We’re finally off! After a leisurely morning (well deserved, especially to our drivers Jimmy and Paul) we headed to Ezulwini to pick up a few souvenirs, view the candle factory (a fan favorite) and grab some lunch. We had a great time shopping and seeing all the different amazing crafts! We then gassed up and headed to Nhlangano, our hub for ministry this week. We’ll be staying here through Thursday evening.
To be honest with you all, we did get a little lost. Well, a LOT lost. BUT we did manage to make it in the nick of time for revivals services. We have two groups for revivals – Jimmy and Archer both preached tonight, a gift in itself. There’s nothing quite like the pride of watching a parent pass the torch to their child. Archer did a fabulous job at Thunzini, while Jimmy preached just as excellently at Matsenjeni. What a gift!
On the way home, however, the Thunzini crowd got a little stuck. After running over a hidden stump in some tall grass, Paul came to the rescue by jerry rigging a wire through the grill of the van to hold up the parts we tore up! Honestly, a 30 minute stop in the middle of a 40 degree night in the pitch black backwoods of Swaziland doesn’t seem so hot. But even gifts abound here! We saw those Swazi southern stars that are so unbelievably gorgeous! We spent time with our friends who were dropping off, and we laughed and worshipped the God of this universe in the middle of the night full of stars in Swaziland.
Tonight, we witnessed the passing of many torches. As this ministry of the Swaziland Partnership grows and thrives in the Kingdom of Eswatini, those of us who are newer, who grew up in this ministry, who have fallen in love with the people of Swaziland at such a young age have to pick up the torch. It’s our ministry too. God’s love for the people of Swaziland drives us, and we must pick up our crosses here and follow Him. In the same light, we passed the torches (the flashlights) as we try to overcome a stumpy road block and broken vans. What a simple reminder that God is always in control no matter the circumstances, no matter what we must overcome.
We’re pickup our torches here tonight — and we’re hoping you will join us. We continue to ask you to pray for us and to help us grow and thrive both individually as our friends and family and as a ministry. We’re so grateful for each of you and for being in this beautiful place. We love you all!
Walking through that security checkpoint into Eswatini — there’s just nothing like it. It feels so foreign and like home all in the exact same breath. After a lengthy drive from JoBurg today, we have finally, FINALLY arrived in Swaziland!
After settling in at the Mountain Inn, we had a lovely evening dinner with both old and new friends alike including the Rehmeyers, Gogo Sandu, and Nono. What a SWEET time! Catching up with old friends is always a treat in Swaziland and meeting news ones can often lead to strong, solid relationships. We loved getting to eat and be merry with all our Swazi friends. We don’t take this time for granted!
7 out of 8 of our team members have been to Swaziland at least once. In so many ways, the feelings of nostalgia and homecoming have crept in as we’ve slowly made our way here; it is a homecoming for many of us. Whether you’ve been to Swaziland once or have served months or years on the field here, you know what we mean. Swaziland has a feeling about it — that feeling that wraps you up, like a warm hug from a sweet friend or a cool breeze on a warm summer day. It doesn’t take but a few sweeping mountain views, a couple of speed bumps and some cows in the road to remember the work that has been done here by the Lord, the change He has made in us, and the beauty that is the Kingdom of Swaziland.
God is doing a work here. We’ve seen the cloud of witnesses tonight in our friends and family who are working so diligently for the Lord here. They are taking up their crosses and following Him day in and day out, working as God has intended them to and following his lead. This week, we intend to do the same. To follow in the footsteps that the Lord directs and of the deep 25 year history of this ministry. We’re here to taste and see the Lord is good, and to witness His work in our home. We intend to love our friends as deeply as we can, for as long as we can, with as much love as we can. We expect to see God move.
So tonight, we’re reminiscing of so many years gone by in this country with our friends. So many years of ministry and laughter and joy and lives changed. So many of you have been apart of it. We urge each of you, take a moment tonight to reflect on how Swaziland has changed you. Laugh, cry, write, talk, sing, but most of all: remember. Take heart, brothers and sisters, God is moving and shaking Eswatini. We’re glad to be home.
After the longest travel time, we believe, in the history of the Swaziland Partnership, we are FINALLY in Johannesburg, South Africa.
We have our bags, our rental vans, and are quickly settling into a short overnight stay at BIMS, the Baptist guest house in Johannesburg, and we’ll set out in the morning for ESwatini (Swaziland)!
