Leaving it all on the field.

We could not anticipate a better day! Having all of the kids from both carepoints come together at a large school athletic field in the city was again a highlight for us. We got to witness the incredible growth and capability of the sports program that Hope Chest is now running as a part of the carepoints. The leadership and all of the coaches were absolutely amazing.  IMG_4367-EditThey were so well organized, showed great leadership, and more than that you could just see the excitement they had for the opportunity to invest into the children’s lives….no matter what age. The place was packed with 230 kids, staff and our Canadian team. We had a great day participating in their football & netball clinics for the boys and girls. We ended our day with a football match between the older boys and the staff & Canadians. It was so great to compete hard and experience the camaraderie with all of these friends….

We rode the bus home with the Bhobokazi kids and the busses were rocking all the way home. In fact, for many this 45 minute bus ride stands out as one of the highlights of the trip. One of the buses with the younger kids erupted with 92 decibels (literally) of singing for the entire trip home. The other bus with the older kids had a bus driver that played DJ and the entire bus rocked down the highway as we had a gigantic dance party together. One of those moments that just felt spontaneous and genuine….the kind of moment you only experience with friends.

And there we return to it again…. the emerging theme of this trip is how natural and intimate we feel with everyone from the carepoints….we have seen a difference in the level of trust, acceptance, and level ground we experience with the older kids especially. Today was another experience of that.

I had a moment that ran deep into my soul at the end of the day. After returning to Bhobokazi, we had a few minutes to just breathe….to take in the moment and to just engage in relationship with all of the kids after getting off the bus….no games….no guitars…no footballs or skipping ropes….no schedule…just an hour to connect. I snuck away as all of our team was engaged in conversations and laughter….climbed to the top of the playground and overlooked the carepoint. It was quite literally the first personal moment of reflection I have had since stepping onto the ground here….and my heart was filled with such gratitude. Gratitude for what we have been able to help build…gratitude that the air was filled with the sounds of deep community….a value we have built our own church community on. In a moment the many years flashed before me and I just felt an overwhelming sense of how significant this place was. Very grateful to what God has done!

IMG_1914.JPGYour team left it all on the field today. They played their hearts out, they danced their socks off, and they opened their hearts up even more to these incredibly precious children. Tonight as we reflected, read the blog comments together, and then just decompressed, our room was filled more laughter than we could contain. God has truly knit this group together as a family to share this experience together.  I’m proud of this bunch!

Until tomorrow…Jon

Leaving Swaziland last year, I knew that this year I had to come back. I’ve missed the kids everyday since being there but as the trip was nearing there was a bit of anticipation if the trip would live up to everything I experienced last year. I wasn’t sure if the kids would remember me or if I would interact and connect with them the same way that I did before. But so far, the trip has been everything and more than I could have imagined. The second day of the trip when we got to Bhobokazi, I saw a little boy that I connected with a lot last year. He was just standing quietly against the wall but when we made eye contact he had the biggest smile on his face and ran over and jumped into my arms. It was such an exciting moment to know that the connection I made a year ago, was still existent. I thought that the main way I would contribute would be by playing and interacting with the kids but I’ve had the opportunity to get to help the Gogo’s in the kitchen and help with digging the trench for the home being built. Being able to help with the adults has been such an amazing experience. Being in the kitchen, I got to catch a glimpse of how much hard work the gogo’s put in everyday. It was great to be able to help out with serving food, cleaning and gathering firewood to make the gogo’s jobs a little bit easier. IMG_4598They were so, so appreciative and it was a good realization that they work so hard to make the carepoints happen.

Today at the sports day was a lot of fun to be able to connect with the kids in a way that I’m really comfortable with. The whole day was so great. The best way I can describe it was that it was just natural and I felt equal to them all, not some Canadian coming in to help, but a friend who got to come hangout with them. I got to do soccer drills with them, play games with the kids and eat the same food as them as well. At the end of the day, we got to go on the bus back to Bhobokazi with the kids. It was such a unique and once in a lifetime experience. On the bus, they had music playing and the kids were standing in the aisles dancing the whole bus ride home. We got to join in and dance with them and just have a blast. It felt completely normal, like we were accepted as one of them and was a memory I’ll never forget.

