First day at Bhobokazi….Anybody seen Jon?

tuesday-42Heh world.  Carolyn here….It was an amazing first day and a day of “firsts” for our team: from being offered a chicken to take home; to a disagreement between a mom & a vet regarding how to care for the wound of a child and whether alcohol in an open wound is a good idea; to leading the team on my own … no idea what happened to Jon…haven’t seen him all day … well….actually Jon left early to pick up some equipment for building the swings on the playground and it ended up taking all day with 14 stops to track down what was needed! This is sometimes the way in Swaziland….

We spent the day at Bhobokazi today. One brave woman on our team left early with ALL the guys to start on the work project for Bhobokazi – painting the playground and repairing windows in the structure. The rest of the team arrived later to begin a fun filled day of building relationships with the kids. From play-dough creations to painting pictures; card games to puzzles, parachute activities to soccer games – fun was had by child & teen alike. Lots of love was given & friendships built! It was SO great to meet our new Bhobokazi kids who were just sponsored a few weeks ago. I still stand in awe how 43 kids for our 2 CarePoints were sponsored within one weekend. We have one amazing church! Along with the fun and games, our team enjoyed the experience of singing with some of the best singers around. The children’s voices – overpowering us by far – singing in unison never ceases to amaze me! Our Bible Lesson today was about how God doesn’t look at someone’s outward appearance but at the heart – choosing the youngest of Jesse’s son’s – David to be King of Israel. As I reflect on that story, I think of how these kids – like the young David are at first overlooked, but that God sees something different. He sees the hearts of these children and He will do great thing in their lives. Riverwood, God is using you to play a part in the story of their lives. Thank-you!

We will leave you with of our team’s reflections and of course the photos of the day.  Click on any of the circles below to see the full images 🙂  Off to sleep here!


It has only happened to me twice before to me in my life, the first was in Mexico as we crossed over the border and saw Casa Hogar for the first time. The second sitting on my surfboard just off the coast of England. And third was looking out on the landscape with many excited and loud kids behind me in Bobo. That feeling of surreal content. A big wow welled up inside of me and escaped from my lips. “I’m actually here”

Now it may not been the same wow that I had with my feet dangling in the ocean watching the sunset over the cliffs on top if my board but it was the same as the one I felt seeing Casa Hogar for the first time. All these months of prep and learning the language you get caught up in the team building, and making sure you’re making all the rights clicks and tones in your words. But now you’re here, the kids in the pictures are now climbing up your arms and bringing you Play-do pigs.

I’ve been dreaming of this trip since the day it was announced. Many things in my life have kept me from it but I made a promise to myself that I would make it this time, and I’m so glad I did. The kids are full of joy and excitement and it really does wear off on you! I had a little boy by the name of Samabele hanging off my arm all day….him & I became pals by the end. I have never been so exhausted, and I work in construction! These kids will run circles around you and then ask for more.

I’m so happy for being here and I give a shout out to all who are supporting me! I’ll update soon but know that God is here and he is living in these children, the Gogo’s, and the team from Hope chest! Loves and kisses back home! – Andrew


tuesday-35Today I was truly blessed big time! I had the opportunity to meet my special friend, Noxolo for the first time ever. She is so beautiful in person. Noxolo was shy and I think a little unsure at first. Charlene, J and I got to visit her home and meet her Gogo (Grandmother) who cares for her and her siblings. Her Gogo was so thankful for the bag of beans and cornmeal we brought her. We hugged and cried and cried and hugged like we were lifelong friends who hadn’t seen each other for years but it was the first time we met. Amazing how the Lord brought us together for such a special moment. I will never forget her sincere gratitude and I thank God for choosing me to deliver it. It took a long time to leave because we kept wanting one last hug…ok really this is the last hug…no just one more hug then we go…I’m so excited to see them all again at the Bhobokazi Family Day we will have for them at the Carepoint on Saturday. – Leigh


Hey everyone!!  I am not sure where to begin, I am not sure I can summarize all that I am feeling, and experiencing on this trip. I am finding that all my senses are being stimulated constantly I don’t want to miss a thing, I want to soak in everything.

