Goodbye Bhobokazi….

IMG_5554Goodbye Bhobokazi….this is what we said collectively as we drove away….having stayed too late to soak in every moment, the sun was just disappearing over the horizon. We have had such a significant visit there. It truly has been an experience of community. Just before loading the bus, our group gathered around Nduduzi, the carepoint shepherd for Bhobokazi, and prayed for him and the children. God watch over them….give them your protection and blessing….they truly are creating an incredible expression of God’s kingdom in a rural community that so desperately needs it.

Our day went well….we did a bit of painting this morning on the playground swingset and spent most of the morning playing with the children….dancing with them and giving space for some lasting significant conversations.   Of course we spent some time singing wIMG_5421ith them and wow did they sing today! The room was echoing with the excited voices of both our team and the kids putting everything they had in every note. We also had the chance to play some silly games….thanks to Ben and Jos for being good sports and allowing us to deform your face….and allowing the children to laugh louder than I think I’ve ever heard. Cherry shared her testimony with the kids today and it was really powerful. Thank Cherry for risking and taking that opportunity to share your love for God with the kids.

We had the privilege of handing out all of your care packages that you put together as a sponsoring family. What a joy to know that these children walked home with many things they needed….some extra treats…..and some meaningful personal contact with their special friends. One of the things that the team has consistently commented on is how meaningful that relationship can be….even for those that have not been here. The kids really find value and joy in that!

IMG_5547Today as we drove away….I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this. I’m humbled to watch the way this team has opened up their lives to each other and to this experience. I’m amazed at the growth of Bhobokazi and the critical role it plays to so many.


Until later Bhobokazi….Jon

IMG_5363The nurse is in. “I have a nursing question for you”. I have heard this many times in the last 9 days from the team, some of them serious. I am appreciating healthcare in Canada today. Even though it has its broken parts and it is far from perfect we can all access healthcare. Here in Swaziland there is no healthcare coverage provided by the government and many parents cannot afford medical treatment for their children. As a mother this breaks my heart. Today myself and 3 other team members had the opportunity to visit the pediatric unit of a government hospital. It was really just one big room with about 12 old cribs and beds. If you are a child in hospital, you need to have a parent with you at all times. The nurses are only responsible for giving medications and assisting doctors. The parent pulls out a piece of cardboard and sleep on the floor beside their beds.

We were able to talk with the moms and prayed with a few families and got some high fives from a few of the kids. A few days ago we also got a chance to meet the nurse that visits our kids at both carepoints. She is a very experienced nurse that is a great asset to our kids. Shout out to my peeps on 5AS. I heard there are copies of the blog floating around on the floor so I hope you are reading it. – sharlene

Today was full of emotion. It was our last day at Bhobokazi. I have felt very connected to this carepoint in particular. As we drove there I put my headphones in and reflected on this journey, this trip, and the communities that we have had the chance to be a part of. IMG_5375I was sad that this was going to be the last day, but I tried to focus on soaking it all in and enjoying the time with the bomakes and children. I connected with two kids in particular. One of them, I found out, was the grandson of Monicah (one of the bomakes). I spent some time talking with her and her daughter and it was great to find out more about this child that I had connected with. And it’s incredible how in a matter days you can become so bonded to a community. As we drove away I was struck by how sad I was to be leaving, and I think that a sad goodbye can be okay, because it shows that what you are leaving is significant. So as I say goodbye to Bhobokazi, I thank God for the opportunity to connect with that community and the impact that it had on my life. I am forever changed. – zach

A stretching experience. As we were preparing all of the bags we would need for our last visit to Bhobokazi we recalled stretching times over the last years.

During my first trip here in 2011 we were pouring a footing for the new kitchen/classroom. As I observed our piles of sand and stone I remember thinking that there would not be near enough stone. As we mixed load after load it truly looked like we would run short. And then the stretching began. We kept shoveling and yet the pile remained the same. Loads later, as we mixed the last batch the pile ran out. Yes, I truly believe God was adding stone as we were taking stone so we could finish.

IMG_2176A few years later we were serving lunch after church any more people came than we had counted on. As we handed out chicken and salad it became obvious that we would run out. Someone would run to he other serving station to get more and we continued. Then someone would come to get more from us. The team agreed that we would not eat just to make sure all of the guests would get food. We kept running back and forth till everyone had been fed. When we gathered the buckets we discovered that there was just enough left over so we all could eat as well. Does this remind you of a story from the Bible?

