Day 12: Friday, 20 July 18 (One the way home)
Some Final Thoughts as we travel home… The range of emotions we are all feeling is unexplainable with words. After all, what could be easier than going home? We each have loved ones we are excited to see, or maybe it is our own beds we are looking forward to. However, the reality is that returning home after visiting eSwatini is not without its stresses. Our work is not yet done. To help eSwatini’s most vulnerable is a life long Mission.
Our Team is starting to experience the phases of Reverse Culture Shock as we travel home, which is important to talk about. We are all in different Phases, and we may be in more than one Phase at the same time. It is important to talk about this because visiting eSwatini has forever changed the perspectives in which we now view the World.
The Honeymoon Phase – Euphoria and Excitement… It will be a relief to come back, and invigorating to be surrounded by the comforts of home. This phase won’t last long though before the reality of how we see the World now sets in. This is true even for the Teammates that have made this trip before.
The Crisis Phase – Frustration, sadness, loneliness, irritability, anxiety, confusion and even guilt. Many factors contribute to this most difficult phase. Possibly during this Phase we feel homesick for the children and staff at El Shaddai. Maybe the homesick feeling we have for our family in Africa should be it’s own separate Phase by itself because we will never get over it. Our team needs to be reminded to be patient with the people around us and be patient with themselves.
The Surprise Phase – One element of Reverse Culture Shock that is different from the initial culture shock of traveling is the element of surprise. When venturing to a new place with unfamiliar customs, language, and norms, most people expect to face some adjustment challenges. Home, on the other hand, is the place you know better than anywhere else, and where you are comfortable. Since there is no apparent reason to expect culture shock when coming home, reverse culture shock can come as a huge surprise and shock to our emotions. This phase can go hand in hand with the Crisis Phase. So again, our team needs to be reminded to be patient with people and be patient with themselves. We ask our family and friends to be patient with us too.
The Acceptance Phase – The Phase in which we realize the emotions we are feeling are God’s way of calling us to keep going with our Mission. This is where we put our next steps into action. This is the Phase where the pain of the struggles we saw the Swazi people face daily can be channeled into problem solving and finding solutions. Maybe how we experience Joy has changed and we look at the sunset differently.
Our Team should remember, a lot of these Phases will overlap. Take time to recognize what Phase or Phases you are in, and appreciate your emotions for what they are. Your emotions are one of God’s ways of speaking to you personally to understand what you are being called to do next. We should help our family and friends understand what we are experiencing upon returning home. The love and joy we felt from our family at El Shaddai can easily be spread simply by sharing our stories from our trip. What can we teach, and also, what will we learn simply by sharing… The possibilities are endless if we open our hearts and don’t let misunderstandings of our emotions distract from the opportunities sharing our experiences with others can grant.
Lastly, one could not share final thoughts without saying “Thank You.” We are forever in debt from the kindness the Staff and Children at El Shaddai, and the people of eSwatini, demonstrated. The meals prepared for us, the accommodations, the joy and laughter we shared, the Prayers, the friendship and the love… We are so incredibly thankful. And to our family and friends that supported all of us, Thank You from the bottom of our hearts. The best way to repay someone for their kindness is to pay it forward. We will spend a long time paying it forward from the gifts we have received from our family in eSwatini, and from our support system at home.
Let us end our final thoughts with a prayer…
Dear Father, we pray that our team finds comfort in the memories we are blessed with during our time spent at El Shaddai. We are homesick for our eSwatini Family. Please help us find comfort, and please Lord, help them find comfort as well. Please help us continue to pull together as a team after we are home to spread the joy and love this trip has blessed us with. And please help us continue to complete your work and understand how our actions at home can continue the work at El Shaddai. Help us to stay grounded that the work is not yet done and there are still many challenges ahead for the Children and for the staff of El Shaddai and the people of eSwatini. Please help us use the parts of our heart that are left in Africa, be the love that guides us towards spurring good deeds and love in others. Please keep our Family in Africa safe and healthy, and help them to be reminded constantly just how many of us here in the United States love them unconditionally. Amen.
Day 11: Thursday, 19 July 2018
Where to start…. Thursday 19 July 2018 started with some very difficult goodbyes. We all got up, finished packing and loaded in the Taman Tours bus to leave what was home for the last two weeks. There were a lot of tears, a lot of mixed emotions knowing that there is so much work to be done still. How could we leave when there is so much to be done still? None the less, our lives back in the States, that have been “on hold”, beckoned for our return. With tear filled eyes we started out trek down the mountain.
