May 30, 2012
It always seems that finding the right words to adequately describe the lives of the children and our time with them is more than difficult. As a team, we spent some time sharing stories and “Swazi Moments” with each other, and there were a few things that were very clear here in Swaziland.
First, it is clear that all of us have already either begun the process of being transformed or continue to be transformed by the hands we hold and faces we touch here in Swaziland. When Jesus says that He is the poor, He is hungry, He is thirsty, He is naked, and He is sick, it is so true. As we’ve had the privilege to hold Him in these children, to love Him, to comfort Him, to feed Him, and to clothe Him, we’ve truly been in His presence and broken beyond measure. Serving here is the vehicle He is using to break our hearts for what breaks His. To change us, to be more like Him…not for our glory, but so that He may be glorified…that He may be praised for his provision!
Second, He is at work in this place. We’ve had many homestead visits, and as we fellowship with these sweet people and take gifts of food, we’ve had countless testimonies of mothers and grandmothers that have said, “Thank you, Jesus, you have provided!” Many have testified that they had nothing left and prayed that He would provide for the numbers of children living in their one bedroom home. He has proven in the midst of some of their darkest hours that He cares about each ONE here in Swaziland. We’ve also seen the miracle of sweet Thabiso whose life has been spared for His glory. His mother, while thankful for all of who have stepped in for his care, praises God for the miracle she sees in her son and clearly sees God working in the life of her baby boy. Over and over, we see and hear testimonies of how God specifically reveals himself to these people through their humble dependence upon Him. They have no resources, jobs, pantries filled with food, or
people, even parents, where they can place their faith…in so many ways, they see Him working much more clearly than we do!
Third, Special Friends ARE making a difference in the lives of these children. They cherish the letters and photos from their special friends. We’ve had several children that have walked up to a team member and proudly proclaimed in a Swazi accent that can melt your heart, “This is my special friend. Do you know them?” They place pictures of their special friends in their home, one Gogo shared, “We have your picture hanging in our house.” They call them by name…first and last! We’ve provided paper and pens for the children to write letters to their friends in America. For most children in the US, they wouldn’t choose to write a letter when scores of children were climbing on a newly built play set or kicking new soccer balls on a rock-filled field. But for these children, their letter is a link to the people that they (the children) love and thank God for. For the orphaned and vulnerable in Swaziland, their greatest possession, in a world that could never imagine the abundance of America, is a simple letter and/or a photo of a family that chooses to be their special friend. The older Swazi children have a very short time at the carepoint before they have to walk home and escape the dangers after the sun sets. They worked so carefully to choose the perfect words and display their best penmanship forfeiting the time that had today to live as a laughing child in the refuge of the carepoint. One team member shared how two of the children would write several sentences and anxiously wait to hear, “This looks good!” before continuing to write a letter that they trusted would be treasured as much as the pictures and letters that they have treasured themselves. If you are reading this blog and you have a special friend here, know that you are loved beyond measure, and you are an incredible piece in this ministry. If you do not have a special friend, we cannot encourage you enough to begin partnering with this ministry and impact the life of ONE child in Swaziland. It may not totally change a nation, but it can drastically change the life of a child…a child that many of us have realized could have easily been one of us, our one of our own children, had we not been blessed to be born in a different place.
Last, when we trust God to provide, He perfectly provides for the unexpected. He knew that Ntabas would have 60 additional children that we had not planned to clothe as we prepared in Augusta. As concerns rose, we were reminded that God is sovereign. He knew each little foot that would cross the path into Ntabas, and He loved them more than we could ever imagine. We trusted that He is faithful and would be provide!
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God , trust also in me. John 14:1a
We prayed over the stacks of dresses and tshirts, the packets of socks, the rows of undies, and He was faithful. No child was turned away…even the 60 that we had not prepared for in our own strength. He had provided, and He was praised! For some, these could have been the first pair of underpants that they owned. You see, these aren’t just “part of a wardrobe” for these young Swazi girls. They provide protection for some on the walking trails to their homestead. They give them a sense of pride and worth as they cover themselves fully. There isn’t a drawer to pull from each day as the laundry waits to be done. The Crocs, dresses, socks, underwear, toothbrushes with toothpaste, and cards from Special Friends will serve differently in lives of the children that received them. We may never know the story on this side of eternity, but I wonder how many of the faces that smiled at us in Swaziland will be smiling with us in heaven because they came to know God through the his simple provision through a few simple people and team of donors and prayer warriors from the US. We’ll only know when we sit at the feet of Jesus!