Tuesday, October 30

A Rescued Child Feeds Others

Another update from Bridgette. It is indeed a blessing to see the team harvest food and feed the children. It is a special blessing to me to share this experience with Bridgette.

From Kenya,


One of our outreach ministries is in an area around The Rift Valley called MaiMahui. While the drive through the valley is breathtaking... the area is heavily infected with HIV/AIDS due to the heavy trucker population that travels through this village. PFC supports Pastor John in this area as he runs Kathi's House of Restoration Rescue Center where he has rescued 10 year old Mini. Mini is a double orphan who was being cared for by her elderly grandfather. They were living nearby when the grandfather approached Pastor John and asked him to help them so that Mini could go to school and get an education. Our job here is to equip those less fortunate so that they can help themselves....which is only possible through education. So little Mini moved into Kathi's House where she could return to school yet remain close to her grandfather.

Several weeks after Mini came to Kathi's House, the grandfather offered Pastor John 2.5 acres of land to lease for a minimal cost. Because Pastor John has a strong ministry in this area assisting the widows and the very poor, what a better way to use the land than to plant a large Hope Farm? PFC rented the land last spring and had a full garden of beans the first season. In less than 3 months, we had 3 large bags of beans! These bags were distributed between many in MaiMahui, Maruri slum and Nick and Charles' children. This first garden gave hope and food to many for months... and I have even been able to enjoy them while here! Immediately after the first crop, maize was planted. While we were in Marsabit last week, several of the guys went out there and retrieved 5.5 large bags of maize! Again, these bags were distributed between multiple ministries...in order to feed others for months to come.

Partners for Care Hope Farm in Maai Mahiu

God has used one little girl rescued by Pastor John to feed many others, including children rescued by Pastor Hirbo as well as the 34 children rescued by Nick and Charles in Mathare slum. Who knew that saying "Yes" to one grandfather in need would ultimately bring food to many? Sometimes I think we refuse to say "yes" to so many opportunities because we are afraid or we don't know the outcome... but I think we also miss out on the opportunity to bless others and be blessed ourselves in return. God promises to provide... always! As I have seen here over and over again, I long to have the faith of those with so very little... and be bold enough to respond when nudged.

"What good is it if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose someone is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, " but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, without action, is dead".

-- Bridgette.

Friday, October 26

She Told Me Not To Cry

I wanted to share with you why I have told Bridgette not to cry.

Nick is the one who taught me not to cry. I used to cry when I made home visits to those infected with HIV/AIDS and heard their stories and saw their living conditions. Nick explained that I wasn't helping and I was even hurting people.

Nick sees it this way. If he can bring a smile and a little joy to someone infected with AIDS they just might live a little longer. That is why when you make visits with Nick or Charles or any of their team they make small jokes with the people they visit. There is always laughter and joy when we visit those infected with HIV/AIDS.

I have also learned that I misjudge what is sad to someone. I use my life experience to decide a home is too small or the lack of a material good is sad. My son would be very sad to be given a bike to get back and forth to college where here giving PFC staff bikes brought great joy. I love my son but I am afraid he might just cry if I told him that his mode of transportation would be a bike.

So I have learned to not cry at what I see and what I hear. It doesn't mean I don't cry later in private. It doesn't mean my heart isn't broken at the sickness and hurting I see. And, I found myself tearing up when I read Bridgette's update. But, I respect those I meet enough not to judge their situation through my own world view.

I am learning from those who serve everyday on the ground here in Kenya.

As you read Bridgette's update you will see her heart and passion for the people here in Kenya.

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We see many things here that move us to the core of our beings. Without this exposure and awareness, God cannot use us as humble servants to glorify Him. Connie has taught me over many trips here that we must try very hard not to show our emotions in front of the people when faced with difficult challenges/situations. Imagine how anyone would feel if others around them cried whenever the shared their struggles or hard circumstances? We all strive to maintain dignity, no matter who or where we are.

