Week 1 in Swaziland

Well, everyone…Swazi landed!  We got into the Johannesburg airport on the 5th and stayed at a missions hostel that night.  The following morning our team drove from South Africa to Manzini, Swaziland.  It was wonderful to sleep, talk, and take in our first views of the country.  It is a completely different world.  After settling in at our homestead that first night in Swazi, we had a cultural briefing and then made dinner.  Food has been an adventure.  Our team is huge and we don’t have very many resources, but the team has been great and we’re definitely getting in the swing of things now.  We have had 2 full days of ministry already and today are going into town to check email, go out to eat as a team, buy warm clothes, and do some grocery shopping.  

For me personally, the story of Tibani (read Marissa and Chandler’s posts below) was one of the most beautiful miracles I’ve ever witnessed.  God is at work and we are on day 3.  Praise Him!

Keep us in your prayers!  Also please read the participant testimonies below!
We love and miss you, but are finding ourselves to be falling in love with Swaziland.

In Christ,


For the first time today on July 7, 2011 our team went to a care point. It was a very fun experience. We got to play and laugh with kids. Kids would just run up to you and want to be held. They would want to feel all your hair. It was awesome however it was very draining. I am very excited to see more kids! On July 8, 2011 we did our second day of ministry to the kids. Africa is so awesome. It is very beautiful and has great sunsets and stars! The second day was really good. I would be surrounded by kids and they would literally climb on me and all of them would want to be held so badly. I would pick up one child and all the others would yell “AND ME! AND ME!” It was so crazy but a great experience. God really showed me how much love these kids need. Being a male in Africa that is white with light hair and light eyes is crazy, you get a lot of attention (there are only 3 guys including Caleb) They love touching all your hair. Your arm hair, leg hair and head hair. It is so fascinating for them. I got really dirty from all the kids touching me. It is very fun though!! I love it here. I miss everyone at home. Love all you guys.
– Jacob Jones


Today, July 8, was our second day of ministry at a care point. It was a very wonderful experience, loving the kids and singing songs with them, although it was painful, having them braid our hair. They just wanted to be held and be loved on. You can just see the changes in their attitudes as soon as you say hello to them. By the time they leave, they are just smiling ear to ear and you just don’t want to leave by the time it is 4 o’clock. This past couple of days have been just a blessing and I still can’t believe I am here in Africa with these beautiful children and my awesome leaders and team. Just want to let my parents and my brothers that I love them and miss them dearly! And to give my little Gracie some puppy lovin’s and let Sadie know that I miss her and can’t wait to tell her all about this! Much love to everyone.
-Riley Speidel


Hey, EVERYONE. Africa is absolutely amazing. I want to live here. 

We’re staying at a homestead in Timbutini which is outside of Manzini, Swaziland. I’m sleeping in a hut…there’s no running water…and there are dogs and chickens and goats running around. It’s REALLY fun. The chickens actually tried coming into the kitchen last night during team meeting. Also, I haven’t actually showered since I left. And I got a cold this week. But it’s better now. Anyways, Swaziland is BEAUTIFUL. Anywhere you look there are mountains in the distance and there are never any clouds. The stars at night are unbelievable and it’s just the right temperature to wear sweaters. Yesss. 

The ministry we are doing is incredible. I get to hang out with adorable little African children all day and give them food. We’re working at care points which are run by Gogos (Grandmas) where kids come in the afternoon. I have never, ever seen children like these. All they want is to be held and feel love. They will hang on to you for hours and not let go. The majority of them are infected with HIV and come from homes where their parents are only disciplinary, abusive or they have no parents at all. So when they come to these care points it’s often the only meal they will eat that day and the only place they ever feel affection. It is a feeling I cannot describe to be a child’s definition of love. A boy fell asleep in my lap today and I just prayed over him for an hour while he took a nap. It was the best thing…I almost fell asleep too. Even though it is heart-breaking work, it is not hard to see that God is doing amazing work in the people of Swaziland. I really appreciate your continuing prayers (we have had so much answered prayer already) and I hope you all are doing well! 

P.S. I’m not going to get on my e-mail/blog or anything besides this….cause the internet here is literally the slowest in the world and it’s expensive. 

