Monday, November 21, 2011

There Goes November

Well, as I said in the last blog, these last few weeks have been
absolutely insane but they’ve been wonderful :)

One day a few weeks ago we went to Mbabane with our supervisors. We
had been given some money from the CHIPS leadership to buy sewing
materials for the ladies. We were expecting it to be slightly
expensive to get four sets of sewing materials. Barbara had a doctor’s
appointment so while she was there waiting to see the doctor, Kim and
I decided to go to explore the big city to see what we could find. We
found “Mr. Cheap” which is a fabric and sewing shop. We ended up
buying everything we needed for wayyy less than we thought we would.

Chalk one up to the Spirit!

I wanted to acknowledge the birth of Murray & Amy’s daughter,
Addelaynie Mae Smart. I was awakened early in the morning to a phone
call and it was a great way to start my day knowing that I’ll have a
beautiful little girl to spoil when I come back!

We had previously been having trouble getting into the schools to do
the True Love Waits presentations. One day we pra*ed specifically
before we went out that we would be able to get into the schools…and
the Father answered us. Usually here it’s a good day if you get one
thing accomplished in a day, right? Well, we had visited two schools
that gave us positive responses by ten in the morning! We were so
encouraged by that.
One evening we had Bhekie over for language and to help us with the
children’s Word study that we do every Saturday. He and I were talking
about how much time we have left here an how the time had gone so
fast. I was talking about how much I was going to cry when we leave
and Bhekie said, “I really don’t know what I’m going to do, Brandi. It
took me a while to get over the team coming here (the team from Euto
B*ptist) and they were only here for a week. I just don’t know what
I’m going to do when you leave. Let’s just not talk about it.” I’ve
been thinking a lot about that lately. My heart is completely torn in
two. Of course I miss those at home and I’m excited for all of the
things that will be happening when I return, but when I think about
the fact that I may never see these people again, I cry. I’m crying as
I’m writing this! Haha My heart gets so easily attached to people…its
completely different than being on a short-term team. In that
situation, you may meet people and talk with them but you don’t really
know them. I can call these people my friends and even my family. It
will be so heartbreaking to leave them. But I do trust the Father that
the work will continue after we’re gone and that we didn’t labor in
vain. :)
We had our “mid-term retreat” during the first week of November. We,
along with Heather and Sienna from Mbabane, went to Kruger Park in
South Africa with our supervisor, Wayne. It was so wonderful to get
that time away as well as be able to appreciate creation on such a
huge scale. It is spring (which means mating season!) so we were able
to see some baboons and springboks mating as well as two “honeymoon
couples” of lions! We saw all of the big five (Elephants, Cape
Buffalo, Lions, Cheetahs, Rhinos) as well as many more animals. I
developed a new-found love for bird-watching. :D They have these birds
called Birchell’s starlings that are such a glossy turquoise color.
They’re gorgeous!! Anyway, it was awesome. :)

As soon as we got back from South Africa, we had a HandsOn media team
coming from Johannesburg, South Africa, to follow us around for a few
days. We really enjoyed the time that we were able to spend getting to
know the three girls who are close to our age and their supervisor. It
was rather odd being followed around by cameras all the time, though.
During the time that the team was here, we had scheduled a children’s
HIV/AIDS study. We planned it knowing that it would be at our
homestead (where our father is the leader of a congregation) so that
hopefully our father would be there to hear. I was given a lot of
boldness by the Spirit and confronted the falsehoods about HIV/AIDS,
including that its cause is NOT demon possession. I can do nothing but
lift this up and hope that the children understand and don’t let
adults they trust feed them lies from the enemy – and that the adults
learned something themselves.
We served the kiddos chips and biscuits afterward and a couple of our
youth girls, Bavumile and Beketele, helped us get all of that
together. Bavumile had never told me her name but she was my favorite
girl from Mafucula and I felt awkward after knowing her for so long.
She jokingly said, “I hate you because you don’t know my name.” and I
said, “Shame, I know! I’m sorry…I can’t believe you’re my favorite and
I have never known your name.” and she was like…”I’m your favorite?!”
:) Then she told me her name. And believe me, I didn’t forget! Then
she instructed me never to wear cutex (fingernail polish) again
because that’s what prostitutes wear. I made some melodramatic, “YOU
THINK I’M A PROSITUTE?!” answer and of course she stumbled to say
because she’s my friend she didn’t want people to think I’m one. While
we were serving the children, she said to me in her sweet broken
English that, “She loves me too much.” (Not SO much, TOO much ;) ) I
told her that I love her too much too! Its things like that that make
me never want to leave.

