Swaziland Mission Trip 2015
Like Jesus by Abby Colby
August 24, 2015
To strive to be like Jesus is an everyday task something that can always be improved. He was literally perfect and blameless in every way. Sometimes being more like Jesus seems like doing stuff, just working for God all the time. But is that really what God wants? Isn’t our whole point of existence to have a relationship with him? What good are the works that you do for him if it’s not because of your relationship with him? We know as Christians that we do not get into Heaven by works, but then what do we do our works for? Going in a mission trip is something I did for God and because I have a relationship with him enough to want to do his will. To strive to be with Jesus constantly and listen to his voice is something we should all feel is necessary; to never be satisfied with what you have now.
God wants to get closer and closer to you, so why wouldn’t we want to get as close as possible to God? That’s something we can do a lot here. We can nudge people to want more and more of God by showing his greatness and his love and letting him work through us. By showing the Jesus that’s in us we can then start to be more like him.
It feels like we are doing Jesus’ work as we are standing in the care points and there are dozens of kids around us starving for love and begging for us to give it them. They are literally climbing into our arms and have this desperate and jealous spirit to them. It’s precious. That’s how I imagine Jesus walking through the crowds. He is just one man walking through hundreds of people tugging at his clothes, crying out for him, desperate for him and the power of God in him.
It’s not easy, to be Gods vessel and give it all to these kids, but it’s what we were brought here to do. To strive for God means not standing still in that crowd. It means bending down and picking up that child that isn’t sweet or kind to others and loving him anyway- like God loves us. When we take steps in the crowd carrying God’s will with us, God takes steps towards us also.
A precious moment
The Naked Cowboy by Kayla S.
The day God showed me how dirty I really am. I cried and I loved. The day started when we got to a care point and our contact asked for 4 volunteers to help sort shoes in a storage tank. I ended up doing it and it was miserably beautiful. We all were continually sneezing, but we got to sort out shoes that would be distributed to the kids the rest of my team was playing with. Totally worth even minute of discomfort. After that we went another care point. This was so incredible! I got off the bus and was immediately being bombarded with little arms begging to be held. My heart broke open with an intensity to love. About 10 minutes after arriving kids were pulling out old bowls. It was time to eat. I sat down and waites. Soon I was sitting with 3 young boys and a little girl. One boy, who was probably One and a half, a a running around in nothing but a t-shirt. So he was affectionately deemed the naked cowboy. Later on I went to sit in the shade because it had gotten a little hot. The Naked Cowboy came over and wanted to be held… I knew it was coming. I tried to ignore his plea. I mean come on, he was naked baby and I was exhausted and did not want pee all over me. Then God spoke to me. He said “who are you to deny him? You come to me this way all the time.” I just pulled the naked cowboy into my lap right then. God totally showed me how gross, and dirty, and untouchable I am. I come to him broken, bare, and with nothing. Not once has He ever turned me away because I am missing something that makes me desirable. To God I am worth it all and I am beautiful. I spent the rest of the day with the naked cowboy’s hand wrapped around my finger. It has been a constant reminder for God’s unconditional love for my broken self.
Luckiest Girl in the World by Madyson C.
I am the luckiest girl in the world.
I haven’t showered in three days. My arms are sore from picking up preschoolers for six hours a day. My lip was bitten by an ant a few hours ago. My legs are sore from walking to church and back today. I have a lot of empty Coke bottles next to my bed. There’s a rooster outside my window that has a freaking lot to say. It’s quite cold in the house right now. I’m very, very tired… And I am the luckiest girl in the world.
I’m in Africa. I have children to love, girls to pour into, and serious worship to be focusing on. I hung out with lions and elephants on Saturday, dude. I’m in Africa, being romanced so sweetly by my Father, the wildest of lovers. He’s painting me sunsets, He’s writing me music, He’s giving me rain in the middle of Swaziland’s dry season, He’s showing me how much He loves me on the daily.
He’s so poetic. He’s so gentle. He’s a storm, He’s lightning, and thunder, and the dew on the grass in the morning. He’s a child running up to me when I get out of the bus at the care point, He’s choir music in Siswati, He’s the out-of-tune worship of African church. He’s the sweet smile of a tired three-year-old. He’s the wise words of the shepherds. He’s my constantly looping music. He’s a song. He’s the waves and the wind. He’s essays and sonnets and novels and I could write a song every day for a million years and still not make music that was as beautiful as He.
