Solar Water Well Pumps

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 DSC_0268 c When friend of Partners with Swaziland Jim Copple presented the need for solar water wells The Coca Cola Company responded with a one million dollar grant to build many solar powered water pumps in Swaziland.

 

We have been telling this story for years.  Recently Emmalyn and I visited the first solar powered water pump station and the farm it irrigates.  I thought you’d like to see what it looks like.

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The Servant Song

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The Servant Song

Sing to the Lord #679

We are pilgrims on a journey;

We are brothers on the road.

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ light for you

In the night-time of your fear;

I will hold my hand out to you,

Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;

When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we’ve seen this journey through.

Upon hearing of the double tragedies in Oklahoma I walked out onto my balcony for quietude. The pastoral serenity of the view before me was so beautiful I photographed it.  Like the lives of those we love, I knew the scene would change, the leaves would fall, time would go on, the memory of this beauty and picture of it would soon be a treasure kept forever in my heart.

There are other pictures of treasures kept within the heart of our Bethany family. The treasure of Professor Paul McGrady, Gene Coburn, and Paul King is a picture kept forever in our heart.  A rain slick road in Tulsa and an instant of time took  from us our beloved professor and half of our college quartet.  Wally Renegar left a girls basketball game in Sawyer Center.  Telling friends he was running home to check on his wife and would be back for the men’s game he stepped from the curb on 39th Expressway into eternity. In the darkness of those hours it felt like we would never smile again but through the forever sigh of our loss, we have.

At a moment like this today in Oklahoma words fail. Yesterday I simply posted a candle.  The ministry of presence when words fail.  It is Sunday night in Bethany now.  Dawn is breaking here in Swaziland.  Even with breaking heart and the ache of reality, somehow daylight seems to help a little.

Southern Nazarene University and Bethany First Church of the Nazarene have entered into a Partnership with Swaziland. For over six years the partnership has mostly flowed from Bethany to Africa.  But today, now, in this moment of unspeakable sorrow and loss, the Partnership flows back to you from Africa to Oklahoma.  In a conference room at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital Emmalyn and I held hands with African doctors and administrators praying with them for you in Oklahoma and Texas. We hurt with you. We reach out across the ocean to embrace you.  Your tragedy is our tragedy.  You are not alone in agony and disbelief.  We weep with you.

A moment like this causes us all to contemplate our own lives. It does me.  It is only realistic to think about our own death for as in Adam all die.  But the rest of that verse goes on to say, “Even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Respectfully we treasure those we’ve lost and remember them. Their lives remind us all that we are living in the “dash” of dates on our own tomb stones.

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Their gift to us today is a reminder that time is precious.  Time is fleeting.  Our time on earth is not forever.

 They Remind us

 Only one life twill soon be past

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

“……we shall all be changed-in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. …Death hath been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death is your sting? …He gives us victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore my brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor for the Lord is not in vain.”  1 Cor. 15;5-58

Beheading in Oklahoma

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The unthinkable has come to America when 30 year old Alton Nolen in a fit of anger and rage burst into Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma after being fired from his job there. Seeking revenge he encountered 54 year old Colleen Hufford and 43 year old Traci Johnson happening to be in his path of destruction.  From a 911 call and instant reporting the world has learned again that heart sickening human depravity is a universal condition of fallen man and America is not immune to it.

Our prayers and sympathy are with all those affected by this tragic incident; the families, the coworkers, the citizens of Moore, all Oklahomans, and peace loving innocents of America.

We have always known we don’t have to go to distant lands like Africa to find the darkness of sin and depravity. It is home grown in every conception since Cain slew Able.

In all the sensational reporting of the beheading in Oklahoma let us remember what the secular media will never report. Sin is real.  Satan is real.  We can fight wars to combat terrorism but the ultimate war against evil of every kind was fought at Calvary and won in the cemetery at an empty tomb by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead three days after evil threw at him everything in its arsenal of hate filled terror.