We also had a True Love Waits presentation at Vuvulane High School
that same week! Kim, Bhekie, Sifiso, and I all took different parts of
the presentation and it went really well! We had around seventy five
students and twenty three of them signed the commitment cards. We took
their contact information so that Bhekie can do some follow-up with
them even after we have gone back to America.
My birthday was on the 7th of November, which is typically pretty cold
in America. Definitely not warm enough for a pool party. So I decided
to take advantage of the fact that it’s so stinking hot here and have
a pool party for my birthday! Kim and I, along with a few of our
friends from Tshaneni, got together at the pool and had lunch
together. Hilary and Courtney brought a cake from Manzini and they got
me gifts as well. Everyone was so thoughtful and we had a lovely
afternoon relaxing in the swimming pool!

Make Tsabebze from Mafucula had been harping on us that her Sunday
school kids wanted to visit the Vuvulane congregation to know what
their meetings were like. So we finally made a plan to be able to do
that. Wayne transported all the kids from Mafucula to Vuvulane and we
had a special time with them. It was nice to see my kids twice in one
weekend…and for all of the kids to be together!

Things have been going very well with the sewing ladies. We continue
to take them out twice a week for their lessons and just spend time
with them. We had a little bit of a problem with the price that the
teacher was asking and we couldn’t get her to come down so we just had
to stick with that price…but we’ve now found out that when we leave
they will start with a different teacher who will be so much
cheaper…and they won’t have to worry about transportation because it
will be in their area. I am so thankful to know that progress won’t be
halted by us leaving. They are doing so well and I want to see them
continue to do so.
I have contracted tick bite fever which is a very common ailment here
so it definitely isn’t serious but it isn’t enjoyable. It makes me
very tired and weak most of the time and gives me terrible headaches.
It is so frustrating that this is happening just as the end of our
time when we need to be going out with a bang! I just try to push
through it – I haven’t missed any event because of the illness…I just
don’t enjoy things as much! Haha I have been taking medicine and will
hopefully be better in a week or so.

We received a call about doing yet another TLW presentation for a
local youth group so we’re excited about that and about getting the
national presenters even more involved with us!

I got a really cool opportunity to speak with my fellowship at home
via a conference call on Brandt’s phone. I was so blessed to be able
to update them and hear from them as well. It completely made my day!

Points to Lift Up
•    Please remember our friend Heather. She’s been having some health
problems and she’s currently in Jo’burg undergoing some tests.
•    That the Father would bring more people here to be able to pick up
where we left off…and also that national believers would step up and
do what they have seen us doing.
•    That our time here would finish strongly and go smoothly.
•    That my health would improve. It is very frustrating to have very
little energy with all the things that I need to/want to do.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"What's Her Name?..."Uhmlungu"

Hello my dear friends.

Last week we spent some time at Buhleni/Fondotje with Corine helping
finish up her preschool. The guys were finishing the floor so they
were mixing a lot of concrete. They kept yelling, “More water!” So we
had to carry 20 & 25 liter containers of water on our heads most of
the day. I can’t lie, I kind of enjoyed it. On the way home that
night, though, we got a tire puncture. We went to jack up the car and
realized that Corine had lent her jack to someone and they had not
returned all the parts to it. We called Hillary & Courtney, our
friends/neighbors, to come and rescue us. When they got there, they
brought out their brand new unopened jack and noticed that it also was
missing parts! Somehow they used the parts from both jacks to make it
work and we changed the tire.

We went back to the preschool to help a couple days later and a guy
who they just call by his surname, Gama, was there. He doesn’t have a
fully functioning mental capacity. He loves it when people come from
America, though, and he was so happy to see us. But he really became
very in love with Kim when he saw her carrying the water on her head.
He kept following her around and confessing his love to her. Futi was
there and making it worse, I do believe. At some point Gama thought
that Kim had accepted his marriage proposal so he was asking her if
tomorrow she could go and meet his mother at his homestead and all
these things. He kept coming over to me and saying, “Indvoza sisi
wakho” which means…
“Your sister’s husband”! haha I wasn’t making it any better because I
was announcing her “teka” which is similar to an engagement. We had so
much fun giving her a hard time. When we dropped Futi off at her
house, she said, “Nomsa (Kim), please invite me to your wedding.”  It
was just such a funny day.

We have been going to a few schools to try to get in to do the TLW
presentation but it has been somewhat unfruitful. We left letters with
them and they are supposed to call us. We’re hoping to get at least a
few since we haven’t been able to do any in the schools yet!

