Mkhombokati

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

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

12Jun

Day One – Full of Smiles and Love

Our first day at the CarePoint our van was greeted by smiling happy faces… Swazi children greeting the 2017 Swazi Team

We took a quick look around the CarePoint, the garden, greenhouse and more.  Everything is looking so good, despite the severe drought that is still plaguing the nation, and is posted as public notice as a looming water crisis by Swaziland Water Services.

The ladies on the team began painting right away, with help from our cute and lovely Shepherd, Zama.

Paul and Eli jumped in with some willing Swazi men, grabbed shovels and started digging holes for our VERY LARGE playground! We were all appreciative as well for the help we had from some of the men in the Mkhombokati community – and even the littlest kiddos in the community got their muscles out and carried poles all by themselves. Watching them carry was a highlight for many of us. By the end of the day, they were able to get some of the posts in the ground!

Of course, we had a fun time playing with the kids!

It was a beautiful day and we know we have a lot to look forward to getting accomplished this week.

Please keep us in your prayers. We want to do so much in just a few short days! We need to paint the exteriors of the two large buildings at Mkhombokati, plus the interior of the preschool building. We have a lot of playground pieces to put together! We have cement to pour. We are trusting in God that everything that needs to happen will get done, but now that we’re on the ground, we see just how big our dreams were. We are so grateful to the community members who have partnered with us to help get things started.

29Oct

Afterthoughts – Personal Messages – and What Happens At Home While We Were Away

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!

Teri Klug

#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch

Noah’s art work Below

img_3882img_2014

27Oct

Team Safely Home – Back into the Land of Abundance including Wifi

10-27-16

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.

Teri Klug

#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch

 

 

22Oct

Day One!

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

22Oct

Saturday – “Fun Day” Day 5 at Care Point

October 22

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.

Teri Klug

 

#capitalswazi #swazi16medical #givethanks #capitalchurch

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