A successful experiment!

Sat-11Today we tried something new.  It was an experiment to see if we could gather families together at the care point to give the local Hope Chest staff a chance to meet the caregivers and talk to them about the work they are doing at the care point.  We had NO idea how this day would actually work out…..but let me just say that we feel like it really did work!

We didn’t know how many to expect and planned for a lot. Most of the Bhobokazi kids were there today and I counted about 43 parents that showed up. For a first round I think this is pretty great! But beyond the numbers today was an opportunity to take a step forward for our care point to bring more community involvement and ownership. Saturday-13I was so proud of the Swazi local team that addressed the crowd and that really showcased their love for the children that come and were able to speak out clearly their vision for the Bhobokazi care point to the community. We had a representative of the local chief come and had a chance to honour him in the meeting giving him a chance to address the crowd. He gave such strong support of the work happening at Bhobokazi and gave a pretty meaningful thank you to us Canadians for the way we are helping. They honoured the Make’s (the cooks that volunteer daily) and it was very special.

The feel of the event was not so much a carnival feel but rather that of a family picnic….and this is exactly what we wanted. We had two large bouncy castles for the kids, the BBQ was firing all day cooking up sausage, and had a ton of fun with all the kids running some competitions like tug of war and potato sack races. Saturday-11The parents looked on and laughed and smiled all day seeing their kids having fun. We even ran potato sack races for the older ladies (please understand they really really wanted to….) and had quite an epic battle for the victory as you can see in this photo that really captured their competition. Don’t worry….she was okay

We also had the chance to take family photos and offer them a print on the spot that was framed in acard. This was really a remarkable thing to see as families were able to receive a simple 4×6 photo and feel so special about it! For many this may have been the first family photo they have…..imagin that. We had purchased a Selphy printer and created an on site Wifi network to be able to snap a photo….hit print and in about 2 minutes we had a printed photo that got framed as a card and given to the family. I must say how fun when technology can be used for something this meaningful. Really fun!!


So tomorrow we do the same at Enaleni. It could be a different ballgame there with the church on site, but after the service is done we are going to do the same there and hopefully make some more meaningful connections for the care point.

Today was a significant day on many levels and I believe some things happen that will begin to shape the future for Bhobokazi. We love to take risks and it is great when they work out for the good. Thanks be to God for being with us today!

I must say I am so proud of our team. They have been pushing really really hard….leaving it all on the field and they are a pretty tired bunch….and we will push hard until tomorrow afternoon. After the big day tomorrow we will get our first downtime since arriving here with an evening off and we are all looking forward to it. Thanks to all who are following with us and praying for us. We will enjoy worshipping with you halfway across the world as God is lifted up both in Riverwood and at Enaleni tomorrow.

I leave you with the reflections of a couple of our team and with the photos of the day. We weren’t able to capture too many photos today as we kept our cameras away as a sign of respect to the culture here with the elders and parents visiting with us. We did manage to sneak a few though. I’m also including a few more of the princess party at Enaleni for your enjoyment. Remember you can click on the circles to see full pictures. Good night from Swaziland! – Jon



Hi, to all who read this blog. Sara, Jean, James, Arlene miss you tons and think about you and hope they are having a good time in their jobs. Have a blessed time and love the people you meet and bless them.

I came to see my little sponsor girl, who was once my daughter Anne’s special friend. She passed away 1 year and 8 months ago, from cancer and now I have taken Anele under my wing. It was a year ago when I starting thinking about going to Swazi but I wasn’t yet talking about it. I wanted to talk to my kids altogether at Christmas time about my decision to go. I asked in January my kids if it was okay to go with the Swazi team to see Anele and they said yes! And God made a way! And it all worked out and I am happy to be here.

On Tuesday when we visited Bobo for the first time I had the opportunity to meet my special friend. And that was a special moment to see her and her big smile. Then I found out that her caretaker was a Gogo at the kitchen in Bobo. And I had a short conversation with her to get acquainted. And I am blessed by all of this that I experience here. – Agnes



Today was our first family day at Bhobokazi and it was fantastic. There were games being played, bouncy houses set up, and just a chance to be able to mill and visit with some of the families that came. I don’t think I have I ever been laughed at so much when trying to visit with someone because of the language barrier.

When lunch time came we made a sausage for the families and the Gogo’s and Makes made pop (corn meal mush) with a tomato sauce to go overtop. They needed some extra help and I came and helped scoop food on the plates. The corn meal mush is spongy in texture and they use a plate to scoop it out so it was very hard to work with. It was such an incredibly neat experience to help in that kind of environment where the facilities are simple, 2 cauldrons on a pile of wood, and they made this incredibly tasty meal with so little. Everyone was so grateful and there was no grumbling. The simplicity of it and the joy of giving, these Makes and Gogo’s come every day to serve the children of the community and all they get is just one plate of food and they are happy. – Christal

17 thoughts on “A successful experiment!

