It becomes a daunting task to attempt to put down in words the experiences of a day like today. There are so many emotions we have experienced in a day and each one of them could take a page to express. From the very first steps taken onto carepoint soil by our first time team members….to the running embraces of our long time friends for those that have been many times before, today was a day of new & old friendships merging together. We had numerous team members have the opportunity to meet their special friends for the first time. What an incredible memory to create!
As we arrived at Enaleni, the entire team hadn’t even finished stepping off the bus before there were laughing kids on top of shoulders and in the arms of our team. We had an incredible day reconnecting with the Gogo’s, the shepherds (carepoint leaders) and the children. After about a thousand hugs and smiles took place in a matter of minutes, we began our day sharing a devotional with the Gogo’s and the staff. This is something we intentionally do to make the women feel remembered and special. These women are the ones that cook day in and day out to care for each of the children at the carepoint all year long and we want them to feel treasured and remembered by us every day we visit.
The kids programming today went great. We were teaching from the story of Joseph and it was so fun to see each of the children learning and taking in the experiences that included crazy coloured coats made from streamers, time in their small groups doing crafts and talking, and singing our hearts out with both old and new songs.
Today also marked a very special beginning. Last year one of the older children at the carepoint made a remark that hit us square in the eyes. He asked us why we always do programming geared for the younger kids and the older ones never get to engage beyond watching something below their age. We quickly realized how right he was and that we had kinda gotten stuck in the way we did things early on when the only kids at the carepoint were the small ones. I guess that’s what happens when we stick around and stay connected over 9 years….these kids grow up!
This year we have created an intentional investment into the older kids. Rather than sitting through the main lesson, we are breaking the kids aged 12 & up off and spending our time talking to them about issues that pertain to them more directly. We are hopeful that this will make an impact for them!
Today had some tough moments as well. For a few of our team members, today was a realization that S’petho was no longer there. This was the young man that passed away just under a year ago and was a beloved friend to so many. His loss is still felt deeply.
At the end of the day, we had the opportunity to make a couple of home visits with a few of our team members. One of these visits served as an incredible reminder for us of just how woven our lives have become with this community here. We were asked to visit this homestead because of the need they are in. However, just this morning we heard that the grandfather living there had passed away today. The family & homestead was in mourning. As we made our way with packages of food to bring to them as a gift, we wondered how the visit would be knowing that they were in the midst of such difficulty. This homestead has 10 children living there with a mother and grandmother caring for them. They had been struggling as the grandfather was sick and they didn’t have enough to provide. As we walked up the skinny dirt path into the homestead we heard the sounds of singing echoing from within the home. There were neighbours there to assist with the process of grieving and together they were singing songs of worship. As we made our way into the room, they welcomed us direclty into the their process of greiving. We shared songs, prayers and tears with them and had the opportunity to speak words of encouragement to them and pray for them. I wish I could put words to explain the sacredness of these moments and how privileged we felt to be welcomed into one of the most intimate experiences of grief. It was both heartbreaking and beautiful.
As I sat there, I was struck with how crazy it was that such a foreign experience could feel so familiar and natural. How this house we were in for the first time was actually littered with pictures and letters from sponsors back home at Riverwood from many years. How remarkable it was that in an instant we could be welcomed into this experience and not even for a moment feel like strangers or that we were infringing.
Today we left with our hearts bursting from the joy and the laughter we shared with the children of Enaleni….but we also left feeling stronger than ever that this idea of a community to community connection is something that has become incredibly powerful and deep. We are so grateful.
What a day! As a first timer walking into Enaleni I wasn’t too sure what to expect. As the van powered through the rocky dirt road my anticipation grew as I thought “this is Africa, and I love it”. Within 45 seconds of leaving the van a child had made it’s way onto on my shoulders. Shortly after that the same child and three others were all being pushed on the swings by me and Jonathan. That was the best welcome to Swaziland I ever could have asked for. I struggle with often hearing statistics about children in need in Africa. Yes because they are staggering numbers, but mainly because it is such an inhumane way of describing the souls that God cares so deeply for. Perhaps that’s why that -only 24 hours in- I have been so deeply impacted and by this experience. Just one of the souls at Enaleni or Bhobokazi completely and utterly overtakes any statistic we could ever read. I found my self convicted as I held these kids, that God doesn’t have regard for the statistics, He does however, have the highest regard for the individual soul.
As the day progressed I was hit multiple times with an emotional realization of how true ministry is accomplished: one soul at a time. I was blessed today to connect with many kids and have lots of laughs, but I tell you the truth, if I had only played with one kid the entire time and by the end of the day had put a smile on that child’s face, my soul would have been fully satisfied and entirely right before the Lord. – Cole/Dawson
Wow, what an awesome experience to be back in Swaziland. The first day at Enaleni was like a family reunion. Kids are taller and staff still haven’t aged. There are some new faces and some old faces are missing. Some time ago we were told that we would be adjusting our program to recognise that kids grow up and are no longer little. So a group of us began to address the topics together with the field staff in Swaziland. After a few changes it was determined that I was opening the first session with a talk about journaling.
I should say that public speaking is not my favorite thing to do. I hardly slept the night before because I was afraid of failure. Today, after a brief introduction I stepped up and let God take control. Everything went very well and the teens seemed to be interested. We went to small groups and again I trusted God to give me the right words. I could see that the kids were unsure of how to start but with some encouragement they put down the first few words. Soon the page was filling up and they were so into it. We are hoping that they will continue to write down their thoughts and concerns.
Why do I waste time worrying about not being prepared? Why do I rely on my own strength when God has so much to offer? Lord, thank you for the reminder as we roll out another Swazi experience. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we do this all over again for the teens at Bhobokazi carepoint. May we again have an impact on the teens there. – Bryan