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).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

God whispers in your soul...........

Swaziland Team 2008-left to right, Tammy Urbina, Teresa Vaughn,
Krista Back, Tom Mulanix, Pastor Dale Woods, Linda Mulanix and Lisa Morel

Wow, my team and I will be leaving for Swaziland in a little more than a week. I am so excited, excited to be blessed with a mission through the Great love of God. God has a plan for each and every one of us, sometimes we forget to let him lead us though, or perhaps we ignore his gentle tapping on our shoulder. A friend of mine has a very funny tag-line on his email, it goes like this......God whispers in your soul and speaks to your mind. Sometimes when you don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at you. It's your choice: Listen to the whisper, or wait for the brick.
I love that saying, for it is so true, and bricks hurt!

Our team is being prepared for this mission by watching movies, documentaries and reading about the horrifying state many people in Africa are in and the hardships they face on a daily basis. It breaks my heart and makes me want to shout to everyone everywhere to help in any way they can. Many of you that are reading this blog have helped make this trip possible for me and I can't thank you enough. You are all part of his great plan. A prayer request has been written by one of our team members and the founder of Compassionate Life Foundation Linda Mulanix. Please pray for this very important mission.


Team Members:

Tom Mulanix, Linda Mulanix, Pastor Dale Woods, Krista Back, Lisa Morel, Tammy Urbina, Teresa Vaughn

Key Dates of The Trip:

Jan. 8th= Tom & Linda Mulanix depart for South Africa & Swaziland (Tom’s return departure Jan.29,
Linda’s return departure Feb. 12th)
Jan. 13th= Pastor Dale departs for South Africa & Swaziland (Pastor Dale’s return departure Jan.31)
Jan. 15th= N.C. Team departs for South Africa & Swaziland (team’s return departure Jan. 25th)

Prayer Requests:

Pray that God would prepare all who are going; physically, spiritually, emotionally for the work He has ordained for them. That they would come to see and love the people of Swaziland as God does.

Praise God for all who’ve come alongside and supported the team financially to make this trip a reality.

Pray for God’s protection and direction over every detail of the trip; travel flights, connections, luggage check-in, hotel reservations & transfers, transportation, etc.

Pray for God’s protection over their families during their time in Africa.

Pray that God would prepare the hearts of those the team will come in contact with; that they’d see Jesus in them in all they do.

Pray that each team member would bring the appropriate clothing, materials, etc. for the trip.

Pray for adequate rest during the long flights and for a good night’s rest in Johannesburg the first night in South Africa.

Pray that God would orchestrate the details and give Tom & Linda wisdom as they interview children for Child Sponsorship, pay school fees, purchase school uniforms, etc. That the needs of the children and their families would be met.

Pray for Linda Mulanix as she begins driver training lessons on Jan. 16th (they drive on the opposite side of the road there). Pray for safety and her ability to learn/adjust quickly.

Pray that the vans (combis) would all function properly and without any problems.

Pray for Kallie & Charmain (directors at El Shaddai Orphanage). For God’s continued protection, provision and wisdom in the work they do with the orphans and widows of Swaziland. Pray for wisdom and God’s provision of land/location/support for El Shaddai II.

Pray that the time spent with the orphans at El Shaddai would be a blessing to the team and the children.

Pray that God would supernaturally equip and enable the team for the work projects they’ll be working on so they could be completed while they’re there.

Pray for the worship time and installation ceremony of the new pastor for the Manzini Free Methodist Church (Sunday Jan. 20th). That the church would be overflowing with people and all there would praise God for His provision. That the body of Christ represented would be unified.

Pray for Vasco, Busisewe and their family. That God would continue to protect, strengthen and use them mightily in the work with the Manzini church and surrounding community. That the N.C. team would be an encouragement, blessing to them.

Pray for the owners and workers at the Emafini Conference Center where the team will be staying. That the love of Christ would encourage and enrich their lives as they interact with the team.

Pray that God would use the times of leisure at the Cultural Village and Hlane Game Preserve to grow everyone’s love for the land and people of Swaziland.

Pray that God would bring physical and spiritual healing and wholeness to the people of Swaziland.

Pray for the King of Swaziland. For his salvation and that God would give him the boldness to live out his faith in front of his people.

Pray that God’s will would be done…and that lives would be transformed.

Pray that God would raise up others to be sent into His harvest field of Swaziland…to carry on the work He has begun.