Back to last night….as we were filling gift bags we were rejoicing at the opportunity to give bags to so many unsponsored children. Because we purchased the items here in Manzini the actual counts were more like hopeful guesses. Near the end we discovered that we were short of coloring markers. Was had already split some sets up and there these two bags that needed markers. As we were cleaning up the shopping bags we found a bags with exactly two sets at colored pencils. I know they were not markers but thank you Lord for once again supplying our needs and making sure every child would be happy.

Lord, you remind us over and over that you are in charge. Nothing is too small for you. Whether it be stones or drum sticks or even colored pencils. You care about the joy in the hearts of the children who are learning in the classrooms. You care about the people who heard your word at church and also had their hunger satisfied. You cared about our team who worked unselfishly to feed them. You love the children who will receive these gift bags today and tomorrow.

Lord, continue to build in us a servants heart as we give all we have to love on the children and adults of Swaziland. – brian

5 thoughts on “Goodbye Bhobokazi….

  1. Thank you for all the stories of faithfulness. What a privilege to be able to follow along via the blog on all that was happening during your stay in Swaziland. Thank you for all that you’ve done there and the love you’ve shared. Praying for you.

  2. I rejoice in each team member and every picture. Today Bryan’s story of stretching reached me too. God has been so faithful in every detail – why am I ever surprised by this? Thank you God for your continued provision on both sides of the pond.

    Zach I want to encourage you to return to Bhobokazi again….just as we learned different things as we read the chapters over and over – I am excited that God would do a new work in you each time. 🙂

    Karen, I am especially enjoying your smile in the pictures. God is shining His Love through you, may He bless you and bring new learning to your heart as you travel home. ((((HUG))) Way to go!

  3. Hi team– as you read this you are in the final stages of your trip and experiencing a roller coaster of emotions! I continue to pray for you! Thanks for ALL you have done and given of yourselves!!
    I want to give a big shout out to each of you! So here goes–

    Karen– wish I could have been there for the sarcasm!! So enjoy seeing the photos of you and all the kids!

    Mark– thanks so much for sharing your church experience at Enaleni. I could see the dancing elder!

    Sharlene– you always look so happy in your photos! Loved the hospital story. I can only imagine how your heart was feeling.

    Bryan– my heart was so moved with your stories of the never ending….. food, markers and stones. We do serve a faithful God!

    Cheryl– thankful your voice had returned. You are beaming in all your photos!

    Cherry–my other daughter!! Love reading about your experiences and how the Lord is using you. Dance away girl!

    Agnes– I know you are loving every minute! I can see you moving around from child to child and helping wherever needed!

    Kailey–I can see that you just soaking up all that you can– just like always! I hope your jaw pain has been minimal! Blessings Celiac sister!

    Leigh– let me repeat what has been said many times– way to go on personalizing the extreme need for the girls in Swaziland! Your enthusiasm is contagious!

    Zach– love every crazy picture I see of you!

    Ben– I always enjoy watching you as you lead worship at Riverwood and I so love seeing you worship in Swaziland– whether it be playing guitar or scaring the kids in a game of don’t wake the bear!

    Jos– thanks for playing with kids and allowing yourself to be morphed!

    Stacey– so glad you were able to return and play sports with kids and love on them with your gentle and fun spirit!

    Jo(Hanna)– I can only imagine the experience you are having as it shows on your face in the photos! Also great that you can experience it with Kailey!

    Hailey-love your posts!! What great memories –dance moves on the bus!! You will not be forgotten!

    LeeAnn– I can see that enjoyed every moment! So glad you were able to connect with Busi again and share your heart with the d-team! Thanks for taking on the care packages and doing an amazing job!!

    Jon– what can I say– you are one of the most amazing leaders I have ever had the privilege/honour to serve with!! Thanks for another fantastic job!!

    Stay strong and finish well!
    Love Brenda

  4. Leigh – I was a couple of days behind on the blog but it was good to “hear” from you again! It was so fun to hear your perspective on how the team has come together. Your love for the people of Swaziland is so evident and it’s so great to hear your heart shine through in your telling of the day. Praying that as your time draws to an end, you will continue to be blessed by the people around you and that the love you have for the people of swazi will continue to multiply! I’m so looking forward to having you back at small group and hearing about your trip!!!! As always, you effin’ rock!!!

  5. I have been following your trip. As I read your posts I felt a deep sense of joy… I know the trip will be unforgettable to you… I also know it is already unforgettable by God. I pray the Lord will refresh you and protect you as you prepare for the final leg… the journey home to Canada.

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