Weekend Warriors and a loss for words.

It is overwhelming to attempt to put into words the day we have had. I think we have experienced some things today that we truly cannot communicate because they are so interwoven with the shared team experience….but what I certainly can say is that today our emotions ran deep. Welcoming Todd & his “weekend warriors” was certainly a highlight today. We had fun creating a welcoming commitee of a sea of kids singing and dancing to their arrival.  Today was our “FUN DAY” at Bhobokazi. A day full of celebration, food, cupcakes, gifts, bouncy castles, and just beautiful connection with our kids as we shared our last day at the Bhobokazi carepoint. While it was hotter than words can describe, it was a fantastic day!

The kids at the carepoint shared some things with us today that was pretty fun to be a part of! The carepoint choir sang, they showed off some skills including a rapper, some pretty great dances, and a demonstration of a traditional cultural dance. Very cool experience.

Our teams hijacking of the blog yesterday was incredibly moving for both Carolyn & I. It is a pretty amazing team we have here.

During our debrief, though these words can’t quite give it the weight it carried in the room, we discovered just how deep this experience is. We shared more tears than we thought possible after a day of sweating our faces off. Many things contribute to this….Todd joining us and being reminded of the very first moments we shared here in Swaziland 10 years ago….we were moved together. We recalled the hundreds that have gone before us to pave the way for an unexplainable connection between two communities 15,000km apart. Remembering the moments the first team in 2009 stepped foot on Bhobokazi….a carepoint that was labeled “the forgotten carepoint” with a small dilapidated building and weeds and cacti overgrown. Now seeing it vibrant with more kids than we can count and the life that is emerging from this place. What a gift to spend today with them!

While I could write 100 stories from our day, I need to get out of the way and let the team speak. Some pretty significant things to hear from our group led by two young men that are pretty remarkable and have been such a gift to our team. See you tomorrow at Enaleni.

TEAM REFLECTIONS:

I am not a very open person. I tend to build a wall when I meet someone new and guard my emotions; and fill my conversations with very little “meat”. There are few people that I feel comfortable being open with; and for a while, God was not one of those people. That is something that I have been working on in my relationships with others.

Over the past few months, I have been attending church far more regularly then I have in a while, but when my parents first suggested this trip to me, I was skeptical; I would be leaving my routine and going outside of my comfort zone and pushing myself in terms of being vulnerable with others. Total strangers. I mean I only, really knew (outside of my own family), a handful of people at church in an intimate way. I was not ready for this trip. But, I knew that it would be good for me; and so I pushed myself. Here I am now, typing my portion of the group’s daily blog.

This trip has been inspiring in so many different ways. I have so many bold and passionate believers surrounding me, and I must say that it is something to behold. Not only are the people who have travelled with me on this trip changing me; but the people who we came for on this trip as well. I met my family’s special friend; I learnt that him and I have some similarities in music taste and extra curricular hobbies. On top of that I have met other great individuals who happen to be quite a few years younger than me. By like, a lot of years! God has given me a sense of purpose and belonging on this trip. He has given it to me in ways that I would not even expect.

The other day at one of the care points, I was leading a small group in their colouring activities; and in that moment just watching them colour so peacefully, I had the greatest sense of belonging. God had planned out my life so far, to lead up to this moment where I would be sitting here with these kids and loving them so deeply. All I was doing was watching and helping them with their activity booklets; but the sense of meaning was ever so strong. This whole week has been filled with moments like those.

One thing that I really struggle with is a deep pit of emptiness that I feel every now and then; it is not a great feeling. This trip has been a polar opposite to those moments and I can only believe that God is reason behind it. I am not perfect, and not at all deserving of God’s love but He chooses to anyways. God has used the people I have travelled with and the people that I have travelled to; to show me that I have meaning, that I have value, that I am useful. All I can do is thank; all those on this trip with me, my family and friends back home, and the wonderful children whose presence alone has impacted me so intensely. All I can do it thank them for such an amazing experience. Truly life changing and empowering.

Sidenote: It is really hard to capture and express all the feelings and emotions that one feels on one of these trips in words, but hopefully I did it a little justice! Second Sidenote: Dad I apology for any grammar or spelling mistakes! I did my best haha! – Tom

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As our time at Bhobokazi came to an end today, I think about how different I felt getting onto the bus today compared to the first time I got off the bus when we arrived earlier this week. I didn’t know what to expect. I was slightly nervous, as I had never worked with children before, not to mention children who spoke a different language. However, our time here was truly an experience. Today when we arrived I felt so comfortable and welcomed. Kids I had spent time with throughout our previous visits rushed up to greet me and hang off my arms, and climb up my shoulders.