Last Friday, Kim was sick so I just got to go out with Corine with
just the two of us and spend a lot of time with her. I was thankful
for that time because I had never had it. Monday, she returned to the
United States until February so now we’re living in her house with her
car and her dog…bug she’s gone. It’s nice to have the car so we know
we have reliable transport every day but we do miss her!

Our Word study with the kids is trucking right along. This last time
we were learning about Noah. The game that we played was SO HILARIOUS.
We've done this at an ICS Retreat before and we enjoyed it even more
with the kids. Each of them had a type of animal and they couldn't
talk, they just had to find the other people who had the same animal
by making the animal noise. It was so funny for us to watch the kids
running around making all kinds of noises. I'm sure people around
Mafucula found it pretty interesting. :)

We have a new interesting thing that we’re doing. There are some
ladies from Section 19 (the very poor area we have worked in just a
couple times) who are involved with the CHIPS program who are learning
how to sew from some of our friends in Mafucula. Every Tuesday and
Thursday we take them out to Mafucula from 9 in the morning til about
4 in the afternoon. It makes for long days because we just stay out
there but I eat it up! I love being there more than anywhere else in
Swaziland even on uneventful days. Being out there all day gives us
some awesome opportunities for relationship building and language
The other day I was playing with Bongiswa, our nephew, and we were
throwing my purity ring around this concrete pavilion and racing to
see who could get it first. Swa threw it above his head and it got
stuck in the thatch! We had to make a plan! We got some concrete
blocks that were lying around and I held him up on my shoulders and he
hit it down with a stick. It was a sight!

My friend Fikile is the owner of the hair salon next to our parent’s
shop. I like to just hang out in the salon with her and watch her do
people’s hair and chat it up. Yesterday when we were out there, there
were some kids from our Word study and some just from town who were
following me around. They were holding my hands and just constantly
touching me. Fikile was saying in SiSwati to the kids, “You love her
so much…what’s her name?” and Winile, who doesn’t really know me that
well, said, “Uhmlungu” (which means white person)! I got such a kick
out of that!! I said to her that my name is Mavi Ekuphila not
Uhmlungu! We just laughed and laughed out it. I got my hair cornrow-ed
again yesterday as well. It is a great time of just sitting with
Fikile and Kayise just talking. They were trying to teach me names for
body parts in SiSwati or they would quiz me on random items. I enjoyed
that time so much. I thank the Father so much for the relationships
that He has allowed me. Those are the things that would bring me back.

The next few weeks are so packed with stuff…we’re very excited for all
the things that we’re going to be doing. The next blog should be so
exciting you will hardly be able to stand it! :)

Here are some ways you can be talking to our Creator for us:
•      That we would be able to get into the schools in our area to do the
TLW presentation. The youth here need this message because there is
nothing in place for them to educate them. Exams are beginning soon
and it will be difficult to get in so we’re hoping that we can get in
before that!
•      We were beginning a TLW study with some girls from Mafucula but we
still haven’t met with them because we haven’t been able to get a hold
of them.
•      Our teammate Heather, who is living in Mbabane, is having some
concerning health issues so please lift her up!
•      Continue to lift up the darkness in this country. We are beginning a
very spiritually dark time of the year leading up to the Incwala
festival, which takes place at the beginning of the year.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Keep the Tide

