Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Give me your eyes for just one second...

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten...

Have you ever felt that you aren't really sure what you are looking at but you know that it will leave an imprint in your mind and you can not leave it; or forget it; or let it go? Spending a couple days at the homesteads in Swaziland was an experience that will not soon be forgotten. Chris, along with 2 beautiful Manyano women brought Gregg and Dan out to see some people at their homesteads.

A Dan squish. Lovingly provided by Togo and Thini (Manyano Women) Later they added 2 more women and a chicken!! Leaving no room to spare for anything more than love and laughter... what a ride!

Thokisise Homestead

Yummy Oranges @ Stello's

I've Been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance

To see the way you see the people all alone...

I want you to meet Mxolisi. He was hit by a car. When he went to the hospital they discovered he was HIV+. First picture... The other day when Gregg and Chris made their way to his homestead as her car rolled up this precious child ran with all he was worth along side the car. Laughing and jumping as only children can do. He was so excited to see Chris. Second picture... this is the face of love. This is Chris living One Heart One Child at a time. This is how children look when they are cared for and loved on and provided for. Do you see it? Please take a long look. He smiles now.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11
Peace and Hugs,
(lyrics: Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh, the places you'll go...

Good Morning/Afternoon from Swaziland, Africa via Diane... :D Technology seems to be a bit of an issue for the team so the blogs are going to be a little slow in coming - but the guys thank you for your prayers and for continuing to check on them!

Okay, what have they been doing? well mostly creating relationships with some wonderful people. They spent their day within the Central Circuit this day heading to the far eastern part of Swaziland to the beautiful town of Siteki - this is near the Mozambique border. They visited with Reverend France. He has a church without water. They are a large congregation and it was very impressive because they are very industrious people with vision for their country. The women are making hand cream by hand. They produce their handcream from the flesh of an indigineous plant called sisal. They are a small business that sells this handcream. They also teach how to plant crops and maintain gardens and are outreaching to the orphans in their area.

After they left Siteki they made their way to Khalkhali located up on a high ridge line - Gregg invisioned wind power as he was told that they have a constant wind blowing over the ridge. This location does have a well 15 meters deep with handpump but it is not drawing enough and there are many issues within the community. Gregg and Dan were starting to get a sense from the communities that the leaders are not really sure what to do as there is not a sustainable funding solution longterm. The water is provided to the community and is rationed for consumption only and schools need water not only for consumption but also for their gardens that they are trying to sustain and grow so they are using more. A catch 22 for sure. From there they headed out to Lomngeletjane. This is the new school that Chris has been working with and it is beautiful. It is still in the infant stages of development but it sure was nice to see the growth here and the hope for the future for the students and teachers in the community.

They then made their way to Mpofu. There is an Agriculture teacher, head teacher, there that has incredible vision for his students and the community. Currently there is a well. It is shared within the community. The issue is that from October-January the school's food runs out. The students are supposed to bring in food to subsidize for this but of course that is a tremendous hardship for many of them. The teacher has 10 open acres of plowed land that he wishes to grow maize and other vegetables that will feed the students and the people. He is a visionary with hope for a sustainable solution for this community. Unfortunately, water is an issue and the use of the electricity to pump the water has been costly. Again, a catch 22.

There is much to consider and to pray on. The guys are heading out with Dennis to meet with general contractors, local NGO's, and community leaders. And then, with Chris at the helm, they will be heading to the Mahamba Circuit and out to some homesteads. They are encouraged. They are seeing connections. And they have learned that it is not only important but essential to heed the wisdom of the people. The people who know better than anyone what their needs are and the best ways to meet those needs. Through education and innovative economic opportunities, we can partner with these local communities and strive to work together to improve the quality of life and transform people who are eager to realize their full potential and who have hope for a future beyond.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
Please continue to pray for Dan and Gregg that they stay healthy and listen to what God wants for them to do for Him in Swaziland. The story continues...
Peace and blessings, Diane

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Have you hugged a bear today?

Have you hugged a bear today? Well the children in Swaziland, Africa have! How fantastic to see such joy on their precious faces. As I wrote yesterday, Gregg, Dan and Chris snuck out of the service at St. Paul's Methodist to meet the kids at the weekend carepoints. Chris had several bears that were made and loved on by the FUMC-RR Children's Ministry summer VBS program and so while the children waited in their long line for their meal Dan, Gregg and Chris handed out "Hug Jesus" bears. Check out their sweet faces...

