You plan for months. You meet, you discuss, you shop, you coordinate — but it doesn’t really seem REAL until it’s all there, piled in front of you and ready to pack.
Everyone jumps in and starts grabbing and sorting the pencils and the crayons and the backpacks and the toothpaste and the jump ropes and the bubbles (don’t forget the bubbles!!) and the Bibles. There doesn’t seem to be much of a system to it; it’s every team member on deck, a mad dash to get it all squeezed into the assortment of mismatched luggage you’ve assembled, making sure no bag is over 50 pounds and you’re not wasting space with a bag that’s under packed.
Before this day, it’s all been theoretical. You know you’re going. You know what you need to take with you. You know what the plan is. You’ve practiced the VBS skit and giggled over the idea of your tallest teen team members dressed as zoo animals; you’ve sung the songs and taught each other the motions. But now it’s right there in front of you. Now it’s laid out and packed up and ready to go. You are going to Swaziland! All this STUFF is going with you. In just under a month, you’re going to be singing songs and playing games and building a playground, but more importantly — building relationships. Suddenly, it’s not theoretical anymore. This. Is. Happening. We are doing this!
What is every bit as real but a lot less visible is the immense support that makes it possible for packing day (in the short term) and your trip (in the long term) to happen in the first place. None of this would happen without the love and the backing of the amazing people of Capital who sponsor children at Mkhombokati, who donate items and money and time, who pray and plan and hope right along with you. Every item packed represents love from those folks to people on the other side of the world.
We may be the ones putting on goofy costumes and painting the buildings (not at the same time, of course), but it takes ALL of Capital to pull this off.
Next stop, Johannesburg!
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
We had a terrific night creating Love Cards for our friends in Swaziland!
There were family pictures glued into place, photos of faithful pets, written letters, colorful notes, and lots of love placed inside.
Now we have a box full of these cards, made with love, and ready to be packed up and taken by the Swazi Spring 17 Team to Swaziland.
A very grateful Thank You to everyone who helped, both near and far!!
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the whole world is hearing about your faith.” (Romans 1:8 Good News Translation)
October 29th, 2016
Woke up at 4:00am again this morning after falling asleep at my sweet sisters house last night shortly after dinner was finished at 7:45pm – Traveling time zones is challenging. I actually like the early morning quite and getting my thoughts around what am I going to do today. I like seeing the sun rise and I like being the captain of my life’s ship.
I reflect back…the poverty, the hunger, the lack…and yet, I still see Joy, Light, Hope, and a simpleness that perhaps could be a great takeaway. Yes, with my extra morning time, the first thing I did was go through my closet – two large boxes emerged of clothing and shoes…not that this will help my new found friends in Africa, but if one of my takeaways was simple joy! I needed to rid my life of the “stuff”, and the management of that “stuff” as it just drags me down…Goodwill here I come.
The below was one of my personal message updates from Swaziland – I thought I would share as it frames up some of my important takeaways for our Capital Community.
Quick report from Swaziland ?? – The week has flown by so quickly, I have done things…well let’s just say…never saw that coming…I have witnessed utter and severe poverty and extreme loss, and yet there is more kindness and joy present than you could ever imagine with the circumstances being as they are.
The people here care for one another. The children are just amazing little love bombs – and I mean that in every way, from the time you arrive or step out of a building they come running – arms out brace yourself types of hugs wanted and oh yeah they come in pairs of two or more so literally brace yourself…
We have taught them the basics about washing hands and brushing teeth and each has gone through a full exam seeing the nursing staff and Doc McAdams – who were all by the way amazing!
Compassionate loving care was given. We have accomplished so much during our time here, but the perspective I have received to date is this…Joy is a choice – Hope does float – Love does grow – and most of all showing up does matter!
I have a fondness in my heart for all of my new friends, I have been so blessed by our paths crossing. New perspectives I believe matter and the foundation of the extraordinary life I seek is built by seeking these perspectives even if they are 8000 miles away from home.