Well everyone, I am amazed that my time here is now more than half
finished! Some days it seems like I’ve only been here for a week –
other days it seems like I’ve been here for a year!
Our children’s Word study has been going pretty well. We have about
thirty kids coming every week. We’re storying the Word chronologically
so we’ve been trying to hit all the big stories and emphasize points
that are relevant to our kiddos.
We have struggled with getting our girls all together for our True
Love Waits study. Funerals and transportation are among the obstacles
that we face. It gets a little frustrating but I know that the Father
will make a way!
Last weekend we had an awesome opportunity to go to Mozambique – so we
took it! Some of our friends, some South African belungu who live in
Swaziland wanted us to see the beach :) It took SO LONG to get there,
although we aren’t terribly far from Mozambique. The reason? The
roads! On the Moz side it was mostly sand roads so we had to drive
very slowly. We camped out by the beach for a few nights. It was
absolutely gorgeous. One of the ways that I experience the power of
our Creator the most is through His creation – especially the ocean. I
had some really great time to commune with Him and sing and just bask
in His glorious sunlight. (Which led to a glorious sunburn! Haha)
I’ve begun going on a walk in the game reserve near our house every
morning for a while just to be alone with my Father. I have been SO
blessed by that time. I didn’t realize how much I absolutely NEED that
time to be able to speak aloud and just be alone. Living with two
other women doesn’t give one very much alone time so I have learned
this need about myself. I like the exercising part of it as well as
the being alone – and I get to see wildebeests and impalas on a daily
During that time, I kept thinking about this gogo, named Gogo Impapa.
She kept coming to my thoughts, so I decided that I needed to go visit
her. I SMSed our Make and asked her if we could go to visit this lady
together and she said that would be great. We showed up at Mafucula
and greeted everyone. Then as I was thinking (which I happen to do a
lot), I thought that this gogo might need some food or things like
candles, so we bought some things from Make & Babe’s store and went on
our way. We were somewhat unsure of how the gogo’s condition was or
what her illness even is. I now believe she’s just old and
experiencing old age…and maybe dementia. But they say she’s “not okay
in her head”.
While we were sitting out on a grass mat waiting for her daughter to
go into Gogo Impapa’s hut and bring her out to see us, I was asking
Babe how Gogo was.
Here is how I heard his reply: “She’s dead. Yeah…just too dead. She
smells.” I. WAS. MORTIFIED! Were they going to bring out a dead woman?
Why hadn’t they taken her to the morgue?! How am I supposed to react
to this? They don’t bring out dead bodies to greet people in my
Here is what he really said: “She’s dirty. Yes, too dirty. She
smells.” Thankfully, Kim had understood him correctly and hinted to me
that he was saying “dirty” and not “dead”.
When they brought her out, Babe went to greet her and I would almost
swear that he said, “Uyapapa” which means “You’re Crazy”. I was
like…rude! But her surname is “Impapa” so I assume that I just
misheard. Believe me, I cleaned my ears that night when we got home!
Anyway, we prayed for this woman and sang with her (in true Swazi
fashion) and gave her the things, then went back to the store (which
is kind of the hang-out place in Mafucula) for a little while.
We found out this week that one of Corine’s close Swazi friends,
Florence, passed away from complications of the AIDS virus. It put a
face to a common occurrence here. The life expectancy is now down to
43 in Swaziland. Please lift the pandemic up to our Father. It is a
desperate situation.
This past weekend was Kim’s birthday. Saturday night we decided to
braai (grill out)…so we’re just sitting out on our veranda getting the
grilling done…and we decided to get out iHome out and listen to some
music…and dance. As we’re standing outside dancing, our neighbor girl
Munju came over and joined us. Then another woman who lives just down
the street (who also operates a delicious chicken dust business) named
Busisiwe came to bring us some chicken. Somehow it turned into a dance
party. Busi left and came back with a CD of Swazi house music and a
friend and it was ON! We attracted most of our female neighbors and
their children and had an impromptu dance party. I don’t know if I
have laughed so much since I’ve been here! It will definitely be one
of my favorite memories for a long time :) We ended up inviting
everyone to stay for dinner and then there was some post-dinner
dancing as well.
This week we were blessed to have Mrs. Kym Coe with True Love Waits
here with us. We did some True Love Waits training and did a practice
presentation. We had not done much of the presentation ourselves so it
was nice to get a chance to do that. We had some awesome fellowship
with Kym while she was here in Tshaneni and we are thankful for all
her love and support.
Here are some ways for you all to be lifting us up to our Creator:
•    It has been reported that the SwaziCan Citrus farm is closing down.
We know many people very involved in this situation, including many
from the ch*rch that we attend the most in Vuvulane. A large number of
people will be losing their jobs and homes due to this change of
hands. We are unsure of exactly how the situation will turn out but we
ask for you to lift it up!
•    That the true TLW message would make an impact on these people. We
have been trying to start a study with the girls at Mafucula for a
while now and we keep hitting roadblocks. Ask Dad to make a way!
•    Continue in asking for help with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We do have
ARVs now but sometimes the virus is resistant to the limited types of
ARVs that this country has.
•    Strongholds and falsehoods: many people are dying because they
simply stop taking their ARVs. They believe that the Lord will heal
them rather than them having to take their medicine.
•    Time magazine recently published an article on the Kingdom of
. While from a biased source, the article made some very
revealing points on the state of Swaziland. I encourage you to read it
and pray for this place!
•    Transformation. Ultimately the Gospel needs to penetrate the hearts
of the people and cause them to change their lives. Until that
happens, nothing will change.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Sleeptember

Sanibonani bantfu  bami! I hope that you are all doing well. I am
thankful for each one of you, just so you know.

