24Jun

The Land of the Beautiful (My First Steps on Mkhombokati Soil)

Friends asked me, why did I want to go to Africa? And my response wasn’t the typical, to help people, to see the country, to make a difference. My answer was, unfortunately, I didn’t really want to go to Africa. But as much as I was trying to ignore it, there was something I was seeking, and without understanding why and how, I listened and decided I would be open to what I would find.

When you’re pulling up to the Care Point on the dirt road, there’s a million different emotions that I can’t begin to describe when first seeing the tiny little faces that are a blur because you notice their torn, ragged clothes, dirty hair, calloused and shoeless foot. I hear the laughter from their voices and now focus on their smile that stretched from ear to ear as they are running and waving alongside the bus. When the bus stops and they are lined outside the door, I get a closer look at their cuts and bloody knees, the bellies that look like they haven’t eaten in weeks, and their eyes that look sad and lost. I step off the bus, slowly and cautiously, as if I might scare the kids away, but really I’m the one who is terrified. “Will they like me? Will I have anything to contribute? Will I have the strength to give them what they need?”

As my foot sets upon the ground and I attempt to survey the Carepoint, I instead look down at one who has run over to me and grabbed my hand, or leg and is walking along side me. Suddenly, all the fear and anxious thoughts dissipate, because this face is simply smiling up at me without a word, expectation, or fear. And just when I feel like I have given this sweet face my whole heart, another hand is tugging for me to pull them up and they all circle around. Suddenly, I’m in the middle of all these perfect and innocent faces that just want your attention long enough to know that I see them, I take a moment to soak in their presence, as they come alive. Their eyes no longer look sad, but more open and joyful than any child I have seen at home. For a moment I forget about their torn clothes and bruised bodies and all I see is beautiful.

And this vantage point is only from day one…

-Michelle Tuffree

23Jun

An Evening in a Swati Homestead

Friday night we went to the homestead of Welile.  She is the lead shepherd for the Mkhombokati.  She works for AIM and has been doing this job for just over three months.  She is 24 years old but started going to the care point when she was young.  She can be stern when called for and quick with a smile.  I’ve seen her be open with her insecurities and confident in her role.  She and her ‘Go-Go” (grandmother) invited us to their homestead for a meal.  Homesteads are a series of buildings that they live in.

We arrived as the sun was low in the sky and it was magical.  The view was beautiful of the surrounding hills.  There were goats and cows nearby and bats flying around.  They had a beautiful kraal where they keep the animals at night.  I wish I could describe a kraal adequately.  It’s a series of branches, or big sticks set into the ground vertically to make a fence.  They have been made the same way for generations, are very simple, and very beautiful.

We were invited into Go-Go’s hut.  It was round with a cement floor and a beautiful wood ceiling.  Woven mats covered the floor.  It was perhaps 15 feet in diameter and had no furniture except for the table the food was on.  36 of us sat on the floor and ate a wonderful dinner of stew, rice, chicken, beet salad and green salad.  We talked about our day, we asked questions and we laughed.  There were spears hanging on the wall and I wish I knew something about them.

The grace with which we were greeted and treated will be something I remember forever.  These ladies were kind and generous with us.  Even using a translator, I felt close to these women.  I believe loving Jesus truly does make us sisters and brothers.  We came to Eswatini to do what it we’re told to do in Romans 12:13 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.”  But they were the ones to show us Jesus’ love and make us feel welcome.  I’ll never forget this night or this time in Eswatini.

-Jennifer Dudley

23Jun

Technology Arrives at Mkhombokati

“Nonduduzo Mbuyisa”

“Celucolo Tembe”

“Neliswa Mazibuko”

“Ziyanda Shoba”

How exciting it was to see our special friends typing their names for the first time in blank documents on Mkhombokati’s new computers. On Wednesday and Friday of this week, Brandon and Mkhaleko brought the fully charged laptops into the Mkhombokati multipurpose room, and began teaching the kids on our 8 learning stations. The idea for lesson 1 was simply to have the kids log-in with the laptop user name & password (It’s “GraceandPeace” by the way). After about 20 minutes of teaching about home row, and multiple attempts at “shift + G”, we adjusted the plan slightly.

