Sunday, September 23, 2007

The highs and lows of Swaziland

The last 9 days have been a time of inner struggle for me and as a result, I haven’t kept up with my blog. I feel I must apologize, but I just didn’t know what to say or how to express my thoughts and feelings. As I reflect on the last week or so and read my journal I realize that there have been some very good moments and some very low or perplexing moments. Many things have been very frustrating as I am faced with some of the idiosyncrasies of life in Swaziland.

Some of the high points:
I have joined a bible study of other Christian women, all of whom speak English. Most are from various countries, other than Swaziland. Several are from the US. What a blessing it is to share the love of Christ and celebrate friendship with other women in a language you can understand. I had no idea what a precious gift that was until I came here. The women have let me know that they have all gone through what I am going through. This is a very supportive group of women. I have missed my friends, UMW, Stephen Ministry and understanding the prayers, songs and, yes, even sermons during worship so much. This group of women have been God’s gift to me, an answer to my prayers and a way for me to refill my cup.

I spent some serious quiet time in communication with my heavenly Father and felt his presence and love in every breath I took. There is no doubt in my heart or mind that he loves me and is with me every step of my journey. I know I am not alone.

I finally got my laptop to communicate over the Internet AND I have a phone line to my cottage. THANK YOU LORD! This entire endeavour has been very humbling for me and has put me in the position to truly believe in the faith I say I have. I have had to rely on God to keep me safe, in touch with my loved ones and to bring me the help needed to solve problems and do just about everything since coming to Swaziland.

My time “talking” via google talk to Karah, Kimber and Laura have got me through some tough moments and have kept me in touch with what is going on back home. I am so grateful for these times. In addition, Laura and I now have a schedule where she calls me each week.

Laughing at the cows that just won’t move off of the paved road and coming to love that bit of Swaziland. I pray that never becomes common place in my mind.

Watching 9 little boys laugh and tease each other as they performed a bit of manual labor to prepare their new boarding rooms for inhabitation in the near future (I hope). They had such fun trying to understand what I was saying and bragging to each other when one understood and the other one didn’t. I heard Jesus whisper in my ear that this was why I was here…”one heart at a time, one child at a time.”

Some of the low points:
Missing my dear friends and family - especially my sons and father.

Waiting. Waiting for people to show up - Swazi time is always late. Waiting for things to get done. Waiting to find out, no, you need to do one more thing at a different place. Waiting for the schools to open. Waiting for the day to end; waiting for the night to end. Waiting to use a phone, waiting to use the computer.

Trying to call someone to get something done or get a piece of information, but not knowing who to call or if they will speak enough English so that we can communicate with each other. I generally understand about 1/3 of what they are saying if I am lucky. I’m sure the understanding is mutual. This is one of my biggest obstacles and the hardest task for me to do. I ask for prayers to help me overcome my fear of this.

Realizing that most Swazi’s don’t have a sense of urgency or planning. It is not what they have been taught and not part of their culture. I must respect that and work within those boundaries.

Realizing that many children have no health care, food, or water, and there is little I can do about it especially in the short term.

Being handed a list of 103 children’s names that had medical complaints at the end of the school term. And then going to the school the following week with a nurse (a miracle in and of itself!) after the start of the new term, seeing 116 children in 4 hours and providing little care for them other than vitamins, the equivalent to Tylenol and cough syrup. We had to turn away probably 50 or so children.

Being informed on Thursday night and Friday morning that although the schools were back in session on Tuesday, at least two schools didn’t have either a cook and/or enough food to feed the children so the children came to school expecting a meal and received nothing. Some of the children at one of the poorest schools cried. All were sent home hungrier than when they arrived. Not knowing how to solve that problem or what to do to make things better.

However, I hold firm to Philippians 4:21 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” And to the advice in 1Chronicles 28:20: “Be strong and courageous and do the work.” For as Jeremiah reminds us, God knows the plans he has for us. He knew them before we were born. He has plans for us to prosper and to not bring us harm. Plans to give us hope and a future. Yes, there will be good times and not so good times. Please hold me in your prayers as I go through both. I appreciate all the e-mails and prayers. They have helped me though the not so good times and turned the bad to good.

This week I will be visiting 6 schools/carepoints in 5 days. That is a lot of travelling on Swaziland roads. To give you a bit of insight into the conditions of some of the roads, it took me 40 minutes to drive to one school that was 2 kilometers away. In contrast, if I am able to stay on the main roads, I can be to any point in Swaziland in 1 ½ hours or less. TIA = This is Africa

No comments: