(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.