A Day Fit For a Princess!

Today was one that our female team members have anticipated for some time! We had two goals: first of all to shower love and attention on the girls; giving them the message that they are highly valued and deeply loved! Our second goal was simple….keep the boys away from the party. Both goals were accomplished today!

After decorating to create a beautiful and inviting atmosphere, the party began! It is tradition for us on Party Days, to serve a meal called Chicken Dust to each child. They love this meal and it is hilarious to see them eating a piece of chicken bigger than their heads! With appetites satisfied it was time for some pampering and fun!

Day 4 Bhobo phone-7As the girls moved through the different activity stations, there was such joy and delight on each of their faces! Whether they were decorating cupcakes & enjoying the sprinkles; painting treasure boxes to take home, bouncing on the jumping castle, being pampered with manicures or dancing to our Canadian tunes … bright smiles were all around! A highlight for each girl was receiving the gift of a new dress from her special friend at Riverwood! As I watched the girl’s emerge in their pretty dresses from our makeshift dressing room, my heart swelled with gratitude to each of you who sponsor Bhobokazi Carepoint and are building a friendship with one of the precious girls here! The dresses fit beautifully and each girl looked amazing! They too are so thankful to you!

Once each of our princesses was outfitted, we escorted them outside for a planned “Grand Processional” in their dresses. Much to everyone’s surprise, all the boys (pre-schoolers to teenagers) who had been so great at keeping their distance earlier so that the girls could fully enjoy their day had secretly crafted a plan to line the sides of the pathway from the top of the hill all the way into the building, applauding and cheering for the girls as they walked by! What a moment! The whole carepoint was celebrating these girls!

Day 4 Bhobo phone-20We concluded the party with a testimony from KeriAnn who shared her journey with Jesus, and some powerful lessons she has learned along the way about His faithful love, care and attention!

It was an incredible day and we are going to bed tonight with full hearts knowing the Bhobokazi girls, who are so very dear to our hearts have full hearts as well! We hope you can catch but a glimpse of the magical moments we shared in the photos although they couldn’t possibly do it justice! We have a couple of team members who’s reflections during debrief tonight certainly did capture it. Please enjoy their powerful & moving words! – Carolyn

Day 4 Bhobo-21It’s not every day one gets to be treated like a princess, and that’s what made today so special. For our second visit to Bhobokazi, we had the privilege of hosting a princess party for all the girls at the carepoint. From toddlers to young adults, our special friends were made to feel like royalty.

Our day started off as any princess party day would: decorating the space with streamers and flowers, setting up tables and chairs for activities, and – very importantly – making sure we had enough cupcakes and icing for everyone.

I was fortunate enough to be with a group of preschoolers, and though I dealt with a few flight risks, some picky eaters, and a huge language barrier, we had a blast getting to know each other and living like princesses for a day. A manicure station, personalized jewelry boxes, and dresses from their special friends made the experience all the more special and completed the princess makeover.

I knew this day was going to be unique, but I was not prepared for the emotions that would surface. While my little ones were decorating their jewelry boxes, I stole a glance at the older kids who were dancing in front of the princess backdrop. This moment made me catch my breath and brought a tear to my eye as I watched these girls forget about the difficulties that lay ahead. Even if for just five minutes, they didn’t have to think about the long walk home; they didn’t have to think about when they would eat their next meal; they didn’t have to think about the immense responsibility placed on their young shoulders. They could just be girls, dancing, giggling, smiling, and loving each and every moment of the present.

Of course, we only had one day to treat the girls like princesses here on Earth, but every single day they are princesses in the eyes of the King. As each station made the girls feel more beautiful, we reminded them that their beauty and value to God was everlasting. I pray that special feeling they had at the end of the day stays with them for years to come, and that they remember how much they are truly loved – both by God and by our Riverwood family. I wiped away a few tears as I danced and sang with my own little ones, forgetting about what lay ahead for just a minute. This memory will stay with me as I return to Canada, and hopefully for many years to come. – Akosua

A couple of months ago I was sitting at home studying my Siswati to prepare for this trip and I couldn’t reconcile the idea that the appropriate response to hello (sawubona) was yes (yebo). So I did a quick google search, and discovered that Sawubona actually means “Do you see me?” (according to Mr. Google, so take that for what it’s worth). Therefore responding with yebo, or yes is to say “Yes, I see you”.

The idea struck me as a really beautiful way to greet people, and it has been rolling around in the back of my mind since we arrived here a few days ago. However, it really pushed it’s way to the forefront today as we were preparing for the princess party. The ladies on our team had spent an hour or so decorating Bhobokazi and setting up all of the stations, and we were gathering to pray for the girls coming in. Our goal for the day was to make each girl feel special and loved, just like a princess. We prayed that God would make them understand how beautiful and unique and loved they were by Him, and by our team as well. But the whole time we were praying all I could think about was the idea of “yes, I see you.” If we accomplished nothing else today, my prayer was that each girl would feel like she had really been seen. I wanted to take each sweet little face and tell them “Yes, I see you. Yes, you are special. Yes, you are beautiful. Yes, I see you.” – Kelly


28 thoughts on “A Day Fit For a Princess!

