As I write this we are driving through the mountains en route to South Africa. Our time in Swaziland has come to a close. Once again, there is a collective feeling of gratitude & a powerful sense that God has moved in our midst. A couple months ago when we began gathering together as a team to prepare our group, we put out the challenge for each individual to be fully open to what God wants to do in their lives through this experience. To those that had been before, we asked that they remain open to God doing something new. To those that had never been, we simply said “be open and God will do remarkable things.” Many days later as this experience comes to a close these words have now come to fruition. God has indeed moved powerfully within our team. For some, we have been shaken to the core. For some, it has dug down deep. For some, our hearts have been broken. For all of us God has revealed himself through these precious friends. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 13 when he says God’s kingdom is like discovering a fortune buried in a field….when you find it you would sell everything you have to buy the field knowing that it holds things far more valuable in comparison. This feels like a great way to put into words some of what we feel.
Our final day at Enaleni was again a significant one. We treasured the final moments with the children. We took some time to celebrate the Gogo’s (the grandmothers) who are the ones that started caring for the kids before any supports were available. They have been faithfully caring for these children for over a decade….faithfully….everyday. It is always humbling to be among them.
Today was also significant because we had an opportunity to visit the home of S’petho, the child who tragically passed away last month. There was six of us that had known him that went to express to the household that we were grieving with them and praying for them. I can’t put into words how meaningful this visit was. There is something sacred and incredibly privileged to be invited into someone’s grief and this was what happened for us. We were welcomed into their vulnerabilities even in the midst of a culture where this is a rare experience. We shared with them how much he meant to us and how grateful we were to have known him. Together we all had a chance to pray for the homestead and to visit his grave. In Swaziland it is common practice to bury your family on your homestead. We all gathered together, shed many tears & stood in solidarity with his parents.
The afternoon we gathered with the many children to sing our last songs together….to share our encouragements to them….and to pray over our children one last time. In our final minutes we played as hard as we could and the care point was full of laughter & joy. We were drenched in sweat as we played an epic game of catch the Canadians, as Andy and Adam got their last workouts hoisting children in their, and a few of our team members engaged in some pretty significant conversations with some of the older teenagers.
We also had the opportunity to share supper with the Langa family (Pastor Peter & Precious and their children) and to shower them with encouragements, gifts, and just connect with them over some extended conversations. Their friendship and partnership is a gift to us and we had a chance to pray a blessing over them on behalf of Riverwood.
There is much reflection yet to be done. For now, we are all exhaling a bit, feeling the satisfaction of knowing we put our full selves into the past 8 days. We are excited to experience a bit more of Africa as we take in a half-day safari and to spend an evening together with our experiences now packed away to bring home.
We are off to hang with the elephants and rhinos 🙂