3 Year Swaziversary

Mind-blowing. That we just celebrated the completion of our third year in Swaziland. Three years was our initial commitment. Three years is a short time. But it is also a long time.

It’s been enough time for us to get pretty solid at our siSwati. Some of you saw on Facebook that I posted Sean was speaking for over 30 minutes completely in siSwati with two neighbors. What?!?! What a fabulous way to celebrate our third year here!

It’s been enough time for me to relax and quit wearing skirts everywhere. Hah! Yah. When I visit people’s homesteads and go to church, I still wear my skirts and dresses, but when I’m at home, I feel comfortable to wear pants and even shorts. I quit the pretense that I’m a Swazi (as if I was fooling anyone) and decided that I’d be happier and healthier here if I didn’t load myself with the mental stress of always having to throw on a skirt before going outside. It’s a true assumption and has helped!

It’s been enough time for us to have a baby! And now a 7 month old. Who is rolling around in her crib as I type this.

It’s been enough time for our local grocery store to finally understand me. They don’t pack my product in individual plastic bags, or try to pack my bought items in bags, but anticipate, “Oh yes, you’ve brought your own bags.” And the staff doesn’t look at me weird when I speak siSwati. They reply, like it ain’t no thang. Cuz it aint. But at one time, it was!

It’s been enough time for a few breakdowns, and successes, failures, and extremely humbling moments. It’s been more than enough time for me to call this place home. For me to forget what life is like in the States.

I’m blessed to engage in a bible study with some expats here. We’re going through a Beth Moore study, so there’s a bi-monthly video we watch. This week’s video sparked some discussions, about how we live without a lot of expectation for our outward appearance here. “Who cares if you do your hair? No one’s even looking at it!” Most of the women shared how they rarely use make-up here, whereas in the States it was a daily event. We break “fashion rules” like socks with flip flops, and mis-matched outfits. Beth was talking about the fast-paced, impatient life. And we just all laughed. Yes, yes! We get impatient here, but it’s after waiting 3 weeks, not 3 minutes for our car to be fixed. We get impatient after we’ve looked in 6 grocery stores for parmesan cheese. Or no amount of calling can fix our phone service. Or when the car mechanic can’t tell you where you can buy extra lug nuts. Certainly, my level of patience has totally changed. Deepened you might say.

And I do say all of this because our Swaziversary marks the time when we need to start deciding how much longer we’re here. We’re committed through 2016, so we have at least 1 year more here. But our conversations, my meditations, and our hearts swirl with the question What now, Lord? 

Carry on. Carry on living with your courageous Thor, beginning-to-be-mobile Cedar, your disorganized selves, and no-space-for-quiet-time one-room house. Carry on living in these round walls and grass roof that allows no one to sleep in if someone wakes early, or drops a pan. Carry on going to the bathroom without a door, in the same room you sleep, work, relax, feed your baby, eat dinner, and cook said dinner in.

Carry on in the garden. Carry on planting, fluffing soil, adding manure, watering, transplanting, harvesting, and processing. Carry on showing people how much food can be grown in a small space. With a little energy and planning.

Carry on answering our neighbor’s needs. But don’t carry on answering the door at 5 am because they’ve all learned by now, “If the door is shut, don’t bother them until they come outside.” Praise. The. Lord. My sanity can carry on!

Carry on seeking creative solutions to pervasive problems. Carry on with creativity and with-it-ness. Carry on doing 95% of our internet on old cell phones of friends, because our computer’s internet doesn’t work well.

Carry on dragging ourselves to church because it’s work. And it’s hard. And it’s lonely and discouraging somedays and it’s never a day “off” on Sunday. But just carry on because presence is important. Incarnation is powerful. And I love the singing. I love the pained expressions Sean and I exchange when our child is the loudest of all during singing. And I chuckle because she’s rolled off the blanket, and I’m hoping her dirt-stained limbs aren’t sporting the last home of a goat or cow’s recent bed… or worse…

Carry on with weekends away to refresh and remember who we were before we moved here. Remember who the Lord created us to be. The dreams He put on our heart that we’re actually blessed to be living.

Carry on with our dreams. Of grass-roofed houses. Learning other languages. Living simply. Living with our best friend. Having a daughter grow up in a second culture, as a minority.