We can bomb and kill terrorists but the sure remedy against terrorism is death to the carnal nature by the compelling love of God revealed in the sacrifice of his only son and cleansing by the Holy Spirit from the sin stained carnal heart. This is exactly what Charles Wesley meant when he wrote, “His blood can make the foulest clean.”

The unthinkable happening in Moore reminds us we are a holiness church in the Wesleyan tradition. Our theology is unapologetically biblical.  We believe sinners can be converted.  We believe the converted can be filled with the Holy Spirit. We believe the infilling of the Holy Spirit puts to death the carnal nature inherited from Adam.  We believe what Richard Howard titled his book, that the Holy Spirit fills our heart with perfect love out of a pure heart in, “Newness of Life.”  That perfect heart is in an imperfect earthen vessel.  It is God’s love perfected in our imperfect human nature that takes the rest of our life ever maturing in learning how to live it and express it to others.

This is our message. This is what brings me to Africa.  And this is the message of our Church of the Nazarene in Moore, Oklahoma.  Around the world, “We’ll sing it, shout it, preach it, and live it: Holiness Forever More.”

 “He breaks the power of canceled sin;

He sets the prisoner free.

His blood can make the foulest clean;

His blood avails for me.”

 O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Worship in Song 147 v3

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The Garden of Nkiliji

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Without an African guide in the front seat telling me which way to turn the jeep we would never find our way through the remoteness of dirt roads leading through small villages on through bumpy trails over hills down through valleys beyond walking paths where out there all by itself we found on the side of a hill by a creek The Garden of Nkiliji

This is My Father’s World

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“This is my Father’s world He shines in all that’s fair.

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass He speaks to me everywhere.”

How Bethany First Church ever found this hidden place in 2009 I do not know. What I do know is that BFC has found another place to establish a beautiful green garden growing vegetables for AIDS infected and AIDS affected people of Swaziland.

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We went there on September 22 to see it, to inspect it, and to report back to you exactly what your Partnership is doing there. For five years you have found this place, fenced it in to keep roving animals out, built a small concrete shed and filled it with farm tools, bought seed, sent Go Teams, found needy people, administrated a farm/garden, provided water, and given families victimized by AIDS, work, food, and a product to take to market on their heads or in wheel barrels and sell for cash.

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We saw perhaps fifteen women out there working in the garden. It was a hot day but the ladies wore long skirts, long sleeves, and carried babies on their backs as they worked.  They had been told we were coming. When they saw us walking towards them through the rows of cultivated lettuce, beets, onions, carrots, they threw down their hoes, sickles, and spades to welcome us with those Swazi smiles and handshakes.

I’ve never written about those Swazi handshakes always with the right hand, of course. But you hold your right arm or wrist with your left hand as you reach out to shake.  The shake is in three parts.  First you hold each other’s hand firmly and shake, then you switch your grasp to, how can I say it, another kind of grasp, then back to the regular hand shake. It all happens quickly. Clerks handing you receipts give them to you in the right hand while holding their right wrist or arm with their left hand and sort of curtsey or bow to you.

After the greetings all the ladies walked over to a large shade tree and sat down in a semicircle to listen to what we had to say.

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As I stood there greeting them from Bethany First Church I saw something that absolutely surprised me.  Out there in this far out of the way off the beaten path place sat right in front of me an African woman wearing, of all things, a tee shirt and printed on her tee shirt were the words, “Bethany First Church of the Nazarene.”  Can you believe it? When I commented how at home she made me feel everybody laughed and the lady in the tee shirt was more than proud to have her picture taken with me.

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We found the garden in beautiful working condition. The crops were healthy and mature ready for harvest.  In fact they loaded us down with gifts of vegetables that we put in the back of the jeep knowing we would distribute them through Task Force to needy people (but we did keep a few beets that we cooked for supper that night).

Our story could end here but it doesn’t. As we climbed back in the jeep and headed back to Manzini our Task Force guide told us that when BFC first came to Nkilijiin 2009 these very same women that we just saw were so sick with AIDS that they could not walk, take care of themselves, or even feed themselves.