This isn’t a long blog. I just love Him. He just loves me. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
The Gift of Love by Sarah H
Another of Abby’s teammates posted this:
We love because he first loved us.”
1 John? ?4?:?19? NIV
It was our first day of going out to serve in the care points and my heart was full of excitement and expectancy for what the Lord was planning to do. I had no idea what to expect and I loved that! All I knew was God was going to work, and he did.
The minute we arrived at the carepoint we were immediately welcomed by adorable children with loving arms. These bright eyed kids were enamored with the fact that these white people had come to love on them. The minute we stepped off the bus every child in sight ran and jumped into every open pair of arms they could find—that is every child but one. Before I had the chance to pick up one of these adorable giddy children, one little girl caught my eye. Standing off by herself was a little girl around the age of four. Just by a first glance at this child you could see her yellow round eyes from sickness and her round belly from malnutrition. I saw confusion in her eyes as she watched all of the other children being held and loved on with huge smiles on their faces. So without a second thought, I ran up to this lonely confused child with the hope to scoop her in my arms and love on her. However, when I tried to pick her up, the strangest thing happened. At first, she hesitated when I reached my arms out to her, unlike most children who immediately grab on. Once I was fully able to pick her up, she was clueless on what to do. Instead of wrapping her legs around me, her skinny little legs just dangled by my side. I didn’t understand. I thought to myself, “How is it possible for a child to not know how to be held?” Then it hit me. This child had never been held before. No one had ever gone out of their way to show her love. Everything clicked and I realized that she was completely unfamiliar with the concept of love.
As the day progressed, she slowly warmed up to me. It started out rough though. Once I picked her up, I took her to get her food and sat her in my lap while she ate. The whole time I tried to make her laugh or smile, but she still remained very stand off-ish. I was not seeing any fruit and there were literally hundreds of other children I could be loving on so I figured I might as well set this child down while I move on to another. In this moment I felt the Lord whisper, “Not yet Sarah. My work here is not done.” Not only did he want His precious child to feel true love, but He also wanted to use this as a reminder to me of the perfect love we can find through Christ. As my heart opened to this idea, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been able to watch. As time passed, the same child who was hesitant and confused to let me hold her, turned into a child who would not leave my side for one second. She followed me everywhere and wanted to be held every chance she got. Once she had experienced this genuine love, there was no going back for her—she wanted every bit she could get.
This experience was the perfect reminder for me of the love we have in Jesus. We are the little girl dangling her legs by his side. We think we know what love is, but we can’t actually comprehend this until we find the love of Jesus. No amount of earthly love could compare to the love our Heavenly Father has for us. Once we get to experience being held in his loving arms, there’s no going back. We want more & more, and he time after time he gives us just that.
I will always remember this sweet child and the amazing reminder of Gods love she was to me that day in Africa. Sadly I was never able to figure out the girl’s name. I tried multiple times to ask her, but she didn’t know one bit of English and I didn’t know one bit of Siswati. However our language barriers didn’t matter because love is a language in itself. There are a lot of things love is and isn’t, but that day love was the simple act of holding a child through the love of Jesus.
A few photos from Swaziland and Sanni Bunanni by Abigail M.
Internet is very spotty in Swaziland, so Abby’s team has not been able to update as much as we would have hoped. However, here are some words from Abigail M., as well as some beautiful photographs courtesy of Abby Colby, Abigail M., and Preston. Enjoy!
by Abigail M
Life in Africa is amazing. I’ve seen and experienced so many new things. More importantly, God has taught me so much.
Ministry has been great. Most of our time in ministry has been helping in a preschool and really just pouring into the kids at Ntabas Care Point.
We’ve also done some things I wasn’t expecting to do in Swazi. We were able to go on a home visit one day to a little old lady in the community. I was expecting to spend time with her and share the gospel, but we ended up moving ant infested wood to a fire pit and sweeping the ground with branches (yes, branches) in her back yard. But you know, TIA (This Is Africa) so expect the unexpected. One morning we got to the care point and was asked to gather fire wood to cook lunch. The process of gathering fire wood was kind of ridiculous. We had to walk a mile down this dirt road, climb down into a creepy valley, gather armful of wood, and walk the mile back. We also had to wash all the dishes that the kids eat off of everyday.
