So good to be back! – Enaleni

IMG_3789Overwhelmed.  Surprised.  At home.  Sad.  Overjoyed.  Accepted.  These are a few words that were used to describe our stories today at Enaleni as we debriefed.  It truly was a meaningful day for us!  God was at work.

What a privilege to watch as this team invested themselves wholeheartedly into these kids today.  Enaleni was full of kids…many familiar faces and quite a few new ones too.  And the moment we stepped off the bus they were hanging on us, jumping into our arms, and greeting us with excitement and hugs.

We spent the day playing sports, doing activities, in conversation, and taking every opportunity we could to make these children feel loved and special.  Of course we had a spirited time of singing  together.  We were able to communicate to the children that no matter what situation they faced that Jesus would never leave or abandon them.  Kailey shared a personal story that I’m sure IMG_3720meant a lot to them.

There were many moments that stand out today.  But I wanted to share that as we stepped back onto the grounds at Enaleni for the 8th year now, it became so clear the difference this place is making in these children.  Often times the stories can be found in the subtle things.  Agnes shared with our group tonight how she watched a 6 year old come to the empty cooking pot after eating his huge bowl of rice and veggies and scraped every last ounce off the bottom of the pot.  We know well enough from our kids at home that this is a picture of what this child has access to at his home.  Even though for me being at the carepoint almost feels “normal” now that we have been coming for so many years, a moment like that grips me instantly are reminds me that this place is literally the lifeline for so many children.  It is not just a place they come to…but a place they depend on.  It is a place that gives them opportunity.  Opportunity to live….to be healthy….to receive education…to have the potential of a future.IMG_4552

I’m so proud of this team and how they invested into these kids today….giving them a memory of love and care that will last with them.  Thanks for your prayers & for following with us.  Please read through the reflections of few of our team members share their experiences today and of course some pictures from our day!  For now, I will take my cue from Jos who is on the couch across the room from me and pack it in for the night 🙂

Until tomorrow!

Jon

 

Cherry
Today started out for me with a pile of nerves mixed with some moments of doubt of whether or not I would be able to succeed at the task of really giving my all on this entire trip. The morning portion was a bit discouraging as the morning went on and none of the children seemed to instantly gravitate to me as they had to the other team members. My guess is they were confused by my skin colour and didn’t connect the dots that I had in fact come with the team from Canada, but in turn thought I was a local. Discouragement started to settle in just a bit when I felt something tell me to stay positive; there was a reason why I felt the calling to be a part of the 2015 team. So after throwing the negative feelings behind me, the darkness in my heart almost instantly turned to light when I decided to sit and have a conversation with one child. Needless to say, that opened the floodgate of many crowding around which then turned into an IMG_3666overwhelming amount of joy. The day continued with a small soccer game of myself and one other volunteer with five children, followed by me alone being bombarded by almost 25 of the children who all wanted to play with the few small cups of play-doh. Not only was I pleasantly surprised and definitely relieved that today turned out much better than anticipated, but my excitement for tomorrow is beyond measure. This also showed me that not only did God send me to work with the children at the care points but he sent me to work on myself so that I can in turn be a better servant. – cherry

Karen
I was excited about returning to Swaziland (was part of the team in 2009) but was completely taken aback by my feelings when we arrived. It was almost like…I’m back…I didn’t except to feel so intense about returning! I was looking forward to this day with great anticipation as I was going to meet my ‘special friend’. Words cannot describe how I felt this day but I’ll try! I LOVED meeting her and spending time with her. And then, halfway through the day, I found out I had a home visit arranged with her family! I had been forewarned about her living conditions but wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see! Such poverty! Her mom was so friendly and gracious. She quickly had two of her girls bring a IMG_3751mat for us to sit on as she was carrying her 6 month old baby. She has twelve children. Her only source of income is making a certain type of hat. I can’t even imagine how hard her life is, especially after seeing her home! I managed to keep it together until we returned back to the care point and then the feelings were too overwhelming and I couldn’t help but break down. I’m still processing all of this and need to focus on just loving my ‘special friend’ and the rest of the kids during the short time I’m here! And Brenda, when I get back, get ready for a Swazi enunciation lesson! I can say your boy’s name! – karen

Jo
As a first timer on the Swaziteam, I had no idea what to expect coming here and had no real expectations. All I had was a calling from God, a heart that was ready to love and hands that were ready to serve.

Coming off of a long and eventful trip here, I was still filled with anticipation getting onto the bus towards Enaleni this morning. Mesmerized with the beauty of this country I stared out of the window and the surrounding conversation began to fade. My mind began to wander and I distinctly heard the Lord whisper, “Jo, you have come with your whole heart, now pour it out.” Man, I just sat back and had a glorious moment with the Lord.

IMG_3708Soon enough we arrived at Enaleni and in moments I had a child in my arms, one holding my hand and one hugging my leg. In that moment, I knew my heart was at home. Today was glorious. A few highlights of the day were; singing with the kids, taking funny-faced selfies with them, helping feed one of the preschoolers lunch and having a good conversation with one of the teenage girls. I was struck with the personalities of the kids that came out within moments of meeting them. Its end of day one and I am writing this overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord. I poured my heart out today and I left filled with more joy than I could ever imagine. – jo

 

16 thoughts on “So good to be back! – Enaleni

  1. Wow–thanks for sharing your first day–it looks amazing and brought tears to my eyes. May the Lord continue to go before you in each moment of every day. love to all Sue Courtney

  2. So cool to see you all doing God’s work. And how He uses you to make such an incredible impact on those kids. And yet, years later, I still easily remember the footprint that those kids and that carepoint made on our hearts. Thanks for the pictures, Jon. Just like all the others that have been there before, we scour the pictures looking for familiar faces, incredible smiles and those eyes. We just want to see those eyes again…

