Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Beginning

This is a testimony of how Through His Eyes Africa came to be, it is not about me but about how God was working in my life, this is about Him.

1. 2007 You just never know the impact you can make on someone’s life
While working at the Humane Society I attended the local news station twice a month for Pet of the Week. There I met a Meteorologist who always seemed kindly interested in the pets I brought . One morning he asked if I would stay and watch his piece on Swaziland. I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about but I could tell it meant a lot to him. I stayed and I’m glad I did; that simple invitation to stay and watch changed my life. Sometimes you just don’t know what kind of impact you can make on someone’s life, this was a defining moment for me as I watched this young man of 25 dedicating his life to helping widows and orphans in a another country. As a child, I had always been drawn to Africa and often mentioned that I would be there one day. Derek invited me to his church, New Covenant in Clio Mi. There I followed his trip through his blog, met with him upon returning from Swaziland and found myself on the next trip. Derek has been a great inspiration for me and I cherish his friendship and am thankful he listened to God that morning and walked across the room to ask me to stay.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

2. January 2008 Went to Africa on a mission’s trip
I traveled to Africa with 6 others from the church I attended; there I stepped out of religion and into a relationship with Christ. This journey left a deep impression on my heart. I knew I would never be the same. God was molding and changing me. This was the defining moment when I lost my life as I knew it. I came home and never acclimated back to the states; I had heard that this is the hardest part of a mission’s trip and as I think about it, I wouldn’t want to acclimate back into the life I so cozily lived because then it would all be for nothing. Oh, I tried, I struggled to get back into my life…… no longer existed for me though. God had changed my heart. I now cared about the things that He did and my old life just didn’t fit anymore. Africa for me is a place I fell in love, with the land, the people and most of all God; Africa became a part of me that added to the person God wanted me to be.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

3. October 2008 Followed God’s leading to quit job to begin ministry
One morning in October of 2008 while staying at a hotel for my job, I knelt to pray; God filled the room with a warm glow and told me to begin a ministry to help His Children in Swaziland Africa. I'll never forget that moment as I felt His love like never before. I knew He loved me but I had never felt it like this before and I never wanted to leave that moment and that room. I had to go downstairs to the cpa classes my current company was putting on and I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay and talk more with Jesus about this vision He was giving me. Many times I had sat in His presence and felt His love but never before had it been like this. I went away with such a wonderful and confident feeling, not a confidence in myself but in the Lord. This is what He wants all His believers to have and this is part of the vision of the journey I was about to embark upon. In Swaziland I remember all too clearly the eyes of the children, those eyes haunted me long after I left; in them I saw innocence, hope, despair, a deep longing as if they were asking me to help, I saw Jesus, and I knew this is where I needed to be. I stayed in prayer for a long time that morning; you know those times when His will and yours are in complete unison and you feel like you never want to come out of prayer; this was one of them. He told me to leave my job and trust Him. I’ll never forget the relief I felt, the assurance that everything would be okay. I asked Jesus about my friend who had gotten me this job, I had only been there for a short time and I didn't want to disappoint her. The Lord said to me "It is fine Teresa, I have already taken care of it." I left to go downstairs to work and my friend came to tell me that I didn’t need to feel obligated to stay at the company on her account. She was graciously releasing me from my obligation. I never mentioned to her that I hated that job; I never mentioned it to anyone, only God. After she left me, I looked up with a smile in declaration of His speediness and thanked Him.
Matthew 10:38 "If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

4. October 2008 Downsized everything including home
God lead me to downsize and get rid of my house and belongings. I don’t think He calls everyone to do this, but for me it was necessary. I thought it would be difficult to leave my childhood home, the home I also raised my own children in, but it was actually quite freeing. I’ll never forget the day we left; it was like a huge weight had been lifted from me. In preparation of leaving, we gave many things away. We held a garage sale with ridiculously low prices, it was great as it piqued people’s interest, which gave me an opportunity to tell them the changes God was making in me. Many stayed and talked and were interested in hearing about the people of Swaziland. I gave my blog address to anyone that would listen.

Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

5. April 2009 Refinanced motorcycle to buy a bank foreclosed home
We left our home and moved into a rental that a friend had offered to us; she was kind enough to allow us to stay, knowing it was only temporary. God directed us to purchase a home that was a bank foreclosure; we found we needed to add about $5000 to what we had in order to purchase something in our area. The idea was to no longer have a mortgage so that we could do this work for Him and not be so financially strapped. I prayed and was lead to refinance our Harley Davidson to attain the rest of what was needed. At first I didn’t like the idea because it seemed we were defeating the purpose but I knew God’s provisions were with us.
Matthew 6:26-34 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
6. Discovered new home was a church about 50 yrs ago
Within two months we found the home that felt right and was later informed that it was a church about 50 years ago. For me this was confirmation that we were in the right place. I loved how God was working in my life and the home He provided for us.

Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

7. July 2009 God told me to pray for husbands safety
I traveled back to Swaziland with a group of 25, while traveling home God woke me to tell me to pray for the safety of my husband, I am thankful as God intervened and saved my husband’s life.

8. Rob was in motorcycle accident/lost income
When we landed in Atlanta I learned that my husband was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. He was run off the road by an oncoming car and was knocked out in an 18 foot ravine filled with water. He had broken his back, ribs, and sternum, suffered a collapsed lung, brain bleed and his aorta was separating from the chest wall. My team came together to pray for Rob while waiting for our flight at the Atlanta Airport. I arrived to the hospital just as the results of a second test showed that the aorta was perfectly fine. The medical professionals blamed faults in testing but I know there is great power in prayer, the Lord saved Rob in that ditch and He saved him again while lying in the hospital fighting for his life. Rob spent about two weeks in the hospital and several months in rehabilitation. It was a difficult time for us as our lives had drastically changed; Rob may never do many of the things he used to or even work again but I am so thankful that he is alive and prayed that God would somehow use this for His Glory.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

9. Because we refinanced the bike, we had full coverage insurance on it which paid the loan in full, provided medical care for Rob and also paid his income.
God’s faithfulness in providing for us was evident; we had lost Rob’s income due to the accident but because we refinanced the motorcycle we were obligated to put full coverage insurance on it; after about 6 months of negotiation, the insurance company agreed to pay Rob’s medical bills and income. The totaled bike can be restored and the loan is now paid. We are not sure if Rob will ride again but he is alive and making progress.

10. God provides and changes hearts
The accident left a very large bruise on Rob’s chest in the shape of Africa, this made me smile, not that my husband was hurt but because Rob was never keen on the idea of me going to Africa but because he loves me, he supports my desire to go. I had been praying that God would change Rob’s heart for Africa and I could see him softening, for me this was confirmation that God was at work within him too.

11. Though His Eyes Africa Begins
I traveled back to Africa to make connections to begin the nonprofit and I was amazed at the amount of people willing to show me where and with whom this ministry can connect to make a difference. God showed Himself several times during this trip and the vision that He revealed to me was beginning to come full circle.

12. I came to Swaziland in 2010 to find where our organization could be of service through God for the Swazi people; this was my third trip. After that trip I went home and developed programs and a website and tried to get people involved. When nothing seemed to happen I got discouraged because I knew God had told me to begin this nonprofit. I prayed and prayed and prayed about this and at God's perfect timing He told me to toss the programs away, take down the website and just go and make it more personal, He told me to go and love them as if they are my own children because they are His. I did this and God has blessed me with this trip here in Swaziland and He has been working everything out miraculously to help the people. We are also conducting a bible study for women called "Empowering Women Through Jesus Christ". Many women live in severe oppression and many are abused by their husbands, through this study women will learn their worth in Christ and learn to pray for and love their husbands to Christ. We see a strong hold on the men here by the enemy and God has shown us a book called Winning Spiritual Warfare that we are giving to the Swazi people. It is a small pocket book filled with much information about how to claim God's promises for our lives. We pray God's Will will be done in all of this and especially for the property in Bhunya. God has shown us this property and the story behind how He showed us He wanted us to do something there is amazing and I would love to share it with you.
We have been attending the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Manzini and one Sunday one of the Associate Pastors, Pastor George, came to us and began telling us about this land he owned in Bhunya that he has given to God. He told us that he told God He could use the land for whatever he saw fit. He had been praying about it and hadn't received all of what God had wanted it to be but asked if we would pray too. We were amazed by his story and his humble way. He asked if we would be willing to go look at the property the next day and we agreed. We were to meet at Emafini Christian Conference Center at 11:00. We had to go into town that morning to get some things printed, while there it took longer than we had expected and I had forgotten my phone back at the conference center/hotel so I couldn't call Pastor George to let him know we were running late. I left the materials at the printers along with a book about praying God's Word for the attendant to write a few of the prayers for her personal use. We were late in getting back to Emafini and Pastor George had already traveled onto Mbabane as he had some errands to run there. We called him and set out to meet with him in Mbabane to travel together to Bhunya. We were having difficulty in connecting with him and when we finally did we had realized that we were previously parked right next to him but God had us park across town and walk to where he was. It was like God was stalling our steps for a reason and we were soon to find out. As we were standing in the parking lot talking to Pastor George, deciding which car to take to see the land in Bhunya the Chief for that area pulled in right next to us. We were all amazed as we needed her approval on this project and she was leaving for the States the next day and we would not have gotten her go ahead on this project. Out of all places and times for her to show up, we knew this was a divine meeting. Pastor George introduced her as Chief Wisdom Thembie Zwane. It occurred to me later that I had prayed for wisdom that morning, I had to chuckle as I could see God's work all over our meeting, His sense of humor in my prayer and how he stalled our steps so we would be in the right place at the right time to meet the Chief. We talked to her about what we had received in prayer; the Lord told me this land would be a place of refuge that people would come from all over to seek spiritual healing, He said there would be abundant food (gardens) and water, Sifiso, the cook at Emafini is a godly man that has partnered with our ministry and he also prayed and received a vision from the Lord that it would be streams of living water. We parted ways with the Chief as she left us with her blessing and was quite pleased with what God had given us. We received a call from the printer that the machine stopped working because it needed time to cool off so we couldn't go get the materials yet, the attendant mentioned that it pleased her because it gave her a chance to write more of the prayers out of the book she borrowed from me.

As we traveled to this mountainous area, Tammy, my colleague and best friend that started this nonprofit with me who also has a big heart for the people of Swaziland, had said that God had just given her a revelation that this land would be a place that people would flee to from all over to seek refuge. When we arrived we were in awe of God’s creation, the beauty of this large valley and mountainous region and the living water of the beautiful river. We smiled as we stood at the river as both Sifiso and myself had received water in our vision from the Lord. We spent much time in prayer over the land and we felt God’s peace there. We knew He had big plans for this tranquil place and we prayed that people would come and receive what God had planned for this. We were all amazed at God's hand on this project. As we traveled back down the mountain in quiet solitude, I was torn between feelings of awe of what the Lord had just shown and revealed to us and feelings of sadness as my best friend was getting ready to journey back to the states. And off to the left as we traveled there stood a little hill that had been burned up, the grass and brush were all black, but right in the middle was a large, beautifully bloomed flower and I thought how odd for it to grow in such a deadened area. I asked Pastor George to stop the car as I had felt that the Lord wanted me to go up the hill and check it out. As I did, He showed me that the orange flower was me as I was in my purpose and plan He had for me. Off to the side of the bloomed flower was another flower that had poked through the ugly burned ground too, but it was not bloomed yet; He told me this was Tammy and she must go home to be with her husband because there she will bloom as that is His plan and purpose for her. I was amazed at His words because I had been feeling sorry for myself as I knew God had laid it on Tammy's heart to cut her trip short and to go be with her husband. I was feeling sorry for myself because I would be left here all alone. Although we are never alone when we belong to the One and Only God, He is so good in showing us things that we need to see and I am in awe of His ways. I am confident that His Will for Tammy was to go home and His Will for me was to stay longer. Tammy has done a great thing for His Kingdom in being here and she is doing a greater thing for His Kingdom in going home because I knew she was so torn. Just as I am about staying with my family so far away. We can take comfort in knowing when it's God's Will, He makes a way for families too. I love Him and I Praise Him!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


As a child I remember the first time injustice entered my life as reality. Up until that moment injustices were something you saw in the movies. In the end, good conquered evil and everything was right with the world again. But this was “real life”, not the movies, and this type of injustice couldn't possibly happen. I remember in that moment, even though I was so young, I felt a great anger, how could this be? I remember the passion I felt, I wanted justice to be done! I had a voice and I was determined to stand up and use it. I would make a difference! I was going to let my voice be heard, and people would listen. I used that voice several times with great passion, and several times I was broken by someone that either chuckled at my determination or had a negative response to my outbursts. I don’t think that I was alone in this, we become conditioned to believe there are too many injustices in the world and we can’t make a difference. The thing I remember most was the great passion I had to do something. That passion exists in many children and unfortunately many times it dies a slow death only to be replaced by conformity as we get older. If you can at all remember that passion, you can find it again, and a difference for many injustices can be made. Recently, I was asked why I went to Africa when the problem there is so much bigger than I am, surely it couldn’t make a difference. I have several answers to that question but the simplest was the one I used-

The Starfish Story...
by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?" The little boy paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean." "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the little boy replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die." Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

Discouraged he began to walk away. Suddenly the little boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one." The man looked at the little boy inquisitively and thought about what he had said and had done. Inspired, he joined the little boy in throwing the starfish back into the ocean.

I love this story. It shows how you can truly save a life one at a time if you are willing and daring enough to just try.

Map IP Address

Swazi Team 2009

Monday, November 10, 2008

Words from Mother Teresa

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.
I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor. It was an order.
I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.
It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.

You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing.
Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.
Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little
child, you receive me.

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.

If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.
-Mother Teresa

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Even when I'm at my best, it is not because of me, it’s him (God) that is within me. It is all for his glory, not mine. When I think about how big God is, that he can hold our galaxy in the palm of his hand, and I am but a minuscule dot compared to that and yet he loves me and longs to have a relationship with me. That is humbling.

Michelangelo's painting of God reaching out to humanity tells it all. God gave us free will, yet he reaches with every muscle in his body to be with us and all we have to do is lift one little finger to close the gap.

The words to my favorite song....
Aware by Salvador
Even in the little things that never seem to big to me
In the things I thought didn’t matter much at all
As simple as my daily bread
To the strength I need to get out of bed
When I fly or when I am bout to fall
Oh it's you in me that I fail to see
Make me aware, make me see
That everything I am is not all about me
So Take my world and turn it around
So that the obvious can finally be found
Make me aware, make me aware

When my life is hanging from a thread
And I think about the things you said
And these moments seems so far away
Help me see the guarantees
That first brought me to believe
So I can make through another day
Oh it is you in me that helps me breathe
Make me aware, make me see
That everything I am is not all about me
So Take my world and turn it around
So that the obvious can finally be found
Make me aware I have been missing so much
Not recognizing your touch
Acknowledging that you’re the reason
I am even here
I have been missing so much not recognizing your touch
Make me aware, make me aware
Help me see that everything I am is not all about me
Take my world turn it around so that the obvious can finally be found
Make me aware, make me aware

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A little Humor

Just thought I'd share a little humor with everyone......

I had been wanting a leather tooling kit for some time, so that I could make leather wrist bands like the one I bought in Swaziland. My plan was to learn to do this and then show the ladies at El Shaddai how to make them. So Rob bought one for me for Mother's Day. I was so excited to get started and of course didn't prepare, I just wanted to make one. It was going great and I enjoyed pounding away on the lettering to imprint the leather, it was a great stress reliever, as my week had been very trying. Anyhow needless to say my kitchen table now has "El Shaddai" stamped into the wood!

Bright side.....

El Shaddai means God Provides, I guess I'll remember to say grace. And I actually hated that table until now! It may be a keeper!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Going Back

It's been a few months since I updated my blog so here I am preparing to go back to Swaziland.. and this time I'll be taking with me a few of my dearest friends. I'm really looking forward to seeing Futhi. It'll also be great to see Busicewe, & Cali and Charmaine. It's still more than a year out, but our first meeting will be this Sunday, which makes it more of a reality. I signed Rob up to go, only he don't know it yet. I guess we'll see if he reads my blog. Maybe he'll find out when I tell him to park in long term parking at the airport. j/k

Monday, February 18, 2008

Swazi Team 08

Day 1- January 15, 2008
Our team arrived at Bishop Airport at 11:30 am. Our families stayed for awhile visiting and then we said our goodbyes. Braden usually cries when we leave each other and it always breaks my heart, but this time was much harder as I have never been away from him for more than a few days. As Ashley walked away with a crying Braden in her arms, I started to cry too, which if you know me; you know that’s not uncommon. Some people look at crying as a weakness, but I believe it is a great strength. Crying always makes me feel better, not only is it cleansing but it also feels as good as screaming to the top of your lungs when you’re frustrated.

After the goodbyes were said, we went on to our gate, but of course before we could get there; we had to go through security. It was pretty funny; the two young ones of our team Krista and Lisa went through like they knew the protocol and it was just part of their daily routine. Then along come me and Tammy, the two that “had the airport been busy” would have everyone behind them impatiently waiting. I was first and had to go through the metal detector a couple times due to my cell phone left in my back pocket, oops! Forgot that was there. Then my laptop had to be put in a separate bin by itself. Oh and I hand my wallet to the guy instead of my passport. That wasn’t all too bad, I’m learning I thought. Tammy is behind me and seems to be doing better at this, I thought well she used to be a flight attendant, I should have just let her go first and followed her lead, I thought that way until we got all the way through to the end when the security guy went through our luggage. He opened Tammy’s and pulled out 2 two gallon sized zip lock bags full of toiletries…..liquids, solids, semi liquids, semi solids, some bottles of shampoo, gels and bubble bath, full size versions! I think I may have even seen a stray hair curler or two. The look of shock on all our faces was priceless as we stared at what appeared to be the entire contents of Tammy’s bathroom. The security gentleman looked at Tammy and said, I’m going to have to send you back. Tammy just stared at him in disbelief. She had that “deer in the head light” look, and the airport security officer, “gentleman that he was” had realized that Tammy had shut down. She wasn’t responding and she had that disbelieving look about her. He started removing non-liquid items from the bag and placing them in her suitcase, he then pulled out two bins and placed all legal liquids in one bin and oversize liquids in the other. So Tammy had to choose what she absolutely needed and what she could do without. It took some time to decide, but this was a very important decision, not one to be taken lightly. All in all, It was pretty funny!

This is just the beginning............

Swaziland is an amazing place with wonderful, loving, kind hearted people that have a true love for the lord. I find it heartwarming to see people that physically have nothing, yet are so hospitable and willing to give you what little they do have. The one thing I notice here is that there is a whole generation that is missing, they don't exist, and many have died from aids. Children are living with their Grandparents or in home's where no adults exist. Many are sick and without proper nutrition or medical care. My heart breaks.

The children at El Shaddai tugged at my heart and the orphanage is an amazing place with two very beautiful, kind hearted people that started it and continue to care for these children like their own. Amazing seems to be my new- often used word. My biggest fear right now is that there aren't any words big enough to describe my experience in Swaziland or the wonderful people there. I have truly fallen in love with this place and it has brought me closer to God. Another word that seems to pop up recently is "purpose," which I find ironic since so much of my journey back to God began with that one word. It was so hard to leave Swaziland and as I sat on the plane waiting for take off to travel back to the states, I had mixed emotions, part of me was anxious to get home to see my loved ones and to tell everyone of this wonderful place. A place that I feel so sad to leave behind. It has become a big part of me, yet I have a feeling this is just the beginning.

Our Swazi Greeting in Manzini

Swaziland Arrival-
We arrived in Swaziland about 2:00 in the afternoon. Pastor Dale and Jennifer Willson(with Free Methodist World Missions) were there to pick us up. We went to the church that New Covenant built in Manzini and met Busisewe (her and her husband Vasco live next to the church which is on the same property). We also met several children that live in the village and attend the church. It is a custom in Swaziland to greet your guest by singing to them. This video is of Busisewe and the children of the village greeting us. Every time I see it, I want to be there. Each child then shared something about themselves. These children are very intelligent, and they have hopes and dreams for their future. I see a definite poverty here, not like you see in the United States though. Many of these children live in homes without electricity, some live in homes where their are only children living, some may have not eaten that day yet they have an innocent hope in their faces and they were there to sing to us and greet us. Later we went to the conference center, had dinner and then shared with each other about the day and what we hope to get out of all of this. I am not quite sure what I hope to get out of this, I only know that I have a need to help in some way. I am exhausted and hope to sleep tonight.

The Children at El Shaddai Orphanage

January 18-El Shaddai
Today we went to the El Shaddai orphanage. It is located in the most beautiful mountain setting. The beauty of this place is a reminder of God's love and the glorious detailed earth he made for us. The bible says, "Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love.

When we first arrived, we toured the orphanage and met the children, the ladies that take care of the children and Callie and Charmaine, the couple that have taken it upon themselves to love and care for all these children. What wonderful, loving people they are. The children here are bright and well behaved. We planted four gardens, along side to help, were several of the young boys that reside at the orphanage. They knew exactly what to do and took charge of the job at hand. It amazes me that boys of their age (grade 5) would be so eager to do such a chore. They were excited that they were invited to help. Pastor Dale, Krista and Lisa painted the roof of the school. Several times throughout the day people from the community came to get milk. The children are so unspoiled, they take nothing for granted and are eager to help where needed. The setting is a very laid back and slow going one, with a mind-set, if it doesn’t get done today, tomorrow is another day. We met many of the 48 children that reside at El Shaddai; a three month old baby boy named Benjamin tugged at my heartstrings. I truly enjoyed spending the day with the kids.

Jewelry Making 101

I spent some time with the Swazi ladies while they were making the jewelry that helps to support El Shaddai orphanage. I showed them a few beading techniques. They laughed though when I walked in with a hand full of rocks. I’m sure they thought I was crazy! I then showed them how to wire-wrap it and put it on a piece of leather.

Hospital Visit and Prayer Walk

Today is Saturday January 19, 2008, today we went to the hospital in Mbabane to visit the children. There were several mothers with their infants, many were very sick. We prayed with them and sang children’s bible songs to them. I spoke with a young mother with a very sick little boy, she said, he was 10 months old. He was so tiny; as small as a one month old baby. There was a small room at the end of the hall that abandoned children were kept. Some were abandoned because their parents had died, some because they were mentally challenged, one little girl about three years old was abandoned because their were too many girls in her family, her name had meant too many girls. There was a baby that was about 2 or 3, it was hard to tell his age as he was quite ill. He was in a crib and he was frightened of us. Cathy spent some time with him and he cam around a bit and she was able to touch his hand. It is so sad, he was so sick, so afraid and so alone. It is hard to write this as the memory of it haunts me. I picked up a baby boy about 6 months old. The back side of him was wet with urine and so was the bedding he was lying in. He smiled right away when I picked him up. The nurse was giving the children bathes so I thought better of the situation. He was next and she did bathe him. We stayed and held the other children. The nurse finished bathing the little baby and put him back in the same clothes, only a different towel wrapped around him for a diaper. She then laid him in the crib with the same wet bedding. It broke my heart. I picked him up and held him for awhile. When it was time to leave, I had to put him back in his crib. He cried when I did, it was very hard to leave. I wanted so much to take him with me.

We went on a prayer walk later in Manzini. It was very crowded and didn’t appear to be too safe. The people of Manzini seem so lost. I prayed for them to know and love God, I prayed for employment so they wouldn’t be hungry and I prayed for wisdom, to keep them and their children safe from AIDS.

