Split pants, flying acrobats, and a day to remember!


A Swaziland church service followed by Family Day was day that will last long in the memories of our team! This was a vision birthed in our hearts months ago, along with lots of discussion & wonderings –“would this idea even work”; then to see it become a reality was simply amazing! We are so grateful to God;  to the Swazi field staff who gave us the go ahead to try another one of our “crazy” ideas and to our team who put themselves out there – meeting & serving the caregivers of the children that we have fallen in love with.  It was a thrill to hear from some of the parents in their broken English how grateful they are for what we have done and are doing for their children.  We took over 60 family portraits that were printed for them to take home – a definite highlight watching them beam with pride over them.

Pants-1The kids had a blast on the jumping castles with their parents looking on but having to turn away when Jon’s jumping caused his pants to part ways behind him.  Thankfully he had his Swazi costume flag to cover the gaping hole most of the time….it was a windy day.

Sun-69One of the greatest results of this day is something we can’t even put into words because we could only listen in as the Swazi staff had the opportunity to speak to the caregivers about what Enaleni was trying to accomplish in the community. This was an event designed to help give more ownership to the local community for this project.

So….another day to top the charts for us.   From a stellar Canadian food crew serving well over 300 lunches to seeing Ron dance across the stage in church….from a traditional Swazi dance performed by the older girls to a singing satire performance by the older boys that had everyone in stitches (wish we knew what they were saying)….from unreserved flying acrobats across the jumping castles to the kids carrying cabbages that were literally half their size….today was a day of so many highlights that we will need to let the photos tell the rest. Thanks for your prayers and support. We’ve only got a few days left and we are going to squeeze every drop out of them. Good night from Swaziland.


Really surprised I am writing this from Africa. Three years ago my daughter Kristyn went to Kenya and my wife Sandy went with her to help settle her in as I had vowed I would never do something like that. Kristyn texted me a couple days ago that she remembers me saying I would never go to Africa and that God must have a sense of humour and probably laughed and said that is what you think.

It is a fantastic experience to go on a mission trip with your daughter. I have now seen Stacey in her element. The smile on her face and the faces of these kids when she interacts with them brings tears to my eyes. I also got to see Stacey in a wedding dress and this wont cost me anything (she was a princess at the Bhobokazi party).

I have gone through the gamut of emotions this past week. I have had trouble understanding why we have so much and these families have so little. How can I even make a difference here. Jon gave a mini sermon this morning at church that talked about Thomas and how he doubted that Jesus was back. He needed to touch the holes in his hands and feet and would not believe that Jesus was back unless he saw it for himself. The analogy he used was the African Impala that can jump over ten feet in the air yet when a three foot fence is put in front of him he wont jump it as he cannot see what is on the other side. That’s how I have lived my life always afraid to step out in faith. The families here feel every day is a blessing and a step of faith. That is how I want to live my life stepping out in faith every day. – Ron

Sun-1-3Today began with a church service unlike any I’ve experienced before. And while they say it lasted about three hours, it didn’t seem like that at all. (Pastor Todd, don’t get any ideas!) After noon I helped watch the kids on the bouncer, and they were having a riot – it was difficult to get them off when it was time to be done! We were also treated to performances by a junior girls choir and a skit by the youth boys that looked hilarious; I wish I could have understood what they were saying – the Swazi crowd sure laughed! I spent a bit more time visiting with my special friend. We were able to serve food to the whole group, distribute cabbages to each of the children and the Gogos, and of course helped clean up. I also met and visited with some very interesting caregivers, including a prince (who is a brother to the current King of Swaziland), an elder from Mozambique whose dance moves were riveting, and some parents and grandparents who expressed their deep gratitude for our assistance with their children.

All in all, this experience has been remarkable for me. Feeling a bit like a drop of joy in an ocean of pain has been humbling, but so rewarding. The hardest part has been doing this journey without Pam, who passed away nine months ago. She was so looking forward to doing this experience with me, and would have loved it and given herself fully to every moment of it – bringing joy to the kids and encouragement to the workers, meeting the caregivers, listening to their stories. So I am doing my best to do these things on behalf of both of us, and I truly feel I am receiving far more than I am giving. Meeting these dear people, hearing them thank us sincerely – not just for giving to them, but for being here with them – these connections are so life-giving.

So, to any of you who may question the value of what Riverwood is doing in Swaziland, whether it is sponsoring kids, filling gift bags, praying, or getting crazy and coming all the way over here, let me encourage you. It is no small thing. In fact, it is immeasurable. – Paul

15 thoughts on “Split pants, flying acrobats, and a day to remember!

  1. I was thinking of all of you, this morning when I was in church. Thinking of the service you were attending, halfway across the world. (I know there’s a time difference, but I hope you know what I mean). Carolyn and Carly…I LOVED the picture of the two of you together. What a great time of bonding for a mother and daughter to experience!

