Tuesday, July 29

Returning to US

David and I are on our way home. The trip was a blessing.

Also I hope all of you are all coming to the Milele concert this Saturday night August 2. We are raising funds for the Marsabit trip and other things all for Kenya! Plus it is always great to hear Milele, see Christian and the all the group, eat chapatas and be with people who love Kenya.

You can buy tickets at the door so you can still invite friends to come and meet you there.

Let me know if you have any questions about the concert! Thanks for supporting missions in Kenya, blessings, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Sunday, July 27

11th Update

Dedication of Maggie's School
This trip to dedicate Maggie's School almost didn't happen. Everything was difficult about going to Lodwar - transportion, funding, coordination, etc. But many were determined to go to the Turkana people. Many say the conditions in this area are as bad as it has been for many years - severe water and food shortages. We wanted to use resources wisely so to go without giving food and providing medical help did not seem wise. The Partners for Care team was willing to go it was just a matter of funding. At the last minute some funds were given to allow the team to travel.

After prayers at the apartment, the 24 member team left Nairobi at 10:00 pm Sunday night. We were prepared to help the Turkana people. We had been given 1000 nets from our partner HEART but due to space limitations we could only carry 300. We will send more up to Lodwar on the missionary plane and take some with us to Marsabit. We had medications and 5 VCT counsellors with us. Five staff from the GOA head office were travelling with us to provide micro-finance, finance, and peace and reconcilliation and financial seminars. The Bishop, the Taylor family and Susan Spencer would fly the next day with the member of parliament for the Turkana area who requested to go see Maggis's school open.

And probably the most important for Turkana people was the special gift of hundreds of bibles in the Turkana language. When Donna Taylor told a friend about Maggie and how she loved the Lord and about the school to be dedicated in her name he wanted the first books the children had to be bibles. He was touched by Maggie and Maggie's Mom who would build a school in a tribal area for children who have no school. And they will soon be able to read John 3:16 - a desire of the Bishop since he first travelled to this very remote unreached area.

After 23 hours on the bus we arrived in Lodwar Women's Conference Center where we would stay.. I will spare all discussion of travelling on a bus for 1/2 of the trip on unpaved roads. Sometimes we could barely determine where the road actually was. But God is good and we arrived safely.

The next morning our transport arrived to take us to Aktuman - an open truck. We loaded the blood kits for testing for Aids, medications, the bibles, the music equipment and borrowed chairs as the church has no chairs. All of us sat on the floor of the open bed of the truck and we began the three hour ride to Maggie's School. There was no complaining from the team . In the morning the Bishop had asked us to look where we saw God. The team looked over the vast desert land seeing God in the beauty of the land, the camels with the young Turkana boy with no home or village in sight. At one point we had to stop and put under the tires of the truck the logs we had brought to help us traverse through the sand.

Traveling on the only means of transport to Akatuman

Arriving at the Akatamun GOA church the Turkana people were waving greeting us. The Bishop, the Taylor family and Susan Spencer had already arrived. The Member of Parliament had also arrived in the Office of the President vehicle.

The ceremony began under the tree where the church first began 5 years ago. The Turkana people danced and sang for us. The Bishop spoke telling of his first trip here in 2004 when God told him to go go to the Turkana people.

I spoke of Maggie and of her mother's love for her. I gave them Maggie's poem book translated in Swahilli. I told them Maggie was happy knowing a school was here so the children could learn to read and write. We gave them the 200 exercise books, pencils and rulers we brought them. Then I showed them Maggie's picture that would hang in the school. The Taylor's presented the bibles. The Temples of Worship sang Remember Me - the song written by Justus of Partners for Care when he was in Mombasa in a time of despair. Then Justice asked if he could carry the picture to the school as the Bishop and David (my son, Maggie's cousin) led the Turkana people to the new school. The purple cloth was unvieled so everyone could see the plague that read "In memory of Maggie Elizabeth Macleod - dedicated July 23, 2008" The Bishop and David cut the ribbon on the 2 room school. It is a beautiful school with large rooms. Justius and I hung Maggie's picture. Maggie was indeed honoured and her mother appreciated by hundreds of the Turkana people.

