Friday, July 31

7th Update - from Wink

This is what Wink wrote in her journal the day she visited Maggie's School.

The day I saw Maggie's School

We left at sunrise to travel what Connie called a hard trip. She so under estimated a hard trip. It was more like National Geograhic and Indiana Jones all wrapped into one. After being stuck in the river for over an hour and finally one car stuck in the sand for good. While stuck in one river we all took our shoes and socks off which we had been advised not to do due to parasites. We were going to walk across the muddy river. But the decision was made not to walk across the river. So I got back in the vehicle and picked out the very sharp barbs I had stepped on. About that time Connie walks up with the minister of education from Lodwar to meet me. And I held out a sock out to greet him. What a way to meet the representative from the ministry of education. We drove on piled together in two vehicles instead of three. We proceeded on and rounded the bend and the moment I didn't think would happen in a million years happened. I saw Maggie's School and felt like the time I gave birth to Maggie and saw her for the first time. Nothing was more beautiful. I felt awe and an overwhelming feeling of grace. I had never felt closer to Maggie sine she left this earth to be with the Lord. Tears welled up in my eyes and a lump was in my throat. No words could be formed. But no words were necessary. It was done. I was there! I was holding it together until I felt arms surround me and Whitney leaned on me and I broke down. It was hot. That is all I will say about that. People who know me know I don't suffer in silence - but I was silent! We went to see Maggie's children - again no words to describe. The most beautiful, smiling faces and big eyes full of love. They sang a special song about Maggie's School in English.

Wink and Katie meeting the kids

I once heard Don Piper speak of hearing the heavenly choir sounding like nothing he had ever heard on earth but he obviously had not been to the hear the Turkana children at Maggie's school sing. Again I stood in total awe as grace covered me. Wink(Maggie's proud MOM)

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Thursday, July 30

6th Update - Visit to Maggie's School

Today Maggie's Mom saw Maggie's School and met the children who she calls Maggie's kids. There are now 257 Maggie's kids! And there are only two teachers! This will soon change as now the school is registered and next term the government will send additional teachers. The two teachers we have will be allowed to stay. The children greeted the team with shouts and laughter. They sang a song "greeting mum Wink" and thanking her for Maggie's School. The travel to the school was more than an adventure. We crossed two rivers and drove on sand for three hours. We got stuck twice in the muddy river and once in the sand.

Trying to push the vehicle out of the mud

Prayer and some good pulling with a vehicle and the men pushing got us out each time except the last. We had to abandon one of the vehicles and all crowd together with the some of the guys volunteering to ride in the open bed of the truck. We had lost precious time so the team needed to be very organized to do for the children what they had spent literally months planning for, praying for, raising funds for and dreaming in their heads what it would be like. Nothing really can prepare you though for seeing all these children in rags for clothes, some with shoes and some without shoes and one little one had on just one shoe. They are precious to us and in the eyes of Jesus. These are some of the children Jesus meant when he said the least of these. Our goal for the day was to serve the teachers and Andrew, Partners for Care social worker and the children. I am very clear that when on the ground we serve under the authority of the people God has placed there. We did a short ceremony as we brought one child forward and dressed him in his little school uniform - kahki and light blue the colors of the school Maggie went to school. We also gave him a backpack with Maggie's School imprinted on it. And sunglasses - which will help prevent him from getting cataracts from the sun.

The headmaster with a child after he received his school uniform

All the children will receive the same. We hope the picture we send you will show the transformation of a child in rags to a child in a school uniform. School uniforms are so important to a child in Kenya. It signifies this child is a student - learning helps lift them out of the poverty of their parents. The team also was able to accomplish the following:
1. Katie bought shoes from Kristi kicks for Kenya. Kristi is my other niece who died two years after Maggie died. The shoes were precious and now more of the children will have shoes.

2. The team had found wonderful teaching aids - white boards with markers and aids for the tin walls.
3. Each child was dewormed!

Carey, one of the team members, deworming a child

4. We left a scale and a measuring tape so the children can be measured and weighted each month to check their growth.
5. The dental team performed miracles relieving pain for all the children who had tooth pain and adults - over 60 people.

