Changing lives one smile, one child, one heart at a time

In August, 2014 I started volunteering with a small organization on Bainbridge Island, Island Time Activities. Their mission is to promote independence and empowerment for people with intellectual disabilities through social networking, community involvement, and personal skill development. We work to promote a sense of community, independence, friendship, and mutual respect, through a variety of programs based in our local community of Bainbridge Island and surrounding areas. Services are provided based on individual goals and interests, and are incorporated throughout program activities. Their motto is “changing lives one smile at a time.” I love it! No wonder we are such a good fit.

“My “work” if you can call it that, is to go hiking and then swimming with some of their members every Tuesday. Staff members lead the hike so I am really just hanging out with some really cool and special people. My Tuesdays with my ITA friends is a real close second to my days with my granddaughter! On our hikes we’ve talked about my work and life in Swaziland, as well as One Child at a Time, One Heart at a Time. The staff and many of the members have been so interested, wanting to learn more and even wanting to do something to help.

My Tuesday ITA friends and Lizzy on a hike last week.

My Tuesday ITA friends and Lizzy on a hike last week.

Once a month, ITA host a “Saturday Supper.” It is an evening where the members and their friends in other similar organizations can come and have a fun evening and dinner. Their program director and co-founder asked if I would come and teach them about Swaziland. We met several times and planned a Swazi meal, including mealy meal, for dinner. I put together a slide show of many aspects of Swazi life including videos of cultural dancing and African music. The energy and enthusiasm of this group was awesome. They were so interested in the pictures and stories and they asked really great questions. Even more impressive is they seemed to like the mealie meal. Hats off to Deb and the rest of the staff for putting together such a good representative of a Swazi meal for our dinner.

It was not only a fun night with my new dear friends, but such an inspiration. This small group of individuals want so badly to do something to help so they are going to do a couple of fundraisers to support our organization. This group may be small, and they might be a little bit different from most of us, but they have heart, soul and a strong desire to help others. Their energy and perseverance are infectious and inspiring. I am so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization and I cant wait to share their story with our Swazi volunteers and kids when I go to Swaziland the end of April.

For more information about Island Time Activities please check out their website: http://www.islandtimeactivities.org/

Lizzy helping me with the slide presentation.  She loves to help her Gogo!

Lizzy helping me with the slide presentation. She loves to help her Gogo!


Our attentive audience.

Our attentive audience.

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Scotty admiring Swazi baskets

Scotty admiring Swazi baskets


Allie trying on one of my Swazi skirts.

Allie wearing one of my Swazi skirts.


Lizzy hanging out with her friend Jennifer.

Lizzy hanging out with her friend Jennifer.


Watch for further information about ITA’s fundraisers to help support our One Child, One Heart kids.

Looking Back..

It is the week before Christmas as I write this.  The songs are declaring the love of God and the joy in our hearts as we anticipate the celebration of our Savior’s birth. We long to more fully experience Christ, not only at this special time, but throughout the year.  I am flooded with gratitude as I reflect on all that the Lord has blessed me with financially, physically and spiritually. I am sincerely grateful to be a member of First Church and all that it affords me and countless others.  We are a church family that is provided a wealth of opportunities to learn and grow as we journey with Christ and one another. We offer a beautiful sanctuary that serves as a beacon to those who are looking for hope or a church home.  Our place of worship is large enough to hold many events in our community.  We recently hosted the Annual Faith in Action Senior Access Concert. Choirs from ten churches in Round Rock performed songs of the season and then came together for a stunning finale of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

One of the offerings of First Church that has brought me much joy and gratitude is UMW (United Methodist Women).  UMW is an organization here at our church, and is also found in many Methodist churches around the world.  It is a driving, moving force that functions within the Church, as well as globally.  UMW offers the opportunity to be in fellowship, study and serve with other Christian women.  One of our primary focuses is on women and children throughout the world who are oppressed, abandoned, or struggling to exist and take care of children.  It offers the opportunity for women of faith to be in supportive, creative fellowship with others.  Another primary purpose is to share the knowledge of God and the freedom experienced through Jesus Christ.  We work to expand the concept of service locally and worldwide.  I have memories of growing up in the church attending UMW meetings and functions with my mom.  I’ve had the pleasure of becoming a UMW member at First Church.  It was through my active involvement that I learned more about what it means to “be in mission” with women around the world.  It was at a UMW District Meeting that I heard a retired missionary speak about her work in Nepal. As I listened and pondered, I felt the spark ignite my inner-being and began to respond to the thoughts of “that’s what I want to do.”

