Sunday, August 29

Returning from Kenya

Today I am returning from my family and friends. I have missed my family and friends and feel blessed to have people I love to return to. This trip to work in the ministry of Partners for Care was very encouraging in many ways. Here are some of the ways:
1. The team from Michigan lead by Linda and joined by TJ from Atlanta was what every ministry hopes for. They came, dared to go to the unreached, served so humbly and most have expressed a desire to help the ministry. I am excited to work with them as they see where and how God wants them to help.
2. The work of the PFC team in Kenya has been recognized by people and organizations in Kenya that are leading the Nation in changes that will spread the gospel and help the hurting. We have been asked to work with the PLO Lumumba Foundation and this trip we did a medical camp with them. Dr. PLO Lumumba is one of the most respected Christian leaders in Kenya. He has just assumed the position as Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission in Kenya. Many are hopeful he will stop corruption which will help the poor and the sick. We are privileged to work with him. We are planning the next medical camp and will do one in each region of Kenya with them. They have asked us to organize the medical part of the mission, the HIV awareness and testing and spreading of the gospel. Everything we love doing!

The PFC team with some people from the Lumumba foundation

The PFC team at Dr. Lumumba's home in Kisumu

3. Kenya has enacted a new constitution. With a grand celebration attended by many East African presidents and a quarter million Kenyans the Nation became as they call it a Second Republic. Not since the country obtained its freedom in 1963 has there been such a celebration or such a time of hope. The constitution changes many things including that all children should be educated. It creates 8 regions and the plan is to develop each region starting with their assets so children can go school, people will have healthcare and there will be employment opportunities. It is a good time in the history of Kenya. Having seen the results of the post-election violence when I traveled the Nation on a peace bus, it was good to see the determination for kenya to become a great Nation for all its people.
Thank you for reading the updates, your encouraging emails and mostly for your prayers,

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Saturday, August 28

They came to serve

We were blessed this week to have a team come to serve with us. They are sent from a South African organization - Global Challenge Expeditions . As young people they travel the world trusting God will show them where they are to serve. They select ministries in different countries and stay with them serving in any capacity they are asked. Once they were asked just to pray for a ministry that was struggling and they prayed for three weeks.

There were five on the team - Madeleen, Maggie, Werner, Cornelius and Gerrie. Cornelius is actually from Zambia before he moved to South Africa. On the first night they sat with us and simply said "we came to serve - tell us how we can serve you and others in your ministry".

They have served all week. They planted a very large garden with the children at CT children's home moving them closer to becoming food secure; they enlarged our garden at the PFC house; they made learning material for the children's home in our area and visited the children there; they sorted, counted and organized all of our medical supplies for our next medical camp; they helped with marketing ideas for our what if? center and cyber; and did a prayer walk through our village. The last thing they did was buy and take sandals to all the children at the CT children's home.

Cornelius working on the PFC garden

The team working on the PFC garden

The South African team

The team was humble and served with passion. They rose early to begin work and worked until late at night. As Jesus instructed - they did everything with all their hearts. They exemplified the meaning of "team". It was truly a joy to be with them. We will not forget their love for Jesus, their prayers, their laughter, their South African accent (especially as Madeleen read the Word to us always having just the right passages that we needed to hear), their kindness to all they met, and their loving encouragement of our young ministry.

Thank you God for sending us these young people who served so well,

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Monday, August 23

Medical mission with Dr. PLO Lumumba

This last weekend Partners for Care was blessed to serve with Dr. PLO Lumumba and his wife in a medical mission outreach in Bonda (his home area). The team sang throughout the day mobilizing and then sang at Dr. Lumumba's event honoring his aunt who was killed in the US Embassy bombing in 1998. Dr. Lumumba has been our what if? spokesperson since the beginning of the program. He was recently appointed the Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission. He is a great Christian leader and many here in Kenya, in the US and throughout Africa pray he can stop the corruption that steals from the poor and prevents Kenya from becoming a developed nation. Our team served well - Nick, Njenga and Mike traveled with us from CT to help with HIV testing. We helped organize and deliver medical camps to over a thousand people.

Blessed to work with Christian leaders who remember the poor,

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Sunday, August 15

Little Jimmy

Jimmy is six, but looks three. He clings to you when you hold him. He is listless, weak and sad. Yet when all the children at a new children's home we have started working with were asked to sing, he took his place and sang the words.