“This part is the screen; this part is the keyboard; this is the mouse (it’s not an animal!)”. Of course, some of the kids have seen and used a computer before, but others had not—it was especially exciting to see these kids’ faces light up when they clicked open a word document for the first time, maximized a window, or typed their name on their own. With the 8 laptops, Mkhaleko cycled through an introductory computer lesson with about 50 of the kids over the 2 days we had the computers at the care point. And the most exciting part about what we accomplished in these lessons is that we’ve barely scratched the surface with what can be taught moving forward. Praise God! The team also purchased RACHEL devices (essentially little boxes with several gigs of cached internet pages that can be used without an internet connection), loaded with educational content – Khan Academy videos on about every topic under the sun, classic novels and short stories (including picture books!), Wikipedia articles, Medscape, etc.

Melinda shared that even some of the employed Swazi nationals she knows struggle to keep up with work demands due to lack of early computer education. Simple exposure to basic skills like typing and operating computers will be helpful in our tech-reliant world. Through these computers and Mkhaleko’s training, God is paving amazing new paths of opportunity for our special friends at Mkhombokati.

-Eric & Emily Bloomquist

22Jun

Sawubona from eSwatini!

Sawubona, greetings from eSwatini! As a first timer on this trip, there are so many amazing experiences I have had in just the few short days I have been here, and the children at Mkhombokati have already left a lasting impression on my heart.

If I could, I would tell you each and every detail about out trip thus far, but there are so many amazing things God is doing here, I could write a novel, so I will just tell you about an experience I had this afternoon. Mornings are all about playing and loving on the preschoolers, and I can speak for the whole team when I say I love it, but I also cherish the time I get with some of the older kids. I have learned that even the smallest act, like dancing can put the brightest smile on everyone’s face. This afternoon, Nicolette and I were hanging with a group of girls and we started to show them a few American dance moves to the song “Baby” by Justin Bieber. As soon as we started the song their eyes instantly lit up and they all started yelling “baby, baby, baby ohhh.” We danced and sang to various songs for more than 30 minutes. They even showed us some of their dance moves which when we attempted to try them, quickly made them laugh and us realize that our coordination does not lie in dance.

Every day I am surrounded by endless love, happiness, and joy at the Care Point and am so lucky to have been give the opportunity to participate in this trip. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me and the rest of my team during our final two days here in eSwatini.

-Lily Fortunato

29Sep

Meet the 2017 Medical Team

We are excited to introduce the Swaziland 2017 Medical Team from Capital Church!

Karen Otto

Karen Otto is excited to be co-leading the second Swaziland medical team for Capital Church.  Karen’s background and training is as a biomedical engineer.  While she is not a medical professional, she has a strong interest in medicine and has always enjoyed supporting medical efforts, whether as an engineer designing medical devices or supporting medical professionals such as on this trip.

Karen first traveled to Swaziland with Capital in 2012 and was forever changed by the experience.  She loves the approach of the ministry to focus on meeting basic needs while showing and teaching God’s love and grace, all with a long-term focus on sustainability and relationship.  Karen returned to Swaziland in 2013 and 2014, each time coming back excited by the changes and growth taking place at Mkhomobkati and in the whole ministry in Swaziland.  She also got to know her now husband Tyler when they were on the team together in 2013.  They got married in 2014 and had a baby in early 2017.

Karen works part time for a medical device company and stays busy keeping up with her son.  She has a weakness for chocolate ice cream and likes to brew her own kombucha.  Karen also loves being active in the outdoors, including road and mountain biking, snowboarding, running, hiking, and even yard work.

 

Carol Gililland

Carol’s professional background is in the field of dentistry as a licensed expanded functions hygienist.  She has 15+ years of experience culminating in a role as the executive administrator of 5 clinics covering most of the State of California.

After she and her husband, an OB/GYN began serving on short-term mission trips, they saw a desperate need for medical and dental expertise. Throwing herself fully and faithfully into God’s calling, Carol acquired training for dental extractions, composite restorations and root canals to meet the demand in third world countries. She also spent one year living in France to learn French in preparation for a move to Mali.