Dr. Eric treating one of the Maggie's kid's parents, assisted by his wife

6. We left 125 bednets so all of Maggie's children will now sleep under a bed net.
The last thing we did is give them a banner that reads Maggie's School and has Maggie's School logo. Then the Temples of Worship sang Remember Me. The children sang one last song - "Goodbye, bye, bye"
Wink and Martha have decided they will built a helicopter pad at the school to make it easier for them to get there - they are just kidding, I hope :)

Here are the words of each team member at the end of the day:

What an awesome day. The kids are precious and I find myself so touched. Love to all Martha

We held a dental clinic @ one of Bishop David's Churches in Lodwar as usual the Kenyan's blessed us with their gentle demeanor. We saw 72 patients. Love Carey

Loved serving the people of Lodwar. We saw many wonderful gentle people and amazed at their character. Africa is amazing! Love Wink

The trip today to Maggie's school was an adventure beyond my wildest dreams! Love Whitney

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Yesterday in Lodwar and today at Maggie's school.
Love Eric

I would do no justice by describing my experience at Maggie's school in two short sentences. It was awesome. We have an awesome God that sends Muzungus (white people) out all the way to the Akatuman. Awesome. Love Julianna

The time and distance it took to come is a blur,we are having an amazing yet heart wretching experience, our laughter and tears and touch are shared by all of us and Akatuman people. Love Jodie.

We are truly amongst God's people. No one complains and all seem happy if they are sick no one complains. Love to all. Joann

By the way, special heads up to Debbie Deardorff; God did provide a dentist in Lodwar and at Maggie's school. Love Carey

When we arrived to Akatuman I Felt like I'd reached one of the ends of the Earth, tucked far far away in the desert, Maggie's School was truly a sight to see, with the most welcoming, peaceful group of people. I Sang songs, fed the kids and pulled teeth! It was an unforgettable day. Love MK

I'm glad I came to share with Wink the experiences we encountered at Maggie's school. It was also special to bring shoes for the children in memory of Kristi. A true connection between our girls has been made the desert sand of Africa. Love Katie. Ps Kim thanks for all your love and support love mom. We miss you.

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Sunday, July 26

reMEMber team comes to Kenya

If you had asked me two years ago when I started coming to Kenya that one day my two sisters would join me I would have not believed it. I believe God can perform miracles but bring my sisters to Kenya - no that wouldn't happen. My younger sister Wink as most of you know lost her only daughter Maggie four years ago and she continues to grieve although she has been remarkable in moving forward in living without Maggie. And, let's just say Wink likes comfort - cold water with ice cubes, air conditioning, nice cars and good roads. All things in short supply in Kenya! And my older sister Katie also lost her daughter Kristi 2 1/2 years ago at age 25. My sister is raising the three young children all under 4 years old left orphaned by Krisiti's death. So neither of my sisters were really candidates to travel 10,000 miles (24 hour travel!) to go to a slum and to travel on a missionary flight to the desert to see the school built in memory of Wink's daughter - Maggie's School. And, in memory of Kristi, Katie and her other daughter Kim created Kristi Kicks for Kenya and has collected hundreds of shoes for children at Maggie's School. As the three us sat last on the porch of the Partners for Care house and had one of our traditional "3 sisters photo" I reflected for a moment on just what God can do. Wink said that while our family has faced tragedies we were united in our efforts to serve and create a legacy for both Kristi and Maggie.

I and my two sisters at Beat the Drum children's home

The reMEMber team

Traveling with my sisters are Dr. Eric (a dentist) and his wife Whitney, my sister Wink's lifetime friend Carey, another friend of Wink's Jody and Jody's mom and Jody's son - three generations, Mary Katherine and Juliana - both young women and Martha a new friend who always wanted to come to Africa. We are packed and preparing to leave at 5:30am on the missionary flight to Lodwar - then three hour drive through the desert to Akatuman to see Maggie's School. Praise God for the miracles He can perform even when we don't believe.

From Kenya, Connie

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Thursday, July 16


Sometimes I get discouraged because I see so many children infected with Aids, orphaned by Aids and children living in slums and on the street and I wonder where is the passion to fight this disease? Then I meet someone that let's me know there is passion to fight this disease. The first day we were here we were shopping a Nakumat (the big grocery store chain in Kenya). I was in the little health section looking for protein powder mix for Brian the little boy with Aids who lives with us. A young man was there reading each of the labels on the protein mixes. I told him that after he reads them all he could let me know which one was the best. He asked what I wanted to use it for. I told him for a child who has Aids. He said, "You know children who have Aids?". After telling him I did he said he was a model in Kenya and he and a group of other models want to do something for children with Aids. I took him and introduced him to Sammy, Njokie, Sam and Moses. His name is Patrick and he is in the Zain (cellphone company) advertisements. After introductions and plans to connect later he went on with his shopping and us with ours. As we were checking out he came up to us and took 400 shillings out of his pocket and gave us a big container of juice. He said that was all he had today but promised more later. He asked us to take the juice to the children. I emailed him later and told I would always remember his what he did and the passion I saw in his heart. I told him to the children I have grown to love. All infected by their Moms with the HIV virus. I told him I prayed he would always have the passion in his heart that moves him to action. I received a reply that he will mobilize others to help in the what if? canpaign to fight Aids.
Thanking God for passion He gives to those who allow Him to work through them,

