Thursdays Blog Entries (sorry for being late….internet was down for the last day)

Anne’s Blog

Another Fabulously Incredible Day! So far my experience in Africa hasn’t been anything like I expected. It’s been so much richer! And the country is so beautiful and it’s clean here! It blows my mind how the kids are so excited over the simple little things. The first day here there was a shy little girl and as we were walking I held out my hand to her. She didn’t let go for a very long time, just followed me around where ever I went. She is still holding back a bit but I get beautiful smile whenever I see her. So sweet! Today as I was shoveling sand one of the ladies came back and asked if I had an extra set of gloves. I didn’t know what she wanted them for but I got her some. She joined in the shoveling and we had a good conversation. It was neat to get to know her and interact with her. I love hearing their stories and having them share their dreams of what they want to do. I thank God for the privilege of being a small part of helping their dreams take flight.

The official blob of Scott Ballentyne

Thank-you Auntie Valrie, Uncle Alex and Pastor Aubri for checking out the blob. As soon as we get back from the care point each night we review all your comments and it means so much to us. Note to all those who read but don’t post comments, your family and friiends that are serving here in Swaziland laugh till they cry or just cry when they hear comments from home. So the more the better! As much as you appreciate reading the blog we love to hear from you. P.S. I GOT TO MEET OUR SPONSOR CHILD TODAY! WHOOT WHOOT!

Lesley’s BLOB

Another day of incredible experiences. We started the day visiting the preschool Precious runs. Sixty one preschoolers greeted us with huge hugs and smiles. The school is small, and hot, but so full of love and hope! They sang for us, as we did for them. One song they sang was about standing up against abuse. It is hard to process the circumstances these kids face on a daily basis. They sang with such passion and strength. It took my breath away! Another amazing moment was visiting my sponsor child’s home. I was so lucky to have shared this experience with Amy and Ron. The family had hope, and showed so much pride in their home. The view from their home was simply paradise. It broke my heart to see their house made of sticks, rocks and mud. During the rain, there isn’t much shelter for the large family that lives there. The family was so thankful to have us there. She teared up as she spoke. Her voice was so quiet, almost a whisper. She apologized for not being able to come to the carepoint to meet us, as she was ill. Despite that, she had on her best clothes, and rolled out her best mat for us to sit on. It was a moment I think Ron, Amy and I will never forget! I am lucky to have shared that moment with two amazing team members!

Hello Riverwood from Carolyn …..

It’s so good to be back in Swaziland and see the progress that has been made at the Enaleni Carepoint. Many of the kids are now going to school and come to the carepoint in their school uniforms. It is a beautiful sight to see them walk into the carepoint in their uniforms, carrying their back packs and a piece of wood for the cooking fire. (each child is asked to bring a piece of wood for their contribution towards the meal. )They have lunch which consists of a generous portion of rice and beans … much different from 2 years ago when they only received maise. The younger children who come in the morning also receive breakfast – sour porridge; apparently it is better than it sounds. Aside from the children, everything – from the fence … to the well… to the latrine has been a joy for me to see, since none of these things existed when I was here last. I had a great conversation with Precious (Pastor Peter’s wife) the other day. We talked about our church’s connection and how even the origin of our church names have “river” associated with them …. Enaleni (named after a river close by) She spoke about their appreciation for Riverwood and the blessing that we have been to their church. But the reality is they have been a huge blessing to us …. their faith, courage and work for God in desperate circumstances is absolutely inspiring. I love the way God has brought the 2 churches together and is creating a strong, strong bond. The VBS is going well; we have loved spending time with the children – worshipping with them … singing together …. but nothing compares with their songs and their voices. We tell a story everyday, do a craft and play games. We do our program once in the morning with the younger kids and again in the afternoon with the school kids. They are delighted with everything no matter how simple or small. Their attentiveness during the story, the smile on their faces while doing a craft project or their laughter and squeals during the games is amazing! The parachute games have been a highlight. As soon as we bring it out the excitement level raises even higher … how fun! I’m so proud of our team and the love and hard work that is being poured out daily! Thank you for the prayers you pray on our behalf. It is so appreciated. Your blog comments have brought us so much joy, laughter and tears! Love; Mrs. Todd (what they call me here)

Brenda’s thoughts….

So thankful to be here Again!!! I am so privileged to have been part of the first Riverwood Swazi Team and now the second team. Once again, laughter, tears , love, and hard work. What a joy to see the beautiful kids again. It blessed my heart to have many of the kids, the D-team and the “Go-gos” remember me. I have been spending time with our sponsor girl, my daughter’s sponsor boy as well as my nephew’s sponsor girl and I have been loving every minute. Today I was blessed to have been able to spend some time chatting with the Go-gos as they were cleaning up breakfast and preparing lunch. One of them named Sheila remembered me and we had a great time chatting. She allowed me to help by washing the dishes. What a blessing to wash and chat out in Swaziland. I was touched when we were chatting about children and our age. When she heard that I was 50 she said “Oh if I had money I would have a party for you!!!!” Made me laugh. I could have and will have many more stories to share but it is 12:15 a.m. here and it is time to close up shop!!! Thanks to all for the comments and prayers….you are all apart of our journey!

8 thoughts on “Thursdays Blog Entries (sorry for being late….internet was down for the last day)

  1. Hey gang! So good to hear of your amazing hand in everything there. And Carolyn, LOVED your blog. I wish I was there with you too (feeling kind of left out having been the only one of the original 4 who hasn’t been back!:() After reading your entry, I was so happy that you could tell the difference, not only in the apprearance, but also the spirits of the Enaleni people. Say ‘hi’ to Precious for me and make sure Jon is brushing his teeth every night! Love you all!

