Upon returning from a missions trip such as this, you expect to hear and read about how our lives have forever been altered by what we have seen and heard. Right?
I want to give you that joy.
I’m just not sure how.
My life has forever been altered by Swaziland, and more specifically by the women & children at our Bheveni Carepoint. Yet, somehow words don’t seem to be enough to describe exactly how this happened. I fell in love. And love usually can’t be explained easily.
But I will try.
I love Swaziland, Africa.
I love the terrain of expansive mountains & flowing valleys.
I love the hot sun.
I even love the African animals.
But mostly, I love the people.
Swaziland’s currency is not money. It is relationships. Think about that for a minute. They don’t want my money. They want my heart. And they freely give theirs.
Not once did I get the sense that the Swazi children or adults were looking for a hand out. No, they were looking for my hand and my heart. My hand and heart – to come alongside them, to serve with them, to work with them, to sing and dance with them.
I need Swaziland more than Swaziland needs me, if I’m really honest with myself.
I come away from Africa with a sense that I’ve been blessed more than I’ve been a blessing.
In a place that we know there is desperate need, a greater joy resides. We know there is starvation, poverty, lack, death all around, yet the African’s joy remains in their hearts and across their faces. Their heartfelt gratitude for small things was extremely humbling.
My focus has changed. It’s not so much now what I can give them or how I can show them to rightly live. They have taught me how to live above my circumstances in JOY, not with sermons preached, but with their actions.
The children at Bheveni have never flushed a toilet, never taken a hot shower, most only have one outfit they call their own, and chances are they’ve seen more death in their childhood than you or I will see in our lifetime – yet their joy is FULL. Circumstance does not define them.
Giggles resound all morning, as 25-35 preschoolers happily play in the dirt under the hot sun, with broken sticks and pipe they’ve found laying around. Soon the Bomakes (pronounced Bo-ma-gay, meaning mothers) and Go-Go’s (as grandmothers are often called) call them to wash their hands & eat their porridge and each child gladly washes their own plate when they’ve eaten all their food. They look for no one to entertain them. They know the go-gos are busy all morning cooking up pap & beans so more than 100 school children can have a meal when they come to the Carepoint after school.
The school children love learning and seem to know how meaningful a solid education can be in Swaziland. They come walking down the dirt road towards the Carepoint with big smiles, looking forward to their only meal of the evening and some free, safe play time before their walk home. Some live only a few minutes from the Carepoint, others live an hour’s walk away.
During our afternoons at Bheveni, children from ages 3 and up stood for 30-40 minutes shoulder to shoulder, intently listening to Jim, our storyteller. On Friday afternoon, some of the older children put on a drama for us that they had learned at the Carepoint. The drama was the story of Joseph being left for dead by his brothers and how God saved a dying nation through one man’s obedience. The drama was both meaningful & very entertaining. A couple of the boys seemed to enjoy reenacting the ‘fight scene’ where Joseph got beat up!
While we took many gifts & provisions for the children, I would venture to guess all my B-Team members would whole-heartedly agree that the Bheveni children blessed us far more than we could have blessed them.
Yes, I definitely fell in love while in Swaziland. I pray that over the course of the next weeks & months I will be able to share more stories with you about the children who come to the Bheveni Carepoint.
May all of us gain a greater insight as to how to pray for them and love them. May you know that every prayer & every letter you’ve sent to your sponsored child has been received with so much appreciation and love. You are making a difference in the lives of these children.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the B-Team through prayers, gifts of time and resources. Before our trip, we said many times that we go not only representing God, but representing more than 500 Carepoint supporters. Now, we return also hoping to rightly represent the children of Bheveni and those who minister to them daily. May our resolve to love and partner with them be even stronger in the coming days!
Danielle, Mike & the B-Team