New shoes, tiny hands, and a homecoming.

Well….after 30+ hours of travel & a welcomed night in a real bed in Johannesburg, we awoke quite well rested as a whole and ready for the day. All but one of our 50 bags arrived with us. The missing bag belongs to Kailey who ironically has been in the same situation here before and after Carolyn did some wheeling and dealing, the bag is en route from Amsterdam to be delivered to us as we speak. Funny thing was she travelled the plane in slippers only and has no other shoes, so early this morning I hit the local shopping centre and did my best to pick out some new shoes that Delta has offered to pay for. ย I ended up buying 4 pairs fearing size and style incompatibilities and thankfully one pair meets the standards so she is good to go!

IMG_1821 2

We boarded the bus and headed back to the airport to pick up our last remaining team member arriving this morning and then hit the road for Swaziland. After a quick stop forย lunch surrounded by a herd of zebras, we had a very smooth border crossing and arrival in Swaziland at our team home. Along the way, we discovered that one of our team members had some fun while packing and keeps pulling out strange things from her bag of tricks….today it was a pair of mini hands. I am sure they will be surfacing a few times over the next week. The team was pretty happy to finally be here and to be finished with all the travel for a while.

We met our hosts, Greg & Michelle and spent some time with them getting oriented to the place and with the plans for the week. We are looking forward to spending the next couple weeks with them! Greg & Michelle have been serving with Hope Chest here in Swaziland for the past 3 years.

The rest of the night has been busy unpacking, sorting through all our bags, and getting prepared for our first day at Enaleni tomorrow. Everyone is pretty giddy & full of anticipation. We spent some time sharing about what God has already been speaking to us and praying for one another and for our day tomorrow. Right now, the place is beginning to settle and quiet down as team members slowly make their way to their beds. Our bodies certainly don’t know what time it is yet but we are hopeful to get some rest tonight!

Landing here again has arisen many emotions. Together as a community we have collected almost 10 years of experiences, memories, friendships, and change. Even as we stepped out of the airport at Jo-burg, seeing the familiar face of Elliot waiting for us at the airport, who has been our bus driver every single year, makes us feel instantly at home here. It is a reminder to me that we are not as much visiting as we are returning to a place that has grown so deeply into our hearts and become home. We look forward to seeing what God wants to orchestrate through this experience and collectively resolved ourselves to serving with a posture that is open to his hand moving both in our lives and through them.

For now we say thanks for all the support & prayers. We truly do view this experience as a communal one shared not just with the 22 of us here, but with our church family and everyone else following along. Until tomorrow!

Jon

31 thoughts on “New shoes, tiny hands, and a homecoming.

  1. Love you guys so much !!! Give it everything you have – so many people are going to be impacted as God moves through you ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. K, the teeny hands weirdly creep me out. . . but I loved seeing the pictures you’ve posted, and I cheer you on in this new adventure. Hope Kailey’s bag gets there soon!

    Dear God, thank you for this great group of people, and I especially want to say thank you for that feeling of homecoming Jon wrote about. May Elliot and the others in Swaziland reciprocate these feelings are our team arrives for another season of community building.
    Please go ahead of them, and prepare the hearts of those who You want to touch and encourage. Lord, please pave the way for our team, and use them for Your glory. I ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.

    1. I don’t know how to do all this stuff. I just want to be able to follow the blog and to read the news , comments and replies, and to encourage my kids while they are in Swaziland. Sara

      1. Bryan & Cheryl, glad to hear you’ve safely arrived. I now recognize the names of the care-points, some of the workers and children involved. I pray for you all and esp. for your knee. George is back home and we are getting ready to go to Senior camp on Sunday. Love, Mom

  3. Praying for a great sleep for you all, and that your energy is restored as you step into your first full day in Swaziland!

    David, I love you and miss you!

  4. Hey everyone, glad to see you made it there safely. Can’t wait to hear how God uses you in the coming weeks. Sending love and prayers!

