Enaleni Day 1 – Our hearts are full!

Wow….it is crazy to think we have only been on the ground for 2 days here.  We feel so full of experiences already!  We had a really meaningful time debriefing and sharing tonight and many of the team members have had their hearts moved!  Some great stories today you’ll hear about.

I was really excited about the work projects we are doing at Enaleni this year.  We had the vision to head out into the surrounding community to help some really needy homes.  It really has been a vision for us and the Enaleni church to grow in their reach and impact in their community.  We love how our Riverwood vision and Pastor Peter line up on this.

So….we had two homes chosen to do work on this year as a team.  Let me briefly tell you the story of both.

Home #1

This is Dudu….she is one of the go go’s at Enaleni and gives her time and energy tirelessly to cook for the children at our carepoints.  Her home was chosen because her roof has been leaking very badly and has grown moldy.  She doesn’t have the resources to fix it….and yet she invests herself every day into the carepoint.  She is a lovely woman.  So we ordered the materials to put a new metal roof on.  Today was the beginning of the project and the goal was to remove the old roof….this was a success.  We will be rebuilding the roof on Friday and Tuesday and soon her house will be dry and have a roof that will last.  We had a great crew that got pretty dirty pulling the old roof down….but they were troopers and they loved giving themselves to helping Dudu.  Precious (Pastor Peter’s wife) got in and was helping with them too 🙂

Home #2
building-7This home currently houses 10 people.  There is two older boys on the homestead caring for 7 girls and 1 boy.  We are not sure if there are any other caregivers involved.  What we do know is this home has gaping holes through the walls and is crumbling apart.  From this home there are 7 girls and 1 boy that attend the Enaleni carepoint daily.

In 2010 they began the construction of a new home beside it.  As they get money they buy blocks and have been working to build it.  They have done well but still had some work left to do.  So….we decided they would be a great candidate for the church to come alongside and help them finish.  This morning a truck showed up loaded with blocks, the cement was delivered earlier and the tin and lumber for the roof are now onsite.  Our team began mixing cement and building the walls alongside the family letting them direct us.  What an amazing picture to me of how this can work!  Pastor Peter was onsite and was connecting with them.  The local church helping those in need….inspiring to be a part of it!

Our day was filled with amazing experiences of reconnecting with Enaleni.  We just love the way we immediately feel at home and the kids welcome us.  Our day was filled with so much laughter, smiles and hugs they are too many to count.  I personally was so proud of our team today….they invested so much….they loved so intently….and they truly opened their lives up to these children.  Way to go team.  My personal favourite moment of the day was when I came onto site after being at the construction area and I saw Ben, our 14 year old team member, connecting with Scel’mphilo who is around his age.  As I walked in I was drawn into how they were laughing, joking and just relating…having conversations and it struck me how significant this moment was…..if you have been around for the entire journey we have taken at Swaziland, you will know that the very first time we stepped onto the ground at Enaleni, Scel’mphilo was the picture of sadness for us.  He has such a difficult story to his life….filled with grief and difficulties….but he has now become the most amazing story of hope.  Through the care provided at the carepoint….he is in school and being successful, he has been taken into the home of the pre-school teacher, he has been given leadership roles at the carepoint….and we just found out now he is taking skill training at Enaleni to learn how to make some income.  He is truly thriving!  He has been given opportunity…..and in the moment of seeing him just be himself with someone he could relate to on our team….I was overwhelmed with joy at the difference we are seeing!

It was a great first day at Enaleni….thanks for joining us.  Of course here are the stories from our team members and the photos to follow.

Follow along live at Bhobokazi tomorrow: http://www.facebook.com/bhobokazi

Till tomorrow….

Today I met my special friend, Ntando, or at least I believe that’s how you spell it, he was VERY shy and VERY quiet, but it was still very fun and over all an amazing experience, I wish it upon everyone to have the opportunity to meet their special friend. It was one of the best experiences of my life; to Karen, that first joke was hilarious, the riddle… not so much, but thanks anyways. On the way here, in Frankfurt, Germany I got so used to everything being in German….there was a poster I saw which read “LetItBe” and I went full idiot and asked what it meant, well now everyone who was there (Katrina[smelly feet], Alison[has no nickname], and Cassie[Cathy]) are making fun of me for it.  And for Kelly, I made Jon brush his teeth… YOU’RE WELCOME! And sorry about Tuesday morning, I too forgot to brush my teeth so I wasn’t able to make him and we went that day with smelly breath and dirty teeth. – Benjamin

Hey there, I can’t believe it’s only day two and I already have so many incredible memories to share.