For those of you who sponsor a child – I can’t even begin to tell you just how important it is to WRITE to them – One day at the CarePoint I was responsible for reading your Love Cards to the kiddos – Some of you took the time to make a card, send photos, write words of encouragement – an action that might have taken a half hour or hour out of your day – those who did not, your child received a letter with a sticker inside telling them our community would pray for them. So, still an actionable kindness, without question, but the children would come in lines to get to read the love cards and you could see the disappointment when they got a card with a sticker verses a personal note with photos…Actions of love and support are needed and while your financial support is wonderful and a great start, I deeply encourage you to start communication via the HopeChest Website, it so matters to the children. (this is not to shame anyone – just sharing a takeaway – in how we all can better serve 🙂 ).
So, what happens for the spouses and children left behind while we were 8000 Miles away? I wanted to include this as I loved it when I heard about it. So many of you know Kelly and Shelli Johnson – Noah, their son is a budding artist – before we left he painted a picture for me while we were packing up medical supplies at their house one night. He too wanted to do something of service while we were away, so one of the things he came up with was thanking people who helped him. I have copied the photos of his service project below. As I believe he is on to something with his gratitude, while missing his Mommy – instead of being sad, he put his feelings into loving others, and I wanted to recognize him for that. (see artwork below)
I also want to recognize all of the loving support our families, friends, and colleagues put into making this trip a possibility – what we did over there was so important to the overall wellbeing of those children and their families – but what you did here at home is not to be overlooked or under appreciated so THANK YOU!!!
I am so grateful for the people I had the honor of traveling on this journey with – we were a disparate group of folks, different walks of life, different job sets, different personality types…you get it…we were all very different…but through this journey we all gained a level ground perspective about each other – we found respect, love, care, and lifelong friendships. That is why being curious and stepping out of fear and doing things you did not believe were possible, put you on a path to the extraordinary life. Thank you all for this amazing journey!
#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch
Noah’s art work Below
Yesterday, afternoon after a straight 37 hours of traveling the Team touched down in Salt Lake City Utah. We have had a few very busy days of travel and used the time we had to squeeze in as much of Africa as we could with our limited window.
They have a saying TIA – It means Time in Africa – Time in Africa works differently than Time in America – it means that you have to be flexible and that somedays things will work and somedays they will not. Expectations, should you care to have this amazing experience, should be set to understand TIA and you will end up laughing instead of feeling frustrated about no internet and stuff really that we all take for granted, and just go with it.
So, I have some catching up to do, now that I am back in Wifi America:)
Sunday October 23rd.
We woke up early had a team breakfast and made our lunch, packed up and said our goodbyes to the the amazing staff at our Team Accommodations at Sunset Palms. Communal Living brought our team closer and allowed for bigger conversations to take place. We all greatly appreciated the staff and their efforts to make our team feel so comfortable at the end of each day our our journey.
We travelled with all of our belongings packed in the trailer to the CarePoint picking up the Bo’Make on the way. We arrived at the CarePoint to a few groups of Children waiting for us – we finished up our “Hand Print” Project and met with Pastor Jeffery – Pastor Jeffery is the Community Pastor and we were treated to go to his Church. Church is Swaziland is usually 5 hours. Comprised of singing, gospel time, and prayer time. Prayer time as we know it – it is not. Prayer time in Swaziland usually has a person airing their troubles to God, they scream, they cry, and thrash around…The Team is witness…I am a witness. There are REAL reasons for these screams – is authentic – it has a suffering component to it of devastation, loss, and as you listen, you understand even though it is not being said in a language – you understand. The person screaming is soothed back by the congregation singing. They sing softly at first and the singing grows louder and louder. It was moving. Pastor Jeffery spoke on Luke Chapter 15. Basic message was that if someone you know is really trying to turn their life around, don’t kick them back into the trench by judging – rather lift them up and help them to higher ground. Church was beautiful. The Team cleaned up the CarePoint and gathered the garbage up from the prior FunDay Fair, and tried to leave it better than how we found it.
