Bhobokazi Day 1 – So Rich…..

Heh church & followers!  We have made it through our first day on the ground….in fact we did far more than make it!  We thrived on it.  What a perfect beginning to our trip….a day of rich connections….of holding kids….of meeting new faces and being remembered by old ones….of seeing our team absolutely drink in the moments they were given.  We laughed, sang, danced and ran with the kids today….I am reminded of how much of a gift these experiences are for us….we feel honoured to be Riverwood embodied into the 22 of us and we certainly can see the impact that our church has had on these kids…..

So….I have stories to tell….but for today I would like to let some of our team members tell theirs.  They have many.  Grab a coffee….enjoy and of course enjoy the pictures 🙂  Here’s one of my favs from the day


See you tomorrow at Enlanei….follow the live facebook updates at
We’ll the ground around 2:30AM your time.



Hello everybody! Thanks for all the comments thus far, very encouraging and brought lots of laughs.

I am a Newbie here in Swaziland and so I was very excited this morning to head out to Bhobokozi and meet the D-team, the children, the gogo’s, and see the care point in general. There was nervousness this morning before the buses came to drive us to bhobokozi but that slowly began to disappear as I met some of the Gogo’s and the children started to arrive. Coming on this trip I have been excited to see God’s work here in Swaziland but because of the cultural differences and language barriers I was nervous about being able to build relationships.  However, it’s clear that that nervousness was quite pointless. God has clearly brought me here to show his love to these Children and Swazi’s. He has also brought me here to show me more of who he is. Since God has lead the way he will break any barriers so that myself and my team will be able to do his will! We have a powerful God who is I am.

Let me finish with a story of how God did this. When all the kids arrived I decided to take a risk: Grab a skipping rope and teach the kids how to skip. First it started out a little rough, until we doubled up and got some kids to jump. The kids didn’t seem to know what they were doing and didn’t know when to jump…until an older girl came over with a friend and took both ends of the rope. Little did we know they were super fast at skipping and had tons of different games to play. I had been schooled. The two highlights of this experience were having the kids laugh at me as I tried to skip, which I did quite successfully towards the end (skipping in a skirt is quite difficult) and having a little boy come and grab my hand as he tried to enter the jumping rope along with the other kids. His laughs were adorable and his smile warmed my heart J.

Thanks everyone for your prayers and reading our blogs. Have a blessed week.


Hi from one of the rookies. First day. What a mix of emotions. From joy to chaos. Playing catch with a ten year old boy and he pastes you full on in the face with a rubber ball. The look of “ooooohhh” on his face changing to relief and then laughing as I start laughing. Instant bonding. I am also amazed watching the group bond and pitch in to help each other wherever there is a need without really thinking about it.

Being distracted with something and then feeling a pat on your leg. You look down and there’s a little one asking you to join the dance and play. Who’s ministering to whom here? Only day one? Yikes.

Anyways, hi family and thank you for letting me be here. Remember to make sure at least half the snow is gone from the yard, eh? Lol.  Take care.   Jos.

Bryan & Cheryl
Bryan: This is such a wonderful thing to be able to be in Swaziland. What makes it even better is that I am able to share this with Cheryl. She has graciously put up with my many stories and even more pictures from my first two trips. Now she gets to experience a trip for herself.

Cheryl: Hi Everyone the trip has been amazing so far. Right from the get go in Winnipeg when I got to talk with Pinball Clemens. He talked to us a bit about his charity in Africa and prayed for us as a team. I didn’t sleep much on the flight to Germany but I stayed at the hotel and slept, which was amazing. The Asante /centre is amazing! Our first day at Bhobokazi was soooo good. Lots of kids to lay loving on. I painted lots of fingernails and toenails. I was a little disappointed that our Special Friend wasn’t there but had a very rewarding day anywhere.

Bryan: I spent today playing with so many kids. It was so exciting that many kids remembered me from last year. Some even remembered my name. This just confirms the impact our trips have on the lives of the children here. It was also very heartbreaking to have to explain to some kids that their special friends were not able to come but they sent their love with us to share with them.

We are looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow at Enalani. So many more kids to love care for.

I will also be starting my day with a work project. A small group of us will be working on a house in the community. Apparently the wall need to be finished and then the roof of straw will be replaced with a metal roof.

We appreciate your prayers and encouragements.  Thanks to all who have posted.


