It’s Friday night – 10:40 p.m. Swazi time and our team is frantically preparing 400 candy bags for tomorrow’s Carnival Party at Enaleni, a party day with both carepoints. There is lots of laughter and great team work going on as I write.
Today was our first day at Bhobokazi. A carepoint once called the “forgotten” carepoint is becoming the “beloved” carepoint right before our eyes. A once desolate piece of land, now has a wonderful playground and has become a place of great enjoyment for the children (there’s even a sand box … now we just need to get them some sand toys) The shelter we started last year, now has a cement floor and today some of the team worked at laying the bricks for the walls. Bhobokoz has definitely become a brighter place … one of hope, love and safety for the children. Thank you Riverwood for your contributions to helping to create a beloved place for our precious Bhobokazi kids.
We had a great day with the kids; saw many familiar faces and some new ones. From “station” to “station” the kids and our team traveled in groups experiencing the truth that God shines light into our darkness (2Samuel 22:29) through songs, a hands on Bible story experience, games that brought about much laughter and a craft to remind them to let their light shine. Through all of these activities it is our prayer that they would have a new found reliance on God to shine His light into the dark times of loneliness, sadness and fear that is often the reality of the children here.
One of the blog comments we read this evening said ” We will never know the whole impact that’s being made, so if all we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg -I’m liking what I see. And I’m going to ask when I get to Heaven for God to show me the full effect of what He’s been doing these past few years in Swaziland.” We too are loving what we are seeing first hand. One of the “tips of the iceberg” we are witnessing right now that I am so excited to share with you all is that one of the boys from Bhobokozi who has been a part of the carepoint since it began, has now been chosen to become a part of something new here – The Leadership Academy. He is currently being trained to become one of the Discipleship Team members of the carepoint. He was helping along with us today, and at the end of the month he will be leaving to go to South Africa for Bible School Training for 8 months. Once he returns he will become one of the Disciplers. Does it get any better than that? Our sponsorship as a church, the sponsorship and the prayers prayed for this young man by his “special friends” at Riverwood are having an impact!
I am so proud of our team! They are giving themselves fully to the mission at hand; loving as Jesus loves!
Blessings to you all back home! Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. We read them every evening!
P.S. Bonnie may not be returning with us. She received a marriage proposal today and told the gentlemen he didn’t even have to provide any cows! Quite a deal as the going rate is 15 cows per bride!
FROM ADAM CHEADLE
Friday Evening, April 20, 2012 – 11:10 PM (Swazi time)
Well, it has been four whole days since our arrival here in this beautiful country and there are a lot of things to process. Too many to list here, and many too personal to speak about until I have had a little time to process them and talk to God about what they mean. For those interested in a sports play-by-play summary of the action to date here are some of the highlights that have been memorable so far:
a) Not sleeping for 36 hours from Winnipeg to Swaziland (was a little insane when I got off the plane? Maybe just a touch the voice in my head keeps telling me that I will be OK though)
b) Being on 3 different continents and 5 countries in two days. Very cool!
c) Seeing the country of Swaziland for the first time. Words cannot describe the first impression.
d) Meeting our special friend Bussie for the first time. What an absolute joy and privilege to see what God has done in that little girl’s life.
e) Seeing my wife reunited with Bussie for the first time in two years. Again no words are fitting for that one.
f) Watching this fantastic team gel together and work with the children and people at these carepoints. These are extraodinary people and they have not for one instant filed to delight, surprise, impress and humble me with their attitudes of service and love for every person here.
g) The marvelous leadership of our team (no bribe was solicited for that comment). John and Carolyn have led us with grace, compassion, love, strength and honour. God has placed the right people in charge.
