Friday, April 24, 2009

The Visit To The Homestead

What did we learn from Love? We learned patience. We learned understanding. We learned compassion. We learned hope. We learned, well.. we learned to love.

A few of us were able to go to the homestead of these four little girls. Picture the reality that four precious little girls, the oldest of which is five years old, living at this homestead alone. All alone. Caring for themselves – the most vulnerable of the weak. As we were talking to a neighbor, the girls came from their stick and mud hut to sit with us. They treated us like we were somebody special. Love went back and forth into the hut. She wanted to show off her “dress clothes.” She only had to change shirts once. That’s all she had. But she was proud of that. Looking back at pictures, the girls wore different clothes a couple of days – but they simply exchanged clothes with one another to have something different to wear. Four little girls sharing clothes. How proud these little girls are of their shared skirt!

Imagine what is was like to not have a mom or a dad there to make certain they brushed their teeth or washed behind their ears. How hard is it to fathom the emptiness they feel? Imagine the sounds of the night. Imagine the cold – the dampness – the darkness.

The visit to the homestead forever wrecked Natalie Mays, Alexis Vann and me. Almost a year later and we still find it difficult to revisit those raw emotions. But we are thankful to have experienced the things we did that fall afternoon. We looked into the eyes of Jesus that day – and I pray we remain broken and humbled with a spirit of compassionate action for the vulnerable and poor. God is good. He is faithful. He is love.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The House that Love Built - Part 2

Our first introduction to the children of Thulwane was through this video shared by Tom Davis with Children’s HopeChest. Please take two minutes to watch this video. Very moving.

This little girl hadn’t always been in a wheelchair. Before her traumatic experience, she walked around and played like most children her age. During her recovery period, her Gogo would place her in a wheelbarrow to get her to the carepoint so she could eat. Kriek and Jumbo Gerber, Missionaries in Swaziland, purchased the wheelchair for Love and this is where her life began to change… for the better.

We had absolutely no idea we would actually get to meet the little girl in the wheelchair. But we did. She is such an Angel!

The next blog will detail our first encounter with Love and what we learned from this little girl and the other children at Thulwane.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The House That Love Built

I am going to attempt to paint a picture of life around Thulwane, which is near Manzini, Swaziland. Telling the story of Love and how God is transforming lives will also be my intent.

Excerpt from my journal entry on June 9, 2008: "The children of Thulwane - it is so difficult to comprehend surviving that life as an orphan. We walked to three different homesteads to do visits and we were scared to death - and it was during the day. I imagine the nights are very lonely. No electricity. No streetlights. Better yet, no streets. Other than at the carepoint, there is no place to provide very basic care. A simple runny nose can turn into flu. Flu can turn into death. In Africa, its about survival. The strong make it. The weak don't. The orphans stand very little chance of making it to 15. The average age expectancy is something like 35. In America, we stand a better chance of dying in a plane-to-plane collision than to die of starvation or neglect. It's just a different world here. God, help them. And please give us the heart to help them. We need revival. "

"This particular campaign was quite redemptive for me. Of all the death, despair and dead-end roads from the campaign last fall, this one was just the opposite. Even in extreme poverty, there is hope for a more rewarding life - especially from a spiritual standpoint. I see hope for Swaziland. Jumbo Gerber told us, "remember that healing must take place from the inside-out and Swaziland is the pulpit of Africa." It can happen. One person at a time. God is alive and well!"

Over the next week, I will be sharing the story of redemptive love, a stick and mud hut and the House that Love built.