As I sit down to write this blog, I feel it an overwhelming task to try and summarize all of the experiences we have shared collectively as a group today. God has done some incredible things for each of us….and as a group together. What a day at Enaleni!
God has spoken directly and almost audibly to a few of our team members today….through the affection of a child, a conversation with teenage boys, a walk down the road with a friend, or through the voice of a grandmother during a home visit. Today was very significant.
For me personally today was a gift. My wife & I starting sponsoring a 4 year old boy that we had connected with when we began our relationship with Enaleni 8 years ago. A few year ago, his aunt who was his caregiver passed away and he had to move away. As I walked onto the grounds at Enaleni this morning….I was literally stopped in my tracks with my breath taken away as I saw him and his sister there. Precious had made contact with them through a few connections and they had travelled from a long distance away with their caregiver to see me at the carepoint for just a couple of hours. They could only stay until noon. I had an incredibly precious two hours to reconnect and remind them how special they are to our family and to God. What a gift!
I also got to witness something remarkable today as one of our team members lived out a dream she has worked hard for since they day she returned from Swaziland last year. We addressed a real and practical need for the girls at our carepoints. I will let you read about it from Leigh below. All I can say is it was an amazing picture of the kingdom of God as someone’s passion to advocate for these young girls translated into empowering them by taking something that is a hardship here in Swaziland and making it an opportunity to tell them how special they are! Amazing stuff.
I also need to give a shout out to our construction team. We had a crew of 7 or so that spent the better part of the day digging the foundation for a new home that is being built at a homestead in desperate need just a short walk from the carepoint. We had planned on helping them fix up a few things, but recently found out that the structures on their homestead were beyond repair….and they said the only solution is to build a new home. While we haven’t quite got this figured out yet, we have moved ahead to start it. We are hoping to have the foundation poured by Tuesday! The project funds haven’t been raised yet but we will do what we can for now. The crew worked so hard and spent so much of themselves today under a blazing hot sun….but what a statement to be made to the community and to those we are in relationship with here….shoulder to shoulder.
We have a few stories to share from the team tonight. Enjoy reading through. Tomorrow is a big day for us as we gather both the Bhobokazi & Enaleni kids together for a sports day at a large school in the city. It promises to be a crazy day! Thanks for the support….we can feel it! Be proud of this team….they are putting their whole hearts into these days….and as someone shared tonight with the group, it is incredible what God can do when we say yes to him….not just in the big moments but in the small, seemingly insignificant ones too.
Good night from Swaziland! – Jon
“Swaziland” a place where the Lord continues to show his face so clearly. He laid on my heart the need to reach out and give as much love and compassion as I could to these children and their caregivers. But He sunk the needs of the beautiful young Swazi women deep in my heart. It woke me many nights and haunted me daily. The idea of girls having to miss school because they don’t have feminine hygiene products is something so unjust….especially in a place where it is such a challenge to go to school.
Today we delivered washable & reusable kits to the young women at Enaleni made by an incredible organization called Days for Girls! The Lord had his hand all over it. The staff nurse just happened to be visiting the Carepoint and gave them a talk on women’s health and staying safe. One of the carepoint leaders, Deli, then gave them such encouraging words. Telling them how precious each one of them is and to continue with school and look to their future. Then we handed each girl her own kit that will last three years. It was an experience beyond words. You could see the love, trust and admiration they have for Deli and the great care they are getting from the nurse. I know today they left feeling so loved and special and proud to become Swazi women. Today I saw a dream become a reality as I had started this process with Days for Girls almost a year ago. We brought along 100 kits to hand out this year.
I can’t count the amount of tears I have shed here. Watching team members meet their special friends for the first time, having my special friends run up to greet me, having the Bomakes remember me and welcome me back with such love, listening to the kids sing and praise the Lord, hearing way too many stories of heartache, challenges and loss…In amongst all the poverty, the scarifies and the sorrow the Lord is here in the hearts of the Swazi’s and us, the people who come to serve them. – leigh
I am happy to say that I have my bag, it made it here and was very nice to have my clothes. I am sure others are happy as well. I have been getting many lessons on how to speak siswati. Slowly but surely I will be able say more words. It has been great, I have some awesome friends who have been helping me from both care points. As we were leaving Bhobokazi, one of my friends told me she loved me. It was so nice to hear, you see it but not always sure if it really is what you think it is.
Once again I was able to celebrate my birthday here in Swaziland. What an amazing day! Thank you for all the birthday wishes. I was told that I was going to be getting water poured over me by my Swazi friends, since it was my birthday. I was not too thrilled about that until I found out it was a tradition. And they only do it for friends. Although I didn’t end up wet, the fact that they even wanted to do that for me was pretty cool. The kids sang “happy birthday” and “how old are you now” (to the tune of happy birthday). That never gets old.
One thing that I have seen on this trip is the amazing works that God has done with these 2 care points since we started sponsoring in 2009. The friendships that have been building, the trust, and the love for one another. If I were to sum up this trip in one word so far, it would be LOVE! Which brings me back to my very first trip in 2012. The words I got from God that year was THIS IS LOVE.
It is absolutely amazing to see how God works.
Today I had the opportunity to share with the Swaziteam and the D-team something I’ve been pondering quietly for the past few weeks and hoped would be an encouragement to them. So, since I believe God spoke this to me directly, I’m going to be vulnerable and share it here since we are ‘His witnesses’.
In the weeks leading up to this trip, I started struggling with doubt and some fear and in turn, feeling unworthy of serving Him, especially in this way. One day specifically, I felt the urge to read my Bible. I like the book of Isaiah so that’s where I started to turn. As I was flipping to Isaiah, the numbers 43:10 popped into my head. I had no idea what verse that was.
Isaiah 43:10 says: “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”
Wow. In 1 verse God reassured me and took away BOTH of the things I was struggling with! So, my encouragement to you is that God is always God, He loves you, values you and wants you to be His witness to others. Through His Word, He has made me feel valued and has made me feel worthy of sharing His love with our beautiful and precious friends in Swaziland. Today was a great day 🙂
Today was so good. I had the opportunity to visit a homestead. We pulled in and I looked around at the buildings and thought immediately of the physical needs there. We were greeted by the Grandma (Gogo) and she sat and talked with us. She told us about how there are 13 people living there. She said she was blessed by our presence there. As we talked I was struck by her faith and wisdom. Near the end of our time with the family we asked her what we could pray for. She caught me off guard. She didn’t say anything about the physical needs. She didn’t mention food or shelter or clothing. The only thing she asked us to pray for was that her grandchildren would grow up to know and serve the Lord. And I was challenged. How often do I ask God about minor details, but then forget about the truly important things? What a powerful reminder from a strong woman of faith of what is truly valuable. Like I said before, today was so good.