We said our Goodbyes once again and loaded the bus. We had a 5 Hour Drive ahead to meet the Babbs, for a one day safari at Kruger National Park in South Africa, one day before leaving this beautiful country. The Team was quite in the bus today – lots of emotion and trying to come to terms with how for a week you meet and fall in love with this place, its people, the children, and the joy that is present even when so much is absent as we see from our perspective – learning from them as much as they are learning from us…
We crossed the boarder from Swaziland to South Africa, without incident and arrived at the wrong hotel (Lucky) an hour added to the journey, but (TIA) and while we figured out that we were at the wrong place, we were able to see a lot of animals -wild Hippos and Monkeys and Giraffes and Water Buffalo – a total bonus!
We arrived after the most amazing sunset from the road into a place called the River House – nice hotel that backs up to a river where all the animals graze. First good night of sleep in a while and even though the shower was still a cold shower it was nice. Interesting how perspectives change in such a small time…Gratefulness is a choice, an opportunity it feel it in such a raw way was priceless.
Monday October 24th
4;00am wake up – early bird gets the worm. Again an amazing sunrise and set – a day spent on Safari in Kruger National Park (4 times the size of Swaziland in size) is a unique experience. Our truck ate the dust of our teammates in front of us for most of the day – Josie had a bird fly into her neck while she was sleeping, work up not knowing what was going on and threw it on Lex – everyone broke the rules of stay in your seat and stay quite…still laughing – but seriously an amazing day of seeing God’s hand in creation. We saw Leopards, Rhinos, Water Buffalo, Lions, Herds of Elephants, Cool Birds, Bald Eagles, Giraffe, Boar, Wilde Beasts, and so so much more. Total transition from where we were the day prior, but it allowed for us to see and enjoy something while we were in this country so far from home and the memories from this day will last forever.
Most of the trip we all have prayed for rain – rain for Swaziland and rain for South Africa, river beds are dry, people are suffering the team was witness to the fact, that the drought is real. The last night before travel to airport large thunderstorm clouds grew, lightening came and then thunder and then the rain! I watched the rain come down in Africa!
Tuesday October 25
Arise 5:30am toy with running out to see the sunrise…body is tried, I chose to go out on my deck instead and watch the birds and the river with my coffee cup in hand. Open my door – it is so hot out and the sun isn’t up yet. Drink my coffee, and process a bit more, and it is time to get moving. We pack up and check the room for left behinds and go to breakfast with the team. We say our goodbyes to the Babb Family, they have been so amazing to us during our stay. The journey home begins – 5 hours in the car. Arrive Jo’burg around 2:00pm. Check in at 2:30pm. Have time for shopping or dinner Misty and I chose a window view for some appetizers and did some quick shopping and met the team at the gate at 5:45pm – Boarded for our first 10.5 hour flight to Paris. Landed in Paris (5 hour layover) had breakfast, put our feet up and used the wifi. Boarded to a very foggy day in Paris. Fog delays flight an hour – we are flexible – we see the snowcapped peaks in Greenland and time slowly winds down. 11.5 hours later. We are home, we clear customs and we get to see our loved ones waiting for us as we exit from this most amazing journey. Life does in fact require you to show up.
Thank you all for your love and support! May you all at some point decide to travel to Swaziland and serve this community – it is special and yes, it will change you, but with TIA or without TIA you will grow in ways you never imagined possible.
#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch
We started the day with a devotion focused on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-9 which challenge us to think about what we are thinking about and to set our minds on the things that are lovely and noble and admirable and excellent. There would no shortage of experiencing those very things in the eyes of the children at Mkhombokati.
After a wonderful presentation by the Swaziland Country Director that informed the team about the vision, impact and projects through which 7200 children and countless Swazi families are served, the bus finally turned off the pavement and headed down the dirt road … to the place we’d come so many thousands of miles to see.