h) Getting used to how some things in Africa are done differently. For example when I was teaching if I had said that I was planning a lesson about God’s light that would have culminated in sending 100-200 children between the ages of 2-13 off into the dry bush with a bag full of candles and matches at the end of the day with very little parental supervision it is doubtful that I would have gotten a green light on that. But hey, here it works – Nobody panic, Carolyn and John will be happy to answer all your questions when we get home 😉
It has been an interesting trip so far to say the least. One of the things that is apparent to me as a first timer is that I viewed this place with a certain element of myth. I have heard since the begging of the carepoints about the places, the people and the children. I am learning about the difference between hearing and seeing right now. Is there a great deal of brokeness here? Yes there is. Is there much more that can be done to help? Absolutely! But as i have pondered the meaning of things over the past few days something is becoming clear to me. God is working here! People at Riverwood have made a huge impact here by our support.
Do not think that this is a call for us to hang up our hats, pat ourselves on the bag and say, “well, glad we got that all sorted out.” As I said there is still so much to be done here and we can, and I am sure will, help to accomplish even greater things. But honestly, what has amazed me is to see these places and watch the joy, love and zest for life that I have seen in the people here! These places are thriving with life absolutely full of God’s presence! It is so encouraging to have seen and known the history of these carepoints and then be here to see what God has worked through the love, prayers, dedication and service of our church and the truly amazing people who serve the Lord here in this country!
Be encouraged everyone! God is doing remarkable things here and you are a part of it. I give Him all the glory for all that is being accomplished for His Kingdom in this country and many, many thanks to everyone in our Church Family who is supporting His work here.
That is all for now. Thanks to all who support us in prayers! Also thank you to all who write on the Blog. It is a huge encouragement please keep them coming. If anyone sees my kids this Sunday please give them a huge hug (make sure you know them first though) and tell them that their Daddy misses them and can’t wait to see them soon.
FROM BRYAN PETERS
Hey all. I was truly excited as we approached Bhobokazi this morning. I couldn’t wait to see the painted kitchen and see the shade roof back up where it belonged. What I saw was so much more. Standing in the field where we had picked so many weeds was a beautiful ply structure. It had all the fun stuff like slides and ladders. Even a bridge for swinging under. On the end was a pair of great swings. The roof of the shade structure was gleaming in the sun and there was already a new concrete floor under it.
The reunion with the make’s and gogo’s was more than I could have dreamed of as Grace greeted us with hugs and hand holding as she told us how blessed they were to have us there. Truly I think it was the other way around. I set to work getting all the photos i would need for the slide show story of this care point. It didn’t take long for the yard to fill up with kids. I new a lot of them by face and it was so cool to see how much they had grown.
I want to jump ahead to the best part of MY day. Shelley came to where I was working and told me they were profiling “my boy”. I was actually scared as I went to meet him. I just wanted to hug him but also didn’t want to scare him either. With the help of a D- Team member I was able to have a very basic conversation with him. We talked about school and sports. I asked him who his hero was and he told me it was a famous “football” player on a national team. He also told me that he wanted to be a Police Officer when he grew up although he didn’t know why. I told him I would pray for him every day and if there was something I could pray for him. His reply was that he want to be able to finish school.
Throughout the day I would give him a “thumbs up” and bump fist and after a while he started to smile whenever I came close. Near the end of the day I asked him to hold a Bible for me for a shot I needed. After we were done we Thumbed and bumped and I gave him a hug. I just about broke into tears (a big no-no) when he hugged me back and gave me a big smile.
At the end of the day I was able to go to his home to meet his family. He lives with his Grandfather and Grandmother and at least six other kids. I was told he only has three siblings. Through our interpreter I was able to greet them and give them the gifts we had brought. Beans, corn floor and other basics. His response was to tell me that he didn’t have enough words to express his thanks. He said I was a gift from God and a blessing to them. I promised them that I would pray for my “special friend” and would pray for them as well. It was hard to leave them there but I know that God will be looking after them because i know he answers prayers. I will post pictures when I can and take more when I see him again tomorrow.
Thanks again for your prayers because without them we would not have the strength to go on.