Today, my morning began by boarding a bus at 8am with seven other team members to head to one of our worksites. The first site we went to had too many people so Erik, Jos, a few locals and myself headed to a gogos’ house to fix her leaky straw roof. As we were trying to figure out how to take the roof apart, it struck me that these Swazis have quite a system to building their houses- as simple as their roofs are, it’s really quite remarkable how some straw, logs, fence wiring and some string hold together a roof that protects them from the elements. Although the roofs don’t last as long as our North American ones do, Swazis have a great ability to use their resources. Anyway, I was on the ground hauling the straw that the men were tossing from the roof- we had a great system going. Precious (the pastor’s wife) stepped in and helped me make piles and keep up with the fast pace that 4 guys were working at. The highlight of this was simply sending time with Precious and talking with her as we worked. It was great getting to know her a little bit and see that her heart is 100% for the community. She spoke so highly of everything and although her preschool numbers aren’t where they were last year she was still so happy and kept saying how great God was. She has such a great heart and I really valued the time I spent with her.

Then I also had a chance to go a home visit to John and Janice’s special friend- Banele. This was really neat for me because I am really good friends with the Schmidt family and I know all about the special connection they have with him. When I told Banele that I knew Jon his eyes lit up and with a bit of hesitation he started asking me questions about them. The coolest part of all this was when I was at Banele’s house the first thing he did was run into his home and grabbed all the pictures that Schmidts had been sending him. He has kept really good care of the pictures and is so so proud of them. It was amazing to see that even with his simple life he holds on so closely to the connection that he has with his special friends.

I’m sure that this isn’t the only case and I just want all the other special friends at Riverwood to be reminded that they are making a great impact on these kids.

On that note, I thoroughly enjoy all the family and friends comments on the blog at the end of the day. It is so encouraging that there is an army of people supporting this team. Thank you for all your love and prayers. – Katrina

Hello Everyone!

What an incredible time getting here and being here! Swaziland is so beautiful, forget B.C., I’ve found my dream place. Right here in the heart of Swaziland!  Just a side note… I will never complain about Winnipeg roads again! The roads here are very bad!

Randy, I met our Special Friend yesterday and the first thing Menzie asked me was “Where is Randy?” Wow! I now realized how much these children cherish the letters and pictures!

I have spent the last couple of days, hugging, cuddling & playing with the children.  I’ve also been just a little creative paining nails.  The Children LOVE getting their nails painted! So does the Team! LOL! And I am enjoying blessing them!

Judith, thanks for the update on Michelle. Please give the QQQer’s a hug for me and especially big hug to Michelle. Please let her know that I am praying for her.

It is now midnight and must go to bed. Love you lots! – Mary

Today was our first day at Enaleni. There were three kids that I was really hoping to see again, and they were all there today! My special friend, Mthandazo, showed up in the afternoon and the look on his face when he recognized me was priceless! We had a fun time playing a ball game with some of the other boys, and I was able to interact more with him on this one day than during the entirety of last year’s trip.

I was also looking for two girls that I spent time praying and singing with on the last day last year: Fakazile Nkambule and Qinisile Dlamini. I love these girls so much!!! We were all a little shy at first, but by the end of the day we were best friends again. Qinisile has one of those tricky names with a click sound, so we spent some time practicing so I can say it right.

Sean and Leslie – I haven’t met you, but Qinisile really wants to say hello! I hope you are following along, or maybe one of your friends can pass this message along.

To top off this fantastic day, I got to go on a visit to my special friend’s homestead. His mom was there this time and she remembered my name. She even brought out Mthandazo’s report card to show me how well he is doing in school!

Jordan – I told her that we are both so proud of him. I can’t wait to show you pictures and tell you more about our visit.

There were so many other great times with different kids, but I can’t hog this laptop all night! Jon still needs to upload all the pictures, and we all need to go to bed.

Thanks again to everyone who is following along, leaving comments on the blog and praying for our team. Your encouragement and support keeps us going.

Signing off for now! – Allison


23 thoughts on “Enaleni Day 1 – Our hearts are full!

  1. I am praying for this team (I know Allison) and am so encouraged to read about how the Lord is working and loving these precious people. Reading about how you are instruments of peace and love reaches my heart.
    I have to also say that the quality of the photographs is something I really appreciate. They do not distract, they tell. This is a gift. Thank you to whoever is giving of themselves in this way.

  2. Tears are flowing over here……so great to hear the incredible stories…..thank you Team Riverwood for all your hard work and dedication – it’s inspiring! and thanks to God for giving us the resources to help our Swazi friends!

  3. Dear Swazi team

    Good to see that everyone is well and doing good. I want to encourage everyone to keep it up and move forward. Nicole’s family and I are praying for everyone’s helth safety and strength. I want to say high to Nicole especially and can’t wait to see you home.

    Paul and parents.

  4. hello swazi team! What you are missing in Winnipeg……it snowed this morning, then the sun came out! enjoy the warm weather and warm welcome of the people there!
    Very cool to hear your updates. I was sick yesterday and today but had a facetime call from Jon and Carolyn while I was curled up in bed….facetime is the best! Was great to see you guys so pumped and full of energy…sorry I wasn’t at staff gathering to connect this world with yours!
    BEN: since when do you know how to paint nails!?? mmmm….I think you need to bring those skills to Epic when you are back…I am sure the ladies will welcome a manicure! haha.
    MARY: So glad you are experiencing life to the full out there and met your other family!!!
    CASSIE: Digging eh! I am sure you can tie a sweet fig. 8 if need be too!!! way to go.
    KATRINA: very awesome you could meet the Schmidt family’s people! what a once in a lifetime opportunity. Cheering you on here in the Peg.

    To all….keep giving your guts out!
    Blessings from Winterpeg Manitscoldout.

  5. Ann and Andrew
    Looks like you are having a great time and are in your element there in swaziland. We have to say we are a little bit jealous. Enjoy that sunshine.. as today, it was snowing once again. We are looking forward to hearing all about what you are experiencing there. Take care, stay healthy, and we look forward to your safe return. Ann, we hope that your arm is holding up well and not giving you too much trouble.
    To all the team we say..work hard, but always save some energy to have fun with those beautiful kids. We are enjoying the great pictures. Praying for the whole team that you all feel united, work in harmony and a bond will develop that won’t easily be broken.

    George and Betty (your small group friends 🙂

  6. I am so humbled by these stories. The beating of my heart and tears are flowing as I share in your experiences from a distance. We serve an awesome God and I am so proud to be part of the Riverwood family. You are covered in prayer as you serve from selfless hearts. Praise be to our God

  7. Like I have said many times….you guys are awesome and all of the work you guys are doing is incredible.

    Bless all of you….you are all looking great!

    Dave…..my bald eagle neighbor dropped by to visit today and of course in the process of grabbing the camera I tripped on the cat….all I can think is how much you would be rolling your eyes and saying….of course! LOL I hope your sense of humor is not driving the others crazy yet….and that your playing well with the others.

    You are all in my prayers.

  8. All the stories are so inspiring. Thank you Cheryl for finding Noncedo for me and giving her a hug from her special friend. Jon, thank for taking her picture. I am praying for the teams health, safety and that you are all able to stay inspired. Our God is so good.

  9. My heart is swelling reading about what Enaleni church and Riverwood are doing in the surrounding community. Reading about it and seeing the pictures reminds me of Riverwood in Elmwood! And that proves to me again that God brought our 2 churches together to be family. Brenda, I’m so happy and encouraged to hear about Scel’mphilo! I’m almost speechless to hear about the transformation and restoration in his life. Thanks for sharing Jon! And thanks for making this day very special! 😉 😉
    Looking forward to what God has in store for tomorrow. Good sleeps to all.

  10. you guys and gals are doing an awesome job, keep up the energy and great job.
    katrina- hope all is well. hug a bunch of kids for me.
    cassie- nice picture of you with the little one.
    kailey- have fun and stay healthy.
    mary- can u bring one of those little ones home with you? lol have a great time

  11. It’s snowing again here in MB. Coldest April in over a hundred years. Have’nt reached +5C since last November
    (6 months). Good news is flood threat is down, no ice jams on rivers. Wonder what the people in Swaziland would think of that??
    Great bunch of pics again today people. Good work on those houses. Hey Cassie; I see you have learned how to lean on a shovel! Does that mean you will be out to help me with my garden this summer (assuming we get summer).
    God bless and keep on keepimg on. Love- Gramma & Grampa Ralph.

  12. Wow–seeing the pictures and reading about today was amazing and very moving. Each of you are doing such wonderful things and making memories that will stay with you always. Thanks for sharing it with all of us here. it was so great to get the picture of my boy Phila and know how well he is doing. Love to all that you–
    Jon–i get to have the kids tomorrow so i’m happy about that. love you

  13. Thank you for sharing this amazing day with us! Loved EVERY picture and story told. It’s remarkable how you make us feel like we are right there with you on this journey of loving others so deeply. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings 🙂 Sleep well