The medical team then began to see the sick as hundreds lined up and the VCT counsellors began to counsell. There is still much fear and stigma in this area with people saying they would be killed if they had AIDS. The member of parliament publicly testified standing in the bed of the truck. The medical team saw over 100 people before we had to leave as it was getting dark. Mostly they treated for malaria. We were glad we brought 150 nets to this area to be distributed. All the Taylors and susan helped with children and the medical camp.
The Turkana people welcomed us with songs
Maggie's picture is put up in front of the classroom

We returned the three hours to the Center. Only by faith did we make it in the dark with the truck breaking down several times and having to be pushed to start.

The next morning after devotion the GOA leaders did seminars all day and the medical, VCT and music team set up in the Lodwar Church. They treated almost 500 people until we ran out of all the drugs we brought. We taught how to use the nets and distributed 150 nets to babies and pregnant women. We tested 95 people and were shocked to find 19 people positve - the most any VCT counsellor had ever found positive. Some would not even take the referral forms fearing the disease. One pregant women tested positive and Charles convinced her of the need to go for treatment so her baby would not become infected. One 20 year old woman tested positive. She was the first of five wives and her husband wanted to take a 5th wive. She tested positve.
All seen were prayed for. And Susan Spencer donate money for food which was distibuted. Thank you Susan for you obedience to God.

Returning to the Center we had a quick supper and at 6:30 pm loaded the bus to travel through the night to Kitale then Nairobi.

The team wants to return to see the children reading. Even in their desperation for food the Turkana people believe and worship. We were blessed to worship with them.

Blessings, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

10th Update

A blessing in the desert
Laban asked before we left Nairobi if we could take 45 nets to a children's home in the desert between Kitale and Lodwar. Laban directed us to pull over at a place in the middle of no where. There were a few stores but mostly what we saw was desert. There waiting for us were the two sisters of Pastor Jacob. For those who don't know Pastor Jacob is one of the nine GOA pastors in Lodwar. He and five other siblings including these two young girls were born crippled. The two girls stayed at the children's home where we were to take the nets. Walking about a mile through the desert carrying the nets we found a large Catholic church and the children's home. Children were at the gate waiting for us. Every child was handicapped in some way. Some with missing limbs, others with casts on their tiny legs and some scooted their bodies too deformed to walk. The children's home was very poor but clean and a nice, loving place for the children. The children were well cared for. There was a physical therapy room for them to receive therapy.. We were told many of the disabilities related to the mother's poor nutritional status. We showed them how to hang and use the nets and then the music team sang Remember Me. The children laughed and some sang along. We sat holding the little children as we listened to the song hoping we would remember these children and realize everywhere there are God's angels like the staff here who cared for these children in the desert of Northern Kenya. On the bus to Lodwar we talked about what we had seen. Many team members were very touched. One member said his prayers would forever be changed. Now he would just thank God for his many blessings asking for nothing. Thank you God for allowing us the priveledge of knowing these children and God's servants who care for them.
Blessings, Connie
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

9th Update - Partners for Care thanks Kathy Williams

Going deeper in children's ministry
As part of the going deeper under the direction of Bishop David the Partners for Care/GOA leaders are assessing all six of the GOA children's homes. When the assessment instruments are finalized we will put a link on the Partners for Care web site so you can see the high standards GOA seeks to achieve in each of the children's homes. One of the assessment areas is in the area of health and safety. None of the chidren's homes had first aid kits or were trained in first aid. Kathy Williams member of Heart for Africa team has helped each children's home meet this standard. She broughtl American Red Cross first aid kits for each home. She went to four of the six homes and trained them on basic first aid. I listened to her training and even as a nurse I learned!
Thank you Kathy for helping GOA go deeper in their children's ministry, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Sunday, July 13