Hey Everyone.  My first day started off with an extra boost of energy. I went to go move the plug adapter from one wall to another so I could blow-dry my hair. As I unplugged it the cover came off and got quite a bit off a shock! I am ok, it only hurt for a bit, but Amy I think I owe you a new one when I get back!

When we got to Bhobokazi this morning and it was kind of strange that no one was there. The Gogo’s and Make’s started showing up and shortly after so did the kids. The familiar faces seemed to recognize me, which was so cool! We finished lunch (in the fully finished and painted structure) and went to hang out with the kids. I got a Huge hug from one of the older girls I connected with last year. It was unbelievable! I was looking for Tanzile, the girl that I would love to have as a special friend, I saw her in the corner of my eye. She seemed to not remember me until the day was almost over. It was a great feeling to know she remembered me after all.

Had a great night at Jumbo and Kreik’s, reminding everyone that God is “I Am”. And how He is everything we need.
I’m excited to go to Enalani tomorrow and see the kids that I have connected with there. And see what it brings!.

Mom, I have been eating just fine. They are trying very hard to make things gluten-free for Brenda and I.  Love you guys!

Thanks for all the prayers and comments that are being sent our way, much appreciated by everyone!


Wow, what a great day! I was so excited to be in Swaziland again and visit Bhobokazi.  One of the girls that I connected with last year came and sat beside me right away and grabbed my hand.  Her name is Nontobeko. Brad and Jen, if you are reading this, yes she is your girl! I have pictures if you track me down when we get back. Her English is very good, and we had a nice chat. She was asking me if I would be going on the Safari on Saturday – she is really looking forward to it!

I had my own mini safari today with all the chickens, goats and cows wandering in and around the care point. I even saw two lizards. Hurray!

So far I’m feeling fantastic, healthy, and super pumped to visit Enaleni tomorrow and look for my special friend. Thanks to all of you who are following along and commenting on this blog. Your messages are so encouraging to us at the end of the day.

Ok, it’s midnight so I’ve gotta run! Hope to check in again before this trip is done.

Ryan – I hugged Spong’nkosi for you. He ran away. X-P  I found him again later on and we took some pictures.

Amy – I decided I don’t really want to drink that grapetizer after all. Appletizer is just so much better. Don’t worry though. I have it, and it’s coming back home with me for you.



Great first day of CarePoint visits.  Loved spending time with the kids today.  Got to do a home visit with my sponsor child and learned some things about her that I didn’t know.  This team is really starting to gel like I knew they would.  Please keep your posts coming as we anxiously look forward to reading them each evening.  Til next time.  Dave



28 thoughts on “Bhobokazi Day 1 – So Rich…..

  1. Looks like and sounds like you are all having a fantastic time! Praying that God will continue to bless you with fabulous moments and good health :-)! Hug some kids for us and please bring back some warmth!


    Karen Braddock

  2. Hi everyone!
    Those pictures look great! It sounds like you are having a great time. Bryan – were you greeted with your team cheer? Cheryl – you look like you are having a wonderful time.
    Erik – The picture of you with toothpaste all over your face is priceless! Was it planned or will the favour be returned?
    Have a great sleep everyone! Praying for you all!


  3. Thanks for sharing… sounds like you’re having an amazing time so far, with many more amazing times still to come! Thinking of the team and praying for you all.

    Cheryl – so glad you got your sleep! Don’t worry, we’re not doing anything creative here without you…yet 🙂

    Brenda – it’s getting warmer here so I’m going to go to B.J. on your behalf soon. You can thank me when you get back 🙂

  4. Thanks for posting this. Love seeing all the pictures and hearing your stories. God is doing great things through you. So wish I could have been their. Love seeing that picture of GoGo Grace. She is a wonderful lady if you get the chance to connect with her I highly recommend it. Have a good nights sleep everyone morning comes before you know it.

  5. Amazing photos!! It looks like it was a wonderful day had by all. Bless you all for sharing so much love and joy with the kids.
    Dave – I am happy to report all is still attached to the car…there is a new popcorn addict in the house….and it looks like it will be warm enough to take a trip to the BDI. Lots of love to you!