We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us so we made ourselves comfortable. The drive was uneventful as we made our way through some of the most beautiful country you have ever seen. I was thankful to see the beautiful country whose people have stolen part of my heart from the ground.
We arrived at Kruger National Park about 10:30am and immediately hopped into land rovers to begin our Safari. What can I say about our adventure there… We saw so many of God’s amazing creations, from the zebras to the mountains, it was nothing short of amazing. I was in absolute awe of the creation that we got to enjoy. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity! After the Safari we made our way to Hippo Hollow where we would spend our final night in Africa.
Hippo Hollow was a beautiful resort where we got to enjoy a traditional African show, in which a few of our group got to participate! Moments I personally will never forget! Then we were able to partake in a traditional African meal which consisted of Crocodile, impala, beef, kudu, pap (mealy meal), summer squash, creamed spinach, meatloaf. Some of us even got to “enjoy” a worm as an appetizer. Following dinner we headed to bed because we knew the next day we would need all the rest we could store.
Overall a day for the books for sure!!
I am so thankful!
Becka Johnson (Eimers)
Day 10: Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Greetings on our final night at El Shaddai, on the mountain which houses the most amazing views I have ever seen in my life! After our morning devotional, we finalized all the projects we started last week, completed some “clean up” tasks, and begin packing our things for departure in the morning. One thing that will not be packed and coming back to the U.S.A. with me is a small part of my heart, it will forever remain in this place and with these people of El Shaddai!
Kassidi and I had the privilege of passing out gifts to the Aunties on staff. Although they were a small sign of our appreciation, their smiles, hugs, and extreme gratification was possibly a much bigger gift to us. I thought being a Mom to two girls was sometimes challenging, it seems no comparison to these Aunties who watch over, take care of, love as their own, and feed the word of Jesus to a houseful of children day and night, still smiling all the while. These ladies are truly one of God’s biggest blessings on this Earth!
Our final project was planting ten fruit trees on the property. We waited for the children to get home from school, after a full day of exams we let them help with this final task. They helped dig the holes in the mountainside with pickaxes and shovels to plant the trees. We showed them the correct way to water them and encouraged them to be sure to do so daily; we made them very aware that we would be checking back in on their progress. We also taught them how to put rocks around the trees to protect them, especially from their rolling soccer balls and trampling feet!
Our last meal was a barbeque (Braii), Anton grilled some of the most amazing ribs, steak and sausage we have ever tasted; it was quite obvious from all the empty dishes, lip smakin’ and finger lickin’ taking place by the team. Chanel prepared the side dishes of Carrot & pinenut salad, pasta salad, guacamole salad, and another wonderful desert: chocolate and mint pudding cake.
As I sit here watching the sunset, a sight so beautiful words cannot describe except for one…. Godly! I also cannot put into words the ache in my heart because it is time to leave these precious faces that will forever be embedded in my memories. The love they have for their sponsors, people they may have never met yet love so much and repeatedly tell you so every opportunity they get. The kids made sure to tell every single one of us to tell their sponsors at home they said “hello!” Holding and hugging not only my El Shaddi family but all their brothers and sisters here was a feeling that words do no justice. With tears in my eyes and a small hole in my heart, it is time for one final sleep of this 2018 trip to the most beautiful place my heart has ever seen!
Written by Coetta Adams
Day #9: Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Cynthia, Kiel, and Pastor Barry went to Mozambique to meet with the Free Methodist Mozambique Conference Bishop, so the team was on our own for the day. We opened the community market and the clinic to the whole mountain. We started the day with two full rooms of things that we cleaned out from around El Shaddai that we could sell instead of throw away. By the end of the day, we had almost everything gone and were able to raise over 800 Emalageni/Rand (Swazi money), which is roughly $80 for El Shaddai. That might not sound like a significant amount of money to us, but over in Eswatini that is a fairly decent amount of money.
Deb, Allison and Sue spent the day working in the clinic. We saw 42 patients, and gave out meds for several other children and husbands that weren’t there. Almost everyone has coughs/cold symptoms due to it being winter. Luckily Deb and Eric were able to get us enough cough medicine yesterday at the pharmacy because we were handing it out left and right. It is very sad to see how small the children are here. We were constantly asking how old children were, and were surprised every time to hear that they were much older than they looked. Everyone got vitamins that came. Some of the gogo’s and enkulu’s (elderly) that came were in their 70-80s and walked up the mountain to come to the clinic. It is crazy how much different healthcare is compared to the USA. Everyone was so thankful for just receiving Tylenol, Motrin, vitamins, and cold medicine, because it isn’t something that is easily accessible on the mountain, and most of them couldn’t afford to pay for it anyways. We had several people tell us that they were going to tell their friends to come tomorrow. It is always such an eye opening experience to work in the clinic, and even if I can’t do much, anything that can help these people is worth the hassle of hours of sorting through bins and boxes in the freezing cold to salvage all the medical supplies that we could.
