A Truly Spiritual Experience

Its now 4 am and i can’t sleep…so i’m watching something of a blizzard forming outside the front window at home here in Winnipeg. Carolyn is suffering the same jet-lag effects and laying in bed reading. They say that it takes a day to adjust back to normal for every one hour time zone you cross. The next 8 days could be interesting.

Yesterday we sat down with our kids and started flipping thru the close to 1000 pictures we took and seeing the whole eleven day mission in 30 minutes reminded me of just how spiritual an experience this trip was. With each picture a single word that reflected a spiritual dynamic would pop into my head. Here are a few of them:

Endurance – There is no double that as a team we had to dig deep and were called to some form of endurance. The 42 hours it took us to get there and then the additional 42 hours to get home were a cause for some concern…and yet it seemed like God was even in them. On the way home we took advantage of a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam, whipped thru customs, jumped a EuroTrain and explored the amazing system of canals, roads and narrow streets. Like our surprise stop off in London on the way to Jo-burg…this was a real treat. But the greatest endurance we saw was in the people of Swaziland. They endure so many hardships and many challenges.

Joy – The endurance of the gogo’s and the people around Enaleni hasn’t produced depression or despair…but joy. The people at ABC Baby Rescue were full of an overflowing joy even with 32 kids in the house! Gugu…setting up a school in a slum…full of more joy than i think i’ve ever seen. Actually, she may have been beaten out in the joy department by a man named Simone who i met at church at Enaleni. Undoubtedly the most joyful man i’ve ever met in my whole life. And the kids…one meal a day…no PS2’s or Wii’s or DVD’s…full of raw joy. And the church service. No instruments. No sound system. No soft chairs…but rather wooden benches that were twisted and un-level…would make most of our weekend worship services look like a funeral in comparison. What joy these people have.

A Biblical Connection – On our journey i kept bumping into this sense of being uniquely more connected with the Bible. Part way thru our time in Swaziland it hit me why this sensation was so strong. Canada is so far removed from anything of Bible history and geography and culture…but not Africa. Many believe the Garden of Eden was on this continent somewhere. When you get off the plane in Jo-burg there is a huge display and sign that says: “Welcome to the Cradle of Civilization”. Jesus was scooped up into his mother’s arms and stolen away to Africa when he was just a baby. Joseph was sold as a slave to an African nation and then became the chief ruler of that African country…and the list goes on. But not only is there history…the culture and geography seem to be so much closer to Biblical times. Goats and cows wander all over the country. There are shepherds. There are mountains and deserts and thorn bushes. Many people walk in sandles or without shoes…their feet dusty from the dry roads. This is the land of lions that roar and deer that pant for water…and at Enaleni…there is no running water, electricity, paved roads or building supplies bought at Home Depot. Just people doing what they can with what they have.

Humbled – You can’t travel to Africa…witness how little they have in comparison to us, then feel their dignity, joy, endurance and faith…and not be humbled. In their having so little…they have so much…and that confronts every fibre of my being and my ‘Winnipeg existence’.

Determination – Pastor Peter Langa (and his wife, Precious and their three kids) are a wonderful picture of determination. As we told earlier…he started this Care Point out of his own pocket three years ago because of a passion to help these people. But i too feel a sense of determination. This determination is a mix of vision, faith, hope and a whole lot of love. i dream of the day Enaleni has water…so they can drink all they want…water their garden and bring life to this hot and dusty hillside. i’m determined to do whatever it takes to help them get a fence…electricity…a school (if we build one the government will provide and pay for a teacher)…a solid church structure…and some sustainable economic development. We’re not going to ‘rescue’ these beautiful people…but we will bless and resource them so THEIR dreams and hopes become a reality.

Gratitude – An i leave Africa with a swollen heart full of gratitude. i’m thankful for our church Elders Team who gave us the green light on this venture and who blessed Kelly and Carolyn to join us. We would have never wanted to experience this without them! The elders also authorized that Jon’s trip be part of the Riverwood outreach budget…and a huge thanks for that!

Carolyn and i are so grateful for our travel partners…Jon & Kelly! What a tremendous joy it was to travel with them…these two people with the perfect mix of adventurous spirit, passion for people and silliness (OK…that last one was mostly Kelly).

i’m forever grateful for Tom Davis and Children’s Hope Chest (www.hopechest.org). Not only did they pay my way for this trip…they are an organization that is doing exactly what needs to be done in Africa…the way it needs to be done!

Jumbo and Kriek…the missionaries on the ground in Swaziland were nothing short of incredibly servant-hearted and beautiful people. i miss them already! Knowing we have connections in Swaziland who are looking after Enaleni for us is such a powerful thing.

We had an anonymous organization write the cheque to cover Carolyn and Kelly’s way to Swaziland and for this we are so grateful. It was a life-altering mission for all of us and it wouldn’t have happened without this kind of generosity.

What a blast it was taking our church on this mission via this Blog! We are so very grateful to every person who logged on to follow us…pray for us…and for all the comments that were posted. You have no idea what it’s like sitting in a country halfway around the world…being encouraged and blessed by your church family at home!

And most of all…we are grateful to God for about 1800 things. Some of what tops the list is the birth of this vision and our connection with Children’s Hope Chest…the safety and health we experienced…leading us to Enaleni…the wonderful care of our kids back home…and giving us brand new friends and partners in the advancing of God’s church half way around the world!

– Todd





3 thoughts on “A Truly Spiritual Experience

  1. Thanks Jon, Kelly, Carolyn, and Todd…. for all being so transparent in your postings, and boldly couragous in this journey and with your love in Swaziland….praying for the whirlwind of what happened out there, for the blessings given and bestowed to be chrished and nourished by the Holy Spirit….may He enable the “oasis in the desert” to continue to become an even stronger reality… and His waters of everlasting love and mercy to flow upon that village and everyone involved over there….praying for your adjustment this side of the atlantic…. looking forward to eharing and seeing the story unfold in the coming months, days, and years….

  2. I’d love to have a slide show night where we could look at your pictures, and hear stories. This blog experience has been very rich on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, and experiencing vicariously what God has done. Buckle up for the next adventure, here we go!xw

  3. Hi Guys, my friends and i are launching a campaign (http://redletterscampaign.com) to inspire the church to live faith and end poverty. We are partnering with Tom Davis at Children’s HopeChest whom I noticed was mentioned in your last blogpost! We are meeting with him on 4/30 to begin planning another trip to Africa soon ourselves. We’d love your help getting the word out about the campaign, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to post some of your pictures to our facebook site? http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7929222907Thanks,Sam

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