Archives For Swaziland

“Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matt. 28:19-20

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.07.17 PMAs most of you know, my husband and I volunteer with an incredibly God-centered, orphan-focused, long-term child advocacy ministry called Children’s HopeChest. We have partnered with HopeChest & Swaziland native staff to use the tools God has given to support & disciple a specific community of children. We are committed to building relationships with these 200+ kids through sponsorship, prayer, regular mission trips (Enough involvement for them to know they are not alone… but not so much they fail to recognize their own God-given potential to thrive & succeed apart from assistance.)

In September 2015, a new team is set to visit the children with a new team leader. Kim Caraway, though this is her first official time leading the trip by herself, has been heavily involved in helping us lead three of our past trips. She had the logistical knowledge she needs, but even more important she has a passionate heart that seeks no glory for herself, but only to be a conduit for Jesus’ love. She leads well, friends.

Will you consider joining the Bheveni Team 2015 (B15)? Below are lots of details, but don’t let the details be the determining factor. Let the Lord lead you to know if this is your time to set aside and GO BE the Gospel to the ends of the earth!

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Kim Caraway doing what she does best… Bringing joy & hope to children everywhere!

Swaziland Mission Trip on behalf of Children’s HopeChest 

Dates & Location: September 12-24, 2015 Bheveni Carepoint, Manzini, Swaziland

Cost: *$3500 Estimated Total Air & Land Costs

{$1700 land costs includes lodging, in-country transportation, food, drinks and travel insurance. Land cost may change slightly depending on the size of the group. Airfare costs vary depending on availability & departure city.}

Trip Leader: Kim Caraway, HopeChest Sponsor & Volunteer

Purpose: To be living representatives of Christ’s love. To hand-deliver the Hope of a Father who has not forgotten the children of Swaziland. To assist in empowering the orphan & at-risk children through true encouragement, serving any way we can, and fostering their independence that leads to long-term growth & development.

Who: Adults 18+ years of age. We have people from all over the USA join us, and sponsors and non-sponsors alike are welcome! We firmly believe that people need the opportunity to see and experience the impact of child sponsorship, as well as the opportunity to be the hands-on love of Christ to children who have been marginalized or forgotten by their own society. This year, spend 355 days making a difference in your own town, your own state… and invest 10 days into going completely out of your comfort zone to make life a little bit better for children around the world.

Itinerary: Much of the days are spent simply being with and playing with the kids, and helping the volunteer cooks who daily serve the children. We will also do brief, relevant Bible lessons. In addition, we conduct home visits throughout the week, meet the children’s caregivers, and bring them at least a month’s worth of food & supplies. The days are long, and hard work, but absolutely worth it. Typically the last day is when we see a little more of Swaziland & do some shopping, as most flights leave very late at night. CHECK OUT THE SWEET SLIDESHOW BELOW FROM PAST TRIPS!

Costs: Children’s HopeChest application (given to trip leader) and land cost deposit of $250.00 are due July 6th. To pay online HopeChest’s Website under the “DONATE” tab at the top right, fill out all the information for “trip payment” be sure to use our trip code SZ150901T in the ‘reference’ section & traveler’s name in the ‘notes’ section. Please email Kim Caraway when you make a payment. kim.caraway@yahoo.com

Second payment of $250.00 is due (8 weeks out – July 22nd)            

Final Trip Payment is due (4 weeks out – August 22nd)

Flights: You will book and purchase your own flight (either using our travel agent or book on your own), but you must arrive and depart the same airport at the same time as the trip leader. Tickets will be purchased appx. 6-8 weeks prior to travel.

Accommodations: You will stay in a hotel in Johannesburg and in a safe, clean Guest House in Manzini. At all times you will have a HopeChest staff person (guide &  translator)  with you once your plane lands.

Medical: To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. We follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines for vaccination recommendations.

Passport: Please verify when you apply that your passport is current AND has at least FOUR blank pages.

Need an application? Have questions? Comment here or Contact kim.caraway@yahoo.com 

Shine On! 

Danielle

—>R.L.P.S. {Really Long Post Script} There’s always the question of “Is going worth it? It’s expensive! Wouldn’t it be better for us just to send the money to the people, that we’re going to spend on airfare & hotel?”

The answer is yes, and no. It IS worth it to go. And yes, there ARE times when it is better to send funds. But there are two things that money can not give a child (near or far) – and those things aren’t things at all – tangible hugs & time. The majority of the children we serve have been abandoned or have lost their parents due to the AIDS pandemic. Having adults come to just love & play with & listen to them means the WORLD!

We go as ambassadors of Christ, sharing His love & being His hands to wrap around the kids who desperately need to know they are valued & cared for. Jesus Himself came in the flesh, to the people – to all people – as a missionary of love. We are following in His footsteps, taking the Gospel message of love into all the world, as the Bible describes in Matthew 28:16-20. Throughout the year, we serve & love locally, and once a year we ‘go to the uttermost parts of the earth’! THAT is a cost I’m willing to pay! How about you?”

You might be a recovering short-term missionary if…

1. You’re still wearing the long skirts you wore in Africa because you realize they really are so comfortable… and no one can see your berenstain-bear-level of hairy bristles you once called legs. bonus!