They wanted to show me around, play games with me, and show off to me how strong they were. Every one of them seemed to want a turn to ride on my shoulders. I felt like a big brother to them, which is always an experience I’ve wanted to feel, growing up with two sisters. They looked up to me and it was really heart warming. As we did out daily singing I looked out at the sea of kids while I did the actions for the songs. I couldn’t help but smile as they sang along. I also wanted to laugh at how adorable the kids in the front were with straight faces, determined to make sure they had the actions down 100%. There’s definitely a special feeling I got when I heard all of them belt out the lyrics to Light of the World. It really is a special place and hopefully in a year’s time, I can come back to Bhobokazi and say hello to my old friends and see how they’ve grown. – Jordan

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Today I am writing from the perspective of one of the so named ‘weekend warriors’. We left Winnipeg on Wednesday morning, went pretty much 42 hours non-stop till Friday afternoon (eSwatini time but early Friday for Winnipeg), running with some in the tank but pretty much running on fumes. As we approached Bhobokazi somehow, mysteriously, our tank was filling fast and as we pulled up to the gate we saw all the kids, shepherds and our team lined up inside the compound clapping and singing very loudly and enthusiastically. It was around noon and it was oppressively hot and the team’s last day at this carepoint. They had been here all week giving up everything for days in this heat and were surely drained but there they were, digging deeper still to let us know that they were excited to be joined by us and having the kids join in on the fun. Well, our emotional tank was now filled and, after high fives and hugs all around we went back to the party that was happening, a team complete.

This to me is the perfect illustration of what is happening in God’s mind and God’s plan for us. Imagine when we get to heaven and we pull up to see many, many saints, angels and Jesus himself singing and clapping, giving high fives and hugs and then going back to the eternal party that heaven will be.

One of the reasons I had come was to meet my special friend whom I had never met before. I couldn’t believe it when they said that she is here and there we were, her and I, face to face. I think she didn’t quite grasp what was going on but with an interpreter we were introduced. I left the meeting to God and asked him to just do what he will from there. Later I sat with her as she made her craft (a cute tea towel with stars) and then moved on. Just as the day was wrapping up and I was hanging around by the gate watching kids leave there was a tap on my leg and there was my friend, come to say goodbye. As a finale, I showed her the little container I had in my pocket filled with the sand from the spot where her and I first met. Through interpretation I explained that the soil would be put on display in my house and when I see it I will think of her and will pray for her. She looked somewhat surprised and said thank you.

Some may ask why we would jump on three airplanes across half the planet and drive five hours in a van and go back home the same way for just one weekend. This is partly why. It is not at all crazy but rather one of the sanest decisions to be made. Thank you to the team for welcoming from the heart and to all who have gone before for the past ten years to bring us to this point. It won’t be long till someone else’ tank will be filled and they will be here to party with these children. Here’s to that and so much more. – Jos G

10 thoughts on “Weekend Warriors and a loss for words.

  1. Tom- you don’t know me but I wanted to thank you for being open to what God has in store for you. What a blessing to step out of your comfort zone and just let God lead you. Wow. I’m sure your parents are very proud.
    Welcome weekend warriors!! It’s so great to see Todd, Carolyn and Jon in Swaziland together. What a beautiful experience for you all!!
    I love reading about the experiences and I look forward to it every day. I’m praying for you all as you finish off your trip. That as you get exhausted and your mind starts to shift to home that you will still be bound together in friendship. Until tomorrow… Sleep well!! Keriann

  2. I look forward, everyday, to what new adventures, heart treasure, special nugget that we will discover from each of you on this trip. Each time, I am moved to tears. It’s obvious that you are all changed by your experiences with the children, Gogo’s and families that you meet. How can you not? God has lead you there! Brenda, my friend, you look truly happy when you are there. This is your calling. Your passion. It shows. Dolores, you look like you’re having such a good time and there’s a peace about you when I see your picture. Love your pictures on Facebook. I can’t wait to here of your experiences!

    I can’t wait to see all of you when you return. Safe travels home!

  3. Wow Jesus is so good! How incredible it is to see God’s faithfulness continue through this ministry. Praying and thinking of all of you! I love hearing these updates about how God is moving and using each and every person. He has a plan for each and every one of you on this trip. Keep leaning in and seeking more! There is ALWAYS MORE when it comes to Jesus!

