Greetings from Swaziland!
Our building crew has poured love and sweat into the home and shared some powerful devotions and fellowship each day at lunch. Today, the discussion began with John 4:24 focusing on childlike wonder in faith. Faith is not blind; it is experiential and continues to grow through life which is why we must continue learning. Jesus meets us where we are just as he did the Samaritan woman at the well. We the body of Christ must do the Lord’s work to share faith. We are disciples.
Oscar, a quiet, skilled member of the Swazi construction team spoke up. “I want to know more about you. Who you are, what you do for a living, and why you are here.” Oscar has been a non-stop work horse from sun up to sun down this whole week and until now he had been a man of few words. His English is clear and he speaks with a sing-song African accent with similar intonations as the West Indies. He shared that in Africa working alongside a white man is rare and he thought we were on the job site to direct him. Quite the contrary, we were there to serve and do whatever the construction team needed. He had been a foreman at a chemical processing plant until the government shut it down without explanation. He has been spending his time working to build this house when he could be looking for a job. Unemployment is 41% in Swaziland, so jobs are scarce. He ascertained that he could be helpful to this team since he worked construction with his father for many years. Oscar revealing a little about himself and his situation and wanting to know more about us was a spectacular gift on an otherwise usual day on this trip.
Later the same day, the women left the care point to bring food and see the house for the first time. The men were excited to introduce the ladies to our friends from the building crew. What a magical day!
Wait, the day gets better. Dudu is a shepherd with A.I.M. who invited us to have dinner at her home in the countryside. We needed to bring flashlights and other battery operated lights as Dudu’s house has no electricity or running water. She lives with her four younger siblings on a small plot of land with two structures and a makeshift outhouse. On a purely factual note, I can say that we ate Kentucky Fried Chicken at Dudu’s house with her family and close neighbors. Although the statement is true it could not be further from the experience than if I had presented a bold-faced lie.
Dudu invited us into a one-room, circular building with plaster walls and a cone-shaped thatched roof. The room is about 15 feet in diameter with a serving table at one end and rollaway mats for everyone to sit. The women sat on the left side if you were facing outside and the men on the right. “Welcome to my beautiful home, I am honored to have you!” And it is, beautiful. “This is called a Grandmother’s Hut”; however, I heard grandmother’s heart and after hearing the meaning and reason behind the hut, I think heart more appropriately conveys the meaning. The hut is a place to bring family or families together, to leave grievances and arguments outside, a place of harmony and thanksgiving. As we sat and listened to Dudu’s story, I realized that words will not be able to capture the essence of the experience. The room was filled with small children silently listening and waiting. Two verses from Revelation will hopefully share with you how I felt looking around Grandmother’s Heart. Chapter 21 verses four and 11 – “He will wipe every tear from your eyes, and there shall be no death or mourning, wailing or pain for the old order has passed away…It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.” A pinch of heaven touched us.
Dudu’s father passed away when she was nine and her mother passed when she was 16. Since the age of 16 she has been taking care of herself and her siblings with the help of neighbors and her pastor who have become family to them. She and her siblings were once robbed and all ran to the neighbors for safety. She is telling about the robbery to underscore the relationship and bond she has with the people God has placed in her life. She even exclaimed with joy that the robbers “…did not rape us!” in a way that expresses the usual intent of such an invasion. She expresses deep gratitude for Jesus in her life. Absolute childlike wonder and faith.
The younger children sitting with us have profound innocence in their eyes, but I know behind those beautiful dark eyes is a world of experience I cannot begin to understand. My limited observation witnesses trust in God and great love for family and community with a firm understanding of their responsibility to on another. The children waited in calm restraint as Dudu shared, then one of the young girls led us all in a Swazi song of praise followed by a blessing before the meal. The children quietly remained on the mats for the adults to be served and then they could eat. Once everyone had eaten the Swazi’s danced in the middle of the room as we all clapped, sang, and chanted to the beat.
We finished with a walk up the rocky trail to the bus under a brilliant night sky silhouetted by dark mountain shadows and a deep dark blue sky erupting with stars. Hallelujah!
~JJ Mckinney & The 2018 Swaziland Team
Greetings from Swaziland!