Our weekend!!! Internet connection for 5 minutes here :-)

Well…church.  What a weekend.  We are sorry that we haven’t posted anything.  We lost internet on Friday night and haven’t had it since.  We are currently staying at a game reserve….and only 3 of us have been eaten by hippos.  Guess which three!  We literally have 5 minutes to post this blog and hopefully it works.

I don’t think that we can express very well in words what we are feeling.

Saturday was the party with both carepoints.  It was incredible.  We had over 200 kids come to Precious’ pre-school for a fantabulous day.  It was the best party we’ve ever been a part of.  We had so much fun playing, partying and connecting with all of our children together.  It felt very natural and the kids had the time of their lives.

We set up stations for each of the kids to go through.  We had the big bouncer for the kids….we had face painting….balloon making…..the parachute games….baseball…yes that was interesting….but it worked….a few tennis balls to the head though….we also had a soccer pitch for the kids where Amy was able to live out her childhood dream of being beaten by a bunch of talented 8 year olds.

The kids loved it!!!  Then we had a hot dog boil for lunch….we made 480 hot dogs and none were left.  We couldn’t believe that some of these tiny kids ate that many hot dogs….

We sang songs together and chimpoo made his famous appearance.  We handed out party blowouts and canadian flags to all the kids.  We took a bizzilion pictures and hopefully captured all of the kids that were there.  We also are pleased to tell you that our Bhobhokazi packages ARRIVED…..HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORAY…..however….we were not able to hand out the care packages that day because there are SO many new kids there now that we have to go buy a bunch more so that everyone will get one.

One of the highlights of the day was in the morning when the bus carrying the kids pulled up.  It was the ultimate party bus.  Let’s just say this bus was pimped out.  It had enough subwoofers to hear it from about a mile down the road….the kids pulled up with the music blaring…..dancing inside….and in a 20 seater bus there was easily more than 400 kids.  Okay we’re exaggerating….but only by about 3.

After the party we headed to our new sleeping quarters for the next couple of nights.  We didn’t know what to expect except that it was at a local game reserve.  When we got there….we were greeted by Pumba and all his family.  There were worthogs all over….a few impalas wondering nearby….and at least one zebra that was sleeping soundly in the water alongside his best friend the crocodile.

We came up to where we were going to sleep and we all began to laugh….we all had grass tiki huts reserved for us….and the best part is that the doors were made for hobbitses….Jason felt like goliath trying to fit through the hobbit hole….and Gino….he took a running start.  We settled into our comfy little huts, showered….and got ready for supper.

We enjoyed an very much needed evening off together enjoying supper on the patio during sunset which included eating those really cute little impalas.  Yum yum….Todd you’ll be proud, Carolyn ate one.

The team enjoyed some traditional Swazi entertainment that included dancing and singing…of which Jason and Ron took part in enthusiastically but maybe not so rhythmically…..and then we all huddled together to enjoy a slideshow of the day’s pictures…..300 pictures later we felt a satisfaction about our day that we can’t really put into words.  The team was in great spirits heading to bed.

Sunday, was another experience of a lifetime.

For beginnings…..about ten of us got up early at 6:30 to go on a horseback / bike outing through the game park.  We enjoyed ourselves riding through some beautiful countryside and seeing impalas, wildabeasts, monkeys, zebras, crocodiles, jackals, and lots more worthogs.  Those who were trying to sleep in….got up with us because we are staying in grass huts….and just an FYI….grass isn’t a sound barrier material….sorry guys.

Those who were left behind got their own private game drive from their doorways….there were a herd of zebras that wandered into our camp.  As it was announced to all….Gino got so excited he forgot to put on his pants as he wandered out to see them.

We had a good breakfast and then made our way to church.


Well…how do we describe this….as Todd said last year…you haven’t been to church until you’ve been to church in Swaziland.  It was AWESOME….and because we can’t find any other words….we’ll just stick with awesome.  Many of us found it incredibly emotional as we joined in worship with the church of Enaleni.  Riverwood, you need to know that our churches in these past two years have grown together so strongly it is hard to describe to you.