So I have tried to be very strong...but must admit that I have fought back tears, some joyous, some sad when:
  • I saw little Adan's gangrene feet for the first time;
  • One of the PFC staff workers in Marsabit held my hand, thanking me for "coming so far to help his people";
  • I walked into Pastor Hirbo's home and saw how 13 people lived there;
  • I washed jigger infested little feet;
Treating jiggers
  • I saw the Second Chance center transformed with fluorescent lighting and bright colored paints...and the smiles of all who study and learn there;
Grace studying in the new classroom
  • I walked into the what If? Computer center in Marsabit and saw 4 computers we had hand-carried there working;

  • Parkishon women drinking brown, muddy water...followed by goats doing the same;

  • I walked in Marsabit Hospital where they don't even have gloves to protect their hands and the doctor said "This is our children's ward";
  • When I heard and saw the beautiful women of Parkishon singing and praising God's blessings while dancing in the middle of a parched desert;
  • When little Adan hugged my neck and first smiled after a warm bath in a plastic basin and a full meal;
  • When Pastor Hirbo's adorable 3 year old daughter played with and tried to braid my curly hair;

Pastor Hirbo's home
  • I saw the women of Parkishon filling their Greif water back packs with water;

  • I took one of the full 50 lb. packs off an old woman's back and put it on my own....
These are just a few of the many times I have fought hard to hold back tears. If you really want God to break your heart while on the ground here, you have to see the work of the humble people who serve others every day here. God breaks our hearts to allow us to become more like them. "Whatsoever you do for the least of these...you do for me". I pray I will always be moved to tears...because through humility, it allows transformation to be more like Him.

A vision grows

It was a simple vision...help the women of Parkishon make medallions out of beads and Linda would sew them on bags and purses and sell them in the US. Linda called the project Rendille Inspired Designs. There is no commerce in the village of Parkishon so this would bring a small commerce to the women.

We purchased beads in Nairobi and the wire in Marsabit. We delivered the supplies in August on a Monday and one week later there were 76 women making medallions. We were humbled when we went to see the women making medallions. They were sitting in the dirt, legs outstretched making the medallions on their laps. There was no shade and in the desert the sun is hot.

Making the medallions
Someone said, "we should build a shelter for them to protect them from the sun.". When the women were told this they went to the chief's house late at night and told the chief "you must give us land to build our shelter for our bead project". Many NGOs have attempted to get land but the chief has denied them. But, the chief has said yes for Partners for Care to build a shelter for the women.

When we visited this past Tuesday, Elizabeth, the Community Health Worker took my hand and led me to a place behind the chief's house and told me to "stand there". She then got others to stand in the other corners of the land that the chief has donated. It is a good size piece of land.

Now the plan is to build a what if? Life Changing Center in Parkishon where the women can learn to read and write and where they can make the medallions. And, even possibly they will sew water packs and sell them for income.

This vision has grown because of Deb, Communication Director for Greif and Dano who is a business leader with Greif. They came, they saw and they want to help Pastor Hirbo help his people to help themselves through sustainable projects.

Is this bigger vision possible? All things are possible for those who believe. We believe this center will happen.

Watching visions grow here in Kenya as God brings together an incredible group of people who have a heart to make a difference in the world,

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Rescuing Adan

A few weeks ago Pastor Hirbo sent us some photos of children he was treating for jiggers. We have seen photos before and we have treated jiggers ourselves but these photos were very sad to see.

It is always heartbreaking to see any child's hand and feet eaten away by jigger infestation but the photos of two of the children haunted me. I sent them to Linda one of our board members and she wrote that the photos sickened her and reminded her our work is not finished.

As soon as we arrived in Marsabit on the missionary flight and I saw Pastor Hirbo I asked him about these two children. He said, "we shall go see them".

That afternoon we traveled 40 minutes in the four wheel drive we had hired. As we traveled on rough, dirt roads up and down hills I wondered how Pastor Hirbo could even get to where these children lived. Praise God for Pastor Hirbo's motorbike that allows him to reach the hurting children.

We arrived at a small village which seemed more like a collection of a few manyattas (homes made of sticls with dirt floors). We walked on a dirt path to a manyatta separate from the others. They brought to us the boy who had the jigger infected fingers and they were much improved! Then they brought Adan to us. Pastor Hirbo and I sat on a rock holding Adan as his mother stood by holding a month old baby. It was obvious the baby was developmentally delayed and blind. The mom seemed barely old enough to have the children.