Leaving at the peak of their careers in California, the Gililland’s committed to full-time missionary work at Hǒpital Femme et Enfants. During her 4 years in Mali, Carol trained two Malian nationals and set up an operative dental clinic which is still functioning well today. Her humble strength and confidence in Jesus is evident in the ways she fully serves and loves others. Even among these great accomplishments, Carol is most proud of her children, granddaughters and her wonderful husband, John.

 

Clarice Nelson

I grew up in a small town in northeastern North Dakota and received my BSN from the University of North Dakota.   Wanting to go someplace “different” I ended up in Salt Lake for what I thought would probably be a year or so.

I originally worked in the NICU at the University of Utah and currently work for Intermountain Life Flight.

I was a part of the team to Swaziland in 2013, and fell in love with the children, staff and the ministry there in general.  This will be my fourth trip to Swaziland but my first opportunity to participate in a medical clinic so I am excited about this new aspect of ministry.

 

Chaliece Masters

Chaliece is the oldest of three children. She was raised in West Jordan, Utah by a single mother and was Mormon until she was 21 years old. She has always had a passion for helping others. She has been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2010 and continually does that as part time work. She also loves working with children when she can.

Chaliece went to the Utah College of Massage Therapy and got to do an Internship with the U.S. Speed Skating Team in 2009 as well as with Hale Centre Theatre. She has also volunteered her time to Christian artists that have toured through Utah.

In her downtime Chaliece enjoys hanging out with friends playing ultimate frisbee or catching a baseball game when the Salt Lake Bees are playing. If it is football season, you can find her cheering on her Greenbay Packers. She also enjoy watching movies and has a large movie collection.

 

Jackie Wilson

Jackie has been attending Capital for the last 9 years since moving to Utah from Oregon to attend college. She graduated from Westminster college in 2012 and had the opportunity to go to Swaziland for the first time during that year. She is so excited to go back to Swaziland with this team, and cannot wait to see all the kids and the Carepoint again. Jackie loves kids and wants to help them know how much God loves them and how they can follow him every day. In her free time, Jackie enjoys game nights, tap dance, a good book, and Indian food. Her favorite verse in the Bible is Isaiah 43:19 (check it out)!

 

Sherry Zerba

I have been going to Capital for 5 years now.  I started attending shortly after my husband passed away..  I am a single mom of 5 kids  and I work as a Uber and Lyft Driver.

I’m going to Swaziland because I feel this is where the Lord wants me at this time in my life.  Over the last 6 years since my husband passed away I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of different cultures and I’ve gained a love for a lot of people from all over the world.  I just felt an overwhelming desire to be able to serve some of these people.

 

Dr. Erin McAdams

I am an outdoor-loving, adventure-seeking, cake-decorating lover of learning, traveling, and Jesus.  I grew up in Indiana, ultimately going to undergrad, graduate school, and then medical school in the great Hoosier state.  Immediately after completing medical school, I married my best friend (Zack) and moved out West to start the adventure that is Family Medicine residency.  During this time of to further train to be a doctor who is well equipped to care for the young and the old.  Zack and I are fortunate to have been able to enjoy the beauty of Utah through countless mountain adventures during our time here.  Furthermore, we have been so grateful that our long (seemingly endless) drive Westward across Highway 80 nearly 2.5 years ago lead us to the church community that we have found at Capital.

I have always had a fondness for both medicine and service, and from a young age envisioned myself working as a physician on international medical trips.  After becoming a Christian through Young Life in high school, I aspired to ultimately have future service experiences be grounded upon the ultimate power of Healing that comes through Christ.  Through service trips to Cameroon, the Philippines, and Jamaica, and Swaziland, I have continued to strengthen my desire to connect with the world through international service. I am so honored to be returning to the Mkhombokati Carepoint in Swaziland through Capital to expand medical care and public health education for the Carepoint kids and the missionaries who oversee them.  Thank you to all who support Capital, the missionaries who serve there around the clock, and the precious children in Swaziland that I am so excited to see again soon.