  14. Hey Swazi team, What a wonderful gift the pictures are. Some make me cry (happy cry) and others I am just in awe of the bond these children have with you. It is wonderful you were able to help rebuild two homes. What a witness and blessing this will be for them. Sarah it is wonderful seeing you looking so happy. I’m so proud of you. The picture with Zinhle brought tears to my eyes and me wishing I was there with you both. I want her to know how much we love her. I can’t believe it’s only day two – seems like weeks since you left. Yes it snowed, well I call it snorain, it was fluffy but very wet. Out came the sun and the temperature for the weekend is double digits. Yippee! Girls have been in the garden, oh well that’s what the bucket is for. Praying for all of you constantly. Love to you all, Connie aka Mum

  15. Hi Swazi team… love reading your update and seeing the pics. Anticipate the next evening as I watch for my email with the new posts. Brenda, make sure you give my girl, Nozipho Khumlo a B-I-G hug from Ellie. Love and prayers with your all.

  16. Way to go team!! You guys are doing amazing God work out there. And just wanted to say that we are so proud of each and everyone of you for representing all of us Riverwooders here at home. I know some of you but not all of you but my heart is with you all just the same. As I was there a couple years ago I have a sense of some of the emotions you all are experiencing, and just want to say is to soak in as much as you can and hold dear to each other and live and FEEL all that God is bringing your way. God bless you all.


  17. Fantastic! Love the ‘house-building’ projects…the seas of kids gathered in the church…the smiles…the impact! Thanks for pouring yourselves out all day long! Go Swazi-Team 2013!
    – todd

  18. Hello Swazi-Friends!! What a great day you had, love the pictures, love the stories. There are many of us praying for you. I shared about you guys at my staff meeting this afternoon and we prayed over you and the wonderful things happening there. You were also mentioned this evening at the Bible study I led with some of my friends locked up at the Youth Centre. We were talking about how the Kingdom of Heaven is a very big movement that connects us to the hope and love that Jesus’ brings all over the world. I am so happy for all of you as you connect with God’s Kingdom in Swaziland.

    Leaky roofs suck! Allison can share a few stories with you guys about that. As I read about the roofs being built I have a special understanding of the joy that a new metal roof can bring. Good work!

    Allison – I miss you and love you lots. Despite my best efforts I will be back in jail tomorrow, j/k. N will definitely be interested as I share with him your exciting stories so far. I am so happy you got to see Mthandazo and his mom. I was tearing up to hear that she showed you his report card. I am so very proud! That is exactly what I would have said. The guys are working hard on the house. Harvey told me that Jeremy was telling him that the whole crew is very excited and motivated to try to have everything done for you. I’ve been helping out a bit, but am so happy to have Nolan and the work skills guys taking care of almost everything. Can’t wait to have you home, but am so proud and happy that you get to be there!

    – Jordan

  19. Good Morning..though i guess when u read this you’ve had a full day already. Ben !!!! i have another joke for you 🙂
    Who designed Noah’s ark?
    An ark-itect!
    many groans, i know….Today is Landon’s birthday. yay !! i was wondering if you were celebrating anyone’s bday while u were there… does the community have any special things that happen on someone’s special day? let me know…At what age is a child considered an ‘adult’ with greater responsibilities… ? Now, go give your mom a big squeezer for me … and have an Awesome evening. we think about you guys all the time, glad its been so wonderful.. xxx Karen & Lexi (and Asado, cause im sure he misses u )

  20. Wow, amazing pictures! God will bless you all with continued energy and warm experiences (and I don’t just mean the weather!). Kimberly, everyone here is so happy to see you in these photos, one even made Grandma Stanis cry (out of joy of course!). Thanks Jon for the photos and updates.

  21. I have to say I was fascinated by how long the straw is for the roof. Can’t even begin to imagine what living on a daily basis in a tiny hut with 9 other people would be like. The pictures remind me of how petty our first world inconveniences are. Cheering you all on. Wondering how our Thobelile is doing – last year she was having headaches and was going to see the eye doctor. Any chance we can get an update? Kailey – will you get to see her? love you lots T – sleep well everyone.

  22. Wow what amazing stories of how you are impacting the lives of those in Bhobokazi & Elaneni but also how the Children, GoGo’s and other Caregivers there are impacting the Team!! God is definitely at work. The two house reno projects sound fantastic – what a blessing to these families! The pictures are fabulous – love the pics of Yvonne and Eric and the kids – and of Mary’s smile which seems to wrap right around her head!!! Special shout out to Brian & Cheryl, too!! Love all you guys – I’m reading all the comments and blogs waiting for word of our special friend – praying that you can find him next time you’re in Bhobokazi……….Love & Hugs!! Pam & Vic…

  23. Well done thy good and faithful servants! Keep up the good work and we pray that you will continue to make a difference in each life that you touch.

    -Eric & Helene Tapley-

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