After a late arrival and settling into our guest home, our first night in Swaziland gave everyone a chance to catch up on some long awaiting horizontal sleeping. This morning we awoke with a renewed sense of energy and ready to experience church together. Yesterday we discovered an exciting opportunity to participate in two church services today. Pastor Peter and Precious have been in the process of starting a church that meets near the Bhobokazi careppoint on Sunday mornings before heading over to Enaleni for their service. They are going multi-site 🙂
Without knowing what to expect, we discovered that this potential church has been meeting under a tree off the road next to Bhobokazi. We were invited to join in and what an experience! As we gathered with a handful of people circled around the large shade tree we joined in as they worshipped, prayed and shared the word. It was a powerful experience and one that in our first minutes of this trip have already marked us. We witnessed a powerful move of God being demonstrated as those gathering from the community were given an invitation to be prayed for. What a remarkable thing to be invited into and to be a part of this! There are some powerful words reflecting on this experience below.
Following church under the shade tree, we headed off to Enaleni for church there. Once again, words are hard to find in explaining what a privilege and beautiful experience it is joining together in worship with our brothers and sisters here! We truly feel honoured to be representing Riverwood in what has become a kindred connection with a worship community on the other side of the world. It was great to sit under Pastor Peter’s teaching together and also to hear of their excitement they have for next Sunday as we prepare for our 10-year celebration when Todd and his crew join us. We can’t wait!
Following church we headed out for a quick visit to the local Swaziland market to buy gifts and keepsakes to bring home. Though it felt a bit strange to be at the market on our first day, today was the only day in our schedule with any time to make it there.
After arriving back at our guest house, we had our team orientation with the staff here, shared some supper together and then it was time to get to work. We had major unpacking to do with 1200 pounds of luggage to sort through and get organized for our first visit to Bhobokazi carepoint tomorrow.
It was also at this point in our day that we had to navigate a more difficult event as one of our team members had clearly developed an issue that needed some medical attention. Dealing with some sudden and severe swelling on her ankle, and with the help of our nurses and trained medical team members, we decided that the symptoms were pointing to a returned infection that had previously been treated. Without attention, we feared the consequences could get serious. We carried some uncertainty of what type of medical care we would be able to find on a Sunday evening here in Swaziland but with the help of our trip hosts, set out for the local clinic. An overnight bag was packed as we didn’t know how long it would take to see someone. The rest of our team rallied around and prayed while we went for help. Let me tell you it was a remarkable experience as we rolled up on the emergency clinic. Within 10 minutes we had been admitted and were seeing a doctor.
Within 30 minutes we had a diagnosis and within 45 minutes we were walking out with prescriptions filled and with much relief knowing that what could have been a precarious situation was now on its way to being resolved. We were so grateful! On a lighter note, we now joke about the giant sign as we rolled into the emergency clinic that was there to greet us….clearly they use the term differently that we do!
After the team celebrated the results and breathed a sigh of relief, we resumed working and preparing for our day tomorrow. Now, as I write this, all our bags are packed, our team is sleeping, and we carry a deep sense of God’s care for us in all that we have seen and experienced today. We can’t wait to see our Bhobokazi kids! Until tomorrow!
Today we had church under the tree in Bhobo in then went to regular church in Enaleni. Church under the tree in Bhobo was such a profound experience.
The church there had started meeting about three months ago, pastored by Peter and Precious. When we arrived it was about 30 people, kids included, literally under the shade of a tree. Worshipping, gathered in a circle. It was hot, and a lot of the situations that these people were coming from I’m sure made them even more wet with tears.
We didn’t need lights
We didn’t need seats
We didn’t need coffee
We didn’t even need a building
What we absolutely did need, was Jesus.
I will be convinced after today for the rest of my life that the only Name that could ever cause people to find fulfillment in gathering under a tree in +30C in the middle of Africa with total vulnerability and complete service to each other, is the name of Jesus. And to top it all of they were in a circle. What an incredible picture. The body of Christ, gathered under a tree, watching over each other, and asking to Jesus to watch over them all. Worshipping, sweating, learning, crying, gazing, all for the name of Jesus. All that is needed is Jesus.
If Jesus is all we need to do church, then the reality is scary: As soon as Jesus is taken out of the spotlight, the church ceases to exist. That was a lesson refreshed in my head today. As I look toward bible school in the next year of my life, perhaps that was the most important lesson I could have learned.
I am once again grateful for the rawness of which the people of eSwatini worship and gather. – COLE