 

Zack McAdams

My wife Erin and I moved to SLC and were introduced to Capital in May of 2015.  My wife (then finance) and I decided early on in 2015 that we wanted to move from Indiana to Utah in order for Erin to attend the Family Medicine Residency program at the University of Utah, and because of our love of the mountains and everything outdoors.  We have been attending Capital for a little over two years now and we have been so thankful for the teaching at Capital and for the community that we have found.  To this day we are still amazed and thankful that God led us here.

I am an Associate a Lone Peak Valuation Group, a professional services firm located in downtown Salt Lake.  My focus at Lone Peak is the calculation of lost profit damages involved in commercial litigation. Prior to this I was the Accounting Manager at a restaurant development company called Four Food Group down in American Fork.  You probably have not heard of them, but they build, develop, and keep the books for most of the Kneaders Bakery and Cafés in Utah.  The two and a half years before we moved to Utah I worked as an Auditor in Indianapolis at a local CPA firm.

My wife and I first heard about what Capital was doing in Swaziland shortly after we moved to Salt Lake City and were immediately interested due to both our desire to take the Word of God to the nations and our love of traveling.  This will be our second trip to Swaziland.  We went on the trip last fall and were blessed with the amazing experience of running the first ever medical clinic at the Mkhombokati Carepoint.  Erin and I have the privilege of being able to return to Swaziland again this year and continue to build on the relationships that our church has been building for many years now.

We are excited for this adventure and so thankful for everyone who has been praying for and supporting this ministry over the years.  Please pray that we may take the saving words of Christ to all of those we connect with while in Swaziland.

 

Misty Emling

Hello friends!  My name is Misty! I am the proud mommy of two darling boys, Brighton is 7 and enjoys football, reading and science.  Holden is 4 and loves soccer, snuggles, giving “juicy kisses” and making messes.

I have been in the medical field, since I was 16 years old and have been a nurse for about 15 years.   I have worked in urgent care, the hospital setting, pediatrics and elder care.   I’m currently working as a nurse at a specialized living community for people with Alzheimer’s dementia and other memory care needs.

I began attending Capital in 2016 and was one of the nurses on the first medical mission trip.    Once my feet touched the ground in Africa, my perspective was forever changed. I am deeply grateful and profoundly thankful to be a part of not only the Swaziland mission trips, but also to be able to have Capital church in my life on this journey. The joy is in the journey, and I am so very blessed!

 

Kelly Niederhauser

Kelly was born and raised in Salt Lake and attended local schools, Olympus High School and the University of Utah.

He enjoys the outdoors, biking, hiking, travel and spending time at his cabin in Midway.

Kelly has been in employed in the mechanical contracting industry his entire adult life and is currently the President of Koch, Inc. He is very excited to serve as a part of the Capital Church Team going to provide health and dental services to the children of Swaziland.

Kelly in an obedient servant to a nine year old chocolate lab named Moose.

 

Brian Watson

I have been attending Capital Church for about two years. I have always had a relationship with Christ and he has never disappointed me, but about three years ago I knew that I needed to find a new church community. After reading about several Christian church communities in the Salt Lake valley I tried Capital Church first and immediately knew that this church community was exactly what I needed.

I was born and raised in Utah and have lived in the Salt Lake valley since 1999. I have worked for a real estate development company in the Salt Lake valley since 2005. I am currently the engineering and construction manager for a large project in Wasatch County. I am fortunate that my job allows me time for recreation in Wasatch and Summit Counties on my way to and from work, mostly mountain biking. And maybe just a little during work too.

My wife Teneil and I met on a blind date in 1999 and have been married for 15 years. Our parents stopped asking when we are going to have kids about three years ago. We enjoy spending time outside, good food, the Utah Symphony, travelling, MotoGP and now we LOVE our Sundays together. Teneil is my biggest Swazi supporter.

I immediately knew I wanted and needed to go server in Swaziland after attending an informational meeting about the 2017 fall trip and hearing the details of Capital Church’s dedication to and long term partnership with the Mkhombokati Care Point. I want to thank the Capital Church staff and Swaziland team leaders for allowing such a new member of the Capital community to participate in this ministry.