We were greeted by tiny brown bodies with enormous white smiles. Immediately, hands slipped in hands and toddlers climbed onto hips and the love fest began. Despite the flurry of chaos once the older children began flooding in, we were able to have all the children complete a special gift for their special friend, distribute our “Give Thanks” t-shirts to every child and spend personal time with every child reading a card from their special friend. THANK YOU to every person who put time into writing a card! Even the most shy of the children couldn’t help but crack a smile when he or she felt the love that was delivered from their love card!
We were able to visit three homesteads at the end of the day, delivering a months worth of food to desperate families. One grandmother was taking care of 10 orphaned children, who was brought to tears as we walked up the road saying “I’m so happy to see you because I am so hungry. God must love me because I will eat like a queen tonight (rice and beans) instead of not having anything to eat at all.” The experience was so difficult, humbling and painful – and joyful.
Tonight the team is in a black hole of name tag madness (trying to sift and sort through hundreds of kids) and medical briefings and supply coordination to make sure we’ve got our ducks in a row for our very first medical clinic tomorrow!
#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch
Today was the hottest day since we arrived. At the CarePoint the children were told they could bring two family members or friends from the community to share fun day with them.
Over 100 pounds of meat was grilled up and “Pop” which is like a mashed potato, with tomato sauce. Every child got to take home a cabbage and a cupcake. The children were served first and it was so good to see all of their bellies full. After lunch many of the younger children came up and asked to be held, and promptly fell asleep on our shoulders…Remember the Thanksgiving Food Coma…Yep, we have so much to be thankful for, and so did they!
They were able to play games at different stations (similar to a carnival) and then they treated us to a performance of a short play, choir which was AMAZING, and dance! Loved every bit of today.
At the end of the day it was time for goodbye – in Swaziland, crying is bad and not interpreted the same way we do…so we all did our best to feel glad we came, and not feel the loss of the love we created while we were here.
We came back to the house and had a beautiful meal with our team and staff. We are all feeling thankful, and like those children today tiredness has set in and it is time to say good night.
Sending all of you at home love and light.
#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch
Today started with a lovely breakfast and devotional at the beautiful Sunset Palms, which has began to feel like home.
We then climbed aboard the van to begin our journey to Mkhombakati for the 2nd and final day of the medical clinic. The commute to Mkhombakati, though less than an hour felt like an eternity as all I could think about was snuggling those children!
The moment finally arrived and I gracefully tried to compose myself and climb off the van slowly when every fiber of my being wanted to run full sprint and scoop them all up.
Pleasantries were exchanged Swazi style and we began setting up for Clinic. The process seemed fine-tuned. We set up in record time and were ready for our patients to arrive. We had seen all of the preschool children on the previous clinic days so we began seeing the Bomake and other Swazi adults. The most striking observation I made was how even though this team had only been on ground for the better part of the week, that there was a level of trust that was palpable.
This is evidence that these short term missions have had a cumulative effect and I’m so very thankful for the teams who have came before us and planted seeds that have slowly evolved to a level of trust to the point that the Swazis are able to open up and share their hurts, ailments and concerns with us, and that we were able through generous donations provide them with medications to treat, cure or simply comfort said ailments.
I have 100% faith that God carefully picked each of the members of this team for their unique gifts and thus assembled a well-oiled machine. Watching my team use their wide variety of gifts in this clinic with nothing but pure loving kindness on their faces made my heart smile. When I first heard that the Medical clinic was only scheduled for 2 days, I thought this is impossible…………..Nothing is impossible if you show up, dig down, get to work and believe.
I had the enormous blessing of doing a presentation for the teenage girls. I was able to procure re-usable feminine hygiene supplies that were lovingly sewn and donated by a charitable organization called a “Days For Girls”. Teaching these girls not only about their bodies and what to do with these pads, but I was able to heavily stress to them how beautiful their bodies are and what happens during this process.