As we fast-forward through a few years of years of my continued walk with Christ, I was privileged to receive many opportunities to serve God’s people through mission.  I found myself taking an early retirement from my job and going to Swaziland, Africa.  Through the generous financial and prayer support from UMW, individuals and other small groups I was able to serve as an “Individual United Methodist Volunteer in Mission”.  It is here that I developed relationships with Swazi Methodist Women through the local church. They desperately wanted to provide outreach and support but didn’t have the necessary resources.  I worked side-by-side with these women going out into rural areas where we visited and assisted some of the women and children with overwhelming needs.  There were those who were sick, poor, abandoned and orphaned. We traveled to the people and helped to provide some of the much needed food and clothing. We were able to help families bury their loved ones.  We prayed over and with multiple families, individuals, situations, and even houses.  We were able to assist children with the some of their countless needs so that they could receive an education.  This included school including shoes, tuition, transportation and more.  We also helped build a school and provide housing for its teachers.  An additional, highly spiritual outreach was the finishing of Mahlatsini Methodist Church.  I wish each of you could have been present with me the day the church was consecrated.  It was a very humbling worshipful experience to say the least.

Some of you were quite present with me as you sent your donations to assist in these outpourings of Christ’s love.  In addition, I was able to host several mission teams from Methodist Churches in the US.  These teams helped dig ditches, lay foundations, put up fencing, painted and taught VBS for children who had never experienced anything close to a VBS.  Seeing the delight of precious children hearing about Jesus and finger-painting for the first time was truly inspirational.  These groups provided all of their own costs and brought money to assist with the projects.  Much was accomplished through these dedicated groups.  It was not only life-changing for the Swazi’s but for the teams as well.

I lived in Swaziland for 4 years.  The church in Swaziland provided me with a small cottage and it truly became my home.  My goal now that I am back in Round Rock is to provide continued support for this ministry.  I am in frequent communication with the woman facilitating this mission while I am in the US.  She is my dear Sister-In-Christ, Thoko Khumalo.  She is extremely devoted to this cause and is a true servant of the Lord.  In addition to her many roles to keep the ministry  going, she leads a prayer group that includes prayers lifted for the lives of those here in the US that are requested through me.  What a gift it is to receive the power and love Christ Jesus!

I can’t begin to describe what it means to once again worship and be a part of my church home.  I’ll be returning to Swaziland for three weeks beginning the middle of January.   Word can’t describe how excited and blessed I feel to be able to go “home” to my Swazi sisters and kids.  Stay tuned to this website for future updates on our kids and to be introduced to new ones.

The first day at Lomngeletjane

Today was the first day up at Lomngeletjane.  The team was dragging a bit in the morning because they haven’t got over the jet lag yet.  Some of them are still waking up for hours in the middle of the night and then just about the time they go back to sleep it’s time to get up.  They will adjust to the time difference within the next day or two.  I think every single one of them was so amazed at how beautiful Swaziland is.  Lomngeletjane it on the top of a hill and the view out over the hills and mountains is breathtaking. The team was greeted by a dozen or so parents of the children in the school who had come out to work with us.  It was wonderful so see so many come to work at the school.

