Ministry Stories from Team Swazi

“Give me all of you…”
Robert De Graff 
      Greetings from Swaziland! Things have been quite intense throughout this trip. A daily surrender of our hearts, minds, and even our bodies is required for this trip to be successful. Today we especially had to give God our all, it was the first day where we did ministry without our leaders completely guiding the groups. We started with asking the Lord what he desired for us to do as we hiked up the mountain. So we started off not knowing what to expect, to be honest I was a bit doubtful about what God would tell us, if anything. I was so wrong to doubt the voice of God though. So as we started to pray things came to our minds, objects, animals, clothing patterns, Bible verses, song lyrics, movies, all sorts of things that were very random, but they were almost all something that related to the ministry that we did today, signs of where God wanted us to be. Lauren had a vision of the place that we went and the woman God has called us to minister to. I met the woman with my leader Seth one time at her homestead, and behind her there were about 30 bottles of liquor. Today we found out that they were all consumed by that woman we met about a week ago. We didn’t even plan on finding this out because my group only stopped again to pray for her son who is paralyzed. Now she is extremely sick from drinking and we have been called to pray for her, minister to her, and if God has enough grace, to bring healing to her body and soul through the power of Christ. We were told where she was staying, but the people there lied to us, so we went back and had her mother go with us, and then we found that she was at the doctor and she will be back later in the week. God spoke in more ways than I can explain at the moment, but today was from God. If we did not give God all of our hearts, minds, and bodies, we wouldn’t have gone looking for someone we didn’t really know. There are other people we have met already that we greatly desired to talk to and visit, but God wanted something different for us, so we followed the Spirit’s calling and went into the unknown place, and now we have an opportunity to bring healing to a person who has no hope. This is what Jesus wants. For Him to save this woman and use us in the process we have to give him all of us. Pray that we would decrease and Christ would increase in us. What does God require of you today? What are you holding back? God wants it. He will use you if you give all of yourself to him.  John 14 & Isaiah 43

Jennifer Heath
         So hey from Africa I hope all is well back in the States. Here everything has been going AWSOME! From the first week here meeting all the great people of Swaziland doing what we call homestead ministry and visiting the orphanage and the government hospital. God has been doing some amazing work in all 21 of us here. It’s great to see how we all have grown throughout this trip. Mainly we have planted seeds in the lives of these people. And when we are with the children, I just think back to the Bible story when Jesus said let the children come to me. I can’t help but to just love every one of them and smile the smile Jesus gave me and give them a sense of Hope. Just a simple thing of having a family we can take for granted at times I know I am truly blessed back home to have such loving support. It’s hard watching kids and even adults having no one to turn to. But here we are giving the message of Jesus to them. He is someone who will never leave. To be honest I’m not ready for home yet. I really want to stay here at least another month to watch all the seeds that we planted in these peoples lives begin to grow. But I know that God has people coming after we leave to do that. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8  June 14th 2008 was the time for 21 complete strangers to come together as one body in Christ to minister to the people in Swaziland and it’s been an amazing journey. On July 14th it will be our time to go back home into our every day lives. Time here, this one month it can’t be measured in days or hours. It’s measured in the love that we have all built and the smiles that we have put on peoples faces. Well only a few days left God’s not done yet I’m ready to see what God has planned for us. Please be in prayer for our team, that God will continue to work in all of our lives.

Sawubona! (hello) From Swaziland 
Ian Newman
      I have been having the time of my life. I absolutely love Swaziland; it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The place we are staying in is called Ezulwini, the Valley of Heaven, and it is justly named. I have never been any place where the people are so open and friendly. 
      For example just the other day we had been visiting a family up on the mountain behind our house. They asked if we would like to help them get firewood from the top of the mountain. So being as naïve as we were we agreed to help them. Little did we know the journey would end with us hiking three miles up the mountain. And then we had to hike back down again with wood loaded on our backs. But it was worth every drop of sweat. The views on the very top of that mountain were truly indescribable. Needles to say I have a new set of blisters and a new respect for the women of Swaziland who make the hike once or twice a week… for me once is plenty.
      I was blown away by Swazi hospitality because when we returned to the homestead the family had prepared a feast for us. They even let me, Rob, and Seth cook the meat and it was surprisingly good! After the meal we were talking with a man who was the leader of the homestead and he offered us a house to stay in and even told us to bring all of our families as well. That was amazing because we had just met the family two days before.
      We’re doing great and I cannot wait to see what God will do next. Salagachle! (goodbye)