I was able to give them information to empower them and make informed choices about their bodies. Information that most of them had never heard because its simply “just not talked about”. Incredibly, I was also able to share with them the basics about sex, STI’s, and how to prevent them with the emphasis on abstinence.
Forever thankful, grateful and humbled by this experience and hopeful that we too as a team planted a seed today and paved the way for future teams to further address these tough topics affecting their health.
Today, like every day here has been a gift!
Thursday October 20th
It appeared from my weary eyes that everyone on the team was a bit tired today. I personally woke up late, emotionally tired, and had to run for the bus. Once aboard we started out – first stop was a stop into the main office to get a presentation on where we were, and just how far we have come since we became involved with Mkhombokati Care Point, in 2007. We were given an insightful and photographic presentation about the before and after photos from the many buildings we have built. When we started by profiling, we had 66 Children and there were about 85-100 Children at the care point, and now we have profiled about 236 Children and are serving over 300. There have been 47 Ngesikhatsi (Grief and Loss Counseling) graduates and 33 Children have school fees paid. We currently serve over 1600 Lbs of food each month. We have three water tanks on site now, and a garden that will produce for the care point, the children, and create a potential marketplace for the community in the future, pretty remarkable!
I walked away amazed – as for years I have sat and listened, to the missions return, sponsored a child, and supported the different efforts when asked, bought the ornaments, made my love card, and loved – but from a distance…
Now the team and I are knee deep in serving the first medical mission here. We are all profoundly touched by what we are able to accomplish here this past week. Bonds with the children that I could not have imagined possible, names (that I am even learning to pronounce correctly) with the sweet faces I watched grow over the years, come running grab my hand or run just to jump into my arms to be hugged.
Yesterday, you heard we saw 160 Children in the medical clinic. We have been able to gain further trust with the children and as we pulled into the care point today they came running after the bus. As we exited it is proper to greet the Bomake (the 5 Mother’s that care for these Children on site) first, the Children grabbed our hands climbed up on our hips and walked us over to the Bomake for proper good morning greetings.
We were able to play for a bit with the kids, bubbles and wooden toy cars were at big hit. We then settled into teaching about hygiene and germs and how to brush teeth with their newly distributed toothbrushes, and washing their hands and body. The children were riveted by Lindsey’s presentation on these topics. Knowledge and understanding of the basics is a very important starting point in creating a platform for sustained and lasting health in this community.
At one point the boys were playing around a hole they had dug – I walked over and there was a bunch of the largest ants I have ever seen and some ground bees that they caught mid-air and had torn the wings off – they were driving their wooden cars over the top. Yes – creativity at its finest, and a reminder that boys will always be boys:).
Later, we were treated to watch the older children participate in a Spelling Bee, they started by singing a song that was one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Then they did a fun song with body movements that was hysterical and fun.
We had three teams of 3-4 deliver food packages and participate in a family homestead visit. During these visits we learn essentially where the children live. These homesteads are made up of many generations. We learned earlier in the week that 1 income serves 13 people, and in a story shared during our visit, a person close to the care point had lost 34 family members in the last 5 years. HIV and TB are the biggest problems they are facing health wise. The home visits are insightful, even with all of the immense problems these families face – I see simple joys, genuine smiles, and authentic love…there are lessons here…
We ended our day with a special meal prepared by our new friend and a Shepard at the Care Point, “Zama”. Zama is a beautiful soul and she and her family prepared the most amazing meal for us, and invited us to her homestead with the Mage.
We ate dinner in a thatched roof that was hand weaved by her mother, a long lasting lightening and thunderstorm was overhead, during our meal – YES – it is raining! Rain is so needed here and the drought is significant, so we were all glad for it, and I have never seen a sky light up like it did, and the thunder was something I won’t forget.