  2. Hey Team! Thanks again for taking the time to bring us with you!

    EACH OF YOU should make it your personal goal to have a bowl of sour porridge with the kids. It’s an experience!

    Got two verses for you today:

    “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious for His name will be the hope of all the world.”
    Matthew 12:20-22

    And… “Christ in you…the hope of glory”. Colossians 1:27

    Team… this God who causes justice to be victorious and who is the Hope of the World…lives in you! Christ in you …the hope of brilliance and triumph and
    magnificence and power!

    Thanks for packing that all up, leaving your work and homes and comforts of Canada … flying half way around the world…to deliver that Hope (the Hope that Lives in YOU)… to the precious people of Swaziland!

    Lead on Team!


    PS… can someone slip Carolyn and Jon my email address. i think they have forgotten it. (It’s on the Riverwood webpage if you need it 🙂

  3. Hey Scott:
    Good to hear from you and to actually see a picture of you doing some work!!! Melanie’s comment re your distress about no power tools had me wondering if you were maybe spending all your time playing with the kids instead of working…not that that would necessarily be a bad thing!!
    Everytime I read about one of you meeting your sponsor child my eyes well up. I’m sure it must be an amazing blessed event.
    Once again Swazi Team know that you are prayed for by many! Take care of yourselves and each other and continue to bless those that you are meeting.
    Love, Aunt Val & Uncle Alex

  4. Hey Swazi crew – love the stories and pictures. Back home it was chillly today – when I woke up they said the temperature with the windchill was -18 brrrr – but once the sun came out it felt a whole lot warmer.

    When I saw the pictures of the walls of the church going up I couldn’t’ believe how big it’s going to be – I’m sure they will love it once it’s complete – a dream come true.

    I was curious how the fruit orchard is coming at Enaleni. If I remember correctly some fruit trees were planted the last time a crew went – are they still growing? any fruit yet?

    Has anyone met Thobelile? she’s our sponsor child and we’ve been checking the pictures to see if we can recognize her – but so far we haven’t been able to.

    I thought it was really interesting that the kids need to bring a piece of wood to the carepoint – how far removed we are from knowing and appreciating the basic necessities of life.

    Thanks for sharing the love, pictures and stories – you are doing truly amazing work.

    Praying for all of you – especially Carolyn – hope you’re sleeping ok!


  5. Hey Breanne

    I am so encouraged each day to see what you and the team are doing. God is doing great things in you and through you. I know you will come back a changed person. Just keep on keeping on. You will be tired but very awakened to see what God can and will do. You will be weak in and of yourself but you will see God’s strength and almighty power. Know that we love you are are praying everyday. We miss you more than you will ever know…but I am not in any way worried about you. I know that you are doing what God has called you to do.

    I love you!!

  6. Hey Doogie….love that hat!! You’re lookin mighty fine with that guitar in hand and all those adorable little children around you. Press on….your work there will never be forgotten.

    I love you!

  7. Hi there Swazi team 2010! This is the first time I’ve had a chance to read the blog, so have had some catching up to do. Your blogs and pictures are wonderful to see. I know you are all being changed in such fundamental ways by the purposes God has for you there. He is so pleased with the way you are taking ground for the Kingdom by your love and your care.

    Just letting you know, since John mentioned it, that my appointment today was with my GP, who we hoped would have results of my MRI from last week. Unfortunately, there were no reports on her desk yet, so we will have to wait till Monday when I go to see the surgeon. In the meantime, I’m doing really well – living life about as normally as ever, with a lot more self-care and feeling completely at peace and surrounded by love and prayer.

    I noticed all the cute shots of the kids and the team and ones of the beautiful countryside, but you know what my thoughts were drawn to? 1) Wow, look at the size of that beautiful parachute! Carolyn, maybe we could use one of those as an ice-breaker activity at our next KZ Ministry Enrichment event… and 2) That’s an amazing colour on that cement mixer, so shiny and new…so, Jon, has the team named it yet??? (Our SIRVA one had a name…and a mascot!) I’m so spiritual these days!

    On a more serious note, I have been thinking a lot about your mission as one of taking ground for the Kingdom. So when I read about the rain forcing you all inside to worship and sing, I remembered how, in the Old Testament, when the Israelites went to war, the singers actually went first, praising God, and the army came after. It’s when we praise and worship Him that God’s power is released in our lives. He needed the praise to come first and then the work of establishing that new church building and all it represents could go forward to victory. I’m very blessed just writing about it. Hope you are all encouraged and blessed to think of it this way.

    Praying for you to continue in His strength for His glory as you complete the work He has placed before you. You bring Him great joy!


  8. Hey Scott,
    What you are camera shy now? Don’t see too many pictures of you. I emailed you on Facebook but guess you don’t check that too often. I’m so glad that you got to meet your foster child and what an experience that must have been. I always thought I couldn’t be prouder of you with how you have lived your life but I was wrong. What you are doing there is something you will always remember and something all of your family is so proud of you for. I am looking forward to seeing Brent and Nicole but I know my trip can’t compare to yours. I hope by the time I get back you won”t be tired of telling your story of the time over there but I don’t think so. What an experience.
    Aunt Hilda had a fall and broke a bone in her pelvis and is the hospital. I saw her today and she is in good spirits and in no pain which is a miracle itself.
    I love you so much and I’m sure all you have to do is smile that smile and all the kids there will love you too . Can’t wait to see you and you are all in my prayers.
    Love, Mom

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