Team blogs from Friday…..

Today was back at Enaleni and getting to connect with more of the kids.  There was more of the older school-age ones this afternoon and although over the past few days I’ve been saddened when you ask them what they’d like to be when they grow up most will tell you a soldier, today I talked to one 17yr. old who

Beamed when he said he’ d like to be  a lawyer. There was even a couple who said how much they love to sing and dance at the care points. It’s very hard to see these  sweet faces in shreds of clothing and not be able to run out to buy new clothes for all of them. The children are warming up to us and love to be held and played with. Even at my age I had a great time teaching a group of school girls how to play Chinese jump rope. I haven’t played that since I was 10 years old and it was great to laugh and play with these girls who had never seen anything like it before. Or maybe they were just laughing at me jumping up and down trying to keep up with them! Tomorrow will be an exciting day with a princess party for the girls and a soccer camp for the boys. Can’t wait to see their expressions.

Kim

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!!!  I love you and you are in my thoughts and prayers all day.

Today was such an incredible day.  God completely filled me up with love and was able to share with so many children.  The look of excitement and recognition on their faces was so exciting, I couldn’t wait to get out there and hug them, play games, sing and dance.  I was able to reconnect with a child I met on Wednesday.  Her name is Kholiwe and she has a face and a smile that could melt your heart.  I also got to reconnect with my new bud S’petho.  To his special friend, he is such an amazing little boy.  He is so outgoing, so warm, and has such an expressive face!

This was a day when I also got to connect with the D-Team and Sheila.  It’s so special to talk to them on a personal level and hear how we can be in different continents born into very different situations and have so many similarities.  After these connections and meeting more of the children, I can’t wait to see the girls at the princess party and see pictures from the boys’ soccer clinic.

I hope everyone reading is doing well! To my family and friends: I can’t wait to see you when I get back and share my experiences.  Love you all so much!

Monica

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Yesterday at Bhobhokazi was amazing! I played a combination of volleyball and soccer with one little boy for a while in the morning. He was a little bit older than the rest of the little ones and was such a sweetheart but so shy. The ball we were using was a deflated, tattered volleyball but we still had a blast. By the end of the day, he was totally opening up and even speaking English with me. During the craft, I sat with a little girl who couldn’t stop staring at herself in the mirror and chatting up a storm in SiSwati.  I think we became new best friends. The transformation in the kids from morning to afternoon was amazing. They totally opened up to being loved and we definitely loved on them. The rocky ground and sun were a bit of a challenge but were well worth the scrapes, bruises and sunburns for the hugs, smiles and giggles.

Today started out a little bumpy… literally. Our drum rolled off the rack of our bus and directly onto my head. As funny as it sounds (and really is), it really hurt and put me out of action for much of the day. Nothing a bunch of Advil can’t fix. We had dinner at Julie’s where I had possibly the best brownie I’ve ever had and saw the biggest millipedes. I have been looking forward to this princess party since we started planning it so I am STOKED for tomorrow. I hope that these girls leave feeling special, beautiful and sense of self-worth. Knate, I’m going to try and find your girl and take lots of pictures!!!

Thanks for all the blog posts, it means a lot to all of us. Love you guys!

Amy

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These last few days have been truly wonderful, we visited Bhobhokazi for the first time yesterday and although it was very different than Enelani the spirit of those children was humbling and inspiring. I found it so compelling how the children there had no expectations on the love and attention they were about to receive from us.  Although it took them awhile to warm up to us but they were eventually sitting in our laps and sneaking us smiles. I had an amazing day there and look forward to going back and loving on those kids who so desperately need it.

Today at Enelani we did the story of Daniel and the Lions Den with the kids, they all looked so cute in their lions masks. We ended the day with a fun hour of bubbles, skipping, cuddles, singing, soccer and picture time with the kids, it sure seemed like they had fun (as did we!) I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we are throwing our princess party and soccer party! The kids are going to love it. I cannot wait to see all of their faces when they see their party dresses and the pro soccer player. Although I am not looking forward to our 6am wake up call (I’m not sure I know what that hour of the morning looks like).

Thank you all again for your love and support through this journey,

Mom, i’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up my end of the bargin, I’ll try harder but thank you for reading and writing every day, it’s always so exciting to hear from you.

Katrina, I am thinking about you every single day, I love you and it kills me that I am not there for you right now but I know that you will be strong like you always are. You will be in my prayers of course, keep me updated with everything, you can also facebook me if you want a more private conversation.

Eles, thank you for writing all the time! Its so good to hear from you, I hope everything is going well over there for you, facebook me with all the updates! I love you and can’t wait to see you!

Sue, thank you so much for your prayers and support, reading your blogs are always so uplifting. I hope everything is going well in Winnipeg, hope its not too cold. Say hi to everyone for me, and if you talk to Eles tell him I say hello and I love him!

