Last Day At Bhobokazi

Well…what a day.  Our final day at the Bhobokazi carepoint and it was a crazy one!  We began our day earlier with a quick trip to the Pick ‘n Pay to buy any teas and Nando’s sauce the team wanted to bring home.  Then we were off to the carepoint. A few of our team members had picked up and taken the Gogo’s that cook every day at the carepoint out on a shopping trip….this is so special for them….not just a trip into town, but a chance to be ladies shopping without thinking about all of the pressures of what they need at home.  So special.

Our day at Bhobokazi was very full and a bit crazy.  We had a lot to accomplish today….handing out care packages & capturing photos.  Fitting each kid for a new pair of school shoes.  Lots of last day conversations.  Of course we had our kids program and had to sing ALL the songs they knew.  They sang louder and with more energy than I have ever heard today….and that’s saying something.  We had the special privilege of having two of our team members share their testimony with the kids today… cool to see their personal stories relating to the kids.

I must say….being at Bhobokazi, seeing the hustle and bustle of all of the kids now coming there….and just seeing how naturally they are interacting….this carepoint is truly moving towards a thriving carepoint.  We can’t say enough about how incredible Thokozani has been for this carepoint.  His leadership, his care for the children, and his heart for God is something that is changing Bhobokazi.  We can’t to see what God will do through him.

Today, Carolyn & I had the opportunity to visit a family that has been struck by tragedy.  Later last year one of the young children that attended the Bhobokazi carepoint became really sick and passed away.  It was a young 4 year old little girl that had become quite sick.  She began by being very very tired, followed by losing her appetite.  After being hospitalized for a couple of weeks, her body gave in and she died.

This is the first death we have encountered at our carepoints.  Let me tell you, it feels incredibly unjust.  That we have the means to first of all keep ourselves well fed and to find good medical help when it is needed, and that these families that have nothing and have such limited access to consistent and available health care seems so far from just.

photo 2 copy 3We met this child’s family.  The mom is 21 years old.  She just had another baby in February.  The little baby was SO precious.  She is also caring for two of her sisters’ children that are currently attending the carepoint.

The family is desperate.  They live in very simple mud huts, have no means of income, and struggle to find enough to eat every day.  Thankfully the children have their consistent food at the carepoints….but it was an incredibly difficult thing to sit across from her, hear her story, see her surroundings, and to simply be in the moment sharing in her grief.  I think of how many times her story is multiplied as I even look across the valley at Enaleni….and see the huts scattered around….how many tears have been shed for deaths that should never have happened.  How many lives stolen from children because of HIV.

We had the opportunity to speak some comfort, to share with her that God is close to the broken hearted, to pray with her and to give her a gift of a bunch of bulk food for her household.  She was incredibly gracious to welcome us to her homestead, to share her life with us, and to express her gratitude for all that we had done to help.

As we walked away, down the pathways that led back to Bhobokazi, I was so grateful that this carepoint has become a source of hope for the community.  I was hopeful for the potential lies ahead as to the impact that can be had even further into the surrounding community.  And I was also incredibly humbled that we would be invited to be a part of this journey….and realized how much the children of this community have become engrained into our hearts.  They are not simply children in need that we are helping….but they have become our friends…..our children.  They have become connected intimately into our church community.

Today we felt the contrast….the joy of being a part of a great day of smiles, laughter, joy, generosity, and connection with the children of Bhobokazi… well as the depths of grief of the reality that so many face.  Each child at the carepoint likely has a story of loss….loss of a parent, a sibling, or likely multiple.  It motivates us all the more to press on and continue to make an impact…..this is our calling.

Journey with us at Enaleni ( ) tomorrow.  Continue to pray for our team.  We have a couple of team members starting to get a bit sick.  We look forward to putting everything we got into a great day at Enaleni tomorrow.  Thank you for journeying with us….


