Swazi Church!

Oh how we wish you could have been a part of our day worshipping with the church at Enaleni. What a privilege to be invited into the vibrant and exuberant experience of a service shared with our brothers & sisters here in Swaziland. As is always the case, our Canadian team was moved by the passion that they saw in the singing & the dancing and the genuine seeking after God as they gathered.

church-2We had the privilege of hearing from three different choirs. The youth choir, the “main choir” as they call it, and then the guest appearance of the Africa Harmony Choir made up of children from the many carepoints here. They were all brilliant and inspiring. Wow. One moment that had a tremendous impact on me personally was when a prayer was being offered and the phrase Ngiyabonga was being spoken many times over with a level of passion and tears and intensity so strong that it could be felt emerging from the very soul. Ngiyabonga means “thank you”. The gratitude being expressed in prayer to God on such a deep level was soul-revealing to me. Once again, our Swazi friends have given me a gift that emerges from their incredible spirit.

church-22After sharing in some cake after the service together we headed out to the local market to do some shopping and gift buying and then a visit to one of my favourite places in Swaziland, Swazi Candles. Now, I’m not really a candle guy, but I am certainly a fan of sitting down to a beautiful cappuccino with my friend Elliot our bus driver while the rest of the team is occupied with shopping for a few minutes. We are doing well, and had a bit of downtime tonight to ready ourselves for our final two days here to once again give it all we got! Enjoy a few reflections of the day and a few photos from church. Until tomorrow, good night!

As we were approaching Enaleni, the anticipation had been growing in my heart of the sweet, sweet voices of every individual there worshiping our Good, Good Father and how they invite us in to this sacred place.

The worship is immensely powerful and filled with emotion, the people often pray out loud and let their spirit flow out of them in their singing and especially their dancing.

church-1The most inspiring example I can share with you is of an elderly man named Jim. Jim has been struggling with an illness for sometime now but when he was called up to do his special number. He danced and sung with eloquence, style, and a giant smile on his face, which put a smile on, and joy in everyone who was witness to it.

To experience Swazi-Church first hand feels like you have been a part of heaven and earth colliding and you are there with the angels praising our glorious LORD as one choir. – David

Back in March when I decided to join the trip to Swazi I was very excited to connect with my special friend Asande at Enalani. To hug her, talk with her and just hang out. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about our boy Sihlangu who stopped coming to the care point 2 years previous. So, as I started to pray for Sihlangu, I felt an urge to find him and let him know how much I thought about him, prayed for him and more importantly loved him still.

After hitting the ground in Swazi, I made it one of my missions to find him. While at Enaleni I walked around with his picture from 2 years ago, asking different teenage kids if they recognize him. Many of the kids knew exactly who he was but were unsure how I could get in contact with him. Finally, I showed the picture to one of the shepherds named Hlengiwe, who replied with a big smile on her face; “ I know him very well, I will contact him and let him know you are here.” Sweet!

church-15Fast forward to today; As I am sitting in church today, I find my eyes darting around the room, looking for this face I am hoping to recognize. I am fully aware that it has been a while, he has grown up and become a man. After the service is done I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn around swiftly. There standing in front of me is Hlengiwe with a big smile and next to her a young man with an even bigger smile which I recognized right away, even though he now older with a fuzzy thing above his lip. “Sihlangu” I yelled, as I grab him and hugged him tight. “I’m sorry it took me 9 years to finally meet you.” He replies; “It’s ok, you’re here now.”

We begin to talk as he filled me in on what’s been happening in his life. Both is parents are deceased, so he has been living with his brother, sister in-law and their children. Life has been difficult due to lack of resources and living with a family who treats him more like a burden then a brother. However, he has powered through thanks to God’s faithfulness in providing school fees and a community of believers who encourage him not to give up and to always trust God. His goal after grade 12 is to become a pastor and fulfil the call of God on his life to minister to others. He then goes on to tell me that if it wasn’t for God and the carepoint at Enaleni he doesn’t know where his life would be. In a sincere voice he then adds; “I am so thankful to everything you and your church in Canada have done for me, Thank You from the bottom of my heart.”

I am at peace knowing that our kids at Enalani and Bhobokazi have and will continue to be nurtured and loved on by those who pour their lives into them. – Dawn

One week in! We are doing great! Although my mom is worried I’m not even alive and my dad is worried about more practical dangers, I think they are doing alright… right guys? I can happily report that Carolyn has kept me in one piece and Jon has kept me laughing with his terrible choices of chocolate he buys for the team. They are amazing leaders! I’ve had the opportunity to connect with several of the kids here and it constantly warms my heart when we arrive at the carepoint, they remember me, and lift up their arms to signal for a shoulder ride. They’ve been quite confused as I introduce myself by what my nametape says , “Dawson”, only to have a team member address me as “Cole” a few seconds later.

Today was church, what an impacting experience. I’m blessed to say that my job at this stage in my life is working at Riverwood, and I absolutely unreservedly love it with all I have in me. However, that means I don’t often get the chance to visit other churches. I was excited this morning, while missing my Riverwood family all the same. The worship style was intensely candid and refreshingly raw. The Swazi’s worship without any regard of what people might think, welcome with zeal, and are bold in their thankfulness beyond compare. Westerners can learn from them. I learned from them.

In Genesis 32 we are given a rather deep imagery of Jacob wrestling with God all night long in seek of blessing, then to have God willingly relent in the morning, blessing Jacob as he was wanting. What we see in the Swazi spirit at church is precisely this. They have bold faith as they wrestle with God, bringing all their struggles, worries, shouts, and praises to Him. Frowns and smiles alike, they don’t let go of God, they are aggressively devoted to what He is doing, and fiercely seeking His presence. This is not a greedy fight for them, they are not out for material gain. They wrestle with God until he comes and fills their souls, their love for the Lord runs so deep that they have courage to wrestle with the Lord until He comes. What an example.

What I learned from worshipping in Swaziland is that my mission for the years I will be given is this: Grab onto God, wrestle with Him and do not let go until I have spent my last breath making disciples. Amen. – Cole

13 thoughts on “Swazi Church!

  1. Lovely images. What an amazing experience to truly worship as a global community. God is so good! Miss you, enjoy what’s left of your time and come home safe. Keriann, know small group is lifting you up in prayer and we will miss you Monday night! ❤️

  2. Enjoy so much the wonderful pictures–all so beautiful in blue. thanks for transporting us there with your words and pictures. i send my love to all and prayers for this next week of being in Swazi and travelling home. Jon–love the hat and the coffee moustache–love you too. Mom (Sue)

  3. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day of worshipping with the Enaleni Church family. Your words make it soo alive to us at home.
    Enjoyed your message to us at church this morning. What a great way to make feel us feel that we are experiencing Swazi with you.
    Have a great 2 days with our special friends at the care points.
    The lord is doing great work thru all of you.

  4. Dawn, I am over-the-moon excited that you connected with your young man! The smile on your face says it all! What a God moment! To the rest of the team, thank you for including us on this journey and loving on our special friend!💞

  5. Well Jordan, I had my first blog induced meltdown today. It was the picture of you and Sabsile that did me in. My Swazi mother! I’m grateful beyond words that you were able to connect with her and broken hearted to be so far away. I can’t wait to talk to you about this day.

    Thanks so much to everyone who shared; Jon, David, Dawn and Cole. Your stories and insights were so appreciated! There are things I would love to say to each of you, but I will save them for when I see you all next.

    Russ has mentioned the money in his wallet several times now. Attempts to find out more about this imaginary money have revealed the following: He is getting the money from Clifford the big red dog, but Clifford does NOT have a wallet of his own.

    Take care everyone. I’m praying that you will be able to make the most of these last days, that God will give you the physical, spiritual and emotional strength to finish strong and drink in every moment.

  6. I can’t get over the pic of josh and krista that jon took I guess after the church. All in nice white shirts. I had to do a double take as I thought it was me and krista. He looks so much older. Seriously. And something about his face. He looks so happy and full of joy. Definitely seems like a change has taken place. A humbled confidence i think. I am thrilled.