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2. You have a deer-stuck-in-the-headlights look on your face. Yeah, even you see it in the mirror. “I don’t know what is happening to me, but I know it’s gonna hurt. Brace for impact!!!’

3. You don’t know how to answer, ‘How was your trip?’ so you just say, ‘It was good; hard but good.” You don’t want to trivialize it to the point of it just being an adventure or mere vacation, because you didn’t rough it as much as you thought you would. Yet you also don’t want to over-share, fearing that your friends will from now on run the other way when they see you & your extra-long skirt trotting down the grocery story aisle or at upcoming school activities.

What happens here, stays here… lest I over-share.

What happens here, stays here…                            lest I over-share.

4. You have never in your life been so excited to see a Chick-Fil-A (and that’s saying something). It’s like you’re not officially back in America if you haven’t made two necessary stops from the airport: Chick-Fil-A & Starbucks. Granted, you feel bad that you haven’t even left the airport yet and you’re already stuffing your face with first-world luxuries. But still you do.

Side note: My friend & I happened to be rerouted overnight through Atlanta on our way to Johannesburg (after our flight was cancelled) a few weeks ago. We made the best of it, encouraging each other “Hey! At least we can wake up tomorrow from the #notellmotel {thanks for that United Airlines!} and get airport Chick-Fil-A for breakfast!!!” Our dreams were crushed when a lady overheard us talking about CFA on the tram ride… she said, “Um, it’s Sunday.” WHAT??? I didn’t lose my salvation but I’d never in my life wanted a business owner to be more of a heathen… pretty sure Jesus would want his chicken sandwich on Sundays too.

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5. You’re kinda pissed off. At yourself. At your ‘blessings’. At America. At your church. At First-World issues that distract us from dying children… see #4. For the first few days & weeks, you are confused, frustrated & your heart is breaking. You can’t quite reconcile how just hours & days prior to this you witnessed some of the most difficult of circumstances, yet some of the strongest and most joyful people you’ve ever met. And how on earth are you supposed to share those stories with grace & joy?

Isabel & toddler selfies!

Isabel & toddler selfies!

In a nutshell, you’re wrecked for the ordinary.

Jeff Goins, in his Manifesto for Misfits describes being wrecked like this:

To be “wrecked” is to be disabused of the status quo. It means to have a redemptive transformation, often catalyzed by a brush with the pain of a dying world. The process is anything but pretty. It’s harsh and real and painfully honest. Finding out who you are and what your place is feels like a sweater unwinding thread-by-thread. Your old life begins to make less and less sense in light of your new priorities, and it seems futile to rebuild the old way of living.

At first, it’s disorienting—maybe even distracting. It calls out of you the greatest parts of you— the parts you might be afraid to let out.

To be wrecked begins with an experience. It pulls you out of your comfort zone and, consequently, out of self-centeredness. Whether you want it or not, this is what happens—your old narcissistic dreams begin to fade in light of something bigger, something better. The process leaves you with a paradigm that is still left standing after the “real world” has slammed into your ideals a couple dozen times. It’s hard, but only because all things worth fighting for are hard. Being wrecked means that everything you believe about this world, yourself, and your destiny is now in question. Because you’ve seen something larger.

In the end, you’re not who you were before. You’re different. You’re changed. You may even feel like your old values have been, in a sense, ruined by this new worldview. As confusing or as difficult as that may sound, it’s a good thing. 

I encourage you to read the full Manifesto for Misfits which can be downloaded here.

It’s incredibly insightful & encouraging.

This post was originally intended to bring some light-hearted levity to what can be a difficult transition between two continents & realities that you desperately love. But I’m seeing there are very little resources for those who return from short-term missions, especially those endeavoring to do it ‘right’; in a way that honors both God & those who have so graciously allowed you into their lives. If nothing else, I hope you, short-term missionary with your unshaven legs, can see that you are not alone in the difficulties of re-entry. Allow the Lord to continue His good work in you. It’s not over just because you have returned from Africa! No, no no! Jesus said ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” Today, wherever you are, there is a world of people all around you waiting to hear the good news of the Gospel! Go! Live His love BIG in your family, your school, your neighborhood and your workplace!

Shine On!

Danielle

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 9.00.12 AMTake my hand

We’ll make it, I swear!

Ohh! Ohh!

Livin’ on a prayer!

{Bon Jovi, chapter 1, verse 3, Hard Rock Version}

If you are a product of the late 1980s, early 90s, you know this song. Even if you were raised holy… you know the kind of home that did not allow Halloween costumes, rock music, Smurfs or especially the sounds of Scooby Doo to permeate the peace of your home. You may not have been allowed to trick-or-treat, but you knew the chorus of Livin’ on a Prayer, despite your parents best intentions to protect your virgin ears. Bon Jovi was everywhere. *swoon*

And for the record, your parents were probably listening to it when you weren’t in the car!  I know this because my radio station is set according to when the kids are or are not in the car. Can I help it that I like P!nk? Or Usher, usher, usher? Murderous love songs by Bruno Mars? Yes I’m sure I can, but sometimes you just need to cut loose and feel the beat… it doesn’t have to be your life’s anthem and it doesn’t mean you’re going to hell if you still know 98% of the words to Ice, Ice Baby. Alright Stop. Collaborate and listen…

Wait, what was the point of this post?

