Monday, July 6, 2009

July 2 - 5th - Bulembu

Thursday morning, July 2nd, I drove to Nelsprit, South Africa to meet the team that was coming from California. The team consists of 11 women from several different churches from the California-Nevada Conference of the Methodist Church. Most are from the area around the San Jose, Monterey and Santa-Cruz areas in California. I joined the team as a team member making the 12th woman from California, albeit by way of Texas and Swaziland. (Yes, I am a Californian, not really a Texan and California always holds my heart.) On the 3nd of July after breakfast a few of us headed to my car to do a bit of shopping before heading up to Bulembu. When we got to my tire I saw that the left rear tire, the one that ran over a African thorn bush a few weeks earlier and had to be patched, was flat. Luckily the owner of the B&B where we were staying had a electric pump. We filled it with air and went to the nearest tire shop. They changed the tire out but as they were checking the air pressure in all of the tires they noticed that there was a ring around the edge of my right rear tire that was worn completely down to the steel belt. So, guess what I did? Yep, I bought two new tires. They were very quick in putting on the new tires and balancing them. It was not on our list of things to do but TIA and thank God that the mechanic discovered it before we got up into the middle of now where had had a second flat tire or worse. Once our shopping was completed and the tires replaced, we headed up the mountains into the small town of Bulembu which is located on the border of Swaziland and South Africa. Bulembu is an old asbestos mining town that has been converted into a Christian village by Bulembu Ministries. (For more on the town of Bulembu and Bulembu Ministries see .) Because of the elevation it is quite a bit colder in Bulembu than it is in Manzini but it is very beautiful. We arrived in time to spend a few minutes with the children at the child care center. These are children of the adults who work in Bulembu. We ended the day with a delicious dinner in the Bulembu Lodge dining room with a fantastic brown with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert then walking back to our house and trying to stay warm during the night.

On Saturday, the 4th of July, we went to visit the ABC House. It is a home for infants and small children who have been abandoned, orphaned and/or abused. They currently have around 25 children. The children come to the ABC House via Swazi Police and social workers. Many of these children are HIV+. One small baby, that they have named Arnold, is approximately two to three months old. He came to them just two days ago and they didn’t expect him to live through the night. He was found abandoned, wrapped in a blanket and laying next to a small fire, like a camp fire. They think the fire was started to attract someone to where the baby was laying. Praise God, a man stopped by the side of the road to urinate, noticed the fire, investigated and saw the baby. The Police asked that the people who run the ABC House, Robin and Jerrad take the baby. In just two days, the child has gained weight and is beginning to look like a normal, healthy baby. We all think he is following people’s faces quite good for such a small, sick baby. (see picture below of Rosemary and Arnold.) This is just one of the incredible stories regarding to the children of Bulembu. ABC is the only orphanage in Swaziland that is certified by the Swaziland government for international adoption. The children are adopted out through agencies in Hawaii and Canada. Sixteen children have been adopted in less than a year.

From ABC, we went to the Jacaranda House. Jacaranda House is not part of Bulembu Ministries per say, but it is a very integral part of Bulembu. The house was started by Anglican nuns in Manzini and moved to Bulembu about 3 ½ years ago. It houses approximately 25 girls ages 4 to 18. It also supports 5 other young women who are in a transition period between Jacaranda House and normal Swazi life in the city. It is run by Sister Carin and Sister Carol. They are amazing, loving women from the UK. Many of these girls come from ABC House and most have also been abandoned, orphaned and/or abused. The children who live in both of these houses are children that have been rejected and abandoned by society. I was with the small group of mission team adults and girls from Jacaranda that baked chocolate chip cookies (using real, Toll House semi-sweet morsals!) The rest of the girls and team members played some games and talked. We shared pizza for dinner with the chocolate chip cookies for desert. (They were terrific!) It was such a blessed evening. All of us were struck by how beautiful each and every child was. The adults who worked with them were very loving and respectful of each child which in turn creates an environment where the children are very loving and respectful to each other. We didn’t hear squabbles or see people being unkind to another. It was truly amazing and was a heart-warming, fun evening.

Having been in Swaziland for almost two years, this is a real contrast to much of what I see on a daily basis. Indeed, I think this is one of the most, if not the most organized, focused and ambitious ministries that I have seen since coming to Swaziland. Children’s Cup and New Life Homes are the other ones. What makes Bulembu ministries so very unique is that it is so isolated, way up in the mountains, and that they are re-building an entire community into a Christian community that practices what it means to be Christian. They have the children’s ministry but then they also have the business side of Bulembu Ministries. The business side is working with the Swazi community members to teach them the skills to run this community and make a profit so that the community can support the children’s ministry. They have turned the plant manager’s house into a hotel and have other money making projects such as bee keeping for the honey and selling local crafts to the tourists. They also do farming and sell the vegetables, do carpentry and are starting a bakery. As I watched the children at ABC House and Jacaranda House, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the opportunity these children that have been cast aside and damaged by society now have. The changes in the health of many of these children health is no small miracle. I would love to find out what these children grow up to do. One has dreams of becoming a Doctor; another has a dream to become a Christian singer. And that part that is so exciting is that these children know that with Christ, they can do anything and anything is possible. What hope there is for the future of these children and for Swaziland.

Sunday morning, July 5th, I woke up singing to myself: “This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us Rejoice and be glad in it!” It took every ounce of my energy to sing the song silently to myself and God so I wouldn’t wake my roommate and the other women in the house. What a great way to start the day! After breakfast, we attended the contemporary worship service where most of the children of Bulembu attend. It was a wonderful service with beautiful songs, communion and a very good message about building a life of character because it is one’s character that determines their destiny. The sermon was based on 2 Peter 1:5-9. The Holy Spirit was definitely present in the Lord’s House this morning even though this house had some fairly big cracks in the walls and holes in the corners under the roof. It was one of the most spiritually filling and up-lifting services I’ve attended.

Internet access is scarce in Bulembu so updates will be hard. Bulembu was covered with clouds and it rained and drizzled for most of Saturday night and Sunday morning which doesn’t help the availability of the internet. It is cold and damp and of course since this is Africa there is no heat. However, we are blessed with a fireplace and have delegated the building of the fire to Hallie who does a terrific job. This afternoon’s schedule includes preparing for the week’s vacation bible school and more visiting and games with the older girls from Jacaranda House. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with the group of wonderful, Christian women from my home State for a week of mission and renewal. Check out the team blog at: .


  1. Rosemary with Arnold
  2. Mary with a couple of the toddlers from ABC house
  3. Team picture. Aren’t we a great bunch of women???

1 comment:

Gary and Jeri Carson-Hull said...

Love this! So full of feeling for these sweet children. Wish I was there to share it with you. Maybe you and I can go up in August and see what is happening at the bakery!!!!