Fishes and Loaves

Fishes and Loaves

Breaking news in Swaziland…Robin has seen the light. 🙂

There are so many stories to share, but so little time and words to share them.  It does seem from year to year that we always have a testimony of a modern day fishes and loaves story.  When the people needed to be fed, Jesus thanked God and asked that He provide, and He did…with an abundance of food left to fill many baskets.  When we arrived in Swaziland and stepped onto the grounds of Timbutini and Ntabas, we knew that there were A LOT of children at the care points.  Ntabas seemed particularly full.  We had packed boxes with shirts, dresses, Crocs, underwear and socks.  We added extra supplies to provide for those that were not on our list of children that regularly attend the care point.  Only those children that regularly attend the care point and discipleship time are profiled and available for families in the States to choose to support the care point by being a special friend of this child.  This regular attendance is also part of the plan of accountability for the children.  They must be profiled and regularly attend the discipleship time each week to receive gifts from the team. So, the idea of children standing in line preparing to receive their “reward” for meeting the goals set before them and then having to be told that we did not have their gift ls for them is heart wrenching.  We knew that Ntabas had 60 additional children that had met the requirements to receive a gift, but we did not learn this until we reached the care point.  God stretched our supplies, and everyone walked away with a bag of necessities and lots of smiles.  After reviewing the rolls of Timbutini, we realized that between the two care points, we had close to 120 children that we had not planed for.  So, after Ntabas distribution, we asked the missionaries to help us replenish a few of our supplies.  The difficult part of planning for a clothes distribution is that it is impossible for one to know exactly what sizes we need for the children.  We based our requests on the number of children that attended Ntabas and thought we would have plenty to cover all that was needed by Timbutini.

Friday, we gathered and organized supplies at Timbutini and prepared as groups of children arrived after an early release from school.  We are blessed with a large building at Timbutini, so the team that had assembled inside for distribution really couldn’t assess the numbers of children gathered outside.  We prayed over the tshirts, dresses, Crocs, socks and underwear and the 2 hour process ensued.  Those children that were on our roll were escorted into the building by two’s and walked through the path of supplies to receive their card or letter from their special friend at the end of the line.  They stepped out of the building and proudly shared their new treasures with the curious eyes waiting to enter the shoe sizing station.  The numbers of Crocs slowly dwindled down to two or three pair in some sizes with some empty areas where there were no shoes for a child that needed that size.   We held our breath and watched as the last children, the high school students, entered and completed the process.  We exhaled and looked at the discipler to see just how many children were part of the regular attenders but not on our original list.  We looked up and saw a sea of at least 40 faces that seemed to be begging to enter the church.

We asked, “All of these?”

She nodded in the Swazi way and lifted her eyebrows to say, “Yeaz.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeaz.”

“What do we do if we don’t have enough?  We’re out of some our sizes.”

“I don’t know.”

“Should we not invite them in?”  Our hearts ached at the thought of saying “no” to those big brown eyes.

Shaking her head, she explained, “I don’t know.  You have to give them all the same thing or it will not be good.”

What do we do Lord?  Will there be enough?

We talked with the missionary and she asked, “Do you think you can do it?”

“We don’t know.”

She thought for a moment and said, “You decide.”

God seemed to whisper, “Trust Me.”

We took our positions and prayed over each Croc as we began to fill the wish of each little child that entered…

a new pair of  shoes

a new pair of socks

two pairs of underwear

a new dress, tshirt or sweatshirt for the cold winter

toothbrush and toothpaste

a letter from a special friend (a generic card made by volunteers)

We witnessed our modern day fishes and loaves.  Every foot was covered with a new pair of shoes.  Every bag was filled.  We exhaled and was once again reminded that He is Jehovah Jireh!

It was another day of laughter, hugs, sleeping babies, sharing books, and sometimes, just being quiet as a child was held or touched.  As the time neared for the children to begin their journey home before dark, little ones hoped that some of their friends would hold their hands or walk the dusty path to their homestead.   The families know that when the carepoint has visitors from Warren, some families will receive food as they visit their home.  The missionaries, with the D-team, will assess the needs of families and try to take food to those homes with the greatest need.  For one little girl, her Make (magae-mother)  cried as she told the team that she had no idea how she was going to feed her children, and she specifically prayed that the Warren team would visit so that they would be able to eat at home.  She praised God through her tears for His provision!

I will surely and abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Psalm 132:15

Thank you for your continued prayers for Swaziland and the team.  They are truly felt!  We are having a wonderful time, but the days are long.  One of our team members has really felt the affects of long days lifting child after child and playing in the African sun!

And to Mike Ikeler…your brother!

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