Oh yeah, prayer.

We need prayer. I need prayer. (if you didn’t already figure that for yourself, after reading the first two paragraphs!)

The Bible says God uses the foolish, ordinary things of this world to confound the wise. I think of this verse so often because I am foolish and ordinary. I really am. Only my closest family & friends know how true this is. Apart from Jesus, I have nothing to offer. And thank GOD for that! Jesus really is the only One worth living for anyway!

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Right click to save this to your Mac desktop!

Now that you are armed with the knowledge I just shared… I beg for your prayers as Mike & I follow Jesus where He’s called us (& our team) once again… to the other side of the earth for 12 days to Swaziland, Africa. I woke extra early this morning with the realization that all of this preparation, all the gathering of supplies, all the coordinating of sponsor letters & cards Here are a few!… it is all because of prayers answered by our Heavenly Father who has brought us all together. Glory to God!

It’s not the prayer alone. It’s the One-Who-Answers-The-Prayers that has made all the difference, who is orchestrating this particular mission & is seeing to it that children of Swaziland, who once thought themselves forgotten, can no longer wonder if they are loved with extravagant, reach-across-the-world kind of love. God goes to great lengths to show His love, doesn’t He? He asks no less of us. For some, it’s a great length to knock on the neighbor’s door and invite them over for a bonfire. For others, it’s a farther distance, but the same faith & boldness are needed for both, so that God’s love can shine through us; not as ones who come to rescue, but simply come to build relationship.

Our team leaves for Swaziland, Africa this week. We hail from Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, and even Minnesota! Will you pray for us & the children?

I’ve made this snazzy daily prayer bookmark. I know, be jealous. I’ve had no professional training in the graphic arts. Yet, this Word document bookmark exists somehow. Jesus.

Here it is…. please, if you haven’t already, start praying cuz

Ohhhhhh! We’re halfway there!!! Ohh-ohh! We’re Livin’ on a prayer!!!

Shine On!

Danielle

Sent.

July 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’m about to knock your socks off.

(I know this because my socks were literally knocked off when I heard our pastor say this on Sunday)

Get ready.

Being a follower of Jesus does NOT equal going to church.

Yes a pastor said this.

(cue the amen!)

Go pick up your socks and consider what being a follower of Christ really does mean. Here’s what our pastor said & I agree.

Being a follower of Jesus means you & I are SENT!

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Before we get to the juicy ‘sent’ part, I want to talk about church. For some odd ball reason last week the Lord gave me this message that took about 10 minutes to write. I knew it was from the Lord because, well, usually a blog post takes me anywhere from three hours to three years, give or take.

It struck a chord with people. Spiritual abuse, often in a church setting, is not something that a good Christian girl wants to talk about. You know, it might hurt people. It might ruffle some feathers. It might have backlash. Or the worst, I might come across as a bitter, cynical, church-hater. I mean, it would seem a post like 5 Really Good Reasons To Leave a Church begging people to ‘run like hell’ (I re-read the post and I literally didn’t know I’d written those words!) from church would only draw people to Jesus, right?

But in actuality, all I did was beg people to see that it is okay to use common sense, and not sit under the leadership of someone who is using the name of Jesus in such a perverse way as to inflict emotional & spiritual pain, by manipulatively drawing people to themselves rather than letting God be God in their lives.

So I’m good with it. Even if there’s backlash from the very ones who inspired the post. God may just be using that simple post to set people free from bondage they are finding in places that should provide respite from pain & bondage. word.

Back to being sent.

Follower of Jesus = Being Sent as He was sent.

Love the Message version of John 3:17 (which happens to be our key verse while teaching in Swaziland, Africa very soon) “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” 

As I learned this weekend, the words sent/send appear almost 300 times in the New Testament! I think God is trying to get His point across.

His Point? Go where I am going!

Where is Jesus going?

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is found with the people. Friend of Sinners. Oh sure, he respects the Sabbath, but not to the point of shunning people in desperate need of comfort, help & healing.

He’s found with the people. Like, real people, people. The rich. The poor. The adulterer. The beggar. The possessed. The hurting. The sick. The deformed. The thief. The fornicator. The fisherman. The unpredictable, clingy children. The drunkard. The liar. Even the tax collector!

If we call ourselves Christians, we are to be following Christ TO the people.

Are you with the people? Mike & I have had to ask ourselves that hard question… hard because being with people, opening our door & our lives is often uncomfortable & challenging. Hospitality is not my gift. 🙂

For the Christian whose spiritual life has been centered around the Sunday-morning-Gospel, its way easier to invite somebody to church than it is to invite them into our everyday lives! It’s easier to clock-in your Sunday morning duties (show up, sing, sit, shake hands, stay awake, etc.) and go home. But easier isn’t life-giving is it? We ALL know that feeling of ‘Dear God, there HAS TO BE MORE than this!!!’, right? Coming out of church feeling drained & beaten up, rather than healed up & revived… this ought not be so!

The kind of Gospel Jesus preached & lived is one that is people-centered, not church-centered.

