I am home. I’ve been home a little less than a week now. It’s so bizarre at first to be here. It is like a parallel universe. How do these two places exist at the same time? It is hard to grasp. The simple slow paced life of Swazi to the crazy hectic frantic pace of America.
Leaving the farm was just as hard as I knew it would be. Lots of tears. So many goodbyes. So many questions. Little hands on my face…with a sweet little voice that said….Don’t go. Serious sobbing from others. One final dance party and play day with Miss Tiersa. I just really can’t even talk about it without crying. I haven’t felt this raw in a really long time.
Two really amazing significate things happened in my final days in Swazi.
The first…. A mom whose son I had taught for 2 years at the preschool told me me she had a gift for me. She kept telling me she would bring it….but it just never happened.
I found out later that this mom had just had surgery….and she was in a lot of pain and couldn’t walk very far. So two days before I was to leave she called me and asked if I could meet her at the clinic so she could give me the gift. The Clinic is in the local community. To walk there and back would of taken me a good amount of time. Time that I really did not feel like I had. I was packing and sorting and cleaning my house. My 1st response was….no I don’t have time…. sorry. I thought maybe I could send one of the older kids up to the clinic to meet her for the gift. But then the Holy Spirit started to intervene. Go to the clinic. You have time. Make it work. This matters.
I happened to have the car keys on me for one of the farm vehicles…so I hopped in I and started to drive up. I called Peter real fast to make sure it was ok. He gave me the green light…. I stopped and asked some kids if they wanted to come up with me. They said…. YES…so a bunch of kids piled in and we made our way up to the clinic. It is a quick 10 minute drive and mostly just up our farm road. We sang Christmas songs at the top of our lungs on the way there and back…. it really was a special impromptu last moment with the kids.
Once at the clinic I saw the Mom walking up. She gave me a gift in a Christmas bag. I thanked her and we gave each other a big hug. I told her how much I loved having her son in my class and I would never forget him. We actually didn’t say much to each other. I went back to the car and we drove back to the farm singing….We wish you a Merry Christmas.
I dropped off the kids….and headed back to my flat to finish up my work. I opened up my gift bag and in it was a pretty big box of chocolates. I was really surprised because I have seen these boxes at the store…and they aren’t cheap. For a rural Swazi I know this is a significate amount of money for them. Once again…I was just so humbled. Then I opened the box. Now let me remind you it has been quite hot in Swaziland. Like over 100 degrees hot. So when I opened the box….well it was like chocolate goo. It was just a melted mess.
I put it in the fridge and went about my business. Later on I started to think about this chocolate…the chocolate goo in my fridge. What a sacrifice it truly was. The little boy in my class has not had properly fitting shoes all year. We seriously had to STUFF his feet into his shoes. I gave up…I couldn’t do it. I have no idea how he got his feet in those shoes that were probably 2 sizes too small. I almost bought him shoes several times. Now of course I wish I did. But there is this fine line you try to walk. Letting people have their dignity. Not always giving them a hand out. You can’t do everything for everyone…. Sometimes it’s really hard to know what the right thing to do is.
Anyhow….I thought…that chocolate cost pretty close to what a new pair of shoes would of cost. That is so humbling to me. That is the most precious box of chocolates I’ve ever gotten. Can you imagine the sacrifice?!? It’s baffling to me. I wish they bought the shoes. Lord knows I didn’t need a box of chocolate….and yet I know there is a message to me in that. It’s Love….Love wins. Love matters. Loving others makes such a difference. What an amazing gift I received once again.
I am so thankful God called me to Swaziland….just to love. Yes I am proud of the Preschool and all that we accomplished there. But more than that…. I am humbled to have had the honor to love God’s precious children.
The other gift I received was from Gods hand himself. I still can’t actually believe what happened. When I left for the airport from the farm….I was so incredibly exhausted. I did not sleep. I had to say my final goodbyes….and leave Louie. (Which was just as hard as leaving the children!) I was a wreck. I was just so emotionally spent. I had a 6 hour drive to the airport from the farm and then I had to hang out in the airport for 10 more hours before boarding my flight. (It took me 42 hours to get to SeaTac.)
I was getting ready to board the plane and the ticket agent at the desk said…Oh your seat has been changed. She scratched out my old seat and wrote a new seat number on it. I was a bit annoyed. I knew this flight was FULL…and I had picked a seat I wanted. I thought….awesome…just my luck. Well to my great surprise…my new seat was an aisle seat in the exit row…with tons of leg room. I did not ask for this seat.
I put my stuff away and this young man came up and sat next to me. He reminded me right away of Chance (My son). Same age…similar look…etc. We started to chit chat a bit. He was on his way to Nepal. I was like…OH…my son went to Nepal. He was going on a mission trip. OH…my son went there on a mission trip! What was he doing in Africa? He was working at an orphanage in Mozambique….. OH….I was working at an orphanage in Swaziland. And so the conversations began.
But then something happened. All of a sudden….He was speaking over me. He knew things. Things I did not tell him. He had a message for me…a message from Jesus…. Jesus was so proud of me. He knew how scared I was to go to Swaziland alone. He was so proud of me for obeying and doing what he asked me to do. I just kind of sat there like….Huh…is this happening?!? He spoke to me many other things. Things I am still processing.
After quite a while….it was lights out on the airplane and I fell asleep. But I was in a lot of pain. I did something to my leg a week or so before. I was quite concerned to fly because it hurt the most when I was sitting. I had people praying for me about this issue. Well when I woke up the young man sitting next to me asked how I slept. I said…Not so great. I explained about my leg. He asked me to touch where it hurt and then he layed hands on me and prayed for my leg to have complete healing. I felt this deep heat and tingling sensation in my leg….and yes you know what happened. The pain went away. And it hasn’t come back.
That is what a life with God is like. Inconceivable. I don’t think I could make this stuff up if I tried.
Just before I left Swaziland I started listening to a song by Chris Tomlin called Good Good Father….and it starts like this…
Oh I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like but I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night and you tell me that you’re pleased and that I’m never alone. You’re a good, good father. It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are, and I’m loved by you, it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.
It’s a great song. Look it up if you don’t know it. And boy did I experience that. Exactly. Such a good father. Such a loving heavenly father. I’m constantly in awe of how God shows up and loves me.
Just before I left Swaziland I just really couldn’t pray. It was water works if I tried. I just couldn’t keep it together. Like I said I was so raw.
This morning I came across this passage in Romans…
Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
I know this is what happened. The Spirit did the praying for me. God sent a special messenger to me. Such a good good father he is.
I encourage you to read the rest of the passage in Romans 8. Take some time in this crazy season to seek your Fathers Face. Let him speak to you. Let him fill you! I know he wants to.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for your prayers and kind words of encouragement the past few weeks. It has meant so much to me.
I pray you have a Very Merry Christmas.