Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whatever you did

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40

AIDS. ORPHANS. WIDOWS. PANDEMIC. Serious words. Serious reality. Take a look at these recent statistics (HIV & AIDS information from
-33million are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.
-More than 25 million people have died of HIV/AIDS since 1981
-Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans

Now, take a personal inventory. Do you know anyone that is affected by HIV/AIDS? 5 years ago my answer would have been 'no'. But not any longer. Here are some pics of those I've met who face the reality of HIV/AIDS every single day.
I challenge you to watch this video link.
You may be asking yourself; "What can I do?" You can:
-pray for them
-give of your time, energy & resources to organizations that are on the frontlines fighting the fight against HIV/AIDS (like Compassionate Life Foundation
-go yourself.
You see, when we all face Jesus someday (and we will!) and He asks us: "What have you done for the least of these?"...what will our answer be?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Live by Faith

"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

A young Canadian middle school girl who 'saw' a need and took it upon herself to raise money to purchase dining tables, chairs and bunk beds for orphaned children a half a world away. A hardworking middle aged Swazi woman who 'saw' a need and prayed for over 20 years for God to send someone to help build a church and reach out to the poorest of her village. A South African couple who 'saw' the great need of orphans in Swaziland and in response to God's call left their home, moved to the top of a mountain and began an orphanage and free school that has become a beacon of hope to literally hundreds. Real people. People of faith. People of action. Their names are Cloe, Busisewe, Kallie and Charmaine and their pictures are above. I am humbled and honored to meet them. But I am also thankful. Thankful that they challenge me (a 50 something American) to live out my faith to a greater degree....daily.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

El Shaddai (God Almighty)

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. " Psalm 91:1

Half of our time in Swaziland was spent up in the mountains at an amazing place called El Shaddai. It's a children's home for 64 orphans. But it's more than that. It also has a church where the people of the surrounding village come each week to learn about God's word and Jesus. The church also houses a pre-school where around 50 little ones walk for miles each morning to come to school. It also has a clinic where on Thursdays and Fridays the sick (and there are many!) come for help. It also has a school where 264 children, grades 1 through 7, are able to go to school for free (unheard of in Swaziland). Our time at El Shaddai was well spent...albeit exhausting! We built a massive playscape for the orphanage (miraculously built in just 3 days when the supplier said it normally takes 3 weeks!!), put up fencing around the babies' house, assembled furniture in the long term volunteer house, manned the clinic with highly trained nurses, painted, visited & taught at the school and played & loved on as many children as possible. The name El Shaddai means 'God Almighty' and after seeing what God is doing there we realize...He truly is!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

At Play

"And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play." Zechariah 8:5

Following an incredible Sunday worship service (3 hrs long) we enjoyed a delicious fellowship dinner with the Swazis and Mozambicans. Then it was time to play. And play we did! We brought jump ropes, face paint, a giant parachute, soccer balls, beach balls, bubbles, frizbees, nerf footballs and candy. Lots of candy. It was absolutely magical as the dirt streets of Manzini were transformed, filled with the sound of boys and girls at play. Truly magical....just as it should be! :)

Things our eyes have seen (Mbabane Gov't Hospital)

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." Deuteronomy 4:9

The day the entire team arrived in Swaziland we went to the Government Hospital in Mbabane (the capital city). We visited the children's ward and our ministry there was to bring much needed supplies (diapers, washcloths, rubber gloves, soap, medicines, eye drops), prayer and hope to the dire situation that over 50 children and their families experience there. The hospital conditions are rough to say the least. Paint peeling off walls & iron bedframes. Few nurses available to tend to the patients' needs. Family members stay around the clock, often sleeping on the floor, to help care for and comfort their sick children. We not only brought loads of supplies but smiles with armloads of coloring books & crayons, candy, balloons & small games which we passed out to the children & their families. After spending time playing & praying together our group finished our visit by singing with the Swazi people. Songs that brought smiles, laughter and joy...if only for the moment. My role was to take pictures and print them out so that each family had a picture of themselves with their child. For most it was the only picture they've ever had. How important was that? Just yesterday I heard some sobering news. Since our visit, at least 5 of the youngest children we'd visited had died. A physician at the hospital told us that in Swaziland 50% of the children under the age of 5 die. 50%!! That statistic has messed me up! God's word says we must never forget what our eyes have seen or let it slip from our hearts, but to teach others what we have come to know. We now know. We must not look the other way.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things our eyes have seen (Manzini Primary School)

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." Deuteronomy 4:9

A sea of welcoming faces---------------------students ready to help us plant
cheer/pom squad member -----Justin planting with Swazi boy-------Sue with Jane (agriculture teacher)

reaching deeply for water----------------------------------precious student
Surrounded by jungle gym boys ------------------Thankful waves goodbye
One of our first days in Swaziland was spent at the Manzini Primary School. We had the privilege to meet and work alongside the young students planting immune boosting vegetable gardens as well as painting the building which will become a future library for them (their first!). I cannot tell you how precious it was when we first arrived to have been welcomed in song and dance by the entire student body (about 200 children!). Their enthusiasm truly touched my heart. After the singing a drama group from the school performed a play in siSwati (their native language) about 'children having a voice'.....a play about abuse and who they should turn to for help. They did a nice job but it broke my heart to realize that such young children needed to be taught this because many are subjected to situations of abuse. Sad. After the play we all got busy planting & painting. The gardens (26 of them) would be tended by the 5th grade students (part of their agriculture class) with the food being used to supply not only the entire school's lunch program but also to help feed the student's families as well. Way cool! Once the work was done the 'pom squad' wanted to show us their routine that they'd been practicing. It was fun to be able to encourage them as they proudly performed for us. While watching I was reminded that "no matter where you are, children are children". Let us never forget that!