This is a long blog. I know because I have just written it and come back to the top to change my introduction. I sat down to write a few facts to keep you updated. I ended up summarizing the BFC Partnership during the whole first half of 2015. At the end I realized how close we are to the end of our 12 months here. I realized there may not be time for writing more blogs before time runs out. So I began thanking people. Now I’m feeling emotional. Sentimental. So let me get myself out of the way and let you read on. If you don’t stay with it to the end, I understand. I skim read too. But perhaps different people will be interested in different parts.
- The Partnership began in 2007 with an original goal to build one new church building from ground to roof somewhere in Swaziland. The four Swazi district superintendents chose the English speaking Church in Siteki. After 3 years of looking for and securing property construction began with successive years of construction. On Sunday July 5, 2015 Barbi Moore and the Germans will be present to celebrate the fulfillment of BFC’s partnership in this project with a dedication service in the new nearly completed sanctuary. Congratulations Siteki English Church!
- The Child Development Center in Ntondozi where BFC funds a garden provided by BFC, and a solar water well, has been feeding about 60 children five hot meals a week. BFC has just received a gift of U.S. dollars for a new classroom building. A member of the local Ntondozi congregation has just offered to build this building under market price making the gift of dollars enough to build to completion this new structure. Plans are currently being drawn up for the new classrooms.
- In 2015 BFC monthly funds began arriving at the new Child Development Center in Nduma, Swaziland. With BFC funding this latest CDC is feeding over 80 children hot meals three times a week. Plans are developing for an eventual permanent building allowing it to move from its current building where there is no electricity or running water.
- Last year early in our arrival as coordinators we were tasked with looking for two new projects BFC could partner with to help local churches. We traveled all four districts meeting with the district superintendents, pastors, preaching in the churches, meeting with church boards and building committees. Limiting our recommendations to only two churches was heart breaking because needs are many as are deserving churches. Ultimately we recommended helping two churches purchase steel fences. Americans are not initially understanding of the critical necessity of securing property with a fence in Swaziland. A church fence tells neighbors that this land given by the chief belongs to the church. Therefore nobody can put a house on it. Encroachment is a problem here. Fences say, “This is mine. You cannot have it.” This is critical when a community chief grants land (land is not bought here, it is given by the chief) for church construction and the church needs time to raise money for that construction. A second critical reason for a fence is that in this poor economy where poverty and hunger area prevalent, churches can serve the congregation and whole community by planting a garden. Gardens are literally lifesaving and it is crucial to keep wandering animals out of the garden where cows and goats would eat crops and chickens would eat the seeds.The BFC Partnership board and pastor approved our paying half the cost of two fences. One for Soweto Church on the Central District where future building development is in process, and the other at Lugongodlwane Church on the North District where a new garden is being planted to feed the children’s ministry of the church and also people of the community. Because this garden will benefit the whole community the city has promised a gravity flow of free water to the garden. In May we purchased the fence for Lugongodlwane Church. The fence for the Soweto Church is pending.
- Speaking of Soweto Church, we took the BFC Go Team there on Sunday March 15 to worship. One of the California team members left money for me to buy a guitar for the pastor’s son. That is done and he is playing his new guitar every Sunday at the Nazarene church he attends in Siteki. In that same service Rev. Jeffrey Johnson, S. Texas D. S. pledged enougn U.S. dollars for a sound system. May 28 I met the pastor at Destiny Music Store in Manzini and made the purchase for this sound system. On June 28 I will preach at Soweto, baptize new believers, receive new members into the church, and photograph the new sound system in use during the worship service.
- March was a most busy month for your Partnership in Swaziland. Two teams from the states converged into one Team from California, Oklahoma, and also Texas and Kansas. They worked on the Siteki English Church building and Manna Farm, while Dr. Terry Hall covered the whole country with his AIDS Free Swaziland in One Generation work. Dean McGee eye clinic from Oklahoma City was here. We sponsored a Pastor’s Day of Encouragement t and District Superintendent’s Retreat.
- In April Ellyn Marsh came from BFC speaking in one week to three groups of leaders: Nurses, Nursing Students, and Local Church Celebrate Recovery leaders and future CR leaders. Her message to the nurses was of the importance of extending compassion to patients and treating them with dignity and respect. To the local church leaders Ellyn in two days gave training in CR leadership and gave the class participants opportunity to gain experience in leading group dynamics.
- May was equally busy. A team from SNU was here for almost 2 weeks joined by Dr. and Mrs. Loren Gresham, Ds Bill and Ami Dillard, and Dustin and Amanda Hogan. This team completely repainted the Siteki Clinic inside and out. With help of painters from Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital maintenance crew, and thanks to funding from American money donations, sinks with running water were put in every room (first time since 1936 when the building was built). Also a new refrigerator, sterilizer, stethoscopes, and blood pressure cuffs were added to the clinic. Other equipment is pending purchase. This team also worked a day and a half at Manna Farm cleaning a water cistern and coupling underground water pipes and connectors. The students from SNU were magnificent. Self-disciplined. Hard working. Loving to Swazi children. Spiritually mature. Kind and polite to everybody. A total delight to have here!
- In addition to all the people-intensive work, Emmalyn has worked tirelessly in the flat keeping financial records, working on schedules, organizing events, communicating with everybody about everything going on here, learning to speak sing and pray in siSwati, and tending to the multitudes of minutia that makes things happen. As for me, I drive the jeep.
- June will be a totally different kind of month for us from all the others. While we are in Africa took a week to tour Cape Town, South Africa. It was truly a travel highlight of our lives in overnight sleep cars through southern Africa. We made the trip with Robert and Glenda Parker who called it a first anniversary celebration. They call their entire first year in Swaziland their honeymoon.. The second half of June we must begin preparing for our final departure from Swaziland at the end of July. We will begin the packing process because the next BFC coordinators will be moving into the master bedroom we have enjoyed. Our last two weeks will be with them working together for a seamless transition into the second half of 2015 and beyond.
Once July arrives our schedule is full from July 1 until the day we leave July 30. As I write a BFC Go Team in Bethany is busy preparing to come to Swaziland July 9-19. Before they arrive we work with Barbi finalizing details of their time here. When they arrive we are with them until they return home leaving us with your next coordinators.
If you have lasted long enough through this long blog to get to the end I conclude with this: It may seem like I am reporting a lot of work and I am, but it is your work, not mine. The days are full, but we have full days in which to do it. What I have learned this year is how much all the other coordinators have done and how much the next ones will do. I have learned in microcosm how much our missionaries around the world do all the time. We have loved every day of this assignment. It passed so fast. Knowing what I know now would I have made the same decision? Absolutely yes! This year was a gift TO US.
Barbi Moore has been wonderful to work for. My military training trained me to do what I am told. Emmalyn and I agreed from the first that we would do whatever Barbi told us to do. She has given us latitude to question what we have not understood, to figure out things for ourselves, and sometimes convince her to change her mind. But in it all she has steered us in the right direction being gently forceful in keeping us focused on the most important things. She has been graciously insightful and sensitive to working in cultural ways respectful of the Swazis and their time honored customs and methods. Her respect for the Swazi people is flawless and beautiful to witness. Her example has been our pattern for any success with the Swazis we may have had.
BFC has treated us like royalty. From announcing our assignment last year in April to granting us a 5 day layover in England as tourist on the way home in July BFC has been considerate in every way. The kindnesses of Pastor Harvey, Pat Burton, Tim Brown, Ann Loper, Dr. Loren Gresham and the congregation never stopped all year.
The Swazi people, loving us as their own, have won our hearts. We owe them every success for without them not much would have happened over here. It takes living among them to really begin knowing how uniquely blessed their country is and how much at home it can feel to be one with them.
I don’t know if I’ll have time to write another blog before the end of July. Other than introducing your next coordinators in time, this may be the last, but I rather think when I get home, detached from all the senses, sights, sounds, and people of Swaziland, I will want to write one final blog reflecting on our incredible twelve months in Swaziland, Africa as your BFC on site coordinators.