Lesson Learned: He Alone Is God
Katie Montgomery
      Another Salbona from Swaziland! The scenery and people here are beautiful! During this entire trip God has constantly been teaching me that He alone is God, and I am most certainly not. He alone brought me here, and He alone is able to reach these people and work in and through us here. 
      What I find the most is that God likes to reiterate His lessons to us; maybe because we’re hard-headed, but maybe, beyond us, God likes to show us how glorious and all-mighty He really is. Time and time again I find myself sitting in a helpless situation where I can do nothing but sit in the presence of God. One time in particular is with this little boy found in the abandoned baby’s room at the back of the children’s ward at the government hospital in Mbabane. I don’t know his name, but I do know this little child is around 4 years old, but can’t sit, stand, walk or talk and lives his life 24/7 in a baby stroller. He’s barely ever been held or loved on in his entire life, yet here I was, doing just that. Holding this little boy and knowing all this I just felt an overwhelming sense of God and His holy peace, joy and love.
      I can’t explain the feeling I get each time, but I can say that God is constantly showing only He is God. He’s the only one who can bring the peace or the joy to a room full of sorrow and pain. God wants us to put full trust in Him alone, and not rely on our own power-which by the way is useless. He’s been teaching me this same principle multiple times over again, and each time this simple truth is expounded more upon. He alone is God, rest fully, knowing that He’s working through us, and most importantly in us.

Beloved of God
Lauren Palmbach
         There are so many life lessons that the Lord has taught me as this month endeavor comes to a close, but one in particular changed my heart and my mind forever.
         It was a Tuesday afternoon a few weeks ago and our assignment was to love and evangelize to the people of Swaziland in the neighborhood surrounding our house. My team and I had climbed all the way up a mountain trail and decided to stop and talk to a family at one of the last visible homesteads. The family was inviting and quick to take us in. We stayed and talked with them, each introducing ourselves to one another. I decided to walk back into the homestead a ways upon noticing several houses filled with small children just a little down the path. As I began walking back, I heard a banging sound to my left. Frightened, I stopped. Looking all around me, I heard another small bumping noise coming from inside of the rusting, baby blue truck which had been ditched off to the side of the property. I then approached the truck with a great amount of caution and curiosity. Peaking my head inside, I saw two tiny girls. The girls where covered in mud and clothes that were torn and battered. In a panic I tried to open the door and get them out. As soon as I got it pried open I knelt down and looked the two, beautiful young girls in the eyes. In that moment, I saw the most indescribably amount of pain that a human’s eyes have ever bore. There was a sadness so heavy that I had no words to say. The three of us just sat together. My heart broke for them. I wondered where their parents were, where the pain came from, and where was God.
         In the coming weeks, I learned that the two girls were sisters named Pihwe and Ncobile. There father left them and their mother got sick and abandoned them in the truck at the homestead not that long ago. Their aunt came by to feed them when she could, but having her own children to fend for, the young girls basically lived on their own. At the ages of five and ten, they are all each other have on this earth. I know it may seem as though this story is what broke my heart. The poverty. The hunger. The sickness. But God had a different plan for my heart. 
         As the weeks continued, we often went back and I got the privilege of spending time with Ncobile and Pihwe. As they trusted us a little more each visit, they began to let us hold them and interact with them. Holding Pihwe one afternoon before I left, I realized how the heart of God must feel about these young, abandoned girls who had been trampled down by life. I got a glimpse of how much the Lord cared for them. As my tear dropped on Pihwe’s muddy face, I saw the tears of God falling upon these young girls. I knew in that moment that the Lord had called these girls by name and been with them through the trials. I knew in that moment that Pihwe and Ncobile were and are the Lord’s beloved daughters.
         Though I may not ever be able to understand why these two young orphans have had to endure so much tragedy, I rest assured that the Lord has not abandoned them like their parents have. By being a part of Pihwe and Ncobile’s lives, the Lord has set a passion in my heart for the brokenhearted and the orphans of the world. When I go home in less than a week, my family will be close to adopting a young orphan who has felt similar pains as the two girls once hiding in that blue, rusting truck. By feeling just a glimpse of the Lord’s heart for his beloved, I can not wait to meet my little sister. I know the Lord has a plan for all of the brokenhearted and fatherless, and his heart breaks even more then ours do. I just can’t wait to finally be a part of God’s plan. I know God will fill the pained eyes with joy and be a father to the fatherless. I know God has a dream for the orphans of Swaziland and of the world, and resting in that promise is a beautiful thing.