Friday Blog

Hello Riverwood!  We have been on the adventure of a lifetime.  What a team to be with….they have been amazing.  Each of us feel like we are a part of Riverwood here and are on a journey together with each of you.  It has been an incredible thing to see the way that our church can meld together with the communities here.

Friday was a different day for us.  I was actually wondering at the beginning of the day how it would go because so much of our hearts and emotions have been captured by Enaleni and the children and projects there….I was wondering if we had enough room in our hearts to be captured again by another carepoint.  We knew this was kinda Riverwood’s first official day at Bhobhokazi to connect and get to know them.  Last year the team had a couple of hours in the rain there to meet and see the carepoint….but this was our first full day of making that connection.

The morning was a bit slower… Bhobhokazi, only a handful of children come earlier and the majority of them arrive after 1PM… is  an older carepoint (most of the children are a little older….with a few little ones) and most of them are coming from school.  We have been really thrilled to see how many of our children are going to school….we are also creating a gameplan to see all of them have the opportunity.  I know many of you sponsoring are wondering about that….more about that later.

For the morning, we worked on a couple of projects.  The kitchen that we had sent money to help fix up still needs to be stuccoed, so we had thoughts that we would be helping with that….however, Gino (who has had some Winnipeg stuccoing experience) began helping the Swazi’s do the work and in about 10 or 15 minutes, it was realized that we should let the Swazi’s take care of the stucco work because they do it VERY differently and WAY faster than we can.  We helped mixing cement for them, and we went to work cleaning up around the carepoint.

The carepoint is VERY different than Enaleni….it is much smaller and much more undeveloped. It has actually been what Hope Chest has called the ‘neglected carepoint’ because of its history….another church tried to sponsor is way back in 2005….and they didn’t do anything with it and never ended sending any money….they had to give it back to Hope Chest….then somehow, through one of the vision tours they take, a member of the Coca-Cola company thought it would be a good thing to have their company sponsor the carepoint….again…it never flew…only a few people sponsored children and they didn’t do any projects there.  So last year, when Tom asked us to take the carepoint, it was because it was in need of a church that could commit and be consistent to the project…and he thought Riverwood would be it!

We worked on cleaning up the carepoint….throwing giant aloe plants over the fence out of the carepoint area….lining the bottom of the entire carpoint fenceline with rocks, and cleaning out the storage area for the food which had been having a problem with rats (which we also had the holes patched up so they can’t get in any more).

Towards noon kids started rolling in slowly…..and what happened I can only describe as a slow swell of activity and children that all of a sudden turned into a swarm of children!!  By 2:00 the place was alive and bustling.  We ran our children’s program and had everyone from the team participate to help focus just on the relationship building there.  After the program we just played and it turned into what we all called ‘organized’ chaos….there were soccer balls flying around everywhere….footballs flying through air…children running everywhere….and screaming and laughing all over the place.  It was awesome!

Once thing we noticed was that the kids here hadn’t quite learned the proper boundaries as the kids at Enaleni had.  We had a bit of trouble with them trying to go through our stuff, etc….but then we realized that this is also a result of the ‘neglected carepoint’ issue and will now be changing and developing.

My worries about us having enough room in our hearts to invite the children of Bhobhokazi faded away…it was an incredibly significant day and a wonderful way to start there.  The development there will be more limited than we have had at Enaleni….they really need a latrine built as the department of health in Swaziland is after them a bit….then they need a well (if there is water around) and a classroom…that will be about it.

Anyway….we are really looking forward to the party today….all the kids of Bhobhokazi and Enaleni will be coming together at Precious’ (Pastor Peter’s wife) pre-school for a GIANT PARTY….can’t wait to share pictures of it.

P.S. we are staying at a different place for Saturday and Sunday night….and we don’t know if there will be internet…so if you don’t see anything for a couple of days….SORRY!  Stick with us…hopefully we will be able to post.