Team Posts

Hello All.  Today was the last day at Bhobokazi and there were lots of emotions beginning to rise as we realized this would be the last day. However we didn’t let that affect us. I had a blast today and I think that the entire team did. Regardless of our exhaustion I believe the kids were loved and also had a blast. There were many highlights of my day, and a few low points. I want to tell you about one of my highlights. The day started with a shopping trip with four of the Gogo’s from Bobokazi; we wanted to get them a new outfit. As a woman I surprisingly don’t like shopping, but I was looking forward to blessing these women for all the hard work they do at the care point. Grace is one of the older women and I spent most of the morning with her. I thought I was taking her shopping but instead she took me shopping. We still got her a beautiful new shirt, a sweater to match, a pair of new shoes, and some sunlight bar soap to wash things (which she said she never has) but she pulled me around. The last time I walked around holding an older women’s hand was when I was a young child, today I did that again and if felt so natural with Grace. I also learned how laid back she was; she looked at many items and laughed at how ugly they were, and when she found a skirt she loved and then realized how short it was in the front shook it off and moved on. In addition, she ended up leaving without a skirt even though she really wanted one, but you never would have guessed she couldn’t find what she wanted. Something I pondered was her insistence of getting soap rather than the sweater when she realized she might be over the amount she was allowed to spend. She needed a new sweater but she found soap to be much more important. At the end of the shopping trip she was dancing in the aisle, saying how happy she was and the smile was from ear to ear. Towards the end…I enjoyed shopping again. Grace is now someone I look up to and I will never forget her. I wish I could explain to you this woman…a picture wouldn’t even do her justice. At the end of the shopping trip we walked down the mall hallway and one of the Gogo’s proudly put her wash bucket she got and put it on her head. That’s not very common in the city but for her, that was her way of life and she was proud of it. They are truly inspirational.





Just want to say thank you to everyone that is supporting me personally and to everyone that is supporting our team. The kids lives are being changed and ours are to.

P.S Thank you for all the posts Grandma and Grandpa Ralph, I look forward to them and I know the team enjoys them. They bring tears to my eyes every time.  Blessings all. – Cassie

Wow!!! Where do I begin??? This trip has been amazing so far…actually amazing just doesn’t seem like strong enough word. Well let’s just say that I am constantly amazed. Today was our last day at Bhobokazi care point. It started off with worship and then I shared my testimony of the marvelous work God did in my life through my cancer journey. This is the first time I have ever done this, and I was excited and scared all at once. The room was silent the entire time, you could hear a pin drop. They were captivated! I was feeling amazed and blessed. God was using me as an instrument to show proof of His great love. That he died and took my sickness that I may live to go on and share this amazing journey all the way in Africa. I am left speechless. I also went on a home visit with my parents’ special friend Zinhle. It was awesome! She was so excited and so was I. We both walked side by side to her home just beaming. I gave her a small gift bag with a few treats for her inside. She opened it, took everything out to see what there was then promptly started painting her nails with the pink polish that had been inside. She was so excited!!! And all I could do was smile and hold back the tears of joy. I told Zinhle that she was loved and prayed for daily, she replied with “me too”. AWESOME!!! I am so thankful to be here, to have this opportunity to experience all that God has to offer me. Words cannot fully describe or relay how my heart feels….fantastiggerriffical is a word I made up that comes as close as anything can to fitting.

Love and Hugs to all (you know who you are)  Blessings from Africa – Sarah (Sari)

(sorry….lots of pictures again 🙂

17 thoughts on “Last Day At Bhobokazi

  1. Hey Gang!

    All of you are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you all can find the strength and ability to soak up the final days and all of the amazing blessings and joys each moment brings. God’s love is just flowing from all of you….and bringing light into the lives of each of those beautiful children.

    My thoughts are with you my bald eagle….I hope you start feeling better soon! But don’t forget you will be home soon and Tobi will be happy to take care of you….I might help too! J/k LOL get lots of photos of your safari! And no bringing home any baby animals no matter how cute they are!