Jimmy with Dr. Craig

Jimmy was rescued five months ago and brought to this children's home that is near our house. Yesterday, George took Dr. Craig, TJ and I with some of the PFC staff to visit the children in this home. Jimmy is a double orphan having lost both his parents. He had been abused before he was brought to the children's home. He had a fever and seemed very sick. Dr. Craig and I carried him to the nearby VCT for HIV/AIDS testing. Dr. Craig watched the counselor as she explained how testing is done. We prayed Jimmy was not infected. After a few minutes the counselor told us he was negative. We then carried him to a local doctor. The doctor couldn't believe he was six. He tested him for malaria. Jimmy was positive for malaria. The doctor gave him malaria medicine, vitamins and tylenol for his fever. We took him to a small restaurant and fed him as he hadn't eaten since early morning.

Jimmy probably has had malaria for a long time. Untreated malaria is the leading cause of death for children in Africa. This is why. They don't get diagnosed and then treated. Dr. Craig and the team probably saved the live of this little boy. And it wasn't just took going and finding him. I am reminded of Mother Teresa's words..."If you can't feed a 100 children...feed one. We can't save a 100 children,,,but we saved one.

The team has left now. We will miss them. They served so many...including us. They were kind, loving and compassionate. They worked late into the night and early in the mornings preparing the medicine, supplies, etc. For the next team. May God bless all of them as they travel home.

Grateful for this team of servants,

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Friday, August 13

The Rendille tribe - the sickest, the poorest - very much the least of these

Both the Americans and the Kenyans thought that the people we treated the last day of our medical mission in Marsabit were the sickest and the poorest people they had ever met. We traveled about an hour on the bus to hold our last medical camp. As the bus approached a small group of houses (manyattas) made from sticks and dung, children started running towards the bus. We got off the bus and the children put up their arms to be carried. We carried those we could and held the hands with the others as we walked to the area where we would set-up the medical camp.
We were given two small buildings to use so registration, prayer/sharing the gospel, community health and family planning would be outside. HIV testing and medical would be held inside. There waiting, were all the people we would be able to treat that day. We gathered for prayers for the people and for strength for the day and opened camp.
The doctors and nurses were saddened at how sick the children were - they had bacteria, fungus and virus infection. Most of the children had all three! And, the children were infected with jiggers! Badly infected. TJ, Linda and Robert set-up a jigger treatment station treating as many as they could.

Mare cutting the toe nails of a child infected with jiggers

T.J. and Linda treating the children infected with jiggers

I normally don't treat as I leave that more to the Kenyan doctors, nurses and American doctors, nurses we bring. But, I thought we should do something for the children we couldn't treat because of time. So we gathered them and Pastor Hirbo and Mare gave them deworming medicine. I was assisting. I realized there were at least 15 children with serious scalp fungus. So we set-up a station just for the children infected with fungus. As I held each one and showed Mom how to apply the medicine I saw they also had eye infections, ear infections and of course running noses. We treated as many as we could with as much medicine as we had.

Connie with a sick child

Connie deworming a child

We gave out nets to the pregnant women and the children under five. In the book "When Helping Hurts" it says don't start with a needs assessment but first start with an asset assessment. Then give the resources to build on the assets. I was reminded of that when the children told Rob "we have a soccer field, but we don't have a ball". Rob had the ball - he then played soccer with the children all the time we did the medical camp! Praise God for Rob's endurance...
I also wanted to tell you Pastor Hirbo and I sat with the chief asking about the life of these Rendille people. They walk 6 hours for water and 6 hours back! Twelve hours a day to get water.

Charles testing the area chief for HIV/Aids

The good news for the day was 60 people gave their life to Christ that day. Pastor Hirbo had asked for a sleeping bag so he can travel to these people and stay with them for days at a time to disciple them. We brought him two sleeping bags and a tent for his ministry outreach to the unreached.
At the end of three days in Marsabit 773 people were treated, 323 tested for HIV/AIDS, 1,403 people signed commitment cards, 250 nets distributed and many people heard the gospel.
We left at 4:30 am Wednesday morning for the long road home to Nairobi. We were blessed to serve God's people and to help the humble servants Pastor Hirbo, Mare and the other pastors and people who serve as they reach out to the unreached people groups,
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Thursday, August 12

