It may sound like this blog is getting rediculously repetitive but we have had yet another extraordinary day filled again with a flurry of emotions. We were back for our second day at the Enaleni carepoint and had such an incredible time connecting with the kids today.
Our day began with a surprise delivery to our guest house during breakfast as a bucket full of flowers were given to Carolyn for her anniversary. Todd had managed to orchestrate this moment from the other side of the world and it sure worked! Well done!!
Our day at Enaleni brought so much joy as we could hear the sounds of laughter, singing, and a lot of screaming (the good kind of fun filled screaming) emerging from all areas of the carepoint. Today was also particularly active with planned games for the older kids, massive games of catch the Canadian, and of course a lot of soccer to be had. We also had some pretty meaningful times during our programming with kids of all ages….the pre-school, the school aged and the teens. During the school aged lesson, David was drawing out the story as it was told on a large paper display on the wall. The kids were enthralled with his drawing skills and watching him try and keep up. We know that the loved it because when it came time for them to draw in their workbooks, a bunch of them kept asking David to do it for them.
Jordan did an awesome job today teaching our teen group and letting them know of the incredible love and forgiveness that God has for each one of them. It was again great to see these older kids feeling so special and having their own time to learn, ask questions, and grow. I loved watching our team have the chance to mentor and share their lives with them!
One moment went pretty deep today when some of the women on our team were called over to pray for one of the girls at our carepoint. There is concern about her being quite sick and they asked us to pray for healing. It was one of those moments when it felt like everyone standing in that circle couldn’t hold themselves back and just prayed with as much gusto as they could for her. May God hold her in His arms and take care of her.
We also watched as a tractor arrived on site to level some of the ground and to help with some of the digging for a small construction project of building a new cooking structure for the Gogos. It is always fun to see 100 kids gathered around watching in excitement as something new was happening with a great big tractor! (well for the mothers on the trip it was more like nerve-racking).
We ended our day by heading out for supper and inviting Pastor Peter and Precious to join us. We spent supper connecting with them and two of their three children. What a great time to speak encouragement to them, to share stories of home, and to deepen the friendship we have shared for so many years. As a team we presented them with a few gifts including a photo book we made that was all about Riverwood. We wanted to give them a glimpse into what life was like at our church and to share our lives with them as well. We also had a chance to celebrate with them in person the exciting news that they will be joining our Riverwood team that is heading to Israel in November. They are so giddy and excited they couldn’t stop jumping around and smiling and expressing their thanks. They send their biggest heartfelt greetings and love to you back home!
During debrief tonight as a team, we shared once again how remarkable it is that we get to share in this connection with these kids and these communities. I don’t know if you are getting tired of hearing that, but we just keep getting surprised every day that it grows deeper even still. Enjoy a few photos of the day and an important story that Brenda has to share with you. Thanks to all who have invested into this experience with us….your investment is multiplying!
Now….time for another jump into the pool at the team house that will send even a Canadian into hypothermia. There are a few of us that have made a pact to jump in every day we are here. It started with a bunch but only a few remain…we will stay strong! Goodnight from Swaziland! – Jon
Brenda (M) – The Best Gift I Could Ever Imagine
Where to start? As they say, the best place to start is at the beginning. I had been privileged to sponsor a young man since 2011. This particular young man has even more history however as he was one of the original children we met when we first visited the carepoint in 2008 and become an iconic image showing the deep need of the community. It was a photo we shared showing him in torn pants and with only one shoe. We would look for each other each year as I stepped off the bus at Enaleni and we shared many experiences over the years creating wonderful memories for both of us. I last saw “my boy” in 2014 not knowing that I would stay home the following year (2015) to join the magnificent world of grand-parenting! During the year of 2016 I learned that my boy no longer attended the carepoint. I was very sad knowing that he would not be there the next time I travelled to Swaziland. On the Swazi 2016 trip I was shocked to learn that my boy had ended up in jail. I so wished that I had known in time and had the opportunity to visit him.
As we prepared for Swazi 2017 Jon and Carolyn worked with the Swazi staff to see if it was possible for me to visit him in prison during our trip. Imagine my joy mixed with uncertainty as I learned that it would indeed be possible! As I prepared for the visit my mind was swirling with questions. What would he be like? Would he be angry? Would his heart be hardened? Would he be ok with me visiting him? What would the jail situation be? How would we visit? Behind glass? In a room being watched? There was no end to my wondering. But I knew that I needed to trust the Lord….this was not a surprise to Him.
I went to visit at the appointed day and time and was so disappointed he was not there! He was in court. In Swaziland there is no warning as to when you will be called to appear in court. But the visit allowed us the opportunity to view the surroundings at the youth detention where he was being detained. We tried again today and oh my goodness he was there!!!
As he walked up to greet us, I saw a young man smiling and eyes shining! My heart and eyes were overflowing as we hugged tightly and he told me that he thought he would never see me again! We had a wonderful visit where I learned that he is in class and doing well in school. He has returned to the Lord and is “preaching” in the detention centre and he has had the opportunity to sing on a Christian radio station. I was witness to a sacred moment as I watched the emotional exchange between him and Deli (the woman who shepherded the carepoint when he attended). He asked for forgiveness and she told him he was already forgiven. She expressed her love to him. I was able to share pictures with him from previous visits and give him a Bible. He was so grateful for the gifts and the visit.
There are no words for me to express how thankful I am to our Lord for the gift that I was given today. To see grace, forgiveness and love in action. To know that nothing is impossible with our Lord. To have been granted the opportunity to see “my boy” and know that he was in the arms of his Father. – Brenda