The morning got off to a slow start.  At the last minute there was a change of builders, which meant Absalom, a man from the church who is a buildings inspector by trade and who is helping me this year with this building, had to bring the new builder up to speed on what is going on.  And then they had to explain to the parents and team what work needed to be done.  Absalom and Sipho (the new builder) are an answer to my prayers.  They are both wonderful, Christian men who are so good at what they do.  In the beginning, the guys on our team just started in doing whatever work was pointed out needed to get done.  Absalom actually went and told the parents that the team came to help them, not the other way around.  It was that little push needed to get the combining the parents and our team members together to start forming a new team.

Unfortunately I spent most of the day running around and getting some supplies.  I had ordered the blocks from a different vendor than we usually order them from.  I used the different vendor because the transport cost was so much lower.  Unfortunately, their blocks are smaller than the blocks we needed so I had to go in search of the right size block.  Amber (one of the team members) came with me on this errand.  Amber was a little disappointed at first that she would probably miss out on the construction work.  But as the day wore on, she realized that she was getting to see a lot of the countryside and she was also learning some about the Swazi culture.  In addition she got a glimpse of how much harder things are here in Swaziland than it seems they should be.  Most of all, she reminded me that the day wasn’t a day of nothing, but it was a day when we actually accomplished several important tasks that will enable the team to start working right away tomorrow morning.

This evening at the team devotions/meeting, listening to everyone share their favorite part of the day and/or where they saw God throughout the day, my heart was touched by their comments.  This is an amazing group of young adults.  I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know them.  I was so blessed at hearing their comments and realizing how much this school has already touched the lives of so many families and just how much more these children’s lives will be touched by all the activities that will happen in the next two weeks whether it be working as one team with the Swazi’s on the foundation of the new school building or the VBS the team has planned for the children.   The relationships and memories that are being formed will be with everyone for a very long time, and hopefully for a lifetime.

Because I was gone most of the day I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but I am posting the few I did take.  More will come tomorrow.

The start of the day. Digging up a mistake from the previous builder. Soon Swazi's and Americans were working side by side.

Rev. Angela, Busisiwe Mndzeble (Lomngeletjane's Head Teacher) and I. Rev. Angela had givent he head teacher letters from her 5th grade son's class to the 4th grade class at Lomngelettane.

4th grade students at work

4th grade teacher helping student

evening worship

More appologies and a HUGE blessing

It seems like this year I am constantly apologizing for not writing a blog.  For a couple of months things were very hard for me here in Swaziland.  I was overwhelmed (again) by the need, somewhat discouraged, there were so many things to do and I was faced with a lot of changes.  For those of you who know me well, you know that when I get overwhelmed or discouraged, I tend to withdraw into myself.  Hence, writing a blog just wasn’t what I could do.  I couldn’t find the words to write about my challenges and frustration without my emotional and spiritual health showing through the words.  So instead of writing a blog, I turned my focus and concerns on God.  I dove deep into the Word, completing two bible studies (Beth Moore’s study on “Esther” and Priscilla Shirer’s study on “Discerning the Voice of God”) and focusing on writing in my prayer journal.  I talk to God a lot; not necessarily long prayers, but a lot of short ones.  But when I really need to pour my heart and soul out to God, for me writing my prayers in a journal is the most intimate way of communicating with God.  Those of you who know me well, you also know that while I can type anything very fast, I do not like to handwrite anything.  But when it comes to my special communication with God, it has to be in my own handwriting and then the words just flow.  So I am sorry that my blog suffered, but I am so thankful for my time with the Lord.  I’m even more thankful for all of the blessings he has poured out on me and those I work with and/or love.  What seemed so overwhelming and discouraging in March and the beginning of April became obvious works of the Lord in the later part of April and so far in May.  It is almost like the Lord is blessing me even more because I didn’t give up or try to do things all on my own, but instead, I turned to Him for comfort, guidance and strength.  These last three months have been quite a journey but it has been worth every minute of it to feel God’s unfailing love, realize his grace and be witness to his power every step of the way.