Well, as I said in my previous blog/email, we went to Umhlanga – The
Reed Dance. It was quite an interesting experience!! I decided to go
all out for the event and wear full traditional attire (the modest one
that the make’s wear…not the one that I encouraged you to Google).
Let’s just say I got a lot of stares, laughs, and compliments! I wish
I had good enough internet to post a picture! It was so much fun. We
made the trip to Ezulwini, which is near Mbabane (almost two hours
away) and got there so early that we preceded the security. While
Heather and Sienna stayed in the arena, Wayne, Kim, and I decided to
go look for some food. When we tried to go back the way we had come we
were instructed to go through security (which wasn’t completely
assembled yet so we had to wait!). While we were walking, a man from
SwaziTV came and asked to interview us! So – now we’re Swaziland
celebs. Then it finally came time for the event. We had a very kind
man that we met in the line sitting next to us explaining everything,
which was so helpful. Otherwise, it would have seemed like mass chaos.
There were tourists from all over the place. We even saw a few belungu
(white people) among the maidens! There were so many girls that just
when you thought they were all in the stadium, another five hundred
would start pouring in. We were able to see the King Mswati III also.
He was a part of the celebration. It was such a culturally unifying
event. I have never seen anything quite like it.

The next day, we had made plans with Jabulani from CHIPS to go to
Siteki Good Shepherd Hospital. The CHIPS kombi takes HIV patients to
the ARV clinic for their regular check-ups and to refill their ARVs.
What an overwhelming and eye-opening experience. We know in our minds
that almost half the population here is HIV positive, but it became so
real when we rode in a kombi full of people we knew were HIV+ and then
walked into a clinic teeming with people – all there for the same
reason. Let me tell you, clinics in Swaziland are a lot different than
ones in America! There are no patient privacy laws in Swaziland. We
were allowed to just jump in and start helping the clinic because they
were swamped. Kim and I went into a room where we counted people’s
ARVs and recorded their information in their files. We also weighed
them and took vital signs. It was the first time since I’ve been here
that I’ve felt despair like that, especially since I know the future
iffy circumstances of the ARVs. But I also haven’t felt like I was
truly doing what I am passionate about until that day. It was hard to
think about the fact that all of these people could be in serious
danger of getting AIDS in the coming months if something doesn’t
happen with the ARV situation.
An exciting thing that happened this week was FINALLY getting packages
from home! Brandt sent me his camera on 11 July (mine broke when I got
here) and it just got here. I also got Macaroni and Cheese. I had been
missing that the most of all the food I can’t get here!! Needless to
say it was such a bright spot in our week! Kim got letters from home
and adorable cards from her nephews that are now hanging on our wall

Every week we go to TEE (Theological Education by Extension) class
with our supervisor, Wayne. When Wayne told us what time TEE would be,
he also said that Babe Masuku (our “dad”) told him that the children
would be gathered around the same time. We were like…what? So we had
little idea of what to expect. When we got to Mafucula, all the
children were there singing. We had a little children’s day camp thing
that Make Tsebebze put together and all of the adults had given money
to feed the children after the event! I was so pleasantly surprised.
This isn’t really a common thing for the congregation to do so I think
they are taking cues from our short-term team and making it their own!
We taught the kids about creation and played a game with them to help
them remember the story. It was so wonderful! We are actually now
going to do this once a week with the kiddos :) We have a children’s
HIV curriculum that we are thinking about going over with them and
then just storying from the Word!

That night we had Bhekie staying with us to do language the next day.
We made him hamburgers and macaroni & cheese. It was funny because at
TEE he told one of the ladies that he couldn’t eat too much because he
was going to eat American food that night! I never tire of learning
about the ins and outs of Swazi culture. I do believe that our
ethnography could easily be fifty pages! ;)

The weather has warmed up quite a bit. It is now beginning “spring”
where it is easily 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit.

We are beginning a True Love Waits study with the youth girls at
Mafucula, which will hopefully be able to meet this week. We were
supposed to meet with them this past Saturday but a funeral impeded
our plans.

Also, I got my hair cornrow-ed this past week. Once again, wish I
could post pictures! Our friend Figile has a hair salon next to our
homestead. It was a great time to sit with the girls and just talk
while Figile was doing my hair.

