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. They 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!
Your 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!
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. They 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 honoured 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 named 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