As I write this, I am on the plane somewhere over northern Canada in route to my first stop in London Heathrow Airport. From their I will fly to Johannesburg, South Africa and then take a shuttle (15 passenger van) from the airport to Mbabane, Swaziland. My heart is full of so many emotions and my mind is racing thinking of what lies ahead and what my American culture/brain wants to accomplish. I’m going to try very hard to stay in the realm of where my heart is leading.
This trip is going to be a bit unique. There will be the usual business things to take care of: make sure all of the receipts are in order from the previous year, paying school fees, getting whatever school supplies and uniforms our kids need, checking in with the schools, and of course spending time with my Swazi sisters who are the heart of One Child and our precious One Child kids and families. However, this trip brings a few unique situations.
One, there is a horrible drought and unusually hot weather that has been plaguing Swaziland for months. Thank you global warming and El Nino. I will be staying with dear missionary friends in Mbabane, the capitol city, which has been under severe water rationing as the reservoir that they get their water from is for all intense and purposes dry. There hasn’t been enough rain and with the hotter than normal temperatures, the cattle have been dying and people can’t plant their crops because there is no rain. It is so extreme that the Government of Swaziland is actually sending some of the elephants from protected game reserves to zoos in the US rather than put them down because there isn’t enough water and food to sustain them. They are trying desperately to save the endangered species of black rhino. I’m going to be very interested to see what the government is doing to save the rural people who live solely on the maize they can grow.
Two, I am so interested in learning more about University of Swaziland life, where our first One Child student is attending. Bongiswa completed his first semester in December. This young man comes from the rural area where he grew up without electricity, clean water, enough food to eat. His mother left the family and is working in a factory about 30 miles away, but doesn’t make enough money to send any home to the kids or to even pay her bus fare home to see them. His father has health issues but works when he can. Bongiswa is the oldest of 5 children. Imagine the adjustments this young man has had to make coming to live in the dormitory at the University and learning how to use the internet, study and live in a completely foreign environment. Considering all of this, he did well in his first semester. I am so excited to meet with him and learn more about University life in Swaziland.
Three, another one of our original One Child kids, Mthokozisi, who is now supported by the Methodist Women’s organization, has just completed his first semester at a two year technical college majoring in business. He sent me a message the other day telling me that he scored in the 80’s in all of his courses! Mthokozisi told me early in the first semester that he was the only one in the school that came from a “peri-urban” (I call it very rural) area. His teachers and fellow students were amazed that he was there. We call Mthokozisi our “first son” because we met him when he was 14 years old and out of school. One Child has supported Mthokozisi and his family since 2008 and amazing things has happened for this family, including getting the children back together with their mother and supporting all 4 children in school. I can’t wait to see my eldest Swazi son and see what God has been doing in his life.
Four, there is Thoko. She is an amazing woman. Next to my BFF Deb and Laura (who just happen to also be my fellow board members of One Child) she is my dearest soul sister. We have worked side by side since I met her in 2007. She has and continues to teach me more about Swazi life and culture as well as what it really means to be a Christian woman than anyone I know. She works endlessly for those who need help and support. She has never been to college and neither has any of her children, yet she has taken on the challenge of making sure Bongiswa has what he needs to succeed in college. I make suggestions and support her the best I can, but my experience is with US colleges, which I am sure are nothing live Swaziland colleges/university. Thoko and I not only share everything about our One Child kids, but we share everything about our families. She prays constantly for my prayer requests in the US and she passes on her prayer requests and I pass them on in the US. Whether you are a Christian or not, I hope you can understand what the power of people interceding for your health and wellbeing can do for you. In addition, there is precious Thini who is another very amazing, hard-working, compassionate, Christian Swazi woman.
And finally, I am excited to catch up with my dear missionary friends. We share a bond that is so precious.
So please stay posted. Depending on internet availability and my energy level (I am getting older every year, darn it.) I will try to send more blogs while I am in Swaziland so you can learn more about our kids and life in Swaziland. Please don’t forget to keep us all in your prayers and remember that it is your donations that change the lives of the One Child at a Time, One Heart at a Time children, family and volunteers.