  5. Happy to hear all is well and logistics are working themselves out . I am sure daily plans are all in place and teams are anxious to dig in. Eyes wide open as well as hearts. What more can anyone ask for.
    Experience is a wonderful mentor and with Our Fathers hand working magic through you it is already a success. Sleep well all. And May God guide your hearts

    1. Tiny hands lol it will be more amazing to have real tiny hands to hold at the care points! Thank you for sharing in the day… nice to hear the zebras joined you all for lunch…. Brenda…. see why I love my sissy? She is
      The best foot runner!!!! Till tomorrow team! Sweet dreams to you all

  6. So great to see you’ve all arrived safely and excited. We echo the prayers already written here. MAY God use you mightily and may He touch each of you in a unique way. We’ll be following along and praying.

  7. I love the tiny hands! Hilarious ๐Ÿ˜‚ Looking forward to future packed surprises!
    Sounds like you have a team that will be really good at looking after each other, keeping each other’s spirit’s up. Praying for that!

  8. Again Kailey?? You and your leader are Samies in an odd sort of way. I should have sent my tiny hands with you too. (Hehehe). Glad you arrived safe and sound. Praying for a great trip with many opportunities to share God’s love to everyone at the care points. Also praying that you and Jaret will have bucket loads of fantastic memories to share for a lifetime together. Xoxoxo you both and so glad you get to show Jaret around. ;). Look forward to more updates. Sleep well.

  9. OK – those hands are seriously the creepiest things I have ever seen, and I used to teach teenagers!!! Have a great tomorrow everyone! Wish I was there! All of you are in my prayers. Those hands made me think of the following quote I was reading the other day (don’t ask why): “Isn’t it weird that we have one hand that knows how to do everything and then the one hand that just sits there like “I don’t know how to hold a pencil.” By the way, in my marriage, I am the “other hand.” I say that I fun! Love you LeeAnn!! I am very excited for all of you! Go squeeze children. Dave, the child arm curls are all on you this year – do not disappoint me!

  10. Mrs G is kinda like Mary Poppins – you just never know what she will pull out of her bag of tricks! The kids knew right away who had packed the surprises!!

    Praying for you all!!

  11. I’ve never been to Swazi but following along with the team each year makes it feel like I get to go along. I’m so excited for everything that you all will be doing and can’t wait to hear how your first day in Enelani is tomorrow! I’m praying for every single one of you, thank you for representing our church!

  12. By the time you are reading this you will already have been to Enelani. Hope your day was great!! And all of our kids where loved to the max. It gave me goosebumps to see your pics from last night. Great memories from Swazi 2016.
    Continue the great work and many blessings to you all.

  13. Swazi Team 2017!…we are all so excited to be living this mission along with you! At the time of this blog post you hadn’t even really hit-the-ground yet…and i already find myself choking up! The significance of what you are doing is massive! We will pray for much success! We will pray for protection, safety and health! And we will pray that God’s Spirit powerfully fills each of you to lead people closer to Himself! Be blessed…and maybe find some place to bury the little-hands! ๐Ÿ™‚ (no need to be bringing them home!) ๐Ÿ™‚ – t

  14. Hey Team!

    I know only a select few of you on the team this year, but I am so happy that all of you are there to love and squeeze all my favourite little children! I am so excited to follow along with the blog this year. It is most definitely bringing back many emotions reading this post. Glad you all arrived safe and soundly, and can not wait to read more!

    Hope you all have the most wonderful day at enaleni tomorrow!

    Kamila

  15. I am so excited for you all. I know that as I wrote this you are getting ready for your first day ‘on the ground’ and that the nerves may be there. I know you will be reading this in the evening after the first day and the range of emotions will be the same as the nerves of the morning. I am feeling the same from this end. Praying for you all as you start what I know is going to be a life changing day for all of you.

    And may the tiny hands be with you.

