Some days have so many experiences that it is hard to even summarize them all! This was one of those days. Full of joy, laughter, prettiness, and festivities. Full of hard work, trenches, concrete forms and new stairs. Full of difficulties, heartache, and deep sadness. And full of a sense that God is among us.
Today was a tough dayfor a couple of our team members….Carley got really sick this morning and after trying to make it out to the care point, it was quickly realized that she would need to head back to bed. Carolyn took her back to the guest house and the two of them spent the day trying to help her rest. I know it was very difficult for them both as they were so excited for this day. But we are grateful for both the great job of planning that Carolyn had put into this day and to a team very capable of pulling it off in her absence.
Let me just say that the princess party at Bhobokazi was FANTASTIC! The girls LOVED their dresses and they felt so special getting manicures and pedicures and nail painted and celebrated. We began our day decorating the care point and the room for the girls.
I must say I’m pretty proud of our boys who stepped up to the plate as the Princess Party Decorating Crew (all design decisions were made by Debbie….don’t worry). We just got to hang from the rafters and put up balloons and streamers. Once decorated the boys were kicked out and had the task of keeping the boys away for the whole day.
The ladies did so great! They treated each of our Bhobokazi girls to a day of feeling special and being told that God has created and made them so beautiful. Char had a chance to talk to the girls and told them that this day was not just a day for them to know that we loved them….but so that they could see how much God adores them and thinks they are beautiful. Char, you did a beautiful job communicating. We also had the privilege of having Miss Swaziland as a guest for the girls to hear from and she did a great job reinforcing what Char had talked about. The kids were pretty excited to have a celebrity around.
One of my favourite moments of the day was when the girls were finished and they all paraded out the doors through a tunnel of flower and cheering team members to be met by all of the boys gathered in a gallery and cheering and clapping for them. You could tell that the girls felt special and celebrated by the smiles on their faces.
The boys kept quite busy too….Ron ran his own little pre-school session with the younger kids (quite out of his comfort zone but he rocked it!). Jordan & a bunch of boys headed out for a match of soccer. Murray & Andrew tackled a project of pouring new concrete stairs for the kitchen…and they had an entourage of about 12 boys 10 and under helping them to smash bricks down for aggregate and run the wheel barrows. The boys were elated to help out with the construction crew! The rest of us took shifts digging trenches and planting tires….yes planting tires. Hopefully by next year we will have fully grown tire trees….well actually they are a part of the play structure for the kids to bounce on.
It really was a great day with Bhobokazi.
Tonight in our sharing time, we shared many highlights of the day…..but we also spent a significant amount of time being hit by the reality of the struggles that we see in this country. We talked about the struggles that these girls face and that this special day celebrating them can seem like such a small step in the face of so many other challenges. We also learned today of another tragedy that has stolen life….a mother whom we had grieved with last year over the loss of her daughter has now recently had to deal with the loss of her infant. She is now a young 22 year old who has lost 2 children in the past 2 years and is struggling at home alone with no source of income. The reality is that this is a story that is repeated over and over again as the country struggles with poverty, HIV aids, and hunger. It was a sober reality for us today. We had a profound sense of sadness and joy mixed together tonight. I am so grateful for a group that is willing to be vulnerable together.
Thanks to a team that invested so much of themselves into this day. Thanks to a church that has invested into this place and is along the journey with us. And thanks to God….who knows profound sadness deeper than any of us and is the source of all of our joy. Our prayer tonight was for the grieving mother to discover a hope that stretches beyond circumstances….may God rest on her tonight.
Oh and I must tell you one more quick story. Today Ingrid received a gift from the homestead she visited 2 days ago….they presented her with a live chicken! This was truly an honour….but we had no idea what to do with it! She carried it around for a while….then it became clear what was to be done….I will let the photo finish the story for you.
Tomorrow is another big day….the Soccer Clinic & another princess party at Enaleni. Thanks for following along and I will leave you with the reflections of a couple of team members and the story of our day in photo. You can click on any of the circles to see the full photos. Good night from Swaziland! – Jon
Well we have had four full days here and I am beginning to understand why so many of my previous and present team members are crazy for this country and the people that we serve here. I have been questioning for a long time why God had placed a burden inside me for the people of Africa and the under privileged. I was lucky enough to find both of my daughters sponsored children, which was an amazing thing to experience. I have being giving to missions for years and was always a little skeptical if giving would make a difference. My son, Andrew and I were able to go on a home visit to my daughter Mackenzie and her husband Karl’s, sponsored girl. As we arrived at her home we saw an out of the way, dilapidated house, with little children clothes on a make shift clothes line. She led us to her home with a shy downcast face…and as we walked there, I found out that she was 17 and was alone to take care of herself and her brother and sister. My first thought was….WHO takes care of you? Immediately, I felt desperate and a little helpless, and a tiny bit guilty and humbled. Then I realized that God had infiltrated my heart a long time ago and the hearts of countless other believers across the world to do just that…CARE. It has answered a life-long question in the wink of an eye. I could imagine my own kids in that situation and yearned to protect and help….nothing more to say…GOD IS GOOD! – Murray
What a day it has been. We arrived at Bhobokazi early to set up for our first Princess Party. We had mirror decorating stations, a flower making station, and a manicure and pedicure station. I was at the manicure station where I made about 200 nails beautiful. Such beautiful, beautiful girls. One of the older girls, about thirteen years old, thanked me for making her beautiful today. I told her she was already beautiful when she walked into the room, what a smile came over her face.
Miss Swaziland came and spoke to the girls about the importance of having God in their lives and that they were all princesses because they were children of the King. She also said she grew up in a home where her mother and father taught her that she was beautiful and that God loved her. The girls hung on her every word.
Seeing the girls in their Princess dresses from their Special friends was so wonderful. I have never seen so many smiling faces in my life. I am so blessed to be able to be here and pour some loving on these wonderful children.
We also were blessed enough to go on a home visit to Erik and Yvonne’s little girls home. We went with her Gogo and her two siblings. The gogo also works at the carepoint and looks after 7 children. They live in a very small house and she thanked us many times for being their guests. I thanked her for all the work she does at our carepoint and she had tears in her eyes.
Thanks for all your prayers and posts. They both mean so much. Dar, Mary, Moni and KeriAnn, thanks for coming along with us. Till next time, Cheryl