It is customary to give a gift. At one of the homestead visits Lindsey was handed a live chicken, she graciously accepted and brought to dinner with our team. We brought solar lanterns, a gift donated generously by MPowerd called Luci Lights – the company donated over 200 lights so our children will have light in their homes! When I was walking to the car in the pitch dark, with pouring rain, I was reminded that these lights will allow children to read in their homes at night, and provide safer passage if they have to move around their homes in the night…it is such a huge blessing.
Tomorrow we will have another full medical clinic day – but for tonight we will rest. I hope all of our families, friends, and great supporters know just how important your support has been…remember, when I said earlier in this post… I have sat back for years and watched and supported…but until I stepped out, stepped up, and actually showed up…I just didn’t understand just how important it is for these children to know us personally…and how important it is for me to know them!
#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch
WOW what a day!! So many words, feelings, and thoughts! Lets start from the beginning!
Those of you who know me, know I am EXTREMELY sensitive to noise!! We have this beautiful little rooster who likes to start his crowing around… oh 2AM!!! Every other day I have been extremely annoyed, however today it was a different experience!! I woke up to the rooster and was pleasantly surprised by the BEST rain storm!! The rain was just pouring out of the sky!! The lightning was striking and the thunder was rolling! The clouds were low and the temperature cool. This massive rain storm is much needed in this extreme drought Swaziland is experiencing!! The annoyance from the rooster turned into peace!
SO that started my day with grace and peace which only continued to grow as the day went on. The clinic was SO incredible to be apart of. We had it broken out into sections. The first section Mike and Teri took height, weight and beautiful pictures of these babies, and a Swazi nurse helped up triage the kids. Secondly the kids came to Greg and me to get vitals taken. That was an experience! I never thought a pulse ox or a blood pressure cuff would be terrifying. I found myself playing with the pulse ox on my own finger and the shepherds to show the kids it was harmless. They were terrified they were going to get a shot or something bad would happen to their finger as they stuck it in the pulse ox. Next they went to our wonderful nurses Josie, Shelly, and Misty who assessed the kids complaints and used their skills to dig further into the bigger more pressing problem. Erin our wonderful doctor shuffled from nurse’s station to nurse’s station assessing the kiddos herself providing prescriptions for mediation or draining tooth abscess, or wrapping injuries. Finally the kids went to the pharmacy station with Zack, Don, Lindsey, and Jamie where they were given a hygiene kit, medication and got prayed over! The whole process was so beautifully orchestrated and yet incredibly chaotic. In total we were able to assess 160 kids!!! 160 kids in ONE single day, that’s just unreal and would not have been possible with out God’s trusty hand.
On the down time between the morning clinic and afternoon clinic we were able to go out and dance and sing with the children. We learned a version of their duck duck goose, and played choo choo. We taught them the Hokey Pokey. We ran around the CarePoint playing chase, or blowing bubbles, or just holding a sweet Swazi baby. We were able to hear their sweet innocent voices say the “Our Father” (Our Fadder) It was like music to my ears… if only this would be playing at 2AM vs a rooster crowing 🙂
Overall the day was magnificent. The rain and the medical clinic starting off with no hiccups and the singing and laughter of the day were perfect. All of this would not have been possible without every single one of us putting aside our own agendas and just being present to do God’s work! He worked through us in ways we cannot explain! My heart is full tonight as I am writing this post knowing that those babies with horrible tooth aches, tummy problems, headaches, skin conditions and an array of other diagnosis are now home with antibiotics, cream, and other medication to help rid them of their pain. I can honestly say from playing with the kids I would have NEVER known so many of them where physically suffering. They run and play and smile and laugh and have so much love in their eyes!!!
Today was just incredible! I praise the Lord for working through us and allowing us to give back to these children with our love and talents. I would ask all of you to help us pray for the children we treated. Help them follow their instructions and help the medication work quickly to relieve them of their pain so they can live a life without pain.
Grace and Peace,
#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch