Enaleni Day 2 – Soaking up every single moment!

We are four days in on the ground and I’m not sure we could ever have dreamed for a richer experience thus far.  The team is doing amazing work and is truly soaking in every bit of joy & experiences that come their way.

For me personally, today was a significant one.  This was our second day at Enaleni, and I left hoping for but not expecting to meet up with Kelly & my special friend.  Last year when we were here I found out that shortly before the trip, Lukhetfo (our special friend) and his sister had experienced the loss of their aunt….who was their primary caregiver.  We knew this could mean that they would now experience some instability because only their uncle was left to care for his own children and them.  We weren’t sure how it effect their living arrangements.

We found out a short while ago that in January, Lukhetfo & his sister had moved away to be with their biological mother.  This is located a distance from the carepoint and thus they have no longer been attending.  In a country so devastated by death and tragedy from HIV, this is an all too common story.  It can be difficult for us who know much more stability to understand what it is like….but this happens daily in Swaziland.  What we have been praying for is that they are safe & in a good environment to succeed even though they were away from Enaleni.

I had been told that a request had been made to the mother to bring them to the carepoint to visit, but on our first day they hadn’t been there.  I assumed this just meant she couldn’t make it happen.  It is far enough away that getting their without a method of transportation could be difficult.

Well….a crew of us left early this morning for the carepoint to get started on the construction and as we were driving down the long dirt road towards Enaleni, I did a double take as we passed three people walking down the road….in a moment I recognized who they were and I yelled out to the driver STOP!  I jumped out and sure enough it was our little boy and his sister walking down the road with their mother.  My heart burst.  Their faces lit up and we had a marvellous moment their on the side of the road….they looked happy, healthy and excited to be coming.  I also found out that Sheila (one of the Gogo’s) had agreed to let them stay with her for the week so that they could be with us for the remaining time.

It is absolutely overwhelming to know how connected we are to these kids.  I felt like he was one of my own.  I felt elated that I could tell my boys we saw them as they pray for him every night.  I was even more thrilled to see them looking healthy and growing.  Of course we played all day together….catching glances, playing soccer, & chasing each other around.  What a highlight personally for me.

Today has had many highlights for all of us…..from the opportunity to work with the homestead continuing to build a new house for them…..to working on the roof for our Enaleni Gogo….to visiting with both Pastor Peter & Precious and having our hearts all the more connected…..to watching as Erik & Cassie make fools of themselves doing the little people skit for the kids….to seeing the incredible face painting of Bryan & Mary….to seeing the kids learn that we can talk to God anytime, anywhere, no matter what….to the amazing home visits some of our team experienced…..to the traditional Swazi dance some of the girls at the carepoint performed for us (ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!)….to seeing the Skills Training program started up on site in operation…..to worshipping with the kids….to…..well, you get the point….too many to name!

What a privilege it is for us…..we have such full hearts and have loved taking you along the journey….much more to come!  We can’t wait for tomorrow to come….we are up bright and early and heading out to take 200 kids on a safari and to run a party for more than 80 pre-schoolers at Enaleni (who are too young to go out).  Tomorrow feels like an adventure….feels like a bit of crazy one too as we load up 4 buses with 60 people each to visit the elephants and rhinos.  Can’t wait to tell you about it!

Tomorrow and Sunday you can follow along the live updates on facebook at both Bhobokazi & Enaleni (click the links at the top of this page).  Signing off in Swaziland for a short sleep….




It has struck me only recently that I have a few skills that I did not know existed. I’ve helped mix cement and use the same cement to erect the walls of a family’s dwelling using cinder blocks. Not a huge house, mind you, but it is home to ten people!

It’s also great playing and interacting with very little ones. It has been a very long time since I have picked up such little bodies. I did not know my hands were still nimble!

Team work here in Africa has been tremendous and God has built a great spirit among us. – Andrew


I can tell you this is just an incredible experience.  My wife Yvonne told me a lot about what to expect. She came to Swaziland two years ago.  And yet, I’m often in awe about what God is doing here at the care points. Besides the footprint our Riverwood Church has set here at Enaleni and Bhobokazi and the support the special friends in Winnipeg have given to so many children, I see signs of the Spirit everywhere.  How all the children, young and old sing the Lord’s Prayer, yes SING the Lord’s Prayer loud and clear gave me the chills; it’s not like the way we mumble the Lord’s Prayer.  The people, including the children in Swaziland know how to praise God. We could learn a lot from them.