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Divine connections

I am once again in wonder of divine connections that can only be the work of God. How else could I meet a man out of hundreds of passengers on the flight to Kenya from America and within 48 hours of arriving in Kenya we are together with his US team at the bedside of a woman in Mathare who has AIDS. And we also had a meeting in the Vice President's conference room with the Director of Vice President Kalonzo's Foundation. Only God can connect His people together to do His work. Actually, God used my son David who has come with me to Kenya for a month. The man on the plane I speak of is Dr. Erich. In the Brussels airport Dr. Eric asked David what he was doing coming to Kenya while I was off getting us water. David is a good spokesperson for Partners for Care and he told him what work PFC does. Then being polite David asked Dr. Erich what he was doing coming to Kenya. He told David he was with a group called Engineers Without Borders and he was helping them develop a medical component to the work they do with wells. Wow - water and health the two things we care about. I told Dr. Erich about Nick and Charles and about our work with the Kalonzo Foundation who is working to start Telemedicine. I was able to set a meeting with the Director of the Kalonzo Foundation and Dr. Eric. Dr. Eric also asked me if I would take them to meet Nick and Charles who I had told them about. Engineers Without Borders (EWB) works through university students as well as professional engineer organizations. This chapter of EWB is from a University in Montana and is putting in 58 wells and latrines at 58 primary schools in Nyanza! Imagine that! They are going to help connect us to a chapter that will have a passion and heart for Marsabit! And they will connect the Kalonzo Foundation with a professional group from EWB to work on some major water projects in Kenya.
Their experience with Nick and Charles was life-changing. They bought food for the woman we visited. They heard her story, they saw her pain. They saw first-hand the devestation this disease called AIDS has had on the world. They heard how her husband is infected, she is infected, her little girl is infected and the little baby boy lying on the floor is infected. She had sent word to Nick and Charles just that morning that she had no food and was starving. Nick and Charles did not have food nor money for food as they struggle themselves to feed the 34 orphans they care for. Then I called almost at the very moment asking permission to come with Dr. Erich and the US team to and make a home visit. We always take food when we visit so Nick knew just who we would visit.
Dr. Eric with Little Elizabeth

Dr. Eric's team praying for one of Nick and Charles' infected clients who they had gone to visit

Nick led us through debriefing after the group made the home visit and visited the rescue center. They met and held 2-year old Elizabeth who has Aids. They saw where 17 children and two adults sleep in a room the size of a small bedroom in America. One of the young American men said at the debriefing that Nick and Charles changed for him what it meant to be a good person - the bar had been raised.
As we were debriefing I received an email on my Blackiberry which read:
My husband and I would like to explore ways we could support the 2 young men who care for the orphans in the slum. I couldn't remember their names. Please provide some insight into their ministry.‬‪Thanks so much.‬"
I smiled and thanked God as I sat and watched and listened to these young men of God and took God had just through two Christians in America sent Nick and Charles help.
Grateful to a God who connects His people to dp His work,

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Thursday, July 2

A son's love for his mother

A small but very special team has been planning to go to Kenya with me in October. They call themselves Partners for Hope. The t-shirt someone made for them has their picture with the words "Sisters to Kenya".
Partners for Hope

The team members are four black American working women who all work at one of my client nursing homes. Going to Kenya has been a lifelong dream of each of them. Many have told them they could never raise the funds necessary for such a trip. But, they are determined! They have had a sale of donated items, collected change donations, written letters and are planning a walk and a car wash. They want to go help women in Mathare slum market the jewelry they make. These women in Mathare are all infected with HIV/Aids and the sale of the jewelry helps support their children. Sadly, three weeks ago the 32 year old son, Pierre, of one of the women on this team (virginia) was struck by lighting while playing golf in Orlando, Florida and killed instantly. His mother even in her grief has said she is still going to go to Kenya to help the women in the slum with their jewelry. Pierre's friends have made the decision to do for Pierre's mother what he can't do now - help her go to Kenya. They are raising funds for her and hosting a charity golf tournament in Pierre's honor. We plan to do something in Kenya in Pierre's name. We know in time God will reveal to us what we will do. The trip has become even more special. I don't play golf but I will go to the golf tournament to meet Pierre's friend.

Praying for Virginia as she grieves the loss of her son, Connie

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