I’m not sure it’s possible to describe exactly all that my recent trip to Swaziland with Children’s Cup and River Valley Church meant to me. I still haven’t fully processed this trip. Ask me again in a few weeks, and I may have an answer for you.
I do know that it was life changing. That it was life giving. And that it was the trip of a lifetime.
First of all, a big thank you goes out to the many, many of you who helped to get Avery and I there. Between your prayers, donations, and support of our shop (which gives back to missions and other charitable organizations), we felt so loved.
This trip was special in part because I got to share it with my daughter, and watch her spiritual growth along the way. Many of our group did their morning devotionals together, but Avery and I chose to do it alone in our room. I cherished that time with her, and was so proud of her when she decided to share her testimony (though she bawled her way through it!). She learned that she has a faith story to tell, even though she’s still so young.
I also loved being able to use my gift of dance – I got to be one of the dance instructors to the children during our Christmas parties. To share this love with children across the world meant a lot. There’s no need to worry about communicating across language barriers when you can dance together!
We flew out on a Thursday morning, and arrived in South Africa Friday night – it’s a long journey! After dreaming of being on African soil for as long as I can remember, it was an incredible feeling to be there. But we still had about five hours to go before reaching our final destination.
We slept in Johannesburg for the night and headed across the border and into Swaziland the next day, with a quick stop for lunch next to some wild animals like zebra and ostrich. Inside the convenience store, we discovered we could buy a bag of chips or animal skin!
Here are a few pics from our wait at the South African/Swaziland border.
On Saturday we visited the Swaziland campus of our home church. We went through some basic training for the Christmas parties we’d be throwing while struggling to keep our eyes open from a lack of sleep and jet lag. We also got to shop a bit in the Children’s Cup shop – River Valley Church doubles as a skills training center, and the kids make items for sale that helps to keep them in school by paying their costs.
We headed to bed early, then got up and at ’em for the church service in the morning. We also had the honor of seeing Pastor Mduduzi baptize three of his church members following the service, and participate in a life group. Avery met lots of tiny new friends during the service, and volunteered in the nursery.
Our afternoon was spent shopping, after some lunch (I was surprised at how good the food was while we were there. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to like any of it! We even had some yummy sushi one night).
The next day, we began to do the work we came all the way across an ocean to do – the Christmas parties! Want a little siSwati lesson? Khisimusi lomuhle means merry Christmas! It gets easier to say after you repeat it a few hundred times. 😉
As I said above, I was able to be a part of the dance team. During each rotation, we’d teach our kids a Bible lesson, then dance with them. I had a couple of amazing teaching partners, Iliea, and Zee.
On Day 2 of our parties, Avery and I were able to meet Jessica, our sponsor child, and her sister. To hear their story was heart wrenching – their father left and when he sees them he pretends not to know who they are. We were able to pray with her, and love on them both a little. It was something I’ll never forget.
One afternoon, we were able to visit one of the local homes and bring them some gifts. It was humbling to see how they lived. In a space about the size of my locker room, up to six people sleep, cook, and store their earthly belongings. Every square inch was used.
It was also very cool to see the other end of Feed My Starving Children. We love to pack together as a family, and to actually see one of the locations where it ends up is an incredible thing.
On our last day and a half, we got to experience a safari, both at sunset and sunrise. Have you ever stood next to a python who is busy digesting an impala? I hadn’t either, until last week!
If you have considered going on a trip like this, I encourage you to jump right in. If your heart is stirred, go for it! Obstacles like finances or schedules will all fall into place if you’re meant to do it. You will leave thinking you’re about to change the lives of people across the world, and come home realizing that you’re the one who has been changed forever.
From the people we went with, to the people we met there, to our leadership team, and the mission family who led us through our time in Swaziland, we were changed for the better by each and every one. If you want to know more about what the Prince family is doing through Children’s Cup in Swaziland, click here. If you’d like to sponsor a child, click here.
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