I was feeling a little discouraged in that I didn’t think we were making much of a difference in the community. But my teammate (s/o to Becca!) reminded me of the passage in Matthew 25.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Whatever you do. That means everything you do for these people, you’re doing for God. So I’m sweeping the ground for God. I’m gathering firewood for God. I’m cleaning these nasty dishes for God to eat off of.
With this perspective, I’ve decided to give full effort in everything I do. I mean, if you’re doing something directly for God than wouldn’t you do it with all your heart?
God has also taught me through our lifestyle in Swazi.
I’ll be honest, our living arrangements are kind of difficult. We sleep on flat mattresses on the floor, cook on a gas stove, use the bathroom in portapotties, and shower in a small shack outside. Our washing machine is a bucket and our dishwasher is two small bowls and a rag.
I love it, though! I’ve been stripped of all comforts and stability at home-family, friends, my bed, hot showers, wifi, unlimited food, etc. Now that I no longer have those things to comfort me, I have to rely completely on God. He is my comfort and He takes care of me.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether in plenty of in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
In all the craziness of this trip, I’ve been able to find comfort and strength in God to carry me through. The intimacy and trust that has been created between us would have never happened without this trip.
God has seriously shown up in Swaziland. I could tell you all the awesome things that I’ve done, but it would be a lie. I’ve done nothing this month. It’s all been God and He’s done some incredible work.
First message from the Swaziland team (posted by Isabella)
Hey hello hi from Africa! We just ended our first day of ministry here in Swaziland. Well, the day isn’t over yet. So we still have ministry opportunity. Thats a cool thought. Its Friday, July 3, 2015 – just a regular date besides the fact it is the day before the forth of July. But not for me. Not for our team. Today we did what we have been preparing to do for months, for days, this is why we flew 15 hours and drove probably, 5 hours, this is why we went through training camp, why we did team building games, why we prayed and worshiped, why we begged for wisdom to rain down on us, and why we cried our eyes out because our hearts longed to love people we haven’t even met yet – and so many more deeper/unexplainable things. Well, today was the first day of why we did all of that. I’ll start from the moment I woke up. I remember it being 4:23 in the morning and the rooster that (I’ve been threatening to turn into soup) cock-a-doodle-doooooooooeeddd so freaking loud and I realized my headphones had fallen out of my ears, so I put them back in and continued to sleep until 7:00. I took a bucket shower (love those…really) and asked the wonderful Kayla to braid my hair. Each morning our rad leaders have had us have a devotional time, and this morning I took a beautiful walk with Jenna, Kayla, and Erin. We sat and prayed. We sat and just looked out at the people and land. It was possibly one of the most peaceful moments. It was getting close to the time when we would be picked up to go to our first care point, to love on some absolutely beautiful children. So we headed back. The bus came and we loaded up ourselves, our water bottles (s/o to JoJo), and our lunches. Tommy (our bus driver) took us down one rocky, dusty road, which led to another rocky, dusty road, which led to another, and another…. And, maybe, another. Until we reached our first care point. Tommy opened the door for us and we all jumped out, children from nowhere started running toward us jumping in our arms and tugging on our skirts. We would tell them ‘hello’ in Siswati, which is “Saubona” and they would say hello back… it was love at first sight. The little fella who ran up and jumped in my arms had stains of snot underneath his nose, some of his fingernails were definitely non-existent, his clothes were torn in multiple places, but his eyes caught me way off guard – I saw a level of thought, wisdom, and deepness I did not expect. We ran around, I tipped him over and tickled him, I kissed his sweaty forehead, and his sweet, precious hands, and every-time I sat him down he wanted to be held again and again. Setting him down for even a minute was so not acceptable. He wanted to be held. In fact, they all did. I know for a fact all of our arms will be tired tomorrow from all of the holding. And I love it. But everyone wants to be held, right? Everyone wants to know they are worth being held, everyone wants to know that even if they have wounds, they are worth being kissed and loved, over and over. And when those big, brown eyes looked up at me, and those little arms stretched out begging to be picked up and held, I couldn’t not hold him. Or any of them who asked. How deserving of love they are. [Around lunch time we left that care point and headed for another.] Back to the rocky, dusty road, and another, and another, and maybe, another. We