Day #5: Friday, 13 July 2018
Greetings to all back in the U.S.,
Once again, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise. The day was all planned-out, or so we thought. One group was headed to town to pick up vans and get groceries as our baptism and Braii (BBQ) has grown to around 300 to 500 people coming. The other group was staying back to organize clothes for the market sale (garage sale) which will be open to the community and do physicals for some of our children. In the afternoon, we were all expecting to go to Komati to take the boys fishing and do some other crafts with the girls.
Well, God had another plan in mind. The group that went to town to get the vans had all kinds of problems. They eventually got two vans and one of them broke down. While Cynthia and Pastor Barry were waiting for Kiel and Eric to return with the fixed van, they ran into a man that used to be on the Board for El Shaddai and were able to start a relationship. This wouldn’t have been possible without the series of issues, and a man willing to help stranded strangers.
The group that was left back at El Shaddai was able to complete organizing everything for the market sale. We also did physicals on some of children today. We finished organizing the library.
Needless to say, we were not going to make to Komati in time due to all the issues with the vans, so we had to change the plan for the day. Kiel and Cynthia went and got the groceries and were able to find everything in one store! The rest of us took a trip to the glass factory in Ngwenya. It was a great trip and we all got a little shopping done.
We returned back at El Shaddai just in time for dinner. We ended the day debriefing around a bonfire, practicing our songs for church on Sunday and remembering all of our blessing and God moments we had today.
Day #4: Thursday July 12, 2018
Today was a beautiful day, the sunrise this morning was phenomenal. The sun rose this morning granting us its warmth in every shade of orange, red and yellow imaginable. The warmth was much appreciated by many in the group as the star filled night skies don’t have clouds to keep the previous day’s warmth in. Breakfast this morning was cereal, oatmeal, fruit cocktail and homemade cappuccino muffins. Devotion this morning focused on morality and virtue, virtue being the outward expression of someone’s morality.
This morning consisted of setting up for the final day of VBS this time with the oldest students. Sorting of the items removed from the condemned dorm was continued this morning but was put on pause for lunch and VBS. The multi day plumbing project to appropriately drain grey water from both the girls and boys dorms was completed. This was a major problem as some of the water was draining back towards the building and eroding the foundation of the dorms and kitchen. Lunch was sandwiches, and salad.
VBS today was for the oldest kids in the school. Surprisingly all the students enjoyed the activities. The boys even seemed to like the face painting, with full face butterflies being a big hit, but it seemed like the soccer dribble won the day as the favourite event.
After VBS was finished it was all hands on deck to complete the sorting of items from the condemned dorm. Once the children of El Shaddai returned from school they were eager to help sort and load the trucks to take the items down the where the community market will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Some more organizing and setup will need to be done, but the majority is behind us. We did not get to spend much one on one time with all the kids today due to the time it took to sort, haul and set up the items for the market. Cynthia and Kiel were both very surprised with how much we were able to accomplish today. We did however get to hear the kids singing before dinner. Getting to hear all of them singing in unison in their native tongue raised the hair on the back of your neck and filled you with warmth. Dinner this evening was honey mustard chicken wraps, with a sweet fresh slaw and amazingly rich brownies. Dinner was slightly delayed this evening as everyone took time to watch the sun set, with less yellow but purple to compliment the orange and blue.
The evening saw people branching off to reflect on the day in their journal or just spend some quite time alone. A few in the group had a lively game of Euchre going on for a few hours. From what I could tell table talk is an essential part of this game as well as trash talk. Most people turned in for the evening around 9:30 as it has been exhausting day.
Day #3: Wednesday, 11 July 2018
Sawubona from El Shaddai!
Another busy, tiring and special day here. Our team started with a devotional by Pastor Barry about being joyful and spreading joy; not too hard to do when you get to spend time with these kids! He asked us to do a special activity today. With every child we saw and spoke with, he challenged us to say a prayer for each one, even if it was just to pray God bless you. We also had a great devotional from Kassi about joy as well.
We began our work day continuing our projects from the day before and we did finish cleaning out the condemned building; now the sorting begins. The clinic is almost fully cleaned and the nurses should be able to start to do physicals on the kids tomorrow. Some of the men were working on a drainage area which would have been completed but a part broke. The library, which has been my project, is at least ¾ done, with some help from Kassi and Bongiwe. We also have a number of books to put in the community market next week.
After lunch we headed down to the school area to resume VBS for the third, fourth and fifth graders (about 100 kids). It was controlled chaos; the kids could understand English much better but were anywhere from 8 to 16 years old. We added a parachute station for kids when they were done early. The kids have not received lunch from the school this week because of government financial difficulties so the snacks that they are getting from us (cookies, an orange, and juice) is probably the first food most of them have gotten today.