When we start living this people-centered Gospel we can NO longer blame our lack of zeal, lack of faith, lack of God’s presence on the church or the pastor. The people-centered Gospel beckons us to seek God for how we can live our everyday lives to spread His love & bring Him glory.

This is not a works-Gospel either. It is simply a new way to see the people in your every day life, in your town, in your world as relatable. When our posture (not from The Church of the High & Mighty down the street) is that of building relationships, the ‘works’ of helping & being there for them come naturally. Its a very holy word called FRIENDSHIP!

We overcomplicate it. As I see it, essentially Christ’s message is to show love wherever, however, and to WHOMever He sends us! Hugh Halters, a pastoral renegade of sorts, says we can really only reach people we’re connected to.

For too long, the Pharisaical church has put up walls, both figurative and literal walls. Don’t touch. Be quiet. Keep your distance. Look clean. Pay your dues. And by all means, don’t ask questions.

But what did Jesus exemplify?

His life (& death) screamed, “I AM ONE OF YOU!”

He refused to put up walls. He welcomed people, welcomed touch, welcomed interruptions, and was more than comfortable around people who were far from God.

I don’t know about you, but this is a whole new paradigm shift in the way I view the Gospel. Even more than that, it just makes me in awe of God, and makes Him seem more approachable and accepting of me (beyond the sin that He & I both know are there).

Keep going to church, people. Don’t get your spiritual panties in a wad. But perhaps ask the Lord this week to open your eyes to opportunities that are all around you to share His love & live a sent life.

Shine On!

Danielle

ps. Eleven of us are being sent (nice segway, huh?) to Swaziland, Africa in 10ish days. We covet your prayers. Pray that we go with the posture of visiting a good friend’s house: that we not take over, but honor their home, culture & ways of life. Pray that we speak from God’s heart, not our own good intentions. Pray for the children’s hearts & lives – may we really see them and serve them as Jesus would.

Pss. Thanks Pastor Carl for not needing fame, not needing numbers, not needing a pat on the back. For that reason, here’s a pat on the back. Keep loving Jesus. It’s contagious, dude.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.55.39 PMThere’s only about 8” of space between our brains & our hearts, but it amazes me how these two regions can seem like they are on the opposite ends of the world.

Ever feel that way? Do you feel the constant struggle to listen to logic & reason versus listening to your heart, where dreams & passions are birthed?

If you asked, I’d say most days I live out of my heart. It may be due to the fact that logic seems like a foreign language to me: it does not come naturally, nor does it develop without practice & taking the risk of making mistakes. See? Even that seems illogical, doesn’t it?

Regardless of why, the truth is I tend to live out of my heart. I do things that don’t make much sense. No habla es logica. Cases in point.

*Moving away from my very comfortable life right out of high school, to attend Bible college 800 miles away because I believed that’s what I was called to do. Who cares if I don’t own a car? Or have a job? Or money? Or know how to boil water or sort laundry? for real.

*Applying for a job within that college’s publication department. By applying I mean sending my resume several times, calling over & over again prior to moving there, and stopping-in a few times a week only to hear the receptionist say, ‘not yet!’ Two months into the school year, I got a call for an interview and was hired on the spot. Nobody told me the logical/professional thing to do was to wait it out until they called me. It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

*Getting hitched at 19. So. Not. Logical. But when IS love ever logical, right?

*Agreeing to be the sponsorship coordinator for a Swaziland carepoint with Children’s HopeChest before I knew what I was getting myself (and husband) into. What? I can help bring hope & opportunity to orphaned kids? I am IN! Oh wait, we’re supposed to lead a team there in 3 months? Okay, sure! Why not?

*Even just recently, I agreed to lead our 4th team to Swaziland. I asked the Lord what He would have me do and I heard, “Will you do it for Me?” That was all it took. Logic was yelling at me saying, ‘What the #?$$? If there is ever a year NOT to go, its this year!’ But it was the still small voice of the Lord whispering to my heart the only question that really mattered, to which there was only one answer. Yes. And He’s working out the details beautifully! The trip is happening in just over a month. God is doing His thing (leading), and I’m doing mine (actively listening without fear of what will go wrong).

I have to say looking back, there were times in my life when I jumped heart first into things that I maybe should’ve more thoroughly considered…

 {this is the point where I tried to write a paragraph about how maybe I should be more brainy & how it would’ve saved me both headaches & heartaches. But I can’t. I just can’t!!!}

I wouldn’t trade pursuing dreams & passions for anything! Sure, its not been an easy road. Sure, I could do the conventional things. Oh wait, I can’t even list them here, because I really don’t know what they are! Ha! Where’s the adventure in convention? Where’s the room for faith & trust?

Be aware that our hearts can lead us astray, and our emotions entangle us.

This is not the kind of heart-living I’m talking about. I’m talking about a heart motivated by bringing glory to God, regardless of the personal risks of failure or safety, trusting His wisdom above our own.

And honestly, this kind of passion is usually birthed from seeing God take an awful mess and make something beautiful out of it, in spite of our best efforts to screw it up. I am a mess. Really, I am. I always have been. Ask my mother who spent so much of her time caring for a very sick child, making enough trips to the ER she should’ve had her own ambulance siren. Or, ask my husband. Actually, don’t. There are days when I wonder if he’s already made reservations for me at the looney bin, you know, just in case.

