Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Swaziland Day 5 - All Different Directions

Well, we are now at Wednesday on our trip.  This day was a bit unique because our team was dispersed to various locations.  We started the day by sending off the guys to Nsoko.  Holly was going to do some teacher training at one of the carepoints, and Abby and I were spending the day helping Kriek with some office work.  

At the carepoint where Holly did her teacher training
 This cracked me up!
 This Is Africa!  A common sight we see.
 Teachers are arriving
Holly and Kriek
 Holly has done teacher training for these women 6 times on 6 different trips!!  She had developed a relationship with them.  As we were preparing for this trip, we were told they had missed Holly and her training days.
These women will teach as many as 60 children without much help!
 Goody bags of supplies and treats Holly put together for the women
 The teacher training lasted for several hours.  Holly did icebreakers with the women.  Listened to their concerns and struggles as teachers and helped them problem solve.  She brought along very practical activities and the supplies for those that the women can use in teaching their preschoolers.  They ate a yummy lunch of chicken dust.  The time went really well!!
After dropping off Holly, we made a stop at the Corner Bakery for a cream doughnut!
Delightful as always!
 Rick, Chip and Joe headed to Nsoko.  They had plans to visit some carepoints there and do some home visits.  At the home visits, we always deliver some basic food and essential for life.  It is always so impacting to sit down with someone at their home and hear their story.  
Chip and Joe with the home visit supplies

Speaking of stories, I would like to introduce you to Fortunate.  We heard a bit of this woman's story 3 1/2 years ago.  Rick and I connected with her and hoped to meet her.  When I heard her story, it gave me a possible glimpse of Isaiah and Laila's Swazi mom.  These two women are the same age with many of the same life circumstances.  I believe Fortunate is a good representation of many women in Swaziland.  She is sick, has a family she loves desperately, and they have great needs.   
Fortunate 3 years ago when Rick and the team met her
They took her a blanket and food supplies for their home.  I think everyone on that trip was impacted by their time with her
 We weren't even sure if she would still be alive.  She was so sick when they visited her 3 years ago.  Guess what?  She is and she seems to be doing well.  Rick was so thankful for the opportunity to connect with her and her family.
 This is a good view of a typical Swazi homestead.  
 The guys also visited some carepoints.  This is one of them.  
 A carepoint is a place for children to come, receive food, have some physical needs met, sometimes get an education, learn about Jesus and be discipled, and be a part of a community rather than on their own.  It is a safe haven for them.  Women, called Gogos or Bomake prepare the food for the children.  Many of these women have even taken children into their home to care for them.  

In the afternoon, the guys met up for a mini pastor's conference at the Bible college with 28 pastors.  This is a group of men that Rick has been investing in for 6 years.  It is always a time for encouragement for Rick and the pastors as they connect about their ministries, their lives, their struggles, and their joys.  There is just something about that common bond of ministry that crosses cultural barriers.  It is a calling that connects us regardless of where we live.  Rick, Chip, and Joe were able to invest in those men, and be invested in by those men.  I do not have any pictures to share of their time.  Rick didn't take any on his camera.  Rick came away encouraged by the opportunity to relaunch this ministry and hopes to continue to connect with these men on future trips.  

While all of that was going on, we were at Kriek's house doing some work, too.  Kriek is over all the administrative details involved in the ministries to the carepoints.  It is a lot of work.  We were able to assist her with some projects for the day.  
 Abby is working on samples for the carepoints to use when they do an upcoming craft project.  
 I love spending time with these two!!
We had a little lunch date.  Clara had her first Grapetiser.!!  This was Abby's favorite drink on the trip.
 I had quite the drink.  I cannot tell you what it was called, but it was like an appetizer and drink all mixed into one.  The only way I know to describe it is a salad of apples and cucumbers in a club soda with some lemonade and passionfruit.  It was REALLY YUMMY!!
 That night we went to my new favorite place to eat in Swaziland.  It was a pizza place and the atmosphere was out of this world.  The food was pretty good, too!!  Best pizza I have ever had in Swaziland.  We were sitting outside with this as our view!
 I don't know what it was about these trees, but I absolutely love them.  
 It was so peaceful and tranquil, and at one point, there was even a monkey moving around out there!
 The whole crew!  
 Oh, did I mention that they had dark chocolate breadsticks that you dip in vanilla ice cream?!?!  Oh, yes they did!!
The girls! 
 It was so great that the missionary families had girls for Abby to hang out with at our evening meals.  
Can you see why I said this trip was so much about relationship?  That is one of my big takeaways.  God showed us how 7 years of investment develops relationship beyond just acquaintances or "come in, help, and leave" type relationships.  I would call many people in Swaziland my friends.  That leads to trust.  That leads to deeper community.  That leads to reciprocity in ministry which we experienced more than ever before.  That makes it even harder to say good bye!