  1. What an awesome time you all are having!! I look forward to your posts every single day and continue to pray for all of you. Brenda, my friend, you look like you are in your element! I can hardly wait to hear of your adventures when you come home. Love you!!!

  2. Hi Team,
    It’s such a joy to see all these smiling and laughing faces of the kids, young and old, on the pictures. You guys & gals are creating lasting memories for the kids. These special days are amazing for these young people. Creating new relationships and renewing existing ones, you all rock big time. Thank you sooo much!
    Two days ago Yvonne was reading the blog out loud, sitting on the floor in the hall, while I was grouting the new tiles of the kitchen floor. Yvonne’s reaction to the pictures made me stop what I was doing, I had to see them also. Every day we have read the blog and looked at the pictures in amazement, and with emotions of joy and gratitude. God is working with you and through you, to show His wonderful grace. Thanks again for investing your time and energy onto the kids and the care points. The play structures look great! I know, that was so many days ago. It probably feels like you are in Swaziland for weeks and yet, you still have an entire week to go. After this weekend you might feel totally spent, but keep on pushing on. We are praying for you every day and will continue to do so, that God will provide you with all that you need. Jon & Carolyn thank you for your dedication, wisdom and leadership.
    May God bless you all.
    Yvonne & Erik w/a ‘k’

  3. Wow! Swazi team 2014, this is amazing! The pictures and words are such a blessing to us home here at Riverwood. We saw the short video tonight in church and were so blessed by it. Continue the good work of our Jesus there in Swazi, but be sure to rest when you can. The smiles on the kids faces are priceless! I love how Murray photo-bombed the women’s picture! That’s great! Praying God’s richest blessings on the entire team as you pour out God’s love on the Swazi people. Lots of Love and Prayers to you all, Dodie

  4. WOW! It all looks so spectacular!! I know not to envy is kinda one of the 10 commandments but boy am I envious of all you getting to have that amazing experience of bringing the Swaziland families together for such an amazing day! You must all just be exhausted (my mom and Jon are quite the slave drivers 😉 ) but you are all doing incredible! Way to give it your all, your church family is so proud of you! – Brittany

  5. OK. i know i say this every year…but the experience is fresh every year: i’ll never forget the day that God poked my heart, sitting at a cabin on a study-break after reading Tom Davis’ book “Red Letters”. In that unsuspecting moment of solitude and prayer…God tapped a little ‘spiritual domino’ and made it teeter. That little first domino fell…and hit another…and another…and another…and six years later, thru YOU…1000’s of ‘spiritual domino’s’ are falling!!! i always struggle with a little-teenie bit of jealousy…watching what you are doing (…and i don’t get to be there)…but am more overwhelmed with HUGE WAVES of gratitude and TSUNAMI’S of awe! Who can even dream how God is going to use the ‘spiritual domino’ He has tapped in your life…to change a child. A family. A community. A country!!! So…you have a week to go! i know you all must be exhausted…but if you hear a whisper or feel a little tap of God’s Spirit…follow it. It might just be the start of a new, fresh wave of falling dominos that you could never imagine! Keep up the great work and ministry team! – t

  6. Hi there team it was so touching to see the families come together I was praying it would all work out and did God answer my prayers. I think the funniest photo was of the older ladies involved in the sack race that was so great to see them having fun. The work that you have put in is incredible and who knows how many lives have been touched by what you have all sacrificed, thank you all for being so obedient to what God has called you to do. Bonnie in case you were interested in winnipeg’s wonderful weather it did snow a little today and it will be a bit cooler tonight -3 so enjoy the nice weather and please bring some warm weather back. Bon it was good to see you in some of the pictures I know how much those children love you and how much you love them. God bless you all!

  7. Agnes…you’re my personal ‘Hero of the Day’ (but don’t tell anyone…because they might get jealous 🙂 Thank you for honouring Anne, Anele…and the Lord in such a daring and bold way! i love how you haven’t allowed any excuses to hold you back! You are an inspiration to me and our entire church! May the Lord continue to bless and strengthen you! – t

  8. Thank you again for the daily blog. I am glued to every word and every picture. The day at Bhobokaz looks awesome! Hey, Roomie, so good to see you! Allison, you must be so enjoying your new roommate this year experiencing this with you!! Brenda/Carolyn, miss you, nice seeing the pic of you two, we are so grateful for all you do on our behalf for our kids. The princesses look very lovely, thanks for posting more pics. I am already anticipating how awesome church will be, the singing, the offering collection, how they will honor you all… Church Swazi style is certainly a treat.

