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4Oct

Our Team Photos

28Sep

Labaligugu Children

Good morning friends! We have finished our fifth day in eSwatini and third day at the Carepoint, as well as, third day working with Labaligugu or Treasured Ones. The team was able to hand out the bibles that you were all able to sign for your special friends and they all loved being able to read your sweet messages. We will be able to share some pictures and more details on that tomorrow. Today we have stories from Brandi and Chaliece, who had the very unique opportunity to work Amy McAdams and Labaligugu this week. A program centered around special needs children and their caregivers here in eSwatini. Brandi is a Pediatric Physical Therapist and Chaliece is a Licensed Massage Therapist, they were able to go around to homesteads with Amy and work on the children and teach their caregivers how to do exercises, stretches, and different massage therapy techniques that can help the children become stronger, more flexible, and more independent.

Here is Chaliece’s story:

I wasn’t finished when I left last year, after the last medical clinic, that I knew for sure. At the time, I just didn’t know what that looked like. Did that look like picking up my life and moving 4000 miles away from home or another short term mission trip in the future? At first, when I got back home in 2017, I felt that the answer was picking up my life and moving 4000 miles from home to become a long term missionary. Then I learned through prayer and conversations that it wasn’t for me.

I just had no idea that 3 short months later, a conversation at lunch with a close friend would turn into the reason I’m here today. That conversation turned into an idea, that idea turned into a plan, and that plan turned into a pitch. That pitch was then accepted by AIM and not a moment too soon, because Brandi and I found out the week before applications were due for the trip that our plan was accepted.

That brings me to the plan for the trip. Last year I met a woman, who you may have heard me mention a few times in previous blog posts, by the name of Amy McAdams and her husband Steve McAdams and their children Ellie and Maggie and their foster daughter Mumu, who has Cerebral Palsy. Why do I mention that, you ask? I mention that because once Steve and Amy started fostering Mumu, they would take her on homestead visits and they started seeing children that they hadn’t seen before, most of them with Cerebral Palsy, like Mumu, or other similar disabilities that they hadn’t seen at care points prior to this. Amy soon realized that this was a Demographic that had never been reached before and it was one that needed to be, so she started Labaligugu or “Treasured Ones”. It is centered around disabled children in eSwatini and their caregivers.

This year, as a Licensed Massage Therapist, along with Brandi our Physical Therapist, I got the amazing opportunity to go to the homesteads of 11 of these beautiful children and work on them and teach their caregivers how to do different massage strokes and stretches to help their children with circulation and relaxation in their muscles. The caregivers have all been so grateful and excited to learn.

The first time I felt like I could help was last year when Amy spoke to the Fall 2017 Team about Lababligugu during our trip. I have personally worked with Special Needs children in the past and had also done massage therapy for the Special Olympics. So when I got the opportunity to do something for them I didn’t even have to think about it, at that point there were just some logistical things to work out. Like when during the week it would happen, with the medical training being during the beginning of the week for ALL of the shepherds and would AIM even agree to it initially. Well our God is great and both worked out perfectly! AIM loved it and timing worked out perfectly for us to work with Amy in the latter part of the week.

You may be asking why this is such a big deal? They are children, maybe a little different, but still children and still God’s children and in eSwatini, they aren’t quite seen like that. They are almost seen as outcasts in society and treated as such. Families don’t bring them out much when people come over, fathers will leave or request that the child is left with someone else in the family. So to have a chance to reach out to and show love, in any way, to this demographic is a very big deal. There have been amazing day and emotional days and everything in between.

 

I’m so very blessed that God called me, not only once, but twice. These people and this place are very special. Labaligugu is an amazing program for very special children, as well as their caregivers. It’s not easy task taking care of a special needs child when you have first world health care around the corner, let alone when you live here in eSwatini. My heart breaks for these caregivers and I also have immense respect for them. If you would like to learn more about Labaligugu and their mission you can go to: https://www.eswatinirising.com/programs/disability

 

Here is Brandi’s story:

I have attended Capital Church for 3 years, and every time they would pray for, show photos of, or give updates on the Swaziland, now eSwatini ministry, it touched my heart and I thought someday I would go. Throughout Physical Therapy school, my passion for pediatrics grew and God began placing a desire on my heart for medical/therapy related missions. However, as a graduate student, the time and finances deferred me from going.

Last winter I started hearing about the fall medical mission trip to Swaziland and felt God tugging at my heart. I was trying to ignore Him, thinking I would go in 5 years, when I was more established as a therapist. I then heard about Labaligugu, which was a special needs ministry that was started in eSwatini. I also learned that this trip would be education based, which would provide unique opportunities for growth, ministry, and could help empower the local people. I began praying and the Lord made it clear that I was supposed to go!

