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.
We 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.
After 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.
The 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!
Fast 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