Don't worry, the trip is not over yet!!  I still have 2 more days of ministry to share!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Swaziland - Day 4 - So Much Hope!

I just need to start this post by saying what a rock star this girl was on this trip!!
She faced some challenges with jeg lag, her gluten free diet, a crazy schedule, culture shock, and lots of time with only us boring adults.  She was so much fun to be around and really added value to our team
Here she is ready to go for Day 4!
 Morning breakfast with the team at Asante
 I did not get my camera out much on this trip.  Every time I thought to, I saw at least 2 others around me taking pictures and thought, "I will just get their pics when we return."  I still plan to do that, but at this point I haven't.  So, I will have to describe a few things in this post without the pics to go along with it.  Maybe I can add them in later!  I will admit, it was nice to just "be" in the moment and not feel like I had to capture it in pictures.

On Day 4, we headed to Children's Cup's Global Leadership Academy.  This is an amazing 9-month program that takes mostly college-aged Swazi men and women who have demonstrated leadership and responsibility.  There are currently 28 students in the program.  They will "graduate" in the middle of November.  They have spent their time being discipled spiritually and trained in very practical life application skills.  They have responsibilities they must fulfill.  They live in community with the other participants.  They take classes.  They rotate preparing and cleaning up for meals.  They participate in sustainability projects.  You can see some testimonies here.

I want to create a picture for you in your mind.  Our arrival at the GLA campus was really spectacular.  Rick has been there before, but this was my first visit.  I did not know what to expect.  As we were driving up to the grounds, all of the students were lined up waiting for us.  They were jumping up and down cheering for us.  It was quite the welcome and really represented the spirit of this place.  They immediately welcomed us with open arms.  It was such a place of joy and love.

Our time started with one of the most amazing worship experiences I have ever had.  We gathered in a huge circle.  People would randomly break out in song.  We would sing, and all I could do is shut my eyes and praise God for the amazing work He has done in the lives all around me.  Then we took some time where our team shared words of encouragement.  After that we had the privilege of hearing testimonies from the students.  It was so powerful to hear all that God has done in their lives.  I could see the future of Swaziland in these leaders and it was so bright!!

They took us on a tour of their dorms and campus.  It really was a beautiful place.
The round buildings are their dorms.  They have really nice quarters and sleep two to a room.  They each have their own bed, desk, and closet space.  Their rooms were spotless!  
 We were able to see the various sustainability projects they are working on that they hope to duplicate at homesteads.  This is a tilapia farm/garden system they are trying.
 The small pond of tilapia creates what is needed to grow the tomato plants without any dirt.  
 The tilapia will reproduce and can be sold while the vegetables grown can also be eaten or sold.
 Each student helps with the garden they are growing. 
 The food produced is used in the meals they prepare.
 I was so impressed with everything about this program.  I know that God's Hand is all over this.

In the afternoon, the guys and girls split up to do our own things.  Holly, Abby, and I headed over to the McAdams house to hang out while the guys went to visit some sustainability projects.

This is sweet Mukelo(a.k.a. Mumu).  She is 3 years old and is the foster child of the McAdams family.  She is such a little sweetheart.  They love her so well!
 I have waited for this day:  sitting with Amy in her home, drinking sweet tea, and chatting about life.  So fun!!
 We spent the afternoon chatting and working in the kitchen.  The McAdams were hosting our team and another team(surprisingly, also from Colorado Springs) in their home for dinner that night.  They were expecting about 40 people.  Abby got to spend the afternoon with her girls which I am sure was a much needed break for her from us boring adults!!