The blessings are too many to share, but let me share the biggest one…well, one of the biggest ones.  It certainly was a situation that was causing me to be overwhelmed and discouraged and I couldn’t figure out what to do.  And that would be the situation with my car.  If you are a long time reader of my blog, you know that I use and abuse my vehicle.  It is really the heart of my ministry and one of my life lines.  When I left Swaziland last December to go to the States for the holidays, I knew that I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  My car was just not safe to drive and the problem had to do with the same suspension and alignment issues that I have had fixed three times since coming to Swaziland.  I had some work done on it in March to get me through until I could find a new vehicle, but in the last couple of weeks I could tell the repairs weren’t going to be enough to make the vehicle road worthy on the roads I drive on.  I had to admit I needed a newer and more reliable vehicle.  I came back to Swaziland hopeful that the Lord would guide me to the right vehicle.  However, once I got back on African soil, my faith wavered a bit as I started looking for a new vehicle.  There were very few vehicles like I wanted available both in South Africa and Swaziland.  And those that I did find were way, way over the upper edge of what I thought I needed to or could spend.   So I started looking at vehicles that were in the same range as my Honda.  But the problem with them is that they are all direct Japanese imports and had almost as many miles on them as my Honda does.  Three times I started back to one place in Manzini to try and negotiate a lower price with the dealer on a Nissan X-trail that had only 6,000 km less than what my Honda has.  Each time at the last minute I changed my mind.  On the third time, I felt there were no other options so I was just going to go do it.  I was almost to the dealer when I heard that quiet but firm voice say “No. Go to Nelspruit.”  I felt a bit like Peter when he denied Christ three times, but was so glad for God’s grace and intervention.  So I called my friend Mary Beth to see if she could come with me on Monday.  She was able to come with me which was such a blessing.  We went to every dealer we could find.  Finally at the last one, we told the Salesman what I was looking for and he pointed to a 2004 Nisson Hardbody double cab 4×4 Bakkie (pickup truck).  I said sure I’d look at it, but thought for sure it was like all the others, more than I could afford especially because it looked in better condition that what I’d seen so far.  The salesman opened the door for me to sit in it while he explained some of the features.  When I asked the price it was right in the middle of what I thought I could pay and the number of kilometers was low.  Both Mary Beth and I felt a peace come over us as soon as we looked at the truck.  I put a deposit on the truck that day (Monday).

But of course, this is Africa.  Nothing is simple or goes according to what one’s plan is.  Handling financial matters in Africa is one of the most frustrating things there is.  I had asked the salesman if I could put part of the truck price on my American Express card.  He checked and came back and said no, but that I could put it on a MasterCard or Visa card.  (Ok. I have them.)  So I started withdrawing my daily limit on my ATM card from the States trying to collect as much cash as possible.  The rest I would put on my debit card and my MasterCard.  I had a plan.  On Thursday two other missionaries were going to Nelspruit for the day, so I went with them to purchase the truck.  Surprise.  I could only put 10,000 rand on a credit card (about $1300.) and they wouldn’t let me use more than one card.  OK, another reminder that not everyplace in the world operates as we do in the States.  I told the salesman that the US banks wouldn’t care how much you put on a credit card.  It just means more interest for them, which of course isn’t a stellar example of our practices since we’ve been the leader of the financial crisis in the world.  So now off to plan C.

I had money wire transferred over from the States.  We went through a fire drill trying to get the process started while I was still in Nelspruit because it was early in the day for the US.  But all of our hard work didn’t help.  The money didn’t come out of my account until Friday afternoon in the US.  I just kept withdrawing as much cash as I could out of my savings account in the US.  Finally on Thursday of this week, more missionary friends were going to Nelspruit for a Doctor’s appointment.  I went with them.  It has been a week, and although the money had been taken from my account on the previous Friday, it still wasn’t in the bank account of the Car dealership.  It was sitting in the Bank’s head office in Johannesburg.  (grrr) So I talked to the Sales Manager and he went to talk to the bank, and to make a long story a bit shorter, I was able to pay for the car and take it back to Swaziland Thursday evening.

