Jesus’ words, “They know not what they do,” awakened me at 2 a.m. compelling me to get up and write at three o’clock in the morning this April eighth, twenty-fifteen. I know the context of Jesus’ words but they have different meaning to me this quiet morning hour in Africa.
Last night I fell asleep thinking about events of yesterday’s onsite coordinating. It was a typical day doing what we do out of sight from folks back home. Yesterday we drove out of the city far off of the tar road over rutted red dirt roads past little windowless square cinder homesteads, beyond fences and corn fields, eventually coming to a government school, wondering where children came from to attend this remote off the beaten path school. Our Swazi guide walked us across the red dirt yard and play ground up a few cement steps to a first grade classroom. She gently opened the door. Inside was a room filled with perhaps 40 first graders where the teacher called for Philiswa out to meet us. We came to buy her a warm winter school uniform.
From there we drove back to our mission station where we learned an elderly Swazi lady needs money for a second eye surgery but has no money. We have money and gladly paid for her surgery. While there I questioned about an infant we saw at a Task Force homestead visit. The baby boy was born with a large protruding hernia. With government subsidy the surgery is possible. On the spot we pledged to pay the balance of medical bills and all other costs such as transportation.
We are not moneyed people. We are only onsite coordinators. All we can do is dispense what others have given. That is why I am saying, “Father, bless them for they know what they do.” I am not writing an appeal for money. I am announcing what the money already given is accomplishing. These accomplishments are unknown to donors who do not see, do not know, do not realize, and do not comprehend what their gifts are doing over here. They know not what they do.
We are not here as rich “ugly Americans” flaunting money around in an arrogant superior “makes me feel good” way. Not at all. Our money comes from basically two sources. One source is the BFC Partnership budget which is limited to funds available. This budget is carefully designated for different projects. We do not give away this money. We partnership with qualified projects agreed upon by a Partnership committee at BFC, approved by our pastor and Swazi counterparts. All of this money is carefully accounted for with receipts in monthly reports to BFC. Rather than give cash to Swazis, when they have raised half of the money they need, we go with them and pay venders for fencing or whatever we are partners in purchasing.
A second source of money is what motivates this blog. Caring people individually give. When we were home for Christmas a few people put discretionary money in our hands and said, “Take this back with you and do something with it.” Sometimes our monthly allotment from our international Global Mission in Lenexa, Kansas has money designated to the Germans. This is money we have freedom of onsite judgment in spending. Go team members leave behind money after seeing how desperate the needs are here. You get the idea. Some money comes to us outside of the “system” and this is the money we gave away yesterday and so many other days.
Last week I bought a guitar and gave it to a pastor’s son who borrowed a guitar to play in church. A member of the March Go Team put that money in my hand and said, “Buy him a six steel string acoustical guitar with electrical jacks.” Someone else left money for a church sound system. Another person sent over a box of vegetable seeds. Yesterday I saw the garden growing radishes, beets, corn, onions, tomatoes. The farmer there is also the cook at Ntondozi Child Development Center. She is feeding about 60 children from that garden along with other food from BFC. From the Partnership budget we have bought gravel for a church foundation, and steel for the roof. Last year we bought fifteen mattresses for Waiting Hearts pregnant women to sleep on close to the hospital delivery room.
This Swaziland Partnership is in its eighth year. Probably nobody really knows all the good that hundreds if not thousands of generous donors have done for the people in Swaziland. Some gifts are as small as vegetable seeds, some gifts are as large as a new building. Some are medical. Some are nutritional. Some are psychological. Some are spiritual. Some is just candy for kids.
You who give, your heart is big. Your trust in how we coordinators spend your money is sacred to us. Thousands of recipient’s lives are changed. Often those lives are transformed by practical tangible ways; soap, shoes, eye glasses, blankets for infants, hugs for orphans. Always lives are transformed by love, your love, our love, the love of God.
I have not yet said, “Thank You,” because I am saying more than thank you. I am saying you are life savers. You are healers. You are providers. You are life changers. You give hope. You give compassion. You give, and give, and give again. You keep giving to endless needs in one of the world’s most impoverished nations. You know your gift but you do not fully know what you are doing when you give, when you pray, and sometimes come to see where your giving is going. It takes living here to even begin to fathom the depths and goodness and decency of your giving.
Every class of people lives here. There are the rich and middleclass. We mingle with all people. But our focus is on the poor. When I say poor, I am saying the poorest of the world’s poor. Orphans wandering on their own with no one to care they exist. A.I.D.S. patients lying on grass mats on dirt in one room cinder or wooden houses with no electricity, no water, no sanitation, no food, and no hope. We give food but a simple jar of Vaseline is the unaffordable luxury that sooths their cracked lips and puts smiles on their face.
I fell asleep last night and woke up this morning overwhelmed with the knowledge that for this one brief quickly fleeting year of our lives Emmalyn and I are the privileged ones to be the go between, between what you have placed in our hands and the hands reaching out to us in need.
I fell asleep last night and woke up this morning overwhelmed with the knowledge that all the compassionate work going on everyday here and on other mission stations all around the world is only possible because of the legion of people faithfully praying, giving, and sending large really-really big monies and things, and really-really small-tiny things like seeds.
There are no words adequate for saying thank you to those who give. The best I can come up with is…
“Father, bless them for they know not what they do.”