Wow! Has the last few days have ever flown by.  We have had a wonderful time building relationships with the kids.  We have laughed, tickled, giggled, hugged, done fun hand shakes, and played.  It has also been wonderful doing DVBS with the team.  So far we have learnt about Jesus’ Miracles, Lost Sheep, and Zacchaeus.  The way the kids faces light up at the songs, stories and crafts is something that I will keep with me forever.  But, the BIG thing that has been such hit has been the parachute.  The giggles, screams and squeals of joy just hit me in the heart.  To bring something that we have taken for granted and see the eyes of the children get as big a saucers when we bring it out…Wow! sometimes words can not do it justice.  The experience so far… to be loved with unconditional love, to be welcomed with open arms, and to be working with this amazing team has been such a blessing.  Today we went to Bhobhokazi for the first time, and we had a great day…my highlight was this afternoon when I had my first opportunity to play a game of football (soccer).  We passed the ball back and forth and I was definitely put to shame.  These kids have such a contagious energy.  They have so little, but with Christ they have so much, so much joy, so much love, and so much hope.  What a learning….something that I will ponder in my heart forever.


18 thoughts on “Friday Blog

  1. Hello Swazi Team!
    I’ve been faithfully ending my days by reading your stories, and tonight felt that I needed to share part of my day with you…
    I got to spend time with a young boy hanging out in Wilf’s program today. Joey was ill and Grandpa Rick had brought him to work. Turns out that Joey attends Springfield Hts. and has Kelly as his music teacher. He sat with me as I checked my emails and looked at pictures you’ve been sending. I was so touched by all this 9 yr. old knew! (Way to go Kelly!) Carolyn, as I showed him a picture of my friend and her sponsor child he said, “Ya I know Ncumcile.” He even corrected me on how I pronounced her name! He spoke of disease and how too many kids are dying. Joey asked me what I thought about him having 5 sponsor kids someday. I told him that would be awesome! When he asked if it would be expensive I told him that some people spend that much a month just getting their coffees at Starbucks. He quickly assured me that if he ever drinks coffee he would learn to make his coffee at home:) Things are rough at home in Joey’s little life. He spoke of divorce and how Mommy has a new boyfriend. But as we continued to eat lunch together I was moved by his focus and heart for the kids of Swazi. Team, you were where you were to be today, Kelly is where she is meant to be, and I was where God wanted me. I caught a glimpse of the bigger picture today~ AMAZING!
    Blessings and strength for tomorrow,

    P.S. Mrs. Todd have you seen our Machawe D? Can’t help but wonder if our girls are doing life together. Sleep well my friend and party hard tomorrow!

  2. Amy,
    It was so nice to hear from you on the blog. We have been reading everyday and even though we don’t know the rest of the team, we are touched by what all of you are doing and experiencing. We love the pictures. Words can express to an extent, but pictures…we SEE the joy on your face and the childrens faces.
    It’s true, what you said about the things we take for granted. We have been so blessed to live in a rich country and yet we still feel we have a right to complain.
    Thank you, to your entire team, for the work you are doing there. Spreading the love of Christ, not only by your words but by your actions. We see the love of God in your hearts.
    Todd, Jakob and Heidi say hi (Martin to ;)). Grandma is getting better and stronger everyday. Mom sees improvement everytime she goes to see her. Grandma’s house is up for sale and Mom and Dad are getting things ready for auction. Is there anything that you wanted? If you can, let me know and I will set it aside for you. Grandma is totally at peace with this transiton and told Mom that she should’ve done it sooner.
    Thank you all, again, for your witness. You are not only witnessing to the people in Swaziland but to all of us who read your blogs (blobs:)) You are a great encouragement.
    Love, Andrea
    P.S. Little is much when God is in it.

  3. Hey Team!

    Beautiful picture of Bhobhokazi! Thanks Jon! Way to begin to really build our relationship and connection. Maybe next year we need to send ONE team to Enaleni and ANOTHER to Bhobhokazi?

    Just working on my message for this weekend and haven’t been able to get the Team out of my head. A couple of weeks ago we learnt that the League of Extraordinary Nobodies … the Team-of-everyday-people-that-God-uses-to-change-the-world… are those who are ‘Holy Dissatisfied’ and ‘Wildly Abandoned’. That’s you guys! That’s what your are living and experiencing and expressing! Treasure these moments. They are a gift that not everyone gets to expereince. Most of us are so trapped in our little-western-world that we never ‘adventure with God’ to give our lives away and experience the power of a truly Christ-connected-community (team) like you guys are.

    But as i’m developing this week’s teaching…i’m learning that the LXN is also ‘Radio-Active’ … ‘Brazenly Synergized’… and ‘Outstandingly Contagious’. (We learn this from Acts 2:41-47). AGAIN… that’s you! Right now each of you is tasting and experiencing the way it was meant to be… and the way it can be!

    My only request is that you would bring that home somehow. That you will guard it with everything that is in you… and that you will chose to taste, experience and live the same long after the wheels of your jet touch back down in Winnipeg.

    For now… learn everything there is about ‘being’ the LXN’s!

    Love you all!

    – T

  4. Hi Lesley,
    Just checking out the pics and blogs, love the photo of you and your new friend! We’re hoping this adventure is proving to be the experiance of a life time, and exceeding your wildest dreams and expectations.
    Props to you for expanding your comfort zone to undertake such a journey; we are praying for the safety and well being of everyone from the Riverwood team. By the way…..we have 2 sponsor kids in Enaleni….Bongiwe and Gcinile…..if ya get a chance please give them a hug and kiss from Lori and Ken!
    We wish for you God’s giudance and blessings through your time in Africa and your journey back to Fabulous Winnipeg!
    Lori, Ken and Mishkins (your favorite cat) MacDonald

  5. Thank you for posting! I’m so looking forward to hearing more about Bhobhokazi. I cheer on Todd’s idea of a team to each location. I’m also looking forward to hearing the gameplan regarding this carepoint.

    It twists my heart that they’ve been a neglected carepoint over and over again. Please hug as many kids as you can for me.

    Shelley, I hope you had a great time playing ball with the kids. 🙂 Maybe next year we should send out a bunch of sport supplies, so they can try out a variety of games. I’m so glad you’re there, and hope that today is a special one.

    Dear Lord, thank you for our team in Swaziland. Please continue to protect them, and knit them together in love and unity. Use them Heavenly Father, for Your Kingdom and Your purpose. Please keep them safe, and bless those around them with Your Love. Amen.


  6. Well to begin, all I can say is Yay team! and way to go!

    I have really enjoyed following your adventures via the blog. The pictures have melted my heart and its been great to read of all that is being done and the positive experiences everybody is having.

    I hope that the party today is a massive success and that the KFC lunch tomorrow also is a huge success.

    Oh and if anybody meets a boy named Mangaliso from the Bhobokazi care point, give him a hug from Ian.

  7. Hey Team

    Great pictures! I realize the pictures don’t do it justice but it looks like your time there connecting to the Bhobokazi carepoint is very rich.

    Kelly…beautiful picture of you and the little child. Hope you’re having a good time there ministering to that community. Hope you get a chance to meet our little girl as well. Let me know if you do.

    Dad & Mum

    P.S. – Mum finally figured out how to blog so keep an eye out for her words.

  8. Hi Aunty Shelley!

    We miss you here, but we know that you are helping to take care of kids far away. Play with them a lot and give them hugs. You give good hugs. And watch out for big, hairy spiders. And scary robots. Robot…robot…
    Love Noah (&Caleb, Aunty G, Mommy, &Daddy)

  9. It breaks my heart to know that twice things didnt work out at the carepoint for Bhobhokazi. I pray that the team is able to connect with all the kids and win their trust. Our child Thokozani Motsa is there and I can’t wait to hear if someone was able to meet him and maybe even see a picture of him.

    Keep up the great work team!!

  10. Hello team especially Mrs Todd.Words cannot begin to express how our hearts are being touched, encouraged, challenged,and plain ripped right out of ourselves with all of the stories and pictures. We can only imagine all of the LOVE, sweat, and tears and many BLESSINGS of our LORD JESUS CHRIST that you are all pouring into those precious lives back in our 2nd homes in AFRICA. Doug that precious little girl that you had your tongues sticking out together she was wearing a pink tank top was her name NOMPHILO DLAMINI?We were wondering if that’s our little girl, she would be between 2 and a half to 3 years old.Mrs Todd or MRS BRENDA or anyone elese I beg you to please have mercy on this poor Bleeding Hearted RED HEAD and calm Hearted Brown Headed gal. that’s[ Carolin].I honestly been very discouraged because i’ve not been able to identify her at all.First 4 pictures that i get into my hand and heart i will donate some money back to our families and home in africa.Wishing you all God’s Richest Blessings;Perfect peace; strength;and amazing rest.Love;Thoughts and Prayers.Bonnie and Carolin.

