It was a brutally hot and humid day yesterday. Our team did an awesome job of reminding each other about grabbing some shade and drinking…drinking…drinking. Needless to say the ride home was a little ‘sweet smelling’. Here’s a brief summary of our day:
* Everyone’s healthy!
*We dug 20 holes for trees for the orchard we’re planting (orange, banana, mango trees)
* We got a good start on the latrine. The guys worked SO HARD in the blazing sun! The hole was dug…but we got 3 layers of brick in and poured the cement floor about 20 meters away on level ground. A three-inch thick slab, 9ft by 6ft. We’ll pick it up and move it later.
* The two big green water reservoirs were delivered so we hoisted them onto the metal stands.
* We had about 85 kids at the CarePoint yesterday!
* We cleared brush and cut dead trees…clearing an area for the garden.
* We did VBS! Our team did FANTASTIC!
* A few of our gals went to the ladies Bible study at 3pm. They loved it and left so absolutely inspired!
*We attended the Wednesday evening service at 6pm. We were SO WELCOMED and loved on. We had a blast worshiping with our Enaleni friends. The love in the room was palpable!
* When we finally drove the 45 minutes back to our dorm area we were heartbroken to discover our meeting room/computer room was LOCKED. We couldn’t read or update our blog! YIKES!
* Finally fell into bed about 10:30pm…quite thoroughly exhausted!
It was just two little hands gently caressing my arms. So simple. So profound. I’d been working on digging holes all morning, not having a chance to really connect with the kids. While I was taking a break from the blazing hot sun, a few kids came over wanting to be hoisted into my arms (the bigger ones were rotating between the team, trying to find someone who could hold them for more than a few seconds). For some reason unbeknown to me (it probably had something to do with God), one of the little girls continued to cling to me after I’d put her down. She just clung to my waist, holding me as tight as she could. When I got tired of standing, I sat down and pulled her into my lap. We just ended up sitting there under the shade of one of the trees on the yard. I was contentedly holding her, thinking about how great it was to meet her need for loving touches, when she began caressing my arm. It was such a simple moment, but it really touched me. It reminded me that we don’t only need to receive love, but to give love. So often, I focus too much on receiving God’s love, when I need to give Him my love just as much.
I woke up this morning at 4am an thought about our day ahead. It was going to be a busy day; our first day in Enaleni. I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect. I wanted to work hard and love the people of Enaleni, but didn’t know if fear of the unexpected would stand in my way. Thankfully, the moment we pulled up and saw the kids, any fear was erased and replaced with hope. Hope for the lives we are changing, the impact we are making and, most importantly, the way God is changing my heart and opening my eyes to the bigger picture. The kids are amazing. Working in 40 degree heat is not easy, but not once did anyone give up or slow down. I am blessed to be a part of this team and more so have been blessed by a group of people who have never met us, yet love us as they do their own. There is much suffering and need in Swaziland, but there is an unmistakable joy that surrounds you the moment you set foot here.
In speaking with Kriek, one of the missionaries at Enalini, I enquired why Lulamile was not in school. I was told that possibly because of the fact that there was no money to send her or just that the finances for her have not been finalized. Kriek wants to get her back into school.
I was surprised to learn that funding for the kids does pay for some school, but it is more that they need food and such first.
To my surprise I was told that school for 1 year is about 700 rand or 70 dollars. Then it hit me… 70 dollars for one year to grow a child or I can go out back at home with Heidi to a fancy resteraunt and spend $70 in one day and keep on giving my 35.00 a month. Lulamile will be fed, have clothing, have letters from me and Heidi, and we can feel good. As we really feeling good.
God has removed my blinders. Now I see that 35.00 is not enough; she needs an education. Yes, she needs clothing and food and I am sure the small items Heidi and I put into her care package are well received but there is still the education. Without this she may be doomed to a life that may be cut short by AIDS or loss of dignity and no ability to break the cycle I can’t sit down at a table now and look at another resteraunt bill and not see this little girl.. My little girl without the hope of a better life.
I know it is up to he; she has to try but the least I can do is remove the barrier of money, especially when it is such a low amount ($70) compared to our culture. I can lay a cornerstone in her life and plant the seed on fertile soil or go out to eat. This is a simple decision to make. A simple once a year $70 dollars Wow, what a Christmas gift. The gift of hope, a future.
The one thing that struck me today was how God can use such small moments to do big things. When we arrived at Enaleni this morning, we first greeted the girls who are on the discipleship team. A handshake and a “Sow-bone-ah” got a huge smile from each of them. When they responded in Saswati they thought that they’d lose us, but the fact that we could respond with “nia peela” (I’m fine) got them all laughing. Whether it was Karen leading all the children by banging the drum and then having them run after her, or Amanda and Tanya going for a walk with the girls from the disciple team, each small sentence was received with joyful enthusiasm from Enaleni folk. Each smile from us was followed by bigger smiles from them. God can do big things when we but learn to do the small ones!
As we drove up to Enaleni, I was bracing myself for a nice big “slap-in-da-face”, to have a giant wake up call to world poverty. What a truly amazing day. Driving home, I was reflecting on the day’s events while watching the thunderstorm. God isn’t trying to give me temporary motivation to get things done this trip. God will be using every experience this trip to talk to me. I know that by the end HE will show me everything I need to see-through a fully-rounded experience and relationship-based ‘organic’ slap-in-da-face. And that will truly change us forever.
I am blessed to be able to be here, experiencing God’s grace and seeing how we are impacting the lives of the children at Enaleni. This is a special day for me, as I celebrate my birthday, but more important was the opportunity to have fellowship with Pastor Peter’s wife, Precious and the local women around the care point. God’s presence was in that room as we sang praise to the Lord and as each woman stood to speak their faith and their journey with God. My heart was filled with joy and compassion as \i heard their stories and felt honoured to share my feelings with them. Never did I think that I would be filled with as much joy and faith from these women. I feel that God is walking with everyone here serving and with the children and people of Enaleni. Each day that we serve them, it is not only them who are blessed but us as well.
As we drive further and further into the country to the carepoint, down…well,…I guess they are roads (we call them trails) the poverty that we see just hits me like a ton of bricks. People live in these dwellings that we are passing! I have no idea what is in store for us when we arrive at Enaleni! I pray that I won’t cry when I see the kids.