Our hearts are full!

Wed-64

It has been a day full of laughter, tears, and much impact.  Our first day at Enaleni and it felt like returning home.  We reconnected with Pastor Peter & Precious, the amazing Gogo’s that make this place run, and by what felt like hundreds of little smiling faces that we just could not get enough of today.  We were able to work on filling the playground with colour by painting it (and getting some pretty colourful team members too) and in installing new swing hardware for the kids.

We worked hard, we played hard, we knit hard,  we sang hard, and told stories of how God has so much planned for each of the kids…..and we basically got kicked out at the end of the day because we just didn’t want to leave.  It truly was a great reunion with Enaleni!  I’m so very proud of our team and the way they are investing themselves into this experience and allowing God to move amongst us.

Tonight after our team meeting, we could tell a bit of the over tiredness has had an impact as things got a bit loopy in the room.  A lot of laughing, some scissors, ribbons, and overtired ladies made for an entertaining event.  The ladies also expressed some significant concern for us guys who have the responsibility of keeping all the boys at Bhobokazi away from the big Princess Party tomorrow.  I say boys, we are going to have our own party!

Anyway, goodnight….its late….most are away in dream world here, and we can rest our heads knowing we have experienced a full and meaningful day.  I will leave you with the reflections of a few of our team members and of course you can read the stories of the day through the pictures 🙂  Remember, just click on the circles to view any of the photos.

 

Jordan

Today I confirmed my suspicions.  Swaziland is much more beautiful then I could have ever thought it would be. On the way to Enalani today we drove through part of Manzini. As we entered the city I was struck by how vibrant and full of life it was. There were all sorts of stores and shops just open for business. The sidewalks were full of people heading to work, to run errands, on the way to school or to do whatever they had planned for the day. Most everyone I saw was full of energy and full of life. It really was a beautiful sight. As we left the city and headed down the rough dirt road towards the care point, the surrounding area changed somewhat abruptly. We were no longer in a bustling city; we were in the country side. There were hills and mountains on either side of us. The hillsides were covered with trees and other interesting vegetation. Every once in a while the vegetation would be broken by a homestead. These usually were surrounded by a small wire fence and contained a few modest huts, some chickens and maybe some goats. Suddenly our bus driver swerved to avoid some cattle that were walking along the road. If there was any doubt that our 40+ hours of travel had taken us far from Winnipeg, I knew it now for sure.

If I thought the city was vibrant and bustling with life, there was nothing that could prepare me for the care point. There were already many children there when we arrived. All full of energy and full of joy. I had barely stepped off the bus and greeted the gogos (the older ladies who cook the food for the care point) when I little girl tugged at my shirt asking for me to pick her up. I would not have been able to refuse her request even if I had wanted to and I was more than happy to make my first friend at Enaleni. Once I had her in my arms I quickly learned that she was well known by those on the team who had been here before. “She loves to sing” they all said. Wed-6So, with encouragement from Jon, I began to sing This Little Light of Mine. She joined in right away and we sang through the song twice. I stopped singing, but she kept on, teaching me a verse I had never heard before. Once she was done with that song she quickly moved on to the next one. For the next 5 or 10 minutes she serenaded me with song after song, some parts in English, some parts in Siswati, and all very beautiful.

The only expectation I carried with me to Swaziland was an expectation to be surprised. And today I was surprised; first by a vibrant city, next by a beautiful country side, and most of all by a little girl who sang just for me. Suddenly I felt small, unimportant and very special all at the same. I felt small and unimportant because it kind of seemed I was not needed in this place that was so full of love, joy, and strong community. Yet I felt so special and privileged to be here, to take it all in and be the lone audience member at this little girl’s concert. I appreciate all those in my life who work so hard to draw my attention to God’s greatness, but I suspect that none of you will come close to doing as good of job as this little girl did. The funny thing is she wasn’t even trying, she was simply singing because that’s what she loved to do. As she sang I become completely aware of God’s presence at Enaleni, in Swaziland, and in my life no matter where I go. The scenery I took in during the drive this morning was awe inspiring, but it does not even hold a candle to the light that this little girl shone for me. – Jordan

 

Debbie

Today I met my “special friend” d’sumo. He is 16 years old.   I have had d’s umo’s photo on the bulletin board in my office for years. Once in his profile he wrote “I would like to meet you”. I hope he meant it because… here I am.  It’s odd but I feel like I know this place. It’s not strange to me. Somehow I understand it. – Deb

 

Kailey

Wed-1-2What another great birthday spent in Swaziland! The kids sang “Happy Birthday” and “How Old Are You?” It was so great.  I was able to spend some time with my special girl, Lethu as well as my parents’ special friend.

