Greetings from Manzini, Swaziland! Christ’s body is at work in Swaziland and the Holy Spirit is alive in the people here. Waving to strangers on the street is like seeing a long-lost friend and common handshakes are a dance of the hands that lasts long enough to make a proper introduction.
After a long couple of days of travel and adjustment, our team went to work. Our day started at the Adventures In Mission (AIM) office in Manzini to review our schedule and join the Monday morning staff meeting. What a glorious staff meeting! All Mondays begin like this. First item on the agenda, praise and song. Siswati is a musical language when spoken. When sung, the heavens rejoice! Four young ladies each took turns leading a song while the other three harmonized all with a keyboard providing the music. All of the Swazis in the room were dancing and singing. We were trying our best to keep up and the music moved. After music, a local pastor preached on the Gospel of John 14:1-4 focusing on our duty to trust God. By the time we reached the schedule and information part of the meeting we were on fire. Greg introduced two teams visiting care points this week. We closed the meeting with prayers and launched onto our work for the day.
We drove into the countryside, leaving the city for the rural village of Ntaba… or Ntabas for short. The landscape undulates with hills, valleys, and mountains all green thanks to recent, life-giving rains. Once at the care point we greet the adult women, Go-Gos, and the infamous Mama Ruby. Mama Ruby is 88 years young with a hug that calls you in and skin that would make movie stars jealous. She still pours out love on the care point four days a week. The children were outside giving curious looks but respected the adults’ time, they greeted us with smiles and waves while the adults gathered for a short meeting. Landon, a young missionary living in Swaziland, and I step out of the classroom to play with the children during the Go-Go ministry. The whole scene captivated me, mountains in the background and large bright shining eyes above wide smiles and raised cheeks.
The children are beautiful, not just stunning to the eyes, but through to the soul with joy emanating from every handshake and hug. They mobbed at first, motioning to their faces like touching a beard and asked me about mine in words I could not understand. They were equally entertained by the hair on my arms. Soon I alternated turns lifting and spinning them around, little thrill seekers! They were tickled when we tried to pronounce their names. Once the ladies joined us, the children spread the love to all and pulled us into their world. If we had stopped to focus on the poverty, we could easily despair and completely miss the reality in front of us. Instead, we noticed the deep rich joy they have that I do not see in many children these days back home. Inescapable joy played with us all day long. Lindsey, a young lady on our team summed the experience well – we came to bring love to them on this mission, but they are the ones who gave us abundant love. We sang, danced, kicked, chased, blew bubbles, gave shoulder rides, and hula hooped.
At the end of the day our team splits into three smaller teams to visit homes and deliver rice. We traversed dirt roads while the children ran alongside the van, giggling in the dust clouds. My team arrived at a plot of land with four visible structures from the road. Two were abandoned cinder block homes, one was a thatch-roofed home with mortar walls that had fallen into disrepair. We circled around the middle dwelling, a nine square-foot cube with a sheet metal roof. A grandmotherly figure with a scarf on her head sat quietly on a large paint bucket looking out into the field. She asked us to call her Monica since her full name is more difficult to pronounce. Our shepherd, Sanele, translates for us; however, due to Monica’s hearing, her granddaughter politely yelled translations directly into her right ear throughout the conversation. Our short visit ends with our team praying over Monica and placing the bags of rice inside her house. I was amazed at the cleanliness of the one room home where five people live and sleep. Pray for Monica, she suffers from cancer and worries about how her home and family will continue to stay together in their home.
The rest of the men from the team spent the day building a two-room cinder block home for a brother and a sister, 12 and 16, who live on their own since the death of their parents. The team accomplished construction of seven foot walls all around and will continue tomorrow to hopefully arrive at the beginnings of a roof. The men shared a ministry in the morning and closed the day with praise and song.
One amazing gift of the trip was that Tina Mutimer met and visited the home of a child she sponsors. God’s gift of life is precious and sacred, trust in the Lord.
~JJ McKinney & 2018 Swazi Team