    I pray that you have a restful day and that the impact that you have on those precious children is a lasting one!!

    Brenda, my friend, I look for you in every picture and am thrilled when I find you!! You look like you’re having such a great time, serving others, as usual. 😉

  2. Wow what an amazing day. you look so full with joy in the experience of the day. thank you for sharing with us and for all you are doing in being the hands and feet of Riverwood–giving hugs and love for all of us who aren’t there. Love to all of you–love you my “split pants” son. Many blessings and have a good rest. Sue C

  3. (And refresh) YESSS!!!! So good! Great Post! Hey Paul, we can talk about 3 hour services… just curious, how much singing was there 🙂 … Thanks J.C. for the ton of pics today even in the wake of losing your pants. What a fun looking day. We couldn’t stop smiling as we looked at all the happy faces. Way to go team. Love you Ingrid, so glad my girl is rock’n it in Swaziland.

  4. Woke up this morning smiling as I knew you would be enjoying a swazi service this morning. How amazing they are! Enjoyed seeing you all in the pic – – some tired faces so I know you are giving all your energy to sharing God’s love with our swazi friends. Enjoy your day and get lots of rest. Hugs!!!

  5. It was a lovely fall day today, the long term forecast shows rain with a possibility of snow. No matter, it’s only weather after all. Your day looked amazing. It was great seeing your picture Bren. Looking forward to hearing all about your experiences when you get back? Was Nosipho’s family there today I wonder? Better sign off now, work tomnorrow.
    have a good day on Monday. Until next time.-cheryl

  6. We prayed for you all in church today. It was so nice to see your smiling faces on the video! I love that we are able to bless the communities in Swaziland and I LOVE how Bobo has grown over the years that I have been following the teams in Swazi. That is because of all of your hard work! Amazing job team! Today it really hit home reading Paul and Ron`s blog of what an amazing experience this has been but also how it has affected you emotionally. Paul – I had the pleasure of meeting Pam and know what kind of light she shone on everyone that she talked to. You have shown so much courage and the faith after losing her that I would like to tell you just how powerful it is. You are an example of a what a spirit led life looks like. Ron- although I don`t know you personally I just want to tell you that your post really spoke to me as well. There is a tugging at me to go on a mission trip but in many ways I am getting in God`s way. Your post stirred that in me again.
    To all of you as you finish off the week and then make your way home. I pray that you have a refreshing rest day so that you can be overfilled after pouring out so much on the community in both care points. Thank you to each and every one of you for representing the love of Riverwood. Until tomorrow – God Bless you all

  7. Hey Team! Isn’t there something inside of you right now that feels uniquely…remarkably alive? It’s only a guess, but i’m thinking you’ve touched and tasted a bit of Acts 2:42f! (…and you’ll never be the same!) i think you are living what life and church were meant to be. You’re living dependant and intimate with God…in the rare and deep and special ‘community’ of your team…allowing God to fully use your lives to make a difference in others! Really…does it get any better than that? (Your faces in the pictures would suggest it doesn’t!) Thanks for touching the Acts 2:42 spark for all of us! Thanks for reminding us that there is nothing better than giving your life away! i know you still have 3 more days in the field…but realize, in three days it’s not over! Don’t leave what you are tasting in Africa! Bring the spark home!

    Paul, you can’t celebrate a 3 hour service and then say “…but don’t get any ideas! 🙂 (…maybe some of the time could include Ron dancing across OUR stage!)

    Carley…i can’t even begin to put into words how proud of you i am! Many of the kids you have touched and help probably can’t even speak. (You have such a way with the little ones!) Well, let me say it for them: “Thanks for loving us!”

    Carolyn…you’ve made my heart beat wild for more than 29 years…and even half way around the world…you keep doing it! Love watching you in action…leading…serving…giving your life away and being what God has called you to be!

    Love you all and praying for much refreshing as you head off to bed!

    – t

  8. As we call it a night here, some of you are probably already waking up excited to see what God has in store for you today… Praying for another day filled with many surprises and blessings! We have enjoyed reading your stories and following along with Jon’s amazing pictures! Thank you for loving on our friends!❤️

  9. Hey Team – what another fun filled packed day!! How exciting to see the kids and parents enjoying your love, the food you were serving and care. And… i was very excited to see a picture of our special friend Thobihlele smiling – she looks like she may be coming out of her shell – or just feeling better. Kailey – you inspire me – I miss you like crazy at work – but your heart for these kids just is so evident. Deb S. oh my goodness!! were you wearing clothes under that flag?? You look like you’ve settled in just fine! Can hardly wait to hear all the stories.

    Love you T – praying for you all – that you are able to sleep well – and have the energy for a few more days – weeks for Kailey and Bryan.


  10. Thank you to each one of you for being such wonderful ambassadors from Riverwood and showing God’s love and grace on those who so richly deserve it. You are doing us proud and keep up the good work!

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