Go Team, Going and Gone

Go Team Going and Gone

The March Go Team to Swaziland has come and gone.  Reflections follow:

  1. Our visits to two child development centers where we interacted with children will remain unforgettable.Our compassion team acted out David and Goliath for the children at Ntendozi.  Only  Go Team members understand what was so side splitting funny about this, but those of you at Montrose can find out if Pastor Dave shows you his candid photo.  We played with 60 children, were with them when they ate food provided 5 days a week by BFC, saw their solar water well and garden, the fence, and kitchen provided by BFC.Over 100 children came to greet us at BFC’s new Child Development Center in Nduma.  Crowded into a hot and dark room with no water or electricity the children sang and recited scripture for us before they were all fed a nourishing meal.  The children loved getting their picture taken and seeing themselves on our cell phones.  Pastor Sipho Mahlelela took us to see the land given to them by the area chief for a new location for a church, parsonage, and CDC.
  2. We visited distant homesteads with Task Force where we ministered in homes of A.I.D.S. victims.  Pastor Jeff Johnson told us of visiting a beautiful intelligent young woman with plans for college and a professional career.  Her life is devastated now because she contracted A.I.D.S. from her boyfriend who has abandoned her and left her alone, sick, and physically weakened, unable to work, with a two year old child to support.  This lovely woman is devastated and angry at herself for a mistake she made.  Her life’s ambitions are shattered, replaced with hopeless remorse and shame.
  3. On a brighter note our builders installed 14 big steel windows and 3 small ones at the Siteki English Church.  Pastor Stanley, Emmalyn, and I worked months to get the steel roof put on before the Go Team arrived and missed the deadline by a week.  There were just too many VAT stamps delays, delivery delays, and the like.  This delay was my only disappointment.  We invisioned a roofed building with doors and windows installed making a secure building possible for electrical wiring to be pulled.  Montrose even sent an electrician, but the delay of roofing prohibited the electrical installation.
  4. Our entrepreneurs worked at Manna Farm, a project of the School of Theology, to help pastors grow crops to feed their families and sell crops for a profit to supplement their income.
  5. We hosted a District Superintendent’s retreat and Day of Encouragement for pastors and wives on the East Swaziland District.
  6. Four clergy were on the Go Team including myself.  Rev. Rick Harvey of BFC made his second visit to Swaziland.  Rev. Dave Roberts of Montrose Nazarene in California came on a fact finding trip for his church Rev. Jeffery Johnson is District Superintendent of the S. Texas District and came representing 91 churches in Texas.
  7. Swazi leaders came from all over Swaziland and filled the Family Center at Sharp Memorial Church  to welcome our arrival.
  8. On Sunday we worshiped at Soweto Church where our warm welcome and African worship service was enhanced by an overcrowded sanctuary with few windows on a very -very hot day.  Rev Themba and his congregation graciously made this a special Sunday for us in their two hour worship service.  On Thursday Rev. Themba received eye surgery at Siteki Good Shepherd Eye Clinic from Dr. Brad Farris from Dean Magee of Oklahoma City.
  9. The comfortable George Hotel in Manzini and beautiful Mabuda Farm in Siteki were our two residences for this Go Team.
  10. This Go Team had a big sense of humor.  I do not remember when I last laughed so hard as I did rehearsing for the David and Goliath skit and again on the day of presentation when we put on costumes, wigs, and told the story.  We ate together worked together, shared devotional moments together, wept together, and prayed together.  We became one in purpose and fellowship.
  11. Dr. Terry Hall visited all four districts of Swaziland presenting a one day seminar on “An A.I.D.S.  Free Swaziland in One Generation” to leaders of our churches.  The goal is to stop the spread of A.I.D.S. in one generation.  One generation is defined as 25 years.  An A.I.D.S. free Swaziland will happen by successfully accomplishing the goals of medically ending transmission of the virus from the infected mother to her baby (already happening  when pregnant women avail themselves to early treatment), ending concurrent r sexual relationships (multiple partners), male circumcision, and condom use.
  12. Our last moment together was a 5 a.m. African Safari at Kruger Park in South Africa.  In just three hours of driving through  Kruger in a camouflaged bus with no windows we saw all 5 of the “Big Five” wild animals.  We saw Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Rhinos, one Leopard, and a Lion.  We were told it is rare to see all five on one safari.  We saw many giraffes (not in this Big Five list).
  13. At 9:45 a.m. Sunday March 22, 2015 we said good bye to the March Go Team.   They headed one way to Johannesburg airport and home.  We turned the opposite way back to Manzini for our final four months in Swaziland as BFC on site coordinators.
  14. “Thank you” Barbi Moore for planning every detail of this complicated nonstop schedule.  Your work was flawless in a most gracious way with and without your bull horn.
  15. Our work was not done.  Dr. and Mrs. Hall returned to Manzini with us for two more days of HIV A.I.D.S. training of an A.I.D.S. free Swaziland in One Generation.

I mentioned our last four months in Swaziland. In April we work for Ellyn Marsh and Celebrate Recovery. In May we work for Southern Nazarene University’s Go Team. In June a Go Team comes from Canada and we will welcome. In July a Go Team comes from BFC. BFC is looking for the next on site coordinators for 2015-2016 to continue on the work of our Partnership with Swaziland after we say good-bye to Africa and return home to Bethany July 31st.

STAMP! STAMP! STAMP!

