- We rose early and visited another Carepoint in the rural countryside. When we arrived, I was surprised to see the development of this particular piece of land. A church had partnered for several years investing in the children and the facility making it a refuge of nutrition, recreation, and education. I must mention that “playing” is such an important part of the Carepoint provision. Many of these children have to grow up so quickly, assuming the responsibility of an adult, that they completely miss the healthy developmental component of “playing”. This is a place where they can laugh and run and sing and dance and “monkey around” like the children that they are. On this particular care point, there was a preschool, which is quite common for the Carepoints we visited, but on this location, they also had schooling up to the 6th grade. You could hear different classrooms singing and chanting phrases which created a very beautiful atmosphere of hope. There were also Swazi builders laying cement blocks for another structure of some kind.
- One of my favorite elements of this trip was to see something that Suzanne Deeren has spoken about and represented at Impact, Timbali. Timbali is an organization started by Julie Anderson for the women (grandmothers and mothers) who cook the food and care for the children at the Carepoints. This particular Carepoint provided a building where nearly 12 Timbali woman were gathered busily laboring over their sowing machines making backpacks, kitchen aprons, and bags of all kinds. I had heard so much about this ministry, but to see it with my own eyes was a blessing. You can’t understand how unusual it is in this country for women to make, sell and earn a living for themselves. The confidence and dignity in this little cement room was evident. This is one of the most exciting things going on within HopeChest in my opinion, the opportunity for gainful employment for indigenous Swazi’s who are discipled at the Carepoints. If you feed, love and educate without creating industry and economy, you raise them only to release them to “nothingness”. This is why there is a great need for “venture capitalist-missionaries” in the mission field. Long-term success depends on the creation of marketable goods.
- We left that Carepoint and moved to our last Carepoint visit in Swaziland. It was another rural location, but again, it had been adopted by a church and had the most amazing playground in the whole Kingdom of Swaziland! Colorful and magical for these children. There was no pre-school at this location and when we arrived, two older women were beginning to build a fire to cook some soup and beans. No children had come as of yet, but you could see some of them coming from afar. A good many walk many kilometers to reach the Carepoint to eat and play. When they receive their dinner, many of them will save the better portion of the meal to take home and share with their siblings or relatives (if they have any). Many children are just staying with whoever will take them in when they are orphaned. It was a blessing to see the playful refuge created by Hopechest for these children in need of a harbor of relaxation and safety. As we pulled away from the property and made our way to the airport, I treasured in my heart the opportunity to witness the tremendous work of God happening through willing hearts in nearly thankless obscurity.
- We flew out from Manzini and landed in Jo-burg with a short layover. Our next destination was Durban to meet up with the Focus on the Family partners and the 3 new Carepoints that were developing there. We were greeted by a beautiful man named Reward Ngcobo who is on staff with Focus. His exuberance and intelligence was weighty immediately. As we made our way to our luggage and then his car, he couldn’t stop verbally pouring out hospitable welcome upon us. It made me wonder how I could be so satisfied with the marginal hospitality I’m used to displaying. His kindness made me feel kind”less”.
- We ate a seafood dinner along the Indian Ocean with Cindy, the new leader over the Orphan Care for Focus, Shunu, a longstanding administrator for Focus on the Family South Africa with a beautiful heart, and Reward whom I mentioned earlier. After our wonderful dinner we were ushered to our Guesthouse, which was about 30 minutes outside the city. This city sprawls so far that everywhere you look are foothills of sparkling lights as if the starry sky were being reflected off the land. I had my own room for this leg of the journey that for some reason, coupled with my fatigue, caused such a sting of loneliness that I had to continually talk out loud to Jesus just to keep myself strengthened. I don’t know how else to describe it. I quoted Scripture aloud particularly the verse, “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” This verse had been on my heart since the beginning of the trip and was a prayer of power in that moment of aloneness. It was like salve to my sullen soul.