Seeing the fruits of our labor

The team was blessed to see the fruits of their labor on the face of a small boy. On Sunday we worshiped at Pastor's Hirbo's church. The only thing that I can tell you about that experience is that you haven't seen worship until you see the Boran people worship. Some of you may have read the book about the different styles of worship. Well, the Boran only have one style - jumping and shouting to the Lord. Even our worship team who are wonderful worshipers were moved by the experience. Sammy (lead of the Temples of Worship) told the congregation that when they come to the Marsabit church they just want to sit and watch.
In the afternoon we held the what if? event in the park. Many came and many tested for HIV/AIDS. And, the other part of our mission team - the sports ministry took place with hundreds of kids. Rob (son of Dr. Craig and Pat who are on our team), TJ and several of the Kenyan team have been playing football (soccer) every where we go. All Rob has to do is take one of the soccer balls he had bought for the mission off the bus and hundreds of kids follow him to the field! And, he played for hours!!
But, while we were enjoying the day our hearts and thoughts were with the little boy from the day before with the jiggers who was so sad...and all the children we had met with jiggers. I had decided I would ride with Pastor Hirbo on his motorbike to see how Jane was doing with treating the children's jiggers. At dinner that night I asked if anyone wanted to go with me. So many wanted to go we decided to take the bus. We would leave at 5:30 am as we had a whole day of medical missions ahead of us.
When we arrived at the camp many of the children were already awake. We found Jane who called the children. Pastor Hirbo knew right away when he saw the two children we had treated on Saturday walking! Then we saw their faces - big smiles!

A before and after picture of a child who was treated for jiggers

The jiggers were dead. The children said the pain and the itching was gone and they could sleep at night. Their toes still need treatment with the vaseline which will help restore the skin and prevent more jiggers. We left money for Jane to buy water. We checked on the newborn baby and mom - both were fine.
We left encouraged to go to a school to set-up the day's medical camp,
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Tuesday, August 10

Joy and sorrow in an IDP camp

Think of primitive camping you might have done once in your life. Living in an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp is like primitive camping that never ends. This is where the Gabra tribe is living - in an IDP camp about a 30 minute drive from Marsabit. They live in very harsh conditions - hot, dirty and with no nearby water source. There are 250 men, women and children who lived in this IDP camp for five years.

The IDP camp

They were pushed away from their land due to tribal clashes in 2005. This is one of the people groups Pastor Hirbo is trying to reach. The only transport he and his church members have to get there to serve these people is by Pastor Hirbo's motorbike or by walking in the dust for hours. This is the place where Pastor Hirbo told us the people were infected with jiggers.
On Saturday I and David (my son) went early with Pastor Hirbo on a taxi-motorbike and Pastor's motorbike to set-up in this IDP. our first medical camp. (Not complaining but Pastor's motorbike has no shocks and could use some other basic repairs such as brakes. The rest of the team would come on the bus after picking up the Kenyan doctor and nurses. Pastor Hirbo, David and I set up medical camp using the signs Amy from our previous team made for us. Registration would be under a tree, prayer in one of the tents of the people, community health under a tree, family planning and VCT outside and the doctors and nurses would be in the "school" made of sticks with a dirt floor. The team soon arrived on the bus. After praying together for God to use us to serve these people we opened the medical camp. At first the people were leary of these white people in blue medical scrubs. But, one by one they came. They registered and the two pastors from Pastor Simon's ministry who had joined our team prayed for them and shared the gospel with them. They heard how to prevent the illnesses they were suffering from and they tested for HIV/AIDS. Then they saw the doctor - some saw our doctor and some the Kenyan doctor. It was very sad to see the children with Jiggers! The end of their toes were infected by the jiggers. The jiggers kept them awake at night and it was painful for them to walk. We were determined to help these children.
We had learned from searching the internet that the feet and hands that were infected should be soaked for two weeks in a mixture of dettol and water. We had also heard vaseline would smother this parasite and they would die. We found an angel living among these people - Jane. Jane is 21, beautiful and the teacher in the school we were using for the medical camp. She was teaching 28 children who sat crowded in their little school in the dirt - where the jiggers lived! Jane volunteered to take the responsibility of treating the children for the jiggers. We treated two children showing Jane how to wear gloves to protect herself, how to mix the solution and apply the vaseline.

