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)