Until next time, thank you all and much love

-Steph!

**************************

Another “favorite day” for me. Got to direct an 80 voice African children’s choir…a huge highlight and honour for me. Wow is all I can say about that.

A few days ago Jon and I got to visit our sponsor child and dear babe Lutkehtfo and his sister. We have not been able to write about it yet as it was a heavy day for us. That very morning, Lutkehtfo was diagnosed with HIV and was feeling very sick. Him and his sister Thembuso are both HIV positive and sick. They were both very quiet and sad, making the reality of HIV/Aids very real to us. We both just felt the need to shower our love on them both. Today was that day. It was the first time I was able to hold him in my arms. He was awkward, which made me realize he rarely gets that kind of affection from home. I kissed him and touched them both so much and got some very special and precious moments with them both today.

I will never forget standing with Jon at the entrance of Enelani watching Lutkehfo and his sister begin the 40 minute walk home with one plastic bag full of his school supplies, one smaller bag with his new tooth brush and paste, and black school shoes 2 sizes too small with his feet ripping out of the back. How many shoes do my children own each back in Winnipeg? How little we think of the ease it is to shop for a school backpack? As parents of 2 young boys, we watched our African sponsor child and his sister walk away from us and desired to walk them home to make sure they were safe, a parental instinct to protect our children. Our babies.

Heavy heart…

p.s. Thanks Marianna for representing SHS for me!!!!

Kelly C

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Cathy, 1st I could barely hold back the tears when you message was read. As I am writing this I am crying quietly. Thank you for the support right from the beginning.

You are completely correct in that I am having a great time and am being challenged everyday. It seems that time here is sometimes going so fast then, so slow. The mix of emotions that I am experiencing. I think of you and the boys everyday. As I see the kids playing at the care points, I think how awesome the next second I think what are my boys doing. I miss you all so dearly. I know this will have an impact on my life at home.

I hope that the boys are not driving you crazy.

Zach my stomach caught up to me today. Not sure what I ate but the food finally won.

Luke – we had lots of fun building today. I know you would enjoy playing with the boys here.

Reuben – I am missing you dearly. Has Basketball started yet?

**Gino, thanks for the update on the bombers. I think this is a bad deal as Buck is great but just a little tender. Who is our #2???? We will have to catch a game together this year. *** I hope this was an April fools comment.. sander says it’s not**

I am so frustrated with the amount of time things take to get done here. To get electricity to Bhobhokozi. They have applied for an electricity permit but it is going to take 4 -6 months before it happens. They do not have running water there yet. It is brought in on a monthly basis and put in a large container.  Happy to know once the electricity is approved then the water will flow. Water is life in Swazi land. The next time you flush the toilet know how blessed we are to be able to do that. I am not being mean just saying how different our world’s are. So glad to be here with the support of such a great people.

Today, I was skipping with the kids, mostly girls) before they went home, if you can call it a home(mud hut). They loved it and thought it was very funny to see an adult male to jump rope. They all cheered and laughed as I was able to do it pretty well. They turn the rope very fast here. So much more to say but time for someone else to write about their day.

Over and out from Swaziland…

Mike

21 thoughts on “Team blogs from Friday…..

  1. Couldn’t sleep tonight so I thought I would catch up on the blog.
    I have seen such joy and positive moments through the pics and the videos posted on here. The video of Precious with the speakers takes me right back to 2009 with the laptop that was given to them.
    Jon and Kelly – I don’t even know where to start with the news you have received. Three years ago you hear the stat that over 40% of Swaziland adults are infected with HIV. You go over there and play with all the kids and you can quickly forget sometimes the situation that you are in. For me I know I it didn’t sink in until day 6 or 7 that some of these kids at the care point could actually have HIV, They were so full of joy and life when we were there with them. It really starts to hit home though when you know / remember the children or see those at Riverwood who have relationships with these kids struggle to figure out how to come to grips with the situation. I’m glad that you were there that day, as tough as it must have been, to love on him and his family in their time of need.
    To the group – Have a great day as you set out for the princess and soccer events. Finish your time there strong and don’t hold back. Friends and family will make it through a few more days without you! Keep focused on serving and loving all those you meet and you will have no regrets knowing that you gave it your all!

  2. I too can’t sleep and so got up and checked the blog. I am brought to tears by your teams’ experiences and how your hearts are being linked with the children of these two care points. Not only are you giving them care but your hearts as well.

    Anna, I am imagining the many conversations we will have when you are home about all that you have seen and learned and how you are changed because of this experience. I’m pretty sure you and Jabu had a picture together – I didn’t initially recognize her. If you see her again please convey my greetings to her and her family. I am so glad that you have been able to meet her.
    Wayne, thanks for your updates through email in the last 24 hours. Had a lovely time with Brenda and Cheryl who were keen to hear about how things are going for you both.
    Have a fabulous party and day of celebration with the kids! Looking forward to reading all about it.