  2. Hey guys looks like you are having an amazing experience over there! So glad that each of you stepped forward to give of your time, money and energy to make a difference! Just wanted to encourage you each on as the trip starts to wind down to give every ounce that you have while you are over there. Families and friends miss you for sure, but go strong to the finish. Sleep can be had on the planes!
    Jon – loved the picture of the kid with the yellow HotWheels today. Looks like it was doing a smoke show!
    To each of you that I know personally on the team I want you to know how proud and excited I get when I see photos of you interacting with the kids and cant wait to hear your stories when you get back!
    Have a great day at Enaleni and if you happen to see Patho (don’t pretend you don’t know her!), tell her she’s awesome!
    Have a great time!

  3. Thinking of you as you have your final days there. Jon great seeing you and talking to you yesterday–love you. had a great day with the kids today. they miss you and are looking forward to you getting home.
    what a great team of people you are. Sure do enjoy checking in to the blog at night and hearing about what has happened there. it is so wonderful to know that you are there giving so much love to the wonderful kids and all the people at the carepoints. Many blessings and wonderful experiences for the rest of the week. . love Sue

  4. Hi all. It never ceases to amaze me that we serve an awesome God that is very much into the details. When I read your post Sarah I literally wept, dripping all over my laptop. lol. A few days ago I had been sharing with God how I felt such joy just being able to have the technology to see and journey all the team is doing, seeing and feeling. I shared that I had a desire for Sarah to meet Zinhle’s family to be able to speak to her at length and let her know she is loved. You remember Sarah when you were at a low point I mentioned God will use your testimony to encourage others. Wow what a demonstration of that so many miles from home to a people that so need our encouragement and hope. Praise to God for answered prayer and using you all in such a tangible way for His purpose in Swaziland. Bless you all as you continue your journey. Love you Sari, big hugs. P.S. I will be keeping the team and especially the members that are feeling under the weather in my prayers. 🙂

  5. Hope the timing is right….HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAILEY!! What a wonderful way to celebrate! I’m sure you will remember this one for a lifetime. Have an extra Apple/Grapetizer for me 😉 Cheers!! P.S. Happy belated May!!

    Great job team!! Love seeing all the pictures of all the smiling faces, and great to see that yours are as big as the children’s. Thank you so much for being the extention of our hearts, loving, and caring for our family in Swaziland.
    Thank you for giving of yourselves in such a meaningful way. Can’t wait to hear all the stories!! Thank you for letting us follow along and share in your joys & learnings.
    As a friend of mine once said, “Leave it all there…you can sleep on the plane ride back.” Praying for a safe and sleep-filled journey home.

  6. Hi Again Folks – It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. One reason for that is because, pictures in and of themselves, tell a whole story. They show a range of emotions, moods and feelings that words can never describe or express, and they make it possible for people who are not present at the scene to be present in spirit, mind and imagination.

    Todays collage of photos comprised a figurative, 97,000 word essay. I think we would all agree that it is a lot easier, and a lot more fun to look a 97 photos than it would be to read a 97,000 word essay. It sure was for me.
    So, todays grampa photog award goes to the photographers themselves for puting on a great show.

    Take care everyone and don’t be in a big rush to hurry home – it’s supposed to snow again tonight and tomorrow, and all the geese I saw today were heading south. Hope that was’nt summer we just had on the weekend.
    Love and best wishes to all. – Gramma & Grampa Ralph

    P.S. Thanks for the e:mail Cassie – and happy to hear there is at least one woman in the family that does’nt like shopping. You’ll have to work on Gramma when you get home.

  7. Matthew 25:40
    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
    Oh how you bless…I am so thankful for the Swazi team as I follow along and witness the out pouring of love to these beautiful people. I weep with you and I rejoice with you. Please know that you are being prayed for as you minister. We have so much and yet, we want more..what we have isn’t quite enough ~ we have socks and shoes, and we daily choose the colour or the style that we want to wear. I often think that I have more to learn from those who ‘have not’! Bless you Swazi team, bless you!

