The Journey that Changed My Life

Never before had I even been out of my own country, and there I stood waiting in line to board a plane that would lead me to a final destination of Swaziland, Africa. Nervousness and excitement filled my entire body; I was about to travel across the entire world, leaving my family behind for 10 days. Once my team and I took off from the grounds of our homeland, the journey that changed my life had begun.

Traveling to Swaziland provided me with the opportunity to be completely out  of my comfort zone and my faith was challenged in such an incredible way as well. After being seperated into teams, we were sent to specific locations around the country to serve the people there and spread the love of our amazing God. My team was assigned to the Ebholi Primary School. My most memorable experience from my mission trip to Swaziland was having the opportunity to serve and meet new people -not only on my team but the children we met at the school as well.

During the three days that we served at Ebholi, we built a garden on the school’s site with fresh crops from Project Canaan and did Vacation Bible School to share the gospel. The beautiful children of this country have some of the warmest hearts and are the most loving people that I have ever met in my life. It was once I was brought face to face with these children and what they go through on a daily basis that I realised how blessed I am to have the things in my life that I before classified as “simple”. My whole entire outlook on life has changed after traveling to Swaziland, Africa and I don’t go a day without having glimpses of their precious faces in my mind.

From my experience last year, I cannot express enough how much it would mean to me to return to Swaziland to serve the people there. I feel that God has placed it on my heart to return to this country and that is why I will be traveling back this summer.  This year, I will be serving for 15 days and my mom will be joining me for this once in a lifetime experience. I am fortunate enough to have a mother in my life that I am so close to and I cannot wait to experience what the Lord has in store for Swaziland with my own mother right by my side. There isn’t anyone else that I would rather experience this journy with – a journey that is full of Litsemba (hope) and faith in the Lord.

2010 is one year that I will absolutely never forget. It was a year that revolved around my relationship with Christ and how it grew in such an incredible way – by being exposed to trials that I never imagined I would have the ability to experience. Old and new friendships became stronger, especially with the girls from my small group, and I have memories that will go on with me for the rest of my life.  Traveling to Swaziland has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and I only have positive thoughts for the journey that will be next in my life.

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Jesus is Calling

Everyone has a story about how God speaks to them; how He beckons us. We do not know when or how but we do need to be open to his call.

That’s how I felt when I showed up at the airport in Atlanta to go on a Heart for Africa trip to Swaziland.  I did not know anyone going on the trip but I knew that God had led me to this time, this place, this organization and most certainly to the work that He was doing.

After prayer and a hot breakfast, we left the hotel each day.  While we knew there would be other meals for us, our community in Swaziland would not have that assurance.  Our goal was to provide that opportunity for them.

We met the local pastor and worked with his  members in the garden.  I learned quickly there is no language barrier when it comes to a smile.  What a blessing to hear the people  sing God’s praises as we worked beside each other weeding, digging and planting for the harvest. Throughout the week, we got the opportunity to get to know the community and the members of the church.

Everyday, more and more children would come greet and hug us.  They followed us as we went into homesteads and delivered food and prayed.  I will never forget visiting a woman who was sick and had not eaten.  Through an interpreter , she said she was sick and did not have medicine or food.  She also said she had been praying to her Jesus and He knew all of her problems.  Despite her pain and hunger, she told us “I thank Jesus for sending you here for me.”

We continued our journey to Uganda to tour orphanages.  The needs were overwhelming but I will never forget the smiles of those precious babies.l I take comfort knowing that over the next year, Project Canaan will build a home for the children in Swaziland.

As I reflect on my journey, one thing I know for sure.  I have a responsibility. I must do what I can.  As much as I can.  My life has not been the same since I returned.  I am so thankful to my immediate family, team members on the trip, and my church family in Swaziland.  I am concentrating on how I can support them and looking forward to returning to Swaziland with my daughter this summer.

He beckons.  He speaks.  And it’s a call we must answer.

Written by: Janice Johnson

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