We were also able to complete all the physicals on the kids at El Shaddai and combine all the health records that we have. It’s so crazy that some of them have no information about their former lives, some of them don’t even have birth certificates. This way we can start to try to keep track of the kids and their health.
Day #8: Monday, 16 July 2018
Greetings from eSwatini,
Today, Monday July 16, we had a great day learning about the culture and history of eSwatini. We started our day by traveling to the culture center to learn about the history and customs of the country. We saw wild monkeys, native dancing and a beautiful waterfall. We shopped at the local supermarket and ate lunch on the way home in the vans. We had to make an adjustment on the way home and pile 10 people into an 8 passenger vehicle to get back. Three of us had to break away to purchase medical supplies.
Upon our return, we broke into three groups and went out to nearby homes for food distribution and completed a prayer walk. We learned a lot local customs and got to experience first-hand how the Swazi people live. We are learning as much from them as they are from us. We prayed with them about the most important issues in their lives. On the way back to El Shaddia, Pastor Barry, Sue Hall, and myself prayed at the primary school and the pre-school.
Tonight, we had the opportunity to go to the church for a great celebration. We started out by listening to the children of El Shaddia singing once again. They then performed two short plays they had prepared for us. They are amazing. Pastor Barry then commissioned the Aunties to guide the children in following Jesus. They were very excited and the children cheered enthusiastically. Pastor Barry then dedicated all of the children at El Shaddai. The Aunties shortly after performed a few songs in perfect harmony.
Our team returned the favour of performing by leading a song for the group that the children know and love to dance with us too.
We ended this night by calling out each and every child’s name and having them come up and receive letters and gifts from their sponsors. Anyone of us that had a sponsor child here got to spend some private time to give them our gifts.
This was a very special night and we will all remember it with joy in our hearts.
Day #7: Sunday, 15 July 2018
The highlight on any mission trip, for me at least, is experiencing worship in another culture. Sunday was a day many of us won’t soon forget. The day began with making preparations in the Beth-El Church – sweeping floors, filling the kiddy pool we used for a baptismal, and arranging pew benches (some broken but with a little creative ingenuity adapted to work with the help of other unusable chairs). We decorated the front of the simple four-walled church building with about a dozen fruit trees we purchased the day before to plant an orchard on the grounds at El Shaddai. The service, scheduled to begin at 11 am, actually began when the children started to arrive, which was about a half an hour before. Spontaneous signing – all A Capella, all beautiful – erupted and continued as people strolled in over the next 45 minutes. The Swazi’s sing in perfect pitch and harmony, often in a 4 or 5 part round that seems to happen without direction but somehow weaves together to create this heavenly stereo sound that even made this awkward American dance.
Our team also sang the 2 songs we prepared for them, but even our best effort fell flat to the sounds the Swazis can create. As Sue Hall observed, “The Swazis speak softly and sing loud, and we talk loud and sing softly.”
I felt prompted to include an offering during the service, something they haven’t done at the Beth-El church in the past. It was humbling to watch the Swazis come forward joyfully and place their bills and coins in the basket, giving faithfully out of the little they have. Over 800 Rand was raised and will be used to subsidize the government food truck that hasn’t had the funds to pay for petrol (gas) to make the trip up the mountain to deliver lunch for the school kids. Last week the kids went to school each day without lunch. Now they will have lunch for the rest of the school year.
We closed the service with baptisms. I had the privilege of baptizing 4 Swazis – 2 children and 2 adults. The congregation of over 200 thundered after each person came up out of the water into their new life in Christ. All the kids piled in closed and watched with curiosity. It was an awesome ending to an awesome service.
After the service, we served a Braii lunch to the whole community. A Braii is a traditional Swazi meal that includes boiled chicken, pap (think mashed potato-like cornmeal) and red beats. Braiis are served only on special occasions. The under-resourced community here lives on less than 2 dollars a day. Most who came to the Braii wouldn’t have eaten over the weekend because they often reserve the few meals they have for their work days. Watching the people gratefully but desperately asking for food was difficult to take in. Our team didn’t eat because the need was too great. It was humbling for me to reflect that the mild hunger discomfort I was experiencing in missing one meal didn’t begin to compare to the hunger these people experience on a regular basis. But the most convicting thing I witnessed was a teenage boy collecting the paper plates and trash that were left over to take home for his family to lick clean later. As I watched him walk away with the trash bag flung over his shoulder I asked the Lord to make me a more compassionate person who lives on less so I can share more. After this trip, I will never look at food the same again. We eat for pleasure, out of boredom, and eat for two. They eat for survival. If I’m honest I’ve never really been hungry. So, I’m challenging myself to have a different attitude toward food. I will eat less, eat it all, and appreciate every bite. And I will do more to help those who are in need of food today.
