Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 6 & 7 in Bulembu

Monday was an awesome day. It started by seeing the most beautiful sunrise and further more, sharing it with my new friend, Mary. Mary and I were just talking the night before how we couldn’t see sunsets because we are on the east side of the mountain. She said she was never up early enough since she retired to see the sunrise. Then wouldn’t you know, as God would have it, Mary was up early Monday morning. I went into the kitchen to turn on the water kettle and out of the corner of my eye I saw the red sun just starting to crest the hills to the east. I called out to Mary to come quick and we went outside and watched the sunrise. What a wonderful gift straight from God to two of his daughters.

Monday morning we did a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the children at Enduduzweni (Valley of Hope) Community Care Center which is a day and after school care center for children of those who work at Bulembu. The theme of the VBS is Noah and his ark. Each day we will tell the story of Noah and his ark, have a craft relating to the story and a time for games. Christian, Mary Jane, Heather and I have the 2 – 3 year olds. They are so darling. Our group started with the craft for the day which was to put stickers of animals on a paper ark made out of construction paper and paper plates. At first, the children didn’t know what the stickers were for. After showing them what to do, they got the idea, but they had a difficult time taking the stickers off of the paper they come on. They all seemed to have a great time. It was a joy interacting and loving on them.

After the craft it was time for their snack. They serve the children hot rooibos tea with milk and sugar in it along with 3 biscuits (cookies). The tea sounds weird to us Americans, however, tea is a staple of the diet here and rooibos tea (also known as red bush tea) is naturally decaffeinated and is very high in anti-oxidants. So the tea is healthier than some of the other options that are available and is also consistent with their culture. After their snack they brush their teeth. I was very impressed that the children knew how to brush their teeth, or more accurately, that they could brush their teeth as good as any two or three year old can.

From there the children listened and participated in the telling of the story of Noah building the ark, putting the animals in it, the rains that came, and then the rainbow that came out when the rains stopped. A group of ladies from First United Methodist Church in Pacific Grove, CA, where team members Rosemary, Mary Jane, Mary and Jane attend church, made a wonderful ark including Noah, his wife and sons and several pairs of animals out of felt. It was a darling storyboard and the children were very interested in the story, especially learning what the animals where and the sounds they made. Or maybe they where just amazed at how goofy American adults can be! Whatever, it was fun. After the story it was time for games. Luckily the weather warmed up quite a bit during the middle part of the day. It was beautiful and finally I took off two of my 3 layers of sweatshirts and jacket! I even took off my hat and gloves.

After lunch Christian, Hallie, Jane, Rosemary and I drove to Piggs Peak which is about a 35 minute drive down the mountain from Bulembu on a winding dirt road that was very bad in a few spots. Enduduzweni needed some bread (30 loaves) to finish out the week and some handi-gas (propane) to cook with. The team needed a few more items for breakfasts and lunches. This trip gave them the opportunity to see a little bit more of Swaziland. Bulembu is a wonderful opportunity and place to be in. It is full of hope, love and beauty, but it is not very representative of the rest of Swaziland. There is so much more of God’s beauty in the rest of Swaziland which I am very sad that they will not see. They are in a setting that is the best of the best, not the normal way of life in Swaziland. Yes, there are many things that are much, much worse than what they see and hear in Swaziland, but there are also things that are so beautiful and full of God’s presence that it makes me sad that they won’t be able to see the rest of Swaziland.
Four of the women that stayed back cooked a hot meal for the after school children. The hot meal consisted of rice and some soup that is really more like a gravy made with some vegetables and mince (ground hamburger) than traditional soup. Approximately 65 children received a hot meal before they went home for the night which is a very special treat. The other four women rested for the afternoon. We’ve been on the go almost constantly since arriving in Bulembu and there has been a lot of physical activity such as walking, playing with the kids and bending over. At this point, a little bit of down time is needed.

Tuesday, we did more projects with the day care children and then in the afternoon we visited with the Bulembu Christian Academy which is a school here in Bulembu for children 4 (preschool) through grade 12. They have an absolutely wonderful school in the most magical setting. It is truly a bit of heaven. They are using the Accelerated Christian Education program (ACE) to teach the children at the level where the children are versus what level they should be for their age. The enrollment at the school is approximately 180 students. These children are so lucky to have this opportunity. Of course not all children who live in Bulembu or the little communities near by have this opportunity, but those that are enrolled in Bulembu Christian Academy are truly blessed.

The internet is a big issue here. I will post pictures once I am back in Manzini on Friday.

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