Throughout this week Chaliece, Amy, Sibongile, and I have been driving through the rugged mountains of Eswatini to visit the special needs children who are a part of Labaligugu. This experience has brought a new understanding to me of God’s enduring love, for many reasons. I have been humbled by the amazing Gogo’s (grandma’s) who take care of these children to the best of their ability. Going up to each homestead, we never knew what situation may present- but all of the Gogos and bomakes (plural for mothers) were very involved in therapy sessions, asked questions, and were engaged. The entire family would sit with us, and watch and learn.

One particular special experience was going to see Magwaza, a young 8 year old boy who suffers from an undiagnosed condition which causes muscle weakness and mild ataxia. His mother was away during the visit, but his 5 siblings helped carry him outside to us. While working on his coordination, his siblings would clap and cheer each time he successfully completed a task. They assisted and encouraged him while taking steps with a walker. Magwaza’s infectious smile was enough to understand the enduring love he felt from his siblings.

I have been edified by both Amy and Sibongile, who have started this incredible ministry to share Christ’s love with those who are unable to physically come to the care points. I am so excited for the future of this ministry, and how the Lord will continue to provide for its growth!

I will never forget the joy in each child’s face as we were able to love them, encourage these families, and give them hope from God. One phrase I have been repeating to myself this week to bring me peace is from one of Troy’s sermons: “Life is not fair, but God is not finished”.

 

 

We are excited to share more with you tomorrow about the Bible sharing with the children and share pictures on that and more about the medical training from our team Doctor, Erin. This week is quickly coming to a close and it’s amazing how fast the time flies when you’re doing God’s work and enjoying every emotional and wonderful second of it. But I don’t know that any of us would trade it for anything.

We will see you right back here tomorrow!

Grace and Peace!

27Sep

Persevering Through it All

Good morning friends! We have finished out day two at the Carepoint and day four here in eSwatini. It went wonderfully, again. We also finished day two of working with Amy McAdams and Labaligugu, Brandi was able to see four children and Chaliece was able to see one with Brandi, more details to come on that tomorrow.

Today we will be sharing stories from Alyssa, one of our first timers, and Danielle, one of our returners. Both are nurses that came on the trip this year.

Here is Alyssa’s story:

I grew up going to church, seeing people going on international trips, and hearing their stories. I always knew I wanted to go on and felt the pull, but timing never worked out. 

Since attending capital, every time a team goes to eSwatini or we hear about their trip, my heart yearned to go and found my self in tears. I have always had a passion for helping others, especially when it comes to children.

This year, god paved the way wide open for me. I am a nurse and have the medical knowledge I can bring to the table. I was easily able to take the time off work, …

Teaching 

On the second day I taught the asthma section. It was amazing to see how eager everyone was to learn. The questions after asthma teaching showed they understood and wanted to know how to better care for people with asthma. 

Carepoint  

There are no words for the carepoint, it is amazing, incredible, loving, and full of fantastic staff!! The kids just want to be held, loved, and payed attention to. 

I wish I had 8 arms to be able to carry and hold hands with more of the kids! 

Here is Danielle’s story:

Some might ask why go to eSwatini or why return to eSwatini?

Why spend so much money, vacation time, and travel a day and a half around the world for a week with Swati people, only to leave shortly thereafter. What impact does it make? Does it do more harm than good? My first trip to Swaziland was 5 years ago, in 2013. I felt led to come back this year for so many reasons. But the main reason was what I experienced at the Carepoint yesterday and today.

Yesterday and today, I got to see and experience the legacy of love, enduring love that has been poured out over the years and is making a huge impact in the lives of these kids, their families, the community. For example, Welile is the current Shepherd at our Carepoint. 5 years ago she was still a sponsored kid; she was actually one of the first sponsored kids at our Carepoint. And now she is in her first year of being a Shepherd and wants to be a nurse when she is done. I heard about the different team projects each year with Capital updates. But yesterday and today I got to play for hours with kids on the monkey bars and slides that were on the playground that the June 2017 Team helped to build and saw the mobile computer lab that the June 2018 Team helped put together, being used by Swazi kids that were learning how to type. And spent hours on the leveled out field playing futbol with the boys. And yesterday, 2 of the kids I was holding, were so trusting of me, they fell asleep in my arms. These were not little kids either, 7 and 9 year old boys, but they felt so comfortable and loved because of so many teams and attention from over the years, they knew we were safe and could be at peace and rest in our arms.

