First Impressions

Updates from some of the team will follow, but first, we’ve had some requests in the comments for a detailed schedule of our week in Swaziland.

Wednesday, Feb 18
On the ground at Enaleni (first day of VBS, starting construction, meeting the kids)
Prayer meeting at church in evening

Thursday, Feb 19
On the ground at Enaleni (more VBS, construction, and starting the garden)

Friday, Feb 20
On the ground (VBS, construction, garden)

Saturday, Feb 21
On the ground (fun day – probably handing out the care packages and shoes)

Sunday, Feb 22
Church at Enalini
KFC lunch with church members

Monday, Feb 23
On the ground

Tuesday, Feb 24
Morning visit to carepoint (saying goodbyes)
Leave for Nelspruit

Wednesday, Feb 25
Kruger Park Safari (early morning to afternoon)
Leave Johannesburg 11:55 pm

Thursday, Feb 26
Arrive in Winnipeg 8:36pm

Todd – Amsterdam to Jo’burg

It was an 11 hour flight on a 747…it was a packed flight…but, armed with lessons from last year’s trip, i managed to snag three empty seats before the doors were closed…and slept 7 hours straight. Anyway…we’ve got a fantastic crew here. It’s close to 11 pm Tuesday and we’re going to hit the ground running first thing Wednesday morning. Thanks for your prayers and notes.


Leslie – Arrival in Johannesburg

Hello Winnipeg!! The SwaziTrip ’09 Team made it to Johannesburg! We were prepared for a really long flight from Amsterdam with lots of snacks, books and movies. And for someone who doesn’t get a chance to watch a movie straight through at home I definitely have had my fill! It was great how everyone pulled together to make sure that everyone had what they needed – all the way from sleeping pills (they worked great for Todd!) to magazines. And just when we thought we were done with customs, there they were again! But it was much different this time. I felt very welcome as I heard the passport stamp hit the page and the customs officer offered up a big South African smile! We were quickly wisked to our vehicles and piled up our luggage and as I watched all the movements unfold I could only think one thing: this is not the SwaziTrip ’09 Team, it the SwaziTrip ’09 Family! I am looking forward to spending more time with each member of this family and growing in God’s love and calling on each one of us. As for family back home, we’re safe and loving every minute of our time here and we love you very much Matthew!! One day, you too will see this beautiful land!


Ken Gerbrandt- Arrival in Mbabane.

Hi everyone! It’s been great hearing all the comments and prayers for the group. Keep them coming as they are a great encouragement to all of us. We started the day at 7:30 with a delicious breakfast in our hotel and loaded up for Mbabane where we stopped at a restaurant called Wimpy for some burgers. We finally arrived at the place we will be staying at for the time we are out here. Tanya and I had the oportunity to ride and get to know Jumbo and Kriek and ask them lots of questions along the way. They spoke of how the Lord led them to Swaziland as initialy they didn’t want to serve here but felt God calling them. We are very blessed to be here as a church working along side them and look forward to the first trip to the care group tomorrow.

Amanda Franczyk – Our first day in Swaziland!!!!

Well after an extremely long journey, we finally made it into Swaziland! I haven’t been to many places around the world, but I have to say it is the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. As we drove in we were surrounded by rolling hills, mountains and greenery!! A stunning sight to see. I hope the pictures and video can do it justice!

Jumbo and Kreik brought us to our accomodations located in Emafini, 20 minutes away from Manzini. It is a Christian Conference Center, snuggled in between mountains. It is so beautiful. We were all blown away as we stepped out of the van!

First on the agenda was a video called, “Beat the Drum”. It was a powerful movie about the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. I must say it was very moving. It focused on the many misconceptions African people have about AIDS and its devastation on the continent. After this, we had dinner with Pastor Peter and his wife, Precious, as our guests. It was great to finally meet them after hearing so much about them. Finally, our night ended with an orientation to Swazi culture. Kriek gave us very important information to keep in mind as we meet Swazi people.

Tomorrow, we officially begin our ministry with VBS and construction. We are all so excited and can’t wait for tomorrow to come.

