2019 and more Neu Adventures

Many of us love adventures. For many of us life is an adventure every day. If you have a child, significant other, pet or deal with people, many of your days can be or become an adventure. Adventures can be great, can be hard, can change you or give you a perspective you never had before. We expect and even hope that 2019 can be that for us as a family.

We are planning to sell our house, get rid of our stuff (well, most of it), pack up our carry-ons with two checked bags each, get on a plane, and fly over the ocean.  We expect to end up in ESwatini, formerly Swaziland, eventually but know the journey will take us a bit of time. We will be partnering with the Adventures In Mission team already on the ground in eSwatini. They are investing their lives to help address some of the complex issues that are facing the country of ESwatini. We’re excited to share our stories and adventures along the way and hope that you find it interesting.  Feel free to follow along, comment and subscribe.

We hope to bring you more soon.  Here’s to 2019!!!

On the last leg

Well, the final few days of our journey around Swaziland has taken us many different places and allowed us to experience quite a number of different situations.  Ingrid has become friends with Wisile, a Swazi nurse. She has asked her a million questions and we were invited to join her for the day as she travelled out to a very remote care point in an area we’d never been before. She meets with all the kids, does some health education, and gives some medication and vitamins. She will do some minor medical trouble shooting and gives aid to the ladies who run the different care points and check on everyone to make sure that all who attend the care point are getting the attention they need. It’s great to watch her work and be there to assist in any way we can.

We travelled to the Lesibovu care point that feeds and cares for between 250 and 300 children.  It’s amazing how far many of these kids walk just to get a meal and access to water for the day and again I’m reminded how easy it is to turn on a tap and open the fridge. Mbuso is the shepherd here.  He cares for the kids, makes sure the care point runs and is the man. It’s great to watch him with the kids, making sure they are all getting what they need and organizing the place. It is a big care point and keeps getting bigger. He has a lot on his plate but has been faithfully carrying it for the last few years.

A couple of other things as we thing back over the last few days. *Ingrid and I keep trying to capture the beauty of these hills and the landscape but our pictures just don’t cut it. We will still post them. *I’m really starting to get the hang of the left side of the road.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense but I got it 🙂   *Was able to get up close and personal with a monkey. I only got a picture of one up close cause the big one was a little mad at me.  *Ingrid and I had an opportunity to visit a pretty big waterfall. Again the pic doesn’t do it justice. *Oh yeah, we got really stuck in a remote part of Swaziland in a “Dry” riverbed.  Good thing there was 6 of us in the van and the van was really light. My only regret is we didn’t stop to get a pic before we pushed it out.

Well, that’s about all for now. Looking forward to sharing some more as we go forward.

benN

 

 

To the far reaches of Swaziland

So here we are Thursday night, already. It is past missionary midnight, which we have been told is 9pm. We are starting to understand why. I have not blogged in a couple of days, so I will do a little catch up.

Tuesday we were very excited to be included with the medical team travelling to do clinics at the care points in the Nsoko region of Swaziland. This is a whole new area for us. It was about an hour and 20 minutes away from Manzini. It seemed we were driving through a wealthy area, the houses were big and new looking (we have learned that looks can be deceiving), but the further away we got, the poorer the conditions of the homesteads became. We drove into a less hilly corner of Swaziland, a more agricultural area, with huge fields of sugar cane. This area is flanked on one side with a high ridge marking the boundary with South Africa. I was somewhat disappointed, to find out that we were going for a tour instead of helping out with the medical clinic, but it turned out to be such an eye opening educational experience, for which I am so grateful. As our host Stephen drove us from care point to care point, the U2 song “ Where the streets have no name” came to mind, and has taken on new meaning for me. The roads were hardly more than dirt tracks. At one of the care points we stopped to greet, which is the proper thing to do in Swaziland, making sure to leave no one out. A young woman was very interested to hear that we were driving around on this tour, and expressed how much she would like to also drive around with us. I politely deferred to Babe (bahbae) Stephen, realizing that this young lady had probably only been as far as her little legs could take her, and even though that might be miles, it would afford her a very tiny view of our GREAT world. It was yet another humbling reminder of how privileged I am.