– Rachel Kreider



Hey everyone we are having an amazing time here in Swaziland! The landscape of Swazi. is just as beautiful as it’s people. As a team we’re growing so close in relationship with one another and with God. We have been able to love on some kids so in need of love. The smilies the children get when we hold them and talk to them are so bright that they could blind you. Everywhere we go they flock to us and fight over who gets to be held next and it’s such a beautiful thing to be able to be showing them the God has for them and the love they don’t receive from their parents. 

– Emily Culmer


Oh my this has been amazing and mind-blowing, and utterly WOW!! Today was so awesome for several reasons. We went to a small care point where children go after school to hang out and get a warm meal. So I held a lot of little children, which was wonderful, but what really stuck out to me was playing a game with four girls that are about 11-13 years oldish. We played a game called tennis where we bounce a ball past each other while dancing, and you would lose if you didn’t catch the ball or if you hit it with your foot. The girls laughed at me because I totally stunk and I was also in a full length skirt that always caught the ball. But what really made this experience special was that they were so willing to teach this silly white girl who totally couldn’t play this game, and that they were smiling and laughing with me. They wanted me to know them and to spend time with them. When I thought about going on a mission trip to orphans I thought about babies to five year olds. And I am so thankful that God changed my view of working at these Care Points to include these older girls, because they need love just as much as the little ones, they need Jesus just as much as the little ones. 
– Megan Stoneman



“Love God, Love people” I don’t think I knew what that truly meant until I arrived at Swaziland. Today we had to walk through a field to get to one of the care points and all you can see is little kids running toward you with arms wide open. Their faces are so beautiful and their smiles look like they could just explode off their faces. Their innocence is so gorgeous, and my heart has been broken in pieces for them. They’re just so lovely. Im definitely missing home, but I’m so glad to be here. My team, who were strangers only seven days ago, now know more about me than my friends back home. Its awesome. I know Im a couple days off but Happy Birthday Ellen. I didn’t forget. Thanks for the prayers that I know are happening, and I miss everyone! 
– Jessica Kinsey



Hello family, friends, Mommy, Mikey, MaryJane, Joey, Alli, Hannah, and my second families (Swazi family) friends and family! I am having an amazing time here! God has done many things since June 30th! When we arrived at training camp, I was very homesick and really was tempted to just blow the whole mission trip behind me and go home, but there was something inside of me that would not let me leave; I believe that feeling was God. As soon as I got to the airport Taylor mentioned something about my dogs and I just cried and then as my friends aka Alli and Hannah know I laugh because I get embarrassed haha…. Well I cried a few more times on the way to training camp about missing my family, but as soon as I got to training camp that feeling left! It came back a few more times, but not so strong as before. As training camp went on, I began to get out of my shell and be myself and I just clicked with these people like I have known them my whole life. I knew then that I loved these people like my own family and I could not imagine going home. After it feeling like a month of training camp we finally get to leave and go to Swaziland! YAY!!!! I was sad because I could not call home, but I was happy because I was able to write a postcard to them and that made me smile =D After a 16 hour flight to Johannesburg we stayed at a hotel type thing and I was a able to take a HOT bath (which is my last bath till I get home)! The next day we drove 7 hours to Swaziland and got to see Rhinos roaming around with Buffalos at a restaurant! It was so cool!!! So now that we are in Swaziland and have been doing mission work for two days, I can really say that God is AMAZING!!! God is working in all of us in so many different and amazing ways. I am coming to see that God is truly a God of love. It is so hard to come out to this country and see the love of God, but when you look at these wonderful people, you just can see the love of Jesus shining through them! I am so amazed with how happy they can be yet they have NOTHING. Yesterday we were walking home from the Carepoint and we walked about four miles, and we were complaining and then I thought wow, we are walking this once and here we are complaining, but these people have to walk this multiple times a day barefoot to get food, water, or go to church! And then it was really sad today because after we went and hung out at the Carepoints, and afterwards we were able to walk around the neighborhood, and we saw the houses these kids live in, and to give y’all a picture, just imagine square walls of concrete with one room and dirt on the ground. Our homestead we stay in is nicer than their homes! The streets they walk on is full of trash and most of them do not even have shoes! It breaks my heart! Oh and last night, I fell asleep at like eleven, but woke up because I had to use the bathroom. I went outside to the squaty and used the bathroom and came back inside and tried to go back to sleep. I was laying in bed and just started coughing for thirty minutes straight! I was beginning to not be able to breath and so I took my inhaler and took a cough drop but that did not help. Taylor came to me and prayed for me and a few seconds later I had stopped coughing! It was so amazing to see how strong the power of prayer is. After she prayed for me I was sad because I missed my mom because normally she would have came to my room and made sure I was ok!!! Miss you momma!!!! That is pretty much all I have to say! I love all of y’all and I can’t wait to talk to y’all soon!!!!! Love you mom and Mikey!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. Be praying for me because I am still all congested and it has been going on since before I even left for training camp, and it really is affecting my asthma!! Oh, and give my doggies a hug and a kiss from me!! And mom, I am still a vegetarian! I have done really really good at not eating meat! Oh, and the dog here ate one of the baby chickens =( Everyone laughed, but I was really sad. I am also not the only animal freak here, Riley is just like me =) It makes me really happy.