  1. Wow. Wow! WOW!! You guys! The special gift you have given those young women….I am overwhelmed. In so many countries to be female is to be lesser. Not even in North America is there true parity, imagine the difference in an impoverished country. These girls were shown how much they are valued, and to know that the young men lined up as an honour guard…. WOW! Blessings to you, as you have blessed others. What a mighty God we serve!

  2. Amazing! Way to go team at making everyone feel special and loved❤️ Praying for energy and restful sleep for you all!

  3. Tears brought to my eyes everyday as I read about your impact there, but the impact reaches here too. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Nice to hear from you Kelly 😊 “Jesus sees you” is a phrase that I repeat to myself often, Pastor Mark said it once during a sermon like a year ago and I found it to be so meaningful! How cool that God spoke to you with that phrase as well and that you were able to show His love to the girls today…looks like such a special event, I wish I could have been there to see it! Thinking of you all often! Love you Kel Bel!

  5. I can only imagine. These precious girls will be impacted for the rest of their lives because of you swazi team 2017. Thank you. Now is my man in the bushes still waiting for me on the sidelines? Agnes you rock big time baby. P.J. you Rock also. Praying for you all. Rest well, love deeply, sing and dance like there”s no tomorrow and care non-ending. Love you all. P.S. How is everyone’s teeth doing???

  6. What a amazing day!!! The pictures brought tears to my eyes. You could see the excitement and love in everyone’s eyes.
    Carolyn she is soo beautiful,and has grown so much.
    Thanks for Sharing

  7. Thinking of you guys, praying the joy replenishes you. What an amazing momemt(s), esp of the guys showing honor. Touching. Be so amazingly blessed, lean into Him.

  8. You are seen!! Such a great message. Each of you are seen as leaders and special friends bringing so much love, but also know that this team 2017 is also seen! The value in all that you are doing from abroad, leaving your families and your lives to offer care, love and joy to these care points is awesome. I loved the ladies being celebrated by the men! Awesome, I also loved that fact the boys got to play a game of soccer, while they were waiting… Who won? Beautiful decorations and I can almost hear the laughter and singing… wish I was there celebrating with you all! for now, Carry on and may your bodies and minds have great rest tonight,.. blessings to you all!

  9. Dear mom and josh. I hope you have a breat time dere. And that you guys don’t get sick. And josh has fun with the big boys. And that mom has fun with her friends. I love you. I love the older lady picture infront of the bouncing castle and joshie clapping for the girl thing. Bye bye. See you soon.

    (exact words from him)

    1. Thank you Lochey:) we love you too! Thank you for praying for us. God is listening and answering your prayers. See you soon my little prince.

  10. Wow, what radiant smiles the Bhobokazi princesses have on their face! Thanks for creating such a fun and joy filled memory for them!

    David, I love the picture of you holding up that sweet girl; she looks so happy up in your arms. I love you and miss you!

  11. It really is so cool to be part of this special day through the lense of family being there. I have always enjoyed the video afterwards in church and knew that this day was so special. But to see my family there…for some reason I feel I can hear the clapping of the young men for the ladies and the cheering and celebrating. It’s so neat.

    I kind of sense that the team is starting to get crazy fun and opening up lots and just letting lose. Lots of fun pics.

    Josh, have you led actions to a song yet. You got a dance man!!! Let go of that inhibition. I think you’ll be amazed at the Sunday church you’ll experience soon. I love you. By the way….Loch is missing you and is driving me crazy…can’t wait till you get back and start supervising him again;)

    So if the team really reads this out loud (which is okay) I have to say, please reign Krista in. On sporadic wifi 11pm your time yesterday, I think Krista told me she wanted another kid. I’m not sure if this is accurate but if it is, please help!! Calm her down…sheesh.

    Have an awesome day in Enaleni!!

    (loch wants me to say bye baby!)

  12. So great to hear about today and how you impacted the girls but I think the guys too as they honoured their girls

  13. hi mommy (Keri-Ann) i love you and miss you so much i cant wait to see you i hope you are having a good time and hope you make it back safely i love you so much (i finally worked out how to comment Lol)


  14. How amazing to have this special event so that each girl could feel unique and valued. You guys are awesome! The pictures look amazing. I’m sure this was a special day for everyone.

