After a plane ride from Chicago to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Paris (a full day layover which included a picnic and nap at the base of the Eiffel Tower!), and Paris to Johannesburg, we packed the shuttle bus with all eleven of us and embarked on a five hour bus ride home to Swaziland. We arrived Friday night to the girls waiting on the dirt hill right outside the girls home. It was a precious reunion as I embraced dear Ayanda and finally got to meet the other girls in the home: Nomhlanhla, Sindi, and Sebenele. Titi greeted us and Gogo had already prepared an incredible Swazi meal for us.
It took awhile to get adjusted and caught back up on sleep (truth be told, I’m still exhausted) but by Sunday most of the team was good to go. We went to church in Timbutini on Sunday and Musa invited our team in front of the church and asked me to introduce them. We didn’t have anything prepared but it was beautiful! I took that opportunity to explain Hosea’s Heart and the prophet Hosea and God’s heart behind our organization and what we are doing in Swaziland. Later, Musa told me that when I stared talking about the prophet Hosea and the pursuing love of Christ, he knew that’s exactly what they all needed to hear and was so uplifted by our group. “Out of all the groups that come and go here, MK, I can tell this one is special.” It was neat to hear Musa already encouraged by our group though he hardly had time to really meet us.
The timing of our return could not be more perfect as there is lots and lots of work to do. There are four girls in the home right now because two had been kicked out previously to our arrival here. Since then, I have met with both girls who have been kicked out and am arranging plans to help both. Tenele is one of them, and if you know my Tenele story, you know that I won’t let that happen. So on Saturday, I took Rachael (who had been on our trip last year) with me to go pick up Tenele at her homestead. About halfway there, I asked Rachael if she remembered if we were going the right way.
“I’ve never been to her home,” she replied.
“What?” I had totally forgotten that the only person who knew where Tenele lived was Christina, who is now back in the States. I thought Rachael knew, so that’s why I brought her with. But despite my poor sense of direction, we eventually made it somewhat near Tenele’s homestead and we met her sister who took us to her home. There I met her mother again, and tried to be very kind, but it was hard knowing what her mother had done to Tenele. Her mother tried to kiss Lucia, but Lucia pulled away, so then she kissed the baby Luciano and pretended to be very loving in front of me, but I could tell it was all a show. So we took Tenele back with us and she is living at the home with us until we can meet with MYC to make permanent plans.
While there are many stories I could write already, there is one person I think deserves mentioning: Gogo (grandmother). Gogo is the house mother, an older woman who cooks and cleans and keeps the girls in order. Titi is the reinforcer of rules, helps the girls study, and keeps Gogo company. Gogo doesn’t speak any English, but she has a quiet, loving presence about her that is so powerful. She loves the girls, it is evident. She wants Tenele to stay in the home because she enjoys her company and she adores Lucia and Luciano. In fact, when Gogo holds baby Luciano, the whole room lights up. Titi told me that Gogo and Tenele have a very good relationship and are friends because they keep each other company during the day and Gogo also teaches Tenele some mothering skills that Tenele has never been taught/shown. Also, when I helped Dlasile and sent her off with some food and money for bus fare so she can go to school, Gogo put her hands over her heart and thanked me again and again. She cares so much about these girls, and it’s beautiful. She is beautiful. I can’t wait to get to know her more. She also is so excited about the skills my mom is teaching her. She is making a purse and is so excited to have a project and sewing/crocheting, etc. Gogo may be behind the scenes in many ways, but she is already making a profound impact in my life. It reminds me of the verse: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight.” -1 Peter 3:3-4 I hope I can follow in her footsteps of what true beauty really means.