The singing was both beautiful and uplifting.  It was as if the music (with out instruments) enveloped each of us.

Their worship brought us to tears….and even got some of us dancing.  We had the privilege of sharing with them.  Carolyn spoke and opened up the message….or actually it was Mrs Todd.  Jon followed and preached….he wasn’t sure how it was going to go as he started preparing the sermon the night before….scribbling in the dark….in the end…he had notes that he wasn’t even sure he could follow.  Todd you can probably relate from last year.  The message was well received as he talked about Enaleni being a light to the community around them…..and that at Riverwood we are driven by the same vision.

Then we had four of our team members share their testimony and they did a marvelous job….it was moving and meaningful for both us and the Enaleni church.  When Scott was sharing he used the words HARDCORE AND STUPENDOUS….we are still trying to figure out how they got translated.

The service was deeply emotional….moving….impacting….and felt like our hearts were as one with the Enaleni church….if we could say it any more clearer….we would….but it was like an experience we have never had before.  Like last year, each of the team was fitted with Swazi flags as a gift from them.  It was so fun.

We LOVED sharing the KFC lunch with them afterwards and had a great time both serving it and eating with the church.  We had a bit of playtime with a bunch of the kids that were there.  Right now, the team is on their way to the market to do some quick shopping and then we are off to supper with Pastor Peter and his family.  We are really looking forward to it.  We are going to give them some gifts tonight which include some Canada apparel, a video camera and a digital camera.  We know they will be thrilled as they have their computer from last year to use them.

We are now down to one day left at Bhobhokazi on Monday….and one day at Enaleni on Tuesday…..we will be so sad to say goodbyes….but we are looking forward to connecting with the kids for one more day and getting a little more work done at Enaleni…..on Monday and Tuesday we will be handing out the care packages….the croc shoes…..the gifts for the D-Team and Mages….which we have been calling Gogos….

We are all a bit tired but still full of life and laughter….the team is doing just great…we are working together….we are cheering each other on….and we do SO much laughing together.

Each day is SO full and by the time our heads hit the pillows we are exhausted in the best of ways.

Riverwood….if you get this during church and are able to share it…..Enaleni says hello….that they love you….and that they cannot express in words what they feel about us.  We have told them again and again that they have given us so much more….but they have so much love for us too.  It is just an amazing connection.

We love you all….to all of our loved ones…..we are sorry there hasn’t been contact….we haven’t been able to.  On Monday night we hope to have internet again.  We love you all.  We miss you.

Swaziteam….signing off.


18 thoughts on “Our weekend!!! Internet connection for 5 minutes here :-)

  1. Doug, youth just isn’t the same without you. Urban camping was awesome but there were so many times we could have used your whistling prowess. In all things Doug in africa live hard love harder. Make a differance as we know you can.

  2. Plant your Romance
    Learn a new Dance
    Come back to prove
    You can bust a new groove

    God Blessssssssssss You Guys!
    Have Fun, Dance, Sing, and plant some ‘kindness, gentleness, good report’ Romance in Swaziland.

  3. To Gino, from Taryn – Great awesome video, Gino! I hope you guys are all healthy, and say hi to the kids from me. I wish I could be there too to help the kids and play with them. Missed you at Kidzone today. You guys are really brave to go down there with all the bugs, mosquitos, and diseases. See ya soon. Taryn

    Hello Team,

    xw here, and I’m so encouraged to hear about your amazing weekend. God has been at work powerfully on every side of the globe. We were met with a lot of “interference” as we prepared for worship team this week. Of 9 scheduled 4 weren’t able to make it. So stepping out, and leaning on God – we had a fantastic time this morning. Yes, Gino you were very missed. 🙂

    It made me think of the daily challenges you’re facing and I thought how small our problems and challenges seem when looked at from a world perspective. I’m so looking forward to you coming home, and teaching us what you’ve learned. Reading the blob-blog I hear thankfullness, wonder, perseverance, joy, and especially Love. In our western mindset we so need to learn about gratitude, to open our eyes to the wonder we usually miss, to cling tightly to Christ as He walks us through our challenges, and the freedom to express our Joy.