Throughout this trip, we’ve been told to completely give everything we have during these days. This is definitely how I’ve felt everyday. I want to help out every way I can whether it be doing work or just giving love the kids. At the end of the day, I feel completely exhausted but so excited about the connections I made and so excited for the next time I get to see everyone at the carepoints. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the team for the last few days at the carepoints! – stacey

Today was much more than I expected! Growing up as a teenager in the Caribbean the game of netball was a big part of my high school life there. So I was overly thrilled to hear that the sports day today included running a clinic to teach the girls of the carepoints the game. I felt extremely honouredIMG_4625 that the coaches, after I told them about my past experience playing the game, got me involved with helping to organize and do drills with the girls. Unfortunately, it had been over 10 years since I had even touched a netball so my skills were quite rusty but that didn’t deter the coaches or the girls’ faith in my skills. They all just cheered on with many reassurances that I was doing well despite having to be constantly reminded of some of the rules or having a ball be thrown in one direction when it was meant to be in the other.

My slight moments of embarrassment, however, definitely opened up much dialogue between myself and the girls as well as the coaches, which in turn translated to their trust in me that I did indeed have the knowledge of the game that I claimed to have. This experience reminded me of how God still loves us and gives us second and third chances despite our ‘rusty’ skills and imperfections. Just as the girls and coaches took the time to get to know me and cheer me on as we did the drills, they still trusted me enough to help run and showed respect and gave encouragement while doing so. – cherry

Hi everybody who reads this blog! It’s been a week since we’ve left and it has been a blessed one. I made lots of new friends. Seeing some that I had made last year here in Swaziland was a wonderful experience. To the faces they made when the saw me arrive. I am looking forward to a couple more days here then the time will be over and to come home and see you all again. – Agnes



“Great is your name, Oh Lord!” That’s how my day started yesterday – with a boy namedIMG_4663 Scel’mphilo (yes Brenda, your special boy!) asking if he could teach me this song. And yes, our Lord is great! It is amazing to see the relationships that have been built, amongst our team, with the kids, with the bomakes and with the discipleship team. God has been at work – here at our two care points and at Riverwood! It is overwhelming to see the level of trust that has been built up over the past six years between three communities that are worlds apart! I have had many special moments but today I had another emotional time! I had lost my last special friend over a year ago as she had stopped coming to Bhobokazi. But I found her, or, I should say, she found me! She recognized me, came up to me and told me who she was! She was so excited to find me! We hugged and held hands and she told me all about herself. It was wonderful to spend time with her and getting to know her! Everyday, I look forward to seeing the blessings we will receive as we go about relationship building with these two communities that Riverwood has put their heart and soul into! – karen


15 thoughts on “Leaving it all on the field.

  1. Hello Swaziland team! ! First of all I want to say that I am praying for you all. Cheryl. ..My friend I love seeing pictures of you and The love on your face is so evident! Leigh. ..I have only talked to you once but I am overwhelmed with what you did for the girls there. Bryan. ..I am praying that you will be filled up to overflowing because I know you do leave it all there. Jon. ..I am praying that you will continue to be given moments like you had to see just how much glory you all are giving to God. Thank you for sharing the journey with us all back home. God bless you all.

  2. What a blessed way to end my day by reading about your day and all that you are experiencing. It makes me feel a little of what you must be feeling. i’m so proud of each of you and all you do–but especially of how you have allowed your hearts to be so moved–The love you share is great. Praying that the Lord will continue to do great things in and through and to each of you. Love to all–Love to my son Jon from his Mom. Sue

  3. It’s so good to read these reports and see all the pictures. Thank you for sharing them. Cheryl do you have your voice back yet? 😉 I’m praying.

  4. Agnes, I just think it is so incredible to have you carry on where Annie left off. You are the picture of love and we love and admire you for it. Thank you for all that you do.

  5. Ok I must say I love the way the buses were “rockin’ out”! Sounds like such a party! We’re continuing to pray for you all everyday! It’s so cool that the very last verse in the last chapter in Mark says:….”and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it”! I see that so clearly in you all in Swazi! God is working with you in so many great ways! Love the stories, the laughter, the tenderness, the tears, the beautiful faces and the way you’re pouring your lives out! May you all be strengthened in every way! Ben we’re so glad with Ingrid that you’re having the God adventure that she got to have last year! love ya! mom/Rhoda (ps: took your wonderful 4 to Assiniboine Park tonight and had a blast with them!) 🙂

  6. Sounds like an absolutely unbelievable day. Thank you again you guys for all that you are doing and sharing. I am so proud of this team and the deep connections you are forging here and thank God for putting all the pieces together like the master weaver He is. I give Him all the glory for this and I am deeply thankful that He plans everything so perfectly! I hope you all had a great day and I look forward to reading more soon!

  7. Well Team– each day seems to have more and more blessings!!! You must be bursting!!! It is so awesome to read each day. I can feel your excitement but also your gratitude to our awesome Lord!!! I love how you love wholeheartedly every day and hold nothing back , giving it your all and the Lord fills you up to do it all over again the next day!!
    I pray for you often throughout the day– continually assessing what time it is in your world!!