– Lindsay aka Lulu Hottendorf/Gill


Hey everyone! I’ve been thinking a lot about all of y’all back home! So far my favorite part of the children’s ministry has been to see the kids’ faces light up when they see us! Yesterday when we were walking to a Carepoint, a huge group of kids just came running out to us and jumped in our arms! It was so sweet! At times I get doubtful and wonder how much I‘m really impacting people, but then I see the excitement and joy in the children’s faces when we spend time with them, and I’m reminded that God has a huge plan for these children, and the love we show means so much more than we can ever imagine. These kids are so eager for love, and they will just sit in your lap for hours and hours. They are so hungry for every bit of love you can show. I pray that God fills me up each and every day so I can continually pour out his love on these children while I’m here. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me! It mean so very much, and I’m so encouraged to know that everyone back home is supporting me in prayer, and I truly draw so much strength from it. Can’t wait to see everyone again. 🙂

In Him, Lizzie Parrish



HELLOOO family and friends! Just to give you comfort and information, I’ve been having an absolute blast since Day 1! Training camp was so much more different than I’d ever imagine it to be. God seriously challenged me the entire time just to surrender every negative feeling about this trip and all of the worries I have because believe it or not, I tend to constantly be worrying about the future and this amazing trip to Swazi! But after I just gave it up to God, I feel so much better. This is seriously where He wants me to be right now and I know that every single person here on my team is  meant to be here as well. God has already used all of our strengths and weaknesses every day and we really are a family. I could call on any one of these beautiful people and I know they’d be there for me, so stop worrying for me at home! It has been only the second day of ministry, but I’ve already seen our AMAZING LORD work like crazy. Today I was picked to be in the smaller group that traveled down town into Manzini, whereas we’re staying in a homestead (in a hut!) in Timbutini where the majority of our people went to a Carepoint near by. When we’re in Manzini our small group of 9 split into a group of 5 and a group of 4, and I was put in the group of 4 consisting of Cait, Jacob, Emily, and I. We were taken to this Carepoint (which is basically a place where children come every week day to receive clothes/food/necessities) that happen to also be a pre-school, so we split up into two different classrooms. I was just awe-struck to see these children who are ages 6 and under pray to God at the top of their lungs; so encouraging. Anywho, during this time in the class room I started getting the most intense stomach pains and nausea with nothing to take or even a place to lay down. I went from standing to sitting to laying in the dirt in a fetal position. Through out this time my three team mates were constantly praying over me for God to heal me and they called all of my other team mates and they prayed over me for ages and at one point Cait prayed that God would just put so much Holy Spirit in me that there wouldn’t be enough room for anything else. Immediately I threw up and I was grinning afterwards. God literally healed me instantly. PRAISE THE LORD! The rest of the afternoon consisted of just loving on children who aren’t usually loved on. Swazi culture is very unaffectionate. Men and women are never seen touching and parents do not nurture their children like we do in America, so these kids will literally fight each other just to be held for a minute. God is just breaking my heart over these children, but I feel like it’s necessary. This one girl sat in my lap for at least an hour today- not even talking to me in Siswati or English and she just fell asleep smiling. She understood the language of love. It’s the best feeling in the whole world when you can hold a children of God’s image and creation and just speak beautiful words over them and pray over them- even if they can’t understand you. Oh my goodness gracious I’m having a blast. Every thing here is just outstanding and I can not wait to see all of you and share all of the stories that have already happened! Caleb cut my hair today (extremely short) and I totally have peed all over my skirt once already, and even though these things are random and silly, it’s completely apart of God’s plan for us. I love and miss all of you! Please don’t forget that I’m praying and thinking of everyone back home. I hope all is well!