  3. Tears…of joy and of sadness as I read through the blogs. Joy in the reaction of Peter and Precious, in the stories and reactions from the kids, the sadness of the children getting HIV, of walking home alone…*stopping typing to wipe tears*…the heart cry to hear from someone at home and the faithfulness of each one being there.

    Thank you each one for going, for giving of yourselves, to not only the care point but also to us. You are our eyes, ears, arms, hearts, there. You also bring it to us in a way that we couldn’t get by just sending stuff or money over. Thank you.

    Praying for you all for safety, for strength, for wisdom (praise God for mechanical people; for bags that are found), for health (watch those drums, food stuff, etc), for God’s hand upon each of you as you “do” each moment of the day He has planned for you.

    Hugs Sandra as I know it must be hard to be away from Kalena and Gino. Shelley, hugs to you too, special lady.

  4. Hey Team Riverwood! Thanks you each for sharing your experiences and what’s going on inside!

    For all of you and our whole church, the greatest risk of this venture isn’t travelling half-way around the world or driving roads on which cows roam freely (although that can be dangerous)… but it’s loving and then getting your heart broken! Giving your life away and loving with no guarantee that everything will turn out OK. Kelly, your note reminded me of that. That had to be so hard for you and Jon to hear.

    Team…i charge you in these last few days to love loke you have never loved before. Risk it all… and i guarantee your hear WILL be broken along the way… but it’s how God’s Kingdom is brought to earth.

    Cheering you on this weekend!

    Todd

    Ps. Carolyn… cyber-dancing didn’t really work out all that well. (see previous comment) Can’t wait till hold you again!

  5. Jon and Kelly, my heart broke for you and Lutkehtfo and Thembuso when I read that. It seems so unfair and hopeless but a verse that helped me when I found out about Busisiwe was Jeremiah 32:27. “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world (the people of Swaziland, Busisiwe, Lutkehtfo, Thembuso…) Is anything too hard for me? (Is caring for and healing them too hard for me?)”

  6. I don’t know whether to start with the serious comments or the light hearted ones first as I sit here in tears. It’s 9:10 saturday morning and I’m just getting ready to meet with the Lord in my quiet time. I wanted to connect with you before I started. I don’t know what to say,, there is no one in my home right now who I can discuss this with, so I write to you. It is sad, what is most sad is that you are only there for 2 weeks not even, once per year, is there anyone else that comes to see them and loves on them any other times? Praise GOd for those 2 weeks. The blogs are enlightening and very sad, but also very joyful, there are tears and lots of them, I’m sure of joy and sadness. I would expect that this princess party and football day for the boys is going to be an experience that will stay with them all for the rest of their lives. You don’t forget days and Experiences like that. Way to go team!! RAH RAH!!

    now on to way less important matters, everything seems way less important, but hey, it’s my reality.

    Kier has picked up Ty and has headed to the beauty salon with T.J. He should come back with all his cysts exposed.

    When I read Julie’s blog and she said she was talking to Brenda and Cheryl, it caught me off guard, but then I remembered you telling me Bren, that Julie had friends named Brenda and Cheryl and we th0ught, “how weird is that”. What an incredibly blessed Woman she must be, to be married to Wayne…….AND……………have friends named Brenda and CHeryl. I wonder if Brenda and CHeryl are VBF`s too..hmmmm wouldn`t that be hilarious if they were our friends too. Anyway,will certainly be praying for you all and for those precious souls that you are ministering too today and each and every day.

    Just had a thought, when they come it`s important to jot down because it doesn`t stay with me long ( not a joke). Even when you are not in that place, they are still being ministered to by our prayers, by our giving and by their memories and most important of all, by our Lord and Saviour.

    bye for now.
    Cheryl Mc of the Brenda and Cheryl`s

  7. Turning point is putting it mildly. I am so sorry for the news Jon and Kelly. I wish there was something I could say or do to make it easier.I will do what I can……… say more prayers. Lutkehtfo and Thembuso are very lucky you were both there to give of yourselves to them. God Bless you both for what you have given them.
    It is hard to believe that you have been gone for a week………………………..your time is precious and running out.

  8. Hello Amy from all of us !!We miss you alot and we hope your having a great time with all the great people we have been reading about!We hope your head feels better today!!!!We cant wait to have a dance party when you return to us safe and sound.All our love,The gang xo

  9. Hi Bryan — read all the blog & comments again today.Keep up the good work. thinking of you, loving you & praying for you all. Love, Mom

  10. I have tears in my eyes and my heart is sad too Kelly after reading your blog. It is really sad news and I am sorry to hear it about your boy. Wow and so sad to think that so many kids have HIV and struggle with the same issues. I can only imagine your heart when you watched him walk away with his sister (still tears), my heart breaks with you guys. Our prayers are with you and Lutkehtfo and his sister today as we think of there struggle and the burden they carry right now. We love you.