Jane treating a child for jiggers

Linda prayed for the children - for the jiggers to die and for the little toes and fingers to heal. The children were so sad. No smiles like we are used to from the Kenyan children.
For me I think I was the most humbled I have ever been as I washed the feet of the first little boy. He sat on a yellow plastic old, dirty oil jug and let me take his swollen feet and wash off the layers of dirt. His feet were hard and calloused. I couldn't tell what was jiggers and what was dirt. I put his feet and hands in the basin of dettol and water. We had used our water bottles for water as there was no water in the IDP camp. I dried his feet and put Vaseline all over the ends of his toes. I cringed as he placed his feet back in his broken, open toed sandals. I prayed the Vaseline would stop more jiggers from invading his feet.
Jesus said there would be joy in the morning - and there was joy in this camp. A woman came to tell us that a woman had just given birth! We were led to her tent. We ducked down to go through the small opening in the tent. There sitting on a piece of cardboard in the dirt was a woman holding a newborn baby! She handed me the baby all wrapped in a small blanket. She had cleaned the baby but the small infant still had blood on her little hands. One of our team members, Linda, is trained in obstetrics.

Linda with the new born baby
The new born baby

She came to the tent to speak with the mom. The mom delivered the baby alone cutting the cord with a razor blade. Other team members came to see the baby and pray for this new life to know Jesus. The mom is a Muslim but she allowed us to pray for her and the baby.
At the end of the day we had treated 201 people and gave 125 nets to protect the children and pregnant women from malaria . We packed up preparing to leave. Many teams members had come to know the people. The people came to the bus as the Temples of Worship sang Remember Me. The women then sang and danced for us. A joyful ending to the day.

Dr. Craig attending to a patient

Pat treating a child

Rob taking blood pressures

TJ helping with the drugs

Praying for a miracle for the children infected by the jiggers and for the newborn born in a tent in an IDP camp in Marsabit,
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A cup of water... or jar of vaseline... in His name. wow.
way to go, Connie.

Prayed for you.

Wednesday, August 4

The journey to Marsabit begins

Why Marsabit? Why go? Our prayer is that our team can equip the pastors in Marsabit to help their people with the enormous, crippling problem of jiggers. If you want to understand what the pastors in Marsabit struggle with go to goggle and search for jiggers. Look at the pictures, see the feet of the children infected so much with jiggers they can't walk. Our pastor contact in Marsabit tell us they know of 400 people infected with jiggers. I spoke with him on Sunday as he was leaving an IDP camp (where people are still living in tents after 2 1/2 years from the post-election violence) and ALL the people are infected with jiggers. I once read that HIV/AIDS was the greatest opportunity to spread the gospel. The dying need to be saved, the world watches the Christians to see how we help the orphans and widows caused from HIV/AIDS and following God's plan eliminates the disease. I believe jiggers give us the same opportunity. If I was a child infected with jiggers and I heard there were people who loved me as Christ loved them I would wonder where are they? We go only to bring the resources to the pastors on the ground to enable them to help their people. They need basins - lots of them and we will buy them in Marsabit for them. They need detrol or hydrogen peroxide as the feet need to be soaked for two weeks to kill the jiggers. We will give them what they need. And, the people need shoes. We will explore how shoes can be made in Marsabit for the children and adults. The shoes will help prevent the people from becoming infected with jiggers again. I read in When Helping Hurts that we have dominion over the animals - I think this includes the jiggers. We have a special gift for the people of Marsabit. When we were there last time we saw the dirty water people drink. And, we understood why much of the world's health problems are caused by dirty water. We are bringing a state-of-the art water filter! We have a partnership with FirstWater. We will explain later how the funds are being raised for this water filter. It would not be on this plane without the grace of many - the TSA who allowed me to bring it through security after checking it for bomb residue. The flight attendant who put it in the first class closet and Delta who let me bring it as carry on luggage! It weights 75 pounds! We are looking at leaving it with Christian doctors at the Marsabit hospital. We will send an update about how the water filter will be used in Marsabit. Traveling with me on this team is a doctor, nurse, their son and a photographer from Michigan. We will be joined in Kenya by another nurse from Michigan who traveled earlier and a young man from Atlanta. The Michigan group found us through the blog and has been following our work. They asked to join us on this long journey to Marsabit to serve the children God loves,

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