I’m back. Or, at least my body is now present in Colorado, United States. The rest of me, I’m not so sure.
Part of me is here, glad to be home. Part of me is still in Swaziland—with the children and “go-gos”(grandmothers) at the Gege CarePoint and with the missionaries from South Africa, Zambia, and the U.S. who are bringing light into a very dark place. I’m sure some scattered pieces of myself left a trail as we traveled. It will be some time before I can gather all my thoughts into a coherent, organized whole. After all, I only got home yesterday.
For now, what I want to tell you is that prayer works! You know that already, right? After all, why pray if God never answers. That would be pointless. Most of the time, however, we more or less take it on faith that our prayers accomplish something. These last two weeks, I saw answers in action.
Our Swazi team had a lot of people who signed up to pray for us and our trip. You were praying and we could feel it.
You prayed for “travel mercies.”
Somehow our entire team of 15 people, 17 checked bags (exceeding our allotment by 2), and stuffed carry-on luggage all arrived intact at the airport in South Africa with no mishaps and no extra baggage fees (thank you British Airways). Our mini-bus and driver were on time to meet us, we managed to must fit our baggage into the trailer, and we all made it safely to the guest house in Swaziland in time for dinner—forty hours of travel, all according to plan.
Those prayers mattered even more as we headed for the CarePoint each morning. When I saw the turn-off to Gege, I wondered how the minibus could possibly manage the pot-holed and rocky gravel road (right). I’ve seen Colorado jeep trails in better shape! Yet it hauled both our team and our supplies there and back every day, due in part, I’m sure, to the expertise of our driver, Elliot.
You prayed against jet lag.
I usually struggle to sleep on airplanes and to overcome jet lag, but not this time. I got a good night’s rest on the second flight, sleeping for six of the eleven hours from London to Johannesburg. We crossed eight time zones, yet I woke Tuesday morning refreshed and ready for the day. I wasn’t the only one—we were all bright-eyed and eager to finally get to Gege.
You prayed for team unity.
Our team consisted of 15 very different people—ranging from age 7 to 71. We were married, divorced, single, and widowed. Some had jobs in the military, others worked in healthcare or Christian ministry. One had just lost her job the week before we left. Our team included experienced travelers and first-time missionaries. Yet God took all these unique individuals and bonded us into an instrument of His love. It was amazing. Everyone looked out for one another, jumping to serve in any way possible. No one complained or grumbled, although there were plenty of reasons to do so. And the fact that we still like each other after spending twelve days together proves that God answers prayer! (Photo, left to right: Dave, Melissa, Carol, Josie, Malarie, me, Molly, Sarah, Maggie, Emily, Marla, Brenda, and Bill. Marla’s husband Joe isn’t in the photo.)
You prayed for effective ministry.
If the smiles on the faces of the Swazi children are any indication, we succeeded.
Yes, we distributed some new clothes (much needed!), measured hundreds of little feet for new shoes (they walk miles to school and back, and many had worn out shoes two sizes too small), and filled hungry tummies. Each child received a pencil pack with school supplies and a piece of candy, and we encouraged everyone to stay in school past the government-sponsored third grade level. We pray that these children will grow to be the leaders of tomorrow in a country badly in need of Godly leadership.
The small cinder block building on site received a new coat of paint, inside and out—as did the outhouse.
We painted faces and fingernails, taught Bible lessons with puppet shows and handed out shiny crowns, taught fun songs complete with hand motions. In light of widespread misinformation, a few of us women taught the older girls about their changing bodies (and handed out some reusable supplies), while the men instructed the older boys on Biblical manhood and responsibility. Most Swazis consider church suitable only for women and children. Suitable male role models are scarce yet vital for this next generation.
I’m sure all that was wonderful, but it was attention that the children craved most of all. They wanted us to play their games, hold their hands, and simply hug them. Many of these kids have no one who really cares about them, and their hearts are so hungry. Sure, we could have sent money for clothing and supplies, and fed a lot of people with what we spent on airfare, but how do you put a hug in an envelope? From the littlest toddler to the oldest grandmother, it was our presence that mattered. The fact that we cared enough to come halfway around the world to see them brought tears to their eyes.
I’ll have lots more stories to tell over the next few weeks. For now, please know that God answered your prayers. Thank you so much for praying!