"After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done..." Judges 2:10 (NLT)
One year ago today. That's when a small group of 25 people (among whom were me, my husband and our 2 daughters) left on a 10 day journey to serve and work with the poor and needy people of Swaziland, Africa. It hardly seems like it's been a year already. But then again there are times when it seems like an eternity. Alot of life has been lived since then. Times of joy & celebration. Times of sorrow and loss. Busy times...fulfilling responsibilities with work, family and ministry. One thing I've come to realize though is that if we're not careful, it becomes really easy for us to forget, doesn't it? Maybe I'm becoming more nostalgic as I get older, but as I spend time in God's word I see that there are many times where God tells us to 'remember'. So it must be important. So here goes...come along with us on our trip down memory lane today...this 1 year anniversary of our life changing trip to Swaziland, Africa. I remember...
- The gracious welcome from the Swazi and Mozambican people when we first arrived.
- The poor living conditions of the people....amazing, they have so little.
- People searching for food in the local garbage dump...which was situated adjacent to the city cemetery.
- Watching a young boy (maybe 5 yrs old) carrying a large bucket of brownish water up a hill after drawing it from a muddy creek.
- The smokey haze hovering over the hillsides as people burned their fields in the hope of producing more fertile soil once the planting season arrives.
- Combis (vans) jam packed with people commuting from one place to another.
- The sick children and the look in their eyes.
- The smiles and games we played with the school children at El Shaddai Children's Home as we painted their school bathrooms. (oh yes...and the smell in the boys bathroom!!)
- The awesome view of the mountains and the valley below that the children at El Shaddai get to enjoy every single day.
- The rugged dirt roads leading up to El Shaddai. (and you think we have pot holes...!)
- The people (both children and adults) that would run up to our van as we drove by, grinning from ear to ear, in the hope to catch some sweets (candy) we were offering to them....and their graciousness once they got some.
- Speaking to the 'Go-Go' (grandmother) and her amazement that people would spend their vacation time and money (of which she couldn't even fathom) to come all that way to Swaziland to help them. **Sadly, she has since died.
- The resourcefulness of the Swazi people....and their hard work ethic.
- Looking into the clear southern hemisphere sky at night and seeing the Southern Cross constellation. God you are amazing!
- The choirs singing and dancing at the 4 hour long church dedication service, and the table filled with food that the Mozambican and Swazi women prepared for the celebration. (took them 3 days to prepare!)
- Being charged by a somewhat irritated elephant that stopped just a foot away from our landrover. (and the look on our girls faces as that was happening :)
- Being just a few feet away from a pride of lions, seeing giraffes perfectly camoflaged in the thick brush, eating some impala for lunch, and being captivated by the beautiful African sunset.
- Children just wanting to be held. And held. And held.
- The privilege and joy of meeting our sponsored child, Nkosimphile.
- The emotional sharing from each group member during our debriefing sessions each evening. None of us will ever be the same again. (1 group member has answered God's call and has since moved to Cape Town, South Africa!)
- The ache in our hearts as we were leaving. It's still there.... (Lord willing we'll be returning in July 0f 2009!)
- The culture shock when we returned to America.
- Witnessing God's love, God's presence, God's faithfulness in every situation.
So there you have it...just a few of the things we've been remembering today. But wait, I remember...there's 1 more thing! Nothing new, but it's been on my refrigerator for years and kinda sums it all up: "Love God, love people....nothing else matters". I hope we never forget that! God bless.