This is a wonderful letter written by Johnny Culwell who just went to Kenya with me. You can read about how their hearts were touched and how they touched the hearts of those they met. Johnny says his best…. May, 25, 2009 Dear Friends and Loved Ones, I want to thank you all for the many prayers, words of encouragement, and financial support that you have given towards the First Christian Church 2009 Kenya Mission Trip last month. God accomplished many amazing things while we were there and you were a big part of it! The purpose of this letter is to share with you some of the things we saw and did as our team attempted to share the love of Christ to the people of Kenya. The team arrived in Nairobi, Kenya around 8 pm on Monday, April 20, and was greeted at the airport by our friend and sister Connie Cheren, founder of Partners for Care, and some of her Partners for Care staff. We then travelled by van, in the pouring rain, from Kenyatta International Airport to the Partners for Care house where the staff had prepared a delicious hot meal for us. The fellowship we enjoyed with the Kenyan half of our team was wonderful. The Partners for Care (PFC) staff was comprised of the Temples of Worship (Sammy, George, David, Justice, and Franco), a very gifted and inspiring praise and worship team; Njokie, a beautiful, young woman who serves as administrator; and John, the housekeeper and cook. All of the PFC staff were absolutely wonderful and were very passionate about their respective roles and responsibilities. We were all impressed with their servant hearts and passion to care for others. We spent the next three days working in the Mathare Slum with the focus of our mission, Community Transformers (CT). CT is a Christian faith-based organization founded by two young men, Nick and Charles, which exists to bring hope, love, and healing to the lost and hurting people living in Mathare. Their focus involves wholistic care for orphans and widows, HIV education and prevention, after school education and tutoring, sports ministry, a children’s’ rescue center, home care for HIV/AIDS victims, and Christian leadership development. Our main project with CT was to fund and build a computer learning center/cyber café on site at CT. With God’s help and through the generous donations from you and others like you we were able to do just that! CT now has a wonderfully functional center with eight Dell PC’s that will be used to help the children at CT learn computer skills (something rarely even dreamt of by children in the slum) as well as provide a source of income for CT as they will be able to open it to the public as a cyber café. I wish you could have seen their faces when it was finished! We also were able to help fund and construct the Partners for Care Medical Clinic next door to the Learning Center. Several of the guys built shelving and painted the walls while I travelled into town (Nairobi) to the Chemist (pharmacy) with Paul, the PFC nurse, to purchase medications to stock the clinic. Paul, Nick, Charles, and approximately 20 volunteers make home visits to over 300 victims of HIV in Mathare every month. They provide anything from giving words of encouragement/prayer to cooking meals to providing basic nursing care for the clients they serve. And when a client dies, a CT volunteer always helps to see that that person gets a proper burial. While all of the above activities were taking place, the team took turns splitting up and going with Nick or Charles on a few home visits to some of the clients living in Mathare and also to the Rescue Center (where the 34 orphans under the care of Nick and Charles live). It is quite difficult to describe to you in words what it is like in the slum. The poverty is devastating. There is no sewer or septic system, so the ground is covered with human trash and waste. The dwellings are typically around 10 ft by 10 ft and constructed of tin or mud. There are a few permanent multi level housing complexes that are overflowing with people. We walked deep into the slum with Nick and Charles and into the homes of several of their clients. While visiting these people, we were very inspired by the tender compassion exhibited by Nick and Charles. It was obvious to us that these people loved Nick and Charles and that they felt loved by Nick and Charles. Nick, in his wisdom, explained that living with AIDS in the slum is an unbelievable burden to bear; and that often the victims become so burdened by their situation that they lose hope; and that when they visit these people and care for them, talk to them, and pray for them, laugh with them, that it allows them to have a brief moment where they can have some relief from the burden. The break is often just enough to help the person endure for a little while longer. While on the home visits, the people told us about themselves while Nick or Charles translated and we told them about ourselves. The people told us what a blessing that Nick and Charles have been to them. One woman said that she doesn’t worry about her children because she knows that when she dies, that Nick and Charles will take care of them. We bought and delivered food to the people we visited (a quart of cooking oil, one bag of flour, a bag of rice, and a big bar of soap). It was humbling how thankful they were for such a small gesture. One of the woman we visited had a newborn baby girl named Michelle Obama. The mother was HIV positive and we discussed with her about her medical treatment regimen. She was being very responsible about taking her medications and seeing that her baby was getting her medications too. We asked her what hospital her baby was born in. She laughed at our question and pointed to the dirty floor of her small shack…that was a bit of a surprise for us, but, so is the life of many in the slum! We learned that the people we visited could not believe that Americans were willing to come into their homes in the slum… much less touch them, hug them, and pray for them. It was one of the highlights of the trip for most of us. We left very early Monday and traveled about 4 hours north by van to the town of Nyaharuru to visit our friends at Good Shepherd Orphanage. As some of you may remember from our last trip, this is the orphanage where I met Onesmus, the little boy we rescued who was very sick. I didn’t know if he was still there, but I hoped that he was. As we arrived and began to get out of the van, a little boy (a little taller than Onesmus) came running across the grounds to us. The boy ran straight to me, smiling from ear to ear, and hugged me tightly around the waist. It was Onesmus! He looked great! He was healthy and happy and had even learned some English since I saw him last. While we were there the children sang many songs about the love of God, faith in Christ, and about thanks for God’s provision (a theme in many Kenyan songs). We spent a few hours playing with and loving the children as well as touring the facility and seeing all of their micro-enterprise endeavors (greenhouses, brick maker, tilapia farm, and livestock). The orphanage is essentially self sufficient while teaching the children trades that will allow them to be productive once they are grown. It was a long day, but well worth the time! I want to thank you, again, for supporting us in this mission. Many people experienced the love of Christ through this experience. One of our main goals for this and any trip is to leave a positive, sustainable impact on the people and places where we serve. Through your help, CT and Partners for Care have been encouraged, enabled, and are better equipped to carry out their calling to minister to the people in Mathare Slum. I also want to let you know that our team, including our friend Connie Cheren from PFC, will have a presentation this coming Sunday, May 31, 2009, at 10 am in the Family Life Center of First Christian Church, Carrollton, GA. It will be a time of fellowship and sharing with many pictures and some videos of our trip. I hope you can find the time to come! Thanks, again, and God bless you all! Johnny PS. As some of you know, God has been abundantly faithful to provide for this project. We had an original goal of raising $39,000 for the project, but in the end, God provided a total of over $52,000! We have been praying for God to reveal to us His plan for the additional money. We feel God has led us to help Nick and Charles move the Rescue Center out of the slum (something they have been praying diligently for). The additional funds will be used to buy a piece of property away from the slum and to build a nice facility for the children to live in. That means that all 34 children under the care of Nick and Charles will soon be able to live in a safe, clean environment where they can grow and flourish. In addition, we have been able to pay the rent on the space that houses CT, the Learning Center/Cyber and the medical clinic for the next year, allowing them to save all income from the cyber as profit in order to build their ministry. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for your prayers and support!
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