    Blake

  16. Dearest team! We are praying for you every single day as you give and “adventure” together! Breeeeeeeennnda!!! Those little hands!! Kinda scary actually!! I love your sense of humour though! I love these first pics! Can’t wait to journey with you guys! Love you guys!

  17. I’m so glad to see you’ve arrived safely and were hopefully able to get some rest. I can only imagine the adventures that are in store for you!

  18. Kailey! You seem to have all the luck ๐Ÿ˜‰ glad to hear you all made it safe and sound! Praying you and Jaret have a great time together and that everything food wise works out for you! Also- I feel like those tiny hands could really do some good- maybe a photo of tiny hands in prayer? Or tiny hands performing a baptism? Or the laying of tiny hands? Think about it. It could really take things to the next level…”and He took them in his arms and began blessing them, laying his (tiny) hands on them…” Mark 10:16.
    All kidding aside…I am excited for you to do just that- taking our kids in your arms and blessing them- pouring over them with love and with the spirit of god…may you be blessed and may an indescribable work be done in and through you! We love you!

  19. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve all arrived safe and sound. Welcome home! The community that has been built between Riverwood and our friends in Swaziland is such a gift and I am so, so grateful to all of you who are there on our behalf this year. I hope you’ve all had a great first day at Enaleni & can’t wait for the next update & pictures.
    Jordan, I love you so much. Today, Russ wants to tell you about a dinosaur (and another dinosaur). A stegosaurus and a T-Rex to be precise. They are taller than the car.
    Brenda, Uncle Cool, thanks for taking the time to say hello last night. We are praying for you all.

    1. Tiny hands lol it will be more amazing to have real tiny hands to hold at the care points! Thank you for sharing in the day… nice to hear the zebras joined you all for lunch…. Brenda…. see why I love my sissy? She is
      The best foot rubber!!!! Till tomorrow team! Sweet dreams to you all

  20. Krista/Josh, your facebook posts made my heart turn to mush.. you look like you are just in heaven. I know that you all have a story, but this one caught me off guard, such genuine and unconditional love… wish I was there to hug the children as well. I imagine you all will have a bunch of stories of love and sharing tonight and the sweetest dreams. Thank you for sharing in your journey.

    keriann- you made my heart swell when you spoke of your emotion on the carepoints… WOW!! I envisioned you just speechless. I can imagine you are being shown love like you have never felt before… Can’t wait to see and hear more. For the rest of the swazi team, I am praying for you as well and look foward to meeting you on this journey. Brenda? Jos? Where are you and what are you 2 up too.. LOL.. Be blessed and may God put deep rest and energy into all of you! ” Sending love across the miles” and John… yup… I do talk, er, type too much! heheh

  21. Wow, a lunch surrounded by Zebras?! What an experience! Can’t wait to hear of what other amazing in-your-face new experiences and surprises God has in store uniquly for each one of you. I imagine some already will be stretching your hearts to the max. I am so glad for the bravery and obedience of each of you in stepping on that plane, that bus, out of that bed, into this experience. Jer 33:3….. As you let your hearts be touched, and touch the hearts out there, praying His comfort, His strength, His empowerment, and His peace, rest. Hug and be silly with some little ones for me plz and esp if u catch a moment with older ones who need it as well. love Cindy

  22. Praying for all of you to move and flow out of the Holy Spirit as you yield and seek the Lord. May you all be the hands and feet of what God is intending to do for these precious children and their loved ones. I pray for good health, wisdom, discernment, and for the Lord to give you the strength that you need to accomplish His plans.
    Have a wonderful experience and pour out the Lord’s love. Blessings to you all.

  23. So glad you are all there safe and sound. Praying for each one of you and ffor God’s blessings as you -H his hands and feet- meet the needs of our Swaziland family!

  24. Leeann ! Great to see your arrived and making differences already by being there we all look up to you and your friends who are with u god bless xoxox

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