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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