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
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

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

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

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

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

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.

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Monday, August 18

1st Update

Kimberly, Lorri and I arrived safely iin Kenya. Some of the Partners for Care staff and Pastor Matthew had gone to Nyrahruru to buy the food for the children's conference. Our van broke down and they were stranded. The one day trip turned into three and the van is still not repaired. We will be taking matatus to the childrens's conference in Nyrahruru tomorrow.
In Kenya there is wonderful news for the kingdom. Bishop David and GOA leaders are in the Samburur region on a mission and many are receiving Christ as they hear the word for the fist. Pastor Karanja completed his crusade in Uhruru Park last weekend and over 500 came to Christ. GOA/Partners for Care worship team - Temples of Worship led the worship for the three days.
And more good news. Last week Nick and Charles from Community Transformers held a camp for 300 at-risk youth from Marthare Slum. The purpose was to show young men and women how to live a Christ-centered life free from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Partners for Care staff were there all week helping with cooking, HIV/AIDS testing and leading praise and worship. GOA pastors came three mornings to lead devotions. Seven-eight young people gave their lives to Christ! When Charles told me so many accepted Christ he gave the credit to.the GOA pastors. He said they were amazing as they led so many to Christ. Every person that tells me about the conference tells me how wonderful it was. They are so excited to tell me how organized the camp was and the impact it had on all who attended. Nick and Charles had very little funds to hold this camp. The kids slept in tents and Partners for Care staff helped buy the food and cooked with the CT volunteers. As the Bishop says doing God's work, God's way doesn't lack provisions.
so very blessed to witness the kingdom is growing here in Kenya, Connie
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Wednesday, August 13

Prayer request

Tomorrow (Thursday) we will be gathering at Mt. Pisgah Church at 6:30 pm to pray for this upcoming trip to Kenya. The team members include Connie, Lorri and Kimberly. Lorri and Kimberly have both been before and are excited to return. We are helping with GOA's children's conference and hope to travel to Marsabit on the Peace Bus to help Pastor Hirbo with medical camps, sports and HIV/AIDS. Most of you know he is in Marsabit reaching nine unreached tribes. There is a severe drought and lack of food in this area. Pastor Hirbo and Mare, Partners for Care social worker, have identified 150 orphans in this area. Many are orphaned from Aids others from malaria. We will also take hundreds of nets to help with the malaria problem if we can go.
While I know most of you can't physically come to the prayer gathering please take a few minutes about 6:45 pm tomorrow and pray for GOA leaders and the children who will come to the children's conference, pray for Pastor Hirbo and Mare that they do not grow weary doing good, pray for the orphans in Marsabit that someone will hear their crys and come to help them and pray for God to touch the hearts of those who can help with funding the trip to Marsabit.
Blessed to be going again to serve in kenya, Connie
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

Friday, August 1

Fw: Maggie’s School

Click on the link below to view pictures from the opening of Maggie's School.

Blessings, Connie

Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry