Wednesday, April 28

Bridgette's trip to Kenya

Bridgette intended to spend three weeks in Kenya with the Partners for Care staff but due to the extraordinary circumstances of the volcano ash disrupting air travel she spent a month on the ground. Hopefully, you read some of her updates. Before she came she raised funds to purchase the team a much needed van! What a blessing to the team to have a vehicle that starts and then stays running. Bridgette was able to come close to the PFC staff and learned first hand about their ministry. She came to serve and she did! She is a designer by trade (a blessing to us). She turned the PFC house into a warm, beautiful home that reflects African culture. She also decorated each of the team's personal space which was greatly appreciated by each team member! Then she turned her energies to the what if? Life Changing Center creating rooms for a cyber, music center, computer training and a theater - rooms unlike any in the small village of Muruiri! The theater will be used for the ministry of the little children of the village. She taught the team how color is used to create mood. Everyone got involved in painting and decorating. The customers of the what if? center loved the changes! But, she did more than decorate. She saw the devastation of HIV/Aids up close and personal. From ministering to women infected with Aids living in one room tin shacks in Mathare slums to spending time with the children at Beat the Drum - all infected by the disease, . She grieved with Charles when his sister died from Aids leaving two orphaned children. She also served the volunteers at Community Transformers by organizing an appreciation day for them. Volunteers who make home visits to those infected with Aids. She met all the children at the Rescue Center and fell in love with them. Bridgette knows the heart of each team member and understands the PFC's mission. She now wants to help us raise the necessary support for the ministry. I and all the PFC staff are blessed Bridgette has chosen our ministry to fulfill what God has called her to do - serve His children in Africa.

Thank you Bridgette for coming, for serving the team, for loving them and for wanting to continue to help us!

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Monday, April 26

One month on the ground

While this trip was to be three weeks it turned into four. Bridgette was with me the entire time, Elaine Cox and long-time friend Leslee joined us for two weeks. Instead of writing everything that was accomplished I will show you. You can see how we worked to equip, encourage, empower and enable the Partners for Care staff to do God's work.
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Our new drum set brought by Leslee

The team in Mombasa

Bridgette, Elaine and Leslee praying for a small boy who has Aids

Justus' brother Jackson from Mombasa joined us during his school holiday

The trip continued...

Connie meeting with the Vice President of Kenya and his wife.

The "Temples of Worship" perform before the Vice President of Kenya

Visiting the children at "Beat the Drum"

Bridgette painting the new "what if?" cyber center

The new cyber!

The new technology center with class in session

The children's ministry room at the "what if?" center

Franco teaching music in the music room at the "what if?" center

A "what if?" program 

Saturday, April 24

the trip continued...

Our old van...

Our NEW van! Thank you Bridgette!

Bridgette with the children at the Rescue Center

Celebrating Easter with the children at the Rescue Center

Connie with Franco, a PFC staff member, and his mother

Bridgette meeting Justus' sister Mahanzo in Watumu

Charles with his sister days before she died of Aids

Elaine washing feet of a volunteer at Community Transformers

The children at "Beat the Drum" Children's home

Monday, April 19

God's Purpose at the end of the Journey

Bridgette's speaks for me in her what we hope will be her last update at least for this trip. Thank you for your prayers and concern for the many stranded and for the economic impact of the volcano eruption on developing nations. It touched me when I read the flower growers here in Kenya couldn't export their flowers to Europe. A financial blow this nation can ill afford. Still in Kenya, Connie
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Today marks the 4th day since we have been stranded in Kenya. As many of you know, we were scheduled on the red eye to Amsterdam last Thursday evening...but due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, we have been grounded. Needless to say, I have been asking God for His purpose in all this? Was it to be here for Charles when his second sister died of AIDS Thursday? The same sister we visited and prayed with a week ago? She leaves behind two double orphaned children...and now we are assisting Charles as he struggles to pay for an expensive burial of yet another loved one taken from him. Somehow, my needs seem so unimportant now. Perhaps God wanted me to truly understand how it feels to struggle like many of the Kenyans I have met and worked with over the past three weeks...unsure of the future and without immediate hope. Yet as discouraged and uncomfortable as I am, at the end of the day, I know that eventually I will be returning home to the "land of milk and honey".
I ask you to pray-for our team's safe return, for renewed strength without my prescription medications, for patience and peace about the uncontrollable situation. But more importantly, continue to pray for Partners for Care and their incredible ministry here, for Nick and Charles and the 34 beautiful children they have taken in to support in the slum, for the hundreds of orphaned, hungry children we have met, and for an end to this monster called HIV/AIDS.
Still here to serve in Kenya, Bridgette
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Thanks to InComm

Partners for Care co-founder David Gruber is employed by InComm, a technology firm headquartered in Atlanta which is the industry leading marketer, distributor and technology innovator of stored-value gift and prepaid products. On April 16, 2010, InComm hosted a Potluck Lunch with a Purpose - and Partners for Care was blessed to be named as the recipient of the fundraising proceeds from this event.The fundraising goal established by InComm was to raise sufficient funds to purchase a used passenger van for use by Beat the Drum Children's Home near Maai Mahiu, Kenya. Partners for Care played a key role in the establishment of Beat the Drum, a special place which serves children orphaned by and infected with HIV/AIDS.

This Potluck was the idea of Sam Collins, Vice President Software Development - who saw the need to encourage people who work together every day to have some fun together, and in turn, to do something tangible and meaningful for some less fortunate. His vision was executed largely though the hard work and dedication of Tracy Abbott, a Business Analyst on Sam's team, with a heart for service and incredible energy which was put to the test as she pulled together volunteers and donors to execute an exceptional event. The fundraising total is still being tallied, as many InComm staff continued to make donations and bid on Silent Auction items throughout the lunch.

Many thanks to InComm President and CEO, Brooks Smith, for supporting the event, and to Matt Watson, InComm Chief Technology Officer and David Cochenour, Vice President Human Resources for promoting and supporting the event in many ways.

We are also grateful for the corporate sponsors who made the event possible, Bright Byte Consulting, The Intersect Group, SolTech, Mothers of Virtue, and Unitiv.

A video prepared for the event, sending thanks from Pastor John and the children at Beat the Drum is available here.

Saturday, April 17

Two more orphaned children

Today there are two more orphaned children...add them to the millions of children orphaned by the disease Aids. This one is personal - they are nieces of Charles from CT. Last week I sent you an update about Charles' sister. She was very sick from Aids. But, we thought she would live. Yesterday Charles went to see her - she died while he was there with her. She left a 6 and 12 year old. Their father has already died from Aids.

Charles with his late sister

Charles needs to bury his sister - buy a coffin and transport her to her home village in Siaya. He was already struggling to have enough funds to feed the children in the rescue center. Why can't we stop the needless death from this disease?
Praying for Charles and his family,
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Friday, April 16

We are stranded - why?

We don't know why but our departure from Kenya last night was delayed - due to volcanic ash covering the European skies. I must admit I have been stranded many times in my flying miles - snow, ice, mechanical problems but never from a volcano ash. We cannot complain though. KLM has put us at the Intercontinental Hotel - one of the best hotels in Kenya. Thousands are sleeping in airports all over the world. What we are pondering is why God has us still in Kenya....meantime we wait patiently for news of airlines resuming their flights to Europe.

Still in Kenya,

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Tuesday, April 13

The Last Mile

Bridgette has gone the last mile...I was privileged to go with her. Connie
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As I begin the last phase of my mission here, the last days I have travelled this incredibly beautiful land of Kenya from the southern coast of Mombasa to the majestic nothern mountains of Tseikuru. Long journeys in a crammed van to obscure villages... but watching the Temples of Worship team perform a "What If?" Campaign concert to educate Kenyans about an HIV/AIDS free generation makes it all worth it. I am so blessed and encouraged by these guys-they are truly passionate about making a real change here-and it is working-one small village or even one villager at a time.
Yesterday, I walked deep into the Mathare slum to accompany the Community Transformers community workers on a home visit. I felt so honored and humbled to have the opportunity to sit first hand with someone who lives with this terrible disease. It was discouraging to hear her story as she was infected, her 9 year old daughter was infected and the 13 month old baby boy she held was also infected. I have learned that with ARV meds, she and her children can live and function with the disease...yet my heart aches for yet another child born with this awful disease. I was encouraged by the work done by the Community Transformers (Nick and Charles' volunteers) as they meet with hundreds of infected clients everyday. It is often said here that Americans will travel 10,000 miles to come to Kenya, yet they will not go the last mile in the slum. My last mile yesterday was life-changing-and I know God allowed me to meet Joyce and her family so that I could never forget what I have seen and heard. As I prepare to return home, I now wonder how I will go the last mile there? The thought of yet another child born or orphaned by this disease inspires me to do all I can to make sure what I saw and heard does not continue.

Serving in Kenya,

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Friday, April 9

5th Update from Bridgette - A day in the life of a designer

A true servant climbs a tree-limb ladder to help others! Bridgette is a true servant, Connie
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I wish you all could have been a fly on the wall today! Of course, I couldn't leave Kenya without doing a little "work" while here. I was asked to decorate the Partners for Care house for future teams/guests. I love a good challenge-especially since I had no tape measure, no nails (concrete walls), no hammer, no ladder-you get the idea! This was the time to put my creative juices to the test. So one of the guys went to the village for me and came back two hours later with a wonderful ladder-I can't wait to show you the pictures! Imagine 2 small trees with their branches nailed on them for the rungs. I measured 31" to step up to the first rung! But where there is a will...there is a way- and the house is transformed. A small token of my gratitude for their gracious hospitality left behind for the team. Now the decorating bug has bit me again-so in the evenings, I plan on painting the cyber/life changing center the team has opened in the village-you should see my paint brush!!! And of course I'll be using the same hand-crafted ladder! Until I blog grateful to be serving in Kenya-Bridgette

Wednesday, April 7

4th Update from Bridgette - Overwhelmed

This update from Bridgette is really from her heart. All of the PFC and me are being blessed by Bridgetts's time here on the ground in Kenya. She is leaving an huge impact on this ministry. Everyday it is clear she came to serve and not be served. The team is going to have a really hard time when she leaves! Blessed to have Bridgette here, ConnieSent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry

From: Dan Kellenberger <>
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2010 09:28:27 -0400
To: Connie<>
Subject: 4th Update from Bridgette - Overwhelmed

No one should EVER have to live in the conditions I saw today in Mathare slums. I finally met the 2 incredible young men (Nick and Charles) who began their ministry in Mathare slums 5 years ago. Because they could not turn their back on orphaned children, they are now guardians to 34 children...all living in 3 small rooms. Their "kitchen" is in the boy's bedroom where they sleep 4 to a twin bed. (They thought the boys would be better able to endure the smoke from the cooker than the girls).  There is one toilet (hole in the ground) for all and only one sink with running water. Besides providing for their "extended" family, they started "Community Transformers"- a ministry outreach program for those throughout the slum. They provide education, counseling, AIDS testing, do home health visits to the sickest and have opened a one room community center. They are truly transforming this area-giving hope to so many hopeless here. There's only one problem...they do it all out of pure love and receive no funding/assistance from anyone on a regular basis. Since their ministry began,they have personally buried over 8O people. Sometimes, that means returning the bodies to villages far away as it is culturally appropriate to be buried in one's home village in Kenya.
  Today, I asked them how they provide food for over 4O people (including the aunties and volunteers) and pay the monthly rent?  Partners for Care pays Nick and Charles each a monthly salary of $25O to work their ministry here. They use ALL of their salaries to provide for others and even go days without eating themselves.

Bridgette with Nick and Charles
   I am so embarrassed at the stark difference in our standard of living. I feel so ashamed for all the times things just weren't quite  good enough for me. As I held one of the orphans in my arms today, I felt so inadequate to solve the overwhelming problems I see in front of me.

Bridgette at the Rescue Center

Truly, at the end of the is not about what we have and don't have-but it is about what each of us does with what we have! From the beginning to end, the scriptures tell us that we are blessed in order to bless-not to hang onto our blessings. This I believe is what transforms relationships-change happens to ALL who are involved.
  These guys are changing the world-and although there is no money for food or shelter for their "family", they asked me today for nothing except a prayer. Shame on me-and I pray that I will always feel ashamed and care enough to share my blessings with those I consider heroes like Nick and Charles in Kenya!