I don’t have it all together, but I have all I need. Living out of passion goes both ways – thorough the highs & the lows. The beautiful part? God is already there waiting on the mountain tops of victory down to the deep dark pits of failure, when all hope seems lost that I’ll get myself together.

His presence sustains, His presence assures, His presence takes the mess that we are and sews a beautiful tapestry that can miraculous be a source of comfort & encouragement to the world around us. What a mighty God we serve! Our role is simply for our trust to remain in Him, and let our hearts follow His lead. There’s no other place I’d rather be. How about you?

Iluminar! {Shine On!}

 

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!

—-

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.

—–

Shine On!

Danielle

I Dare You

July 23, 2013 — 1 Comment

For such a time as this… a divine appointment to travel across the earth to be with our Swazi family once again.

 

In my journal, on a connecting flight to South Africa, I wrote this to God… after I wrote it I thought, ‘Huh, that might bless someone else.’ So here it is, like it or leave. This is how me & Jesus hang out.

I’m so completely grateful that You are allowing me to be a part of this journey.

I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why You give people desires to travel all the way around the world to minister to other people – a people not their own. Logically, we should all just stay where we are ‘planted’ and be a blessing in our own neighborhoods. But Your plan is not always birthed in logic, isn’t it, Lord?

You love a romance adventure, don’t You? Ha Obviously You do! Sending your own Son to a far-off land, to a people who needed to know Your love – regardless of the distance, resistance, or danger… no matter the costs.

Why then should it seem odd that You call your children to follow Jesus’ example to go and preach the Gospel, to share the Good News, to heal the brokenhearted? There are no lengths you won’t go to, to share Your love – you’ll even use imperfect, scarred people like me to share your Love with anyone who will receive it.

God, You amaze me, in all your profound wisdom, you really have made it simple for us to obey…trust. Go. Love. Wherever You lead – if its across the street or across the world. That’s sorta awesome.

We each have a call, which is simply what Your highest and best is for us, that brings You the most glory and draws us closer to You.

For  us, part of our call is to go be Your hands & feet in Swaziland, offering encouragement of God’s illogical, far-reaching, nothing-is-impossible love to children who have been born into a country where they must daily fight loneliness and hunger on many levels. We pray our very presence (our hugs, kisses, goofy games, gifts, and time) simply reminds them that they are valued, worthy of love and not forgotten – and that Jesus’ hands-on Love would be evident in all we do.

What is your purpose? When you are alone, what do you dream of? What do you want to be your legacy, that produces growth and hope far beyond your lifetime? I want my legacy to be eternal, so that means there may be temporal discomfort, temporal sacrifices like leaving our own boys for a few weeks a year, or downsizing to give more. More than taking fancy vacations, sight seeing excursions, or even creating ‘fun’ memories with my boys, I want them to live with a purpose – that they were created to be a blessing, to create hope in the lives of others, and ultimately to bring the Gospel message to those who would believe, no matter how far the miles may take them. Let my life be an example of that kind of love. When it comes down to it, nothing else matters.

Perhaps you don’t know your passion, what you were born to do. That’s okay… until now! I urge you to seek! I urge you to GO, find your God-given passions and use your talents for the furthering of His Love to the world around you.

Those unique desires and talents were GIVEN to you by God Himself for more than you probably think. Have a conversation with God. I dare you to ask Him to show you why you were created, how you can be a light in a dark world.

And watch out, because God honors bold, audacious prayers! You will find your passion, what makes you come alive, what you were born to do! Combine that prayer with faith-filled action to step through the doors He opens and your life will never be the same! The best part? Chances are the lives of those around you will never be the same again either, and create a legacy far beyond your yours.

 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and

glorify your Father in heaven.

 

Shine On!

Danielle

The Incredibles.

July 20, 2013 — 1 Comment
The Incredible B-13s

The Incredible B-13s

Incredible. I’ve been using that word so often lately its become the new ‘cool’, the new ‘awesome’. One or two syllable words just no longer cut it! This has been a 4-syllable season, indeed! In. cred. i. ble!  

The past six weeks, especially, have been full of incredible encounters that didn’t happen because of my husband’s good looks (though, seriously he is incredibly handsome – see photo below!), nor did these things happen as a result of my organizational skills (ha!). God showed up. He heard our desperate prayers for mountains to be moved, for heavenly provision to be made, for doors to be opened, and He has flooded us with answering above & beyond what we thought we needed. Glory to God!

One of these incredible answers to prayer came in the form of sponsorship.

151 children now have an advocate who cares, prays, and provides specifically for their well-being!

151 children now have an advocate who cares, prays, and provides specifically for their well-being!

As of last Monday, the 15th, all 151 profiled children at Bheveni Carepoint became sponsored!!!!!

I’m REALLY resisting telling the whole story here! As of a month ago, 49 children at Bheveni were waiting for a sponsor, an advocate. That number, 49, seemed HUGE, but the Lord put the desire in us to have ALL of them sponsored before our trip.