BFC, you really don’t realize what heroes you are. Everything I said in one of my first blogs (Bostonian in Bethany) is absolutely true.  You have the resources, the talent, the vision, the spirit to do something big in a destitute world of sickness, misery, poverty, sin, and utter hopeless despair…. and you are doing it.  Not just doing it, but doing it in a way that makes a guy like me want to get away from it long enough to just weep and thank God for the privilege to know you and associate with you and come over here and help you get this job done to the best of all of our abilities.

It is not just a Post Script to add that at one point out there under the shade tree those ladies broke out into spontaneous singing as only Africans can sing. Imagine it.  From sickness to singing, sadness to song, hunger to handing out food, lament to laughter.  From feeling isolated and alone to fellowshipping with friends.

Ah, I’ve gotta tell ya, Bethany First Church of the Nazarene and everybody else pitching in, you are heroes. All of you.  To these people over here you are answers to prayers of people who do not  know how to pray for themselves.  You just don’t know how wonderful you are.  You do not see the length of your kindness and reach of your generosity.

I think when I get back to Bethany I’ll be walking through the crowded foyer of First Church or sitting in the sanctuary and I’ll be looking around and thinking, to myself, how did these people get this way? Do they really know how great they are?  Through all their laughter and friendly chatter do they really realize what they are doing here in Africa and around the world?  And then I’ll multiply what I see in Africa times missionaries, Go Teams, Work and Witness Teams of all the other countries and I’ll just sink low in my chair and rest knowing I’m home from the kingdom of Swaziland and back among the best of people in the Kingdom of God.

“Red and yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

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5K Run/Walk for Swaziland

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Southern Nazarene University and Bethany First Church of the Nazarene joined together September 20, 2014 for the annual 5K run/walk for Swaziland and to benefit the children of Bethany, Oklahoma through the Bethany Foundation After-School Program.

Thank you from Swaziland SNU and BFC for what you have just done.  We were not only aware of the event as it was happening, we even have photos.

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For those reading this in other places around the world I’m posting a reprint of the Oklahoma District Newsletter explaining the 5K Run/Walk..

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mark your calendars for the 6th Annual Swazi 5K Run/Walk to be held in Bethany, Oklahoma. The Swazi 5K is a USATF sanctioned event and certified course that starts and finishes on the campus of Southern Nazarene University.

The Swaziland Partnership is a cooperative effort between the Swaziland Church of the Nazarene, Swaziland Nazarene Health Institutions, NCM Africa, Nazarene Compassion-ate Ministries, Inc., Bethany First Church of the Nazarene, and Southern Nazarene University. Our goal is to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland through the development of key spiritual, compassionate and educational resources.

About This Event:

Proceeds from this event are used by Bethany First Nazarene to provide scholarships to send volunteer teams to Swaziland, to support the Swaziland HIV/AIDS Task Force to provide home-based care to those with AIDS with the goal to delay orphanhood for the children of Swaziland and to support the Swaziland RFM Hospital delivery room to prevent the transfer of HIV to newborn babies. A portion of the proceeds will also be used to benefit the children of Bethany, Oklahoma through the Bethany Foundation After-School Program.

There will be an Expo with music, sponsor tables, vendors, drawings, etc., all morning, so runners/walkers come early to enjoy the atmosphere!

For more information go to: https://swazipartners.publishpath.com/swazi-5k

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Olivet Nazarene University Aids Victims of AIDS

DSC_0038 cPoverty in Swaziland is magnified where AIDS affects everybody in a family. AIDS affects more than the infected one.  It hits the entire home and all its dependents.

ONU understands this and has come to Swaziland with a practical way to help those in poverty. ONU helps the poor to both eat and earn money. The university has established two work sites where those affected by AIDS can learn a skill, work for themselves, and turn a profit.  It is the concept, “Give them a fish they eat for a day.  Teach them to fish, they eat every day.”

Hunger never goes away in families where wage earners become too sick to work. Most often family members are unskilled, very old, or very young.  To the rescue comes ONU with just the right plan and funding to make a difference in many AIDS affected families.

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One of ONU’s contributions is a large garden where AIDS affected family members come and grow their own food. They have a section of the garden to farm for themselves.  Crops vary; tomatoes, onions, lettuce, beats, and much more.  From their harvest the farmer feeds the family, but also sells the harvest in local markets.  The money received is paid to the farm.  A wage is paid back to the farmer and the residue put back into buying more seed and other operating costs.  Workers can borrow from the farm funds as needed and pay back the money with interest.  There is a comradery among the workers who share with each other their trials, burdens, and fears that come with AIDS.  This ministry provides food and money but also is a godly counseling and support system sponsored by the local church and pastor.

DSC_0068 cONU came to Swaziland with another practical way to lift the shackles of poverty. It is a sewing business.  ONU built a building, purchased 4 new Singer sewing machines, and developed a profitable sewing business employing local women, teaching them to sew, and creating a market for their sewing products.  Four more new Singer sewing machines donated from a team in Japan are expected to arrive anytime. These sewing machines will double the output capability of this project.

Both of these business are up and running well this year. They are helping destitute people in practical ways that are adding money, human resources, training, management, and administrative organization that brings together people dealing with similar home crises.  Here they find the support and new friendships with others struggling with the same life and death issues.

These two ONU projects are located at the sight of Nhlambeni Church of the Nazarene. Pastor John V. Dlamini manages both of these projects.  DSC_0065 cLocated at his church also is a child care center for needy children.  The children, starved for affection, lean on us, hold our hands, wrap their arms around our legs, follow us around, and just want to be near us as we adults talk to each other.

Olivet Nazarene University has seen this great need and generously met it in practical life changing ways. ONU is putting faith into action in Swaziland, Africa..

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Task Force Success Story

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I wish so much you could have been with us today to see what it’s like when the Task Force goes out in the bush to visit AIDS and TB patients and also care for orphans.

Lying on a straw mat on the ground under a shade tree on a very hot day we found an elderly woman who had had a stroke and had suffered some paralysis on her left side. She had been provided a wheel chair by the Nazarenes, and we presented her with food, a song, a prayer, and caring friendship.

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Task Force Baby 2Leaving her, we visited the home of Nomphumelelo and her baby Owethe. The success in this home validates the vision Dr. Terry Hall of Bethany whose goal it is to stop the spread of AIDS from mother to child and stop the spread of AIDS in one generation.  Nomphumelelo has AIDS but her newborn son tests negative and is AIDS free.  This is because of early testing of the mother, medical treatment of her at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital and home care, and careful monitoring of her pregnancy and delivery.

From this home we travelled down a steep path through the edge of a mountainside corn field to the home of Kanyisile. Task Force Receipent SiteKanyisile is the very first AIDS patient Nazarene Task force ever treated.  The year was 2008. At that time Kanyisile was so sick she could not stand up or even feed herself.  Today we found her sitting up on a mat in the door of her home, reading her Bible and caring for her two to three year old grandson.  She is still sick and still takes her medicine.  Her right foot and leg burn with pain but her remarkable improvement is a testament of the life changing difference Nazarene Compassionate Ministries through Task Force is making.

From there we went to a fourth home to deliver food (as we do everyplace we go), encourage, and pray with a young wife who has both AIDS and TB. We have visited her before and always outside of her home as a precaution against our catching TB from her.

After leaving this young woman we had another downhill drive over grass paths on the side of a mountain that would make your heart stop. I hoped we would reach the bottom without flipping over the side but I wasn’t so sure about driving back up those narrow ruts to the top of the mountain again.

What we found at the bottom were a few women, one old man, and nine young preschool children. Other children were away at school. The old man was the reason for our visit.  He was lame and was being cared for by his sister and brother in law.  He had no way of providing for himself but stayed in one of the houses his brother owned.

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The children on this homestead all had different fathers who deserted them.  The women carried and nursed their own babies.  The children didn’t have anyone to wipe their noses and wash their faces.  They stayed dirty.

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Their sole supporter was the old man’s brother in law who drives a rental car for a living.  He does not make enough to support the 25 mouths to feed at his homestead every day.  The food the Task Force brings to them periodically is lifesaving.

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Among the children a newborn still nursing had a large hernia that needs surgery. We asked the mother if the baby could be taken to the hospital for surgery.  She said it costs E400 ($40 U.S.) and there was no money.  Later I asked a knowledgeable person if $40 could possibly be the correct amount for a surgery.  She said possibly because the government of Swaziland has a medical program for cases such as this.  As I write Emmalyn and I are pursuing this baby’s care.  Along with surgery it involves transportation to the hospital and a place for the mother to stay during the baby’s hospitalization

This was pretty much our day’s work September 10, 2014. Not all of it, but after this nothing else we did this day seemed as important.

In all of this I am ever mindful of the army of supporters around the world who give and pray faithfully making the work of Task Force possible.

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3 Months In

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Three months in Swaziland is not enough time to know very much about the country and our work here, however, we are in the culture and we have traveled from one end of the country to the other. Briefly I will summarize our work here thus far and give a few observations about Swaziland’s culture.

Our assignment is in two parts determined by the calendar. From July until November we are familiarizing ourselves with Swazi leadership and the many facets of Bethany First Church’s partnership with Swaziland.  It is not an 8-5 job.  It is going places and meeting people when they are available.  It is sitting in on board meetings, planning meetings, committee meetings whenever and wherever they occur for whatever reason; church building construction, AIDS and Orphans, RFM Hospital, South Africa Nazarene University (SANU), District Assemblies, Farm Management, and much more.

Between July and November we are to meet people, learn what BFC is doing here, be a go-between, report back to BFC via Barbi needs here and progress of on-going supports.

This has been a tremendously interesting and invigorating assignment. It keeps us busy but does not feel like work.  It is like fitting together pieces of a puzzle.  Every time something fits and comes together it is an “Ah Ha” moment of new insight.  Before Kaylee Carley left she said living here is like peeling an onion.  When one layer comes off there is another.  The work is too interesting and satisfying and enjoyable for us to feel homesick.  I can’t help looking at the calendar and wanting to see my kids and cat again, but there is no longing for time to fly by.  We are totally here.  Both Emmalyn and I realize when this year is over we will treasure this experience forever.  BFC’s sending us to Africa is a wonderful glorious gift beyond description.

The second part of our assignment changes between January and July. As far as I know (writing  in September), next year will be consumed with preparation for the several teams of Americans coming to Swaziland on Go Teams, Work & Witness, or whatever name they go by.

In March Pastor Harvey arrives with other pastors and Go Team members. We will travel 5 hours west out of Swaziland into South Africa to meet them in Johannesburg.  This will be the first team of others coming here next year.  Southern Nazarene University is currently making plans to come to Swaziland.

Three months into Swazi culture reveals one major happy surprise without turning this into a gastronomical or geographical travelogue. We come from America where Christianity is under attack from an atheistic influence or secularization of our culture.  Separation of church and state has morphed into progressively silencing all religious expression from government domain.  But in Swaziland religion is respected, welcomed, and accommodated in every area of life.

Certainly not all religious expression here is Christian. There is witchcraft, ancestor worship, and I don’t know what all.  But Christianity is dominant.  The happy surprise is that among Christian churches the Church of the Nazarene is dominant.  The work of Harmon Schmelzenbach a hundred years ago set in motion a Christian influence that has literally changed a nation.  His method was with every church a school and clinic would be built.  It is that way still.  We have traveled the whole country these three months.  When I get to a town on Sunday morning a pastor meets me as I enter town.  I follow him off the tar road down a gravel road.  When it looks like we are out in the middle of nothing but grass we make a turn and there is a church, a clinic, a school, and a congregation anywhere from 50 to 150 people who have walked great distances to get there.

Anywhere we go, when we tell them we are Nazarenes, people instantly identify us with our work and frequently thank us for sending “that man”(Schmelenbach) to Swaziland and all of us who followed him. Swazi Nazarenes have a sentimental appreciation for missionaries who came here years ago and still appreciate them..

I went to the Manzini city water department last week. On the wall was a revival poster.  At night I hear singing from a distant tent meeting off in the distant darkness.  They are not all Nazarenes.  There are many others doing ministry here.  My point is that freedom of religious expression reigns supreme here in schools, on television, in casual conversations around town, in stores, or on the street.

I feel this is an inadequate three months report back to you. I have not mentioned our living accommodations which are wonderful, our lifestyle which is different without some American conveniences, shopping, currency exchange, walking through narrow market paths crowded with tarps, tents, wooden shops and filled with colorful fruits.  I have not told you that last Sunday I took a load of stuff off of an African lady’s head and put it on my head to feel its weight and could not believe how heavy it was.  African women carry heavy loads of wood, oranges, laundry, whatever, and manage to walk down the street gracefully, seemingly oblivious to all that stuff perfectly balanced on their head.

I have not written about a lot of things but somewhere this blog must end.

Please remember us in prayer and the multifaceted work you are doing here that we are coordinating for you.

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Philiswa

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Let the face of this little five year girl be the face of Nazarene Compassionate Ministry (NCM) today. She is not make-believe.  She is real.  We went to her house today. We hugged her, and when we turned our back on her and walked away we left her with adness in her heart and ours.

Her name is Philiswa The elderly woman in the photo is Philiswa’s grandmother.  The boys are her half-brothers.

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In fact, Philiswa has 12 brothers and sisters.  All thirteen of them have a different father and none of them knows who their father is.  Two of Philiswa’s siblings are younger than she. The mother has never been tested for AIDS and neither have the children.  Chances are the multiple partners of the mother have infected the mother and thus the children.  Time will tell.

This family is a poster picture of Swaziland’s biggest challenge and the essence of NCM’s body of Christ ministry to the least in the kingdom of Swaziland and kingdom of God. Multiple births.  Unknown father.  Absentee mother.  Grandmother (GoGo) takes them in.  When GoGo dies of old age, children are left alone in the world and no one cares.

Our visit to this home today, September 4, 2014, was greeted with big smiles, handshakes that turned into hugs, a humble welcome from GoGo, and a shyness from the children that quickly turned into playful curiosity about my camera. Seeing their own likenesses on the little screen of my Nikon was a new, novel, fascinating experience.

Here’s where Bethany First Church’s (BFC’s) compassionate ministry comes in.  Scores of children just like Philiswa walk from home to our CDC in Ntondozi.  BFC is the sole supporter of this school.  Philiswa is our baby! Your giving from Oklahoma buys food for these children.  Without the food you buy that is cooked in the kitchen you built, these kids often just don’t eat.  It is that simple.  Next year when Philiswa graduates from Nazarene Child Development Center, in order to go to school, she will need a uniform and a pair of shoes.  This small requirement is a monumental challenge for a child such as this.

You are feeding innocent hungry children out in the bush of Africa where nobody bothers to go. Nobody in downtown Manzini sees them.  They’re invisible until you bother to go to where they are.  Then once you see them they haunt your memory long after you are back in the normal comfort of your own life.

We took peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and cookies with us to eat in the jeep as we journeyed around the bush today, but when our Swazi guide told us these people had no food in their home, of course give them ours. Four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a small package of lemon cookies, left over potato chips.  That’s all we had.  As I handed the bag of food to GoGo I wished it would multiply like the loaves and fishes in the hand of Jesus, but it didn’t.

Philiswa was shy and expressionless the whole time we were there. She never spoke.  I had the impression she was detached and distant.  No expression ever showed on her face.  She was just a visual blank.  As we were leaving I thought I could just walk away but it was not to be that easy.  Her little arm covered her eyes and tears began dripping down her cheeks.  She was sad to see us go.  It was then I realized this little five year old girl had been taking everything in.  She saw us.  She felt kindness from us.  We gave her hugs.  We gave her food.  We gave her a glimmer of life…. and we were leaving.

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