Today we were at Enaleni. We had a great day with the kids. Starting with singing & worshiping God, a little people skit, which apparently was pretty funny (I was one of the little people), the laughter of the kids was priceless, story telling about Daniel in the lion’s den, decorating cup cakes as lions, face painting and playing a chasing game with “one Daniel” and many lions. The kids had a blast all day long and all of us with them.

However my highlight of the day was hearing the neighbour lady, living behind the care point, singing praises to God with all her heart. Hearing her sing in the quietness of the moment made my heart jump for joy.

We have a great and awesome team.  We gelled since the first meeting we had. I feel very supported by the entire team.  Jon & Carolyn are great leaders. It’s such a blessing to experience this with Yvonne.  To all the people who supported us, thank you for making our dream come true! – Erik

Hey everyone! I hope all is well back home. Everything has been absolutely incredible here.


I have been thinking about blogging for the past couple evenings already but each time I think about what I want to write, there is just so much that I want to share with all of you back home that it makes it difficult to decide what to write about. Throughout the day, I often find myself thinking “this would be the PERFECT moment to blog,” but by the end of the day, those perfect moments build up until there are just simply too many to count. So many moments and so many feelings.

I want to share one in particular. This one is for Angie and Jeremy Pickel and family who asked me to look for their special friend Fakazile at our Enaleni care point. Well, I found her and wow is she incredible! I am so glad to have met her. She asked about you and we talked for quite a while. I painted her nails (she loved it, nail painting is a HUGE hit here – girls AND boys!) and she found me during worship and sat beside me with all the preschoolers 🙂 I’m hoping to spend more time with her before we leave because she is such an awesome young girl. You all would get along so well with her. She is a woman of God and you would be very proud.

Well that’s all for today. It’s 11pm and I still need to fit in a shower, sunburn treatment (I know I know, bad Nicole!), sleep and breakfast before the bus leaves at 7am…

One more thing…I would just like to thank everyone posting comments on our blog. The team reads them together at the end of each day and they are such a great encouragement.

Wishing you could all be here with me, – Nicole
Wow, what another awesome day!

Today started off very early this morning because I was going on the work van to help a family build their house. On the way to Enaleni, Jon started to yell, “Stop the van, stopped the van!” As Sandile, one of our awesome drivers, stopped the van, Jon jumped out and started hugging Lukhetfo (Jon’s special friend), Thembuso (sister), and their mom, Cebiel. They hopped on the van with us. I was talking with Thembuso and showed her a picture of her special friends. A smile came across her face from ear to ear! When I saw her face light up it made me realize how much our special friends cherish us! I think that is awesome Awesome!

Hi ho it is off to work we go. The bunch of us walked to the homes that were getting work done.  Did I mention how beautiful Swaziland is? I stayed at the house to help with brick laying. It was very humbling to see these homes and how they live. We have so much to be thankful for and so much we take for granted! While we were working, I met the mom. She was telling me how to say her name and that could just call her Mary. I told her that was an awesome name and that was my name. A big smile came across her face!  The loner we were there, the young man’s face turned from sadness to laughing! That was awesome!

God is so good, and I thank Him everyday for what He is doing here in Swaziland and in Winnipeg.

Thanks! – Mary


Click to enlarge the photos (sorry there is a lot….out of time to edit them down)

18 thoughts on “Enaleni Day 2 – Soaking up every single moment!

  1. Hi,
    I am a Riverwooder and have a sponsor child through church and these photos warm my heart. So glad, it looks like you’re all having so much fun together!