Today, was very special for me, and just thinking about it brings up powerful emotions. I was searching for my little girl today, and suddenly someone from my team called my name and said that our little “special friend” was at the care point. I ran over and knelt down to meet precious Temantfulini Mamba. I was so excited I actually scared her. Oooops!! She is the sweetest thing, and so very shy. I spent the rest of the day trying to win her confidence, and to hold back those emotions that threatened to surface and overflow. Not only did I meet Temantfulini, but I also visited her family at their homestead. It was a great honour and privilege, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. To top it off, I also met Mom and Dad’s (Karl and Rhoda’s), little boy Njabulo Magagula. What a beautiful experience, and the only thing that could possibly have made it better is if my Benny, and our BEAUTIFUL children could have experienced it with me, but that will be for another time. I am looking forward to so much more. Goodnight, and talk to you later.  Much love – Ingrid


I was really blessed today with seeing my room-mate Carolin’s boy Tony and being able to connect with him. He is doing really well in school; his favorite subjects are math and science. He is also playing on a soccer team every weekend. It is so amazing when you can come and see and experience all the differences in these precious kids lives. Their hugs are so cool and the look in their eyes when they see and recognize you will forever stay in your hearts. Yes Carolin my teeth are clean as ever and also Corinne and my hair is always done neat and tidy. I spend a whole 2 minutes doing it. Father Charlie and Mother Marj I am very impressed that you 2 young ones are so hip doing the blog thing. Thanks for all your thoughts; love; prayers and blogs. Until next time. – Bonnie

17 thoughts on “First day at Bhobokazi….Anybody seen Jon?

  1. Way to go team! I’m visiting Swazi through all of you! Prayers are being sent up on your behalf. Enjoy the children and building great relationships with them. Give lots of hugs and let them know we Riverwood’s love them! Looking forward to reading the blog each day to see your adventures! Love, Dodie

  2. what a very special treat it is to read about your day and all that you have experienced–thanks so much for sharing. Brings tears and smiles to my face. May the Lord give you so much joy in the days to come. Love to you and all the kids you meet. Sue C

  3. Hello swazilanders! It is awesome to be able to read and see pictures of the beginning of your adventure! Praying that God will give you energy, health and joy as you do His work. Also so proud of my dad (Papa Ron), Stacey and Paul, miss you guys, but love seeing you go where God has called you. Can’t wait to hear more stories and see more pictures!

  4. It’s so great to see a new batch of people experiencing and falling in love with Swaziland and our little gems at the carepoint(s). Welcome to the Swazi allum and for the whole team, new and repeat offenders, enjoy, take it all in and give it all you got!

  5. Happy Birthday to you!! You live in a zoo – you smell like a monkey and you act like one too!! That’s for you T – hope your day was super fantastic – looking forward to singing to you via facetime. Hope you’re all sleeping well – soaking it all in – and staying well.

    Love all the fun and bright colours of paint – the women skipping rope and everyone just plain having fun and playing with the kids – thanks for sharing all the pictures!! Have a fantastic day! love you lots

  6. Dear Lord,
    Thank you for your awesomeness, you are truly the most high, most wonderful, most amazing God and what an incredible thing it is that you count us as Yours.
    Lord I would like to lift up this team to You. If anyone is still sick, please heal them and prevent the germs from spreading to anyone else or any of the children or Gogo’s or anyone else.Please enable the team to minister to both carepoints and all the women and men who work there as well.
    Lord, may each child that comes into contact with each member of the team, be so touched and blessed by their love for them, that it makes that child feel so very special and so loved. Please give the team restful energizing sleeps, so that they have the energy to do the things they need to do and want to do.
    Lord I pray a special blessing on my dear friend Brenda, Lord You know her heart and all that she needs. Thank you Lord for what You are going to do in and through the 2014 Swazi team.


    Love Cheryl

  7. Another new day and another new journey into the hearts of the Swazi people and them touching your hearts as well, it is so wonderful to follows along. Thank you Bon for spending time with Tony you do not know what that means to me. I am not sure when you go to Enalini ( cannot remember how to spell it) I pray your time with your little girl will be precious. A special message from my mom Bon she said to behave yourself and stay out of trouble LOL! I cannot wait for another day that you guys have to share and be a blessing to these precious people

  8. Hey Team! Thanks! Thanks for taking a risk and flying half way around the world to continue to serve, bless and love-on our friends there! Thanks for all your hard work today! And thanks for personally investing yourself! Reading thru your comments, i’m so struck by the number of names that are referred to and used. Our friends in Swaziland aren’t just a ‘people group’. They are Samabele and Noxolo and Temantfulini Mamba and Njabulo Magagula and Tony…(and those are only a few of our friends out of 100’s)! i love that! i love that this is ‘personal’! Keep up the good work…and who ever is sitting next to Carolyn and Carely…give them a hug for me…right now. Seriously. i know you are all sitting in a big circle or something…just hug them for me…k!?! Love you all! – t