However, (remember, this is Africa; there is always a however.) the salesman had to come meet me at the border Friday morning so he could fill out export papers and get a border police clearance for the vehicle.  Police clearance is nothing more than physically looking at the engine number and chassis number to make sure they match the paper work so they know the car isn’t stolen.  We were going to meet at the border at 7:30 am.  It took the salesman 2 hours to get the paperwork done, printed, approved and the vehicle cleared by the police.  But he handled it all.  I just sat and read a book.  It was such a blessing to have him do it for me.  After the border my plan was to get the car registered in Swaziland in a record breaking one day.  I went to the reveue office to pay for the police clearance in Swaziland.  Then when I got to the Manzini police station for them, they said there was one “yellow piece of paper” that the dealership didn’t give me.  It turns out it is the transfer of ownership document from the dealer, the owner, to me, the buyer.  But the police officer also told me that I needed to pay the import tax on the vehicle before they could do a police clearance anyway.  So I went and paid 14% tax on the vehicle.  But now I will have to meet the salesman again at the border at 7:30 in the morning to get that piece of paper.  Then go back to Manzini (about 50 – 60 minutes from the border) to get the police clearance, go to another town to get a vehicle inspection, then go back to the revenue office to pay the registration fees and turn in all the forms and then finally go to the place where they make the license plates.  And I need to get all of this finished before I have to leave Swaziland by about noon to drive to Johnanesburg to pick up our team from the Wesleyan Center at McNeese University in Lake Charles, LA that arrives tomorrow evening.  Think I can make it??? Of course I can. This entire car thing has been orchestrated by God and if God is for me, who can be against me?

I must also say that the car salesman and the manager of the sales department were both extremely helpful and sympathetic.  I have never received such good service anywhere, even in the US.  I had a lot of time to talk to the salesman and found that he is a Christian.  We had great conversations about the affects of Apratheid, the pitfalls of having a King, etc.  I was so grateful to them both for keeping me informed of what was going on and for trying their best to get the vehicle to me as quick as possible.

My Texas truck (even if it isn't a Ford or Chevy) in Swaziland! Yebo!

So, tomorrow evening the team arrives.  We will spend the night at emseni, a Christian retreat center near the Johannesburg airport.  Then we will drive to Swaziland on Tuesday morning.  On Wednesday we will go up to Lomngeletjane.  The team will be in Swaziland from Tuesday.  May 19th until Friday June 4th.  Stay tuned for stories and pictures of their time in Swaziland.

Sorry for the long absence and update on Nomile

I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted a blog. It’s been a tough transition coming back to Swaziland this year. It seems like everywhere we turn there’s an issue or someone closes the door in our face. I know that is not really true, but some days it seems that way. So I have struggled to figure out the words to convey in a somewhat positive light what has been going on. And now I am so far behind that I don’t know where to start. I guess I must start somewhere so here goes.

Remember Nomile? She is the 2 1/2 year old little girl who had been abused and neglected by her gogo (grandmother) and was in the hospital for about 3 weeks before I left for the US. The last post I did of her was on November 24, 2009 at http://chrisinswaziland.blogspot.com. Nomile had gotten so much better and was ready to leave the hospital. The day before I left Swaziland to come back to the US for Christmas, I took a social worker (who knew none of the history of Nomile) to Thoko’s house and they walked to Nomile’s grandparent’s homestead to have a meeting with the grandparents to observe the homestead and get their consent to put her in a home. When they got to the grandparent’s homestead, both grandparents were not at home and refused to talk to the social worker. The rural health motivator for their area was at the homestead. She told the social worker that the grandparents had given the child to her. Evidently heated words were exchanged between Thoko and the rural health motivator so the meeting ended. The social worker said Nomile would be returned to the grandparents and if the grandparents wanted to give the child to the rural health motivator they would have to go to the police station and fill out an affidavit to that effect. The social worker, Thoko and the rural health motivator walked back to Thoko’s house so I could take the social worker back to Manzini. Thoko was also coming because we had a lot of things to finish up before I could leave at 8:00 the next morning to catch my plane in Johannesburg. The rural health motivator wanted a ride to her homestead. Believe me, I didn’t want to give her a ride, but the Holy Spirit intervened and reminded me to have a Christian spirit. But The Holy Spirit also prompted me to say very clearly in a voice loud enough that they could hear in the back seat that I was done with Nomile. I said I wasn’t going to pay one more dime for anything for her. Needless to say Thoko and I were speechless, shocked and extremely angry.

