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.
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. So, 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
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
What 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
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. The 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