8th update

Today was a very good day here in Kenya. The worship team had been asked to do praise and worship for an event hosted by the Youth President of Kenya Mwangi Wa Mukami. They wore their Reach-A-Million white shirts and led worship the best I had ever heard them. It was very moving as Mwangi challeneged the youth to invest in the future of their generation and the generation of their children. As he made the call for the youth to surrender their lives to Jesus a person we had been working with stepped forward. It suprised us as we didn't know he had moved away from God. We were blessed to be a part of this man who is influential in the prevention HIV/AIDS in kenya to return to his faith. Mwangi is very well respected in this country and has influence with the ministires that work with youth. The Minister of Children was with him at this event. Mwangi has asked to meet with us this week to see how we can partner to reach the youth to create a HIV-free generation.

The other HUGE blessing was having the children from Nick and Charles' rescue center. 33 children came to the apartment with 8 adults. With our team we had 56 people in the apartment and Njokie and John prepared food for everyone. The drama team had organized activities for the children and before they left the worship team sang for them. These children are all orphaned or their parents are too sick to care for them. They are healthly, happy and in school. They told everyone Nick is their Dad and I am their mum. I don't feel like a good mum to them because sometimes there is not enough funds to give them what they need. Recently Nick and Charles with Community Transformer's Board made a decision to say no to some people funding them who were using their story to raise funds that were not going to Community Transformers. (CT). They also brought teams that promised support to their clients and never followed through with the support. They took photos and left and the photos were not used to bring support to their clients. CT felt this was causing harm. They said they would rather eat vegetables than cause harm to their clients. When Nick was asked about who would provide food for the children Nick said "The God who brought them to us to care for is the God who will feed them." Oh to have that kind of faith.

Blessed to know these people of faith, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Wednesday, July 9

Urgent request for funds

Everyday the Bishop is receiving call that the people including the pastors in the Turkana, Samburu and Marsabit regions are without food. This relates to several factors including lack of rain and post-election violence which caused a decrease in food production. The arid areas are the most effected because they already had an issue with water and violence before the recent food shortage. We received a call yesterday from Pastor Hilbo in Marsabit that the situation is desperate - a lack of water and food. Normally they have a cup of water a day and now they don't have that. Yesterday Pastor Hilbo walked 25 kilometers looking for water and did not find any. He was calling us for prayers.
Also Vickie Winkler, HEART our partner for bed-nets told me she has almost a 1000 nets for us!! Remember in Kenya:
1. Over 25 million Kenyans are at risk of malaria
2.Malaria is the number one killer of children
3. 34,000 children under five die annually from malaria
4. Malaria represents 30-40% of outpatient visits at health facilities and 19% of hospital visits
5. Malaria represents a signigicant economic burden with an estimated 170,000 million working days a year lost to malaria illness
We can take the nets to Turkana which will help save lives and assist the pastors in reaching people through humanitarian outreach which helps witness to them and bring them to Christ. Andrew, Partners for Care social worker in Turkana said this about the bed-nets we took before - We have experienced the church growing in numbers due to the net-distribution. The Turkana people expressed gratitude to God for the provision of the nets.
We are urgently asking for your help right now. Ways you can assist:
1. Pray for rain in Marsabit and other arid parts of kenya
2. Financially support transporting the bed-nets to the Turkana region
3. Send money for food for Turkana and Marsabit region
Donations can be made to:
Partners for Care
PO Box 1005
Carrollton, GA 30112
All the funds will go to help with the above issues.
Let us not grow weary of doing good for in due time we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore as we have opportunities let us do good to all especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
Blessings, Connie
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

7th update

Today we visited the GOA church here in Mombasa. We met Pastor Jack and his wife Winnie, their small boy and Betty who helps them with their church. Their story is one of faith and patience. They opened the church one year ago and Pastor Jack preached to empty benches for three months. Then he prayed for a woman with asthma who improved. She told everyone there was a man praying for people. Now the church has two services on Sunday and 13 other meetings, gatherings throughout the week. The music team sang Remember Me and Pastor Jack asked them to come back and sing for a week and he could double his church size. It was a nice even though short visit with this Pastor and his family. He asked us to take greetings back to the Bishop in a basket.
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