Making the decision

I checked little Adan's feet and knew he had dry gangrene on the bottom of both his feet. Pastor Hirbo sand he felt the child needed rescued. The Kenyan team spoke with the mom and she agreed. It is never easy to take a child from their mother and Pastor Hirbo only does it in desperate situations. We took the child to the quest house we were staying and everyone on our team helped. Some bathed him, some went to buy him clolthes and others went to get him medicine. It was fun watching John and George of the Kenya buy small clothes and diapers for Adan.

At first Adan wouldn't eat. He was so listless and weak. We started him on an oral antibiotic and tetracycline ointment for the gangrene. And, we prayed for him. Soon he was reaching for the chapati and eating. We dewormed him and diapered him and put him to bed. He slept in our room with Bridgette. He slept so peacefully.


The next day Sam and George took him to the hospital. They found he was at severe nutritional risk and the doctor confirmed he had dry gangrene. The spots around his month and the black on his heads that wouldn't come oFf when we washed him was dirt.

George at the hospital assessing his nutritional status
Pastor Hirbo and his wife (who is a saint!) agreed to take Adan into their home for now until the gangrene is gone. Adan would be the 7th child rescued by Pastor Hirbo.

The mom came to town to see where Adan was - she walked to Marsabit carrying the baby of one month. The mom had given birth to 8 children - 4 had already been rescued by the Catholic Church. She was unmarried and was shunned by her village. Very sad situation. Pastor Hirbo's team had arranged for her to go to the hospital and be tested for HIV/AIDS and to be given family planning help. Pastor Hirbo also arranged for her to have food for the other two children and herself.

We have hired help for Pastor Hirbo's wife as she cares for. 10 children in their home. Three of the children are away in secondary school.

These are the kinds of situations Pastor Hirbo deals with on a daily basis - making life and death decisions for some of the most marginalized people in the world living in some of the harshest conditions in the world.

Humbled to know a man like Pastor Hirbo and the wife who supports his vision to save the children of Marsabit,

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Going to the end of the earth

It is a privilege to go to the end of the earth to serve God's people. It is even a greater privilege to go with a friend. Here is Bridgette's update about her first trip to Marsabit.

It won't be her last...

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You have all heard the term before..."Going to the ends of the earth". But never did I think that in my lifetime that I would actually go there.

Part of our team are on our way via missionary flight to a remote northeastern part of Kenya south of Ethiopia called Marsabit. We are going to check on the implementation of the Greif water backpacks. Partners for Care (PFC) has been chosen as implementer in Kenya of this new, innovative transport for water. This water backpack was developed by a US based company called Greif out of Ohio after their CEO David B. Fischer was cured of cancer and decided that because of the miracle he experienced in his own life, commissioned his company to come up with a product that could help people in the world.

Going on the missionary flight
PFC has distributed more than 500 of these packs on the ground here in this remote region to be "tested" and our staff Pastor Hirbo (I like to call him a male Mother Teresa) has been training the women on how to use them. For ages, women and children in this area have been carrying water in heavy plastic drums on their backs, walking 6 hours each day to get water.

Because of the severe drought in this region several years ago, many people had lost their animals. Some even were forced to flee to Ethiopia in hopes of saving their families. Yet because of the recent short rains here, we found this area to be green and producing crops. Those here know it is short lived. That's why the water packs are so critical in assisting women traveling long hours every day for water.

Filling the water packs
These packs have the potential of changing people's lives all over the world. And God has connected key people to make it happen. It's amazing to stand back and observe. Connie Cheren (founder of PFC) meets Liz Blake (V.P. Of Habitat for Humanity Int'l) on a plane to Washington, DC (not once, not twice-but 3 times!). Liz Blake tells Connie about Grief's water pack and shows her one of the packs. Connie then shows Liz one of her videos about how badly the people are struggling in Marsabit. She was so moved by what she saw that she comes to the area herself and is so touched by what she experiences, decides that PFC and Habitat Int'l should co-brand the packs and work together implementing them in Kenya.