We went back to the church in Manzini and went on a walk through the village and met the families of the children we met on the first day. Many of the children didn’t have sponsors to attend school. I met a young girl that needed a sponsor, she is 16 and her name is Ntombifuthi. My heart went out to her as she is quite shy; we talked as we walked through the village. She loves to read. I asked her what kind of books she likes to read and she said novels and the bible. I asked her if she had a bible and she said she didn’t but she read the bible at church. I have pledged to sponsor Ntombifuthi so that she can attend school. She was so excited, the smile that crossed her face was one of not only great joy, but I also saw such relief. She is a very intelligent young lady and it would be a shame for her to not have the opportunity to attend school. She had stood by her friends excited for them as they had each received a sponsor, all the while waiting for someone to sponsor her.

Pastor Dales Crazy Driving!!!

This is a picture of Lisa and Krista after riding with Pastor Dale!!!!!
Today our team spent some time together and bonded with each other. Pastor Dale, Linda and Tom went to meet with Busiciwe to discuss church business. The rest of our team spent time in the devotions room talking. We had a lot of fun. When they returned, we headed to El Shaddai to work on the garden. On the way there we stopped to give candy to some Swazi children. I was hanging out the van window so that I could reach the children to hand it to them, I didn’t get completely in before Pastor started driving again, I think this has become a game to him as this was not the first time that I went flying in the van. I had to do some fancy maneuvering to get myself back in the van while it is moving full force and get back in my seat. It was quite comical and we laughed. I didn't know I had moves like that. You have to be pretty quick about getting in your seat and belted in when Pastor Dale is driving because the minute the van door is closed, he’s off to the races and flying around curves! I have noticed that is the way people drive in Swaziland though. What's that old saying?.......When in Rome, do as the Romans! It must pertain to Swaziland too!

The Dam

We went to the dam near the orphanage; it was fun and we took many pictures. There was a family of goats walking along on the sidewalk. It was funny to see them just walking on the bridge. We had a lot of fun laughing, joking and cutting up. It was a good day.

There is an electricity shortage in Swaziland, They turn it off quite often to conserve. The Dam has the ability to generate electricity for all of Swaziland and is fully functional, yet there is a disagreement over who controls the dam, so it remains off. Many are not affected by this, as they don’t have electricity, but what a waste to not use it.

A Great Day!

Sunday, January 20, 2008
Today was the most amazing day yet. We started the day by spending a half an hour reflecting with the lord. I sat on the hill behind my room in awe at the beautiful mountain that God created. Such intricate detail, it’s so amazing how everything fits together in his grand scheme of it all. And as I sat there in peace, praising the beauty that he created, I came back to something I read once, “When God is at the center of your life, you worship, when he’s not, you worry.” What a wonderful way to start the day. I sure could get used to that. How many times do we allow life to get in the way and we don’t take time to spend quietly in his presence. Perhaps we should give ourselves permission to do this everyday. Perhaps we should schedule it on our planners. This country is beautiful! I really think Rob would love it here. The pace is so much slower. People aren’t in any hurry to get anywhere. And their outlook on daily tasks is “if it doesn’t get finished today, there is always tomorrow.” I love that!

We went to the church in Manzini. The new Pastor was to be announced today. Everyone arrived in their Sunday best and the children were adorable. The little boys had traditional Swazi attire with their wraps and necklaces. The choir wore their traditional wraps too. The service started with the children singing. A little boy sang Jesus loves the little children of the world. It was so cute and I teared up a bit as it reminded me of Braden and I was sure missing him. The service lasted a few hours but it never really seemed like it, as there was always something going on. I love it when the Swazi choir sings. They sound so beautiful and put so much into it. I noticed that when Ntombifuthi sings, her face lights up as she praise’s God. There is an innocence in their worship, they come to the father as a child. They are kind hearted and loving.

Honorary Swazi

Busciwe and the choir presented Linda, Tom, Pastor Dale and the Pastor from Mozambique with traditional Swazi wraps. It was very touching. I have gotten to know Linda more while here and as I knew she is an amazing person, this trip has brought a new found respect for her. I feel honored to know her. God is doing great things through her. She has a true faith in him and listens to him. I think that is the key, she listens. She takes the time to listen. She remains so humbled.

God Speaks to your Heart......

This is a photo of me and my sponsor daughter Ntambifuthi. She is 16 years old, somewhat shy, has a beautiful voice and a big love for the Lord!

I believe God speaks to each one of us differently. For some it may be a voice, others may have visions and dreams, for some it may be an inner voice, for me it is a feeling in my heart.

I had wanted to give something to Ntambifuthi to remind her of the time we shared together. I had a bracelet with me that I had made and thought that would be a good gift, as it was a bracelet that I wore often. We were on our way to Manzini and I would see her when we arrived. I put my jacket on and my bracelet broke. Right away I knew that God hadn't wanted me to give the bracelet to her. I didn't know why, I just felt he didn't. When we arrived and I spent some time with Ntambifuthi, she told me me she liked to read the bible and I could tell, she knew a lot of scripture. I commented that she must read her bible often, she said she didn't have her own but she did read it when she is at church. It was then that I knew why my bracelet broke. I had my bible with me that day because it was my turn to do devotions at lunch. The bible I had, was given to me when I was 16 years old, by my grandparents, when I was baptized. My name was inscribed on the cover in silver and on the inside cover was the date in 1981 and my grandparents names. God had put it upon my heart to give her my bible. The appreciation she portrayed will be with me forever. It was a great moment.

The Flight Home

As I sit here on the flight to Amsterdam with 3 hours to go, I can't help but think about what I leave behind. I am sad to leave such a beautiful country with such loving people. Sad to leave these people who physically have nothing, yet spiritually have everything.
I try to mentally prepare myself for going back to the states. I feel changed by all of this as many have said I would. I want to hold onto that for as long as I can. I wonder what I will say when people ask about Africa. I want to shout how I feel, but there aren't any words in the English language that can compare. I pray that more will go and see, go and help, go and come back and tell others, for this is an experience that will be with me forever. I feel like I left my heart there. And in that I know I will do justice to this mission that God has set before me. This mission to tell others of the state these wonderful, loving, kind hearted people with such a joy for the lord are in.
What an amazing experience to learn their culture, to witness and share their worship and true love and joy for the lord. I am suddenly reminded of our reservations in singing praise. My own reservations, how many times have I wanted to sing out loud, dance and throw my arms in the air in praise to our wonderful God. Yet sadly I contain myself in fear of what others will think. I watch Ntambufuthi, she is shy, a bit reserved and everything I want to know about her, I have to draw it out of her, yet when she sings praises to the lord, you think surely this is not the same shy young girl. She has a vibrant unreserved joy that shines in her song, her movement and her face. If only we could worship with such a magnitude of glory!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cultural Center & Game Park

Execution Mountain is just behind Tom's head in this picture.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
We went to the cultural center and to the game park. The cultural center was quite interesting. There is a mountain behind it called Execution Mountain. Anyone that broke the law used to have to go up to Execution Mountain and either jump off or run into a spear. I’m not sure what I would do if I had to choose, I think I would have to ask what was behind curtain number 3.

I enjoyed the dancing and learning about the Swazi Culture. The grandmother is called the Go-Go, she lives in a hut by herself. If a child is in trouble with his parents and can get to the Go-Go’s hut before the parents get to him, he is safe and the parents can’t do anything. I like that! I mentioned this to Ashley and she said, what’s the difference? That is how it is with you and Braden.

Traditional Swaziland dancing and singing at the Cultural Center

At the Game Park we rode in a Land Rover that had a net around it as protection from the wild animals. Ha! I think if the lions had wanted to eat us, we would have been dinner. They had their chance, as we were sitting ducks with a flat tire in the lion area. We didn’t have a spare and Bosche, our guide, got on his radio for help. When it came, he ran to the gate to let the other driver in. I was thinking… he supposed to just leave us here like that? It was a little unnerving.

An Elephant came right up to our Land Rover. Busiciwe was sitting in the front and it came within inches of her. I was a little nervous but she was very still and quiet. Afterward she said she almost peed her pants. We also saw the rhinos, a hippo, the lions, warthogs, a crocodile (one in the water and one waiting to eat us, hiding in the tall grass)and several deer like animals (I can’t remember the name of them so we’ll call them lion food).