Love, Kira Willimann


Hey everyone! I’m having an absolutely amazing time here in Swaziland! God is just working so much in all of our lives already. It’s awesome to see how much His Spirit just pours out all over and covers over everything. I mean God’s love is just crazy I’m finding. It’s so exciting as God works in the Swazi’s lives while we get to love on them. Today part of my team went to a Carepoint in Timbutini (the town we’re in I think? haha) and we got to just love on all the kiddies there. We got to walk there, which was a blessing because on the way a bunch of children met us on the road from a preschool and came running to us with open arms. We all went running towards them of course and swooped them up. I held this little cute boy who was just drooling buckets. We had to put them down, but told them we’d be at the Carepoint and said that they should come and see us. Once we got to the Carepoint, we were there for a while kind of just standing around and waiting for all of the kids to get there, when randomly the boy that I scooped up on the road came wandering in the gate. He came in and just plopped down on my lap, drool and food dripping all over. The weird thing though was that he didn’t make any noise. He didn’t laugh or speak even in SiSwati. The group I was with kind of figured he needed to be back in school though since he had wandered off, so me and two others walked him back over to the preschool we found him at on the road. We talked to his teacher and she said that he doesn’t go to school because he is mute but told me that his name is Tibani. He hasn’t ever made noise other than a little grunt deep in his throat, he hasn’t laughed or anything. That just broke my heart. I held him as we walked back over to the Carepoint and when we got there, we all just started praying for him and singing songs over him. He fell asleep in my arms pretty soon afterwards and just layed there and slept for a while. Kids here just soak up your love and want to just be held and touched all the time. Once he woke up, he was laughing! Praise Jesus! A little while later he started making little sounds, which built up to screaming and laughing hysterically. It was wonderful. We just kept praying and praying for him to form words and for his tongue to be released. He hadn’t been playing with any of the other kids, but after he started making sounds and things he headed over to the other kids and was playing, making noise and laughing with them also. Throughout the whole day we were just in prayer for him. I went over by him as he was playing and was just telling him “Jesus loves you Tibani” and then saying yeeebo to him (“yes” in SiSwati) and he was trying so hard to form the word yebo. His tongue has something wrong with it’s shape though so I think it’s a bit hard. That’s nothing for Jesus though. He almost got it a few times and while he was with Chandler she said that he screamed it in here face. Right before we left me and Chandler were sitting by him and a few other kids and he said words that we think were in SiSwati that have clicks in it! Oh goodness, that was just so amazing. Jesus is just so amazing! If y’all could just be in prayer for him that would be wonderful. I hope to update you soon that he’s talking in full sentences 🙂 Anyways, I love and miss you guys and am praying for you over here. I hope Jesus is doing wonderful things in your lives also. Lots and lots of love from Africa, Marissa Schley



