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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Swaziland Chronicles #4 :: Go to Church/Carepoint & make more home visits

Sunday:

- We woke up the next morning and drove to a remote Carepoint that had a Wesleyan church on site. It was a sponsored Carepoint and you could tell the difference between the development of the property and the shape of the facilities. A church building had been built in the last year and a half, a playground, and a new kitchen with two classrooms that were half-built.

- We picked up the pastor and his wife, Peter and Precious Langa, and did something really out of the ordinary. Church was officially starting in less than 20 minutes and the pastor and his wife came with us for two home visits before showing up at the church building and preaching.

- We took off and visited the first homestead. I forgot to mention that when you get there, the men sit down on chairs or stools first and then the women sit on the ground around them. This care site was just a woman (a gogo – grandma) who takes care of many children and works for Timbali. She just received her sewing machine and some material to start making crafts to sell and make a wage for her family. I prayed over her and asked for God’s face to shine on her heart and life.

- As we were at her home, you could hear a nearby church singing the most beautiful African music echoing through the valley. The saddest thing to hear was that it was a church that mixed Jesus was the religious tribal beliefs of their forefathers. This is very common for many of the churches in that area.

- We made our way to the second home visit and when we got there a beautiful grandmother was there with a little one year only baby boy wearing an unbuttoned onesy with a naked bottom. On the ground over next to the broken down hut was an old drunk man asleep on top of a cow hide on the ground in the shade of a tree. His wife went and woke him up and he groggily limped over and sat among us. He bowed his head when we met him and humbly acknowledge our presence whispering, “Hallelujah, Amen.” He told us that they have to walk over two miles to find water. They have to dig in the sand to get to the water level and then let the water settle before they scoop it out. Better than nothing, but not much better. The painful thing is that there is a well nearby, but the pump doesn’t work and no one has been taught how to fix and maintain it. This is common all around. People build things, but don’t train the people or build the infrastruction to care for what it built. (This is why so much money goes to Africa and there is little to show for it.) Starting things is easy; sustaining things take discipleship. Things start strong and finish weak.

- After we made the home visits we drove back to the church and when we pulled into the driveway we encountered the sound of people singing their guts out to the Lord. Several people greeted us as we entered the back of the church. The pastor led us down the middle aisle to the front row. The music lasted several more minutes and then the pastor stood up, took the offering (most of the money was given by our team of white people who were visiting), had us come up front and introduce ourselves, and then began to preach from Romans 5:1-7. It wasn’t very long, but very passionate. When he finished his message, he asked me to come up and close in prayer. I prayed through a translator to close the service.

- At the end of the service, a young mother came forward with a terrible sickness and asked for our prayer. She was deathly sick, and we prayed over her. As we laid hands on her we prayed for healing, miraculous and swift healing. She tilted her head and coughed like she was drowning in phlegm. Her condition represented so many her age dying of common diseases that have treatment of which they have no access. You can’t help but feel sadness envelope you like teargas.

- We toured the property around the church, which happens to be another one of Hopechest’s Carepoints. Because of the connection of a sponsoring church from Canada, this sit was developed beautifully and had the added benefit of a local church on site to deepen the discipleship. It was good to see the preferred picture and hopeful outcome of a long-term relationship formed with a caring church.

- After this visit, we made out way home, got some rest, and headed to a market with desperate vendors in a “bartering” setting begging for us to purchase their wares like their lives depended on us buying their little trinkets…this might not be far from the truth. I bought a few different things for my daughters, but felt horrible as many begged me to come to their storefronts for a “special Sunday deal” (that’s what they all were taught to say). It is hard not to just empty your wallet and give away all your money to everyone you see. But it is like trying to put out a forest fire with a thimble of water. It would vaporize before it hit the parched soil.

- We had some dinner at a place with killer chicken and fries and returned to our “guest house” to retire for the evening. Each evening I have Skyped my family and it has been so refreshing to see their pixilated faces and hear their digitally disrupted voices. I miss them horribly and with every day I see the brokenness of this place, I’m struck with the blessedness of my life and wife and children. When I log off, I feel my heart cry. Though my tears are used up throughout the day with the horrific conditions of what I’m seeing here, my heart is crying to hug and hold my family. Tomorrow we visit another Carepoint and then fly out to Durban, South Africa to visit some more potential Carepoints there.

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