  2. wow–you brought tears to my eyes–to see all the great connections and the beautiful faces, to hear about Jon’s connection with his 2 very special friends and see the pictures with their happy faces (and to see Jon’s big smile), to see my special friend, Phila, who is a very handsome and wonderful young man in one of the pictures–i send our love to him. it is such a privilege each night to read your stories and hear your hearts–i know you must be tired at the end of the day but thank you soooo much for sharing. love to all–have a great Safari day. Sue

  3. Hey Mom! I miss you so much! I hope you’re having a great time… I don’t doubt that your are. I sure hope you’re not getting those stupid headaches either. Well one more day of work [yuck] then it’s the weekend for me [yippie]. I can’t wait to see you in one week 🙂 I guess I really need to learn to share my Mom huh? Love you!

  4. Something special is happening where you guys are – we can feel it back here in the stories you tell; like the one today about Jon’s friends and how they came all that way to see him, and then a chance meeing on the roadway. To many coincidences to be just concidence don’t you think? And then to know the details behind it all and the depth of tragedy involved in those people lives is just to much. I sometimes wonder how people bear it, and then with a smile and a happy face to boot.
    Your pics today just about did me in – I try to pick a (personal) favorite each but today I just couldn’t seem to do it – the little girls at the water tap washing their dishes, the little boy leaning against the wall eating a snack, two of the young boys with white floral face paintings, arrrgg!! how do I choose?? So I picked what I considered to be the most artistic (you can go ahead and define artistic any way you like – and good luck with that – the eye of the beholder suits me)
    So my eye beheld the little boy walking along kicking up dust, set against a back drop of the setting sun – that one gets gets the blue ribbon today.
    Hey Cass. keep learning those useful skills – my house foundation needs redoing this summer as well.
    Love to all and God bless you all. – Gramma & Grampa Ralph

  5. Hey T – just wanted to say hi – all the girls at work keep asking about you – they’re wondering how you’re doing. Spring actually arrived today – hoooray!! There were plenty of smiles walking into the bakeshop – not sure they could match the smiles I see on all the faces in the pictures. Looks like everything is going well and that the Swazi kids and grown-ups are just thrilled to have you all bring some extra happiness and loving into their lives. Enjoy the sheer excitement, joy and wonder tomorrow as you safari together. Look forward to hearing/reading all about it. Love you lots – stay clear of the “dieing holes” (Madagascar) 😉 oh yeah – Bailey misses you

  6. Hey gang, tons of pictures, so wonderful to see. hey Sarah I even posted some of yours on my facebook page. Jon, so glad of your connection – God is so goooood! You all look wonderful and reading the blog each night and looking at the pictures makes me feel like I am with you all. thank you so much for taking time to post them. I know they mean a lot to a lot of people following your journey. Love and prayers, Connie aka Mum

  7. It is so great to hear all the stories that are being told. The experience that everyone is having can only be a great blessing from our saviour. Continue the great work you all doing.
    Blessing to all

    Kim Swanson

  8. Hi Mary miss you and the pictures are great and the stories are heart warming,say hi to Menzie the next time you see him and let him know we are praying for him and every body at the care points take care and God Bless

  9. Looking great gang!! I can just feel all of the love pouring from those photos. Bless all of you! My prayers and thoughts are with you all

    Dave aka bald eagle…I am happy to report that all of your mirrors are still firmly where they belong…and its been a week! The sandals are out of the closet and BDI is waiting for your return. We are missing you….and your sarcastic jokes…but I am sure you are keeping things fresh for everyone.

  10. Hello everyone. Mary. just to let you know that we are missing you at CR. we look forward to hearing all about your time in Swaziland. Your kind , friendly and gentle spirit God uses anywhere you are 🙂 Ken gave his testimony last night, so it was a special one for us. Have a great rest of your trip xxx Karen

  11. Hi Ben: I hope this is a great time for you. Work hard, sleep little and come home with blisters.

    Hear is a Joke for you!

    Little Johnny’s new baby brother was screaming up a storm.

    Johnny asked his mom, “Where’d he come from?”

    “He came from heaven, Johnny.”

    Johnny responded: “Wow! I can see why they threw him out of heaven”

  12. Hello Swazi Friends!

    Jon, what a wonderful story. It is always special to see someone you’ve been thinking of and praying for. How much more special it is in a situation like yours where there was such a great anticipation mixed with such a likelihood for disappointment. Praise God!