  11. Hey team. Hopefully you are all sleeping well and rejuvenating yourselves for another day.
    Jon-missing you lots here. Been a bit rough at times. Conner’s having a hard time and is always asking about you. Although he’s enjoying mommy’s full attention at times, he always mentions that we are all together, but who’s missing? Still asks the same question grumpily every morning: “Is daddy here, YET?” He loved looking at the pictures of you and Luhtketfo today and was then at peace with the fact that our sponsor child was needing you more than he did. What a little sweet heart we have!
    Our rashes are subsiding and Aidan’s small concussion is still being monitored. Nothing to worry about though. (I hope and pray!) Nana and Papa come home on Wednesday and I think that will bring a bright spot for all 3 of us here until you come home. Keep loving on those swazi people, and say ‘hi’ to Jumbo and Kriek for me too. I can’t wait for Kriek to receive her gift!!!!! Love you lots!
    p.s. Missed you Shelley on girl’s night out. Can’t wait to hear your stories and experiences when you get back! Love you too!

  12. What a great joy it is to see Gods love shining through you all!!! 🙂 Children are Children, no matter where you go in the world. Love them as God loves and teach them memories of Christ that they will never forget. Remember, you will meet all of Gods children again when we get to heaven!
    Amy, what a joy you bring to your father and mother seeing you grow in the Lord and so willing to share your faith and Love for Christ with others. Keep on bubbling! “It’s Bubbling, It’s Bubbling”.
    Must close now…Grandma is getting better and stronger each day. Thanks for your prayers. Oh Yes, Zack even reads the blobs, Blogs!
    Love always,

  13. Hi Team!
    We look forward each night to sitting down and reading the blog to hear how your day has gone to feel connected to the incredible work that God is doing through each one of you.

    Jon thanks for the detailed update on our second carepoint…it’s so sad that Bhobhokazi has been neglected and we pray that trust will be quickly established as you pour your hearts out to them.
    Hopefully your back is holding up.

    Shelley we know you’re making a huge difference out there ‘cuz you’d be so great with the kids! Give lots of hugs from us! Thought of you at our girls night last night…looking forward to having another one when you’re back to hear all about this adventure that God has sent you on.

    Doug, I’m (Rod) missing the late night talks, movie and popcorn, but I’m so stoked for you that you were able to have this opportunity again, amazing to have been there last year and then be able to witness the growth and continue to pour into their lives this year…oh and by the way, may need you to pick up another Starfield CD ‘cuz we gave the other one to our niece 🙂

    We continue to think of each one of you and pray for you,
    Rod and Rena

  14. Hi Team,

    We love reading about your adventures each day! Today was an especially exciting day for us as we recognized a picture of our sponsor child, Manqoba. Olivia and Ryan (and Rob and I!) have been praying for this little guy for a year now and seeing pictures of him smiling brought tears to our eyes. Brenda, please give him a big hug for us and if you’ve got your camera handy, please take a picture for us 🙂
    We are praying for the whole team each day and look forward to hearing all about your trip when you return.

    With love and prayers,
    Rob and Krista

  15. hey Mom just wanted to tell i watched the “Blind Side” with Brithaniel and boy was it ever good!!!!

    Love You!!!

  16. Hey Swazi-ites!
    hope today is full of more adventures…how could it not be!
    Amy and Doug, you were missed at Urban Camping. Not sure how we are going to top next year as it was pretty EPIC. the hot sauna (AKA icefishing hut) was outside this time…many fires outside…all contained of course!
    also built an indoor fire, play jousting where kids had to wear a stalking with an egg in it and get it smashed with a pool noodle!!!
    only got 2 hrs of sleep but it was good times.

    glad the parachute is a hit!
    keep it real!


  17. Daddy,
    I’m up at 2:30a.m. cause I puked all over my bed. Feeling better now after mommy changed my sheets, pillows, and comforter. I also had a hot shower. Just eating some Cheerios and fresh water and thinking of you. I’m gonna say, umm… how is your trip? How was your day in Africa? …and Luhtketfo, how was your day? I bringed some balls, cars and lots of things for him. What does he like?
    Ummm…. what else? I think that’s the end of it. Only six more sweeps! Daddy, I love you. I miss you.

  18. All I can do is praise God for each one of you! Regardless of the work your hands are doing, you are following the heart of God as you do this journey with Him.

    Plans can come and go but the word (and the heart) of God will go on forever!

    You are a part of the legacy that is being blessed on Swaziland…..forever……

    One of my favorite verses in the Message version is this: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.”

    Thank you for putting Christ in the driver’s seat of your lives, and being such a fine example for us all…!


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