Carry on living your dream. It is extremely hard, but incredibly worth it.

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Doula ‘Dates

The upDATES keep rolling in. After the previous stake-holders’ meeting, the administrator overseeing this doula project contacted me. We talked for quiet some time and covered a lot of ground. 

The stakeholders identified two financial aspects to the Doula Project. 1) the training 2) the stipend to pay the doulas for their work. They agreed that item #2 was the more challenging aspect to have the funds for. Because we’ve previously applied to UNICEF and were denied, they had thought to look to other NGOs for funding. Their idea is to trial the doula project for one year’s time, after which they’ll evaluate and make strides towards long-term, remediation, or chalk it up as a fun experiment, but not a fit for RFM. The administrator did ask me if supporting these doulas was within the scope of Manna’s mission. In short, I began thinking Could Manna donate the funds to pay for 4 doulas to work for one year? SHOULD we? Is this the best option? 

 Dr, B. the administrator is positive about the outlook f the project. It is promising that the midwives seem behind it, the mothers’ report glowing appreciation, and there isn’t any opposition. It’s seems the only hindrance is the finances at this planning stage. 

So Sean and I are talking it through. We’re lifting up hopes and dreams. Laying down our pride. A pride that wants there to be some lasting, physical agenda achieved from our time here. The pride that yearns for a legacy screams to be balanced with the calling of a King who calls us to stand and make LIFE happen. 

So we wait in eager anticipation for the things that will be revealed. May it be as you have dreamed it Lord. May we be courageous enough to hear your voice and let our steps resonate your glory. 

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Thankful …

I am so grateful to the Lord connecting us to Sibosiso. He runs one of the two chicken businesses on our property and is slowly buying the business from Sean/Manna. 

We met Sibosiso through not-my-favorite circumstances. It was about 2 am; we didn’t know him; his wife was in labor. The ambulance was hours from being available, and no one else was around. We were annoyed because it was 2 am. And if we’re someone’s early-morning-transport-option, we kind of like knowing. But we discussed and decided we’d better go ASAP. She was in real labor and babies don’t wait for khumbis. So we took her, their daughter, the husband, and the community health motivator (who had told them to call us. I wasn’t getting into another birth-in-the-Bakkie story!) with us to the hospital. 

Within minutes of getting her into the labor ward, she had birthed their second daughter. In the car, on the way home, Sibosiso told us that his wife was so skinny and didn’t look pregnant because he had no money to feed her. Although he was rand-less, he rustled up money and walked to our house the next day to pay us the fee we charge for late-night-hospital-runs (otherwise we’d be full-time at this!). I was kind of impressed. He beamed when he spoke about his new daughter. 

And now he’s worked himself quite into our lives. He is perhaps one of the most joyful folks I know. This chicken business excites him. He’s always beaming as he hustles around on the bike, hauling his trailer. He’s a fast walker. I mean in record time he covers the 2.5 miles to the grocery store. He doesn’t dawdle. Now he’s got a bike and the man just races around. 

Tonight, I went out after dark to fetch my charger from the car. There’s Sibosiso in the dark standing over his bike. Red light on the rear of his bike blinking, as he works to secure a flashlight to his handlebars. I greet him and then he spills forth the day’s events. He sold 18 chickens today! 18! To a homestead the next town over.  And he’s grateful for their support. And he’s got an order for 10 chickens to be delivered Monday to the clinic’s nurse. I can hear his smile penetrate the darkness. 

I’m so thankful. 

Sean and I have decided he’s either a saint or a fantastic conman. Because we hook, line, and sinker think he’s a solid guy. He cares for his family; works harder than any man we know; and is genuine. It’s nice having he and his family around. And in the landscape of ministry work, of working with people and in community development, sometimes the triumphs are few or scattered. Sometimes you dig for something or someone to be grateful for. At times you doubt anyone’s life is better because you’re in it. But I’m thankful for Sibosiso. Because our lives are better for having him in them. He doesn’t take advantage of us. He cheers our spirits. Humbles our pride. And motivates our creativity. He’s a companion in the garden at times, or a smiling face to wave at as he races to town. It’s cool too see. It’s nice to know him. 

Categories: just for fun, Kingdom Coming Related, Swaziland Updates | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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