Yesterday I met my special friend for the first time. She is a 9 year old girl, and she had the biggest smile on her face as she and her friends kept looking at my name tag and me and then pointing to her name tag with my name on it as well. Unfortunately shortly after meeting her, she fell and scraped the palm of her hand. I was able to clean up her scrape and use the supplies from the first aid kit that we filled this past Tuesday and put bacitracin and a bandaid on her to keep her scrape clean. In the process of this, another girl around her age said I need to look at her friends arm. Her friend had a large abscess near her elbow that no one would have known. But because of a small scrape, we learned of a serious condition that needed to be addressed. Today, with Erin, our team doctor, I helped to assist in draining out the pus from her abscess so her arm could heal properly without infection. She was scared and afraid even though we had some lidocaine to numb her arm. But after being able to pray with her about her fears, she calmed down and I was able to hold her hand and Erin was able to do what she needed to and then bandaged up her arm.

The word for one of our team devotionals today was Persevering. God’s persevering, Hessed love. This is what is leaving a lasting impact and why it is so worth it to invest and to come and to give. Persevering love is intentional, relational and is what lasts and brings hope to these kids when many of them do not grow up with parents who tell them they are loved and valued. On average 1 Swati supports 13 other Swatis. It is the pereserving love of God for each of these kids, through special friends, through tangible love shown by each team member, through the Bomake and Shepherd feeding them and teaching them about God. That is was gives them hope and leaves an amazing impact. Welile, the Shepherd, said that she wants to pour into these kids what was poured into her, so much care and love poured into her from all the years she herself was taken care of and loved at a Carepoint. How beautiful and what a privilege has it been this week to see these kids survive and thrive from love from so many of you at Capital.

Thank you for everyone who has a special friend, who has given time, money, and energy into this ministry, and gone on these trips. These kids do remember and experience your love for them, ask about you all the time, and have so much love, hugs, tags, smiles, and laughter to send your way. You matter to them so much more than you can realize, more than I realized. And for those of you who have never been or come here only once, you’ll just have to come and experience all this for yourselves. Because there is a ton of love to go around and you are filled to overflowing and then some.

Grace and Peace!

24Sep

Day One For Fall 2018 Trip

Good morning everyone back home! It’s afternoon here in eSwatini! We have kicked off the first part of our two day medical conference and it’s off to a wonderful start! We will be doing things slightly different this year. While we will still be doing updates about the trip itself (as we can), we are also doing stories about some of our team members regarding why they chose to come in this trip, what got them here and now that they are here, how they see that God has chosen to use them.
Today we have stories from John and Greg.
 
Here is John’s story:
 
My wonderful wife 😉 and I have been partners with the capital swazi team since the beginning of our thirteen year marriage. Our first friend was a teenage boy named Cicelo, who after a few years aged out of the program. Next we had Mandla, and for the past couple of years our friend has been Prince. It has been great seeing them grow through the pictures and letters as the Mhkombokati carpoint also develops. We remember pictures of the tree the bomakes originally cooked under; fund drives for the well, buildings,playground, etc; and as a church, it has been awesome to send off the Babbs to plug in as full time missionaries. I have wanted to make this partnership personal for a long time and join in serving on the ground, but with growing kids, now 7 and 9, and an evermore hectic life schedule it just doesn’t make sense, at least for the next decade. We love the partnership Capital has in Eswatini but my logic could not figure out what it has to do with me. This year though a couple urgings spoke to me. I started considering how to make it work, and stopped justifying why it couldn’t. I am being more deliberate with my priorities, and considering how to invest my talents not just where it makes sense, but where I am called to. I am trying to listen closer. There is never a perfect time, but when you hear the spirit’s urging, you can be certain all things will be perfect in Him. I’m so glad that I was able to find that mindset and hear his calling. I also glad that I am here. I don’t know what will happen on this trip but I know that it will good, because God is good.
 
Here is Greg’s story:
 
Maybe I Could Paint
While attending Capital Church I heard about Swaziland/eSwatini mission trips every year and they sounded interesting. But I had never been on a mission trip and wasn’t sure what I could offer since I wasn’t a teacher or doctor and didn’t really think of myself as a “missionary type” person. Since retiring a few months past, I had been trying to develop an “outward” focus – being sensitive to the needs of others and how I might be a blessing to someone each day, so I was warming up to the idea of going on a mission trip. I had been keeping busy painting the interior of our home, so “maybe I could paint” came to mind when thinking about what I could contribute to a mission team. When the Fall 2018 mission trip was announced, men in particular were encouraged to apply. With the only qualification “being male”, and since I was both “needed” and “qualified”, I felt like now was the time to attend an eSwatini informational meeting to find out more. As I started interacting with other team members, I began to see that it wasn’t so much about my resume, but about my life experience as a believer in Christ, my heart for people, and my desire to be caught up in a great work God is doing in and through His body of believers at Capital Church. As the team prepared, I felt a sense of both excitement and unity, it just seemed like we would be a team that would work well together. And I felt like everyone was pretty chill. Today is still only day one at the AIM office, this new “outward” focus feels really good and I’m excited to see what God does the rest of the week and how He will stretch us.
 
