Today was a Bhobokazi carepoint day, but it began much differently than any other day in the history of team trips to Swaziland. Our team of 21 began this day squeezed into a tiny room on a homestead where a family was grieving the loss of a husband, father and grandfather who had suddenly passed away a few days earlier. We entered the dark room silently and sat down on the floor. In the corner sat a woman, now a widow, completely covered in a blanket with 2 relatives at her side. Our heart broke for this woman, whose face we could not see but whose heartbreak and cries we could hear! We sang, prayed, and read scripture, seeking to minister Christ’s compassion and care for her, while feeling very humbled that we had been invited into this home, during one of the most vulnerable times in the life of a woman and her family. As everyone got up to leave, a couple of us were asked to stay behind. The grieving widow took the blanket off her head. She looked much younger than I had imagined her to be when her face was still hidden. Her eyes were not only sad but had a look of longing and desperation. Life was hard before this loss and now in a matter of hours it had become even harder!
Riverwood – would you please join us in praying for this woman and her family? God says in Psalm 34:18 that He is close to the broken hearted and saves those whose spirits are crushed. Please pray that she and her family would feel that closeness, and experience His faithfulness in their lives in the days to come!
On every trip we are confronted with circumstances of deep sadness and also exuberant joy. Today this happened all in one day! An hour after our visit at the homestead, we were walking onto the grounds of Bhobokazi carepoint – some hearts still heavy but fully ready to engage in the activity and fun of a bunch of energetic kids, ready to play…
Here are some highlights from today…
#1 Our prayer time with the Bomake (ladies who cook at the CarePoint) the nurses and Elliot our bus driver; needs shared and brought before God’s throne of mercy and grace! Our Canadians did a great job praying Swazi style….everybody all at once
#2 So many games! Jenga, Twister, Perfection, Skip-Bo….so much fun
#3 Kelly, Mary & Allison climbing to the top of the trees with too many kids in tow!
#4 Some pretty fantastic lego masterpieces
#5 The emergence of the knitting crew (the kids love knitting!)….working on this years project – dishcloths
#6 Interactive Storytelling with the sounds of Angels and Sheep as the kids hear one of the greatest stories of Jesus birth!
#7 All of the older girls receiving “Days for Girls” kits for their “time of the month” so that they aren’t held back from going to school or taking part in activities
#8 And of course our excitement that Todd & his team (the “Weekenders”) have boarded their flight en route to join us on Friday afternoon!
Swazi Team 2018 are giving their all! We are so proud of the way each person is maximizing every moment; giving kids great experiences, sharing love, truth and prayers, while not holding back from also entering into people’s pain and difficulty! Thanks for your support, prayers and encouragement of this team! – Carolyn
Grief is Grief- Across the World Today as I sat with our team in the home of the widow, I experienced a myriad of thoughts and emotions. Memories of the loss of my dad and my husband flooded my mind and heart. As with the husband of the widow, my dad had died suddenly after being sick for just a few days. I had watched my mother as she grieved the loss of her life partner. I was struck by the similarities between the two widows and what they would have been feeling…what was their life going to look like? How would they be provided for? Would the pain ever go away? As the memories continued to swirl around in my head the parallels continued. As is the custom in Swazi culture the widow was sitting with her head and body entirely covered by a sheet. On either side of her sat a lady who faithfully waved the ends of the sheet to provide some relief from the extra heat that the covering would have caused. I felt that their sole thought was to just sit with their friend in the silence and share her pain and grief. Often there are no words; we are comforted by the PRESENCE. I know what it is to experience the love and comfort from friends and family in the early days of grief. My heart broke for the widow but I know where her help will come from! Psalm 121: 1-2 I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. She will walk in grief and be held up by friends and loved ones AND she will experience the comfort that only the Father can provide. I pray that she feels the Lord’s peace and presence as He holds her hand on every step of the journey. One day she will be able to share that same comfort to another. – Brenda
Once we arrived back at the guest house today I showered and went out to the balcony. The breeze was strong and no one was in sight. After a scorching hot day in very close quarters it was glorious, and it was exactly what I needed. I sat there revelling in my good fortune and took a few minutes to recharge. After a while another team member showed up and we started to chat. During our conversation he asked me, “What did you do today?” and I was startled to realize that I had no idea. What did I do? I didn’t play soccer or skip. I didn’t colour or paint. I didn’t do puzzles or play games or blow bubbles, although those things were happening all around me. I’ve done them all before and I’m sure I will again. But today I was just there. With the kids. We hugged and chatted and I wandered from place to place. I said bengikukhumbula (I missed you) and ngiyakutsandza (I love you). I built up existing relationships and formed new ones. Because my kids are growing up. My time with them is limited and I’m already missing some familiar faces this year. But although my friends will all move on from the care points eventually, I have confidence that I will not. Because eSwatini is in my soul. It is a part of me forever and I’m so grateful to have reached a place where I don’t feel a need to “do” or accomplish anything while I’m here. I can just be. I used to feel lost and stressed at any moment that I wasn’t actively engaging with the kids, and I feel like something finally clicked for me today. I will drink in every sight, and sound and smell. I will cherish the moments I have with the people that I love and store them up in my heart to carry me through until we meet again. – Allison
The Lord is so good and amazing!!! The moments our team has shared together cannot be explained in words. The Lord continues to amazes us daily. We have had so many highs and lows. The Lord continues provide the strength we need, the words to say, the love to share. I experienced an amazing moment this afternoon during my group session with 7 grade school children. They had been asked to journal what they where thankful to God for. One Grade 6 Student wrote the following that I would loved to share with you. It brought me to tears. “Dear God. Hello thank you God for protection and caring for me until this time. I thank God for protecting our friends in Canada. I also thank you God for supporting me in school and in times of sicknesses. Thank you my God for giving me friends that would teach me about you. I love you God and all the friends you have given me especially Kim and I Love him with Kailey and Jaret. I thank you God for sending your only son to die for our sins here on earth.” As you can see from this note this young girl is quite an amazing person. Thanks everyone for your love, prayers and words of encouragement to our 2018 Swaziteam. – Kim