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Melted Cheese Sandwiches

Today was our final full day of ministry while here in Swaziland. As always, it was bitter sweet. It was also very hot! 111 degrees hot. The cheese sandwiches we had made for lunch became melted cheese sandwiches. And yet, this amazing group of people served the God they love with everything they had in them.

It has been amazing to see this mission team in action. The doctors are incredible. I have watched as they immobilized two broken arms with card board splints. I have seen minor surgery performed to remove a worm/larvae that had been living in a young boy’s arm. I have been privileged to observe doctors pray with patients they just met to help meet all of their needs. God orchestrated the coming together of an incredible and dedicated group of people from five states who have shared life changing experiences.


While the medical team was meeting physical needs, another part of our team was meeting other needs. Led by Greg and Hannah Poe and Judy Bond, they were introducing about 45 Swazis to the Community Bible Study curriculum and training them techniques and methods to teach and share God’s Word in their respective communities. For a day and a half, these church leaders, in the same heat as the medical team, practice being coaches, leaders and encouragers. Our prayer is that each one will begin a Bible Study in their community and train others to do the same just as Paul admonished Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.


We are so thankful for our translators who walked with us every step of this journey. They also ate the same melted cheese sandwiches and drank the same hot water. They did this without complaint and with a joy that only those who know them can envision. These trips could not be possible without their help. They truly are men and women of God.

Tomorrow we will worship together with our precious Swazi friends. We ask that you pray for us as we will be praying for you in your services back home. Thank you for your prayers already. They have been working in a mighty way. As best as we can tell, we have had over 60 people come to know Jesus as their Savior through our being this trip. Our God is an awesome God! By the way, melted cheese sandwiches are pretty good.

Blessings to you all!

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Categories: February 2018 Trip

And The Rain Fell

We have been praying the Lord would send rain to Swaziland and He has heard our prayers. Oh, how He has heard our prayers! We are soggy, but full of joy.

Clinics are gong well. Bucket distribution has been a blessing to those receiving the hospice buckets, but even more of a blessing to those dong the delivering. People are coming to trust Jesus as Savior and lives are being changed for eternity. Becky and Sarah are impacting lives in some of the local pre-schools. God has placed a wonderfully unified group of people here in Swaziland.

Because of the rain, and the length of our days, we have made the very difficult decision to not have revival services on Tuesday and Wednesday as previously planned. The rain has made travel difficult and the medical practitioners, and the rest of us are very tired after seeing between 200 and 350 people each of the two days.

Please continue to pray for lives to be changed. Pray for safety as we travel the roads of Swaziland. Please pray that the Swazi people would be receptive to Gospel that is being shared with them.

Blessings to you all!

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Categories: February 2018 Trip

Worship

“I have never experienced anything like that before.” “That was incredible.” “People at home are missing out on so much not to experience worship like this.” “I wish now I had started coming here seven years ago.” These are just a few quotes from today regarding our worship time with our Swazi friends.

It truly has been a phenomenal day. It was such a privilege to join our friends in worship this morning. We were warmly welcomed at Vuvulane Baptist Church. Of course they didn’t have much choice, as it was well into the 90’s. The Lord was present and we gathered around the Lord’s Table for a time of personal reflection and renewal.

We enjoyed an African Braai, complete with grilled pork chops, sausages and a steak. The best part was that many of our Swazi friends from years past were able to join us. It is always such a blessing to spend time with these special people.

Tonight we prepared the medicines for distribution at the clinics. As mind numbing as counting pills can be, we had a wonderful time getting to know one another even better. The majority of this team had never met until we met at the Atlanta airport. To watch God’s plan for this team to be joined together as one is nothing short of a miracle.

Please continue to pray for our unity as a team. They are truly working. We ask that you all pray for divine opportunities and the insight to see them through. Pray for our families back home. We miss them and love them. Thank you for your faithfulness!

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Categories: February 2018 Trip

Introductions

As I lie here in the quiet of the South African morning, listening to the birds and the rhythmic breathing of two men I only met two days ago, I am reminded how good God is. Only He can take 19 people from NC, KY, TN, AL and TX, put us on a plane for 16 hours and arrive safely as one Body. We had a great dinner last night with a lot of great first time conversations, as well as lots of catching up with dear friends. To say that we are excited about being God’s hands and feet would be a vast understatement.

Today we drive to Swaziland. Please continue to keep us in your prayers asking that God will use us as only He can. We will meet with some pastors and our translators tonight over dinner. These are dear people that some of us have known for many years and have developed a great love for. We so look forward to that sweet time together. And yet, we can’t help but think of those who are no longer with us physically on this earth and the impact that they have had on this Partnership.

