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.