    I can’t help but think, that that scene that took place on the road reflects in a very real way God’s response to all of you as you embarked on your long journey to Swaziland. “Stop the chariot!” (Or whatever God drives). “Look, my Riverwood friends are coming to visit me!” It is clear that God is sharing with you a special part of his heart. God loves to plant joy and hope in the situations and circumstances where it seems they are least likely to grow. As I see Lukhetfo smiling in the pictures, there is no doubt all sorts of joy and hope growing in that situation. Thanks for sharing.

    I can`t wait to hear about the Safari. Allison, I`m sure you shared with our friends a unique worship experience that happens when we get so excited about God`s wonderful and weird creation. As I think of how excited you get when you watch Planet Earth on our TV at home, I have a hard time imagining what happened when you saw some of those things in real life.

    – Jordan

  13. Oh Jon! You have got to stop with the incredibly heart jerking and inspirational stories 🙂 It is 7:30 AM here and I do not yet have the emotional strength yet to stop myself from crying like a leaky sieve yet when I read accounts like this! I am so proud of the whole team. Reading what you have all been doing and the difference that you are making is such a wonderful and rich blessing and source of joy for our whole family, thank you all for doing what you do and doing it with such hounour and dignity! I LOVE it! It has been so wonderful to see the kids relishing their time with all of you and I am super stocked for the members of this team who are experiencing all this for the first time 🙂 I remember the feelings you are all having and I am so thrilled for you!

    Thank you to all of you! I am truly honoured to belong to a church family who have hearts like yours and wills to take the kingdom and live it out! I wish you all another wonderful week full of rich experiences and my prayer for all of you is the God will use this experience to shape you in ways that you did not expect 🙂

    All our prayers and best wishes to you all – and will someone please take Bussi and squeeze her tight for LeeAnn and I – we love that girl.

    All the best to all of you!


  14. I just love hearing these stories of answered prayers. With Bryan and Cheryl meeting there special friend and now Jon. What a blessing. God is so good and cares about everything. Yeah Carolyn you have awesome face paint this year!! Unlike the disaster of last year. Your stories are all so moving! Thanks for sharing. Means so much to us. May miss being your roomie. I know you probably don’t have roomies as awesome as last year. lol!! Cause I know we were pretty rockin awesome! I pray you all have great roomies and that God would bless those relationships. Looking forward to hear all about the safari day!! Blessings!

  15. I am loving all these fantastic pictures of these adorable faces. Thanks for keeping us all updated with the special things that are happening on a daily basis and the impact of God’s love you are all making in the lives of these children and the community.

  16. Hello everyone
    I have to say again the pictures are more than incredible. They tell a story, they incite our imagination, they pull us into your world. I have to say, the one that brought tears to my eyes is the one of Bryan crouching down down sharing a laugh with a young fellow. Had they just shared a joke? were they laughing at something someone had done, or did they just play a trick on someone? Bren, when you get back you have to introduce me to Bryan so he can tell me what they were laughing at.

    Things are well here Bren. Ward and I are taking the kids out for dinner on Monday to celebrate Britt’s birthday. The snow is going quickly and should be completely gone when you get back. I’m checking in with the girls so don’t worry.
    Take care and thanks for alkl your hard work and dedication.

    Love Cheryl

  17. Mom, i love the picture of you talking to the boy on the tire, I know that expression on your face so well, I can almost picture what you might be saying. Needless to say, I miss you but I love seeing the wonderful experiences that you are having with the team. Keep having a blast! I love you so much!
    Sarah, you look wonderful, I’m so happy to see you looking so happy. I hope you’re feeling healthy and strong. Can’t wait to hear all about what God was up to. 🙂 Love you!
    Monica, that picture of you and the ladies waiting for the washroom was priceless. I just had to share it with Zorica and Melrose, it made our day! Hope you are having a great time so far.

  18. It sounds like you are having a life changing experience!! Praise God that you have been blessed with this opprotunity! Way to represent us team. You are awesome :-)! Enjoy the rest of your time and as I’ve said before hug a couple hundred kids for us. Blessings


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