There is just something about working in the kitchen together with other women that fills my love bucket.  It just feels like community to me.  We had a Swazi meal of Fat Cakes.  They are basically a doughnut that you split open and eat like a Sloppy Joe with a ground beef mixture or you put jam or syrup with shredded cheese on it.  It was surprisingly good!!

Thank you, Amy, for letting us invade your home for the afternoon and evening!!  I can't wait to come over again!!

The guys headed out to see the farms that have been growing and providing food for the carepoints.

A few years ago, Beyond Survival invested in some land to begin a Rose Geranium Farm that we hoped would be a great sustainability project.  We are excited to share that this project has provided 20 jobs and $25,000 in school fees for kids who would not be able to go to school otherwise!!
Here is a picture of the farm.
 The oil is extracted from the plants and sold to be used as a base in perfumes.  The beauty of this plant is that it can be harvested every 6-8 weeks throughout the year and grows very well in the climate of Swaziland.  You can read more about Project H2H here.
They have also begun using some of the land to grow crops.
Cabbages grow to amazing proportions here!
 That is one beautiful cabbage!!
 They are also growing corn and are hoping to try strawberries soon!
 There is a pump in this water to use as irrigation for the crops
 I just love this pic
 Spring truly is a beautiful time of year in Swaziland!
Can you see the purple Jacaranda tree in this pic?
We could see them everywhere we went!

A rare moment of internet in our room.
I had to capture it!
 Our evening meal at the McAdams!
It was so great to see our friend, Elliott(next to Abby)
 We loved seeing our friend, Julie(on the right) and
 meeting the interns who are currently serving with AIM
 Joe and Holly
 Right after this pic, I just had to pick Mumu up and hold her.  Precious!
 Jumbo and Steve
Every day, I would think, "How can it get any better than this?"  Every day brought new adventures that amazed me more.  Just when I thought I couldn't possibly love Swaziland any more, I fell in love with new things about this amazing country!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Swaziland - Day 3 - I'm In Love!

Monday of our trip was a day that was 7 years in the making for me.  Since Rick went on his first trip to Africa in '06, I have dreamed of meeting Robyn and Gerry Richter and the babies of ABC Ministry(Abandoned Babies for Christ).  There is a lot of despair that we see in Swaziland, but this is a place of HOPE!  The visit was all I hoped it would be and more!

Robyn and Gerry have literally committed their lives to loving and providing a home to the abandoned babies of Swaziland.  They provide a family for these babies with the desire that they will be adopted into forever families some day. 

Let me introduce you to Alex.  When we walked into their home, we were greeted by this little man with a big, "Hallo!"  He was such a cutie pie with a big personality.  I just love this pic of him in a pair of the jammies we got him.   
 Abby and Barry
Barry and me.  He is "Barry" cute!!
Robyn shared the whole story of how ABC came to be.  They did not choose this ministry.  God chose them and they have been obedient to follow Him each step of the way.  The thing I love about Robyn and Gerry is that they did not look the other way when they saw needs.  It is through the faithfulness in the little things that God has done some really big things with their lives.  
Robyn and April
Watching Robyn and her Aunties with these babies was such a treat!  They love them so well!
I just love everything about babies and these were no exception.  They smelled so good, just like babies should!  I could not get enough of these little love bugs!
Robyn and Gerry have cared for over 290 babies!!  Now that is a legacy for sure.
I want to be just like them when I grow up!!
Holly and Barry
(Holly was eating every minute of this up!)
Tino, the Man
A close up of little Tino.  So presh!
Joe hanging out with Ketura, Robyn and Gerry's 5 year old daughter.  
One more cuddly picture
Our time there flew by.  Rick had to make me leave.  I will never forget the love that I could tangibly feel and see in this place.  I want to be a part of what God is doing through Robyn, Gerry and all of ABC Ministries.  The one comfort that I had as we left is that we were going to stop by on our way out of town on Sat.  I pray for many more opportunities to see the work that they are doing!!