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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas from Ludlati Carepoint 2015

Don's photo

I enjoy hearing greetings and glad tidings from friends and family.  Particularly during this time of the year.  Our friends from Ludlati Carepoint in the hot southern hemisphere country of Swaziland sent us this message along with a picture from their celebration party.


How do you pronounce that in Siswati you ask…?!

Gĭ-sē-mo̅o̅-sē  Lō-mo̅o̅-shlā


Saturday, August 29, 2015

2015 - Day8 at Ludlati Carepoint

Don's photo

THE LAST DAY AT LUDLATI CAREPOINT WITH OUR FRIENDS! is burning in our hearts and minds.

During the morning half the team takes a short trip to visit a small Safari to see some African animals.  We share some of the amazing pictures with you here.  It’s a great thing to see the beauty in God’s creation, but about half way into the 2-1/2 hour tour we are ready to get back to the carepoint to be with our friends.

That morning, the other half of our travel team enjoyed a special and intimate devotional time with the Swazi Staff.  Again, we witness how God uses the short amount of time and days to draw us together as family in His kingdom.  We share in each others sufferings and joy and praise God together all at the same time.  It’s a beautiful glimpse of His Kingdom family and love in the face of life’s bitter sweet blessings and challenges.

We remember to enjoy every second of the last day together as we sit, talk, play, sing, dance, joke, eat, take some final pictures and prepare to say our goodbyes (many times with tears).  After we sing our last song, we share our thanks, love for them and say goodbye to the kids.  As the kids begin to walk to their homesteads, we honor the Bomake and Swazi Staff members with more gifts of appreciation for their daily dedication, love and hard work at Ludlati Carepoint.  We shower them with thanks, prayers and encouragement as we tell and show them as much as we can that we love them, will think and pray for them, and will miss them.  And we all share the hope that God will provide the way in faith that we can return to our Swazi home again next year.

2015 - Day7 at Ludlati Carepoint

Don's photo

It’s Monday again and we are rested from Sunday, but eager to get back to be with the kids, staff and Bomake at Ludlati Carepoint.  It is also fresh on our minds that we have only 2 days left!  All the more reason to enjoy the time we have left together.

Before we went to Ludlati Carepoint, we were invited to attend the Swaziland Ministry Staff meeting they hold on Monday mornings.  They started with a time of praise and worship (that was amazing), followed by a devotion lead by one of the staff members.  This responsibility is shared among them with the fun way of selection of the staff member that arrived last that morning grin.  It was awesome to meet the 30+ young Swazi leaders and mentors of 6200 children currently in their care!  Pray for the encouragement and strength of these young people.  They literally feel responsible to lead their nation of fellow Swaziland citizens in revival and redemption through Christ.

Day6 - Sunday in Swaziland

Don's photo

After 5 wonderful days with the kids, Bomake and Swazi Staff at Ludlati Carepoint, Sunday comes and gives everyone a much needed day of rest.  Each day is full as we prepare the night before, get up early, travel to Ludlati Carepoint and participate in the day’s relationships and activities.  At the end of each day we split into 3 teams for homestead visits.  This can involve some challenging hikes through the mountainous hills and river valleys.  This year we visited Londiwe’s church.  They invited us to introduce ourselves and lead the congregation in 2 worship songs.  We had a great time at church with our brothers and sisters from Ngwane Park Nazarene Church.  We met in a large tent with about 400 people.  Behind the tent there is a partially built steel structure that will eventually become their church building (as they collect donations and build when they can).  After church we take some time to eat and shop for souvenirs near the Capital city of Mbabane.  Though we are resting and enjoying the day, our Ludlati friends are on our hearts and minds and are part of our conversations.

2015 - Day5 is FUN DAY at Ludlati Carepoint

Don's photo

FUN DAY is a highlight of the trip for everyone!  The home visit gifts (18) and fun day for 200 people is funded through donations given to our Swazi Travel Team ground fees!  It provides a wonderful, delicious meal of meat, tomato stew and pap (similar to a corn meal mush), treats and fresh fruit.  We also plan several games and a bounce house which is great fun for us all.  After dinner, we were treated to several chiors of the Ludlati kids singing, and they also did a short play (I will try to post some video of these performances later).  FUN DAY is a highlight of the year for the kids and us all as we sing, dance, laugh, eat and enjoy each others company on this amazing day of sharing in community and love.

