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30May

Joy is always a function of gratitude…

“Joy is always a function of gratitude – and gratitude is always a function of perspective” – Ann Voskamp

What a beautiful country! One cannot help but appreciate the vast beauty of Swaziland’s mountains and sweeping valleys. In addition, the people we have encountered have been unbelievably receptive and grateful. Yet it does not take a perceptive eye to see how the thief has come here to steal, kill, and destroy. With an astronomical prevalence of HIV/AIDs, universal poverty, and the sheer cheapness of life, it does not take much to understand how hope, peace, and joy are not the norm here.

Fortunately, the God of Hope and Love has dominion in Swaziland, and I am convinced that there is a future of hope here[Proverbs 23:18]. Indeed, I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate Swazis from the love of God. Like the fires that cleanse the mountainside farms, God’s ever-consuming fire is also cleansing the countless Swazis of their transgressions. God is at work in big ways in Swaziland, and I have found it fascinating to see what happens when portions of this disheartening land come into contact with God’s perfect love and grace.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, “God has been at work establishing a new kingdom in the world. It is His own kingdom, and He is calling people out of the world into that kingdom: and everything that happens in the world has relevance to it. . . . Let us not therefore be stumbled when we see surprising things happening in the world. Rather let us ask, ‘What is the relevance of this event to the kingdom of God?’’. . .We need not become bewildered and doubt the love or the justice of God. . . . We should . . . judge every event in the light of God’s great, eternal and glorious purpose .” Read More »

29May

Can You Take a Chicken?

When we arrived at the CarePoint at our usual time this morning, we were a little perplexed to find the gates locked and the bomake (mothers) were not yet there. While we waited with the children we threw several of them into the air, which makes them laugh hysterically, like all little children. Eventually, Make Shoba (pronounced mah-gay) arrived and we all entered the grounds with 3-4 children holding each of our hands. We met for our team meeting and prayer. We prayed “Swazi Style,” which is where everyone prays out loud at once. It is really quite beautiful.

Then we gathered in the shade under the tree as we waited for the other bomake (pronounced bo-mah-gay) to come. The tree is like the heart of the CarePoint. Not only is it the center of the property, it is where the bomake sit to cook and keep track of all the kids. They can see everything from there, and let me assure you, they do not miss a thing.

As we waited for all of the bomake to arrive, Catherine and Becky broke out the sidewalk chalk which was a huge hit with the littlest ones. I think they got more chalk on themselves than on the sidewalk. Once the chalk was put away, little Tandzile (from my earlier post) walked home to change out of her chalky clothes. Apparently she doesn’t like to her clothes covered in chalk dust. Becky and Catherine painted the nails of all the preschool children while Jason, Mpendulo, Mbuso, Nhlanhla (Gideon), Lindo, and I picked beets in the garden. We picked over 150 which will be distributed tomorrow to all of the kids as part of Fun Day.

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28May

Whose team am I on?

As I watched the kids leave the Care Point late this afternoon, I had to remind myself that unlike me, they weren’t boarding an air conditioned bus to drive home to an air conditioned home, where they would wash off the day’s dirt in a hot shower before having a warm, well-balanced dinner.

You would never know by the infectious smiles and adorable giggles that we have seen every day that these children live in extreme poverty. Their day begins before dawn and ends late at night. If they are lucky, they will have a second meal at home in addition to the meal they receive at the Care Point. Many will not. These children pay for their education and walk miles to and from school. They do not have electricity. They have never ridden in a car. They have never poured clean water from a faucet. And many do not have parents. Instead, they go home to another child who is leading the household.

Today was probably the most meaningful of the days so far to me for many reasons. First of all, I noticed my sweet “special friend” Ziyanda had some issues with two of her fingers. The Shepherd took a photo of it and sent it to the full time nurse that AIM has been able to employ, and we suspect it is ringworm. It will hopefully be a simple fix. Had Ziyanda not have been going to the Care Point, who knows if she would have ever received the medical attention she needs.

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27May

Highlights of Today

Day 2 at Mkhombokati CarePoint is in the books as another success! Each night, the team shares their highlight and their lowlight of the day with each other. Tonight, we thought we would share today’s highlights with you.

Becky – It’s so hard not to be humbled in the presence of what God is doing at Mkhombokati. Today, we painted benches, helped preschoolers color, sang songs, danced dances, took pictures and watched the simple joy of children who have nothing being truly grateful for something as simple as a blanket and a letter from a sponsor. I can’t imagine any child at Mkhombokati complaining of boredom or that they got the wrong color cup. Instead, these kids fight over who gets to sit on my lap and play with my sunglasses. And really, what is more important than offering them our time and attention? I kept thinking of the Proverb that says “train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not soon depart from it.” What Capital is doing here is evident in every face.