Connie and Bridgette
Greif has sent 2 of their executives to join us on this trip to Marsabit to review the oversee the project's progress. They are also organizing for a film crew that will be coming to Marsabit to film the story for a show called "Responsible Business".

Dano from Greif

Debra from Greif
Stepping back and looking at what has transpired in a few short months. It is miraculous to me how the God of the universe has orchestrated this to happen...to show us all how much He loves and cares for the needs of those suffering. He invites all of us to simply believe, trust and be willing to serve others wherever He sends us...whether it be to your neighbor's house or to a remote village south of Ethiopia.

A mother carrying a water pack and her baby
I am so humbled to do my part and grateful for all those in helping me do it.

Wednesday, October 24

Just Like Me

Another great update from Bridgette. It is morning here and we are on our way to Marsabit.


During my time here, I have had the fortunate opportunity to interact with many Kenyan women...from the young ladies on the what If? Volleyball team to the grandmothers learning to read and write at age 83. What I've come to realize is that they have the same hopes and dreams, just like me. They are students who dream of an education. They are young women hoping one day to work at something which gives them purpose. They are mothers who pray for protection and provision for their children.

Like me, most women I know are often overwhelmed by all we have to do. How are we to manage work, children's schooling and activities, the home front. Just like me, the women here work very hard to provide...but unlike me, it is a daily struggle for them. Some walk 6 hours a day to carry water on their backs, some rely on prayer alone for daily bread. Just like me, the mothers want more for their children's generation.

Women at work
I am so inspired by these women here. I have much to learn from them. Again, I am nudged by that small voice inside which reminds me of all the times I have said "I have nothing in the frig/pantry to eat" or standing in my closet frustrated because "I have nothing to wear"!

Christian making dresses
At the end of the day, just like me, we are both loved beyond measure by the same awesome, loving, amazing God. Praying we never forget how blessed we really are.

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Sunday, October 21

PFC Kenya appoints first board member

Partners for Care has appointed Robert Karanja as its first board member. Robert is the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Kenya. The team is very excited to have as its first board member such an experienced leader and a great Christian.

Robert came for lunch today to meet the staff. Sam showed the ministry through photos, Temples of Worship showed the ministry through music and the he saw first-hand the IT, clinic and 2nd Chance. Robert was impressed by the work he saw.

A good beginning for a board that will help PFC grow...

Grateful for the volunteer service of Robert...

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Friday, October 19

Second chances

This trip to Kenya I am blessed to have Bridgette Boylan with me. Bridgette is one of our board members and is passionate about helping the team on the ground as they make a difference for the people of Kenya.

We are a great team as Bridgette comes prepared to serve - not to be served. She is humble and never is her trip here about her...it is always about those she comes to serve. What follows is an update she wrote her supporters. She shares what is happening here in Kenya so well.

Her message:

One of the programs we have established and implemented here is called "Second Chance". For many, it has been their only chance to get an education. In Kenya, all children can get an education through middle school for free. However, in order to attend high school - it costs, both for tuition/school fees as well as school uniforms. It is not uncommon in a developing nation as the nation does not take in enough taxes to educate all for free. So many are forced to drop out of school after 8th grade due to lack of funds. Thus, the cycle begins as lack of education leads to lack of employment which leads to poverty. So with the help of an incredible young Kenyan teacher named Sam (who had to drop out himself), we started a program whereby anyone, ages 18 to 110, could go back to school in order to get their high school certificate (or GED as we call it). I love the story told of an 47 year old woman who came to Second Chance this year in order to learn how to write and speak English. Can you imagine how this changed her life?