 

Lauren Andersen

I was born June 12, 1954 in Salt Lake City.  My parents are Karl and Lillian Page.  Our home was in Granger, Utah (West Valley City).  I grow up with the love of the mountains and outdoors.  My father taught me to ski when I was 7 years old.  That would be in 1961.  Let’s say ski equipment for children was not the best.  It consisted of wood skis, bamboo poles, cable binding and my regular snow boots with the fake fur around the top.  Good times.

After high school I attended Utah Technical College (Salt Lake Community College).  There I met my husband Larry Andersen.  I was going to school and working, as a secretary, at the college when I met this impressive older man (25 years old).  We were married July 31, 1976.  We just celebrated our 41st year together.

My husband and I moved in 1978 to our current home in Centerville.  There we welcomed our two daughters, Emily and Kathryn.  Now, that I am older I look back and see how wonderful those days were.  Emily is a special education teacher in New York City.  She is married to, the best Jersey boy ever, Keith Perkins, also a teacher. Their home is in Verona, New Jersey.  I am grandma to their two rambunctious twin toddlers, Colin and Kyle.    Kathryn lives in Sandy, Utah and works for Intermountain Healthcare at the Supply Chain Center.  Kathryn has a great love for Jesus and has been my mentor on my spiritual journey.

In 1985 I went back to school.  I attended Weber State College and graduated with a degree in nursing.  My career has opened many doors and I have made lifelong friends. I work for Selecthealth as a nurse auditor.

My life has taken a turn to include the lord. I have come to Capital Church through my daughter Kathryn.  My journey continues and I feel there is so much to learn and experience.

 

Teri Klug

I moved back to Salt Lake in 2009 and started coming to Capital Church that same year. I  started my consulting practice in 2013. Strategic Development LLC is a company focused on creating meaningful partnerships. The company assists its clients in all facets of business creation and expansion, and provides meaningful and timely relationship management and resources.

Prior to starting Strategic Development LLC, Teri worked for Economic Development Corporation of Utah, and served as Director Strategic Development. Teri was responsible for the IT, Energy, and Aerospace Clusters primarily, and all corporate/membership development for the organization. While there she created over 17,000+ new jobs, added billions in new capital investment for the State, and worked with amazing companies like: eBay, Adobe, Boeing, Exelis, Hexcel and ATK, as well as bringing the largest utility grade solar project to the State. Just before relocating to Utah in 2009, Teri lived in Richmond, Virginia, where she served as President and Founder of Bronte Productions, an in-house consultancy firm specializing in tax credit incentives, real estate development, and business development.  Teri has also served as a United States Congressional Liaison Officer, and Operations and Planning Specialist for FEMA, the Education Division Manager for a financial investment firm in Sydney Australia, a Venue Operations Manager for the Sydney Olympic Organizing Committee, for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, Vice President of Business Development for Dardick Technology, and during college served the State of Utah in Flood Mitigation. Many years ago, she was a professional ice skater and skated in Europe with Katarina Witt for about a year and a half. She has been very fortunate over the years to develop an in-depth knowledge of obtaining venture capital, creating strategic partnerships, and a sound business development approach.   She is a graduate of the University of Utah, and has served on Salt Lake City Transportation and Planning Committee, and the Salt Lake County Board of Adjustment. Teri continues her involvement with the Urban Land Institute, where in Richmond, Virginia, she served as a Member of the Executive Committee, and creator of the Young Leader’s Program. She is a Licensed Real Estate Agent, and has successfully completed Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Financial Analysis training. Teri loves the outdoors and has completed 7 Marathons and 1 Half Ironman.

After her Father passed away in late 2015, Teri realized that life is short, and she started toying around with ideas centered in what creates a life well lived and developed a format she refers to as “Project Joy” – Project Joy is centered around the idea of living your extraordinary life. Showing up as your best self, and being willing to say “yes” when interesting opportunities arise in your life. She firmly believes that the more you do in your life that you love the more things that you love show up. This focus for the last two years has brought amazing life and work experiences that were beyond her imagination, and she believes God has been at the very center of all of it.

