So quickly time comes and goes. In one sense it seems it was just yesterday we were boarding the plane for Africa and in another it seems like we still have so long until we get to see all your beautiful faces that it hurts! However, we are very much enjoying our time here in Swaziland and with each passing day we find ourselves more and more involved with the people we came here to love and the works. Throughout the past month we admittedly have fought homesickness, but oddly enough I think this is bound to come when you start to feel somewhat "at home" in a new place. For a visual of our first full month check out our month 5 video journal below.
We have been able to continue with the basketball team at Salesian High, and I am continuing to work with the girls at St. Anne's High School while we continue writing proposals and reports and doing assessments and making plans for the province. I have also started to visit with the hospice patients at Hope House which is managed by a sister of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (another Salesian family congregation). Hope House is a beautiful compound full of life and beauty despite the terminal status of most who live there. It is a community of individual homes where patients live with their caregivers in a comfortable setting with medical professionals who can care for them during their last stages of life or in some cases until they are stable enough to return to their homes. This ranges from cancer and AIDS hospice to rehabilitation for those who have suffered a stroke or other illness. Sister Elsa is an amazing sister and nurse and it isn't difficult to see how well the patients who come to Hope House are cared for under her watch. I can't describe how humbling and appreciative a day visiting and talking with these people can make you feel.
Along with the above a few of our fellow MYC volunteers completed their time here and have gone back to their homes so in their absence we are beginning to build further relationships with the 48 children in the care of the Salesian Children's Home which are ran by Manzini Youth Care. These children are exceptional! Among them are the head boy of one of the best private schools in Swaziland, a child who scored in the top ten in all of Swaziland academically, numerous musicians who are able to see an instrument for the first time and pick it up as if they have practiced for years, and an athlete who has sprinting times which rival those of a US division one athlete just to name a few. These kids who are considered vulnerable children and have come from being orphaned and on the streets truly are our future and despite their circumstances they will make you very hopeful as with them the future is incredibly bright!
We suffered a few disappointments in trying to schedule games for the basketball boys this month each time resulting in the boys getting excited for a game only to find it was cancelled. We couldn't bear their disappointment one more time so most recently even though the game was cancelled we managed to find some uniforms and arrange for team photos as well as a friendly game between the boys to include uniforms, a score table with a time and score keeper (myself) as well as a referee and coach for both sides (all Josiah) and to arrange benches for both teams as well as water and spectators as their peers stayed on after school to cheer them on. They were admittedly still disappointed about not having an outside game and at first unsure of our idea to play one another on their own turf, but after the game while having PB&J's it was declared "the best day ever at Salesian High School!" and we heard more than one "coach, can we do this again soon?" making it all completely worth it.
We hope everyone has enjoyed their Lenten season and soaks up all the Easter family festivities! We miss you all very much! Five months down, seven to go; by the next update we will be halfway there! Please continue to pray for us as we pray for you all!
In other news this month I was able to meet the US ambassador for Swaziland as she happened to be sharing her story with the girls at St. Anne's during one of my visits and we also continue to make friends from different parts of the world- most recently a very famous photographer as well as a casting director and producer, all who are also doing wonderful works in the Kingdom of Swaziland. We also attended several cultural events in which we got to watch some of our boys play marimbas and also to experience a "mock" traditional Swazi wedding and wear traditional Swazi attire thanks to our friends from St. Anne's. I can't forget also getting our Swazi visas (for TWO years) and our house rented! On top of this living with a religious community during Lent is very busy and lots of fun, especially when the Bishop rides into church from your house on a donkey!