We’ll be honest: the flight was ROUGH. Unfortunately, we traveled alongside 50 middle school and high schoolers of the Children’s Choir of Washington D.C. and if you’ve never been in a plane with 50 other children, then you haven’t experienced a true “long-haul” flight. Between the seat switching, the up and down (and up and down and up and down AGAIN), one incident involving mildly warm water, two hysterical crying teenagers and all of the burn cream on the plane (causing us fairly significant delays in Dakar, Senegal) and the incessant chatter of bratty teens leaving the country for the first time, we think it’s safe to say we are so GLAD to be here and to be at BIMS and ready to go to bed.
God used this very long 17 hour plane ride today, however, to remind us of some valuable lessons from His word. “The fruits of the Spirit then are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5: 22) Not many of us we’re feeling those fruit today at 2am body time sitting on the tarmac in Dakar waiting on the nation of Senegal to release one measly pack of burn cream to us so that we could take off. Most of you can relate somehow I’m sure! But we were reminded tonight that people are watching us. When we take the title “missionary” (which we ALL as Christians are) we have to remember we don’t know who is listening, who is watching, who is paying attention. We live in the freedom of Christ’s resurrection — which provides us the Spirit and to live in its fruit. Without Christ, we are unable. With Christ, all of this is possible!
For those of you who prayed for our safe journey, we thank you for your continual pleading to the Lord on our behalf. Without you, none of this will be even close to possible. You have bathed us in prayer much deeper than we deserve, and we’re so grateful.
We ask you to pray alongside us tonight (or today where most of you are!) for sweet rest, warm showers, and still hearts as we continue this long, long journey. Pray for us to remember that our faith is on display, whether we are here in South Africa and Swaziland, back home in America, or anywhere else in the world. Locations change, Christ does not. We’re forever thankful for those of you who join alongside us. Let us lay our burdened hearts and minds at the foot of the cross together.
Today was another adventure! After a slow morning, we headed into DC metro and visited the air and space museum and the museum of the Bible. First – if you have not visited the museum of the Bible, it is a MUST SEE for any trip headed to DC. All of us were in awe at the detail, the artifacts, and the beauty of the whole thing. We loved it!! We’re now settling in for another nights sleep as we head back to the airport tomorrow to take to the skies (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!)
We keep coming back to the word unexpected. Unexpected delays, unexpected changes, unforeseen opportunities, and unexpected and definitely undeserved grace. We have done nothing to deserve those who are working to change our plans quickly, those who are bathing us in prayer, and those on the team who have kept high spirits in the midst of disappointing circumstances. We’re reminded of 1 Peter 5:10. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (ESV)
God has unexpectedly restored us, confirmed us, strengthened us, and established us to travel to Swaziland in this time. He has equipped us with his power to go forth boldly and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. He has shown us SO MUCH unexpected grace in the cross. We have been given the God of all grace in his son Jesus. We pray you’ve seen him today too.
As we move forward from DC, we covet your prayer over us. Pray for smooth travels, simplicity in our doings tomorrow, and for rest as we embark upon this journey. We’re so thankful for each of you.
Well folks, this is NOT how we anticipated today going for the start of our summer Swaziland trip.
Good news: all 8 of us are on that flight together! Bad news: we’ll miss the better part of two full days of ministry in Swaziland. To those of you who are working in the background stateside coordinating our trip, we’re grateful for the countless hours you’ve put in today and will put in tomorrow to rearrange our schedule and make it all happen. Your contributions do NOT go unnoticed and we’re so thankful.
As we curl up into our beds tonight in a very different place than anticipated this morning, many emotions dance across our minds. There’s twinges of sadness and despair at missing out on opportunities for ministry. There are many emotions of exhaustion already as the waiting game is slowing to a crawl. Yet it’s still there, that one feeling: anticipation.
Anticipate (v): to expect; to look forward to; to be sure;. This definition is so fitting tonight. We were expecting one thing, but God gave another. We look forward to the days ahead traveling to Swaziland. We’re sure of God’s gracious provision over us. We’re anticipating and we’re ready. We’re breathless awaiting the arrival of that moment we step into a country we love so dearly.
In this moment of anticipation, we’re praying for preparation. God is preparing up for this trip, for the ministry to come, and the God’s hand is truly at work among us, even when it seems difficult to see in days like today. He’s asking us to wait, to draw near to His throne of grace here, and to sit at the feet of Jesus and anticipate. We plead with you to pray alongside us, join us in asking God to continue to cultivate our hearts. God, breathe new life into us; prepare us for the journey ahead. Without your presence, we are nothing. We need you to move among us and to prepare us for the road ahead. Amen