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.