When we got back to Manzini, I went to tell the Dr. that she would be going back to the grandparents. He just looked at me and said “you can’t let that happen. She will be dead in 6 months.” I told him I couldn’t do anything about it and just broke down and cried. Then he REALLY didn’t know what to do! I also went to talk to the social worker. She didn’t go into the office but went directly to lunch. However, another social worker was in the office and she is the one Thoko and I had talked to many times about Nomile. Once again when I told her the other social worker was returning her to her grandparents I just broke down and cried. She held me and I cried and cried and then I had to leave.

I had no choice but to put Nomile into God’s hands because I was leaving the next morning. God had plans. I don’t really know what events happened or in what time frame because I was in the US, but the grandfather came into the social welfare office at the hospital and signed away their rights to Nomile. He said she couldn’t come back to their homestead or to the community or she would be harmed. The one social worker that we had been talking to knew that I knew a woman in Mbabane that had a home for abused, orphaned or abandoned kids (The Sandra Lee Center.) She had just sent the little girl in the crib next to Nomile to her home. So arrangements were made to send Nomile there as well. Nomile had to stay in the hospital until January because Robin, the woman who runs the home in Mbabane had already told most of the staff that they could go home for the holidays.

In March, I went up to the home and visited with Robin and Nomile. Robin said it took Nomile awhile to warm up to people but that she is a sweetheart and was adjusting and getting along fine. She had a new little friend that is in the same group home with her. Nomile was quiet with me, but did let me hold her right away. I took her to play in the yard and she wandered around so free. She climbed the slide and laughed when she came down and when I put her on the swing, she knew how to hold on and tried to pump a little. It was such a blessing.

Nomile from 11-10-09 to 12-1-09

Nomile playing at her new home, the Sandra Lee Center in Mbabane:

Nomile climing up the slide. It's amazing how quickly kids learn to do this!


Nomile loved the see-saw. (Do they still call it that?)

Sorting it Out

“We’ll sort it out” is one of the favorite, often used expressions used in Swaziland. I realized this morning that this phrase describes perfectly what I have been doing since coming back to Swaziland. It has been a rough re-entry back into Swaziland this year. I think one of the reasons is that I came back pretty tired from the last couple of weeks in the U.S. and then Christopher, Jen and I spent basically a week driving around South Africa and Swaziland before they had to leave. We only had two days in Swaziland and in those two days I was completely overwhelmed with all of the updates on needs and things that couldn’t be resolved for one reason or another while I was in the U.S. I was emotionally and physically drained at the end of those two days in Swaziland.

Another reason was that there were several things that needed to be sorted out and unfortunately, they continue to need sorting out. There are a lot of changes going on this year (more on that sometime in the future). Between the needs and the changes I had a brief little melt down and then remembered that I don’t have to know how things will be sorted out, that is God’s job. Returning my focus on the Lord I was able loose the panic and feel the peace and then I started making sure I got some rest, started eating better, and focused on taking on one thing at a time. There is still much to be sorted out, but I am remembering the words “Kancane, Kancane” (Siswati for bit by bit.)

Most of the programs kept going while I was gone. Thoko managed Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu and with the help of Thini, Gladys and Dumsile where able to get the kids to Baylor at RFM in Manzini each month for their monthly medication. The other issues with the kids we will tackle as we can.

