8:30 am Alarm goes off
9:03 am Downstairs for breakfast. We have the place to ourselves and are served an awesome first and second course breakfast.
9:38 am Elliot picks us up for the wedding.
9:43 am Elliot receives a call that a ‘boy’ has died in the hospital and his body can’t go to the morgue in Manzini because the morgue is full. Elliot tries to figure out how to get the boy’s body to Big Bend, an hour and a half south. Elliot wants to help but he’s tied up as our driver. i suggested that i stay at the wedding while Elliot and Cam go pick up the body and deliver it to the morgue in Big Bend. Everyone agrees to this plan.
10:04 am Arrive at Exhibition Hall for wedding.
CAM: Swazi people may be some of the kindest, most accepting people I have ever met. As Todd and I walked into our first Swazi wedding today, I only saw smiling faces and extended hands from everyone there. We were basically strangers to most of the people there and definitely stuck out like a couple sore thumbs but you wouldn’t have guessed it but the way we were treated. It doesn’t matter whether we’re walking on the streets of Manzini or popping by Nando’s for Peri-Peri chicken, our glances around the city and surrounding area are always met with loving eyes.
10:07 am Wedding begins with the wedding party coming down the aisle…dancing a very cool, choreographed dance. (i leaned over and suggested that some day Cam’s wedding party should do this…but with the last name ‘Friesen’ there is little hope he would ever have such moves).
11:48 am Elliot is back with Tcenbilo, a D-Team member to pick up Cam and head to the hospital.
Meanwhile, the wedding continued. It was a fascinating and beautiful ceremony that included at least 6 pastors, 2 choirs, 10 different speaking parts and at least 16 music/song moments…many of them spontaneous worship that the live band quickly picked up on and joined in. At one point, all the pastors were asked to come and pray for the couple as they knelt down. Jesus and God’s Word were so incredibly central to the entire 3 hour and 8 minute ceremony.
CAM: During the wedding, Todd and I split up and I travelled with our driver, Elliott, on an unusual errand. As we were driving to the wedding, Elliott got a call from local friends who were seeking his driving skills, a vehicle and a trailer. A 20 year old boy with connections to a care point in the area had passed away early Saturday morning. He had been diagnosed with Aids for the past few years and was receiving financial assistance from Hope Chest. Elliott and Tcenbilo, a Hope Chest D-Team member and friend of the boy, were given the task of transporting this young boys body one and a half hours, in 36 degree weather, down the winding, and unpredictable highways of Swaziland. As we picked up the body from the hospital and loaded it into the trailer, I was given the opportunity to meet the mother of the boy as she gave me her blessing to film this heart wrenching journey.
Tcenbilo explained to her that we wanted to bring this story back to our church in Canada to raise awareness to the fact that this was happening every single day in Swaziland. She looked at me with tear filled eyes, nodded her head and shook my hand.
Wow. This itself is just another sign of how bad the HIV/AIDS problem has gotten here, but this mom was willing to let me film this day of her grieving in order to help the larger cause and show people what’s really happening here.
TODD: In Swaziland, death is so much more a part of everyday life here than it is in Canada…but it doesn’t make it any easier. This boys life was every bit as precious as yours or mine. It’s just that Swazi’s are losing more of their loved one’s much faster than we are. Once the mom of this boy reached her home and family, she began to wail with grief. Please take a moment to pray for her and her family as they mourn their loss.
1:18 pm With the wedding ceremony wrapped up, we all headed to the buffet line. During the ceremony, Mandla had been interpreting for me. Over lunch i asked him what he did for a living. He works for a part of the government that is collecting data and statistics on health related challenges. His job is to manage the projects and make sure they are accurate. This was a great contact for me to confirm some of the stats that i had heard. He reported that…
– Swaziland’s population (at last census in 2009 ) was 1,001,000 people
– 41% of Swaziland’s population are known HIV/AIDS infected people (many others go un-reported)
– 7000 people die in this country of HIV/AIDS each year. About 20 people dying from this horrible disease EVERY DAY!
– 1/3rd of all children in Swaziland are O.V.C (Orphaned & Vulnerable Children) Vulnerable meaning they’re families can’t afford school or food
2:29 pm i hitched a ride back to our guest house with Mandla and his family.
2:45 pm Continue message prep for preaching at Enaleni tomorrow
3:36 pm Take a nap. (…so that’s what one of those feels like)
3:57 pm Elliot calls and wakes me up. They are 45 minutes away.
4:50 pm Elliot drives Cam and i to grocery store. We pick up supper.
5:20 pm Dinner on the roof-top patio of the guest house
6:02 pm Video work, more message prep, write blog posts, Route 33/66 Bible reading, Skype home, make some coffee, upload blog photos and video, more message prep for church.
12:49 am Sunday Crash.
– Todd & Cam
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