Check back in with us as we will be sharing more soon as we can. 
Please enjoy some pictures from Day one of our medical conference. 
 
 
We are so excited for tomorrow to see how the rest of the medical training finishes out. The shepherds are so excited to be learning all of the medical knowledge that Erin has prepared for them. More information to come on this in the next few days as well. Keep an eye out for these updates.
5Sep

Planning is well underway as we are only a couple weeks out from the Fall 2018 trip!

As we are getting closer to the Fall 2018 trip, planning is well underway and things are coming together well. This Saturday we have our packing day, then the following weekend is Send-off Weekend. I can’t believe the trip is basically already here! This week we have two more of our wonderful team coming at you! We have Erin and Brandi.

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.  Following medical school, I married my best friend (Zack) and moved to SLC for further training, and am now a Family Medicine doctor here in Salt Lake City.

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 3.5 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 eSwatini for the third year in a row, to expand medical and public health education for the AIM staff who oversee the care of thousands of kids across the country. Thank you to all who support Capital, the kids at Mkhombokati, and the missionaries who serve in eSwatini around the clock that I am so excited to see again soon.

Brandi is originally from Wisconsin, and moved out to Salt Lake City four years ago to attend graduate school at the University of Utah. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy last year, and has been working as a pediatric physical therapist at Primary Children’s Hospital. Brandi has always had a passion for children and serving others, and the The Lord has placed a special desire on her heart to do physical therapy/medical related missions. Brandi has been attending Capital Church since she moved to Utah, and is excited for her first mission trip!

In her free time, you can find her hiking, trail running, cycling, playing tennis, and competing in triathlons.

 

 

9Aug

Fall 2018 eSwatini Mission Team

As we get closer to our Fall 2018 eSwatini Mission Trip, we thought it would be fun slowly introduce everyone to you all. The whole team is as follows. In no particular order, our fearless leaders: Derek Oldert and Brian Watson. Then we have: Erin McAdams and Zack McAdams, Lori Wilson, Danielle Rankin, Brandi Dohman, Chaliece Masters, Shelli Johnson, Greg Hughes, John Erdmann, Alyssa Gale, and Stephanie Benson.

Once a week for the next few weeks leading up to our Fall trip we will be posting a couple bios about each team member so you can get to know us better. This week we have Lori Wilson and Greg Hughes.

 

Lori is one of our first timers.

Lori Lyn Wilson has lived in Salt Lake Valley most of her life. When she graduated from high school she chose cosmetology as her profession and has been in the industry for nearly 40 years, managing several salons and cosmetology schools. She has even owned and operated her own salon.

Lori raised 3 children, a son and 2 daughters. In April 2001 she married David Wilson, which added 3 more sons and another daughter. Together, God has blessed them with 16 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter with another one due in October.

Lori has always loved the mountains and being outdoors. She likes boating, camping, and waterskiing with friends and family during the summer. When she was younger she spent her winters on snow skis.

Lori was raised in the Catholic Church where she learned about Jesus and began her lifelong search to know and follow Him. On May 7th, 1989, she chose to give her life and heart to God and was Born Again. Lori has a passion and love for people of all ages, especially children. Her driving force, however, is her faith in God and her love for the people He places in her life. Her heart’s prayer is to witness God’s salvation and healing power in as many people as possible in her lifetime. Lori’s life has been one adventure after another and she is sure she will keep it that way as long as God is willing.

 

Greg is a first timer this trip. 

Greg and his wife Sandy have been involved with the Capital community for about 8 years. They have been married for 35 years and have one child, Adam, who lives with his wife Heidi in Washington D.C. Greg recently retired from University of Utah Human Resources, where he coordinated staff recruitment and worked with the local community on recruitment outreach efforts. Sandy works at the U as Director of Budget.
Growing up in Southern California, Greg used to surf and still likes to check the conditions through the Surfline webcams. He enjoys coffee at any time of the day or night, and fellowships with a group of Capital Church men over breakfast on Saturday mornings. A highlight of Greg’s week is Sunday morning when he joins volunteers in serving coffee and breakfast to homeless/street people in downtown Salt Lake through Calvary Baptist Church’s “Fill the Pot” ministry. This provides an opportunity to engage and sometimes pray for and with people.
This is Greg’s first mission trip, and he is looking forward to serving with our Christian brothers and sisters on the ground in Swaziland/eSwatini.

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

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