  3. I was excited to come home from work today to see the pictures of the kids on the blog…but alas Jon was later than I was.
    I checked my emails and there was one from Jos saying he saw our special friend Mukelo today and showed her a picture of Erik and I with her in 2013. When he pointed to us she said both of our names. This brought instant tears to my eyes and pure joy and excitement. It really shows the power of writing to the kids and sending pictures so they don’t forget. Then it was back to checking the blog and behold it had been updated. It was very overwhelming emotionally to see how much the kids of grown and how good they look. Sure miss them. Keep up the good work team of giving these very special kids your hearts…it is so worth it!! Yvonne

  4. I’ve been thinking of all you guys often throughout my day. So fun reading your stories and looking at the beautiful pictures! Is that the playground that Riverwood raised funds for years ago? So neat!!

  5. Leigh! Small group prayed for you and the team tonight! We missed you at study :-). It was such a delight to be online while you were commenting on our Facebook post today. It really seamed to bridge the distance knowing we were both looking at the post at the same time. It’s awesome to see the photos of the group – and the smiles on your faces and on those of the children!!!!! Take care and we’ll check in tomorrow.

  6. My family read the blog together after dinner this evening … I was the designated reader and was able to make it through the first 8 sentences … and then Brittany needed to take over as tears began to flow and the words got choked up inside of me! As Britt read on it was so evident that God was indeed at work all day long in your lives and in the lives of the children as you played, served, sang, told stories, and loved them!

    Cherry … I knew from the first day I met you & we spoke about Swaziland, that you would be such a gift to the children & people there. Thanks for sharing so vulnerably about your day & God’s work in your heart!
    Karen … Sounds like you had quite the day! Meeting your girl for the first time, (the smile on your face says it all!) plus having the opportunity to visit her homestead! As hard as moments of that visit were, I believe that your time spent there will have left a beautiful mark of blessing on that family!
    Jo … it doesn’t take long for Enaleni & those kids to find a place in one’s heart. I’m glad to hear how quickly it has found a place in yours!

    With our prayers for you all!
    Carolyn … on behalf of the Petkau family.

    P.S. Charlene … I love your elephant skirt!

  7. Thanks for sharing your day with
    us. The love the Swazi team has for the children shines out of the pictures and the love is returned in the joy in the children’s faces. It always amazes me how the love of God unites all people. Hope the team has a good night’s sleep Prayers and blessings

  8. hey team,
    thanks for sharing how your day was.
    Kailey- I hope your bag makes it soon. Also happy birthday girl! remember you are special!
    Leann- remember to take pictures of the children that receive the blankets.
    from Eleanor and Elizabeth

  9. Greetings Team!
    What an amazing first day! I can see from the photos that all of you were soaking it all up while at the same time giving it your all!! Way to go!

    Cherry I too think it is great that you shared your vulnerability and how the Lord provided an amazing experience for you! There is more to come!

    Karen –wow, wow, wow–first day you received exactly what you were hoping for! So happy for you– what an experience-thanks for sharing! I see that you were “having lunch” with Britt’s boy-Vusi. Did you recognize him from the little pot bellied boy back in 2009? I look forward to the enunciation lesson!

    LeeAnn– what a great reunion for you!!

    Jo– keep loving and listening!

    Cheryl-how are you feeling? 100% I hope!

    Did the bags arrive? I am glad Kailey found something to wear!!

    As I write this I know you are in the midst of your worship! I can see you all now! To those of you that are wondering -my beautiful grandson arrived home yesterday! 🙂

    Until next time–Gogo Brenda

  10. Dear team, thank-you all for giving so completely of yourselves today, and for being vulnerable. Thank-you to those of you who were able to share a little with us about your first day, i am sure that each one of the team had a story to tell. Karen, what Joy and pain, amazing how we are able to experience these two extremes at the same time. God is sovereign, He Loves that family more than we can imagine, and He holds them in his palm.

    I am loving the pictures!! Keep them coming PLEASE!!!

    Ben, someone should be following you around with a video camera. I just want to know everything!! Love you babe.

    ingrid.

  11. I love hearing your very personal stories! Thanks for sharing with us how God is impacting your lives there! We have been praying day and night for you all and we love you guys! The pics capture so many precious moments! Dear Ben I love the pic of you and your special friend on facebook! Wow! She’s beautiful!! Your heart must be full! Rhoda/Mom

  12. Such fantastic pictures!! I can feel the love you are sharing with these children!! You are all doing such amazing work and it shows in the smiles on the kids faces!! Leigh you rock and are such a role model!! I will be checking daily!!

  13. Jon, thank you so much for these wonderful pictures. My heart simultaneously broke and leapt for joy when I saw the one of my BFFs, Qinisile and Fakazile. I’m overjoyed to see them happy and healthy together, but it’s so tough not to be there in person this year.
    Kailey – you’re looking good! Did your bag arrive?
    Cherry, Karen and Jo – thanks for staying up late to share your experiences with us. I’m so grateful for every word.
    Allison

  14. You all are truly the hands and feet of God right now! Thank you for representing us so well. Just money will never solve the challenges faced unless it is accompanied by love & relationship no matter the geographical location or the type of poverty. Karen I felt your emotion at visiting our sponsor child’s homestead. God bless you for honouring that family by “holding it together” until you were able to return. I always stand in awe (and more than a little sheepishness) of the amazing joy they can express in their circumstances. Thank you Jon & Jos for being there for my sweetheart when she could finally release what she had pent up in her home visit. In our 28 years of marriage this is only the second separation of any real length… the first was her 2008 mission trip to Swazi. Praying for you all!

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