6th Update

Yesterday God taught me a great lesson. You can hear a person's story but until you go see the story you really never know, you can never really understand. I also was reminded again about just going where you feel God is leading you.
Sunday night Njokie and I left Nairobi with the Reach-a-Million worship team to go with them to Mombasa. Many people go to Mobasa because of the beaches, we went to take Justus and David to see their families. I had been told by Sammy (lead for the team) that they came from very poor families in Mombasa. And I had been told both families were struggling. The team felt that if we are ministering to many we need to also help our own team members
Some of you may remember the story of David. When we returned in January on the Peace Bus Bishop David asked us to present in the Nairobi church. We drove in from the last IDP on Sunday morning. If you remember I didn't know Sammy before he went with us on the Peace Bus. He was one of the 30 people Bishop had sent to go on the trip to Eldoret visiting the IDPs. Sammy asked me if he could sing when we did the presentation in the Nairobi church. I didn't even know Sammy could sing. And he ask me if he could have someone join him. Praise God I said yes. Sammy called this young man named David who took a bus all night from Mobasa arriving early Sunday waiting for us. At the appointed time, Sammy went to the keyboard and David took the mic and sang a song that worshipped in a way God came down from heaven. The Bishop was touched when he noticed David didn't have shoes - he was too poor even to own a pair of shoes. Sammy and David wrote a song that evening called "Pray for Peace for Kenya" and the next day he and David recorded it. Many of you have heard the song.
When Partners for Care launched Reach-a-Million and we joined sports evangelism under SN the worship team added another young man from Mombasa - Justus. Like David Justus doesn't just sing - he worships with a voice that is so powerful again you are witnessing God come down to join the worship.
I have learned the greatest joy and what brings the greatest pain is to listen to a person's story. I had been listening as David told me he was the 12th born and how poor his mother was and that his father was sick and how concerned he was for his family. I listened to Justus tell how his three older brothers died after in a Muslim area he decided to follow Christ. He told me his mother was a brewer, and an alcoholic and she and his three younger siblings were being evicted from their house. His father had left the family. His mother had no phone for him to communicate with her and Justus was relying on the good will of neighbours to tell him how his family was. He was very concerned for his mother and his younger brother and two younger sisters.
Only God knew why when He told me we must go to Mombasa to try and help these two young men's families. One of the many things I love about the people of Kenya is how they love their mums. Everyone I know here in Kenya loves their mums so much. And because so much of the older generation is poor the younger people work to help support their mums. It seems in our culture moms are giving to their children - here the younger people are working to give money to their mums. What support we are able to give to the worship team they send to their mums. I see that they will do without places to live themselves, new clothes, even food so they can send money to their mums. They make sacrafices for their mums. It also seems they are not ok unless they know their mums are ok.
First we went to David's home. We followed all the cultural traditions of this area. His mother is a believer but his father is not. His father is very old, ill and has a second wife. They wanted the guys to slaughter a goat It is a great honor to be given a goat. While that part was hard for Njokie and I we didn't interfere with tradition. They then roasted the goat for our meal later that night. They prepared chapati and tea for us. When you sit to eat the family doesn't join you - David served as the family representative. After you eat the family is brought in for introductions and at that time you can talk.
David's mother, through interpretation, told us how with David gone to Nairobi the whole village missed him. The voice of David was now silent in their village. She told him and us how she missed him so very much. He was the one son who helped her the most. He was her last born and she loved him so. You could feel how David was struggling to hear that and see the pain of his mum.
                                   David (bottom left) with his family