18 thoughts on “First Impressions

  1. Thanks for the great updates. You are all in our prayers even though we have not met many of you. We continue to pray for strength and good health as you begin your projects. I know you are excited but we are just as excited reading about your adventures and ministry opportunities.Thanks for keeping the blog so up to date. Ken, a good report on the food !!The Lord be with you all!

  2. Way to go team! Amanda, I am praying for you and the team, let your light shine. I love you and miss you like crazy already.Matty

  3. You made it! We are so thrilled that things went smoothly and are very excited about seeing your work begin tomorrow! One of you mentioned that this isn’t the Swazitrip 09 team….but the family….you will definitely learn that this is true. Hopefully you all can fall asleep at the right time and adjust to the time change.It’s great you had a chance to have supper with Pastor Peter and Precious. They are such beautiful people. We absolutely can’t wait to hear what God will do through you all. Dig deep and work hard for us. Way to go team.How is the weather….is it really hot?

  4. Praising the Lord that you made it safe and sound. Since there was no mention of lost luggage I’m assuming that all 20 equipment bags and your personal luggage arrived with you. That’s pretty close to a miracle in light of some luggage stories I’ve heard lately. As you distribute the shoes, bags, bibles, gardening tools may they convey God’s love and your compassion.Sounds like this will be a memorable time for so many reasons, may you grow in your faith and experience all that God has in store.Lynn

  5. Hey- family! I’m a bit jealous of all of you out thre, but I know you’re being put to the test at the same time as being blessed with many unique experiences out there…. May the bonds of Christ enrich, enfold, and embolden you as you interact with the children…. what a privalidge to hear about God’s calling on the couple you were riding with… thanks for the photos and the varied people reporting… really gives a better sense of what’s happening … hey- no mentino of bobokazzi …. is manzini the main overnight accomadations/ base camp so to speak? get readcy to dance your hearts out – both with the children and also for the church service…. stay rooted in HIM…. many cheers and hugs to all the care point staff and swaziland staff….. may you breath in many moments and soak in the countryside and many moments to come… don’t let it all get rushed for you…. diary stuff…

  6. Glad to hear the team made it there safely!NANCY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!Our small group got together Sunday and prayed for you and the team – give all the kids a big hug for us 🙂

  7. nancy- happy birthday to you TOO! I imagine the family out there got to hear how young you are! blessings… make every moment a moment to remember…. on second thought relax, soak things in….many blessings

  8. Hi Daddy and the Swazi Team;I think you guys are going to have a very fun time because I know my parents did when they went. I hope you guys will be very safe and get to give lots of love to the kids there. I liked reading the blog today. My mom tried reading it to us but kept starting to cry so I had to fill in for her. My sister Amy said I did a good job. Warning for Doug and Tim: Don’t wake my Dad up if you have a bad dream because he’ll get very mad – trust me – I know!!!!Love; carley (love you daddy!)

  9. Yes, I did keep choking up when I was reading your comments. Your comments take me back to some of the feelings and thoughts when I was there a year ago – certainly one of the most amazing, life changing experiences I have ever had. How I wish I could be with you all.I’ll be praying for you tomorrow as you visit and work at the carepoint. Love on those kids, hug them, hold them, play with and let them try on your sunglasses.(they love that) I’m so proud of you all: the choice and sacrifice you have made to give your life and love away to the precious people of Enaleni!

  10. Todd looks so "angelic" sleeping there….Glad you all made it there safe & sound…what an adventure!Tanya…I actually picked up the phone and dialed YFC looking for you today….DOH!Todd….we had a great staff fun-day today…ooops…I don't think I was supposed to say anything? Oh – and the spa days are really doing wonders for my sore back.Hope you all have an awesome adventure filled day tomorrow! How cool that you are actually in Swaziland…right….NOW!Diana

  11. Hi Nancy Hope your trip is going good. You are pretty special in helping out with the people that are less fortunate.It is interesting to hear and see what everyone is doing. We will say a prayer for you and everyone there with you.Say hi to all the kids from us to them . We hope they are doing ok. Take care and see you when you get back.HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANCY! Nick, Josh and Arianna

  12. Great to hear about your adventures so far! keep the updates coming..Love your meal update Ken! ha!ha! too funny, that’s all I talk about when we go away! Keep up the good work team!

