Blessings. We feel them every day here. God has given us rain for the past few days. Many mornings, low clouds and mist surround our house. My heart this morning is full, I can feel God’s presence here. We live in a beautiful country. We work with beautiful people. Sometimes, these blessings are easy to miss. We haven’t found our spiritual rhythm here yet. We haven’t been able to go to church much (no nurseries and Zach isn’t used to sitting still so long), it’s one of the most difficult things here for us.
Last Sunday, Brandon drove out of country to pick up a short term mission team. We were so excited because the team was from our home church but also anxious as this was the first short term mission we would lead by ourselves. Later that same day, I started cramping and bleeding. I was 12 weeks pregnant. I thought it was just a little scare, like we had with Zach. I had so looked forward to the next week when I would have my first ultrasound and get to share the news with our friends and family.
It is easy to take all of this -our life and ministry- for granted. We can become so busy and miss all that God has for us, we can miss the point of why we’re here. That’s not how we’re called to live, we’re called to live gratefully and with abundant joy. It has been a busy season, and now we feel like God is calling us to seek rest in him, to take Jesus at his word.
Sisi. Make wa Zach. Mbali. These are a few of my new names. I’m relatively used to sisi, as every woman here is your “sister.” But Make wa Zach, well, I’ve only been “Zach’s mom” since last year. My newest name, Mbali, is a gift in more ways than one. A few months ago I was in a shop and greeted the ladies “Sanibonani.” I always get a kick out of the many Swazis who are surprised to hear their tongue in the mouth of a malungu (white person).
We have internet! We have air conditioning! We have a 1-year-old! Apologies for the radio silence- so much has happened in the last few weeks but we haven’t had internet to post an update in awhile. Last Friday, Zach turned 1. Wow. We had a little birthday party for him where he was completely uninterested in his “smash” cake (maybe because mom used a sugar-free recipe). He did, however enjoy opening birthday presents and having so many other kids to play with.
We have a swimming pool. Well, our future home here (maybe next week) will have a swimming pool- yes, it is small and currently filled with debris, but it is still a luxury in a country that has spent over a decade in an increasingly dire drought. Needless to say, we will not be filling it with water any time soon. Cows are still dying here and the capital city not too far away only has a 20 day water supply remaining.
Pouring rain, thunder, lightning, then… no power. No biggie, we feel super proud of ourselves for bringing headlights and solar-lamps! Then… a bit of disappointment when the lights go back on five short minutes later. We were excited to rough it! We were glad for even that half hour of rain, as the drought has been terrible here. Fields that should be green are crunchy with dead grass. It’s spring here, but instead of new life, over 12,000 cattle have died from starvation.
We’ve occasionally been asked this question about our move overseas and yes, thoughts of our baby boy’s safety have entered into our minds. But for us, Brandon and me, we had not given much thought to our personal security. During our two weeks of training before flying to Swaziland, we covered persecution and martyrdom, but it wasn’t until a dear family member hugged us at the airport and tearfully whispered her request for us to be safe that I began to feel a bit of fear.
It’s Go Time! I’m typing from ATL, flying standby and praying that we get on this flight. (It wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had to wait till the next one tomorrow, but it would be easier.) We had a great two weeks of training here in Georgia, then visited visit my sister Sheryl and her husband for the last few days. We greatly appreciated the peaceful break before this 15 hour flight to regroup and rest.
We have arrived safely in Gainesville, GA! We have two weeks of missionary training here before heading to Swaziland. We haven’t done much training yet as today was our first day, but we did get a tour around the Adventures in Missions headquarters and learned about many of their programs. The training and class schedule looks well thought out and we’re looking forward to the sections on leading from our strengths and conflict resolution (handy in or out of the mission field!