Following VBS we had some free time and got to spend some great time in the baby house; I stretched our little guy with cerebral palsy and plan to teach his aunties how to stretch him also. Everyone was spending lots of quality time with the kids at El Shaddai with Frisbees, jump rope (the record for girls was 125 times), getting hair braided and just running around and spending time talking.
It was a great, exhausting day. I believe we are finishing up the above projects and getting our sale items ready for next week. Our last VBS is tomorrow for sixth and seventh graders.
Keep us in your prayers; we appreciate them and we can feel them helping.
The 2018 eSwatini Mission team.
Submitted by Susan Hall
Day #2: Tuesday, 10 July 2018
Another day in the Kingdom of eSwatini. It was a cold night but the day was beautiful and the sun was shining down on us. We watched the sun rise over the mountain and we were energized!
Our morning was spent on many different projects. A group was cleaning the old, condemned dorm. They came across many “treasures”! We will have a community market with many of the things found to give them a new home.
The library was worked on as well. They even have books in German in their collection. The room needed a lot of organization. Gordon kept bringing books from the dorm to Sue in the library for her to find them a new home.
The door to the medical clinic could not be opened. The problem was solved quickly by Eric. He just put his shoulder down and BOOM right through the door!! He and Kiel had to spend the day fixing the new door to fit the opening, but before the end of the day, we had a new door to the clinic installed. The inside of the clinic was also a disaster. We cleaned as much as possible in anticipation of our clinic with our kids followed by the community clinic.
The afternoon was spent doing VBS with grade 1 and 2 from the primary school. We began with snacks and then the kids proceeded with stations doing crafts, getting their pictures taken, face painting and soccer ball relays. A great time was had by all!! The kids were all sent home with gift bags and their voices could be heard for a mile as they walked home.
We had received a donation of a small child’s wheelchair for a little 6-year-old named Bryan. Bryan has CP and doesn’t walk or talk. It was cumbersome to bring the wheelchair on the plane, but oh so worth the trouble. When Bryan was brought out of the baby house by an Auntie and placed in the chair, he got the BIGGEST, awesome smile!!! The tears started to flow because the chair fit him perfectly!! Bryan then got to hold onto the parachute and helped make it go up and down while other kids ran underneath. Then I wheeled him under the parachute and continuous laughter was heard from him. It was a wonderful sound! All the volunteers spent the remainder of the afternoon playing with all the children.
We ended our evening with a campfire, but sadly no marshmallows! Then a rousing game of euchre was had by four players and the four observers!!
Good night from eSwatini,
Day #1: Monday, 09 July 2018
After over 18 hours on a plane we finally made it to Africa! Our flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg was delayed for 4 hours and our pilot said we were about 5 minutes from cancelling the flight, so praise God for getting us here! We spent Sunday night in South Africa after traveling all day. We woke up early Monday morning to two friendly faces—Lola and Diesel—a black lab and an African version of a bulldog who sent us off to eSwatini! The 4-hour drive to the border was very winding and bumpy! When we got to the eSwatini border the man checking our passports asked us if we had any eSwatini shirts for him—there are still many signs that say Swaziland. It is interesting to see the country still in transition to being the Kingdom of eSwatini.
The trip to El Shaddai was very eye opening. Many homes were shacks built very close together, our bus driver told us that they can be very dangerous because if there is a fire usually about 15-20 houses end up being lost in it. We saw many people walking the streets looking for work and very dirty and rundown towns. We also saw a lot of beauty. We watched a group of men work together to push a broken-down car off the expressway ramp. We watched kids laugh and play and wave to us as we made our way up the hill to the orphanage. We made a quick pit-stop at the Muguga Dam—it was an incredible view and seemed even more amazing considering a few years ago, it was completely dried out from a drought. It’s amazing how God can show us so much beauty when we open our eyes to look for it.
Finally, we made it to El Shaddai where we were greeted with many beautiful friendly, but shy, faces! We all met our sponsor children and it took a lot to hold back tears after hugging the children we have been praying for for a long time. Kiel and Cynthia gave us all a tour of El Shaddai and every time we turned around children were peeking around corners to see what we were up to ☺ The view from our dorms is beautiful beyond description, so stay tuned for pictures, although I am sure it will not do God’s creation justice. After packing, we prepared for Vacation Bible School, ate a wonderful meal together prepared by Charmain’s daughter, and went over what our next few days will look like. We are so excited to do God’s work and spread His love.
Pointing to Him
The eSwatini Team!
Written by Kassi Adams