22Jun

Building a Playground

Words fail us when it comes to trying to describe what it was like to be a part of the playground raising at Mkhombokati. As Tara wrote, the entire CarePoint went through quite a face lift last week. All of the buildings got a fresh coat (in some cases, several fresh coats) of bright green paint. The preschool building was transformed on the inside as well. But part of the reason the team of 13 from Capital was able to get so much of that accomplished was because of the support from the community around Mkhomobokati who turned out to help make the playground a reality.

It was almost overwhelming on that first day when we saw the piles of playground parts spread out on the floor of the multi-purpose building – like, what on earth did we get ourselves into? But then we saw all the people who showed up to help. And each day, more and more got done.

Capital’s work over the last ten years at Mkhombokati has been about building a relationship. We don’t want to just be the people who swoop down and donate stuff and are never seen again. We want to help Mkhombokati and its people progress from survival to thriving, and part of that means building long-term relationships with them. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the work that happened at the CarePoint – as parents of children at Mkhombokati and neighbors who live in the area turned out to pick up paint brushes, dig holes, lift poles and beams and otherwise take ownership of this place.

We’ve come a long way in ten years, and so have the people who call Mkhombokati home. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for the next ten years!

21Jun

Face Lift!

Mkhombokati got a face lift! We stepped foot on the familiar dirt almost a week ago, but it’s almost unrecognizable now.

Painting started with a hand-scrub of all the buildings at Mkhombokati

The blue buildings, lovingly painted by our 2013 (cooking structure was painted in 2015!) team was in great need of a fresh coat of paint. In addition, the Swaziland field staff is transitioning all CarePoint colors to bright lime green so that children can easily spot a safe place to go to anywhere in the country. So right from Day One, everyone had a roller and paint brush in hand. And what a difference it made!

After we were done, some of our cooks were sad that we had to cover a fading mural, so our resident artists fixed that up by painting a veritable garden of beautiful flowers for them to feast their eyes on. We were even able to get a Swazi logo thrown in!

Another new addition – a welcome sign near the entrance to the preschool building

We were fortunate to have some wonderfully creative people on our team who also coordinated new paint and curtains and some fun decals for inside the CarePoint preschool as well. It all came together, beautifully, of course!

Gina and Tara work to replace the old faded letters with new bright ones

I had the personal opportunity to drive around the country a bit looking at some unsponsored CarePoints on Thursday, and as we climbed mountains and drove through valleys (the Swaziland landscape is surprisingly hilly!) I saw the landscape dotted with lime green buildings and thought of, in fact, how a child could certainly much more easily spot a place to find food, or help if they needed it.

While the buildings were being painted, there was another quite large addition to our CarePoint happening as well … the PLAYGROUND! We are beyond excited to have watched God’s provision rise into an incredible (and large!) structure for the children to enjoy. We’ll have more details on that in another post.

 

A CarePoint panorama featuring our new mural and playground

While Mkhombokati is, indeed, looking a bit different, so much is still the same and we pray will never change – and that is the long-term relationship that continues to be built, trip after trip and hug after hug.

-Tara

16Jun
Lower Family in Swaziland

Family

Sawubona!

This is my second trip to Swaziland. I traveled to this country four years ago with a team. It was an incredibly transformative experience in my life, but I did not have the opportunity to truly share it with my husband and children. As many of you know, when you travel to places like Swaziland, there are no words that can describe the experience. You come home a different person, but in some ways you feel alone when you return because no matter how hard someone who hasn’t been “there” tries, they just can’t fully understand. So, this trip, where I not only have my husband Paul with me, but also our three children (Sasha 20, Anna 18, Eli 16) is special! In addition, we also have the Miller kids on the team who have grown up with mine and are like my own (Savannah 18, Nicolette 14). And let me tell you, it has been breathtaking as a mother to watch them participate in serving the amazing people at Mkombokhati – as they open their arms day after day to waiting children, playing, comforting, hugging child after child whether they are dirty, wet, sick, or covered with

So, this trip, where I not only have my husband Paul with me, but also our three children (Sasha 20, Anna 18, Eli 16) is special! In addition, we also have the Miller kids on the team who have grown up with mine and are like my own (Savannah 18, Nicolette 14). And let me tell you, it has been breathtaking as a mother to watch them participate in serving the amazing people at Mkombokhati – as they open their arms day after day to waiting children, playing, comforting, hugging child after child whether they are dirty, wet, sick, or covered with snot!

