Beauty in the Broken.

Most days we have summarized what transpired for us during the day and have a few reflections to share.  Today we had a fantastic day at Bhobokazi spending time with the kids, painting, working on the swing set, and handing out care packages.  What a privilege to pass on all these specially made packages sharing love with each of the children.  Their smiles were contagious!

However…..today rather than going in depth with our day, I would like to let you in on what was happening within our group tonight.  Every evening we spend time debriefing and sharing about our days together.  They are times often filled with much laughter, tears and stories to celebrate.  This trip has absolutely forged us together and we have shared so much.  Tonight began with someone sharing about their visit to a local homestead.  Her opening words were….”this visit kinda wrecked me”.  She shared of her and another team member visiting a home from a young girl that attends Bhobokazi.  The homestead they visited had just a couple of small buildings laced with broken windows, leaky roofs, no furniture, and makeshift doors.  Living there was the 15 year old girl that attends the care point and as they walked up to the home, they met her caregiver…..her great grandma.  We don’t know how old she is but judging by the picture somewhere around 90.  A teenager being cared for by her great grandmother alone at a homestead that basically has a couple of rooms with minimal protection from the elements.  A 15 year old that has already had to endure the loss of two generations of caregivers with the reality that she will soon lose her current one.

Sharing this situation became a beginning for our team to open up about the internal struggles of this trip.  For the next hour we shared in our brokenness.  We asked questions together….we aired our feelings of anger, grief and sadness.  How can we do more?  Why has it taken this long for me to realize the depth of need in the world around us?  Can’t we just build a new home for this family?  How many more countless stories are there like this one?  What can we actually do that makes a difference?  Shouldn’t we do everything we can?

Sometimes life offers you moments that are rare and beautiful.  I think tonight was one of those for our team.  There was a vulnerability and honesty that pierced through the air.  The beauty I saw was not in the smiles or the stories of the day….but in the brokenness of hearts that have risked enough to love and come face to face with the difficult injustice that confronts our worlds….and not to run away but to embrace the sadness and grief of those situations.

Many tears were shared tonight.  Frustrations and anger were voiced.  At times we grasped on to any answer we could find together to some of the difficult questions but no answers were adequate.  I really appreciated the sharing of one of our team members who said, “it is easy to be present with someone in need when we have the ability to meet that need…..it is much more difficult to be present when we can’t.”

There is so much need around us here in Swaziland.  It can be overwhelming.  The realities of a 22 year old mother who has lost her only 2 children in the past 2 years.  The realities of a 14 year old boy that has no caregivers left alive and so is living on his own.  The struggling child whose caregiver went into the hospital more than a month ago and he still hasn’t heard from her.  The reality of the countless stories of loss and grief behind the smiling faces we see at our care points.  But we are called to be present in the middle of these stories.  We are called to be the tangible experience of God’s love in the midst of it all…..and sometimes that love simply means to provide a sense that someone….though maybe on the other side of the world….someone is aware of what you are going through…..someone cares….someone is praying.

I am humbled to have been a part of the experience we had tonight.  I believe God has been at work breaking our hearts to understand His even more…..and we grasp on to hope.  We grasp on to the idea that God has something else in mind.  And we recognize that even in the midst of all that we see here, we need to come face to face with our own poverty that is being exposed through the faith and joy and community that we are seeing in the midst of all this.  Tonight we found beauty in the brokenness.

Jon

19 thoughts on “Beauty in the Broken.

  1. Hey team,
    Thank you for sharing your brokenness and being vulnerable. This is one way that God shows us His heart and He is right by your sides, holding you, carrying you and most of all loving you all through this. Those of us who have been to Swaziland know exactly what you are going through and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers every minute of every day you are there. Soak in the rest of your time there and continue to be open to all God wants you to experience.
    God bless you all and thank you for loving on those precious children for us!! We love you.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your evening with us and all the stories, love reading them. I just sat here at my kitchen table reading and crying, it touched me so deeply. Seeing what you see there, being amongst those children and how they live, does touch your innermost being and to ask oneself, what more can we do. How blessed we are here in Canada, freedom, availability and our awesome, caring Riverwood family. Praying that God will be with you and use you to the fullest till the end of your stay there. You are God’s angels sent to those children and their caregivers, they won’t forget you and God’s love, which is poured out on them through you. May God be glorified!

  3. Having seen what you have seen is hard!! I know, I have seen it elsewhere. I just want to remind you that your trip out there is just the tip of what Riverwood and Children’s Hope Chest is doing in Swaziland. Lives are being changed, hope is being given to many out there. Just because your time is coming near the end, doesn’t mean the ministry is.
    There is a song that asks, God why don’t you do something about these situations, and in the song God responds, “I did, I made you.” As Christian it is our calling to respond, and you as a team have responded, well done! All the people that have sponsored Children, or helped the team raise support, or came to the fundraiser, etc. have responded. Well done!
    I know the need is endless, and that we will never reach everyone. But be encouraged that a difference IS being made, and will continue to be made long after you are all back home.

    I say again, Be encouraged!

    Jared

  4. It is easy to do nothing but to step out and love those people that is love in action and being a difference maker. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of these brothers of mine, you did for me!” Matt 26:37-40. Be encouraged, praying for you all!

  5. I’ve written and deleted at least three messages because none of them seem good enough. This post broke my heart and I’m not even there to witness it. This beauty in the brokeness can be seen in the eyes of every person who has gone to Swaziland. Every one of those people and children that you shower love onto are changed too. Despite their circumstances or situations they are survivors. What I don’t hear is that they complain about their hardships or that they do not have enough time, sleep, money, food. I am not there but I have never heard about how they keep asking for more and more to be showered onto them. From what I read on this blog I see people who embrace the love of Jesus from each and every one of you. I see the smiles and light that shine from their faces and a joy of life that is not often seen in this so called first world. We may have the material comforts but from what I just read of this post the love of God is tangible in Swaziland. You are all meeting the people who are going to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven because they are not storing up treasures on this Earth but are making daily deposits in God’s Kingdom. You are laying it all on the line as well and are being Jesus to the least of us. I will continue to pray that you are filled to overflowing so that you will be able to continue to pour out that love for the next few day. You know as I was writing this post I feel the need to tell you Jon or Carolyn to look back at previous years to show just how much of a difference has been made at both of these care points through teams just like you and I also am being urged to tell you that I am praying for Carly as she processes all of this – I know that you are completely covered in prayer but I just felt the urge to let you know that people other than your family are covering you in prayer. Ok so by now you will know I am long winded! God bless you all. Cheryl I can’t wait to hug you again. Bryan – I know you are staying a bit longer so I am covering you in extra prayer too. Until Tomorrow Swazi team – sleep deep refreshing sleep xo

  6. Humbled that you let us in to your experience. Thank you! Sobering to say the least.

    Thanks also for all the AMAZING photos! This could be dubbed the ‘Year of the Chicken”! Jordan…who knew? Skipping rope with a child in your arms! Who does that? Murray…face painting? Didn’t see that coming! Ingrid sticking her tongue out. DID see that coming!

    WARNING to Jon, Ingrid and Carolyn: Kelly, Ben and i are putting a proposal in to lead the team next year. #payback #seehowitfeels lol

    Way to go team! Will be praying these next few days slllloooooowwww down a bit…so you can drink it all in!

    – t

  7. I don’t really have anything wise to say, except I think sometimes God does some pretty amazing things things in our brokenness, dare I say, it makes for quite a workable canvas. Rest well.
    cheryl

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your vulnerability and brokenness with us. It touches that deep place in my heart. I always love seeing all your beautiful faces and the beautiful faces of the precious ones you’re with! May each one of you be strengthened and refreshed on this last leg of your time there! Love how you’re being “family” there! We’re praying for you everyday!

  9. Way to go Deb!! Looks like the jewellery workshop was a hit!! Friendship bracelets take on a whole new meaning. Love the smiling faces, the bright colours and interactions with the kids – so cool to see and imagine what you are experiencing.

    T – we are praying for you and the team. When I got my text from you – my heart skipped a beat – it was so unexpected – but to hear you were having a tough time because of the injustices you see all around – that made me really think. There will always be experiences that you won’t understand or agree with. Tuck those thoughts and feelings into a space where they are accessible – but don’t overwhelm your whole being – come back to them – revisit them – and maybe one day you will be able to understand them more fully or not – give them to God – he knows better than any of us the injustices of the world – let Him be the one who carries it for you – but you can be His hands, feet and heart. love you so much!!! from half a world away xoxox mom

  10. I have no words……..thank you for BEING THERE and for all that you ARE doing. What a difference you ARE making in the lives you touch. Thank you also allowing me to share in a small way through reading your posts and praying for all of you while you ARE there.

  11. Wow God! Only you could do what you are doing in the lives of these dear Swazi people and in the lives of our Riverwooders! Lord continue to break their hearts with the things that break your heart! May they come home changed forever, refusing to be conformed to the self-centeredness of this world. And may we all all be challenged to live lives that make a difference for the kingdom of God and for eternity!
    God bless you all dear Swazi/Riverwooders. So honoured to be part of your family!
    Amy we are so looking forward to hearing all about your experience next week at Small group. We are praying for you and the whole group!
    Kathy and Wally C

  12. Thanks for the in depth post and letting us in to the team a bit. Well written, JC, my friend. Very interesting seeing the pics with all the kids smiles and then hearing some true, real life stories and experiences. Sounds like this team is having opportunities, talks and situations that are bringing you all closer together. That’s great to hear. Take Care over the next couple of days as you say “see ya later” to Swaziland.

    PS – Todd’s all talk 🙂 I don’t want any payback… I just want to be with you, babe. Jealous of all the people that get to experience this with you. Give her lot-o-hugs folks. Ingrid, you are the best person to be around… ever! (all smiles)

    benN

  13. Just met with Ben for our weekly Service Development meeting. Feeling more endeared to this guy than ever before. HE’S JUST AS WACKED WITHOUT HIS WIFE as i am without mine! i love it! He’s a mess! Oh, he talks big and loud…but i know what he’s really feeling. We spent 15 minutes just comparing ‘waves of emotions’ and ‘feelings of loneliness’. It was pathetic…and beautiful at the same time. – t

  14. Love the way you guys (T & B) are in touch with your feelings! 🙂 (Really!!) It’s a beautiful thing! You both have great women in your lives!

  15. Such a heart wrenching yet beautiful summary of the day. I can’t imagine how you are all feeling, but i do know that every little thing you are doing means so much to every person there as well to all of us here. Keep up the great work! Take care!

  16. Hey team – Thrilled to hear of your journey and how this is shaping your hearts. So glad you have made the sacrifice to be there and so proud of the way you represent first Him and then Riverwood – your church family. Love the smiles on your faces as you serve. That chicken that Ingrid was holding upside down looked like it needed a VET. Glad your there Murray. Of course – I am especially so proud of you Jonathon. Praying for you all and looking forward to how this experience will add value to our whole church as you share your new spiritual experiences.

  17. Hello there! Pictures look amazing, all the children look like there having so much fun!
    I love coming on the site and looking at your pictures and stories everyday, definatley something to look foward to!
    I think what all of you are doing is wounderful & to see the children’s faces must make it all worth it..!
    Keep it up, and ejnoy your last days in Africa.

    P.s miss you Kale, love ya
    Kris 🙂

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