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Hope Is Rising

August 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

It brought so much joy to my heart to read the following post. I love reliving last month’s memories of our first moments with the Bheveni children & bomake. It was such a precious time – as Margo describes – we are no longer strangers, but family. Not only are their names & faces becoming more familiar to us, but their awareness of why we are there is highly evident. We are forming relationships – trusted relationships.

This has been my heart-cry for over three years now, that God would pour His love through us – whatever it takes – so the children would have not only the opportunity for a brighter future, but be filled with a sense of hope, knowing they are valued & are not standing alone. I believe that is happening. Especially when I hear other team members’ experiences, as I’m about to share with you. In a country whose statistics are grim, even threatened by the extinction of the Swazi race – Hope is Rising. Joy is Abounding. God is moving. To the ends of the Earth, the hope of His love & salvation IS growing. 

Many of you are a part of creating that hope. You give. You pray. You write. You go. {You even buy T-shirts & take #selfies just so you can show the children half a world away how much they are loved! More on that subject in a later post.} For now, read the amazing first-hand experience of a woman whose heart has been captured, yet set free to love the children of Swaziland!

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The planning for my trip this year pretty much started almost 2 years ago – the day I got home from Swaziland the first time. I knew with the very first smile, the first hug, that it was not if but when I would return.

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The B-Team (B for Bheveni… pretty clever, right?) really doesn’t get serious planning done until the last 6 months or so before we leave. Danielle and Mike, our fearless leaders, do the hard part with the planning – the dates, logistics, the contacts with Children’s HopeChest, setting up the conference calls. The rest of us get to wait for the details. Once the technical stuff is set we get to jump in and start planning the fun stuff: what we’re going to do with the kids. We also discuss what sort of things we can bring to bless the carepoint and the kids. This can sometimes be tricky for us; our first inclination is to try to collect anything and everything that we can. Who wouldn’t want to drop an entire Super Target right smack in the middle of a field and let them loose? But we have to limit what we bring – not only because we have limited baggage space, but more importantly because our visit is not about stuff.Hygiene supplies and underwear are very helpful but they only last so long. Smiles, hugs, laughter – those memories are permanent.

With that being said, I have to say that I had the most awesome time collecting supplies. Each member of our team signed up to bring different items that we planned on handing out. It’s a collect-what-you-can-and-buy-the-rest sort of deal. I put the word out with the items that I wanted to collect and every single item was donated. EVERY SINGLE ITEM. My facebook friends rocked my world – I had stuff shipped to me from different states! I had a trunk load of candy dropped off at my house! I had people contacting me asking what else I needed. And when I came up with the idea of collecting yarn and knitting needles to bring with I had people donating bags and bags of supplies!

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I also felt like this time around I had so much support from friends and family just in general. Not that I didn’t get support during my first trip but this time I really felt the love. Maybe it’s because people realized that it wasn’t just a one time thing for me, maybe (hopefully) people felt connected to my journey and to Swaziland, maybe it was to make me shut my trap because I can’t stop talking about how much I love Swaziland – I can’t really say. I had a lot of people send me encouraging words, people generously blessed us financially, and there were people praying for me, my family, and the entire trip. At the risk of sounding ridiculously corny, I felt like I had my own little “village” cheering me on throughout the whole process of preparing for, and while I was on the trip.

I’ll skip the details of the travel time (a day and a half? two days?) and get to the good stuff: Bheveni Carepoint. We left Johannesburg, South Africa in the morning and drove the 5-6 hours to get across the Swazi border and to where we were staying. We basically dropped our luggage off at the Guest House (that’s where we stay – it’s like a hotel only much smaller) and headed to Bheveni so we could see the kids for a couple of hours. Our team this year had 17 people and of the 17, only 6 had been to Bheveni – but everyone was equally excited. As we approached the carepoint my heart sped up. I couldn’t wait to see everyone again! My mind was racing… would I recognize the kids? It had been almost 2 years since I had seen them. Would they remember me? Surely not. Will the Bomake (Bo-MA-gay – the women that keep the carepoint running) be the same? Will any of them remember us?

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We had discussed on the drive to the carepoint that we were not even going to take our cameras out during this first visit – mostly because we wanted to get (re)acquainted with our friends here and not have it turn into a circus. Also, we Americans can sometimes forget with all of our technology to actually live the moment instead of just recording it.

I tell you, as I stepped out of our bus and got the first real look at the beautiful blue building and all of the children running around it, I got goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I remember thinking ‘I’m home.’

It didn’t take long before we were surrounded with children – giggling, whispering, hands reaching out for hands. We made our way over to the “kitchen” area so we could greet the Bomake and I was surprised and in awe that most of them remembered me. My highlight from the day was when Gcebile, (Nay-BE-lay) the preschool teacher who I bonded with during the last trip, walked up to me and said “Margo!” as she embraced me. That she remembered my name after all of this time – it was awesome.

We spent the afternoon playing and talking and holding and hugging kids of all ages – it was heaven. We got to see the Bomake in action and even help a little – cooking and serving the kids. We got our first look at the garden that has become the pride and joy of the carepoint.

Even though it was only a few hours at the carepoint and it was just a taste of the joy that we would feel throughout the week…. it was an incredible day.

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Shine On!

Danielle

Create Hope Today!

July 23, 2013 — Leave a comment
Prayer is the difference between what we can do and what God can do!

Prayer is the difference between what we can do and what God can do!

Today a team of 17 embarks on a journey from America to Swaziland, Africa. Thousands of miles & dollars, hundreds of emails, lists & hours planning, dozens of calls & dozens of bags…

all come to this point.

July 23rd, 2013.

It’s GO time!

And still, without actually creating hope in the lives of the adults & children we are going to visit, ‘go time’ won’t matter much. In truth, the only way hope is created in or through us is in prayer followed by faith-filled action. It all starts with God, and if we wanna do anything of eternal significance we need HIS heart & His plan!

If we’re not interested in glorifying God or creating hope in the lives of other people, we might as well just snap a few pictures of cute kids and call it a third-world vacation. No thank you.

Thus, prayer must be our priority; because God is glorified when His plan is put to action.

Will you join us? We are all on this journey together – some go to Africa, some go to their prayer closets, but we are a team united in purpose, right? This online community has been incredible with unwavering faith, excited support & generous hearts for months now! {My goodness, almost 600 Create Hope shirts were purchased – and we see those Tees popping up all over place! It has been a wonderful example of unified support & faith!} 

Our team has asked for these specific prayer needs as we depart today:

-Safe travels, that everyone makes it to Dulles on time and no SAA airline strikes coming or going!

-The baggage (filled with sponsor gifts & ministry supplies) will all arrive!

-For sensitivity in relating to the children, bomake (grandmas who volunteer to cook at the carepoint daily) and each other. Pray that we open ourselves to be God’s vessels and to being used for His will.

-Pray that we stay relational-oriented, rather than task-oriented.

-That we are a blessings not just to the children but to the missionaries serving in Africa.

-To take time daily to be still and thank and communicate with God.

-That God will be glorified in everything we do!

-For all of our families back home, that things would run smoothly, for protection around them.

-Also for patience, endurance, physical wellness, no injuries, bug bites or illness. AND all of our Gal 5:22-23 fruits manifest…

-And finally, also pray for Mike & I to lead with humility, grace, wisdom & joy!

We will of course be posting other prayer needs, photos and stories along the way. Be sure to subscribe to this blog (right column) so you can know what’s going on!

Shine On!

Danielle

ps. Meet the incredible B13 Team here!