rolled down the streets with cows roaming down them, and kids coming to the care point from school, we waved out of the window yelling: “shop shop!” Which means: woohoo, happy, or, basically, good. Then you touch their thumb to yours and kind of do a thumb handshake. Its really great. We got to our second care point, and it was almost a repeat of the first… The kids running up, tugging on us, wanting to be held. The girl who came up to me, shattered my heart into a million pieces. I picked her up and imminently started kissing her forehead. Her forehead was covered in a black fungus type thing. I’m still unsure of what it is called. But I was told it was a fungus type thing. She didn’t really have hair, her nails were scrunched up, red from blood, and one had a huge purple bubble inside, some nails where gone. Her clothes were also ripped, and she had something going on with her skin. But oh, oh, sweet Jesus she was the most beautiful child ever. I stood in line with her to get lunch, rice with some carrots and meat. We sat down and as she sat in my lap eating I sat there looking at her, her and all the other children, there had to be more than 100. So many children. And I looked at my team, holding so many babies – laughing, tickling, holding. And I looked at the woman serving the kids from a huge pot, and I looked at Zenidaya sitting in my lap and I leaned my head against hers and I felt tears coming out of my eyes. I didn’t want them to, but they did. And they just kept coming. Its not like I don’t know that kids live like this every day and its normal to them, and lots of worse things can happen, I know those things. I’ve seen these things before. But every time it shocks me. This girl has some black fungus all over her head, a little boy has a huge stomach from worms, they are all drinking unclean water, and another little boy shouldn’t even have a shirt on because the hole is so big in it, and I’m over in America with perfectly clean water to do everything in, I have a working toilet, a doctor, a way to wash my hands, food, and then we hear people in America complain. What is there to complain about? You’ve got it all at your fingertips, and you’re going to complain because your electricity went out and you can’t see your TV show? Or your hot water isn’t working? These babies haven’t showered in who knows how long, and their showers aren’t even hot. After lunch we sat against a wall in the shade and every time the wind blew my hair she would brush it out of my face and the stroke my hair and face. She wouldn’t stop doing that. Every time. She would brush my hair back then just stroke my face and stare into my eyes. I saw so much wonder there. So much wonder. I started crying again. Not much, just a couple tears here and there. She just kept staring at me and would wipe them away, like it was her job to wipe my tears. What an angel. Shes perfect in every way. She got up from my lap to run and play and be a kid, and I talked to some teenagers, gave some piggyback rides, kissed some more foreheads, and spun in circles till I got dizzy, and she’d come back to me and I’d hold her, and she’d give me a hug and just stay there, holding onto the hug. We just sat for I don’t know how long, and stayed in our hug. More tears on my end, more kisses for her forehead to keep. And every time she would feel my tears she would look at me, move my hair back, I’d tickle her and she’d laugh – the most contagious laugh. And my tears would be accompanied by a smile from a deep joy that I haven’t known for quite some time. She’d leave and spread her laugh to others. And I would go off doing other things. But then she’d come running back, again and again and again. And we would both hold onto that hug. More kisses. More tears. More deep joy. More deep love. And, well, even more kisses on that precious forehead. She’d hold both of my hands. She’d brush my hair back. And she’d sing, a song I didn’t know. She would sing softly. I don’t know what she was saying. But it was beautiful. Before we left all the kids sang to us. Songs in their language, and sang The Lords Prayer in English. I recorded it. A beautiful sound. A beautiful, incredible sound. Beautiful defined. Then we went outside and stayed in our hug again. I told her: “nee•an•goon•tan•da•” which means: I love you. I repeated it over and over, afraid that she wouldn’t hear it again soon. I wanted to tell her it enough times for each day of her life. But I didn’t have that long. Each time I’d tell her, she’d just stare at me with her dark, brown eyes and long black eyelashes. Filled with this mystery and depth. Oh, how I love this girl. And how I want her to know how worth loving she is. It came time to leave and I couldn’t let go. She was staying in our hug and holding so tight. She kissed my cheek and I kissed hers. I kissed her forehead again and again. And tried not to cry, if it was big or small, I didn’t want to. Not there. And I had to let go of that tiny, fragile, lovely hand and wave goodbye. I don’t even know how I felt. I still don’t know how I feel. If I knew I’d write it here. This is just about my day. Not my feelings. I