Todays highlight for me, was spending time at one of Riverwood’s care points, Enaleni. I had an “Aha” moment as I recognized a familiar face, a little friend I came to know as Pato on my last trip. I had seen her at another care point we visited yesterday, and though her face stood out, I could not pin point why. Today it hit me who she was! Pato has grown so much, she speaks English beautifully now that she is in grade three, and she was a delight to be with for the short time that we had. I was so happy to take a picture with her to send to her special friends back in Canada. Another highlight was sitting with the Mages ( Mahgaes) and Gogos, mothers and grandmothers, who cook at the carepoint and really keep everything running. These ladies are so amazing! They deserve great honour. I was so very pleased to sit and help dish out food for all the children, and to share some laughs. I felt a great connection.

-Ingrid-

 

Since Ingrid does a good job highlighting the key stories of our trips I’ll just give some point form thoughts from the last couple of days:

-sometimes your days don’t go exactly as you planned so you have an opportunity to play with kids… for many hours.  We don’t mind at all but I am kinda sunburnt.

-guitar players are superheroes around here with all the kids at the care points which makes me seem better than I really am.

-children are sometimes scared of big hairy guys.  this applies to both Canada and Swaziland.  I may have made a few kids cry today.  The others like me a lot 🙂

-seeing a giraffe on the side of the road, on your way home, is pretty cool.

-benN-

 

 

 

The trip so far from Ingrid’s perspective

(from Ben) I was going to blog tonight due to the fact that I haven’t for a couple days, but Ingrid started writing and so I’ll hold off.  When Ingrid writes she writes a small novel.  Buckle in and go on a journey with her. I will just say a couple things: Swazi babies can sleep anywhere, the red clay roads are insane after copious amount of rain, when you pick up one kid you may have to open the hatch for about 8 more and Swaziland continues to amaze us with it’s beauty.

…now on to our Story…

Sunday morning we had the great privilege of visiting the church at our beloved carepoint Enaleni, and Precious Langa, Pastor Peter’s wife said to me, “ You have come home to Swaziland”. Yes, I have come home to Swaziland.

It has been a wonderful trip so far. We are so grateful that we are here safe and sound, that all was made possible for us to be here at this time.

The first leg of our journey, from Winnipeg to Toronto, was really all about experiencing air travel for the first time with our beautiful Ellie. Her excitement and enthusiasm, her wonder and joy was so much fun to observe and be a part of. I love being a part of the many firsts our children experience in life. We spent three exciting hours in the Toronto airport with some of our dearest friends, Blake and Brenda and their lovely girls. As we said good-bye, we watched our daughter walk away from us laughing and caught up in the excitement of this grand adventure. I waited, watching her get farther away from us, wondering, will she look back at us? As she disappeared down the escalator, she did not even cast us a glance, but my friend Brenda did, and shrugged. I am so happy and sad; my big little girl won’t miss us a bit.

And so began our grand adventure, just me and my wonderful husband, my Benny. We crammed ourselves into the Air Canada plane that flew us across the pond to London England. I was so glad for that flight to end, I am not sure I have experienced that level of cramptness (new word) ever!! We had a lovely much anticipated date in the city of London. It was so fun figuring out how to get places, observing the fancy pretty people of downtown London. I have to admit I felt rather dressed down for the occasion, but so relieved I was wearing some converse sneakers, so that at least I had some identifiable fashion item on. In the short few hours we managed to cover quite a bit of ground, by foot, and by vintage double decker bus. We ran around the London tower oohing and awing at the crown jewels and all the armor, and weapons in the very old white tower. In London fashion it drizzled on us for a short while as we sat and enjoyed authentic fish and chips. I am so very glad to have experienced this all. I wish we would have had more time to really appreciate the incredible grandeur of the St. Paul’s cathedral, but we were certainly impressed by what we did see. We had a nice little visit to one of the oldest pubs in England, and then due to my nervousness, decided to head back to the airport. I was not taking any chances on missing our flight. As it was we found our way back through the underground rail system like pros, and had some down time before our last leg. We boarded the South African airline plane and were so relieved to discover plenty of room for us to settle in for another night in the air. After a somewhat turbulent ride, we arrived at the Johannesburg Tamba airport, and immediately changed money and looked to see if we could locate the shuttle that we needed, to take us to Swaziland. We had been informed that the 9:30 shuttle was full and that we would have to wait for the next one at 2pm, but in the end, there was plenty of room for us!! We were so happy to be on the ground, and on the final leg to our destination. I know that for me, as we were driving, the memories of my first experience were flooding my mind. I am so thankful to now be experiencing Swaziland with my favorite person in the whole world. All my new memories will include Ben.

Ah Swaziland, land of 10, 000 hills! We are so happy to return.

Thursday afternoon we arrived in Manzini, tired, sore, and maybe a little sleep deprived. We were so happy to see our host Steve McAdams drive up in his old four-wheel drive. I have to say, we have been experiencing some very unusual weather here in Swaziland. There were those, ourselves included, that laughed at our compulsive need to check the Swazi weather from half way across the world for days, possibly weeks, leading up to our trip. We were assured, that is would be HOT, period, end of story, no need to be checking the weather. However, that has not been the case, it has been COLD and rainy, or threatening to rain thus far. When I say cold, I mean by Swazi standards. We have for the most part found it quite pleasant, all the days but one, on which both Ben and I turned a lovely shade of tomato red!! No worries, just our base tan. I have been a little concerned that perhaps I might not have enough warm clothes along, but our flat is equipped with a washing machine, and it will be put to good use. On a drive last night, as we were going out for supper with Greg and Michelle Mullins and their twin boys, I marveled at a new sight, the heavy gray clouds resting on the hills, covering some of the tips, contrasting the lush green of the vegetation. Neither Ben nor I have seen Swaziland so green! We hardly recognized anything as we drove out to our carepoint on Sunday morning for church.

It has been a wonderful time so far. Kicking off our time here on the ground in Swaziland, we were able to visit one of our favourite places, the carepoint of Bhobakazi. As we drove up the children were already gathering, playing on the play structure, finishing their meal, and Ben spotted her, our special friend!! It has been almost three years since I have seen Temantfulini in person, when my unbridled enthusiasm made two year old little Temantfulini cry. I had a hard time picking her out of the crowd, but she knew us. What a feeling it is to experience meeting the child that you are able to share your abundance with, whom you pray for and love from such a great distance, they become rooted into your heart. The time was much too short, and before we knew it Temantfulini and her little sister Yazi, were gone, but the time we shared was precious. Knowing that Temantfulini knows us, feels comfortable with us, and feels our love for her is invaluable. It is good that we usually go as a team, because Ben and I almost disappeared under the mountain of children looking for the love and attention that they know they will get when the white folks come around, especially their friends from Riverwood.

We were so fortunate to be able to visit a new carepoint, to observe another church team from Utah, as they led the children in a fun day. Ben helped the men grill steak to feed the children, which Steve told us, might be the only meat they will eat this year; while I was able to watch the Children’s Harmony choir, as well as the carepoint choir perform for us. Music is powerful, the children could sing or listen to the singing all day. This music, these choirs, could potentially change lives, delivering a message of hope, and adding purpose to lives of many who need purpose to go forward. It is this music ministry, in it’s infancy, that Ben and I are hoping, and praying to one day be a part of.

Today, Monday, we took part in the weekly staff meeting. The pressure was on, as Ben was asked to lead the staff in some worship. The thing is, they don’t wait for some white guy with a guitar to get up and officially lead them. No way! The Swazi’s, they just start, and us poor westerners try to follow as best we can. I found myself humming or oooohing along, kind of fun actually, and really quite worshipful if you can get into it. The atmosphere was rich. We met a lot of people today again, I will be asking for most of those names again, guaranteed. It was a great time experiencing the REAL day to day, the inner workings if you will, of this organization. We admire that they are striving to raise up disciples and leaders that will one day take over here, and allow for the western missionaries to go home, to no longer be needed, that is the desired outcome. In the afternoon Ben was invited to be a part of a bachelor party, which involved a bunch of men hanging around eating A LOT of meat, and giving advice to the groom to be. With Ben’s tummy full, we walked through the city of Manzini at the peak time of day to the grocery store. It has become a fun favorite thing for us, to explore this new place, and discover more about this culture and this people that we are ever growing more fascinated with.

