Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hearts Overflowing

We arrived home Sunday, January 31, after spending an extra day traveling because of the snow and ice in Raleigh. With all internet and electrical blogging challenges, we were not able to communicate much while we were gone. An evening will be schedule (TBD), for the team to give a full report, for now a summary…….

We have all heard from a distance about orphans, “care points”, hunger, and the amazing death toll AIDS is taking on Swaziland’s population. We quickly learned there is no way to indirectly experience the reality of 80,000 orphan children living on the very edge of hopelessness. Most have no parents, many families are led by 9-10 year old children and most are unable to attend school because public schools charge tuition and uniforms are required.

A whole new model of what “need” means became clear when we learned that care point orphans gets 6-8 meals a week and the sum of orphans’ possessions is often the clothing they are wearing

and yet at each location we visited, we were greeted by excited children with ready smiles, ready and willing to be hugged, held and played with. Other faces held the heaviness of their lives. Sometimes we physically hurt to leave a care point after only a couple of hours of time spent with children who have no less need of a mom and dad than our children back home. Our hearts and minds were opened wide as we visited many care points.

We selected two of the “greatest need” care points for you “heart gifts” (sweater, jackets, crocs and plastic ware) to be distributed. Dennis, our American guide for the week, will send us pictures when they are given to the children.

We also visited homes of families that had a family member dying of AIDS. I can’t remember a time when I felt more inadequate than when we listened to and prayed with a mom already grieving her dying son asking us, ”…why does God allow so many innocent people to die so miserably?” Our hearts just ached and we so wanted to provide some kind of comfort. When we talked to a Swazi pastor later he said, “…when you visit a family like this, you just join in what they are feeling that day…if they are dying, you die a little with them…if they are having a good day, you have a good day with them. When you pray, you simply pray what is in your heart. Mostly dying people like to feel someone is sharing a small part of the difficult journey they are on.”

We met many “Gogos”(women and grandmas who cook and provide some level of care to orphans at the care points), ........

as well as a number of Swazi pastors, Adventures in Missions (AIM) missionaries, Tom Davis from Children’s Hope Chest and many other Swazi believers who have amazing hearts to do what they can. We left Swaziland with hearts overflowing with excitement and passion to return to Hope Chapel to tell our stories and build a God inspired vision as to how our Hope Chapel family will rise up to be impactful in the lives of Swazi orphans, and do the good work of the Kingdom to the end that God will be glorified by our collective efforts. Let us pray together as we seek God’s will as to how we will put arms and legs to the vision we are developing even as we speak. Stay tuned to hear of ways you can take one of these children by the hand and be an instrument of change that will change the destiny of a child and maybe …a nation

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