We then walked to Justus' house. We would return later to David's for roasted goat.
We walked through the trees, down a footpath to Justus' village. These villages where David and Justus live are a collection of little mud-like small homes without electricity or running water. As we approached Justus' home children were running to greet him. Justus called them all by name. He told me he was their Sunday school teacher and their music teacher. The children were delighted to see Justus. Neighbours were calling out to him welcoming him home.
Justus' mother is a very frail and small pretty woman with very sad eyes - Rachael is her name. I sat with her on the wooden bench outside a small home where the children lived. It is a home Justus built. Rachael slept in a small little place that Njokie said was like a chicken coop. I held her hand and even though I couldn't speak her language she knew I cared.
The church was right behind and we walked to see Justus' church. The whole team was touched as Justus told us this church building was more than a church - due to all the problems in his mother's home and the Muslims he slept in the church on the wooden benches for three years.
Sammy, George and Njokie began talking with neighbours to understand what was happening with Justus' family. The property was owned by a Muslim woman who wanted Justus' siblings to help her like slaves and she also was taking the brew from his mum without paying. She wanted the children evicted because they wouldn't help her but she wanted the mum to stay so she could have the brew.
We met a Christian family living next to the church who agreed to help. The team developed a plan to rent a house for the mum and children and move her. The team would pay her rent and help start a small buisness. There are many things she can sell in this tourist town of Mombasa. She would have to give up brewing if Justus was going to move her and help her start a new life. She agreed as she was tired of the life she was living.
We all walked back to the house and it was very moving when Justus took his guitar and led the village children in singing Remember Me. When I asked Justus if he would be taking his guitar back to Nairobi with us he told me he was leaving it for the church group to use. Justus' voice was once again heard in this village to the delight of all the neighbours.
The plan was to leave the money with this Christian neighbour who would help them move. After Rachael is settled and she has stopped brewing the team will help her with a small buisness.
It was now dark - and there were no lights you could turn on. I told Justus I wanted to speak to his mum before we left. My plans were just to reassure her Justus was doing well. God had a different plan. I wanted to sit outside on the wooden bench again but Justus led me inside the small house and asked me to sit on the bed. His mother sat beside me and his brother and sisters huddled around. Taking his mum's hand I asked her if she knew Jesus as her personal savior. Justus interpretted for us. She said no. I told her I was there because of Jesus love for me and for her. I asked her if she wanted to accept Christ as her personal savior - to be born again. She said yes. I asked George to come in and pray for her leading her to Christ. In the dark with only a small light George knelt and held her hands as she received the gift that will transform her life. I asked the children if they were born again and they are.                                   Justus (center) and his family

Justus then gave his only pair of shoes to his brother who had no shoes. The rest of the team joined us to celebrate the new beginning for Justus' family. Justice gave his sister his phone so he could communicate with them. Justus asked the children if they had school uniforms. They have one they share. One wears the top and one wears the bottom.
It was so clear that these two young men that God has gifted with a talent to sing and write songs were the best these mums had in a village so poor. Justus wrote the song Remember Me in the house where his mum had just accepted Christ. The team is committed to grow as a music group that can impact others for the kingdom. They are committed to Reach-a-Million with the message of the gospel and HIV prevention to help create a HIV-free generation.
Praise God for the blessing of understanding these two young men's story.
In kibera slum the day before Bishop David preached the story of the Isralites when God saw their suffering, heard their cries and came down. Here in a small villagge in Mombasa, Kenya God saw their suffering, heard their cries and came down.
Blessed to watch kenyans care and reach others for Christ, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Tuesday, July 8

5th update

The Reach-a-Million team under the direction of SN Njuguna completed the four-day tournament in Kibera slum. The 18 men and 4 women teams played football on what was known as the "salughter field" during the post-election violence. Kibera was one of the centers of the violence due to the mix of tribes in Kibera. As in Mukuru slum SN had been told it would not be possible to bring together teams from all over Kibera to play in a peace tournament. Once again GOA demostated through the gospel men and women can resolve conflict.

For those who read last month's GOA newsletter you know GOA opened a church in Kibera under the leadership of Pastor Kuria. Pastor kuria also heads the micro-finance department He has been working with the captains and the leaders since SN mobilized Kibera several weeks ago. One of SN's many strengths is going to the ground to mobilize the teams. Pastor Kuria also mobilized his small congregation to assist the team throughout the four days of the tournament.

