We had a remarkable day at Bhobokazi today. It was marked by joy & laughter. It was a day in which we saw the spirit of the care point in such a vibrant way that even those who have never been feel like they have a history with it after a single day. Maybe that sounds strange but we were quite overwhelmed with our sense of how much these children and young adults are thriving. It was felt in so many ways today. Moments like our time of singing that felt like we were exploding through the rooftops and almost convinced that you could probably hear us from home. Moments like our story telling or crafts where every kids was captivated. Moments like our teen programming where we felt every one of them hanging from the words being spoken and asking questions eager to learn and grow. Moments like the hour long game of tag our youngest team member Josh orchestrated with a group of children. Each of these moments gave us the sense that our presence there was being embraced and welcomed beyond our imagination. We didn’t host an experience today at the care point, we shared one with them.
It really left us feeling humbled and in awe to reflect on how far this care point has grown and matured. We couldn’t stop gushing together about how remarkable these kids were. They are so sharp and full of life and potential. We stood amazed at the way that this care point is being led by the very children that have grown up attending it. What a gift to be allowed to experience this and to feel the joy and fulfillment of knowing we are invested into these successes. Today was a day that we rest our heads on our pillows feeling the kind of satisfaction that money or things can’t provide. What a treasure!
Our team is doing spectacular and they are giving everything they’ve got. They are stealing every moment of the day possible to put themselves fully into this experience. We are so proud of them already! I am reminded today of how precious these experiences of community are in our lives. We are laughing hard, crying deeply, and opening our lives up in the kind of vulnerability that allows our hearts to be molded and shaped. What a great group of people! We have a couple of team members that would love to share of their experiences of how God is moving in their lives. We also have a bunch of photos to share that hopefully give you a glimpse into the spirit of the day. Thanks for joining us and following along. We are loving our time of reading the comments during our evening debriefs.
Seven years ago I cheered on my beautiful friend Monica as she fulfilled her mission dream in Swaziland. I lived vicariously through her and dreamed of one day seeing what she saw. We talked a lot about going on mission trips together and dreamed of experiencing Swaziland together one day. Unfortunately, one day never came. Earlier this year Monica passed away suddenly and it left a huge hole in my heart. Leading up to this trip I really needed to figure out what my motivation was for coming to Swaziland. Was it to love on the children? Was it to get a cultural experience? Was it to grieve the loss of my friend? Was that even a right motivation? Was any of it a right motivation? My head was flooded with so many questions but I felt that this was the perfect timing for me. I am a teacher and this was the first; and possibly only time I’d get to join on this mission. (Let’s be honest though, if God calls again – my answer will be yes!) Being a wife and mother is another doubt that threatened to keep me from this trip. I had a lesson in submitting my dreams to God. He truly does fulfil them even when we are busy questioning!
I am in Swaziland. During the two days of traveling that it took to get here I had a lot of time to think. I thought a lot about my family. The sacrifice they go through having me here for two weeks without a lot of connection to keep us close. I thought a lot about Monica too. I don’t think it truly hit me until our first day at Enaleni. Stepping off of the bus and seeing the church brought tears to my eyes. The wind was in my hair and I could swear I heard Monica say YOU’RE HERE! It was definitely a moment of closure for me. The people at the carepoints are amazing. I had the privilege of being invited to the homestead where the grandfather had passed away. It literally broke my heart. I felt their grief and my grief come together as I did my best to keep my tears in check. I am feeling so many emotions it’s hard to put into words.
Then today I was filled with so much joy as I met my special friend Siwakhile. He was shocked and surprised that I was there. I met his brothers, cousins and friends! He is a 13 year old boy so he didn’t want to be snuggled too much but he let me hug him. He sat with me and knitted. This made me think of Monica too because she loved to knit. Even though we weren’t able to go on a mission trip together I feel like she is cheering me on in heaven and God is giving me these moments to know that heaven isn’t that far away. There is so much more that I could say but I must let someone else talk! I am so thankful for the messages.
Scott – Thank you so much for allowing me to be your wife but also for allowing me to serve others. You are an amazing husband. I love you more every day. Elliot and Allegra – make sure you give your dad LOTS OF HUGS and smell him just a little for me. I miss you all so much. I can’t wait to hug you all at the airport! You better be there! With signs! I am praying for you all! Be safe, sending you love and kisses from Africa xo
“Faith & Fowl”
I have found one important life skills is the ability to remain composed on the outside while on the inside you are quite taken aback by the surprising, unusual, or unfamiliar situation that is suddenly unfolding. Fortunately, life has given me many opportunities to develop this skill. Jonathan, Amy and I had just settled in on the homestead of a family we were visiting. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a girl pounce on a chicken. The chicken let out a loud squawk, but was quickly subdued as this girl slapped on a sleeper hold with the skill of a professional wrestler. This was surprising. I may have showed my shock briefly, but I remained composed. The girl then proceeded to bring the chicken to her father. He then gave the chicken to me to hold in my lap. He told me that it was a gift to show his appreciation. This was unfamiliar. Although, we were told it does happen.
It is very rude in Swaziland to refuse a gift so I humbly accepted and held the chicken in my lap with its bum hanging slightly off to the side in case its bowls weren’t completely emptied during its encounter with the incredibly agile girl moments earlier. Thankfully I was able to remain composed. In the moments that followed we had a brief opportunity to converse with a man who’s faith inspired me. As we first arrived and placed on the ground a gift of rice and corn meal he greeted us saying, “Praise God! Hallelujah!” He expressed his gratitude letting us know that he was confident that God would provide for his family. I told him that there was much love for his family from their friends at Riverwood Church and that his faith was an inspiration to me. He responded by telling me that if we trust Jesus He will provide. His words were simple, but profound.
Later on in the day I realized that this man was the second pillar of faith that I had the privilege of meeting. When we first arrived at Bhobokazi I met one of the cooks named Monica. Before Riverwood was in Swaziland. Before Bhobokazi was a twice forgotten care point. Monica was there. She had a vision to see the kids of her community fed. She would walk from house to house collecting food and cook for the kids. Monica’s faith was the first seed from which Bhobokazi grew. Not only that but at least three of her sons are developing into leaders that not only are having an impact on Bhobokazi, but on the whole country of Swaziland.