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13May

Let Your Light Shine

Today, we introduced the “let your light shine” theme to all of the kids by talking about Matthew 5:14-16. It says, “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden – no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, it is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” The children of Mkhombokati are truly the light of the world. As the Bible story was being translated, you could see their eyes light up with a passion for Christ. Read More »

13May

Pickaxes and Paint Brushes

Team Update, May 13, 2014 What a long and productive day we had! The 2014 Swazi Team stepped onto Mkhobokati this morning for the first time. After greeting the makes and the care point staff, the team shared a short devotional before beginning the day’s activities. Soon, the team split up to paint the outside of Make Shoba’s new house, help dig a new foundation for Make Shongwe’s new house, and stay back at the care point to hold, love and play with the preschoolers. After lunch, the VBS began in earnest with worship songs complete with Tyler’s guitar playing and Bridget’s hand movements. Read More »

12May

Views & Candlelight

Sanibonani from Swaziland! Today we made the final leg of our long journey here.  We spent last night at the Aviator Hotel in Johannesburg, which was a nice hotel near the airport with a definite aviator theme – think WWII bomber-inspired decor.  After good night’s sleep and a good breakfast, we hit the road for the 4-5 hour drive to Manzini.  We stopped at Azlu for lunch, which I think of as the best travel rest stop I’ve ever seen.  It’s a restaurant and convenience store that overlooks a wildlife area…and since it’s in South Africa, that wildlife includes water buffalo, zebras, rhinos, ostriches, and a few animals you probably wouldn’t even find in most American zoos.  People from past teams might recall how the men’s restroom there was said to have a great view that overlooks the wildlife area; Read More »

12May

Amazing People

It has only been roughly 51 hours since I left Salt Lake.  Essentially two season of Jack Bauer into this trip, and, through mostly sleep deprivation, it feels like a fortnight (“fortnight” is a great word for scrabble by the way).  And even though we have yet to make it to the carepoint, I have been reminded of some of most incredible, unbelievable, amazing people I have ever met in my life.  Let me run down the “Awesomeness Inventory” for you.  First we have:

Read More »

11May

10 Sleepovers

It seems like just moments ago we arose bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and scurried our way to the airport ready to set-off for this beautiful country. Now just hours away from actually crossing the border to Swaziland, albeit a little less bright-eyed and not-so-bushy tailed, but soaking up some comfortable sprawled-out rest in our lovely accommodations (no sarcasm folks, it’s flat-out beautiful), I’m left to reflect on how we arrived here.

For Shelli and I, it began six years ago. Tom Davis first spoke at Capital Church and we eagerly raced back to sponsor our special friend over the last few years: little 8 year old Menzi. That’s where this journey began. Menzi is 14 now. Fourteen. That little boy is almost a young man. Given the circumstances of many teenagers out our carepoint, he is almost certainly more a man than I ever had to be at that age. Six years of growing, changing, writing, praying, and dreaming. Read More »

11May

We Arrived in South Africa!

Team Update May 11, 2014

We arrived…and so did all our bags!  We are all grateful that our journey here went very smoothly.  In Chicago we opted to spend a few minutes of our lunchtime viewing the “Magic Bean” art installation (a feat of perspective painted on a concave surface to look as if it were painted on a flat surface).  As our flight to Amsterdam neared its end, we were treated to a curved horizon sunrise, and just before landing we rode between two glorious, sundrenched layers of clouds.  Amsterdam held tiny Dutch pancakes and stroopwafels for many of us. A little dehydrated and sleep deprived, but no worse for wear, we are all happy to have met Mark and snuggled into our rooms here in Johannesburg for the night. More tomorrow.  Good night and happy Mother’s Day to all our moms!

8May

Free.

Here we are! And we leave next Saturday morning at 7am – bound for Swaziland, Africa.

This group is the seventh mission team in just about that many years to be traveling to our friends at Mkhombokati. We are honored to represent Capital. All two thousand or so pounds are packed and ready to go and after many months, we are too.

It is a privilege to love and play and teach the children so many of you sponsor. And so know that your arms and hearts extend through ours next week. We would appreciate your prayers throughout this process we’ll regularly post our status and stories and prayer requests here.

Thank you to everyone that has given time, resources and prayer to this mission and to this ministry.

We have planned this trip to provide both the word through teaching and discipleship activities we have planned as well as the deed through some physical projects.

We are especially excited to work on the homes of the women who serve and care and cook for our 200 sponsored kids. Last year, we were shocked to see one of their homes and learn that Make Sibongile and seven children lived here. Sibongile would stay up all night, holding up a blanket when it rained to try and keep the children dry. We asked the Capital community for $8,000 last fall to build her a home and your generosity allowed this to happen.