am still processing my feelings. It will probably take awhile because this day is making me process majorly. It isn’t exactly easy. And this is only our first day. So, that was today. I went on a walk and sat with Jesus for awhile trying to think. It was/is needed. Thinking, that is. I just finished making rice with some of these amazing girls, and it was delicious. And then had to write this because thats how I get things out sometimes. I just have to write. Also God wouldn’t stop putting it on my heart. It’s only the first day and I have so many emotions. I’ll be honest, I’m scared. I’m deeply scared. I’m excited. I’m poured into by Jesus’ love so I want to pour out that love on these precious little ones. They’re so gentle. So deserving of tight hugs and laughter and dancing and many songs. I’m happy… No, I’m joyful. I’m so joyful. But afraid. But ready at the same time. Ready for whatever comes. But then, I’m definitely not ready. I’m secure, but then so insecure. I’m so full, but so broken. Its confusing. Its a paradox of weird things and emotions. And its only the first day. We need love sent this way, prayer sent this way, and holy, sweet, beautiful God, we need Jesus in this place. So, join us in praying? Jesus is needed. You are quite an incredible human. Thank you for reading this part of my heart. With a bunch of love, Isabella
Fundraising Status Swaziland 2015
A Letter From Abby’s Mom
People have asked me “How can you send your children away? Why do allow your children to go to these far away and dangerous places? Aren’t you afraid? Won’t you miss them?” Here’s my answer. Yes. But I would Rather give my children to the cause of Christ than have the world steal them away.
There is really nowhere safe in the world anymore. Our older daughter Anna went on a three month mission trip to Kenya in 2013. Her team of thirteen girls was sent to serve in one of the most unattractive and unsafe towns in the country. The terrorist attack took place while they were there- but it took place in one of the nicest and seemingly safest areas.
When Abby went to visit and help out family that are missionaries in Lithuania, we did not book her on the lesser known airline that had a day layover in an unstable country. She did reach her destination unharmed. But a few weeks later, it was that same reputable airline that she had traveled on, Lufthansa, that was intentionally crashed by the copilot into the alps, thus killing all on board. My heart breaks for the people impacted by these tragedies.
So where is safe? The only safe place is in Christ. We really just have to be ready. Safe is in the hands and will of Jesus. Safe is a right heart with God.
Which heart should I feed? She is young. She will only be 16 when she leaves at the end of June. I am her mom, and I see the pull of the world and our culture. I also see that little bit of edginess and that youthful lust for a little risk and a little adventure. I see her heart for people and for God, that thirst to know God more and to do something that matters. It needs expression somewhere. So let that expression be found in the cause of Christ.
I challenged her and asked her why Swaziland? Why not somewhere closer, cheaper, and safer? Her response was, “It seems to be the area of greatest need. And I don’t want to go somewhere easy.” She could spend the month of July lining her pockets with silver from a summer job and shopping at the mall with friends, or relaxing on the beach… And that would be OK. But instead, she has chosen to go and serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a hand up to a destitute, disease stricken people in the tiny African nation of Swaziland. How can I say no to that? I know there are plenty of people that need the Gospel preached to them and their needs met, right here on the home front- and Abby does outreach locally. But who am I to tell Abby, or anyone else, where God is telling them to “Go ye” if God has laid somewhere on their heart? I already held her back for a year.
So here’s to the little girl with the little bit of an edge to her. The little girl with the gumption to reach for a dream and follow her heart for Jesus. I love you Abby.
So, if God speaks to you- go ahead and click that donation link.
God bless you, and thanks for stopping by,
FAQ Swaziland 2015
There are some questions that many people have asked so I’ve started this page of frequently asked questions.
1.What about the risk of Ebola?
Adventures in Missions is aware of the risk of Ebola and other diseases. If this becomes a serious issue some options would be switching mission trips or rescheduling the current trip. Some other options for trips would be Nepal, Philippians, Guatemala, Nicaragua, or Uganda for summer 2015 trips.
2.What if you cannot raise the funds needed for Swaziland?
If this were to happen I would choose between one of the less expensive trips listed above, scheduled at a time that my funds would cover.
3.What happens if you get sick, or something prevents you from being able to go at that time?
In this case, my funds would be held over and be put towards the next available mission trip that I could attend.