Please continue to pray. Ask God to keep us safe. Ask Him to use us in a mighty way, as we minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the Swazi people. Pray that God keeps us together – unified in spirit and purpose. Please keep our families back home in your prayers.

We are forever grateful for the part you know have on your knees, undergirding us with your love and support.

2018 Swazi Medical Mission Team

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Categories: February 2018 Trip

Next Time in Swaziland

One week from today I will be boarding a plane for my second visit to Swaziland.  My first time in Swaziland was in August 2016.  I heard about Wayne and Barbara Myers while attending the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting in April of 2016.  A couple of years prior I had made the statement that I would love to be able to deliver the BGR buckets.  I hadn’t really thought much more about that possibility until I heard Wayne and Barbara share how the buckets were being used in Swaziland. Again I had the desire to be a part of distributing the BGR buckets.

 

I am by nature an introvert, but that day while in a small group breakout session with Wayne and Barbara,  I found the courage to ask what I needed to do to be a part of delivering buckets in Swaziland. (I had never heard of Swaziland before that day.) The Myers took my information and before long I was headed to Africa with five others.  That trip was an amazing blessing.  I knew I wanted to return sometime in the future.

I will have to say I was reluctant to say yes when Wayne first asked me to be a part of the February 2018 team.  My first thoughts were about the cost.  Could I afford to go again so soon?  As I prayed about my decision, God clearly spoke through a message my pastor preached: “…Seek My kingdom and My way, and allow Me to provide for you.” (Matt. 6:33) God has definitely been faithful to that promise.  I am so excited to have another opportunity to serve the Lord in Swaziland. I am looking foward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

 

I learned last trip the essential role of prayer support while serving in Swaziland. So, we covet your prayers.  You can be a vital part of what God wants to accomplish in and through this team.  This time in the comfort of your home. Maybe next time in Swaziland.

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Categories: February 2018 Trip

The Long Journey Home

Our raw hearts have finally burst. After hours upon hours of driving, airport traipsing, flying, landing, flying again, landing again, and driving, we are nearly home. Exhaustion is upon us; we are spent.

 

And here, in this broken, exhausted, bursted heart place, right here, Jesus is good and faithful to his people. We peer through our exhausted, spent hearts to the founder and perfecter of our faith. We lean in close; we press our wounds into His, and ask the deepest questions of our hearts, “Even here, Jesus, even here, you are good? Even when I’m broken? Even when every fiber of my being is cut open and running red?”

 

Jesus whispers softly, like a light breeze blowing through a meadow, “The Lord is good to all and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9, ESV) With that promise, we travel home. With only the eternal hope of the Gospel, we move forward, one step, one moment at at time. Without it, the things we’ve seen and heard are confusion incarnate; only with the good Gospel do we make sense of the brokenness we have experienced in Swaziland and the brokenness we feel in our hearts.

 

We thank you – each one of you whose whispered prayers were lifted to the Almighty. Each of you who thought of us, followed us on our journey, spoke of us, prayed for us and over us. Each of you who broke for us. Thank you. The Lord listens to the prayers of His people, and we know He listened to yours on our behalf. Thank you for your brokenness for us.

 

We plead with you, continue to pray for us. We need them still. Our raw, fleshy hearts need time to continue to lean into our Savior. Pray for us to rest, to breathe, to lean on His goodness, to not forget what we have seen and heard. Pray for our Swazi friends; they need us now and continually. Jesus is good and faithful to His people.

 

Almost Home,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Renewal

And it finally happened. Our first flat tire. This morning, instead of traipsing through Kruger, we spent it at a tire shop, getting a small hole on a tire fixed. Even in this moment, Christ is good.

After this quick interlude, we traveled onto Kruger. What another day of sights! Baby giraffes, lots of elephants, zebra, impala, and two cheetahs!

Driving lends itself to reflection. And as we drive, we’ve been reflecting even more on what our transition back to the States holds for us. We are marveling at the last few weeks of ministry, and God’s graces. We’ve been renewed in God’s spirit, more than ever before. This process of renewal has led to Christ revealing himself to us over and over and over again.

Yet, Christ is continually renewing us. He’s sanctifying us, he is refining us by his fire. Our time in Africa draws to a close, but God is still renewing us. We pray to bring a new boldness home. A renewed belief in God’s faithfulness.

We’ve taken a long draw of water from the Well of Life. We’ve tasted the tree of Life from the Garden. We’ve awed and marveled at God himself. At his graces. At his goodness. At fresh new mercies every morning.