Gregg writes: "There were probably 40+ children from the local community congregated at St. Paul's Church for the weekend carepoint. During the week, there are two neighboring carepoints, unfortunately they shut down for the weekend. St. Paul's Church picks up the slack by filling in to feed the children on the weekend. These kids line up with their bowls around 10:00am and wait for the food to be ready, which was 12:30pm this day. "

Dan doing what Dan does... He was helping her pack her food in her baggie. Many of the children collect food to take back to their families. They are not sure if the children get to eat any of it. Gregg writes: "After the children ate many stayed and played with their "Hug Jesus" bears. Gregg was told this was the longest time that anyone had stayed with the children. They got a kick out of the video camera and seeing themselves on video too." :D

Okay, shhhhh don't tell but the children have a special nickname for Chris... White GoGo Yup, it is true she is pretty special to these cherubs.
Gregg taught the kids 2 American hand signs...
Gregg writes: "Notice the large cooking pot in the background? (last picture) There's another Gogo (grandma) who cooks at the carepoint who could EASILY beat me at arm wrestling... These pots are 150lbs and the lids are 50 lbs. She throws these around like they were nothing. When I tried to pick up the pot, she had a good laugh at my expense... (anyone smelling oranges? I love the lessons of humility!!) Many have scabies, lice and are malnurished. Many are HIV+ - You just want to love on them. They love their Jesus Bear's from FUMC-RR Texas! I finally taught this little guy the thumbs up! He was my favorite! He stood in line for a 2nd bear! Look how beautiful this little girl dressed up! (below) She was so cute! most don't have shoes and the ones that do are tattered - see the boy behind her... His foot is sticking out sideways."
Beautiful children in a peaceful land who are trying to survive as best they can with the resources they have. I adore children. They grow us. A lot. They teach us how to love and have joy. Jesus has a special place for children; an unconditional place. They teach us who God is. Oh, and they make life....... better.

This first day was pretty full for Dan, Gregg, and Chris. I believe they just touched the hand's of God and the story continues...

Peace and blessings,


Monday, November 10, 2008

Houston we have a problem....

"Now it was time for them to follow His example..." At 5:00am in the dark of Bergstrom Airport, Dan and Gregg were prepared to depart for Swaziland, Africa only to arrive in Atlanta for a 5 hour layover. When time came to board they were excited and relieved to finally get on the plane. They soon discovered that their TVs were not working-big bummer they thought. Little did they know that it was the beginning of a bigger issue this aircraft would experience. However, take off they did and soaring about 700 miles over the ocean the Captain revealed that they must return to Atlanta. YIKS! It seems there was an electrical problem aboard this bird! No need to worry folks Dan and Gregg were in full control of the situation at hand. Being the seasoned veterans (age veterans that is) they were prepared and armed with video in hand they determined it would be important to film the turnaround and fuel jettisoned out over the ocean. Being a novice who am I to judge their methods in the face of an electrical problem and too much gas 700 miles out over the ocean... however, it is Dan and Gregg after all. Jennifer and I received calls during a time we thought they were supposed to be in the air happily on their way to stage 4 sleep. I answered the phone more curious than anything and I hear these 2 men laughing and having a grand time and oh so proud of their video they now have... oh by the way, can you please ask Phil to get in touch with Chris to let her know we are going to be late in Swaziland... "Ya think?" I thought. Again, it is Dan and Gregg and these two are not going to let a little aircraft electrical issue deter their spirits or their plans...mighty disciples for God that they are!

You will all be happy to know that they did indeed arrive safely in Jo'burg and the flight change was completely successful and Chris was there to meet them and all their nonsense...praise God for happy hearts!

On their first full day in Swaziland, they all went to service at St. Paul's Methodist. They skipped out early to help with the kids at the weekend carepoints... below are some photos from that. They handed out the Jesus Loves Me bears that the children ministry provided and Chris had. I am told that these children were so thankful and hugged their bears so tightly and smiled so brightly...

"He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, "Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me." mark 9:36-37

They are heading out to the schools and to meet with the Superintendants and School Leaders to work together to determine how drops of grace can help. Please keep them in your prayers. Come back and check on their journey.
Peace and blessings,

"be a mighty downpour"

"God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' "

Job 37:5-6

Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing this day with so much joy and hope in my heart. November 6 finally arrived and after much packing and preparation and prayers, Gregg and Dan departed for Swaziland. Though it was disheartening that Phil was not going to make this trip, they left with open-hearts and open-minds; looking forward to what God would reveal and how we can work along side the beautiful people of Swaziland, Africa. Swaziland, a forgotten nation, is the home to 1.1 million people where AIDS has the distinction of claiming 39% of the population. Because of this there are currently 70,000 orphans; a figure that is expected to rise to 120,000 by 2010 (UNAIDS) in other words, 15,000 households now claim children 10 years old and younger as head of the household. I am pretty sure not doing anything is NOT an option. So how can you help? prayers, find out more, continue to come back and read about our journey. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Peace and blessings,