Last year I met Lethu and was hoping to have her as my special friend. A lot of the kids look alike so when we looked at the profile pictures, we weren’t sure if she was the same girl. This afternoon I found out that she was. How exciting.

Tuesday I saw a lot of kids wearing TOMS Shoes. I started asking them where they got them; every response was “HERE”. I asked Amy, one the staff out here, if TOMS came for a shoe drop… Yes! From what I understood they did a shoe drop to every carepoint here in Swaziland. So Cool!

Tomorrow we have our princess party at Bhobokazi. I am excited to see all the girls in the beautiful dresses that you all bought them. And excited to see my sister and brother-in-law ‘s special girl all dressed up. On Friday we will do it all again at Enaleni while the boys at both carepoints get to go to a soccer stadium. Should be fun!  Thank You for all your prayers and comments.  It is much appreciated! – Kailey

 

Bryan

Wow, What a day!! Sometimes it takes reflecting on a day to realize how awesome a day I had.  I was again a part of the work crew that left earlier. Most of the group would be painting the play structure and I was to work with the staff construction guys installing new swings. I’ve been to Swaziland a few times and know how things work but I wasn’t quite prepared for this. We started by backing a truck under the swing beam and wrestling the old rusty bolts out. Considering we only had a few pliers and a hammer we managed to get this done. Next we needed to cut the new steel beam to length. I was relieved to see a big grinder just right for the job. Then I noticed the cord. A plug had been temporarily wired to the end of the cord. Weds-3The wires were still bare and a stick had been stuck between so they wouldn’t touch. I headed off to find tape but before I could a young man nicknamed “sparks” picked up the cord, jumped, and then quickly dropped it! Don’t forget that everything out here is 240 volts. Turns out there were a few bare wires that needed some electrical tape.

Throughout the day we worked on the swing sets. We had carted about a hundred pounds of commercial grade swing gear with us from Winnipeg to help create some swings that will last the heavy use they get at our carepoints. By the end of the day, we had finished getting two swings up and heavy tested. Two of us guys got on and cranked it as high as we could safely go. The cross beam flexed a bit but the whole swing stood firm. Next we let the kids on and by their smiles and squeals I trust they approved. This brought some special joy to me as I had the opportunity to make the connection in Winnipeg with the equipment supplier who donated about half the materials we brought with us. So cool to see the connection made by generousity halfway around the world to these precious kids. – Bryan

26 thoughts on “Our hearts are full!

  1. So happy to read that it’s already a great time! Amy, my Swazi roommate, I hope you are having a blast! If you see Nomohilo, please tell her I say hi 🙂

    I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the trip. Show those kids as much love as you possibly can beause they are so very amazing.

  2. Wow. Loved, loved, loved all the pics. Jon, really awesome as always. The smiles!! Every single one of you Canadian Swazis, and every one of our children (well, the ones that weren’t asleep – jealous of all of you who were holding one of them!), the smiles were amazing. I scrolled thru the pictures many times. Loved seeing Elliot on the swings. So fun. Carley, you look so at home there! You all do! And the work crew sure makes painting look like a lot of fun!

  3. Jordan – thank you so much for your description of the journey to Enalani but the part that really got me was when you described how the little girl sang to you. What an incredible moment! I was nearly in tears. That is something that I know you will carry in your heart forever so I wanted you to know how appreciative I was that you shared that!

    Bryan – You just come alive when you talk about what you are building for these children. The love that you pour out in your building projects is so evident!

    Cheryl – it was so nice to see your beautiful face with the kids in the pictures!