We started praying, knowing that in ourselves we could not make this happen, God had to move. We prayed like it depended on God, but worked like it depended on us – our online faith community stepped up and began talking to their friends & family, their churches, their co-workers, and as a result every single child profiled at Bheveni has a sponsor!!!! Glory to God!

Side note: there are still thousands of orphaned & vulnerable children in Swaziland who need an advocate. One such community of children attend Lesibovu Carepoint in rural Swaziland. Out of 84 children who daily rely on the carepoint for food, 37 still need an advocate. Follow this link to find out more!

In 3 days, Mike & I embark on another journey across the world to a land of people we love & a group of children we’ve come to know as family. This will be our third trip to visit, love & serve the Bheveni Carepoint Community in Swaziland, Africa, and we are taking the biggest team yet.

Our team of 17 adults & teens have been planning and praying for months, all leading up to this trip. A handful of this incredible team went with us in 2011 to visit the children, but the majority of the team are strangers.

Imagine that, going across the world with a group of people you’ve never met, to a place you’ve never been, knowing you can’t afford it, not knowing what you’ll encounter… so, if I know anything about the individuals on this team, it is that they are full of faith. And that’s enough for me. I count it a privilege to have them a part of the B13’s (Bheveni Team 2013).

Perhaps you wanted to come on the trip too, but couldn’t make it happen this year. You can STILL come… through the incredible power of the world wide web!

Throughout our trip, we will have an online diary, of sorts, for the team to share their experiences from the day, as well as photos of the children & the beautiful country, right here on Live4Change.net. Please subscribe via email (right column) so you can be a part of the journey. 

I want to introduce these incredible world-changers one by one. And I ask you to pray for them one by one.

Regina Anderson

Regina Anderson

Regina Anderson is a life long resident of Fort Worth, Texas. She is a licensed attorney and currently represents child protective services in child abuse and neglect litigation for the State of Texas. She is a sister, daughter, aunt and child of the Most High God.

 

 

Sterling Brawley (right)

Sterling Brawley (right)

Hey yall, my name is Sterling Brawley. I am 22 years old, a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Criminal Justice. When we return from Swaziland, I will be starting a new job with AmeriCorps partnering with Habitat for Humanity. I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and love sports!

 

Margo Brown

Margo Brown

Margo Brown from Minnesota. I have an amazing husband, Dustin, and three great kids: Miles who is 13, Linus who is 11, and Greta who is 9. This will be my second trip to Swaziland and I can’t wait to see the everyone at Bheveni again!

 

 

BushFamilyCreateHoperace2013

Brittany, Pam, Britt, and Missy Bush

Hi, my name is Britt Bush. I have been an N/C Programmer at Bell Helicopter since 2000. I have been a fan of Bheveni since right before the first trip in 2010. I was lucky enough to go on the next trip and was hooked for life! These kids are unbelievable! They have hopes and dreams just like us, just like our kids. And God is going to do big things with this group because of your love and support and hope you give these children. Thanks for allowing me to be a representative of this online Bheveni community!

My name is Pam Bush. I’m an accountant and live in Fort Worth, Texas. My husband went on the trip to Swaziland a couple years ago. He was really impacted by working with the kids and wanted our whole family to experience the blessing of serving at Bheveni! I can’t wait to get there and share with the kids and meet our sponsored girls!!!

Hey y’all, I’m Brittany! I am a nursing student and have a huge heart for others. I love my Jesus, chips & salsa, baseball (Texas Rangers), baking, fishing, and spending time with my family. I feel beyond blessed to have the opportunity to share God’s love with His precious children at Bheveni Carepoint!

I am Missy Bush. I am a college student majoring in athletic training. I enjoy playing sports and anything outdoors. When I was in middle school I began sponsoring a little boy in Kenya and ever since, Africa has had a special place in my heart. I’m so excited and feel beyond blessed to finally have the opportunity to go to Africa to love on the kids and share the love of Christ with them.

KimCarawayProfilePic2013trip

Kim Caraway

Kim Caraway: I am from the great state of Texas and I graduated from Texas Tech University with a BA in Psychology and a BS in Human Development and Family Studies. I love college football especially my Red Raiders. I have worked for Child Protective Services for 21 years. After reading Radical by David Platt, God called me to Swaziland, two years ago and I made my first trip then. I fell in live with the people especially the children. God has called me to be an advocate for the Swazi children and I am humbled and blessed by this.

DeniseCasonCreateHope2013b

DeNise Cason

DeNise Cason. I am from Alabama and had the opportunity to go to Swaziland in 2011 with an amazing group of people who came together through Children’s HopeChest. My reason for wanting to return to Bhevenni is two-fold. 1 – Out of allegiance to my Lord Jesus Christ it is my duty and privilege to share the gospel with the world. 2 – I want to continue to build and strengthen relationships with the Bheveni community. The people there have such kind and loving spirits. I want to encourage and further their thirst for knowledge of God and His love and reassure them they have friends around the world who love and care about them.