  8. Hey Team! Thanks for sharing another amazing day! i just love how you are determined to maximize your impact! i love the way you have pushed the limits and refused to just keep doing what we’ve done before. The Safari! The shopping trip for the GoGo’s! The hospital and grief/compassion visits! The house construction! The school shoes…and scarfs…and ‘little-people-skits’…and blow up safari animals! You guys rock! Cheering you on…
    – Todd
    PS…snow and high of -3 Wednesday. Be sure to drink up a little extra sun and warmth before you come home.

  9. Hey guys! We want you all to know that we think you are doing amazing work out there and make us proud to call ourselves Riverwooders. Praying for your strength and health especially those who are under the weather now in your last leg of your tour of duty. Onward Christian Soldiers! Love on SWAZILAND!


  10. Hi team. Long time no talkie on my behalf. Oops. Sorry. All the love for ya all is just all the same though. Mae you are so right, I would love to dance with Gracie any time especially go jetties go. My heart has been torn in so many different ways, so full of love for all of our Swazi family members,missing them all terribly bad and yet so full of joy,pride and happiness in seeing what God has been doing in all of their lives and all of yours also.and also seeing the huge differences in their looks of health, hope and happiness.
    May God continue to bless and keep every single one of you guys in his perfect love, peace and protection. He has you all in the palm of his hand.please be very careful going into the boonies on your safari it might make you sick.Lol.It sure did me last year.It is so very true you can always take the girl out of the city but you can never take the city out of the girl.Jon and Ben how shinny are your teeth? While you 2 are up to no good especially you P.J. You 2 know what to go and do. Thanks for all the pictures, love,thoughts, and keeping all of the memories alive for me. keeping you all in my thoughts, memories, prayers also.Missing you guys my Canadian family members eh.

  11. Hey Ben,
    Thinking about you and your mom on the other side of the world….hope today was excellent. Be 100% , Looking forward to seeing you both. I am thankful that you’ve had this great experience with your mom…give her a big hug for me.. xxxx prepare for a groaner…

    Why did the cookie go to the doctor?
    … Because he felt crummy.

    hahah?? .. K.+ K

  12. Hello Swazi Friends,

    Sounds like a bit more of a challenging day. Thanks for sharing that difficult story about a family faced with significant loss. Through the picture you posted and what you shared of this young woman I get a sense that she is filled with love for her family despite really difficult situations. What a privilege to share in that powerful moment.

    I suppose you could say you found love in a hopeless place 😉 Quoting Rihanna, I bet none of you expected that. I’m just full of surprises! Seriously though, the Bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins”. I think most commonly we think of that passage in terms of relationships and forgiveness. I have come to learn that it also refers to love’s ability to smother the fires of injustice caused by sin’s curse on our world.

    Allison – I’ve been praying for you! I’m looking forward to having you home. It was great talking to you yesterday, hope your throat is feeling a little better. How’d your test go? Love you lots!!!! 🙂

    – Jordan

  13. Dear Allison
    Mom and I are cheering you on and following your every photo! It becomes more evident every day what a significant work you are doing there and the strong connections that are being made. We pray that God will bless all these relationships for eternity. We of course look forward to your return and have arranged a special treat for you here. The snow is gone!!!, better than a red carpet….
    Love Mom and Dad

  14. What great posts you all are making here! It was sad and very moving to read about the woman who lost her child, and how she struggles to care for her family. Our hearts go out to her, but also to you for humbly sitting with her to try and give her comfort, and to reassure her that God loves her. It is the only hope she may have, but it is sufficient!

    And Cassie, your shopping with Grace sounds like it was a real highlight for both of you! When something simple as Sunlight soap can make a difference, you know things are really in perspective!

    Sorry to hear Dave has been under the weather. He just needs to rest up for Donna’s cooking this weekend!

    As always, God Bless all of you for your updates and details of how God is working through you all!

    Donna and Chris

  15. Sarah I got your email and am praying as you requested. Enjoy the rest of the journey. Luv you, can’t wait to give you a big hug! Luv Mum

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