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.
Carolyn 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.
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.
One 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!
Today 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