  15. FANTASTIC!! Everybody wants to be noticed, pampered and to be made to feel like someone special. Its human nature to want adoration and to feel loved. What these children have to endure on a daily basis, just to survive ,is a remarkable feat in and of itself.
    To be made to feel like a real live Princess if only for a day is something straight out of a fairy tale. This is what Love is all about. This is what Gods love is all about. To allow each and everyone of us to feel loved and extra special. Not just for one day but for each day.
    I feel these children experienced a sense of what life could be and it will allow them to strive and reach beyond their daily battles. To reach out to someone else with arms wide open to help. This brings to mind a time I spent with my two beautiful Grand Daughters Allegra and Lexi. They wanted Grampa to play dress up and get this I got to be the Princess, Tiara and all. It really was a picture to see. And no Im not sharing it. Keri may have it and I suppose it’s up to her. Another instance was with Lexi when she wanted to do nails. So I said ok and she was allowed to pick the colours. Believe me it was a rainbow of epic proportions. So, really I suppose we need to sometimes see the world through children eyes and heart to fully appreciate what life means.
    After all our greatest work we achieve is nurturing and raising our children in Gods Love so they may be able to share with their children and build a world filled with what God intended. To Love
    I pray you have a wonderful and peaceful night in the knowledge that you have filled all of those Princesses hearts with wonder and love. I pray Team Swazi 2017 are able to continue to seek out daily miracles and share them with all care points. Sleep well in Gods peace.

  16. How does one put into words the amazing changes you’re making in these girls lives . To feel like a princess for a day is to make one feel valued for life . And that the young men there can also be shown how to value these young women . Thankyou Jesus for placing these people there. 💕

  17. Team! i can’t even imagine how excited you must have been to pull off the Princess Party! Your whole aim was to lift each little girl up out of poverty and the horrible emotional strains of living in a tough place…and planting a more powerful message in their hearts: YOU ARE VALUED! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE PRECIOUS! and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

    Carolyn told me of how you had the boys form lines…and then the girls strutted through as the boys clapped and cheered!

    Wow! Way to create a moment!

    …but i want you to know this…today you brought a smile to God’s face! As you clothed yourself in compassion, love…generosity and grace, you shone as His Princes and Princesses…children-of-the-King!!!

    i believe He is having a blast planting a powerful message in YOUR hearts: YOU ARE VALUED! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE PRECIOUS! and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

    I believe there were moments today…when He lined up a bunch of angels…and they cheered and clapped and shouted as YOU walked by!

    You are a ‘royal-priesthood’…on a mission, representing the King! You are Princes and Princesses. That’s not a message just for kids!…it’s a message for people!

    Lead on! We’re following you!


  18. Dear Mommy and joshee,
    Wow! It keeps amazing me to see all the things that you are doing. All the girls in there dresses were soo cute. What an awesome thing to do lining the streets clapping for everyone. I know that all of the girls felt soo blessed and will know that they are all beautiful and valued in gods eyes. I love you and I miss you.

    Love Gracie

  19. Jon and Carolyn, thank you. Today was a day that you may have wished you were at home in Winnipeg to celebrate your dear friend Debbie’s life. But today you willingly helped in leading us to celebrate many beautiful lives here in Swaziland. I can’t help but think of John 15:13. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Today you laid down your lives for these special Swazi friends and us your team. We are so grateful for you. May Our Lord continue to fill you up to overflowing and give you space to grieve even while here in Africa and while taking such good care of us. To you, our home church, we pray deep comfort for you as well. We love you.

  20. Having 3 girls myself makes this day so amazing to read. The faces of them and you guys as you were preparing and serving. Praying these memories last a lifetime as you come home to your own princesses or that you ladies can be confirmed in your own rights as a princess in the kingdom. So lovely riverwood women. CAnt wait to hear from krista the moment by moment of this day. If she can make it through telling it without crying too much.! 😄

  21. I read these in the morning, so I’m not sure any of my comments are timely enough to encourage you – but I hope so.

    These times with God, and with you, His hands and feet are a high point for me spiritually. Was thinking the high point of the year, but it’s tied with the GLS. How fantastic this opportunity is for you as the Swazi team to go and love – really LOVE people. Equally profound is the journey He is taking us on as we pray, reflect and learn through your posts.

    I am so grateful for this relationship with the Swazi outposts. Thank you for being willing vessels. May He give you Peace beyond measure, rest and refreshment, and the energy and Love to do it again each day.

    Well done, good and faithful servants.

  22. Well I’ve left this a little too long, so I am going to be brief in hopes of getting through before you’re finished reading the comments!
    Akosua, thanks for sharing your day! You are so, so good with those preschool kids and I’m so glad that our little ones in Swaziland get to experience your love and attention.
    Kelly, I loved your insight into the Swazi greeting. I’m really grateful for that information and looking forward to greeting my friends with a better understanding of what is actually being said between us.
    Jordan, you are my favourite. Can’t wait to see you again and I love the pictures you have been sharing of our special friends.
    Team, keep up the fantastic work. We are praying for you and cheering you on. Hope you had a fantastic Saturday and I am looking forward to experiencing Swazi church through your eyes soon!

  23. Miss you Jaret and Kailey. Love seeing all the pictures of you guys. Can’t wait to hear all about it once you get home.

  24. Hi. I enjoyed deeply the work you are all doing. I have been taking your pics and posting them on my facebook and have asked for continued prayers for your success in the mission and your wisdom to share and come home safely. Your group is encoucouraging for us at home that we need to continue to support others. No matter where we are. Thank you again for sharing. Your daily experiences. In prayer.

  25. Thinking of all guys in Swaziland. I’m sure you are all leaving part of your hearts in Africa. Keep up the good work. Mom you are a trooper! Love Arlene

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