This year we had an added bonus from the Football (Soccer) Ministry run by Xolani.  He brought in his team of football trainers and disciplers and they held a soccer clinic for the young men and boys.  This was awesome, as they not only direct the boys energy into developing skills for a game they love, they also disciple the boys to know and follow Christ!  This is a growing and important ministry to help transition boys into godly men.  They have a vision to use the game of Netball for the girls as well.

You will see a lot of great pictures that tell the story of FUN DAY very well.  You may even see some crash and burn pictures from the three legged sack race (no Swazi team travelers or Swazi children were harmed in the making of this FUN DAY).

Select the picture below to see a higher resolution view:

Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 - Day4 at Ludlati Carepoint

Don's photo

Each year we visit we have experienced growth and deepening relationships.  During this 6th trip, we started doing morning devotions with the “Shepherds” and “Administration Staff” by their request.  These became wonderful morning times of singing praise songs together, sharing and discussing God’s word, and sharing personal hardships, struggles and burdens.  The Lord used these times greatly to draw the travel team and swazi staff together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Lord did some amazing things during these sharing times.

We also experienced deepened relationships with the community this year.  For the first time, we were invited to eat dinner at a homestead.  We were highly blessed and humbled to be given such a great honor.  The family was the father of the Ludlati Carepoint Shepherd named Mbuso.  He opened up his homestead to us all.  Showed us all around the homestead and encouraged us to ask any questions we like.  The food was cooked in the outdoor kitchen.  Once ready, about 35 people in attendance were invited inside to eat.  We all gathered in a room with a single light bulb.  Per Swaziland tradition, the men sat on benches and the women sat on mats.  We were all shoulder to shoulder around the room.  Before we ate we sang a couple worship songs that echoed beautifully in the concrete block, metal roof house.  We said a prayer of thanks to God for the wonderful meal.  The food was amazing, and while we ate it began to rain!  This is significant since Swaziland was in a time of drought.  Earlier in the day we had prayed for rain, and now during dinner our prayer was answered.  The much needed rain beat on the roof and brought smiles to everyone’s faces.  It may seem like a small thing, but at the moment it was another amazing part of the evening.

After the meal was complete, Mbuso’s father thanked us for coming and we stood and thanked him for inviting us.  Words expressed thankfulness for our time together and for deepening friendships and a chance to live together as a community by sharing a meal.  Everyone on the team expressed that this was the most wonderful time we have experienced sharing together in Christ centered community.  I don’t like to use the word experience since it implies a selfish notion or focus on capturing personal life experiences for ourselves.  This was something bigger than our individual lives.  It seems to me everyone at the dinner was given a momentary glimpse beyond our currently veiled site of the love that exists in God’s kingdom family.  Thanks again to Mbuso and his father and family for inviting us and sharing a wonderful time together.

Pictures related to dinner at the homestead start here.  Click on the picture below to see the fuller homestead view:

View of the darkness (very few lights) at night in rural Swaziland.

2015 - Day3 at Ludlati Carepoint

Don's photo

Today was a big day for the Bomake.  As a fun way to let these ladies know we love and appreciate their hard work, dedication and service to the Ludlati kids, we had a donor that provided $100 shopping spree for each of our 7 Bomake (ladies who cook for the kids).  I can remember meeting and seeing all of these ladies volunteering their time and energy to cook for the kids.  At most they get some food in return for their hard work and dedication for the past 6 years.  For several of them they have been doing this for 8+ years!  I know each of them truly love to serve and feed the children who need support in their community.  This shopping trip gift is a fun and special way to show the ladies we are thankful for them.  Let me tell you, it is a wonderful gift and fun event!  The Bomake sing and dance in the van all the way to town and all the way back!  They also break out their style and dress up for the occasion.  They all have wonderful style and beauty.

Some of the Ladies from our team accompany the Bomake on the shopping trip, and the Men stay back and feed the kids.  This years shopping trip happened to coincide with the busiest shopping day of the year.  Our Swazi team ladies experienced the challenges of shopping in lines 100 people long at each checkout lane!  And wall to wall people on the side walks.  No parking access!  Wow.  They did a great job, and the Bomake showed their excellent shopping skills!  I don’t have any pictures from the shopping trip itself, but you can see the ladies all fancied up after they return to the Carepoint from the trip.

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We have begun to ask ourselves...What would we do if our neighbor was starving right before our eyes? Would we not help? Today, their plight is not hidden from us. It is known. We believe there is a clear mandate that we must care for societies most vulnerable members, the widow, the orphan, those in extreme poverty. If you are stirred to a similar belief, if you know there is more that you must do,
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