  4. Hello Everyone,
    Thinking of you all and lifting you up in prayer. Praying that the Lord will equip you with whatever you need to be His hands and feet. I am reminded that the most important thing of all is love. To see the smiles on so many faces and the longing to be embraced, hugged, and cared for.is what is so important. Keep up the good work despite the heat, the tiredness, God will give you what you need and so much more. Way to go.
    Will continue to keep you all in prayer.
    Blessings,
    Angie Ladyshewsky.

  5. Sounds like quite a party! And I guess by the time you read this you will have wrapped up a second one at Enalani. It has been great journeying with all of you through the stories you’ve shared on the blog. Tom, Jordan, and Jos, thank you for sharing today. I look forward hearing a few more stories before you head home.

    Allison we are missing you here at home, but are so proud of you. You are the reason we have a Swazi family and it brings me so much joy seeing you with them. Give them many hugs from me.

  6. Wow another amazing down out in eSwatini. It has been such a wonderful experience again this year to journey with you all each day. The love and compassion pouring out of each one of you is so evident. Thomas we are so proud of you – opening yourself up to Jesus and being vulnerable. Seeing you and Jordan shine with the team has been amazing to see. We love you and continue to pray for each and everyone of you as you wrap up another amazing trip. I look forward to reading about the last day in Enaleni today and then the amazing services tomorrow.

  7. Thank You “SwaziTeam” for sharing these times with us back home..,(Our Great God is always working in our thoughts)… showing us what REALLY makes us happy…

  8. dear friends, Ingrid here.
    I could not follow along, scour all the posts and pictures, and miss the opportunity to say something. My dilemma is, if i start, how the heck will i stop. Sometimes it is better to absorb, observe, and PRAY.

    Thank-you all so very much, for giving everything. No need to ask you to hug more or LOVE hard on everyone you came in contact with, I know you did all that. Thank you all for responding and being a part of this team of 2018, and getting out of your boats. Now God is able to do the work in you that He wills, and to work through each of you and around you, for HIS Glory and HIS Kingdom. I look forward to hearing more and seeing the evidence of God’s power in your lives.

    Dana- One of the first pictures that caught my attention, and then held it, was you holding my girl! Temantfulini. That was the moment the dam broke, an outpouring of tears and laughter, mostly tears i admit. Thank-you for loving on her. She chose her friend well. I really enjoyed seeing you in the pictures, so much joy in your face. Beautiful.

    Leigh- I love seeing you there friend. Easy and natural, so in your element. Hope you are feeling good and continuing to heal, I have no doubt that God will care for you.

    Brenda-Thank-you for sharing with us and allowing us to enter into your personal experiences of grief and loss. I find it so amazing to think that after 10 years of building relationship in Swaziland, Riverwood was invited to share in the most profoundly personal experiences. What an honour and privilege.

    I think it might be too late, but if there is an opportunity yet, could someone greet my friend Wusile( the nurse) for me and give her a hug from me?

    Bless you all, you are all in our thoughts and prayers every day.
    We will see you soon.
    ingrid.

  9. Hi Team!

    And welcome Weekend Warriors! You made it! So glad to see you ALL together! And so glad to see that you got to enjoy beautiful Bhobokazi. I wish I could be there with all of you!

    Tom! I love the joy and the fulfillment you’ve found in Swaziland! Truly when we choose to live out what God has called us to, we find fulfillment. My encouragement to you is to continue to serve God when you come back to Winnipeg! It’ll look VERY different (and much colder haha) but you can find incredible fulfillment here, just as you have in Swaziland. Thank you for serving so well!

    Jordan! Well done serving as well! I also remember the change that I experienced from the first day to the last day at Bhobokazi. It’s amazing. And so often when we go on trips like this we assume that we will be giving so much to the people we meet and we are surprised when we find they give just as much back to us. You have witnessed that too. I hope that you can come back to Swazi soil and continue to lead and serve there. Good job!

    Jos! So cool to see you back at Bhobokazi! I wish I was there too! And what a cool experience getting to meet your special friend. A memory you’ll treasure for many years I’m sure. Have you fallen asleep on the couches yet? Well done flying across the world for just a few days, it goes to show how deeply you love our friends in Swaziland.

    Well team! As you hear this I’m sure that it’s starting to sink in that this trip is in the last few days. And I’m sure the emotions are mixed. But know that what you have done so far will have impact long after you are gone. And look ahead at the days ahead! How can you give it even more! Empty yourself out and let God fill you back up again. Drink it all in, go hard and give it all you’ve got. I can’t wait to hear even more about your last days.

    Praying for all of you!

    Zach

  10. Beautiful pics of beautiful precious ones! Thank you all for your vulnerablity in sharing your journey with us! Means so much! Praying for you on this last leg of the journey.

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