  9. I love reading about all the adventures and emotions that you are all experiencing. Carolyn thank you for sharing about the image. It seems today this is exactly what I needed to hear. Cheryl you were in my thoughts today – I even thought about going to find you for lunch and then I realised you were not there …boo!! So I prayed for you instead. Much love xo

  10. That’s my girl! Way to go team: Rock’n the work in the morning and playing (if that’s what you can call it) with the kids all day. Proud of you, Ingrid, and Swazi team.

  11. So great to see all your wonderful pics and hear your stories from today! Ingrid so glad you got to meet your precious little girl and our precious little guy! Wow! How cool is that?! We love you tons Ingrid!! Team we’re praying for you many times throughout the day! (and night!) much love Rhoda (& Karl too)

  12. Wow, just catching up on the blog posts today, and a lot of emotions running through me; the strongest emotion I am feeling right now, jealousy!! Soak up the experience, and revel in each and every moment!

    Glad to see the travel went well, you’ve all settled in, and amazing memories have already been made. You all will be in my thoughts and prayers as I follow along from afar on the blog, yet do know I’m right along with you on the journey, as I live vicariously through you!

  13. Way to go Riverwood Team. It’s so exciting to read about all your expereiences and know that you are making a difference in the lives of all these wonderful people whom God loves so much! So proud to be a part of your experience by following along on your adventures. A personal side bar for Ingrid – don’t feel too bad about your first interaction with Temantfulini Mamba. When I met our Bussie for the first time that little stinker made me work for almost a week before she would trust me enough to pick her up! Such was God’s lesson to me about patience 😦 I’m sure that you and Temantfulini Mamba will be insperable before you leave 🙂

    Have a great rest team and I am praying for strength, protection and joy for all of you as you continue on!

  14. So good to hear that things are going well (even if Jon was gone all day!) We’re praying for you all. Thank you for serving in Swaziland and representing Riverwood so wonderfully, it’s great to see! Keep on keeping on and we look forward to reading more updates. 🙂


  15. Andrew, your post reminds me of what I call “perfect moments”. I remember them so clearly, even though some are more than a decade old. May these treasured moments always be with you. I highly recommend writing them down, and in detail. Later generations can enjoy your experiences and stories, and will ask you to tell them over and over again.

    I celebrate the moments with you, and look forward to God surprising yo u more each day. Way to go!

  16. Hey Team, sounds like you had a great day. The pics are wonderful and bring back so many emotions and memories!
    Seeing a pic of our “Swazi daughter Titi (Sanel’siwe), brought instant tears to my eyes. We were unable to see her when we were there in Feb 2014 so it was amazing to see how healthy and happy she looks.

    New plexiglas windows rock, no more glass to pick up!! Yeah! The play structure is starting to look awesome.
    Jon looks like you got your way and didn’t have to spend money on a new one and Carolyn looks like you got your way too by having a nice colourful one. Way to go!

    Praying God will continue to provide you all with rich experiences and mould your hearts. Also that each of you will wake up everyday with a new sense of purpose and energy.

    Can’t wait to see the pics from Enaleni and see if there are any of our other Swazi daughter Mukelo.

    Have a great sleep, you all deserve it!! Luv ya.

  17. Wow, Great pictures!
    Love the new play area! The colours really brighten it up. Now, if you can do something with the thistles under, that would be awesome!
    So Deb, how is it going? Having fun yet?
    Agnes, did you meet your special friend yet? She is a real cutie and I loved spending time with her last year. Please give her an extra hug from me (not that she would remember me lol).
    Bryan & Cheryl, I hope your ‘happy toes’ made it there! lol! and I hope they are still happy!
    To all of you… Take it all in! What an incredible experience for both the newbies and the returns.
    Continued prayers for safety, good health and good weather.
    Please give Sandi & Elliott a hug from me and tell Elliott that I am sorry that I am not there to be his co-pilot (shot-gun) this year so I will have to make up for it next year!
    thanks, mary
    (PS. I’m just learning this stuff. went to the wrong day)

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