But now it’s time to come home. To bring our renewal to those we love most. Revival begins with a few. Jesus began with 12. The 12 became 70. The 70 became the thousands of Acts. The thousands became the multitudes.

Father, Let it start with us. Let revival be found in the renewing of our spirits. Let us share with those we love most in this life the fire of revival. Let us heed the call to go. We’ve tasted and seen you are good and now it’s time to share. Give us boldness. Give us revival.

In Christ we Pray,

Amen.

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

The Herd

Today during our adventures we absolutely basked in the glory of God’s creation. We discovered grace upon grace, but one specific highlight for the entire team has been African elephants. Around lunchtime today we discovered a herd of nearly 50 elephants munching away on the savannah! WOW!

 

After watching them for about 20 minutes, we decided to move on to let other cars enjoy the beauty. Just a few minutes down the road, we noticed another car, viewing a few little monkeys. One of the team members exclaimed, “They have no idea that because they are looking a just a couple of monkeys that they are missing out on an amazing herd of elephants just a minute away.”

 

Woah. Isn’t that true of us too? We’re satisfied with so little spiritually. We go to to church, have our wafer thin prayer lives, and go about our business. If  you’re familiar with C.S. Lewis, it brings to mind his words on mudpies vs. a holiday at sea.

 

“Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mudpies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

 

We’re content beings. In our comfortable contentedness, we’re missing out on every bit of glory God has for us. God is SO much bigger than us. His glory is far more than we can ask or imagine. As we reflected on the gift of this herd of elephants, we were reminded of this glory.

 

When we come back home, we don’t want to be content. We don’t want to make mudpies when we have the gift of salvation, the holiday at sea. We want to remember and remind ourselves daily of God’s faithful goodness and his unending glory.

 

We encourage you to behold God’s glory today too. Find it where you are. It’s alive in America too. We just have to keep looking for it.

 

Following the Lamb,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Thin Lines

“The line between faith and insanity is thin.” Faith – the most basic element of our entire belief system. We are asked to believe in something (someone, really) greater than ourselves. And if you really think about it, it IS borderline insanity.

 

Today we traveled out of Swaziland, back into South Africa to Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in the world. We beheld AMAZING creatures of God’s glory, including impala, kudu, zebras, elephants, lions, and yes, giraffes!

 

In the midst of this viewing, the team spent personal time reflecting, praying, feasting on all of God’s goodness over the last two weeks. We’ve reflected both individually and collectively on the lessons we’ll be bringing home. The resounding cry: boldness. faith. trust.

 

The belief in things unseen, faith is the actionable step to belief. We have witnessed many come to faith in our time in Africa, but in doing so we have also strengthened our own faith. We have walked the line of faith and insanity. We have felt on the fringes, pushing the limits of our faith and seeing God expand that faith.

 

We expect God to continue to move that faith. To give us the kind of faith that moves mountains. As we continue to meditate on all we’ve seen and heard, we’re begging God to continue to strengthen use in that faith, and to help us bring it home.

 

Join with us in that prayer.

 

With Faith in Things Unseen,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

African Sunsets

Goodbye never gets any easier. In fact, in Swaziland, goodbye tends to be harder and harder. As we said goodbye to many today, we tasted the bittersweetness of this life. We beheld the faces of those who we may never see again in this life, but we know we will rejoice with in eternity.

 

Church today was a combined three services of all the churches in the Northeast. With attendance of over 100, we praised God for nearly 2.5 hours! Jimmy delivered a fantastic sermon on Nicodemus, and many Swazi and American voices were lifted high!

 

After delivering many of our Swazi friends back to their homes, we came back to our guesthouse and said goodbye to the Allen family, the Poe family, and our great friend, Kuseni Jele. Although we will be going home with some of those, the goodbyes do hurt. This evening we were able to invite the pastors in this area to dinner, and we celebrated and shared with them the amazing things God has done in our time here. Praise God!

 

As the sun begins to set on our time in Swaziland, we reflect back on all that God has done in our time here. We’ve seen lives changes – both Swazi and American. We’ve witnessed God move in a mighty way all over this country. We’ve beheld grace incarnate in the faces and voices of Swazi Christians. We’ve cried, reveled, and shared in the beauties of the nation and in each other. We’re thankful for the African sunsets, even if they are bittersweet.

 

Continue to pray for us as we transition to Kruger. We’ll be spending time processing, engaging with God, and sharing our last few moments together. Pray for our rest in the Lord. Pray for our steadfastness in the Gospel. Pray for our transition back to American life. We’ll update you on our adventures there!

 

Reveling in the Graces,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip
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