Hellooooo Mississippi! 🙂 Swaziland is absolutely beautiful… and a lot colder. 🙂 I hope you have read about all of the incredible things God is doing in Swazi. I feel like it would be monotonous to repeat everything, so make sure to read all the posts above. I could go on and on with how He is working, but let me tell you that I am absolutely speechless and in awe at the mighty power of our God! He is provider and healer in every way shape and form! His love never fails! I feel like we have been gone forever, not just eight days. We got to go to the Timbutini carepoint today (friday) to love on some kids and help serve a warm meal. Not only was that awesome, but God brought speech to a 7 year old special needs boy who was mute! (Marissa has the full story above!) I just keep thinking, “Did God really just do that?” Just to let you know, God is a miracle worker. He was, is and is to come! He never changes! He is showing me so much in my walk with Christ. Timbani might not be speaking full sentences yet, but he was speaking with clicks before we left! Can’t wait until I can update you on how much he is talking! On another note, our team is so wonderful. It is so wonderful to live in community with 20 other people who are seeking God with everything in them. We are all different, but one in the Holy Spirit! What a blessing! Praise Jesus! I still cannot believe that this is only our second day of ministry. I cannot wait to see what God has prepared for these people and for us over the next 20 days. I miss you all so much. Like, SO MUCH! Praying for you all and cant wait to hear about how God is working back home! With much much much love, – Chandler Robertson


Hi everyone!! Oh my goodness. Swaziland is wonderful. We have perfect weather-much much cooler than Texas :)-and a beautiful scenery. I hope yall have been able to read everyone else’s posts about the truly amazing things God is doing here in Swazi. I don’t want to be repetitive, but God is just so awesome!! Today was our second day of ministry, and a few of us went to a carepoint in Manzini. The children we encountered there were…to say the least, quite infatuated with us. It was absolutely wonderful. We were asked to teach “Bible club” today, so Hannah Priolo and I read the story of “The Good Shepard” to the younger children. Although they understood very little of what we were saying, they hung on every word we read. They love to teach us games and songs, and their most favorite thing-besides doing our hair…-is being held. “Take me, take me”, we heard constantly today. They’re such blessings. We also got a mini-tour of a village very close to the carepoint. It was humbling to see how these families live, but also wonderful to experience their community. We had a great day!! Oh, and our team is amazing. They are a wonderful group to live with-it’s so great to spend all this time with others that are constantly yearning for the Lord in all that they do. Each of us are all so unique, but one body in Christ! Thank you Jesus!! I can’t wait to see what God has planned for us in the next 19 days. He has already changed me and showed me so much-He has much in store for us as well as the people we are sharing His love with. YAY! I miss each and every one of you so so so much. Really. I am praying for y’all. God is good! So much love, Kinsey Clearman


Hey Everyone!  I don’t have a lot of time so I’ll keep it short. Swaziland is AMAZING! The work we are doing here is the best thing I’ve done in my life. My faith in God has grown so much. It looks like we will only get internet once a week but we will all be able to read your comments on the blog so please comment. I miss everyone but I’m so glad I’m here. I forgot all the people I was supposed to give a shout-out too but hi everyone. Mom, give ellie thumper and mollie a hug for me and I hope florida was great! 

Love, Josh Tedford



I wish i had more time to write because I really could go on and on, but I’ll stick to what God has really been putting on my heart. The children of Swaziland have really taken hold of my spirit. I have never been begged for love before and in everything these children say and do they are constantly begging for our love. I literally had up to 5 children pulling and climbing up my arms and legs every second I was at the care point. Up to three girls pushing each other away to get a turn at braiding/pulling/basically ripping out my hair. They were fighting each other to sit on my lap and I just had to try to balance them all and my heart was grieved to see how little love they must feel to think they have to fight for it. Little do they know that the Lord fills my heart with a constant overflow of love and care for them. I had the privilege of walking through one of their neighborhoods that the translator told me is full of broken families, parents who are alcoholics and are responsible for the scars and bruises that cover these children’s backs, legs, arms and some of their faces. Despite all the hurt that I know goes on at home these children never fail to laugh and run and play and show joy, that I know is a blessing from the Lord. I trust that He has so much more to show me while I’m here and I am so excited to emerge deeper into swazi culture.

Love, Hannah Priolo


If there is any place that captivated my heart it’s Africa.  After waiting weeks and weeks in anticipation, now that I’m finally here I feel so excited and totally at home.  Everything about this place is amazing, and I know that God is going to do some amazing things.  We’ve only been here for a few days but as a team we are already starting to see God work in us and in the people here.  Somewhere between the shock of being thrust into a group of strangers and making our way into a foreign country, we have all grown together into a team.  It is really beautiful.

Love, Desthany Venter

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