Glorious chaos, birthday cakes & aquacise


Today was fun.  It was meaningful, rewarding, and full….but the best description would be fun!  I suppose that means we accomplished our goal as today was listed on our itinerary as “Bhobokazi Fun Day”.  Every year we are here we throw as big a party as we can just to celebrate and create as much joy as we can for these incredible children.  Our plan this year was to throw a giant birthday party.  Most of these kids don’t ever have an actual birthday party and a bunch of them don’t even know their birthdates.  So we decided to do our best to make every child feel special and celebrate the day they were born.

We spent a lot of time planning and organizing our day knowing that the place would be pretty crazy.  With 150 kids on site any logistics we plan takes time….and because the the kids are still in school and most arrive around lunch time we only had a short time to party hard.  I don’t know why we are so optimistic, but when Carolyn explained the way we would try and organize our day on the bus before stepping foot onto the grounds, it sounded so simple and orderly and peaceful 🙂

Well….today would not be described as these things in any way…ha ha. bhoboday4-3 It was crazy….but we all would agree it was the best kind of crazy.  Picture 150 children icing their own cake and having free access to sprinkles to decorate them.  Put paint in the hands of tables full of kids attempting to make a special gift for their special friends back in Canada.  Imagine a smoking BBQ grilling up giant sausages for 200 people. Picture countless little ones (like really little ones) being tossed over a climbing wall into the bouncy castle laughing and jumping in 34 degree sweltering heat.

Every child had the opportunity to light a candle on their cake and have happy birthday sung to them…the entire day was littered with singing happy bhobo4-42birthday over and over to groups of children so that every one of them had a chance to blow out their candles….right until the very last 16 year old girl who arrived late and had a crowd of Canadians singing at the top of their lungs as she stood there with a single cupcake and candle to celebrate her so she wouldn’t be missed.

It is hard to even describe the chaos & noise of the day….in fact one team member described being caught in a “vortex of cupcakes & crafts” as streams of kids kept piling in through the door after we thought the groups were finished.  All we can say is that in midst of it all we had fun! bhobo4-29 We had many many moments of feeling like we connected face to face with our precious Bhobokazi kids and were able to make them feel like they were the most important people in the world to us.

Then we had a chance to witness some incredible performances by the kids at the carepoint that they had prepared for us….a few songs from the young choir that brought many of us to tears, a traditional Swazi dance performed by the 5&6 year olds that had the entire room hooting and hollering and whooping, a comedy skit performed by the older boys that had everyone in stitches, and an incredibly meaningful handwritten message spoken to usscreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-12-03-23-am by one of the young budding leaders of the care point to express their gatitude to Riverwood.  If you want to read these words you can find them here: words-of-gratitude

We had the opportunity to give every child a wrapped & decorated present with some of the gifts provided by our sponsors in their care packages!  What an awesome privilege for us.  Every child received a new t-shirt printed for their Bhobokazi care point as well as their Canada hats and umbrellas.  What fun to see their excitement to receive a special gift and to see them take joy in their connection to Canada 🙂

Arriving back at our guest house our team was exhausted.  We spent the day running & crazily pulling off this giant birthday party in sweltering heat.  Its quite amazing that you can drink 15 water bottles in 7 hours and still not use the washroom once!  After wolfing down some incredible BBQ’d burgers for supper, a few of us decided to try the small pool on site for the first time this trip.  We were nervous as you can’t really see the bottom of the pool and wondered what might be living in there, but the promise of a refreshing swim was calling too much to care.  Four of us decided to give it a go and all I can say is that within about 12 minutes we had a giant Canadian Swazi pool party in full swing.  After being dared by one another, Rachel & Mary decided to jump still fully clothed….and this had a domino effect….before you knew it the peer pressure was too much and we had about 15 people in a tiny pool.  As is typical around this time of the trip, overtired & emotionally spent Canadians start to act a bit weird….and well….we leave you with this to close our day….thanks for being a part of it!


10 thoughts on “Glorious chaos, birthday cakes & aquacise

  1. LOVE the updates…and fun to see you aquasizing!! 👍🏿
    Enjoy looking at pics & reading posts & updates!
    Thinking and praying for you!
    Someone please say hello to, and take pics of my special friend at Enaleni, Thul’ sile & a one of the boys, Samkelo!
    💜 Shelley

  2. Team,
    You pulled it off! I bet you don’t want to sing Happy Birthday again for a while.
    It looks and sounds like you really blessed our beautiful kids! So excited for all of them and you.sooo glad these kids are no longer forgotten.
    Team you ROCK. I can’t even imagine how exhausted you all are. 34 is pretty warm keep drinking that water. It is pretty nice here back in the “peg” too it is going to be 17 and sunny on Sat & Sunday.
    Bryan and Jon thanks for taking pictures, can’t wait to see them all.
    I am being blessed here in Winnipeg as well. Our Meals Ministry has brought me 3 meals and 2 more in the freezer. I am so thankful as it really hard for me to grocery shop. Even if I went to Super Store and picked it up I can’t get them from the house to the car.
    I can’t imagine you guys throwing those little kids over the climbing wall. I just have to say it JON what were you thinking!! Never mind.
    Love you guys and can’t wait for the next blog and pictures!

  3. Hi Team!
    Special shoutout to my Mom (Shelley) and my Auntie Kim!!! I hope you are all having a great trip and managing to stay healthy.
    Your birthday celebration day at Bhobokazi sounds like so much fun! How special those children must have felt to have their birth date celebrated. I’m sure this is a day they will remember for a long, long time.
    The young choir must have been AMAZING. Their singing and worship is something that stands out in my memory so well from my trip to Swaziland. Those kids put my singing to shame!
    Mom and Auntie Kim – please give Samukelo extra hugs from us!
    I pray that you all have a restful night and are filled with brand new energy for tomorrow!
    Love you lots ❤

  4. Way to make every moment count and create some very special memories Team! By the time you read this you will have had another crazy party day at Enaleni…and you guys must be absolutely beat! As i was praying for you all throughout the day, i kept having this recurring thought: “It takes an African village…to raise a Riverwooder!” As much as each of you is giving out, you are being discipled and trained and stretched and ‘raised up in Christ’…in a way that wouldn’t be possible without our friends in Swaziland! Today i am so thankful to God for the work He is doing in each of you!…as you continue to faithfully do His work in Swaziland! Rest well…and have an absolute blast at church tomorrow! Big ‘Hi’s!’ and hugs to all my friends there! – t

  5. Well… let me start by addressing that video I just watched. I mean… wow! It takes a lot of courage to post that on the internet where it will stay forever… Is courage the right word? Jon, how many hours did it take you to upload that?

    Seriously though, I’m glad you all had a chance to unwind and cool off. Jon, I think we should get you teaching an Aquacise class at the Elmwood Y. It could be an incredible ministry opportunity. I mean, they already have those, but I’ve never seen someone with the passion and grace that you demonstrated in that video. Is grace the right word?

    Anyway, today’s post and pictures really made me homesick for Swaziland. I am joyfully jealous of all of you. I want to be there, but am so happy all of you get the opportunity.

    Allison, I love hearing about and seeing all the love you are passing on to our special friends. I know you are representing our family well. Love and miss you so much!! I’m doing well. I even did some laundry today… I think I did it right 😉

    Keep at it team! We are so proud! Can’t wait to hear how the party went at Enaleni!

    – Jordan

  6. EISH. Is all i have to say Jon-Boy. Finally swimming in Africa, and guess where i am, not in Africa thats for sure. HOW MANY YEARS. I am so happy and proud of you. I knew you could make it happen. When is the beach day going to be? LOL.. Sign me up for that pool/ beach party next year. Way to Party Team, you have all impacted those precious lives in so many incredible ways thats is going to stay with them for a lifetime. God is so good, he will always give you all that you all will ever need as you continue to serve him, each other and those amazing children of his. Just keep on basking in all that God has for you, Your love and lights are sure brightly shining and lighting up all of Swaziland and Africa.Riverwood is so proud of you all and we are all so blessed to be on this journey with you and to call you our own. PARTY HARD. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings to you all. Have fun at ENALENI.

  7. it was so great to hear about your giant Birthday Party–it must have been a wonderful crazy day. loved the aqua exercise leader and all his followers. thanks for sharing your own craziness too. love to all. hope you have time having church together tomorrow.

  8. Hey all! We continue to pray for you there! Wow! Love your video in the pool!! High class for sure! Please give an extra hug to our special friend Njabulo! Much love all!! Rhoda

  9. What fun reading all the updates! Thoroughly enjoyed the pool video! Special shout out to my sister Mary, I must say I’m not surprised she jumped in the pool with her clothes on! love to all!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s