    Karen– thanks so much for sharing the stories of my boy!! He loves to sing!!
    Cherry– loved your moments/analogy with net ball!
    Agnes– you continue to amaze me!
    Bryan– how is your back? 🙂

    By the time you are reading the comments from the blog you will have finished another awesome day and will be thinking about church at Enaleni. Those of you that are returnees are excited to worship Swazi style again– for the rookies– you are going to love it!!

    Until next time
    Love and prayers Brenda (Gogo)

  8. Wow …. as usual…. great pictures and interesting blog entries. I am pretty thrilled and encouraged to know that as you are pouring out your best energies and giftings — that God is refreshing and blessing you in return. Pretty cool. I also really appreciate that you are treating my HBOO well (ask Jos what this means 🙂 ) Prayers and warm hugs to you all. Brenda Gatien

  9. Our dear Canadian Swazi’s … Thank you for giving your all on that athletic field to provide such a fantastic experience for the kids! “Fun” is written all over their faces and yours in the pictures!

    Thank-you Hope Chest Sport’s Ministry for what you are doing to teach our Swazi kid’s skills for the sports they love & gravitate to; for giving them opportunities they didn’t have in the past, and for helping them to have times when they can just be kids! Love what you are doing!

    Agnes … I appreciate & echo Gino’s comment … commending you for carrying on Anne’s heart & passion for the kids in Swaziland. I love the relationship your are building with sweet Anele! I know that Anne’s heart & passion for Swaziland has now become your own! You are an inspiration to many people!

    Stacey … I know on a day like this, you were totally in your element! But I want to personally say thank-you for going beyond that … to help in the kitchen … to dig trenches and to come alongside people of ALL ages to help and show your love & care! They won’t forget you!

    Praying for physical, emotional & spiritual strength as tiredness often starts setting in at this point! I’m so with you in heart & thoughts … picturing you in all of the different moments … like now siting in a circle – debriefing your day & reading the comments from the blog. Anyone drinking a grapetiser or appletiser?

    “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” – 1 Thessalonians 3:12

  10. Wow….another great day! But it’s like that in Swaziland isn’t it. Every day is wonderful in its own special way. May our Lord continue to bless all of you for not just going there, but for going all in and being real and vulnerable with those wonderful people in Swaziland. After all, that is what true friendship is with others. Not just sharing the love of Christ but sharing yourselves in a personal way. Thanks for sharing that special moment with everyone Jon. Also big thanks to Jon for all your are doing to lead this team and all the efforts you put out to blog every night. Thank you to everyone who shared today. Praying for all of you.

  11. Wow, wow,WOW!! . What a day! incredible. Jon the pictures are extra amazing from this day, i am not sure it is your amazing skill as a photographer, or if really it is just the happiness and pure Joy that exudes from every single shot! I feel like it is pouring out of the screen, Like RAINBOWS!! The children are so happy, team is so happy. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!! Mr. Robertson woud be so impressed!! So many great captured moments, not only with the children, but of team members together. I just love it. I loved the photo of Elliot, i loved the pictures of Zach- your smiles could not be any bigger, Leann i absolutely love the picture of you and Busi with her arms around you. Charlene, i love seeing you in action out on the field taking on that lovely girl, so intense.

    My favorite photo today though, is the one of Carolina. It really brought tears to my eyes. She is, or at least represents the heart of the care points. A beautiful reminder of how and why this all began. I want to put that picture on my wall, to be reminded daily of the beauty of serving, work worn hands, eyes full of the wisdom of many years lived and experiences had, and then the hope and joy that allows her to sing and dance with a true heart of worship. She is so lovely and she is a true hero.

    I read Psalm 100 this morning, perhaps it will encourage you as well. Make a Joyful SHOUT to the Lord , all you lands!! Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing!!

    I hope the family day is even more incredible than sports day was. Bless you all! May your rest and energy come from the outpouring of your hearts!


  12. Wow, so glad I have had a chance to finally sit and read your update today. I know that the end of a mission trip is probably the toughest. I know from personal experience that the range of emotions can be overwhelming as you are trying to give your all and to leave it all on the field. I want to encourage you all to as Nike says Just Do It! Time for processing and reflection will be there when you’re done, give it your all and leave the rest to God.
    Can’t wait to see you all on stage when you get home!

  13. Bryan & Cheryl –A good Sunday morning to you! Several great pictures of you in the bunch. Glad your voice is coming back. Did you get to se your boy yet? Love, Mom

  14. Great photos guys! Glad to see you’re all doing well. I can just imagine how much fun mom had playing Skip Bo with the kids. – Connie

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