of the day for all to see. The joy of seeing how happy these children are is difficult to express. Were you able to see the tears in my eyes now, you might just begin to understand. Kathi's spirit is definitely present.

Blessed to be in Kenya

David Gruber

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1st Update

Sometimes AIDS seems like statistics - 70 million infected, 30 million have died leaving millions of orphans. Then you come face to face with the effects of AIDS on one person. Today we are face to face with that one person. A Kenyan friend introduced to me last year by Mary Mugo lies in a hospital bed fighting for her life. She has asked to see us. This women has been infected for years and has lived positively with the virus having been infected by her husband who left her years ago. She has been the Director of Kenyan women living positively with HIV. Suddenely and without warning she converted to AIDS. The doctors put her on ARVs but her body rejected the drugs. She is desperately ill. AIDS kills. It is times like this that motivate GOA to continue to spread the news of HIV awareness and prevention. Many of you know Catherne as she has served with us in medical camps and attended the opening of Kathi's House at Beat the Drum. Catherne is Luo and her family have cried as the GOA Kikuyus have come to the hospital not only to see Catherne and pray for her but to donate blood for her. God is healing Kenya using even a woman dying from AIDS..
After we see Catherne we travel to Beat the Drum - another reminder of the effects of HIV/AIDS, as this special Children's Home has been created by GOA to meet the needs of infected, precious children of God..

Blessings, Connie
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Friday, April 4

Enroute to Kenya

The Partners for Care team, small but serving a mighty God, is on the way to Kenya for what will be a time of hope and blessing for us, and prayerfully will be for those we visit and serve with while there. Plans are to spend 2 days at Beat the Drum Children's Home with the children of Kathi's House, along with Pastor John and Mary, and Partners for Care nurse Daniel , taking a trip to Lake Nakuru and sharing time in praise and worship with them. We will attend the Maai Mahiu church on Sunday where Laban will be preaching.

For those who have supported Kathi's House, I promise loads of pictures and even video of the children and the area surrounding this special place.

After seeing the children off to school at Beat the Drum Monday morning, we will be traveling to Nairobi to work with Nick and Charles, with their Community Transformers ministry. The hope is for my daughter Courtney and Connie's son David to spend 2 days working in the schools on the edge of Mathare slum where Nick and Charles care for 15 children.

After this, we plan on a 2 day trip on the GOA Peace Bus, visiting displaced persons camps with the Peace Team consisting of GOA and Partners for Care staff. During this time, we hope to provide outreach to the people still living in these camps, through praise and worship music, preaching, sports, and delivering food and other basic needs.

Following the Peace Bus, we will head back to Nairobi where we will provide some technical assistance and training to some of our dear friends, do some leg work for Emory Faith-based Program for a potential large scale HIV/AIDS youth initiative partnership, as well as finish some preparatory work for the GOA Children's Conference which will be held the following week.

To those who have provided financial support to this conference, which has the theme "Champions for Christ", thank you! For those still wanting to help, donations are still very welcome and much needed. Thanks to John at SohoHero for the great job with printing and binding the journals created for all 350 children who will attend.

Thanks to Camp Highland for partnering with us and providing curriculum materials for the children's conference and Camp Highland t-shirts for all the children and leaders at the conference. Camp Highland goes to Kenya! Also, we are blessed to have Rachel from Camp Highland on the trip to participate in the conference. She is planning a low rope activity for the children. While in Kenya, another collateral assignment we have is to scout out possible locations for a Camp Highland Kenyan Outpost. What a joy it would be to know that some Kenyan youth will be able to experience the excitement and challenge of Camp Highland without having to travel to north Georgia.

And many thanks to Pastor Karanja and the youth at Christ Harvesters International Ministries. They have spent two Saturdays making bracelets and school kits for all 350 children attending the conference. The girls dance group has sent their dance performance to the children via video. Pastor Karanja has sent, at the request of many, a year of his messages on DVD.

This is Courtney's first trip to Kenya, and will be an emotionally challenging time as she visits the place named for her Mom. Please pray for peace, safety and healing for her, and for God to bless all that we do in His name while in Kenya.

I look forward to our other children, family and grandchildren making this trip - Bill, Janelle, Robert, Elizabeth, Kristen, Jeremy, David, Leticia, Rickey, Ashley, Ciara, Christian, Ariel, Eliana, Little Bill, Caleb and Elizabeth Grace.

Blessings to you,