    Love, Ash and Sheld.

  11. Having this blog to read everyday has been so exciting! I am always excited when I see a new update and get to see all the amazing things God is doing through you, for you and for the children! The videos and the pictures have been awesome and really help us connect to a lot of whats going on there. The Epic students continue to keep you in our prayers and we hope you are having the most Epic time of your lives!

    Amy, so far it looks like you have had such an amazing journey! Sorry to hear that you got hit with a drum, but only you could have a story like that though haha! Thank you for looking for my sponsor child! if you find her that would be so cool! Have a fun princess party!

    -Knate

  12. Hi Nic, Read the latest, and sounds like the princess party will be a thrill for the kids, as well as the soccer. Take pics. also watched the video when you presented the sound system, and I sure teared up. I pray for you and the kids and caregivers daily. Their lives are so blessed with you guys coming in and giving them hope, and encouragement. Keep up the good work, connecting with the kids is so important and enriches their lives. We love you, and are keeping you in our prayers. Love MOM&DAD

  13. Hi Shelley. How is my baby girl. You know that you are my favorite daughter. Love you lots. I saw the picture of you and your sponsor child. Beautiful. They will sure miss you when you leave. bring me back a zebra for my farmville. Give all those children kisses for me.

  14. Hey Steph, Thanks for the shout out!! its great to know your thinkin of me 🙂
    i’m going out today to skate downtown vancouver! i’m pretty hyped!!
    Hope your days are going awesome!!
    love you and miss you!
    your most favorite person in the whole world,
    Eles

  15. It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Winnipeg – everyone is out enjoying this bit of warmth – tomorrow SNOW – and that’s the truth!
    Many times this week, I’ve been reminded that I need to keep “things” in perspective – my issues are small compared to what families at the carepoints are experiencing. We have families, homes, jobs, food, health and the list goes on – so much to be thankful for. How awesome it is that you 25 are there for these two weeks working, sharing and loving our Swazi friends. These last few days will go by quickly – cherish every minutes that you have – please let our Swazi friends know that they will not be forgotten when you leave. Just wondering how the “parties” went today? Waiting to read all about it:)
    *David – Andy fixed the van – for less than $100. YES!
    Love you!

  16. So I have been processing all day as I have had an incredible day with my daughter today, and I guess the thought that keeps coming back to me that as much as it is terrible to hear the news about Lutkehtfo and Thembuso, how incredible is it that the two people in the entire world that loves them as much as almost anyone else in this world, is there to comfort them at this exact time. Jon and Kelly, LeeAnn, and others with HIV sponsored children, if God needed us to love on these kids at any time, man, wouldn’t this be it? So I have to tell you, and I know its easy for me to say this from across the pond, I am so grateful that God placed you there to be with Lutkehtfo and Thembuso so that you can keep doing what you have always done, love on them; and now is when they need you the most. Nice timing Lord. Man, all things for a reason; sometimes I wish we could get a clue what that reason is, and other times, I’m grateful that He takes care of it rather than me. Much love…G

  17. Hi Auntie Kim,

    It was great to chat with you on Facebook!! 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed reading the blog and seeing all the pictures – the children are absolutely beautiful! More than once I’ve found myself with tears in my eyes at the images or comments posted. We have so much to be thankful for! Know that I’m lifting you and the team up in prayer!

    I’m going to have to see those jump rope moves in person – definitely pulling out the skipping ropes at the next family BBQ!! 🙂

    I can’t wait to see pictures from the Princess Party!! As one who’s had the blessing of a lifetime of love and hugs from you, I know how special you’ll make that experience for all the girls! Praying that they would each know that they are eternally loved, beautiful daughters of our Great King.

    Praise the Lord for keeping you healthy and supplying for your daily needs!!

    I’m really looking forward to seeing you and hearing all about this amazing journey. Hopefully all the snow will be gone in time for your return!! 🙂

    Love you lots!!
    Cheryl

  18. I was moved to tears seeing the happy faces of the beautiful children. I am so grateful to those of you who are there. It must be incredibly humbling experience to be with those who have so little but have so much happiness. I reflect on how much we have and take for granted. Be safe.

  19. Your Welcome Mrs. Courtney. It’s really sad that sometimes we don’t thank God for what we have and wish we had more. Can’t wait to hear more of your stories about Africa!

  20. Jumbo!

    It sounds like you had lots of fun!
    I also hope you’ll bring us back some new videos. I can’t wait to see what our sponser child looks like all grown up. All of us are excited for the spring musical. We’re confident we’ll raise tons of money.
    I hope Lutkehfo and Thembuso are feeling better soon 😦
    *sending hugs from Canada*

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