I promised we would get busy in January. The busy-ness started before we counted on it. However, gratitude for opportunities overwhelms us. We hope you’re feeling much of the same wherever you are reading this. Updates and a few stories to follow in this blog. . .
In recent news. ..
– Sean started working for Mauritius, a friend & incredible boss, last week. After some high winds (some people noted a funnel cloud), the roof to the area’s new grocery store partially blew off. Sean got the job of leading a crew to repair it. His responsibilities center around carpentry, roofing, leadership, and delegation.
This week, he constructed a set of stairs – his first set ever. He constantly is awed when something he builds or fixes actually works. I, like many others who know him, am/are not surprised. God has given that man some serious gifts and mentorship from family members. Wow!
He said every Swazi male within a kilometer came to examine his work. The first day, they all stood at a distance, kind of shaking their heads and talking to each other. The second day, one man approached and said, “Are you a carpenter?” To simplify things, Sean said, “Yes.” And the man immediately beamed, “Oh yes. Yes. I can see that you are. You are doing a good job.” It seems the men here do a lot of posturing to each other. Even the guy raking leaves, puts his rake down to come and examine Sean’s work. Also, we figure they’re surprised to see a white man work like that. Usually they are the bosses or foreman, who don’t do much in the swinging-of-a-hammer department.
Sean’s been frustrated that the guys he works with just seem to stare blankly at him when he speaks siSwati. Perhaps they are not as forgiving and helpful as the women I’ve encountered. Still, he forges on courageously!
– Nicole signed up for a 16-hour Labor Doula training course. Thank you to the friends, doulas, and strangers who reached out to me when I was seeking advice and stories. I’ve decided to pursue training while in the States for 6 weeks, as the closest, offical training in Swaziland seems 5-6 hours away. This weekend workshop in Memphis will start me on the road to certification, which I can hopefully finalize in Swaziland. Swazi buerocracy rather prefers fancy pieces of paper and offical stamps; therefore, the certification. I’m told being a doula isn’t all about the certification.
– So far, I’ve talked to 2-3 other women who may also be interested in getting trained and volunteering at Manzini’s hospital. AND I found an awesome-on-paper doula from Nelspruit (3hr drive), who cannot officially certify us, but has offered to teach us everything she knows. She’s even willing to create a training program, spread it out over several weekends, and invited us to attend all the births at her ‘birthing room’. This could prove invaluable, as I’m aware of the emotional demands assisting in labors will be in a developing country, and mentorship is invaluable!
– Also, I am working with an English brother who doctors in the same hospital I want to eventually volunteer in. I’m doing the research side of ‘benefits’ of doula-ing, and he’ll do the convincing side of the hospital allowing this volunteer work in. I’m excited about prospects of future in-roads to relationships with the women & families I could assist.
– May minds and hearts be open to these ideas and may they be all Divinely-inspired and executed.
It’s young girls like Ncambile who captures my heart. She can’t be more than 15 years old. She and her younger sister sell bananas, apples, and sometimes peaches outside the gas station and new grocery store. Sean & I were worried that the new store opening would hurt their business, so we buy our fruit from them several times a week. I make an effort to buy groceries enough for 2 days, so that gets me walking to the store every few days. I greet Ncambile and Philinkhosi, her younger sister. Usually I ask a few questions. They teach me a new word. And then I’m on my way. Hopefully the constant visits by me, starts to break down those barriers of fear or distance often experienced between strangers.
Ncambile recently delivered a healthy, baby boy. Still of school age, she said that she’s going to school on 22 January with all the other children. Her sister says the same. I hope so. But last year, on school days, they sat under their tree, selling fruit instead of studying their books. They, like most children, have bright eyes, bright smiles, and respect for their elders.
Today, when I looked for them to buy bananas, they weren’t in their usual spot. Disappointed, I headed home without our chat (and my bananas!) To my surprise, Philinkhosi chased me down and said, “My mother told me to tell you, we are across the street now!” Sure enough, they’d moved to a small building across the street, from which they sell now.
All the hopes I have for them – HIV negative, adequate food, decent education, safety, love – mean nothing unless I’m willing to do something to help ensure these realities. For now, I’ll keep buying the bananas and asking one more question every time I see them. Perhaps the bridges will be built, so Ncambile’s son can sell fruit AND go to school.
(Told you there was a lot in this one!)
I, Nicole, leave Swaziland in two weeks. Yesterday, Sean and I (yes, he could just take a day off like that!) ran errands, left our car at the mechanic’s shop, and even enjoyed a small lunch out. Knowing I’ll be gone for 6 weeks, we’re working to be intentional with our time together.
Though I’m overjoyed to see my family and good friends and be a help to Gail & Jon (at least I hope it’s helpful!), I’m a bit nervous about being gone for so long. When we bought the tickets, we really felt like this would be a good thing. I still believe that; I’m just nervous about being disciplined in keeping up my siSwati studies. I’m also nervous about over-committing myself by trying to see every person I’ve ever known, let-alone my good friends and ended up exhausted. Guilt is my number one emotion of choice (I know, it’s a BAD choice, but I so often pick that one up). So this trip will be an active exercise in choosing peace and grace over guilt for myself. I’ll let you know how it goes!
While Sean’s gone in Jo-burg next week, I’ll start back with siSwati lessons. Our tutor took 3 loooooong weeks off, and we’ve missed the structure she brings. I hope to pass this test she’s giving us! 🙂
Thank you for listening, reading, prayers, and notes of encouragement. I love sharing this journey with those who’ve hopped on board. Grace & Peace to you!