They are rock stars here, and the kids run after our van when it arrives, not to see us adults, but to see the youth on our trip. Gone are the kids who complain if we ask them to empty the dishwasher. They have painted, hauled, sang with abandon, cried, loved and gone to bed every night exhausted and excited at the same time for the next day.

And then there is sharing this experience with my husband, Paul. We have been given the task of talking to the young adults here about sex, marriage, consent, and yes, rape. He with the boys, and I with the girls. Yesterday, we both sat at the picnic table at the Carepoint, pouring over our Bible together for passages to help with our respective talks. I looked at him and thought of what we were doing a week ago. If you had told me then that I would be sitting with my husband searching the Bible and talking about ideas on this very heavy and serious topic, I would never have believed you. There was no cutting each other off as we try and bring home our own points while moving on to the next thing we have to get done, no silent or vocal criticism, no pretending to listen when you have moved on, no urgency to finish so we can check another thing off the endless list, no thinly veiled sarcastic remarks. Just sitting, together, praying for wisdom, writing, and talking … about, for a moment, being mother and father to the motherless and fatherless, being parents to children 7,000 miles away, all to honor our own father, God. It took all morning and we spent every minute we needed to – no less and no more. My heart is full for these people, their abundant lives, their perseverance despite lack of so many things, and the family God has blessed me with.

-Danielle

Lower Family in Swaziland

14Jun
Siphesile & Anna

Stop the Bus!!!

“Stop the bus, stop the bus!!!!!” said my mother when her maternal instincts kicked in as she spotted a familiar face passing the bus.

Siphesile’s face, when the entire Lower family piled out of the bus, was one I will remember for a very long time and her reaction will be imprinted on me for the rest of my life. The next day, she came to the care-point and wouldn’t let go of my hands and if she did, it was to throw an arm around my neck and my waist. Her uninhibited attitude towards me was a completely foreign concept, as Americans never let themselves be that vulnerable around strangers. She taught me her dances that she does with friends and she sang John Legend’s “All of Me” to me as she looked me in the eyes the whole time. Siphesile took my phone and took countless selfies of us and then went through and showed me the ones she wanted me to print for her. Needless to say, she has taught me to let my guard down and be silly with people I don’t know very well. She taught me to be sincere and proud of how you are. Most importantly she taught me to be firm in my faith and to keep those you love in your heart forever.

Siphesile now refers to me as her “sister” and she will always be a permanent member of the Lower crew.

– Anna

Siphesile & Anna

13Jun

Day Two – Third World Perspective

I have been fortunate enough in my life to only been exposed to real third world poverty twice and one of these is this trip. The first was the summer of 2013 when I went on the other Capital mission trip to Guatemala. While both trips have been to countries that are experiencing extreme poverty I can’t help but be struck by the differences.

Even after only two days in Swaziland, I have noticed the cultures of the countries are surprisingly different in interesting ways. For example, Guatemala doesn’t really have an upper class; whereas, Swaziland has shiny new BMWs and Audis interspersed with dilapidated buildings and barbed wire on every house. In Guatemala none of the cars were new let alone new and at some points there were communities built on mounds of trash. Another significant difference is how people talk to one another and us. The Swazi people are very closed and private to the point that it is hard to get them to even talk about their relationship status. In Guatemala, I had multiple deep talks with people wanting to share their religious story or asking for us to pray for them about health, work, or family.

Sasha with Swazi children, 2017

Behind these differences in culture and class prominence, there were also startling similarities, which is cool when you think about how these cultures have never really had any opportunities to come in contact with one other. Both had immense national pride and the hope for a brighter and more successful future for their country. Both the Swazis and Guatemalans also had this beautiful acceptance of their dependence on God. They didn’t feel that was a show of weakness but rather celebrated that God had helped at all. While they worked to make people’s lives better and improve the country, both peoples were content and thankful for what they do have. This fact has been humbling and paradigm shifting and I would love to try to remind myself of this when I return to the US. -Sasha

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