When the house was finished, Sibongile told the missionary team in Swaziland, “I’ve lost words to express my thankfulness for the help that I have received from the Capital Church and may God bless each one of them and their families. I never thought I would own a modern house like this one. I now feel free because storm and rains are not going to bother me anymore.”

Free. She feels free.

Will you help us allow the other 4 women to feel this freedom? We ask for your financial support for this “Open Doors Movement.”

16Apr

Fund A Future

Almost one year ago to the day, I was in a hotel in Swaziland, Africa when I heard a young woman crying in a restroom. Heaving, sobbing, can’t-catch-your-breath kind of grief. The next ten minutes wrote a story on my heart … and it’s one I’m ready to tell. In a couple of weeks and after many thousands of miles of travel, I hope to find her again when I return to the hotel where she worked when I first met her. I don’t know her name but she is someone I will never forget – someone who simply wants a future and whose future, with your help, I want to fund. She represents 200,000 children and teenagers in a country with a 40% unemployment rate and the highest AIDS rate in the world. These young men and women are looking for something simple: hope!

Watch this video to hear this story and consider how you can help Fund A Future.

If you choose to give, please indicate “Fund A Future” in your online transaction. Thank you!

Note to those who attend Capital Church: this effort is a personal one, separate from the wonderful, ongoing Capital programs that are committed to supporting the Swaziland ministry.

13Mar

Shop Your Closet for Swazi!

We are in need of gently-used children’s clothing – sizes 3T to XL (14 or 16). No socks, shoes or underwear please. Deliver to Capital Church (1010 East 700 South, SLC) by March 22nd.

Yesterday I went shopping. I had a precious hour to find a few things. I survived the typical, horribly-lit dressing room which prevents, by my estimation, at least another thirty percent in store sales annually. I eventually found more than I planned to purchase. More, of course, than I needed. Got home, brought my new threads up to my closet and found myself with a problem. Hangers. See, I have a rule. In order to hang up something new, I need an empty hanger – and no new hangers are allowed. With my hangers taken, something has to be donated. What ever is a girl to do. For the second time that day, it was time to start shopping.

This May, the 2014 Swaziland Mission Team will be bringing thousands of pounds of carefully chosen supplies to our Mkhombokati friends. Part of that poundage is a “new” outfit for each of the 200 kids it’s our privilege to serve. Swazi-style shopping doesn’t involve tags that need to be ripped off. Instead, new = gently used. And gladly, sadly, madly … I have plenty of that. So, I shopped my closet for Nokwanda and Anita and Dora and Sihle and Zama, among others. I could just picture them, showing up at the Carepoint the day after they receive these outfits, strolling through the gates and up the Swazi-style catwalk with lowered eyes and sly smiles, clothed in their version of “new” — and in the strength and dignity we are promised.

My old becoming their new.

Doesn’t that somehow sound like what I hope for my heart? That my old becomes His new? “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Sitting among empty hangers, I know I can’t buy what I really want to wear. Money is of no use. I just want to get dressed in a way that pleases God.

16May

The Old Man and the Tree


We started the garden by spreading 100 pound bags of lyme to help with the PH of the soil.  We had some of the older boys helping us but they were shortly disinterested in helping like many teenagers can be.  I started giving them a hard time that a 43 year-old had already done twice the work as they had.  They could not believe that I was 43, but the gray hairs in my now 5 day-old beard seemed to convince them.  As I left them to go spread some more lyme, on another part of the garden, I looked back and the newly re-motivated teens had a spontaneous push-up contest between them to see who was the strongest.
… All it takes to live in the bush is the ability to climb a tree.  On the last day, I was standing around talking to three teenage boys from earlier in the week.  From the first day, I was known as Mr. Johnsen, or “Old Man”.  The boys invited me to stay at their house the next time I visit.  I told them that would be very nice and that I could bring a tent to sleep in.  They said that would be fine, and that there were no wild animals in the bush here, but over the mountain, there were baboons and wild boars.  My response to them was to just give me a spear or a bow and some arrows and I would be okay.  They laughed and said, “No, that would not work.”  I told them that the four of us with spears could take down the boar if we all attacked at once.  They still were not convinced.  They said that to live in the bush, you had to be able to climb a tree to get out of danger.  I told them that I could climb a tree.  They looked at me and said, “But you are an old man and can’t climb a tree.”  So, we went over to the big shade tree and I jumped up, grabbing the lowest limb.  After making my way half way up, one of the boys joined me.  We climbed down and once on the ground, they told me that I could live in the bush.
~ Old Man (AKA., Eric)
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