    To you all – I am praying that you will all have deep deep rest so that your hearts and souls are filled up with the spirit so that you can pour it out onto the kids and the building projects tomorrow. Thank you for being so very open with your experiences and hearts it feels as though we are right there with you. Cheering you all on. – KeriAnn

  4. Hi Swaziteam, All I can say is WOW!! I love seeing the pics of the kids. So many familiar faces – some looking so grownup. I know I’m going to misspell names – Patoo looking like a big girl and Seipo knitting!! with that joyous grin. Brenda, I didn’t see your boy. Was he there? And Beneli ? And little T? Bonnie, when you go to BoBo tomorrow – give Grace a big hug from me. And somone hug my boy!! Praying for rest for the team and that things will go well at the princess party tomorrow and the soccor clinic. Hugs all around.

  5. I saw a picture of my beautiful special friend, kholiwe Dlamini. Out of all the pictures I’ve seen of her, she has never smiled as big and carefree as she was smiling in the picture. (The picture of the 5 girls knitting, kholiwe is wearing all black) Please give her a huge hug from her family in Canada! I promise to make it out again to see her, and the wonderful people at Enalani and Bhobokhazi. Praying for the teams health, happiness and endurance as you experience Africa. Blessings, Lesley Knodel

  6. Car-car! I had no idea you were going and now there you are:) I hope you have a great, life changing experience! You’ll have to tell me all about it when you’re back, mmmmkay?

    I love that little sephsihle…that girl radiates joy. I hope she still wants to be picked up in a couple years when I can to go again:) I really enjoyed your post Jordan…I knew right away that’s who you were talking about!

    As always I love following along! Thanks for the posts and pics and helping us all feel connected from a world away

  7. Awww….I can feel my heart swelling looking at all of those pictures!! I’m glad to see that my friend (but not “special friend”) S’petho (sp?) still loves to be in front of the camera 🙂 Bryan and Cheryl – a special hello to you both. I have been keeping up with your blog and I let out a little cheer when I got your facebook message today. I mentioned a quote today but I’ll repeat it here: it’s by an Iranian poet and it goes, “The words you speak are the house you live in”. The two of you will know how much this phrase means to me. I can connect it to my time in Swazi, as I’m sure the two of you can as well (and the rest of the team as well). When you’re there having conversations with the kids, makes, gogos, and d team – it’s all love. The conversations you have with your fellow team members whether it’s casual, the decompression conversation, or a little bit of cheerleading that they can make it through the day (or bounce back from a wicked case of heat stroke!) – it’s all love. Right now, you all are living in lovely houses and I couldn’t be more happy for you. I hope you all had a great sleep, an awesome day, and are ready to take on another one!

    1. Is he the smiley boy in the blue shirt with Bryan? It always makes my heart happy to see him and his joy each year. How encouraging to us as a church that his smile is so constant. That amid the stress and hardship life offers in Swaziland, that his Joy shines through each year. Thank you God for showing us what Joy and gratitude look like. Beauty amidst adversity.

  8. When Sandra and I visited Swaziland back in 2010, we had the opportunity to meet a little girl named Nicolette. I think she was 11ish back then. At that time we didn’t have a special friend yet as we were on the waiting list. We had inquired about the possibility of becoming special friends with Nicolette but Kreik explained to us that she wasn’t a regular at Enaleni so she wasn’t “registered” with the care point. We were devastated but respected the process that Jumbo & Kreik had established. The next day we were introduced to Mayibongwe and were grateful for the relationship that we could start to build; in person and from Canada. What a blessing he has been and we pray daily for him. Often, our thoughts will drift over to Nicolette and wonder how she is doing. We even heard that she had started to attend regularly and has now been connected with another amazing Riverwood friend. Well, we just saw her picture (Sandra had to point her out to me…) and I was taken right back to 2010. What an incredibly beautiful young lady she has become. I’m sure she has forgotten about us, but those eyes and that smile are things that will live in my heart forever. It is so good to see her (via picture) again. Thanks for bringing all that emotion back to me.