So one of my goals while here is to assess the space where they meet in the slum so that they can expand for additional students. It is a nice problem to have...but expansion costs money no less. Today, I met with the "fundi" or contractor to get an estimate to build walls, add mesh windows for ventilation and wire for fluorescent lighting so that classes can be extended into evening to expand on a literacy program. They took measurements, calculated square footages on the back of their hands, and quietly and methodically estimated what material and labor costs would be. I took detailed notes so that I could assess costs against funds donated. As the shilling costs escalated, I became concerned that we may not be able to do it. This would mean that we would have to turn away over 50 people in the slum waiting to come to Second Chance school and the evening literacy program. 24,930 shillings for plywood, door locks, mesh windows, 19,780 shillings for electrical wiring, fluorescent lights, 15,530 shillings for paint. I had selected sunny yellows, earthen brick and sky blue hues. My heart sank as I added up all the costs-afraid that the expansion would have to wait. Then I did the math...and begun to chuckle as I realized after the exchange it would be approximately $800 US! When was the last time you did a full room expansion for $800? As I reflect on what this will mean for so many...I am gently nudged to ponder what I spent at home in one month before I came here versus the costs needed to equip those to teach others to read, write and get an education. Hmmm....

I am so grateful that you all can play a part in educating others...even from 10, 000 miles away.

PFC Board member
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Monday, October 1

Prayer request for Partners for Care

I received this message from Linda after she saw some recent photos of children in Marsabit infected with jiggers. Pastor Hirbo has treated 955 children with jiggers since January. In fact, all the children in Parkishon are jigger free. But, there are more villages and sadly more children. I have attached photos of two of the children.  To be honest, the photos are difficult to look at.  Here is Linda's message.

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to write and ask you to please pray for Partners for Care.

Without realizing it, I had been feeling so thankful about the wonderful things God's doing through the ministry; the MANY lives, villages and slums that are being transformed because of the Lord's work through them, that I had forgotten how many more souls are suffering and need to be reached.

I was focused on the fruit (which is good - YEAH GOD!), but forgetting about the great harvest that still awaits . . .

My wake-up call came when I received new photos from the team on the ground in Kenya. Thank God He keeps doing that and putting me in my place.

Friends, our work is not done . . .

There were many photos that made me smile! Lives transformed by God's provision and intervention through His people, whole parts of the ministry that are exploding with growth . . . but then I came to photos I never thought I'd see.

I hadn't been nauseated like that since I was in nursing school.

Besides photos of life, health, salvation, second chances, and smiles . . . there were photos of children in newly discovered villages and tribes who were literally missing fingers and toes. Jiggers (sand fleas) and infection had taken them due to the lack of something as simple as shoes, soap and water. Without too much detail, the flesh was not only sloughing off, but gone. Some children were with toes only half there, eaten away to the bone - which was visable.

Why is this ok? I am not materially wealthy by most American standards, but my closet is full of shoes. I have water (warm or cold) at my disposal and many colored, scented, and some merely decorative soaps to choose from. I have more than enough . . . So why do little children have to lose body parts and sometimes their lives, because they lack these simple things? That, makes me nauseated. It is not ok.

Each child in the photos had a beautiful face, a name known by our God, a life that is precious, and a hope and future in His plan. Each child deserves the simple things in life . . . starting with life itself.

The enemy will always try to defeat our work for God here on earth, but we have a Savior who has already dealt with that through His own unimaginable suffering. He did that so we could have victory. So little children like these, could have abundant life.

Will you please pray for the people of Kenya who are hurting? Pray for this ministry we are all a part of -  that God would do His work through us, through them, so that MORE (and more and more) lives would receive the saving hope and life Jesus died for.

"Where two or more are 'gathered'" :)

With thanks and Blessings,

Linda G - www.partnersforcare.org

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The women of Parkishon are using the water back packs

Marsabit women carrying their water back pack uphill
It was so excited to receive this photo from Pastor Hirbo. Pasor Hirbo has been going to Parkishon every week to help the women make the transition from carrying the yellow jerry cans to using the water back pack carriers to transport their water. His work is helping ease the burden of these women. They walk 8 hours to find water!

I had gotten very behind in sending out updates about the progress of the work of the team in Kenya. To share with you their work I have posted on our blog photos of the first crop from our farm, an update and photos of Cris and Gary's vision trip to Kenya, a thank you to ITT Technical School for the computers they donated and more photos about the water back pack project. I hope you visit the blog to see the work on the ground.