  9. Kristyn and I enjoy reading the blog and looking at the pictures. We are so happy that you and dad can have a similar mission experience as we did in Kenya. We wish we there! I love to see the look in your eyes Stacey as you are holding and playing with the children at the care points. I especially like the selfies of you and boys at soccer. I know this was right up your alley Stacey. Since Ron is still in the pictures I can assume you haven’t sent him home. Praying for you Paul! Lenny (the dog) can hardly wait til your home so he can go to the bathroom at 5:30 in the morning again! We pray that you continue to enjoy your time and that you will all have the stamina to finish strong! Love you both!!

  10. Hey all, sounds like a grrreat day. The best part of yesterday was getting to see our Saturday service take in your video update. I saw it early so I just watched the church and their faces from the side. Big smiles from everyone as they heard and saw what you were doing. There was a buzz about it after service as people were talking about it. I don’t know how much you feel it but the whole church is behind you, getting excited, some see you with their Swazi kid, knowing that you are representing all of us here in such an amazing way. Thanks all.

  11. Hi team, I love what you’ve done with bringing family members together at the care points. Isn’t doing ‘kingdom of God’ work the best! Enjoy your last days in Swaziland. I look forward to seeing you and hearing your stories after my little trip.

    Jon and Carolyn, the Firehall isn’t the same without you. But we’re doing well, including Todd’s mustache and goatee!


  12. Hi everyone,
    Again I sit here in tears, just in awe of what God is doing in and through you all. Agnes, I didn’t know your daughter, but you are honouring her in such a magnificent way. What an incredible inspiration you are. I am feeling a bit of jealousy as well, that I will never be able to experience what you are. But we all have a mission field in our own little worlds, what am I talkin bout?? I have folklorama everyday, I take handi transit!!! But seriously Agnes you rock! I loved what you said to your children, ” Love the people you meet and bless them”. I think if it’s ok with you, that is my new vision statement for my life. Way to go Swazi team..
    Lord, please give each member of this team, a boost of energy, help them to rest well and awaken each day with childlike wonder, awe and faith.. Bless them abundantly Lord, please. Amen

    nighty nite
    cheryl mc

  13. You guys are doing amazing work! Thank you soo much for putting yourselves out there doing Gods work. God is truly doing AWESOME work through each one of you. I agree with Ben, I too hear the buzz around church. It’s so exciting and humbling at the same time. We love you and pray for you. LOVE ON!

  14. So wonderful to be following you in this journey through the blog ~ please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers ~ what a beautiful gift that your are giving each of these families, may the Lord bless you with health & strength as you ministry to these wonderful people ~ love you, Denise 🙂 xo

  15. Hi Bonnie It was great to hear your voice. What a thrill, it is hard to imagine you are 9,957 miles away. The farthest I have ever talked to anyone was Guatemala 2,833 miles away and he was a Telus Guy I have never met. Congratulations Bonnie it is so nice to hear from you. God bless you. Love Marj and Dad

  16. Wow! What a blessing to see so many from the community come to the picnics! Hope all is well. To my sister, you are brave and beautiful. For sure a 30 cow wife. Don’t take anything less. Either that, or head to Gluten Free Singles online…(yes it actually exists). Thanks so much for the pictures of our girl Philly. So excited that you got to meet her, she is even more beautiful than in her profile 😉 Give her a hug for me. Praying for lots of energy and that your heart and stomach will be full. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He takes great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” Zeph. 3:17. Love you. xoxo

  17. I am so proud of all of you!

    My comment is more of a prayer than a comment. Father, please help every single member of this team take this amazing experience and fuse it into the core of who they are. I ask that they be changed and transformed through the love of these wonderful people and through the trust, companionship and friendship they are experiencing not only with these precious people, but with each other as well. Father increase their joy to the point where it spills out of them and thank You that You have paved the way for all this to happen. I pray that You be reflected to the people they meet in their last few days there and I also pray that You show Yourself in all of Your glory to this team through the amazing experiences that are waiting for them. Father use every last thing that this amazing team has experienced and use it for Your purposes and Kingdom! Thank You for all of these people and thank You that You Son is at the core of all that is happening here!!

    For the rest of their time Father I prat that you protect this team and keep them safe in their travels in all areas mental, physical and spiritual. I pray for their renewed strength and for endurance through the final stretch as they burn themselves out for these people whom they have come to love and for each other. And I Jon and Carolyn I ask that you stand beside them and hold them up as they continue to lead. Give them a special infusion of your strength Father and encourage them by letting them know what wonderful leaders and role models they are and what a great job they are doing leading this team.

    Thank you everyone for all you are doing! I wish all of you safe travels, days filled with ridiculous joy as you wind down and the very sincere hope that you never see Jon’s torn open backside ever again in your lives!!!

    Have a great last few days everyone and I look forward to hearing more when you all get home!


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