It is always a daunting task to put down in words the experiences of a first day at the carepoints on these trips. Tonight as we gathered together as a team to share our stories of the day, we were filled with so much gratitude and emotion over what we experienced. It never fails to be an overwhelming experience for both first timers and old timers as we experience the impact of the community to community connections we have forged over the past decade. Each year, it just gets more powerful, more meaningful, and more kindred.
How great it was to step foot on the Bhobokazi carepoint again! To take our first steps off the bus and be surrounded by children with beaming smiles, ready to tackle us with hugs and laughter. To watch the eyes and faces of our first-time participants as they were welcomed and embraced, stepping into the many footprints of relationship built by countless others. It really is something that can’t quite be explained….to meet these children and go-go’s for the first time but to be given the gift of feeling like you have years of history. We watched as some of our team met their special friends for the first time….moments they will be marked by for the rest of their lives. We also witnessed the privilege and joy found in those that have been before hearing their names called out with excited eyes and a child running to greet them.
As we shared together tonight, we couldn’t help but be moved to tears as we reflected on the remarkable story we are a part of. Looking out into the sea of children….and there were so many….we get to see potential and hope. These kids have the opportunity to grow up with enough food to eat, access to education, clean water, and to learn the incredible value they have to God. We get the privilege of looking them in the eye and telling them we….not just the 21 of us here now….or the 4 joining us in a few days….but the entire Riverwood community LOVE THEM ENOUGH to fly across the world to visit them and to keep investing in them year after year. We get the to not just help these kids but to know them.
Today was an awesome day. From the dance-off competition circle, to the joyous sounds of a sea of kids singing at the top of their lungs….from the loving embrace of Gracie the Go-Go, to the piggy backs and shoulder rides….from the meaningful opportunity to visit a homestead in need and bring help, to hearing one of the young ladies that grew up at the carepoint tell her story of graduating from university because of the investment that Bhobhokazi has made in her life….our hearts are beyond full and as always happens, we are two days in and feel like our arrival into Swaziland was a lifetime ago. Hopefully the pictures can give you a window into our day. Below are a few reflections from our team of the day. Thanks for joining in with us! – Jon
This is my first time in Swaziland and today was the team’s first day at the Bhobokazi Carepoint. From the moment we stepped out of the van, we were greeted by loving little children that were waiting eagerly to hold our hands and be with us. There was so much love and acceptance in the air. When the children were assembled with all of us and the shepherds, we were asked to each introduce ourselves by name and the children shouted “Hi! ______(our name)” for each of us. This really choked me up! I had the opportunity to stand facing the entire group, holding the cards with the song lyrics and demonstrating the actions. I was in awe with what I saw: excited children so eager to participate with eyes shining and faces glowing, praising Jesus. This moment filled me with such joy and it was a day I will always treasure. – Dolores
Today was an incredibly meaningful day for me. My family has had the privilege of sponsoring a young man at Bhobokazi for the last 9 years. I have vivid memories of tucking my kids in at night, joining them in prayer for a young boy that became so special to us. As a family we dreamed of one of us taking part in the Swazi trip one day. This year I was able to take the trip and today I met our special friend…it’s hard to put into words what the experience was like. I’m trying really hard not to get tears on Jon’s laptop. To see his face, to give him a hug and sit and talk about his life, well…it was pretty incredible. Rob, Olivia and Ryan, I wish you had been here with me! I miss you all so much and look forward to seeing you and filling you in on this incredible adventure I’ve had the privilege to be on. Before I go I want to say a big hello to all of my students! I miss seeing your smiling faces every morning and afternoon. I hope you are enjoying all of the pictures on the blog! I love knowing that I am just a little closer to where many of you used to live before you moved to Canada. See you soon! ☺ Krista
As I stood listening to Jon give the opening dialogue to our teen session my mind was trying to come up with something relevant that I could share. We were at Bhobokazi Care Point addressing the teens that once were kids when I first started traveling to Swaziland eight years ago. I shared from a time in my life when trying to make friends lead me to making some poor choices while trying to impress the crowd I wanted to so badly be a part of. Later as we were reflecting on the day I realized that our time is running out. These young adults are at a point where they will be making life choices that will take them to the next stage of life. What a gift to be able to give them tools that will help them navigate life’s roads. We can only pray that God will protect them from delusions the world will offer. The verse we shared with them today was from Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Bryan