We are at home.

Another day leaving our hearts so full.  The reality is that we cannot believe we have only been here 3 days in comparison to the depth of experiences we feel already.  Today was another great day at Enaleni.  We spent the morning with the young pre-school kids, sharing life & cooking with the Gogos, just soaking in the time we had on the grounds of Enaleni.  The young children seem so thrilled and eager and hungry for these times of connecting.  Being held, being swung around & hoisted into the air like all little children love to do.  For some of these children that don’t have adults in their lives, these exchanges can have a pretty deep impact.

img_1123Carolyn had an opportunity this morning to visit the Global Leadership Summit happening here in Swaziland which was amazing to see.  Hundreds of Swazi leaders gathering to be invested into and to develop their ability to impact Swaziland.  What a treat to see Pastor Peter and Precious there and to see them so eager to receive the training and encouragement for their leadership at Enaleni.  We remembered the day Riverwood invested into sending the Swazi Hope Chest team to the Summit in Johannesburg and felt so grateful to see this being made available to so many more Swazi leaders.

Our afternoon again saw the action grow as the children arrived from school.  Today we felt like we saw a few more of the older kids make it to the care point even though they are in the middle of exams and the high schools are a fair distance away.  It was really great to connect with them for a bit.  We are so proud of how many of these kids are excelling at high school.  It reminds us of the impact of longevity and long-term investment as the realization of our investments many years ago is now being seen.

blog-day-3-2

Apparently some of our team members needed a short little nap….but what a great way to catch a siesta 🙂  What a precious moment….well actually a bit more than a moment….more like an hour or two ha ha.  We had a great large group time singing our hearts out and filling the room with the incredible echoes of our kids voices.  We heard stories and messages of how God wants to light up the darkness in our world and both Perry & Carolyn spoke so powerfully into the lives of our children giving them a message of hope.

Today God stretched some of us in ways we were not expecting but in ways that we are grateful for.  We also saw what feels like a recurring theme….God seems to have incredible timing consistently in our experiences.  One story shared tonight was of a mother that was out looking for food today but arriving home empty handed and having nothing to feed her children for supper….but then walking up to her homestead she saw a few of our team members waiting there with a gift of a weeks worth of food.

blog-day-3-36One of the most meaningful experiences of our day came as we headed out for supper.  For the first time in the many years we have been visiting Swaziland, we had supper at one of the homesteads in the community.  We had been invited to the homestead of Hlendiwe, the 20 year old care point Shepherd.  As we walked up we were all greeted by the family and heard the words, “welcome to my home….my home is your home.”  A traditional supper was prepared over the fire for our team and we shared a meal with an incredible family on their homestead.  This truly was a special experience for us and one that imprinted on us just how much it feels like family here.  It was truly breathtaking to be out in the middle of rural Swaziland, sharing a beautiful meal  and together watched an incredible sunset on the valley of Enaleni.  We are at home here. – Jon

From Babies to Gogos!

How great it is to have my feet on Swazi ground again! It has been a joy to reconnect with “old” friends and make new friends! Some of the kids have grown up so much in the past 2.5 years!! Lucky for me that usually means that their communication skills in English have improved as my Siswati has not improved!

img_2017Today was an awesome day as I played with the babies, ran with the preschoolers, chatted with the teenagers and sat and laughed with the Makes (moms) and Gogos (grandmothers).

After a morning program with the preschoolers I joined in as we played “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” and a Swazi version of “Duck, Duck Goose”! Fortunately, it only took me two rounds to pick a child that I could outrun in Duck, Duck Goose! I was afraid I would be running around the circle for the afternoon!

Mid afternoon found me laughing and sharing family stories and photos with the Makes and Gogos! They loved the photos including in their words “my handsome grandson”!  My relationship with the Makes and Gogos has grown over the years and now I am a Gogo! It is hard to express how my heart felt as I reflected on the realization that I have now spent the better part of a decade being able to share life with these amazing women in Swaziland!  There is a depth to this experience that is quite unexplainable.

As the older children arrived at the Carepoint in the later afternoon I enjoyed conversations with teenagers that came looking for me! It was awesome to listen to them as they shared about their day and their hopes and dreams for life after school.

Of course through out the day I also “found” a baby and a toddler to love on for awhile!

As the day drew to a close my heart was overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for a day that had spanned the generations! – Gogo Brenda

 

6 thoughts on “We are at home.

  1. Hey Team! i’m so jealous right now! The Leadership Summit in Swaziland!?! Hanging with Pastor Peter and Precious!?! Duck-Duck-Goose with the kids…AND Brenda!?!…Pre-school at Enaleni!?! (Shoot! i remember when there was nothing there but a wood-shack-little-church!)…and…to top it off…HOMESTEAD CHICKEN DINNER!?!?! Come’on!!!! It doesn’t get much better than that! (…although you can be sure i won’t be turning my back on ‘sweet-piano-playing-Rachel’ in the greenroom ever again! Yikes!) You may be on the ground for only a week-and-a-half, but what you are doing right now stokes the relationship between our two communities and fuels tangible care that will last (and grow) all-year-long! With you in our prayers every day! – t

  2. What a great way to wake up ….. The smiles, the happiness in these pictures gets us smiling too! It’s Friday, and we are looking forward to the weekend for a break but you, Riverwood team will be getting ready for the “big party”!! Reading in Matthew 6 this morning, how our Heavenly Father cares for the “birds of the air” and how much more valuable are ” our children in Swaziland” to Him. This Birthday Party, this weekend …. it’s perfect!
    Praying for you today …. D/L Ingels
    *Rachel … A knife? Deep breaths … It’s gonna be ok (teehee)

  3. Hey Team! I loved reading about this day at Enaleni. Jon, what a great story about visiting the homestead and being invited into that space. This is just more evidence of the relationship growth and trust that we are experiencing with our Swazi friends. I love it! Brenda! I’m so happy to see you back on Swazi soil and right in your element. Even if your Siswati hasn’t improved, love and care transcends language and I’m sure that every child you pull into a Gogo hug knows how much you care for them! Team, these pictures show once again the high investment you are making. These moments probably feel like they’re rushing by, but be assured that what you are doing is making an incredible impact and deepening an almost decade-long relationship. You’re awesome, can’t wait to hear more stories! – Zach

  4. I always look forward to your updates from Swazi! I love the wonderful & very different personalities of the kids you’ve captured on the pics! Rachel you’re scaring me!! Yikes! Brenda you are totally in your element and it sounds like your heart is so very full!! I think of that song “We are family…..” (Sister Sledge) when I hear your stories about sharing life there! Letting you guys know we’re praying for you everyday! To each one of you…. even though some of you I don’t know… we are walking with you as you’re there! Praying all of you will be filled to overflowing as you keep on pouring out!! We love you!! Rhoda

  5. Hi everyone,
    It’s a beautiful day here in Winnipeg . Just read the blog. Loved hearing it all and Gogo Brenda, loved reading yours too. Glad you are having such a rich joyful experience. No than you, at least in my opinion. It must be quite a remarkable feeling to go back really and truly being a Gogo! My eyes are desperately scanning the beautiful pictures for my Nosipho, think I may have seen her but not 100% sure. Hint, hint🙏🏽. Take good care and will see you soon.
    Lots of love Cheryl

  6. Love the stories love the pictures. I know your lives won’t be the same and are being ruined for the better. I spent 6 years in full time ministry and it set me up for the life I have now.

    Hang in there through the tough days. I know God is working through this to make you ambassadors when you get back. I know that if I didn’t have the hard days in ministry that I wouldn’t have the passion and compassion in the role I have today.

    Praying for all of you.

    Blake Muggleton

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