    Lord please use each one of us to Love those around us today, no matter where we are. Amen.

    I loved hearing about the parties! Having a lot of “got to go there next year” feelings again. So glad you’re blob-blogging as often as you do.


  4. Hey Gino and Sandra…we are over at your house getting Fritz and Monika up and running on the Riverwood blog…I played your video for them…that was very impacting for all of us…I wish we could be there with you…but since we can’t you know our hearts and prayers are with you…can’t wait to have you guys back for a glass of pressed grape and a chat…in the mean time we miss you guys…but couldn’t be happier for you and the opportunity you have in Africa.


    Rick and Laurie

  5. Kalena is doing great…we are having lots of fun with her…sleepover went great we didn’t have to pick her up in the evening. It’s Spirit week at school and Kalena is going to be dressing up as the colors of the flag…she’s very excited about that!!!! Dad’s been checking on the quality of your various wines….he’s not sure if it’s up to par so he will continue to test it…haha. Just kidding…everything here is great and all the snow is gone….we can’t wait to have you both back.

    Love Mom and Dad

  6. Hi Mom…Hi Dad…I’m having fun with Gramma and Grampa…are you having fun? I miss you guys and I hope you come back fast. Have you found our sponsored child yet? Mommy, I miss your mommy nuggles. Daddy I miss wresting with you.

    I love you,


  7. Hey Doug…we were at church this morning and they showed a slideshow of some of the pictures that have been on the blog so far. I’ve seen them all already, but seeing them there on the big screen made me miss you and just so excited for you and what you are all experiencing. I wish I could be at one of those Sunday morning services…it must just be amazing and out of this world, cause it has been talked about so much last year, and again this year. Dad can relate somewhat because of the orphanges he visited in Uganda when he was there and he has always said too that the african people know how to SING!! and DANCE!! Your safari sounds like such a good time…were you one of the ones that headed out early in the morning?
    All is going well at home. We just got back from Olive Garden. Enjoy your last couple of days and see you soon!!

    Love: Mom and DAD

  8. The pictures and stories of the children and the work you all are doing touch our heart! This is an experience of a lifetime.
    Bless you all. Give Shelley a great big hug from her Dad and Carole.

  9. WOW!! Seeing all the photos on the many many screens up front in today’s church service brought tears of joy to my eyes. I have been following the photos and blog comments from the team – very very encouraging and inspiring.
    That parachute game photo of the kids under it – it is sooo
    priceless!! It is truly amazing what small things can make such a huge impact on people – the games, the crafts (hopefully the bible story seeds are planted for growth for a lifetime in those kids), as well as kids just “hanging” on all your bodies like you are a play structure – you are all good ones at that!! 🙂
    I am glad you are able to have a bit of down time and enjoy the African scenery and take in the animals that are roaming free and not in a zoo like in North America.

    Hey team – continue to persevere and give your whole heart, mind, strength and soul to God and to the projects and most importantly – to the people who are a part of our church in Africa.

    Please greet Peter & Precious for Darryl, Reyna & I – we were there last Christmas and met them. They are truly an amazing couple with love for all people. Can’t wait to hear his voice and his challenge to us all here next Sat.
    Thanks Jon for being so creative and doing that for our church family back here.

    Thanks each and everyone of you on the team for doing “your part” to make a difference and Lord willing, advance the Kingdom of God in Swaziland!

    Our love & joy for ALL GOD has done in and through you
    Shirley and Darryl too 🙂

    We will soon welcome you all home. It doesn’t have to be good-bye – you can always tell your new friends you will see them again some day – even if that happens to be in Heaven.

