It really doesn’t seem possible that we only have one day left at each carepoint. This is going by so fast and yet the well of memories, stories and impact is so deep for all of us. What a privilege it was to be with Enaleni church at to know that in spite of thousands of miles, we worship together this weekend with you back at Riverwood. The church sends it greetings! Make (‘mah-geh’) Carolyn, Precious says a big hello and wishes you were here. Babe Todd, the Peter and whole church sends their greetings to you.
The family day party was fantastic….sharing a BBQ meal together….watching our team serve the community so well. The staff were able to host a community meeting with all of the parents that came. The kids played hard and our team did too. It was a party!
It has been such a joy and privilege to watch this team in action. For all that have supported them….be proud of the investment that they are making here.
I figured it was time to bring a few random updates from our team about our week so far and to highlight some of the not-so-known facts:
1. We are very proud of Karen who successfully used sarcasm for the first time in her life. We all cheered for her. Way to go Karen!
2. Our team is very polarized in their opinion of hot pineapples on their food.
3. When Ben plays “Don’t wake the Bear” with the kids….he is ridiculously scary. I think he’s made some children cry….here is proof:
4. We chased after some monkeys at our guesthouse tonight but couldn’t catch up to them.
5. Carolyn…you are in good company….at least 3 team members fell asleep during my sermon at Enaleni today.
6. Things got a bit strange while getting ready for our large group time with the kids tomorrow. The pantyhose was out.
7. I think the signs of fatigue are setting in. Tonight some strange things were happening….our team broke out in a spontaneous song of On Top of Spaghetti….when I asked Ben to lead us in a song to start our meeting he led us in a rendition of “My Pet Mosquito Gueedo” (maybe he will teach it to Riverwood in a couple of weeks?)….when getting ready for our activities, 5 of our team members were found sniffing scented Crayola markers for extended periods of time….I’m beginning to get a bit worried.
Hopefully a good nights sleep tonight will be the solution. We are very excited to return to Bhobokazi tomorrow….and looking forward to giving out the care packages many of you have put together. For now, I will let a few of our team members give you a really meaningful glimpse of the impact of our day today!
Until tomorrow – Jon
Today was definitely a Sunday service I will never forget. Started off like any other….got up, put on our Sunday clothes and headed to church. We arrived at the Enaleni Church and slowly meandered our way in. As my eyes adjusted to the lighting, I was slightly disappointed. The women were seated on the left and the men on the right. This wasn’t the exotic Swaziland service I had expected. It was closer to the typical Mennonite services that I always joke about. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The service began with a seemingly random woman in the crowd breaking out in song. Moments later the guy on the keyboard hit the keys, giving a soft background piano melody for the singing women. And that’s where the similarities stopped. The solo musician dropped one of those cheesy premixed keyboard beats, and the whole congregation sprung up. In an instant they had sprung out of their seats and were tapping their feet while grooving to the beat. Hips were swinging, everyone was singing and my ears almost started ringing. It was the furthest thing from the expected Mennonite service, and was closer to a wedding dance party. Everyone was on their feet praising the Lord in any way they felt suitable. The songs were constant through out the service, with only quick messages from the elders or pastors in between.
At one point an elderly man began slowly dancing his way onto the stage. He was decked out in a suit, and was at the age where I would have expected him to be accompanied by a cane. He got on stage and began singing his heart out. And then the dance moves started, and the longer he danced, the crazier the moves got. Nearing the end of his piece, he was shaking his hips putting Michael Jackson’s dancing to shame.
Sitting here reflecting on the service, I can’t help but be amazed at how these people worship. It was so genuine and real. It seemed they had no rules or ideas of how you “should” have a worship service. As long as it was praise you were good to go. Riverwood services are great, but I truly hope I will be able to experience a Swazi service like that again.
Today has been an awesome and unforgettable day, looking forward to see what we can accomplish in our final days here in Swaziland. – mark….aka my swazi name (Sidthesloth)
Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Today I was brought to tears as I watched the kids leave the carepoint. They have to leave a couple of hours before dark so they have time to walk home and do some chores before the sun goes down. Some live very far. They leave waving and smiling in their broken worn shoes, some even barefoot. Some are carrying their younger siblings or neighbors’ kids when they are just so young themselves. As they leave my heart just breaks knowing the sad conditions some are going home to. Maybe a dark hut because they have no electricity or oil for lamps. Maybe no food or water until the make their way back to the carepoint…so many sad conditions. As I was stuck in my moment of sorrow a team member suddenly started to surround me and lift my spirits.
Later I had tears running down my cheeks as the team prepared tomorrows crafts and games. We laughed so hard together. Silly ridiculous comments and happenings had us giggling till we gasped for air and our stomachs hurt. It may be that exhaustion has brought on delirium or maybe this team has truly bonded or maybe a little of both. It really doesn’t matter which just knowing the team room overflows with trust and closeness as we continue to serve these precious people. It makes me wish that we all had matching scarfies 😉 – leigh
It’s been a crazy few days since last time I wrote, filled with laughter, kindness, dancing and Love. After the soccer day on Friday we took buses back to Bhobhokazi, which I’m sure you’ve heard from previous blogs, were a blast. I was on the bus with the older kids and Cherry and I danced our hearts out with the girls at the back. We were teaching each other moves while dripping sweat and being tossed around from the bumpy roads. I really started to connect more with these girls as we began talking about our lives. I was talking to them as if they were my friends back at home and it was such a humbling experience. Yesterday at the Bhobokazi family day I had a more challenging day. I was very tired and it was really hot out. The heat makes me grumpy, or what our team refers to as “Heat Rage”. Right when we got to the care point I had two young boys climbing and jumping all over me who were bursting with energy. I played with them for quite a while, slowing draining what little energy I had to give. In the afternoon I found myself connecting with the older girls from the previous day. We spent some time painting nails and talking about all sorts of things. When first coming on this trip I assumed I would be spending most of my time with the young kids because that’s what I’m used to. However, I find myself really enjoying hanging out and spending time with the older kids and I feel as though I am making an impact on their lives. They are definitely making one on mine. I love to paint their nails and make bracelets with them while talking and laughing. They are all so beautiful and I love making them feel and believe that they are. We only have two days left to spend at the care points and I can’t wait to see what God has in store. – hailey