Saturday, June 11, 2011
On Saturday, the entire entourage of both care points gathered at Timbutini for Fun Day! Four hundred children. 400. You read that right. And what a happy day it was! As soon as we arrived, vans carrying loads of children from Ruby’s Carepoint rumbled in, packed and bursting with excited children (remember, no seat belt laws here!).
The morning was spent playing games such as a “ginormous” game of ring-around-the-rosie. Cricket Willis almost needed a bullhorn to yell instructions across the circle. At some point, the parachute was brought out to the extreme excitement of the little ones. After that, the boys separated out from the girls and played some games with the men of our group.
At noon, it was time for a much needed rest with adults and children cramming as one mass into the church. Who knew such a building (simple cinder block) could hold that many people? The D-team led the group in singing songs in both Siswati and English. Then the squirming crowd settled down (as much as a squirming crowd can settle down) for the Bible story of Moses and leaving Egypt. The message of the story was, “Keep doing what God says because He is God. Moses ( Chuck Keller) appeared and proceeded to talk to God in the burning bush (Mike Ikeler). Brad Willis made an appearance as Pharoah and was proficient in his big lines….the word “NO.” Braxton Willis led the children in the chorus of “Pharoah, Pharoah,” which is gleefully sung to the tune of “Louie,Louie”.
Lunch itself was quite the event. Once again 500 ¼ pieces of chicken were grilled and served to the children, with salad, water, a local food called “pop,” (similar to grits?) and a cupcake. The itty-bitty children, trying to eat this ¼ chicken, and drinking from their water bottles, were beyond cute. Several of our team members said it was the best chicken they had ever had. That tells you something.
During lunch, we passed out gifts to the Go-go’s. These were backpacks filled with toothbrushes, gloves, hats, soap, etc. They were delighted! These women, the oldest being 83 (Ruby), care for these children year round. Every day, they cook food for these children, sometimes over an open fire. They have hauled water and physically worked far beyond your imagination. But it was another part of their reaction that sweetened our spirits. Ruby, our 83 year old Go-go, rose to her feet, held out her hands, and began praising God in Siswati song. The others softly joined in. The true beauty of it was, instead of thanking us, they stood and thanked God, in a beautiful and very personal way, straight from the heart. They thanked God, from Whom comes all good things.
Throughout the day, many moments came that were, simply put, droplets of love from Heaven. One sweet moment derived from Brad’s testimony, which he had given for the team morning devotion. During his devotion, he quoted from Isaiah 58. The day continued to unfold for the Willis family, until that afternoon, when they received a love-letter from their Special Friend, Tacona, who is 12. For a moment, the world stopped for this family. As they read the sweet letter, packed full of Tacona’s heart, they came upon Bible verses she quoted…..straight from Isaiah 58. Coincidence? We think not.
Another tender moment was after the Cox family had met their special friend, Makhosazane. She is 13, the same age as Courtney, so one can imagine the fun of two 13 year old girls, from world’s apart, meeting. At one point, Makhosazane picked out a book to read to read to the Cox’s. It was about Noah’s Ark. She read the book in English, fluently. The Cox’s were pleasantly shocked. The English, combined with that unique African accent provided a moment they will hold precious forever.
Another dinner at the hotel began the ending to our day. Sifiso, our cook provided food that tends to make us not want to come home…..that, or maybe pack him in a suitcase. Ah, but it is not just Sofiso’s cooking that binds him to us. After dinner, Sifiso joined us in our cozy meeting room and he gave his testimony. He started in, with his South African accent, and I don’t think any of us breathed again for at least 30, if not 45 minutes or more. And it was not just his accent that held us. It was his testimony. This blog cannot begin to encompass his life, his passion, his faith. Rather, an effort is under way to video tape Sifiso’s testimony, and bring it back to show in Sunday School classes.( No promises, but we’re trying.)
In closing, in reference to Sifiso and his Christian brothers and sisters in this country of Swaziland, we quote James 2: 5 – “Listen my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”