One of the issues I am trying to sort out is my vehicle. It is unsafe to drive very far so it is limiting what I can do. (Richard in South Africa loaned me his truck while Christopher and Jen were here so we didn’t have to deal with my car.) On Monday, 3-15 I took it to a mechanic I used last year. He said the upper control arms on each side needed to be replaced. I replaced them one year ago. The owner of the service shop called the parts store and was assured they had them but that they needed to see the vehicle to make sure they ordered the correct part. So I slowly and carefully drove to Mbabane to get the parts. Clearly the people that came out to look at the car didn’t have a clue what they were looking at. So I bought what they assured me was the correct part. I took it back to the mechanic and got a ride from a friend (Julie) back to Manzini. Early Tuesday morning the owner of the shop called me again and said the part was wrong. It was too short. He wanted me to go back to the parts store and take the old part with me to exchange it. I told him I didn’t have transport so he had his receptionist drive to pick me up, and then he let me use his vehicle to drive to Mbabane and get the correct part. After much discussion and many phone calls it was determined that parts stock was marked with the wrong part number. They thought they had the issue solved and ordered the part again to be here the next day. So, Wednesday, which is my bible study day, I had to “make a plan” (another favorite Swazi saying) to go get the part. I had a great plan. Julie said she’d give me a ride to bible study which is about half-way to Mbabane. Then I would get a ride to Mbabane after bible study with another woman who lives in Mbabane (Monica). I’d get the correct part and then hitch a ride back to the auto repair shop to drop off the part and then to Manzini with yet another friend from Bible Study (Jacci) that was going to be coming to St. Paul’s to have a meeting. The plan almost worked – except we forgot about the lunch hour which made it too late for Jacci to be to her meeting on time. But at the last minute, as I’m beginning to panic, Jacci remembered that yet another woman from bible study (Jodi) who lives in Manzini was going to have lunch in Mbabane and SKYPE her mom. So I called Jodi and she was more than willing to bring me back to Manzini after I exchanged the part. So, after waiting for the parts store to open up again after lunch, we discovered that the incorrect part was shipped again. Obviously I wasn’t a happy camper but neither were they. The owner of the store was really angry and did his best to try and figure out what the problem was. He also called several of his suppliers and asked them to go physically check their parts to find the longer one for the Honda CRV. I was getting concerned that I was holding Jodi up, so he told me to go and that he would call me back in 30 minutes and tell me for sure if one of the two vendors who said they had them, actually did have the correct one. Of course the longer ones were more expensive, but he was also trying to get me a lower price. I of course could have cared less at this point about the cost. I just wanted the parts, but I did appreciate his efforts. So I walked a couple of blocks to where Jodi was. As it turned out, Jodi wasn’t getting as much done on the internet as she had hoped because her 5 ½ month old baby wasn’t cooperating. So I was able to help her out by taking her sweet baby girl and walking her around while her mom did what she needed to do on the internet. What she thought was a blessing to her was really a huge blessing to me. The baby and I had a great long talk about cars, parts, life in Swaziland, mommas, daddies, grandmas, babies and we prayed about all of those topics and we sang. She just kept chewing on her fingers and looking at everything all around her. All my troubles melted away while I was holding, patting and kissing that sweet baby girl. Her mom was able to finish and she even took me to the grocery store so I could get some food to hold me over for a few more days. The parts guy called as promised and said he can get me the correct part but it won’t arrive until Friday. So now I have to make another plan to go get the part and take it to the mechanic on Friday. This scheme will be a bit more difficult to organize.

All that ends well is well. Right? Well not quite. All ended well, but when I got home I discovered that I have no water. Not even any in the toilet tank so that means there had been no water since the morning when I last flushed the toilet just before I left for Bible Study. It’s now Thursday evening and I still don’t have any water. Ah, such is life in Swaziland. And so the challenge of reacting to all of life’s problems, big and small, in a Christian manner with the light and peace of Christ showing though continues. But the good news is, now I don’t have to worry about what am I going to do first, second or third. I’m limited to what I can do from my little place at St. Paul’s without transport or water which means I can catch up on my blogs, e-mails and other paperwork. See? Life is always full of little blessings. We just have to look for them every moment of every day.