    Lots of prayers for all of you

  6. Great site people – really makes us back home feel like we are part of it all. Which we are of course, in love and spirit.
    The children and youg folks in the pics look just wonderful, healthy and happy. So nice to see in a part of the world that can sometimes be pretty sad. Enjoy and flourish as you grow in faith, and brotherly and sisterly love – all God’s children. May the mighty I Am presence of God be with you all. Love Gramma and Grampa Ralph

  7. Hi Allison! I found the blog! I was hoping it would be up again for this year’s trip. And Tony showed me how to subscribe to the updates 🙂 We have been thinking of you and praying that you will be in good health. So happy that you wrote a message- great to hear from you. Love you very much.
    xo, Sissi

  8. Hi everyone,
    Ernie and I are really enjoying the updates and all of the wonderful photos. Still snow on the ground here, at this point we’re wondering if we’ll ever see spring! Enjoy the sunshine!
    Sherry & Ernie

  9. Sawubona team!
    Great to see you made it there safely and all seem healthy and happy. This Facebook thing is working great! Love the updates. Allison, I have to say, I’m so glad you’re feeling good and getting to enjoy everything more this time! Looking forward to seeing pic’s from Enaleni tomorrow! I’m sure you’ll get some good ones of our rock star, Busi, Jon 🙂 I pray you all will not only freely give Christ’s love away but that you will experience fully what He has planned for each of you while you’re there. I love that Riverwood has fully embraced this endeavour over the past 5 years and that there’s such a large percentage of our church whom are “Swazi’s” and personally invested. Sala Kahle!

  10. So excited for you Cheryl. It’s great to see your smiling face in these pictures. Thanks for all the updates everyone and for all the pictures you’re sharing. I’m praying for all of you while you’re gone.

  11. Dear Allison,
    You look healthy and beautiful, and sound so excited and happy. It was so wonderful to open up the posting and see you as well as hear from you. You are in our prayers continually. It is such a good work that all of you are able to do there, and you must feel so privileged to be a part of it. I am so touched that these kids remember you and the others, although it is not surprising. They must wait with bated breath for the Riverwood team each year. No wonder you were so eager to go again.
    Much love, Mom and Dad

  12. I liked this comment from Jos:
    “Being distracted with something and then feeling a pat on your leg. You look down and there’s a little one asking you to join the dance and play. Who’s ministering to whom here? Only day one? Yikes.”
    I am sure there will be many moments like this for all of the participants …. and I am thrilled for the ways that God will enlarge everyone’s perspective about who His family is around the globe and the simple everyday ways that you have been given to encourage and value each other as you share moments of ‘dancing and playing’ together.
    Cool. We will continue to ‘cheer’ for real life-giving experiences for everyone there.

  13. WOW WOW WOW! Love the pictures. This carepoint looks far from forgotten. Great smiles, lots of hugs and happy happy kids. Carolyn – loved the picture with you and the Gogo – priceless. Alison and Katrina – you look very much at home with the kids. Kailey – I can only imagine how thrilled you must feel to be back with the kids. Soak it all in – enjoy every moment loving on these kids – you are creating lasting memories for these kids. I’m so glad you got to see Tanzile again – I can only guess that that means she’s been coming regularly. Glad you’re finding something to eat – really not worried at all – just had to say it. love you lots T – have a fantastic day.

  14. What wonderful pictures, thank you so very much. The one of the sad faced little child with the hood really touched my heart. Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s pictures.
    Nice to see some great pictures of you Bren, They are great, Ward Kier and I are watching the Jets game, only a few minutes left, they are down by one and they just got a powerplay………….30 second left………………..powerplay is over………..2 minutes left…………….Pavlik to the bench……….6 attackers……….empty net goal by the caps,,,,,,,,,its almost over for the Jets. Now this isn’t very important stuff, compared to what’s going on, on your side of the world.
    Well Kier and I are going to read some Psalms together. Hope you all are sleeping well and getting well rested for day 2.

    Love Cheryl

  15. Oh my! What a day you had today! I’m so jealous!!!!….in a good way….just wishing I was there!:) It is so special to see you married couples experiencing this together. I heard it on the last trips from Yvonne and Bryan of how much it would mean to have their spouse come too. The pictures shared today showed that very wish! Erik…you look like a natural over there. And Cheryl…it was meant to be. I know your journeys will be rich individually and together. (you too Anne and Andrew) and Anne, not sure you looked too impressed to have a babe strapped to your back, but it made me laugh out loud!! Thank you!
    Ben…lots of pics with the young girls around you. Good thing your mama is watching close, eh?;) and don’t forget to remind Jon to brush his teeth!
    To my love…love being able to talk to you on site with FaceTime! Helps me feel like I’m back! We miss you here lots but for the first trip you are away for, I feel at peace with God’s strength in front and behind me! Give Lutketfo hugs and kisses for me (and Thembuso too).
    Blessings to all!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and your day with us. May God bless you and the children as you get to know them and they have fun with you doing all kinds of activities. May God’s love surround you as you serve overseas. Blessings for the rest of your stay! Prayerfully, Maria Wilms.