  13. I love that you have a blog. It makes you feel like you’re not THAT far away. I miss you Sarah and Nick and your puppies do too. Lucky was pouting for hours on end on sunday and today she’s acting more like herself. Rufio has made best friends with Brendan and it has become clear that I will NOT be successful in teaching them how to hi-five while you’re away. Keep strong, healthy and safe while you’re away:) Love you!

  14. “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (Jas 1:27).In this verse James provides a practical and penetrating assessment of true faith. He is saying, “Don't just say you're religious—demonstrate sacrificial love! Shallow claims to Christianity meant nothing to him. He wanted to see godly attitudes and righteous deeds.You are all inspirational to us in that you are, right now, about to act this very thing out. Way to go SwaziTeam(Family)! Love on the children & caregivers of our carepoint! All our blessings & prayers are with you.Personal note to Karen: Don't worry Sweetie, I have everything in hand. I didn't forget to walk the kid or make sure Sox got all her homework done. Love, me.

  15. Karen and Brenda: You have been in my prayers everyday, all day. I pray that the people of Enaleni experience God’s love through you and your team! I pray for your safety and well-being. Thanks for the updates; logging on to the blog is the first thing I do every morning.Love you!Terry

  16. Sherise’s Mom said: Thanks for all the updates and pictures! It’s great to hear and see how you’re all doing! We miss you Sherise, but are very happy that you were able to go on this Mission’s trip with this great looking bunch of your church friends! Give all the children an extra big hug from me,as that’s what I would do if I were out there with you.Hope and pray that you all stay healthy and safe and may God richly bless each and everyone of you for going out to do His work!Looking forward to hearing all about your trip when you come back.Feb.18, 2009 @ 7:18pm

  17. Hello Sean and Leslie,I was just reading the boys the note that you left for Matthew tonight and I asked them what they would say if they could write a letter to you and this is what they said…Dear Mommy and Daddy, I hope you enjoy Africa. I love you mommy and daddy. That’s all I have to day. Love MatthewDear Uncle Sean and Auntie Leslie,We are going to help Grandpa Barris feel better. You have silly eyebobs??????(That’s Asher)Love Asher We’ll be visiting Grandpa Barris tomorrow and bringing him some treats we made.Love ya Tara

  18. Heavenly Father, I lift Tanya up to you today, in gratitude for her servant heart. Thank you for calling her to this trip, and I ask Lord, that you would completely fill her heart with your Holy Spirit. Please continue to provide for her every need, leading her and guiding her to make good decisions that honour and glorify Your name.Please protect her health, especially her energy levels that she would work to the best of her abilities, and still have energy left to enjoy the people on the team, and at the carepoints. She has lifted up her desire to share Your love like crazy. I love that expression Lord. Please make this a lifetime marker for her – that she would look back on this time and see Your work in her life. Thank you Lord, for calling her to the team, and for being so faithful to meet her needs. Amen.Lord, please use Stephanie and her creative talent to reach people with Your Love. Here in Canada we don’t really see – please use Stephanie’s art to show us a sliver of life in South Africa. Thank you for their beautiful surroundings, and I ask that it would be a place of refreshment for Stephanie and the team at the end of the long hot days. Please pour Your Love through her, and sustain her especially when the going is tough. Please surround her and give her the courage to continue, and bless her for sacrificing her time and talents for You Lord. Draw her near to You Lord, so that all other distractions, or plans would fall away, and she would be able to rest in You, and walk the path You’ve laid out for her. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.Thank you Lord for Sherise, and her service to us here at home. Not only is she working full days in Africa, she’s also taking time to express and communicate with us. Please bless her for her time, and give her the words to say that would teach all of us Your heart for the people in Enaleni and Bhobhokazi.Although I don’t know her well, I love hearing her personality in the blog, and am especially encouraged by her trust in You. Lord, even as she’s on this amazing adventure, please help her to keep her focus on You, and depend solely on You. Wrap Your arms around her, and gently lift her from the hardships of the day. Please refresh her in body, mind and spirit Lord. ( I know you can make the time differences work out) So that she would awake ready to serve, and Love, and live for You and You alone. Thank you for what You’ve already done, Lord. I’m excited to see what You’re going to do next. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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