  10. Carolyn…we are just looking at the pictures and they are just fantastic! I just wish i was there with you! Maybe sometime in the future i can go to Swaziland too 🙂

    I’m at your house right now and we’re enjoying the stories. I’m sure that you are having a wonderful time…but you probably miss your family. But they are doing well.

    We will be praying for you and the whole team!

    – M

  11. hi mom i really miss you. i hope you are having fun in swaziland and i hope you are having fun sleeping in grass huts. it sounds like you had fun at the party and church. i hope one day i can go to swaziland with you and dad.
    love you lots
    we are praying for you and the team
    we are doing great here
    miss you bye
    love carley

  12. When I think about what you guys are doing there in Swaziland it brings tears to my eyes, how I wish that I could be there as well. I am touched, encouraged and challenged by all that you have shared and experienced. We are truly blessed to have gotten to know the people at Enaleni and Bhobhokazi and for that we will never be the same. Be encouraged that I am praying for you and the the people at Swaziland. Give them a BIG Canadian HEY from me, love you guys


  13. hey team…. it was wonderful seeing some of the photos blown up and scattered on the 9 screens at church…. even more wonderful to be following your hearts movement as you allow yourselves to be stretched both physically and emotionally…… enjoy the sand/mud/dirt getting in your hair and toes….. enjoy the wind on your face….. although I’m sure Africa is already imprinted on your eharts with the people, soak up the nature in all it’s varieties of dryness, wind, barreness and lushness in these next few days….. and to go back to the 80’s …. breath in many many moments of God’s breath and voice on your hearts and pour out love unabandonedly…. God will fill you up again, even tho it be hard to let them go……….. can’t wait to see phoptos of thekids getting care packages, even tho would SO much rather be there and have kids hanging off of me….. hey- Gino – I’m glad you can get so excited out there…. these truly are one of a kind moments your experienceing… still… maaannn… It’s awesome you’re a part of our church!

  14. Incredible report Team!!!

    I was able to read all the way up to the part about ‘Church’ … then i had to hand it off to Brittany to read on from there. (Sheesh! This is getting ridiculous! 🙂

    YOU GUYS ATE IMPALA’S! i’m shocked! i would never kill and eat one of those beautiful animals. They are so majestic with those twisty horns and the way they run and leap thru the air. I’m quite disappointed my wife would partake in such a barbaric experience.

    Just joking 😉 i bet it was delicious…and now Carolyn has no excuse the next time i invite her to come hunting with me!

    Well… the whole church was with you this morning…cheering you on, reveling in your ‘wild abandonment’… a little jealous of your ‘brazen synergy’! We’re praying you thru the next few days and all the way home.

    You guys still plan on coming home, right?

    Remember… ‘leave it all in Swaziland’! Come home empty and the Lord will re-fill you again!


    – T

  15. Its awesome to hear how our churches have grown together and have become like one. The spirit of the people there sounds incredible and I just love hearing that they feel such love for us. It really puts things into perspective that what Riverwood is doing in Swaziland goes so far beyond helping people, and that we can develop such a close and loving relationship.

    Way to go team! Its been said many times, but I’ll say it again, we’re very proud of all you!

    I’m a little sad your time there is drawing short. Based on your testimonies it might be hard to leave so soon.

    That being said, Lesley, I am really looking forward to your return. This house feels less like a home without you! Love you.

    Best of luck to you all in your remaining days.

  16. Wow! Riverwood is so proud of all of you. The pictures are awesome and we are enjoying them all. The smiles of the kids truly make our hearts smile. Finish strong and come home with lots of stories to share. Give our best to Pastor Peter and his family. See you all soon.

  17. Hi everybody!! Gee, how encouraging to see all those smiling faces. (Beautiful). They posess such faith, and love – it’s contagious. God bless each and everyone of you and just know that you are the true ambassadors of our church and I feel extremely proud of you all for your hard work and dedication. Give the kids a BIIIIG Hug from me!!
    Abundent Blessings,
    Diana Mitchell

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