 

Bobbie Dyer

Bobbie Dyer

My name is Bobbie Jo Dyer. I am originally from Tennessee but I have lived in Georgia for 15 years and it has become my home. I have two children: Braden, who is 8 and Brianna who is 4. I have been divorced, after 15 years of marriage, for a very short time but this change has allowed me to receive God’s plan and purpose in my life more openly. I have always felt called to do work in Africa and through his divine appointments and persuasion, I am finally fulfilling this calling. I am excited and eager to meet the children at that care point and to spend time with them, by showing God’s love. And I am ready to receive what it is that God is doing in my life as he draws me closer to him.

 

HaidenFloydCreateHope2013b

Haiden F.

Haiden hails from Portland, Oregon. She is special friend to Sfiso, a young boy at the Mangwaneni Carepoint in Manzini. Haiden is the Children’s Sunday School Director at her church. An avid reader, she enjoys reading books about Jesus while slurping sweet frappuccinos on a warm summer day.

 

Audrey Hensley

Audrey Hensley

I’m Audrey Hensley! I’m from New Boston, Texas and a graduate from the university of Texas at Tyler with a degree in education. I will be teaching 1st grade at New Boston in the fall!!! I felt called to go to Africa so God can strengthen my faith and trust in Him. Throughout this summer I’ve grown to depend completely on Him and trust that He is guiding me in the direction I long to be going. He’s strengthened my servant’s heart while preparing myself for serving these children as well as the kids at camp, and that could only be done when I surrendered the reigns of my heart to Him.

Theresa with her husband, Larry

Theresa with her husband, Larry

Hello, my name is Theresa Schmidt.  My husband and I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  When our children were young I was very involved with the schools they attended.  Although my children are grown now, I continue to volunteer reading with children.  I have a special place in my heart for kids and there are no borders to children in need; thus, I am very excited about our upcoming mission trip to Bheveni Carepoint – Swaziland!  I pray that God abundantly blesses our 2013 mission trip.

 

Millie Snook

Millie Snook

Millie– orphan care advocate. ardent intercessor. washington wahini. northwest native. lover of all things creative. karate choppin organic vegetable shoppin mama. happy helpmate to honey of more than 20. thankful for more years than tears with my hubby. baby whisperer. good steward tho not quite martha stewart. skiing scouting scooting along running trails. flowing on the go yogi. dribbling on the basketball court and sometimes the dentist chair. life is not a slam dunk. we all need Jesus. He’s the only One.

Michael Snook

Michael

Michael– good sport in every sport. super sonics and die hard sounders fan. been called mr hops and by Jesus. reaching for the dunk jumpin higher than the bar. always striving for the PR. ultimate goal is the higher calling. child of the One True King. “A” student. BOOM! BACON.

 

Andy, Danielle, Mike, and Jonny

Andy, Danielle, Mike, and Jonny

Here’s our little family, too. We live in Kimball, Minnesota. 🙂 Our boys will be traveling with us to Swaziland in two years. We can hardly wait for them to meet the Bheveni children that have so captured all of our hearts! They get to be spoiled by grandpa, grandma & their aunties in Minnesota this time around!

 

 

Please keep this incredible team in your prayers! Wanna see those incredible prayers answered? You can! Stay up-to-date on the mission by virtually going with us – subscribe to this blog via email, watch for updates on the Bheveni Carepoint Community Facebook Page, and of course our HopeChest Bheveni Community Webpage.

Shine On!

Danielle Brower

ps. for the record, we are not, nor do we think of ourselves as heroes going to ‘save’ the children of Swaziland, even though I’ve got a super cool picture of ‘Incredibles’ at the top! Jesus is the Hero, and He’s already saved them. We’re going to serve the kids, the HopeChest staff, and the volunteers who serve the kids every single day of the year. Our prayer is that this trip creates continued hope that they are valued, loved, and not forgotten.

Complete Unity

February 24, 2013 — Leave a comment
Mike & I with Kriek & Jumbo Gerber at the Children's HopeChest Africa Partners Conference

Mike & I with Kriek & Jumbo Gerber at the Children’s HopeChest Africa Partners Conference

 

“Charity will not eradicate poverty. Only education and opportunity will break the cycle of poverty.” ~ Matt ‘Jumbo’ Gerber

Saturday night, Mike & I returned from what will go down in our history as a monumental weekend in Colorado. We were blessed to attend Children’s HopeChest Africa Partners Conference in the Springs for three days of sharing, praying, praising, laughing and learning from like-hearted staff & other sponsorship coordinators from around the country.

As if all that wasn’t enough, we were able to have quality face-to-face conversations with Jumbo & Kriek Gerber who faithfully serve as CHC’s Country Directors in Swaziland. These were precious times to us. We saw at a deeper level the humility and passion they have for the people of Swaziland to be free from the cycle of poverty… and really, that is true of all the HopeChest staff and partners.

I invite you, as Kriek invited us, to make prayer a more central focus of our ministry. One unified, faith-filled prayer can bring more change than years of struggling for good ideas & programs. Creative ideas & programs are essential too, but let them be birthed out of the heart of God, not our limited minds & hearts.