Catherine – The highlight and lowlight of today for me was the same moment. I was talking with two girls that were about 13 years old. They both pulled out their name tags and asked me if their “special friend” (sponsor) was here. Neither of their sponsors were here with us, nor had they ever visited Swaziland before. It was incredible to realize that these kids really consider us a significant part of their life. On the other hand, it broke my heart to see the excitement and anticipation on their face in hopes of meeting their “special friend” from the U.S. only to realize they weren’t here. It isn’t feasible for many of us to travel half way across the world to Swaziland. However, sending a simple message to these kids is so easy! I never realized how meaningful it is to these little children to know that someone cares about them — even someone they have never met before.

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26May

The Joys of a Special Friend

A sly smile peeks out as I open the envelope. A giggle as they see the picture. A full laugh as they recognize the person in the picture – and that person is you, their Special Friend. Today I had the opportunity to hand out the cards that many of you wrote to your Special Friends at Mkhombokati. I wish each of you could have seen the joy you brought to the faces of your Special Friends by sending a picture and a note to them. They LOVE hearing from you and seeing your picture! As I walked around the CarePoint after the distribution, I saw several kids showing their cards to their friends, comparing pictures and talking about the notes inside. A few words of encouragement go so far in the lives of these children. If you were unable to send a note and a picture with the team, please take a few minutes to write to your child at www.hopechest.org/community/mkhombokati/write.

Today was a whirlwind at the CarePoint. Two tire swings were hung, four benches were built, hundreds of cards and t-shirts were handed out and endless hugs, high fives and hellos were exchanged. The joy these children have is overwhelming. The team jumped in excitedly and began to forge new relationships and rekindle already established ones. It was so great to greet the bomage and Swazi staff that I have worked with in years past. And to see the growth of the kids in the two years since I’ve been to Mkhombokati was astonishing. It was a crazy busy day but one that will always be remembered in my mind and heart.

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26May

Meeting Lindo

I never thought I’d find myself being ministered to by someone more than 10 years younger. But today, I met Lindo. She is a shepherd at one of the care points in Swaziland, just helping our team today at Mkhombokati.

Lindo is quiet and shy – unless she’s working to corral preschoolers! She opened up to me after a few minutes, though, and she shared with me her favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 41:10, which reads, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

This is a young woman who has nothing, and yet who is grateful for everything she has. She lost her parents at a young age, and yet she told me she has always known she has a father in heaven who loves her and considers her his precious daughter, and he is enough. She doesn’t know yet what he has in store for her – but she knows he has a plan for her and she is willing to follow him.

Lindo told me she tries always to have a spirit of praise, because of that love.

This is a shepherd – a Swazi who grew up at a care point, went on to the Swazi Leadership Academy, and is now giving back to other young people. This is what Capital’s support over the years has done.

God is GOOD.

–Becky

25May

Tomorrow is the Day!

The team has made it to their hotel in Swaziland with no problems.  We have spent some time getting to know each other, as well as the local staff and culture. Tomorrow is the day we have been getting ready for since November – the first day at Mkhombokati Care Point! We are all feeling an array of emotions as we get ready to love on the kids that God has put on our hearts. Please continue to pray for our safety and that God’s work will be done in this wonderful place.

 

Grace and Peace,

-Amber, Jamie, Jaron, Jason, Lori, Becky, and Catherine

24May

The Eagle has Landed!

The 2015 Swaziland Mission Team has arrived safely in Johannesburg. It was a long flight, but we are relieved to be on the ground and to start our work in Swaziland tomorrow! We have met up with local mission members and everything is on schedule for our departure to Swaziland. We are excited and will keep you all updated!

– Amber, Jaron, Jamie, Jason, Lori, Catherine, and Becky

11May

Packing Day 2015

The 2015 Capital Swaziland mission team met on Saturday morning to pack all of our checked bags that we will be taking with us on our trip.

The team packed 16 fifty pound bags that we will be taking to the care point. The bags contain school supplies and notebooks for the kids, a t-shirt for each child and staff member, supplies for the bomages, soccer balls and games, and more.

All of the team members are excited that the trip is almost here. The last few months have flown by and we can’t believe in 13 days we’ll be getting on a plane for Africa. Please continue praying for the team as we enter our final preparations (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) over the next 12 days. Pastor Troy will be praying over the team at all 3 services next weekend (May 16 and 17) at Capital Church as part of the mission trip send off.

Enjoy a few photos from packing day and of the team.

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