Resting under the tree

Resting under the tree
Genesis 18:3-5

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Molly Harper -on left. Make (maa-gay) Happy- middle left. Mfanmpela sitting. Janice between two others that I should be able to, but can't get my "recall" to work.
We are standing on a mountain side during the DVD shoot in our "miracle" white gowns that make us sing better.

Love this picture. Notice the freshly painted fingernails. More importantly, notice two humans sharing a loving touch.
So much has happened, that it seems impossible it has only been a month since returning from the embrace of our Swazi friends and family.

We have been in the news.
Article in today’s newspaper for you to read and share with others:

It’s nice that it comes on the heels of the article in our national Disciples News Service:

We were also front page news of one of the Swazi newspapers, on the Monday that we departed. It was a picture of us in our Zionist church uniforms attending the consecration of Bishop Mkhonta. We have since been dubbed the "White Zionists."

Priceless was the look on the receptionist desk when we came arrived back at the hotel in our church uniforms. The trailing voice of, "I have never seen..." I think it was Molly that finished her sentence for her with, "...white people dressed like this?" We had to sing for her, right there in the lobby.

Oh the memories we have.

The transition home isn't always easy. My children have heard many a lecture about how many privileges they have, and better enjoy, AND better identify as privileges, not necessities. Poor dears. It is a good thing that they have both been to Swaziland before. They can understand what I am saying and be forgiving (as much as a 13 and 10 year old can).

I have some really exciting news to share and a bunch of pictures, too. I will try to get them posted. Stay with me...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We have had a busy two days with the Bishop's consecration, more DVD shoot, singing, smiling, and teary good-byes. It is hard to leave.

Today we will trek back to South Africa and fly to Atlanta tonight, to be home on Tuesday.

It was a big experience, from the time of preparations, to the all-encompasing last two weeks. The transition back will manifest differently in different people, but talking helps. As family and friends of team members, try to be good and attentive listeners when your loved one arrives home.

I will try to write more of the experience when I arrive and have more time. So you can come back to the blog in a few days to check. It has been so full here, and the time short.

Pray us home...

Friday, July 23, 2010

It is early Saturday morning.
Yesterday was a long day as we traveled to remote areas of Swaziland, spending hours on dirt roads of washboards and ruts. Literally, my backside seems bruised this morning.

I decided not to post anything last evening because I was still processing and did not want to post anything too raw. I am still not sure that I will succeed.

Friday we put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces. And I thank many of you for that. Your monetary donations allowed us to be here. And some of you that gave money for Swazi supplies allowed us to give at least a weeks worth of food at each Neighborhood Carepoint Center, giving a nutritional boost to help fight diseases and grow and give them a good feeling in their bellies, at least for this next week. Lack of food security is a consistent theme through this country.

Those of you who participated in shoe drives, getting the word out, purchasing them and getting them in our suitcases - I can't wait for you to see the pics of us handing them out. With all the thorns and feces around, these will help protect their feet.

We saw children literally wearing rags. Molly commented yesterday that she probably wouldn't even use one of the little girls skirts for a wash rag. Harsh, but it is true.

The donations of medical supplies, school supplies and clothing...
Just know that your donations that got us here and allowed us to hand things out has made a difference in many lives. And it does make a difference. One of the workers at the last Carepoint we went to, I recognized from four years ago when we visited Make Elizabeth's Church. He was still wearing the same fleece that I gave him then. If it has kept him warm for these past four years, I am happy. So you should be happy too. Your gifts will be well used, until they literally can't be used anymore.

What is bothering me is this. Yesterday at our last stop, there was a girl of about nine, who was definitely acting as if she were the head of her household. She was caring, in both meanings of the word for younger children. Upon closer contact, she has multiple small lesions around her mouth, nose and eyes, leaving no doubt that she must also be HIV+. It looks painful. How she contracted HIV will remain unknown, but I know too many of the realities of these young girls who, due to their parents early deaths, inherit the responsibilities of their households, and become the targets of human predators. Something is really wrong when you look into the eyes of a girl who is younger than my own daughters and hope that if indeed there is a predator involved, that she is hopefully getting something positive in return. Does mercy really look like bread in return for being raped? God forbid.

I knew this would come out raw. And I am crying so I better go collect myself. The Bishop's consecration is today which will be a great celebration.

So many contrasts come at us quickly. Nauseating to celebrating, crying to laughing, living to dying, all in a moments time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yesterday we went to a carepoint center in Shewula, an area near the Mozambique border. It could not be more rural.

We had been there before in 2008. The once dirt and rock floor of the pre-school is now poured cement and there are panes in the widows. There is a new building that houses a classroom which is nice - the attempt is that this will hold the equivalent of 1st and 2nd grade classes, as the primary school is a very long walk from here for the young children to make. These are very positive signs.

What hasn't changed is food security, proof from their distended bellies. (they are no longer getting aid from Unicef - too little resources, to great a need). What hasn't changed is the amount of sickness, both in the fact that these kids are orphans and that their little bodies are in a constant battle with all types of sickness on little resources.

This sentiment was also at Gigi's. Gigi's has also had some funding to make the facility better - and praise God for it - but has it REALLY changed the lives of the children housed in them? I shouldn't be so cynical to say no, because it has. I will however continue to ponder what it is that will really make a difference.

Be ready people because I think we may initiate a program to help maintain daily food in the lives of the children at Shewula. I am not sure how to do this but... Pray and discern, pray and discern.

We are off to a game reserve today as a day off and to have a different African experience.

Tomorrow, we will go to two more Neighborhood Carepoint Centers.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today we will be going out to homesteads all over Swaziland with Hospice at Home.

We are experiencing many emotions, up and down right now. The weekend was spent being welcomed into the loving arms of Christ, via KZC. It was a mountain top experience, figuratively and literally, as one of the venues for the DVD shoot was a mountain side.

Yesterday we descended into the valley of the suffering children at Gigi's.

Today we don't know what to expect as we visit the soon to be ghosts.