    I had taken about 2 hours to write a post here after I saw the most recent blog addition. This post I had written was awesome. It was so good that I think it would have gone down as the most emotional, passionate and encouraging post anyone would ever had read especially to krista and josh.
    It would have been longer and just as funny as any of Oulton’s posts.
    It would have been just as passionate and maybe even cheesier then Riverwoodrev’s
    It would have been just as encouraging and fatherly as Favell’s
    It would have been as cute as any Anonymous’s
    and It would have been just as wise as Atcheadale’s.
    Alas it was deleted.

    Have a great day at the care points monday and tuesday.

    Krista and Josh…..Your literally beaming!!

  7. there are times when I have no words or few. I am so speachless after reading about the service. So glad that Dawn met Shilangu, trying very hard not to shed a tear on my iPhone reading about his story.

    Incredible to know the power of prayer.

  8. of course we are thinking of and praying for all of you…the Riverwood Team …. and how all of you serve the people you meet there… encouraging them and making them feel very special….thanks for doing that…we read of your experiences and look forward to the new posts every day…(Dawn, your story about Sihlangu was really good to read about)…and I always look forward to the posts from that guy named Dawson ?…or Cole ? …or whatever his name is…

  9. What an amazing day! Thank you for sharing. The words that truly stuck out for me is the ” wrestle with God” What power. I cannot even imagine being part of such a faith. I know myself, I doubt, I often cry out repeatedly but so many times I do wrestle with God and he Always shows up… When I hear of the amazing men, women and children that really just sing and praise… I cannot even imagine. It gave me goosebumps to even begin to imagine the power in their prayer, their faith and their tenacity in continuously seek out God in all triumphs and trials…thank you for sharing in such a powerful day! I am truly enjoying this journey and one day hope to be there with ” the team” Hang in their troop! The last few days will pack alot of punches, emotions probably like never before. I know all of your hearts are being filled and I pray for the rest of the trip to be even better than the first week! Huggin you all from Canada! Be safe and be brave .. sleep well all! PS.. please hug my sister especially tight for me! xox ( Keriann)

  10. Well, team! Welcome to the growing number of Canadian Swazis! The time at Enaleni Church is always a highlight to read about, and I’m glad that you had an incredible experience there! Did anyone fall asleep during Jon’s message? How many times did you give an offering?

    David! I love reading about Jim. I’m glad that he’s continuing to worship despite his illness. And I’m glad that he’s continuing to inspire and encourage others to worship. Truly a worship leader. My encouragement to you is to bring back the passion you experienced in Swazi to Winnipeg. Many people are desperately in need of that passion, and you can encourage and inspire them just as Jim has done for you!

    Dawn! I’m glad to see and hear that you took my advice to heart and that you’re drinking in this whole experience! I’m also glad that you were reunited with your boy. Your faithfulness and persistence paid off! Not only were you reunited, but your faithfulness in prayer and care for him has helped lay a foundation of faith for him. And because of the care of many people like you, he’s now going to minister to even more people! Love it!

    Cole! Your names cause endless confusion to Swazis and Canadians alike haha. I loved reading your reflection on Swazi church and the story of Jacob. It’s my prayer that you would remember this experience on the hard days, the days when faith becomes a little more difficult. I hope that you will continue to wrestle for greater measures of faith. I’m so proud of you. I love seeing the photos of you engaging and know that we missed you back here, but I’m glad that you got to spend time at Enaleni! I can’t wait to hear all about it! And now we have matching flags. Maybe we should wear them to work one day? Hahahaha. Love you buddy!

    Well, Team! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures! Enjoy these last days. Love you all!


  11. It looks like you had an amazing time and it was great to see you, if even for a brief moment, back here in Manitoba at Riverwood. You’ll have so much to tell us when you return and you still have time left before you start the long journey back home. Elliot and Allegra have been good while you’ve been gone with no major issues (hopefully not saving them up for you!). We’re off to the pool right away so we’ll share some pictures and hopefully chat properly later. Love you.

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