A Summer in Swaziland: An Intern’s Excitement By: JD Murphy

Last summer was my first trip to Swaziland and my first time serving with Heart for Africa. I had served on several mission trips to Mexico, but during the other trips my heart had not been affected as much as it was while serving with Heart for Africa. Jesus showed me what it truly means to be humble. He showed me that a missions trip is not always about building something, but just about getting on your hands and knees and placing a new pair of shoes on a child’s feet or just playing with them and seeing them smile or hold your hand. I have always wanted to serve on a missions trip longer then two weeks and Jesus has blessed me with this amazing opportunity. I am looking forward to getting to experience a long term missions trip and witnessing what other lessons God plans to show me this summer in Swaziland. I have also prayed about serving as an intern this summer to see if Jesus is calling me to serve Him as a missionary and I am looking forward to Him speaking to me while I serve in Swaziland. Since coming home from my trip last summer Jesus has filled my heart and head with the memories from my trip everyday. Until then I count down the days till I bored the plane and head to Swaziland, the place that truly changed my heart and my life.

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An Intern Summer Wrap Up By: Jana Franz

54 days in Swaziland

12 hour night shifts at El Roi Baby Home

46 homesteads visited in the communities surrounding Project Canaan

3 seasons of Flashpoint watched

THOUSANDS of TOMS Shoes placed on children’s feet

11 babies loved on at El Roi Baby Home

1 snake sighting

60 loads of laundry hand washed

23 rural churches blessed

2 fires fought by interns

10 hearts forever changed

I’m not sure that I, or any of the interns, knew what we would ultimately experience during our time here in Swaziland.  I know when we return home, we will need to be prepared to share our experiences and memories with our family and friends who will be curious about our time spent here.  Some memories will be easy to share such as riding in the back of the Isuzu on bumpy roads trying not to ingest too much dirt or chasing goats hoping to catch one.  But how do you put in words what we experienced when it is sometimes hard for us to understand ourselves?  I met a family of 18 at a homestead and none of the 6 adults had any permanent employment.  I held a child that is HIV positive.  I saw tears run down a gogo’s face as she explained to us that she often does not know where her next meal will come from because she relies on handouts.  I visited with a young blind woman who is often left at her homestead by herself and has been raped because she is vulnerable.  I stepped into homesteads where more people than I can count on one hand sleep in one room and hope that the few dirty blankets they own will keep them warm at night.  I met a man that walks 2 ½ hours to and from work each day and then does manual labor in the hot African sun.  And while these are only a few of the stories I experienced, I know that each intern experienced the same or others that are similar.

While it may be difficult to explain our experiences in Swaziland with the words that would give them the justice they deserve, I’ve realized that it’s not about trying to understand and explain specific experiences because some things are not meant to be understood by us.  But what I have come to clearly understand about our time here is that nothing we have experienced was by accident.  God invites us every day to join Him in what He is doing.  I love knowing that He was preparing each of our hearts to accept the invitation to join Him in Swaziland this summer and we did.  It was His plan to bring Ally, Britta, Caroline, Chris, Garrett, Jessica, Kaylen, Rebekah, Reece and I to Swaziland to experience specific people and specific places and specific events but most importantly to experience Him.  Our opportunity to be here was not because we are special or because we deserved it but because of the grace of God.  And because of His invitation and His mighty grace, ten hearts have been forever changed.

“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 any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4: 12-13

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Student Intern Blog By: Britta Jarvie

When life presents you with the opportunity to go to Africa you don’t say no… at least I don’t.  When I found out about the internship with Heart for Africa I immediately knew that I wanted to apply and I began to pray that I would be accepted. Serving the Swazi people was exactly how I wanted to spend my summer and I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t. I had been to Africa before and it was an incredible experience, one that made me happy and at peace. I was anxious and excited at the thought of coming back.

I arrived in Swaziland on June 14 and each day since has been a testament to me that God is real, God lives, and God is always with us. I have visited over 25 families and their homesteads and served with hundreds of Swazi adults and children. I have heard story after story of heartbreak and suffering. I have had to walk away from people who I knew would not be safe and I often had to accept that there was nothing that I could do for them but pray. I’ve held babies on a weekly and sometimes daily basis that had empty bellies and aching hearts. I have seen, heard, and made witness to things I never wanted to believe were possible and wished could never happen. But I can’t and will not deny the things my eyes have seen.

