Many of you who’ve been on this journey with us from the early days, may recall that our vision in coming here was to acquire our own piece of land. Through many, many, many ups and downs, disappointments, failed attempts, and new opportunities, owning land never became part of our story. We instead found an amazing landlord eMasini, where we currently live in #theboehrighut. Our land thrives and has connected us to many people and opportunities.
On Tuesday, we made our final decision with peace in our hearts that we would leave Swaziland. Let’s be honest, we’ve lived here for more than 4 years. This was/is our dream. Our decision came with a lot of effort, prayer, struggle, heartache, so just because I don’t share the intimate details doesn’t mean we decided flippantly. 😉 And although we felt a burden lifted in deciding we’d return to America, and began announcing our proposed return date of June 2017, there was still those questions .. .
Will the seeds we planted blossom?
Will the church grow? Has our time been in vain? Is the Lord in this?
We know this decision is the healthiest for our family; healthy for our work; and well-timed. But the questions lingered.
Tuesday night, the very evening after we felt this peace, Sean, Cedar & I were sitting outside enjoying the evening as it cooled off. Sibosiso (a KEY co-worker with Sean) phoned to see if he could come for a visit.
Sibosiso arrived with his usual smile, speeding in on his bicycle, as Cedar hopped in greeting. After exchanging greetings, Sean asked, “So how did the meeting go?” He’d had a meeting earlier that day about acquiring a new piece of land. Sibosiso’s current land is rocky, uneven, and far from the river. It’s distance from water makes caring for his chickens (and therefore his livelihood) difficult at best. He has developed quite a skill for growing food for his family in our garden space, but without easy access to water, he’s paralyzed .. . and hungrier.
Because of this land challenge, Sean started pushing him more than a year ago.
Do you know someone who has land by the river? Can’t you use that?
You have GOT to get land. It’s possible. This is your family’ s livelihood at stake. You’re a smart, hard-working man, with land, you are invincible.
On and on Sean’s affirmations went. On and on his encouragements for him to get land. On and on went Sibosiso’s search. He biked to further communities, found land by the river, inquired about the chief giving it to him (here land is either privately owned & expensive, or owned by the King, who gives chief the authority to “gift” land in exchange for a cow. Most Swazis acquire land this route, but like anything, it’s a who-you-know-determines-your-slice-of-the-pie). He and Sean visited private pieces of land with exorbitant price tags. On and on he biked and prayed and told his family he would find land.
Through months and time, he began contacting our own chief and visiting the mphakatsi. A few weeks ago, Sibosiso acquired favor with the chief’s advisor. I’m not sure the details, or what the indvuna was spurred by (maybe the ole Holy Spirit), but he told Sibosiso, “I’m going to help you find land.”
“So how did the meeting go?” Sean asked as Sibosiso pulled up a chair. Through excited siSwati, he told us. It’s mine. I have it.
My gapping mouth must have surprised Sean because he turned and started to “translate” for me into English. I laughed and said, “I heard him. You will get the land?”
We all laughed and clapped and looked up and let questions fly.
So what do you have to do? When will you khonta (a ceremony that seals the deal and “purchases” the land)?
He pulled out a list and showed us what he needed by tomorrow at 1pm. His wife would cook chickens and rice and veggies for all the guests that would come to witness the giving of his land. Of course beer and juice made the list as well. Additionally, he needed about $500 to pay the price of the cow . . . by tomorrow.
Our deal from long ago was the if Sibosiso found a piece, Sean would help front the money of the cow and he would pay us back over time. So here we stood. With a bank account reading $124. About $150 in my pocket (to last us for some time). My mind jumped to that savings account I’d be slowly pinching pennies into over the last few months. To give us cushion. . . to cover new baby delivery costs . . . to be our “nest egg” in case our car broke down. I guess we’ll just have to pull it out of there.
Pushing those worrying thoughts of money aside, I continued celebrating. Land. LAND!! All these years we’d prayed for our own piece of land. We’ve studied how to khonta. Learned what NOT to do. And wondered why we never did get that piece we felt so certain could become ours. And now I saw it. The land prayers were never for us. Well, never for the Boehrigs. The Lord had a much greater purpose in fulfilling those prayers. Because Sibosiso and his family of 4 need the land much more than we do, will be infinitely blessed by it, will further the Kingdom from their space, and will be rooted in this community until the days they die. How much more they will do than we ever have, or could.
How perfect that the Lord gave us this gift, of watching Sibosiso’s heart lift as he shared how every night he prayed. Everyday he told his family of his dreams. Everyday he hoped. And here he was. Praying God alongside us for this incredible provision.
Because his piece of land isn’t just any piece. It’s on the river. His water source is immediately there!! It’s fertile. It’s free from rocks. And it’s in the community he knows. It’s also uncontested land that was a secret nugget no living person has lived on, which is so rare. I imagine the Lord closed off this land, not too unlike the Garden of Eden. Land guarded and protected from any human eye, and thieving neighbors, or conniving uncles. And I imagine the Lord was saving the land for such a time as this.
And when Sibosiso left, I turned to Sean with that worrying question on my mind, “So we’ll just take the extra money we need out of savings, right? I can transfer that tonight, so it’s ready in the morning.”
Placing his hand on my shoulder, Sean said, “Nicole. The Doula project money.” He was right. Just 2 weeks prior, we (I) had decided that the Doula Project would not be moving forward (a whole other blog to come). Because the money had been half-raised for the project, some of our donors to this point had allocated their funds to be re-distributed to whatever project we saw a need for.
“Oh my goodness. You’re right. Sean! Do you realize how much money has been reallocated from our donors?”
“I don’t know, $500?”
“Yes. that’s just a little more than R6,500. More than enough of what he needs!”
Can we even fathom the greatness of this? Can you marvel at the intricate dance of preparation of our Lord?
Wow. Wow. Praise.
The very next day, the chickens were cooked, the drinks were poured, over 40 witnesses gathered on Sibosiso’s new land. The witnesses saw him give money in exchange for the land. Siboniso took photos of everything for evidence later (we’ve learned, people. We’ve learned). And now the land is his. Just like that.
To firmly establish his boundaries, the Gwebu family needs to erect a fence. Because they can’t leave their chickens all day, they’ve been employing Sizwe to come and sit. Yes, Sizwe would take 2 days to walk the distance from his house to theirs, so he needs transport. But here is the neighbor whom people had easily forgotten about. Who had forgotten about his own worth, until others began reminding him in recent years. He may not be able to do much, but what he can do, he does with gusto, a hearty laugh, and follow-through. And so while the Gwebus work on their new land, their new-found-friend Sizwe cares for their chickens. He knows about the business, because after all, he was the first to insist that Sean start a chicken business for him.
And it comes full circle. Our hearts are full.