  9. Amy, how is it there? It sounds like you’re having fun! Everyone at youth misses you soo much. Please keep me updated. Have fun and see you in a few weeks!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥❇❇

  10. Looks like such a great day! So many smiles! I was happy to see Chimpu back in action! lol Hope to see some pic’s of our Busi soon 😉 I’m happy to see her brother Sipho is a regular at Enaleni and participating in the large group activity! Take care guys, hope today was great (and by that, I mean tomorrow because as I write this, it’s already yesterday to you) 😉

  11. We at the Neufeld house could stare at these pics all day/night… but I had to tell the kids to go to bed. Love following along and enjoy hearing all your different perspectives. I know the face of my girl when she’s happy and the pictures tell it all. Looks like a great day. We’ll be looking at pictures again, following along, hitting refresh tomorrow, then hitting refresh again just to make sure the interweb is working… then one more time 🙂 Thanks Jon, I know it’s late when these posts go out. We appreciate it. (ps-love you babe …Ingrid)

  12. It was so great to read all these stories! We are following you as your journey continues. By the way Kailey happy birthday

  13. My heart is exploding with love and wonder and awe while looking at all the pictures. I am so happy to hear about everything that the team is doing, and loving even more so, the stories of the great impact that all of the people are having on each of you. Isn’t that just the way… you set out to bless some people and they end up blessing you back ten/hundred/thousand-fold! Dad and Andrew – I am so incredibly proud and happy for you two and just know that you both are blessing the people there in your own ways – I expect much of it will be loads of silliness and laughter! I hope you are soaking in every minute and expect you will have so many stories to share when you get home. What an incredible experience. My heart is so with you and wishing I was there. Sending so so so much love and hugs to you guys and our special friend, Nkosenehle — who is sporting the coolest dude haircut I might add! (LOVE that picture Jon!!) Keep up the great work everyone!

  14. Thank you Jordan for the beautiful way you describe your first impressions – not since Mma Ramotswe have I read such vivid descriptions of Africa and the African way. Thank God for giving all of you this opportunity to experience these things!

  15. Wow Team! Absolutely love seeing your beaming faces and the beautiful, radiant faces of those precious children!! The photos are stunning! What joy! My co-worker said “those pics are so professionally done, and you can see the joy ! There’s so much life in the pictures, that you feel like you’re almost there. “… and now we’re both crying as we read this post and see the wonderful photos! Karl & I are praying for you daily. Ingrid… absolutely love seeing you with your girl! We love you and will look forward to hearing your stories! Much love! mom/Rhoda

  16. Thank you for the wonderful pictures, and blog posts. It has immeasurable effect here in Canada. Please continue to press into the Lord, trusting Him for all your needs, and continue to join together in harmony to do the work He prepared in advance for you to do.

    I’m delighted to see the pictures, and the broader picture of what God is doing through these yearly visits.

    This is meaningful. This is life changing. This is what we as Canadians need to see and experience to get us out of our comfortable ruts.

  17. Mama and Carley I am sooooooooo proud of you both!!! To see you both serving God in this way is so beautiful and brings so much joy to me! Carley you just fit in there so well! i don’t know if i’m allowed to say this out loud, but seriously! WHAT A BABE! 🙂 I know papa is proud too although from this end he just mopes around; don’t know if its because he’s still sick or he’s just missing you both like crazy! Maybe a bit of both. 😉
    To the rest of the team: WAY TO GO!! Way to serve God with your whole hearts and being not only His hands and feet but that of all of us who couldn’t go. WE’RE CHEERING YOU ON!!!
    All my love and prayers – Brittany

  18. I love the pictures of Bryan and Cheryl with their special “guy”. The swinging looked like a fun way to end off your busy & tiring day Bryan. I was happy to finally see a pic of you Cheryl as I’ve been wondering how you’re doing.
    Praying for both of you:)

  19. Hello team what wonderful pictures and what special memories you are all making. Hey Bonnie how come there are no knitting needles in your hands, I mean if a boy can have one in his hands what’s up, LOL! Oh I also have a very special message from someone at work for you Bonnie and this is what it is ” my Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea” I think you know who that came from and hey if you all want you can sing that song to Bonnie she loves it LOL! Praying for you all!

  20. kids are home from school now, and you’re probably heading off to bed soon. Had to let you know that we look forward to seeing the pictures each day.

  21. What an amazing opportunity you all have to invest into the hearts and lives of these precious ones. Ingrid, I love seeing your face….it speaks your heart. Praying for you! Love Auntie Kathy

  22. Well this is the third time I have tried to write this note, the other two times I wrote some great stuff, amazing actually, but now I’m fatigued and can’t re-write my amazing letters again. Just know that your stories are touching my heart and obviously many other hearts as well. Praying that Carley is feeling much better. Hi Bren, missing you lots, wanted to phone you today, but well you weren’t here.
    love cheryl

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