  17. Hey Team! Read your posts, drank in your pictures and immediately turned to James 1:27. What you are doing is such a visible, tangible ‘out-living’ of that verse: “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: to help children who have no parents and to care for women whose husbands have died.” Thank you for the powerful reminder!!!

    Way to serve…way to risk and care for those you have never met before. Way to lead us as a church deeper into justice, compassion and partnership with people who have so much less than us (materially)…and yet, when you get to know them, you get this strange feeling that they may be richer than most Canadians. Bizarre, isn’t it? Be sure to let that sensation mess you up a bit.

    Blessings on your first day at Enaleni!

    – Todd

    PS…Carolyn, seeing you ‘there’ and me ‘here’…reminds me that you work all year long, from ‘here’, to make sure every kid that is ‘there’ is sponsored, connected and cared for. Thanks for all you do to make that work! Love seeing you ‘there’…but missing you ‘here’.

  18. Hey Swazi Team! Glad to hear that your first day went well! I wanted to send a quick message for Ben. Ben is a student of mine. I didn’t realize he was going on the trip until I saw him in the video at Church on Sunday. Ben I am so glad you have taken the opportunity to go to Africa and serve! I am cheering you on from MBCI. May God bless your experience and keep you safe. All the best! Matt Opalko- Mr. “O”

  19. Hey Allison! So great to hear that you’re having such a great time. It’s great to hear that you’re reconnecting with some of the friends you made last year. Even though I miss you I’m so happy you get to be there. Love you so much!!

    – Jordan

  20. HI team. Seeing all these pictures and all the kids just bring back so many amazing thoughts and memories for me. You are all looking good. Pastor Jon; 2 things for you; #1 have you been brushing your teeth? #2 is some really GREAT NEWS that i am just over excited to share with you; I Bought a new Skirt today. Can you guess why?Not for church this sunday either. [Hint it has to do with next year] I can already see you jumping for Joy and hearing you yelling THANK- YOU JESUS all the way from Africa. Speaking of skirts has anyone seen my nice pretty blue 1 from last year? LOL. Mary that picture of you holding that sleeping baby is so precious.Hi Brenda and Carolyn you 2 look so natural and beautiful in the pictures of yourselves and the kids.Eric it looks like we also need to teach you how to brush your teeth. Tooth paste on the face just does not cut it; you know what i mean.Mae how does my old room smell this year. I’m sure it must smell like a whole garden of fresh roses without some body’s sandals in there this year.P.J. so sorry to bring you bad news from CANADA but our jets lost the hockey game tonight.Here is some advice to help you deal with it;SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP. Well i should go for now as i do need my BEAUTY sleep. Love; thoughts and prayers for you all. GO SWAZI TEAM GO!!!!!! Until next time.

  21. Super glad to hear that everybody and the luggage arrived safe and sound; Hiccups are always expected with a large group and logistics that complex!

    Reading these preliminary posts and seeing the early pictures, memories are already flooding back. Super Jealous, yet elated for every single individual there, rookie and veteran alike. Enjoy playing games with the children, and just breathing in the culture, surroundings, and personalities.

    Thank you Allison; you and the team will have to shower your love on my special friend, and all of the other children for the Riverwood sponsors that couldn’t make it out there! I can’t wait to see absolutely every single picture!! Anybody able to confirm a name on the child in picture “Blogday1-37”, I’m about 86.729% sure, but he looks literally twice as big as last time I saw him!! Amazing pictures already!

    My Prayers and Thoughts are going to the entire Riverwood team, D-team , Hopechest staff, GoGos and of course the Children. (And I suppose the cows, MoooOOOoOOOoo!*)
    *Jon/Carolyn, please actually make the sound effect while reading this out to the members during the daily debrief.

  22. Hey Dave…. It is so awesome that you are able to go again. I am happy the team made it all good and safe there. Did any of the soccer balls survive from the 2009 trip out there?