On Sunday the Bishop came and preached under a tent on the field and told the story of the Isralites from Exodus 3:7-14 He told them God saw their plight, heard their cries and came down. Just as in Kibera God. heard their cries and through sports GOA was sent to help. Over the four days over 15,000 were reached with the message of the gospel and HIV/AIDS. There were 83 tested with 4 postive and referred for follow-up. When the Bishop made the call in the open field once called the "slaughter field' over 50 came forward raising their hands high as they accepted Christ and a new beginning.
                50 people give their lives to Christ
The kibera church has already outgrown their small church building. The people who were present on the opening day of this church were helping evangelize during the four day event. Pastor Kuria will follow-up with those saved and the captains and leaders. He has so many plans for football captains - conflict management training, leadership training and micro-enterprise.
           More than 10,000 show up at the mission

Blessed to witness God moving in Kibera through the leaders of GOA, Connie.

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Saturday, July 5

4th update

This is an update of some encouragement and some discouragement. First encouragement - Paul and Elizabeth, Partners for Care nurses went with us to Community Transformers last time when I was here. There was a young man with an open sore covering most of his tongue.. He had this for two years. He couldn't eat very well and was very thin. He was in pain and depressed. He had been treated with many medications that did not work. Paul and Elizabeth diagnosed the lesion as a rare fungus and prescribed an expensive anti-fungus medication and pain medication. On Wednesday the team went to CT. This young man came to see us. He was smiling and looked so different from the young man we saw two weeks earlier! The sore was healed! He was eating and he was so happy. Paul and Elizabeth were so encouraged that God had used them to heal this young man.

The discouragement concerns Brian (the little boy with AIDS who has come to live with us). Njokie took him to Liverpool to establish the process of receiving his ARVs. They sent him to the hospital for chest x-ray. He possibly has both pneumonia and TB. They added a very strong antibiotic and he is to go back on Monday for follow-up. All of the Kenyans are immunized for TB so Paul told me they should be OK. For me Paul thinks I should be OK as Brian isn't really coughing a lot. I will get tested when I return to the States.

We have all learned what it is really like to care for a child who has AIDS. I can see why Bishop David says we are not all infected but we are all affected.

Blessings, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Tuesday, July 1

3rd Update

This update is about the worst and the best about life. About disease, the worst, and about the best those who help those with disease. Today we went to get Brian - the six year old child sick with AIDS. As I had shared earlier he is the nephew of a close friend here in Kenya. Brian, like most children who have AIDS, became infected by his mother. His mother died when he was a baby. He doesn't remember her. His father is infected, too. Brian is just like Rebecca and Faith were when we first met them. He is very sick. He has sores all over his little body and his tummy protrudes either from malnutrition or worms. He speaks little and doesn't smile. He is on ARV medication - lots of pills to keep him alive. We brought him here to the apartment and he will stay here as God performs yet another miracle for a little innocent child affected and infected by AIDS. Pray for little Brian for God to remove the hundreds of sores from his body, for him to improve nutritionally and for him to be able to go school. Just remind God he healed Rebecca's sores so we know it is possible.
The best part was the second place we stopped after getting Brian - it is near Mt. Kenya and we walked in the tea plantations just like the picture David Gruber put on the GOA folders. The home we went to was a very special place and a wonderful visit for every team member - there were 11 of us. The farm had cows, rabbits, chickens, gardens and much love, joy and laughter. The guys sang as loud as they wanted because no one was around for miles. We left carrying sugar canes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes all picked or dug from the garden. We all felt blessed to spend this time however short with this family in the country of Kenya. It was like God gave us a day in the country before we go spend to 4 days in Kibera - the largest slum in the world. Brian has been fed, bathed, medicine put on his sores and given his many pills that are keeping him alive. He is sleeping now.

The team looked up children with AIDS on a website and learned some information about children who have AIDS. In 2007 almost a half million children were born infected with HIV. Nine out of 10 of infected children live in sub-saharan Africa. Forty children an hour in the world die from AIDS. The Reach-A-Million team understands more everyday why they are doing what they are doing - trying to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

God continues to bring AIDS very close. Today it came even closer to the team.


Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry