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Published: April 30th 2018
8 different flights, over 90 hours of combined travel time, 6 different airports. We finally made it home safe and sound after two whirlwind weeks. Feeling incredibly tired but overly blessed.
I wanted to make one final post to share a few more thoughts.
What did I learn in my time away? Well, I learned that:
Swaziland has 280,000 orphans
Bulembu currently has 248 in the 5-16 y.o. housing, plus 13 babies (youngest is 2 months but arrived at 2 days) and about 24 toddlers, there is also senior boys, girls and young adults housing. So close to 350 in care.
Bulembu is for the children who need to be protected for safety reasons or there is absolutely no one in their community to care for them. The government works hard to keep them in their homesteads. Challenge Ministries is now working to help provide In Community By Community (ICBC) care and education
1 in 5 Swazi’s has AIDS/HIV - down from 1 in 4 so progress is being made
60% of Swaziland population is under 21
1 in 7 homes has a child as head of the household
A hive of bees flies 145,000 km to make 1 kg of honey and Bulembu produces 15 tonnes of honey per year on average - all packaged by hand!
Personally I learned (or was reminded) that
I can paint,
I can play games,
I can hike in faith that despite the cloud cover something beautiful is at the top,
I can be joyful,
I can be full of life no matter where I am,
I am beautiful,
I can choose grace,
I can give up control,
I can make people smile,
I don’t need all the stuff,
I shouldn’t eat dessert every night,
I am a needed part of a machine (the team will get that)
God is so great regardless of circumstance.
What did we accomplish there? Collectively our team:
Put in a transformer,
Kick started the electrical on the upcoming bank,
Painted the pre-primary school and 1 house fully and started the outside of the 2nd,
Built a full playground that not only can Bulembu use for the kids but also as a template for future teams to purchase and build in ICBC sites,
Taught welding, electrical and construction skills to young adults,
Helped in the medical clinic,
Helped the Royal Rangers prepare for 2 weeks of camp by painting flags, hauling shelving and logs, digging latrines (thank goodness that was a boy job!), helping the campers set up their team sites on the first day,
Entertained the children and served lunch at an ICBC site,
Gave lots of hugs, smiles and love!!
I want to personally thank Brendan and Melissa for being our leads on the ground and being such gracious hosts!! It was such a blessing to get to meet you and know you.. sorry but you are stuck with me now! Brendan - what are we going to do without you telling us what tomorrow’s schedule is??
Sherry for all the booking and planning for the travel and accommodation for this group!
The team for getting along so well!! It’s not easy for 12 people who don’t all know each other very well to come together for that length of time and 24/7 together time. We were open and eager. We worked together, played together, laughed together, cried together, learned together and most importantly prayed together. Was every moment sunshine and roses? No but we navigated them through Gods grace. I think He is proud of us!
The Bulembu staff who welcomed us with open hearts and arms. Thank you for your hospitality and gratitude for what we did get done even if we were feeling we could have done more. Thank you for your obedience to Gods calling and all the love and passion that you have for these children.
Thank you to Pastor Mussa for the powerful message at church. You spoke directly to our hearts.
And thank you for opening your home to us to experience some Swazi culture.
Thank you to the Senalala Safari staff for spoiling us and treating us to some exciting drives.
Thank you to our families for supporting and sacrificing for us to be able to do this trip. We could not have done it without you.
Thank you to our Heartland family and others who were praying for us. You helped us more than we will ever know.
Most of all I want to thank God calling us to Bulembu at this time. May we continue to use this to grow and honour your kingdom. Thank you for all your blessings, your love, your grace and your mercy with us. Thank you for working within us, for us and beside us.
May God bless you today!
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