Serving in Kenya,


Tuesday, April 6

Bridgette's 3rd Update: In Awe of Them

I believe you will be touched by Bridgette's 3rd update, Connie
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Sometimes, its the day to day events that amaze me the most here. Each situation gives me clearer insight into the heart of this Kenyan team. On our way back from Mombasa, we travelled up the coast to visit with two of the team's families. Meet Justus-raised by an alcoholic mother with 3 younger siblings under the age of 16. Because there were 5 of them living in a one room hut, he took up residence in a small church behind his home, sleeping on a bench for 3 years. Because the pastor let him stay,   he took care of that little church with great pride. To show his gratitude to the congregation, he gathered fabric pieces from all and hung them from the ceiling rafters from one end to the other. I was so humbled when I saw it-truly one of the most beautifully "decorated" churches I have ever seen!
  Now fast forward to today...this is the same young man that sends almost ALL the money he earns in his ministry every month to his family. He desperately wants to finish high at age 25, he gets up every day to walk over 4 miles to catch a matatu (bus) to get him there, often only eating a piece of bread and some chai tea for the day. While here, I witnessed this same young man spend all day in the church on Sunday, walking home late at night over 1O miles because he didn't have a phone and no money for fare. To top it off, this was the same guy who had to come get the van with the flat tire I mentioned in an earlier blog. Because we we're late for the Mombasa bus, we left him to handle the flat. Little did we realize there was no spare, no money for repairs. Can you imagine? What would you do with no phone, no money, no spare...and no American Express???
Yet I have watched first hand as he arises every day with a song in his heart and a grateful spirit to God! I am so humbled by his perseverance, his attitude...his amazing faith. And I am so blessed to be working next to those with such an amazing faith!
I wish each one of you a wonderful Easter-praise be to God!

Serving in Kenya,


Monday, April 5

Re: Plastic cups

Connie and Team:
Keep up the great work.  I hope to be able to visit Kenya in the near future.  God bless!
Joe Beasley

Plastic cups

Bridgette and I did well today - we didn't cry. And, for what we did today, who we met and what we saw we did well. Well except for the plastic cups. Early this morning we met Nick and Charles at the site of the new rescue center...more on that in another update. After praying together at the site we planned to go to Mathare Slum to see the children at the rescue center. But, Charles had told us his younger sister lay "dying" from Aids. In fact, after at first refusing to let Charles see her she asked Charles to take her to their home village on Wednesday so she could die. It is cheaper to go home when alive than to be transported in a coffin charles explained. She had given up hope and was prepared to die. We ask Charles if we could see her. Driving 30 minutes through difficult roads and climbing what seemed like 12 flights of stairs we found her in a small room laying on the sofa which had become her bed. She is very frail with thrush in her throat and herpes zoster on her back. She could barely eat and while she could stand she could not walk. She allowed me to examine her and I found no open sores as Charles feared. We told her she was not going to die as the medication (ARVs) can help her live. George told her of his family who is infected but on the medication are doing well. George then prayed for her. She agreed to stay in Nairobi and fight to live...Charles was so encouraged.
We then went to the rescue center. We took hard-boiled eggs and peanut butter sandwiches for the children. Bridgette had dyed the eggs as an Easter surprise for the children (not easy when you have no Paz!). The children and the adults were delighted at the bright colors of the eggs. They peeled the colored shells and ate the egg - Nick said it has been a year since they had eaten eggs. We did well until when answering Bridgette's question about what they needed most Nick explained they only have four plastic cups. But it isn't too much of a problem he said as they just feed the smallest children first and then wash the cups continuing the process until all are given drinks. There are 34 children in the rescue center. Such a simple thing....I have many cups, even seasonal cups. Tomorrow we will buy the children cups and new plastic plates. Just simple things that we take for granted but that will be a huge blessing to these children living in a slum in a rescue center.

Blessed to serve the children,

Connie and Bridgette
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