But amidst all of the despair, I still have great hope and calmness in my heart, not just for the Swazi people but also for myself. I have true peace – not from money, possessions, or people. I have peace from God, a glorious God who understands our deepest fears and our smallest concerns. A God who picks us up, places us in the palm of His hands, and let’s us know He has all things within His control.

As I prepare to leave Swaziland I know that I can go with a peaceful heart and a cheerful countenance knowing that the great Creator has each of us, including me, in his tender out-reached hand. I leave with a hope for things to come. I have an understanding that all things will someday be made right, and that God will never leave us comfortless. So when my heart begins to ache for the people I have grown to love, or my heart saddens for the despair that I have witnessed, I will remember that God has all things in His control. He knows us, loves us, and will never leave us because He lives. He is always with us.

Isaiah 41: 10 and 13

10 Fear though not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

13 For I the Lord they God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

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Student Intern Blog by: Kaylen Knepp

What a wonderful week!

Thursday was our first day of distributing TOMS Shoes. We partner with TOMS to help provide children with new shoes. TOMS is a company in Los Angeles that with every pair of shoes purchased, gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need around the world. One for One™. We started off our day with a 5:15 a.m. wakeup to get everything ready for the ride over to El Shaddai Children’s Home (partner home with Heart for Africa). Our first stop was the preschool of El Shaddai, which some of us had never been to before. We were greeted with warm smiles and laughter of the kids playing on the jungle gym outside, always a beautiful sight.

Being that it was our first distribution, things were a tad hectic, but NOTHING can ruin the smile you see on children’s faces from a brand new pair of shoes. We started off by measuring each child’s feet, marking their hands with the proper shoe size, pulling the shoes and then putting them on their feet to make sure they fit. After finishing the distribution at the preschool, we headed down to the primary school, which is kind of like an elementary in America. They gave us a precious welcome assembly, where Janine & Jana were able to tell them about TOMS and the importance of wearing their new shoes all the time.

A lot of times when children are given something new here, like a brand new pair of TOMS, they don’t want to wear them or scuff them up. We made sure kids understood that they needed to wear their shoes every day to keep their feet protected and could do everything in their shoes because we would be back with more TOMS Shoes in about six months. We also wanted the children to realize that their new black TOMS Shoes were like the ones that us interns had bought before we came. They thought it was really cool that we had TOMS on just like them! The primary school distribution was well organized, and we are very thankful for the practice run we had Thursday.

We ended our day with hanging out at the Gables (mall) where we waited to pick up Chloe from school. We always love being out in about throughout Swaziland, you really feel like you part of the community when you see it in so many different aspects.

Being able to see all the children’s smiles and hearing their laughter after receiving their new pair of TOMS Shoes was such a delight. Knowing that was some of the only pair of new shoes those children have ever received is a hard concept to swallow, but we are so grateful for our partnership with TOMS and the new shoes each child receives. We are also looking forward to distributing more TOMS through out the summer in the community!

Today, Friday is a much more laid back day, which is wonderful since we’ve been on the go all week! The girl interns had the day to clean and tidy up things, along with finishing a rock wall by the Lodge. I, Kaylen, was lucky enough to join in on the visit to the clinic with our eight beautiful babies for their check up.  They needed one extra person to help. It was super interesting to see how the health field is here, something I’ll never forget. Reece was in charge of trash, which I know might sound somewhat unfair, but he does get to drive the ATV around PC all day! So grateful for Reece! The other two guy interns visited their churches with Jimmy for the day to let them

know when they would be coming next week and to deliver maize & Manna Packs. Ally and Caroline made some yummy peanut butter cookies with their free time today, which we totally suggest trying at home! (1 cup peanut butter + 1 egg + 1 cup sugar) Yummy. Pictures below are of baby David J He’s getting so big & healthy!

Photos by: Garrett Lobaugh

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