STAMP

The document from Johannesburg, S. A. properly stamped arrived today.  We took it to the tax office in Mbabane to get it stamped in Swaziland. We were told it goes through four people with stamps.  STAMP! STAMP! STAMP! And STAMP again!  We anticipate a call Monday saying everybody at the tax office with a stamp in their hand has had their whack at it and now we can go back and retrieve whatever shreds of paper are left.

On the way home from Mbabane that drat radar gun got me again driving 110K in a 100K zone.  The cop vacuumed another E60 right out of my wallet finalizing the traffic violation with a receipt of payment putting a stamp on it before putting it in my hand.  Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.

Government bureaucrats and cops in Swaziland are not the only stamp happy officials in the world.  Before boarding the airplane in America the customs official took a whack at my passport.  Whack!  Whack!  Whack!  Not satisfied, another customs official in South Africa took another whack at my passport.  Whack!  Wack! And Wack again!  At the boarder of Swaziland after South African customs agents stamped my passport I walked 50 yards to the Swaziland customs officer waiting to stamp my passport anywhere he could find an unstamped place to stamp it again.

After being whacked and stamped in Mbabane at the tax office and by police on my way home we regrouped at Nando’s restaurant before going to the bank across the street.  Inside the bank while waiting for Emmalyn to transact important coordinating business I entertained myself watching the bank tellers stamping away on big papers, little papers, all kinds of papers.  Every paper needed a stamp.  STAMP!  STAMP!  STAMP!

Not all tellers stamp the same way.  Some pound with rapid furry.  POUND! POUND! POUND! Some tellers stamp with feminine gentleness.  Tap~Tap~Tap.  Some tellers stamp with awesome urgency.  BAAM!  BAAM!  BAAM!  Tall tellers stomp more than stamp  STOMP!  STOMP!  STOMP!  Heavy set tellers romp on their papers.  ROMP!  ROMP!  ROMP!  Cagey tellers pounce on their papers.  POUNCE!  POUNCE!  POUNCE!  It was hot in the bank.  Sweaty tellers trounced on their papers.  TROUNCE!  TROUNCE!  TROUNCE!  It was an awesome site.  It was a magnificent site.

From my perspective standing in the bank lobby looking at the long row of tellers behind security walls and glass windows flailing away at paper passing their way, it looked more like a bank of clients in anger management therapy.  I’d have given anything to take just one of them back home with me tonight to swat the mosquitoes so I could get a good night’s sleep.

cdg

Marching into March

2015-02-13 13.02.24_resized

You heard the joke, “Why are we so tired April 1st?  Because we just finished a 30 day march.”

Before the March Go Team arrives in Swaziland mountains must move.  Forget details.  It’s mountains of work in Bethany, Texas, California, and Africa.

I toured an automobile assembly plant.  Parts of cars hung on moving conveyer lines in disjointed opposite parts of the plant.  Fascinatingly, at the precise moment doors, fenders, bumpers, seats, dash boards, steering wheels, tires in exactly the right colors came together and made one car to the customer’s exact specification.  So goes On site coordinating for the 5 Go Teams heading our way before we end our year as On Site Coordinators  July 31st.

Not to worry.  Barbi Moore is on it!  I don’t know whether to call Barbi Moore an International  Expert Executive, Mother Hen, Ace in the Hole, or Our Best Friend in Time of Need.  Barbi Moore is the unsung hero of Everything concerning BFC’s Swaziland Partnership.   She is tireless in communicating with us hours every week, overseeing multifaceted details, guiding our work schedule, helping us understand perspectives, and all in a good natured user friendly personality, sometimes humorous.  We love working with Barbi Moore.

In March between the 12th when the team leaves America and the 24th when they all leave Swaziland with precision timing so much will happen it could make your head spin.  After recovering from their 15 hour flight with a night’s rest at The City Lodge hotel in Johannesburg a celebration dinner will be held for them in Swaziland where Swazi leaders will welcome them with a big dinner at Sharp Memorial Church of the Nazarene.    Sunday morning they will worship at Soweto Church of the Nazarene where the BFC Partnership Council has just voted to partner with them in providing  a fence for their property.  This church is exploring the possibility of developing a Child Development  Center.

Next day work begins. These dedicated volunteers will have hopefully finished construction of the English Speaking Siteki church sanctuary (7 years in the process) with a celebration of Americans and Africans at the work site, and worked at Manna Farms.  Eye doctors from Dean McGee will have given free clinic eye care.  Pastor Rick Harvey will have sponsored a retreat for all district superintendents, and pastors and spouses will have attended a Day of Encouragement.

A pivotal part of every Go Team is going out with Task Force to homesteads where we work with AIDS patients in their homes.  Every team has regarded Task Force as the heart and soul of their days in Africa.  It breaks your heart with compassion as it blesses your heart seeing firsthand the reach of Bethany’s  love for suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Go Team is not finished until it ministers at our two Child Development Centers in Ntondozi and Induma where we feed, educate, nurture spiritually, and love orphans.  This too is an unforgettable experience of every Go Team, remembered as the heart and soul of our Partnership with Swaziland.

As all this is going on Dr. Terry Hall with his wife Susan will be touring every geographical region of Swaziland conducting training seminars and classes for pastors and laity.  His dedicated work to stop the spread of AIDS in one generation is having significant success.

Before they leave the Go Team will have a chance to shop for African souvenirs and take home tangible memories of the many good deeds they leave behind with their partners in Swaziland.

I apologize for not writing a blog since returning from our break in January.  We’ve been a little busy!

cdg