A prayer card for the Gerbers & ministry in Swaziland

A prayer card for the Gerbers & ministry in Swaziland

I’ve met Jumbo & Kriek several times over the last three years and I have never seen them so excited, so focused, so inspired for the vision God has given them! At the core, the vision is the same – to see Swaziland full of people living abundant lives through Jesus Christ. While the statements below don’t show everything, they do prove that GOD’s HAND IS IN Swaziland, working through the HopeChest community-to-community model.

 *There are now 34 community carepoints in Swaziland where over 5,600 vulnerable & orphaned children are fed every day. Compared with 2008, there are now 10 times more children sponsored & being cared for.

*All of the children who come to their community carepoint have access to both crisis & chronic medical care.

*All of the children have the great resource of discipleship, lifeskill training and when needed (all too often) grief counseling to deal with the loss of parents & loved ones.

*There are now 20 native Swazi staff and only 7 Westerners (Gerbers count themselves as Westerners because they are from South Africa, which is in fact west of Swaziland!)

The growth has been incredible in just the last three years… and you, my friends, have all been a part of making this happen by faithfully praying, sponsoring & giving when the needs are presented. THANK YOU!!!

We will continue to see the hungry fed, the lost found, and the captives set free. The children are not only being fed natural food, but are being raised up as disciplers to reach their generation with the love & hope of Christ. They will lead their country into true abundance & prosperity.

God has given greater insight to the leaders of HopeChest of exactly how this needs to happen.  I was (and still am) on the edge of my seat as I listened to them share some specifics at the conference. It will be my pleasure to share this with you in the coming weeks, so that you too can share in the unity & joy of seeing captives set free!

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog by entering your email address over on the right column. That way you are assured to not miss a thing!

Shine On!

Danielle

 

 

 

Mighty Whispers

January 11, 2013 — Leave a comment
This summer you are invited to play, help, serve & GO!!!

This summer you are invited to
play, help, serve & GO!!

Perhaps this is the summer you set it all aside and answer that quiet whisper inside you that for years has been urging you to go beyond what you think you can do, to go beyond your world, to walk in the shoes of another…

This is your time. Saying YES opens the door for God to move mightily  in & through you.

Destination: Swaziland, Africa

Dates: July 23rd-August 4th, 2013

Cost: *$1724 land costs. This includes lodging, in-country transportation, food, drinks and travel insurance. It also includes an end-of-the-trip game drive in Johannesburg. *Cost may change slightly depending on the size of the group.

 For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. Luke 1:37 (amp)

Itinerary: The exact itinerary is still coming together. After meeting up with our guide, our first night will be spent in Johannesburg, SA. The following day we will be traveling five hours by van to Manzini, Swaziland, where we will stay for the majority of our trip. Here we will meet the ministry leaders and receive orientation information, before heading to Bheveni Carepoint early the next morning. We will spend the next week working, playing, and loving at the carepoint, as well as walking to remote homesteads and delivering food. The last two days of the trip will include an opportunity to purchase souvenirs, and a game drive in Kruger National Park, before we depart for the US.

Trip Leaders: Mike & Danielle Brower, Sponsorship Coordinators for Bheveni Carepoint

Isaiah 58 - the BIG IF

Isaiah 58 – the BIG IF

Purpose: Our primary goal will be to provide ministry to orphans and vulnerable children suffering through extreme poverty. We will continue to build on the community-to-community model of long-term relationships with the bomake (grandmothers) and children who live in the area surrounding Bheveni Carepoint. We go to serve alongside these amazing people, not to observe or pity them.

Payments & Deadlines:

Application and $50 deposit (made to HopeChest) need to be sent to the trip leader as soon as possible.

April 30th – Deposit of $250.00 is due (10 weeks out)

May 28th – Deposit of $250.00 is due (6 weeks out)

June 25th – Final Payment of Land Cost is due (4 weeks out – minus initial deposits made)

Send all deposit checks to trip leader, but made out to HopeChest. To pay online www.hopechest.org under the “give” tab and fill out all the information for “trip payment” be sure to use the trip code SZ130704T in the “reference” section, and your name in the Notes field. Please email Trip Leader when you make an online payment.

Flights: Your Trip Leader will book their own ticket first (by appx. March 23rd) You will be told which flight to be on. You will book and purchase your own flight, but you must arrive and depart the same airport at the same time as the trip leader. Appx. cost of airline ticket will range from $1400-$1800.

Accommodations: You will stay in comfortable and safe Guest Homes in Johannesburg and Manzini, where wifi will be accessible so you can keep in contact with your family.

Medical: To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. We follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for vaccination recommendation.  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/swaziland.htm

Travel Insurance: Included in the land costs is basic travel insurance coverage.

Passport: Be sure that your passport is current and has at least 4 blank pages. You will travel with your passport at all times, leave one copy in your luggage, another with your trip leader, and lastly, another copy of your passport with your emergency contact person in the US during your travels.

Food:

Breakfast will usually be at the guest house. Lunch will vary depending on schedule (sometimes sandwiches and sometimes restaurant meals, sometimes rice & beans or pap with the children). Dinner will either be at a restaurant or the guest house.

Contact & Next Steps:

For more information, e-mail Danielle Brower daniellebrower@gmail.com

Go to www.moms4change.net/swaziland-missions-trip to find links to applications, vaccination & passport requirements, and pictures of the children we will be privileged to serve.