    Awesome picture Dave I remember this little guy.. he was the always sad little boy sitting alone… wow the pictures bring back so many memories and make me want to get on a plane now…

    Keep up the great work guys. Praying for your continued safety, and energy to put everything into those little kids. you all are awesome

    If you have some time Dave can you snap some pics of Lulimile for me. and give her a big hug from me and Heidi. we are praying for her all the time to grow up strong and healthy.

    Bless you all

    Tim and Heidi Hellsten

  23. The cows must be amazing for some reason because that was about the only word I heard other than, “can you hear me now?” during my attempt at a chat with Kimberly. I should have just taken her to the other side of our highway for an up close and personal encounter with one right here in our very own municipality and the reception would have been the same to boot!

    The pictures look fantastic and what a blessing to have the technology that allows us to experience this right alongside you all. I’m sure Kim will agree that the play area looks much like our front yard with about as many kids so she won’t get too homesick.

    I pray all your energy doesn’t wane and you are supernaturally refreshed everyday and all kept strong and healthy.

    I couldn’t help but notice, Kimberly ,that your outfits and shoes blended in quite nicely with those of all the other ladies and that you were smiling regardless. Nah, nah, boo, boo! Ask the ladies in Africa if they can suggest anything to grow my eyebrows back.

    Be safe everyone and I hope you all come away from this stronger in ways we could never even fathom. Make every moment count because I’m sure these two weeks will fly by. I can’t wait to see and read more.

    Heads up, I gave Kimberly a big package of chocolate bars to bring so ask her where she is hiding them. Enjoy!

  24. Looks like you guys had such an incredible first day at Bhobho! Such a big part of my heart is where you are right now and its a mix of a bit of pain not being able to be there and joy knowing that those kids are getting loved on! The only thing that I will ask (if i can), is that whoever is giving my little girl, Malaka, her care package please let her know that its from me and its not just a generic supplies bag. She is at the Bhobhokazi care point. Those of you who were there with me in 2012 will know who this little girl is. For the rest of you, she’s the most adorable little girl there ever was, so use that as your reference and you’ll find her! 🙂 God bless you all team 2013!

  25. Good Morning from Winnipeg..I loved the pictures.. Ben, i have a riddle for you…

    How do angels greet each other?
    They say, Halo.

    hahaha..i still owe u a few more bad ones… By the looks of it, it appears u had lots of fun yesterday. im super impressed that u are there ….God is delighted in your serving …Please also say hello to Kimberley from us..i love how there can be a role there for everyone ..maybe different for everyone, but God just desires willingness and our best..I think what an awesome experience this for you ‘young adults’.. Lexi is growling at the window this morning..think shes complaining about there still being snow, oh, maybe its that rabbit.. 🙂 hope u had an awesome day . challenge your mom on those monkey bars, i think she’d surprise u… xxx karen,etc..

  26. Love the photos! It is great to see everyone starting to connect (and reconnect), and the smiling faces are testament to – uh – the Testament!
    Cassie: Great action shots of your skipping prowess! Practice during the next two weeks, and you can demonstrate your technique for us!
    Dave: Who was checking out whom in the photo of you holding the little one? Maybe your beard was intimidating!
    Erik and Yvonne, there’s a great photo of you two with the little girl that really says it all. And Erik, you seem right at home with the kids!
    For everyone, you are all blessing us and inspiring us here back home.
    And yes, although it’s till cool right now, the forecast is for it to shoot up past spring and right to summerlike temperatures this weekend. I’ll believe it when I see it! (I seem to identify with Doubting Thomas these days!)
    Love, Donna and Chris Rutkowski

  27. Today I am reminded by something Jon preached at Easter. “The Risen Christ changes everything.” May you know deep in your being that Jesus is present in you and through you to bring about His love and care and power to those you meet in Swaziland. Keep your physical and spiritual eyes and ears open to what God wants to reveal, how the Holy Spirit wants to pray through you, and what the Risen Christ wants to do through you. Be blessed abundantly! Wayne

  28. Glad you didn’t have time to edit the pics!! The more the merrier! What strikes me are the smiles – on everyone’s faces – both our team and the faces of the children and caregivers at the carepoints!! Great job on the faces, Mary & Brian! And the building projects look great! The “short person” skit looks like it was a blast, Erik! And Cheryl and Yvonne, every pic of you guys holding children – so precious!! Keep up the great work – we miss all of you – missed you last night at CR, Mary!! And of course every day at work. Enjoy the Safari and safe journeys!! All of love and prayers…Pam & Vic

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