Thursday, I had an interesting experience! I went with Wayne and Babe
Mavuso to a revival at Luhhwahhweni, where my friend Bhekie lives. I
had never been to an African revival…and I was in for a fun and
different time! Everything was very dynamic, especially prayer. The
speaker reminded me of my childhood p*stor the way that he got so
passionate and banged on stuff. Though, even if I was fluent in
SiSwati, I don’t think I would have been able to understand much of
what he said. There was a lot of dancing and singing which I happen to
enjoy very much! :)

Something really awesome that the Father did for me this week – both
of my p*stors from America emailed me on the very same day! I really
needed the advice and encouragement that they gave me and it was just
so awesome to see Him at work in that way.

I know that this experience isn’t about me and I have learned so much
about my Father and His heart for the world. I am continuing to learn
more and more. I am so thankful for this adventure. :)

Please continue to take these things to the Creator:
* The ARV situation. The country is rumored to have received a large
shipment of ARVs but we have yet to see the results of them. If they
aren't distributed to the people, there will be serious repercussions
for the Swazis.
* The economy of Swaziland is in a crisis situation and many people
are suffering.
* I have been having some issues with my bank account in America.
Please pr*y that the issues will be ironed out. I have seen Him
working through the situation.
* For our studies with the youth & children at*y that
hearts will be changed and especially lives transformed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Hello to all my dear friends & even to my not-yet friends who are
reading this because Dr. Frost encourages you to :)

Well we were so blessed to have the team from Euto B*ptist here
serving with us. They were so encouraging and helpful to our ministry.
We spent the whole week with them, along with Make Gertrude, Babe
Mavuso, and (of course) Bhekie! They were our translators and are all
key members of our community of believers here. It was so different to
be on the other side of a short(er)-term team. We got to see a
different dynamic being part of the leadership rather than a part of
the actual team. I made some sweet friendships and got to sing a lot
(Thank you, Landon) and I was so sad to see them leave.

While they were here we did all kinds of different things. We did some
hut-to-hut visiting in our rural communities, visited orphans, held a
ladies retreat, a youth retreat, and a children’s day camp! Needless
to say, it was exhausting – but it was SO rewarding. The team of 16
broke up into smaller teams every day to go to different areas. I
mostly took the teams to the Mafucula area (which happens to be my
home). It felt just like taking one of my friends home from college or
something. I was so excited to introduce these people to my family and
my friends here.

After the team left, we decided to visit South Africa and relax! Kim
and I drove to RSA and mostly watched a lot of television because we
don’t have that at our home!
When we came back from South Africa, it was time to get down to
business! I started designing our plan and schedule for the upcoming
three months! We’re excited to continue our work alongside CHIPS, the
HIV Intervention Program, while also “doing our own thing”. We have
decided to do come community needs assessments hut-to-hut and while so
doing we can also share the message of sexual purity or faithfulness
in marriage and (of course) the Good News!! Usually, when you visit
someone’s homestead here in Swaziland, they expect you to bring the
Word. This will be awesome for us to be able to do.

We will still continue to go out with CHIPS and help with their
HIV/AIDS testing and visiting the sick and the poor, but we will also
be doing the community needs assessment on days that we’re not with
Jenn, Ian, Jabulani & Mary or doing whatever other opportunities come
our way.

Something that it has taken times getting used to is the pace of life
in Swaziland. Things happen much slower here than in the US…so getting
one thing done per day is seen as successful! I have to confess that I
have been frustrated at times because I’m so used to going and going
so much that I barely have time to stop – it is so unusual to have all
the time that I have.

This weekend we have been at the national B*ptist youth camp in
Manzini. We came along with a few youth from our association who are
attending the camp. We’re staying in Mbabane with Heather & Sienna,
the other HandsOn girls, until tomorrow afternoon.  We presented the
True Love Waits message at the camp this morning and had a really
great time.

One of our best youth girls, Kate (her SiSwati name is complicated!),
was just elected the associational youth leader! We talked with her
about getting connected with some of the girls at Mafucula and meeting
on a weekly basis.

Monday we will be heading back to the Hhohho region to attend the
Umhlanga (Reed Dance). Umhlanga actually officially started on
Tuesday. Over 80,000 maidens have been registered for the event. This
event pays homage to the queen mother (mother of the king). The girls
are rounded up from all over Swaziland on government vehicles and
taken to the queen mother’s residence. They go out to find reeds and
then, dressed in traditional attire (which I would encourage you to
Google), they will dance with the reeds in the presence of the king
and many other important people. This event is usually where the king
begins to pursue his next wife.  It is also the biggest tourist event
in Swaziland so we will encounter many different kinds of people!

On a tangent, I just wanted to send up some praise because I had a
weird sick spell this week. I was having intense headaches and nearly
passed out twice…I could not even stand for over five minutes. It only
lasted a short while but it was scary so I am thankful that it’s over!
Also I need to let you know that Bhekie has recovered from being
sick! PTL!

Here are some points of concern that you can be taking up to the Father:

•    The supply of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), a treatment for HIV, are
said to be running out this coming month. Please pray that something
extraordinary happens to revive the supply. The clinics have already
begun giving out expired ARVs and now we are afraid that if something
drastic doesn’t happen that many people will die.

•    Umhlanga. Many girls are raped or “fall pregnant” during this
weeklong camp-like atmosphere. Please continue prayer for the girls
that they will be kept safe.

•    Bhekie is facing some problems with his congregation right now.
Please keep him in your heart because he is one of our dearest friends
and one of  the strongest believers we know!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Winter Break Update :)

Hello dear friends!

Well I can certainly say it is different not having Internet readily
available or reliable! I am thankful for the little bit of slow speed
that we get!

I have had a crazy and exciting few weeks! Since we left the
homestead, we were unsure about what we would exactly be doing – but
we have started to get involved in some different things. Last week
the summer m’s left to go back to America. We were sad to see them go
– we are pretty fond of them! It was nice to have six people our age
here in Swaziland with us. We went to Manzini to say goodbye to them
and did a little grocery shopping since the big cities have a much
better selection than here in Tshaneni!

On Monday, Corine needed to go to the doctor in South Africa because
she had tick bite fever. This was our first time to leave Swaziland,
although we live right on the border to South Africa. We went to
Komatipoort and almost experienced culture shock! We saw so many
uhmlungus (white people) that  we were unsure of what to do! It was a
very nice day and I must say I would consider the highlight the fact
that we found Dr. Pepper and Reese’s Pieces at Spar! I had missed my
Dr. Pepper and was thankful to have a small comfort from home!

Wednesday was a fantastic day. We went out to work with Ian & Jenn who
are an older m* couple (self-supported) that work in the Vuvulane-ish
area. Their program is called CHIPS. There are many small communities
in the area in between cane fields and they do HIV/AIDS work which is
what we are really desiring to do. They own their own kombi (15
passenger van) so they can transport clients to the hospital in Siteki
or do testing in the kombi. We just rode along with them. Mary,  a
Swazi woman, is the phlebotomist. We went from community to community
testing people for HIV/AIDS, checking their CD4 levels, and visiting
the sick. While Mary was testing people we would get out and play with
the kids or sing songs with them. All of the kids are always expecting
emaswidi from  us (SWEETS!) so we usually take some out with us.
Though Mafucula was a rural area, these communities we were going to
Wednesday are the poorest ones we have seen.

That night we had a meeting with all the B*leaders in the Lobombo
region at Wayne & Barbara’s house. We had a fantastic dinner (always
look forward to Mrs. Barbara’s cooking!!) and then talked about our
plans for when the team from America comes, just so that everyone
knows what is going on. Bhekie stayed in Tshaneni with us and we did
language on Thursday. Any time we spend with Bhekie is fantastic – he
is always so encouraging and informative.

Friday I decided I determined to go to Mafucula to see our family
since it had been too long since we’d been to visit them. Corine had
to go somewhere so we didn’t have the vehicle to be able to drive
there and its about 30 minutes or more away from Tshaneni out in a
rural area. I was undeterred! I was so set on going that I took a
kombi which is our public transport. Kim wasn’t feeling well so I went
alone. Let me tell you – it was an EXPERIENCE!! Haha While waiting for
a kombi at the bus rank, I met a kid who was also going to Mafucula so
he was my little guide. I know that the Father brought him to talk to
me and boy am I thankful. I know that there is a kombi that goes right
to Mafucula but it doesn’t come often. But this boy said we could take
this gigantic bus…so I trusted him. Well, it took us to a bus stop on
the main road, then we walked to Vuvulane (which is probably a few
miles) and got a kombi to Mafucula there. It was just a funny day.
When I finally got to Mafucula I was so thankful! Kayise, my sister
and dear friend, was there waiting for me. I went around and greeted
my family and it was probably the best day I’ve had since I’ve been
here. Zodwa’s son Ngcebo, who used to be so afraid of us, ran up to me
and wanted me to hold him! He is so precious. Then, I went on a hunt
for Bongiswa! He was angry with me at first because I had been gone
too long – but he soon got over that and he showed me his schoolwork.
He got 100% on almost all of the worksheets he was showing me! He’s
such a clever boy :). Kayise and I laid around and talked for a while
because she said I needed to rest.

I spent all afternoon just hanging out with my family (and I got to
eat Make’s cooking. Yum!). I got to talk with one of the teachers from
the secondary school for a long time as well. Going out to Mafucula is
a fantastic practice for language! Kayise is always so excited when I
know what she’s saying! I would have to say that she’s my best friend
here in Swaziland.  Some women made fun of the way I walk (on my
tiptoes) and I knew exactly what they were saying! I just laughed.
When I went back to Tshaneni, I took a shower and the water running
off of me was brown! I was so dirty from walking on the dirt roads!
We have some plans to go on the kombi with the CHIPS next week before
the team gets here on Wednesday. When the team gets here we will be
with them most of the time!
Some ways you can be talking to the Father for us:

•    That He would lead us to know exactly what our place is here.
•    That we would meet some people to really pour into in the communities.
•    For Corine’s health and finances, as she is self-supported.
•    For my Uncle Rick in America – he had emergency back surgery on Friday.
•    That the team would have safe travel & that they would make a
lasting impact with their work here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Holy Habenero Cledus!

Dearest friends, hello! It has been a fantastic few weeks since I last wrote you J I apologize for my absence but we had no internet access in Mafucula! I will try to be brief, as it will be difficult to fit the last few weeks of activity into a short blog entry!

We have been completely submerged into culture for the last month! The Masukus gave us such a fantastic opportunity to get to really experience Swazi culture. A typical day in our life went a little something like this:

We had language study from nine in the morning til about one in the afternoon with our language instructor Bhekie, who has become a good friend and fantastic cultural informant. World Vision was kind enough to let us use a room at their care point as a classroom, so we would walk there each day. When we got back from language, our mother would always have dinner cooking. We knew it was time to eat when she said, “Phila, dish!” Dishing out the food was my job. Our parents own a small grocery store so sometimes after lunch we would spend our afternoons in the shop with our sister Zodwa. If not, we would sit outside our house, which is right by the primary and secondary schools or just rest. We went up to the house again around 4:30 to feed the chickens…that was my favorite thing. The chickens started to know us and we were somewhat the pied pipers of the chickens. They would follow us around everywhere! We would visit all of our animals – the Masukus have three dogs, six pigs, some cows and a bunch of chickens! (We named the dogs Lutszandvo (Love), Litcje (Stone), and Spot.) Kim knew it was time to start cooking because Make would say, “Nomsa, fire!” We cooked on an open fire every night with three-legged pots. We mostly ate rice with soup and chicken or any other kinds of meat. After dinner with Make, Babe, and Bongiswa (our sister Kayise’s son) was family devotion. We would sing songs and read the word in SiSwati and in English.

Our Babe gifted a chicken to us…which means that we have to catch and kill it also. If you know me, you know that I borderline vegetarianism on occasion. Bhekie caught the chicken for us and also killed it. I was mortified and couldn’t bring myself to eat chicken for the next few days!! I made it out okay, though J
Bongiswa, our nephew (6 yrs), stays with Make and Babe while his mother is in Manzini. He misses her very much so we are always playing with him and giving him sweets! Monday was his birthday so we got him a cake and some balloons (and of course some sweets and stickers). He loved it…and our family was very surprised. They said that they could see the love of the Father in us in the way we treated Swa. <3

For our last weekend living in Mafucula, our parents brought almost all of our siblings in from all around Swaziland! Our sister Kayise came back from Manzini where she had been staying with Lungile and Figile came from Pigg’s Peak as well. Zodwa stayed in Mafucula as well. Many of our nieces and nephews were there also. It was a great time to get to know our other sisters and to see Kayise. She stayed with us in our room and I helped her with Swa’s wash on Saturday (using a tub, a bar of soap, and our hands!) which was a good time to spend with her. Kim and I worked in the shop most of the day Saturday and we are getting pretty great at understanding what people are asking us for.

We are now back in Tshaneni where we will be staying for the rest of our time in Swaziland. We wanted to get started in the schools with the True Love Waits message, but the schools are doing exams right now because they’re preparing for their winter break. School will resume again in September, I believe, and then we’ll get to work. In the meantime, we’ll be continuing language study, helping with a short term team, and working with Corine - an American self-supported m* who we are living with.

Some ways that you can be talking to our Father for us:
* That we would continue to meet people who we can continue to build relationships with…I have made some friends with youth girls at our fellowship.
*For our fellowship…our Babe is the leader and they are currently working on building a building rather than meeting in their house.
*That we would get some opportunities to connect with the schools in our area
*And we continue to keep you held up in His name! J