For now, I think that is all. Except I would like to add, that we were able to see all of our children today, except for Tatiana, and we know that ALL are safe, and thriving in their respected homes, which gives us such peace. We miss home, and I really miss our wonderful children, but we are so grateful to be here, we feel so affirmed and welcomed here. All prayers are welcomed, and needed. As we learn more, we see how much need there is. Please continue to pray for us, and for Swaziland.

Blessings,

Ingrid.

Overcast Yet Bright

Today was our first full day in Swaziland. We’ve had a chance to connect with our friends over the last day and a half. We were quickly brought back to each of our last trips. 

Manzini is the city we’re staying in which at the moment is in full Friday night party mode with significantly bass driven music just down the street. We had a chance to connect with some of the team here today and were able to talk all things Swazi. 

One really cool surprise was in our trip to Bhobakazi.  Bhobakazi is one of the care points that both Ingrid and I got to spend some time at on our visits.  It also happens to be where our sponsor child (special friend), Temanfulini, is and she greeted us right away with a big smile.  She spent a ton of time with us and was quite affectionate with Ingrid. Temanfulini was only 2 when Ingrid was here last and for Ingrid to see how much she’d grown was great.  Such a great time.  But the really cool surprise was that we got to visit the care point and see my friend, Mdudize, and it was his birthday today.  Mdudize is the shepherd for the care point and he help to oversee the carepoint.  I had an opportunity to really connect with him a couple years back and he was floored that I was there… AND on his birthday.  The Mullins family here had brought him a cake but, even in my protest, he seemed to give me the credit 🙂 

The weather here has been really cold. By that I mean it’s like a decent spring day in Canada and I’m still wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops but it’s … “cold”. It’s been raining and overcast but that can be a good thing in a country that has seen some serious drought in the past. We got enough light and a touch of sun today that the evening was starting to feel quite nice and it’s starting to get a bit sticky.

Well, after a full day our mood is bright and we have a lot to look forward to tomorrow as we join the team at a carepoint family day where we get to help cook a bunch of meat on the grill… that is if we make it down the partially washed out road (I was told I may not want to wear flip flops tomorrow). For now, it’s time for bed. Enjoy some pics below if the internet works 🙂

Landed

Ingrid and I are sitting in a shuttle, driving through South Africa, towards Swaziland.  4-5 hours doesn’t sound so bad after two long flights.  We’re excited to be doing this together after both taking separate trips. We’ve had lots of time to talk and looking forward to a bunch more time over the next 10 days or so. Our goal, to experience real Swazi life or at least just a taste of it.

I love that our driver is impatient.  Zig Zagging this way and that, at a leisurely pace of 123 km/hr in his big 12 passenger van with a loaded trailer.  I get this guy and he’s going to get us there faster than expected. Swaziland is usually at a relaxed pace… except for driving.  At least those that I’ve had the opportunity to drive with have the need for speed.

I’ve got zero pics from today so I’ll just post a couple of our “tourist” photos, from a whirlwind London stopover, for the kids.

Neu Adventures: YWG-YYZ-LHR-JNB

Well, we’re off on our 2 week trip.  Ingrid and I were talking and figured out that the most time we’ve ever spent away, just the two of us, in over 13 yrs is 3 nights.  This time together is a gift.  It’s a crazy awesome gift.  Thanks to all those who have given of their homes, their time and have supported us as we journey.

It’s been a great day so far.  All the wee ones are off to their host families.  Ellie had a chance to fly with us for the first time on a commercial airplane.  *it should be noted that our good friend, Blake Anderson, was her first ever pilot when he took us up in a float plane on one of the most epic adventures ever.  Thanks Blake*  What does someone do on their first commercial flight?  They watch the informational (what if we all crash) video intently (see image below).  She was welcomed by the airline staff and had an opportunity to hang out on the flight deck in the captain’s chair.

After dropping Ellie off with our friends, the Andersons, and a good airport lunch and visit, we are now sitting in Toronto’s Terminal 3 waiting for our flight to London.  We are excited about the journey and all that is ahead.  I hope to keep updating and posting part of our trip but we’ll have to see what turns our trip takes.

Till later… hopefully.