Blessed to be a blessing,
Day #6: Saturday, 14 July 2018
Good evening friends and family back home. Today was an amazing, long and white-knuckled day. It started off by spending time down at Komati with our children that live near the local high school.
Since we couldn’t head there on Friday afternoon due to our rental car problems, we shifted the visit to Saturday morning. Once we showed up, we were greeted warmly by Anthony and Jancie who oversee the homes. After talking, touring and catching up, we split up between boys and girls. The girls hung back at the homes and did craft. While us boys got to check off a pretty cool bucket list item: fish on a different continent! We drove to a location under the local bridge on the Komazi River and had the awesome opportunity to hang out with the children and fish. While we didn’t catch anything (we did have a few bites), I was able to use the time to talk to my parent’s sponsored kid. It was inspiring to see the growth both physically, emotionally and in behaviour. After, feeling a little defeated from the lack of fish in the trucks, we drove back to the homes and dropped the boys off. Lunch was made at the home as we arrived along with a warm and fresh carrot cake to celebrate Becca’s birthday.
We said our goodbye’s, we’d see them tomorrow for church, and headed off to Ezluwini to start our afternoon of souvenir shopping. First, at the outdoor market, our team got to barter with the locals (even on a cell phone with the stall manager!) and pick up some souvenirs. It was fun to hear everyone’s stories and see what people found upon arriving back to the vans. Next, we loaded up and moved towards Malkerns.
On our way, we stopped at a nursery and used some of our project monies to buy mango, lemon, banana, peach and orange trees for El Shaddai to plant. Many trees are starting to be planted here on site (even a coffee tree where I got to try some of Anton’s roasted coffee beans!). In addition to the 10 trees for El Shaddai, we picked up cabbage and beet root seedlings for the local Gogo’s (aka grandmas) to go along with their care packages. Next, we moved onto Swazi Candles for additional shopping. On our way, Eric’s van was almost side swiped by another driver. After a quick jerk of the wheel and some divine protection, Eric made it past while everyone braced for impact. According to people in Barry’s eight seater, there was no light between the two vehicles. Finally, after arriving at Swazi Candles, there were many unique vendors and shops. The team used this time to purchase more souvenirs and thank you gifts for all of the people who helped our team get to eSwatini.
Finally, shopping had ended, and it was dinner time! Cynthia and I made reservations at Malandela’s. We had no idea what to expect, but it shattered any expectations. The grounds were beautiful. So many of God’s unique creations throughout the grounds. We even got to see roosting Guinea fowl! The dinner was great and we had plenty of laughs. The team is bonding quite well and is becoming a family. This happened to be the first time our team had eaten off of El Shaddai property, and after being immersed in the rural Swazi culture, you feel almost guilty. It definitely makes you appreciate what is back home.
After putting down desserts, we headed over to Potter’s Wheel. Less than a week earlier, the owner had randomly reached out to Cynthia and I. She invited us to a pray at the church. They were holding a week long 24hrs/day prayer for the country and leaders. Even though our team was tired and ready to go home, we pushed through it and used this time to pray for the Kingdom of eSwatini. Upon arriving at the church, we found it pitch black. The only person was the security guard. So….we prayed for the nation, leaders, the church at which we stood, etc.
Next up: the drive up to El Shaddai. Wow, what a drive. I have never seen fog this thick before. You could not see more than about 3 to 5 meters (eSwatini uses metric ) in front of the car. We were forced at times to an almost near stop and struggled to even see cross streets. With God’s protection, we made it all the way home, including the normally 20-minute rutted dirt road climb back to El Shaddai.
Today was a long day but awesome day. We got to be the church with our Swazi brothers and sisters at Komati, pray for the nation and bring back small reminders of the Swazi people and country. I am grateful for the safe travels throughout the day and the conversations where we got to spread God’s love. Now, time for rest. Tomorrow is Sunday and we will host a church service and a Baptism and Braii afterwards. What a cool opportunity to worship alongside and serve the community. Pray that the gathering is packed and Barry reaches many with the message!
2018 Team Trip Leader
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