Father and Son in Swaziland By: Scott and Evan Anderson

My name is Evan Anderson and in July 2011 I went with Heart for Africa to Swaziland.  It was an amazing experience.  One of the things that impacted me the most was the children.  When I first arrived I was so happy to see the children until one of them cupped their hands together and asked, “Can I have some food?”, it made me so sad knowing that I had no food to give them.  Another child asked me to read them a story from the bible, so I started reading the story of creation and before I knew it I had 40 kids surrounding me.  I felt like they all looked up to me.  Me, of all people!  I said to myself, “Why do they want to play and do things with me?  I’m just a regular 10 year-old boy, just like some of them.”  On the last day as we drove away the children yelled “bye!”  I was so happy.  I really liked my trip.  I recommend it to anyone.  It changed my life, now let it change yours.

By: Evan Anderson, age 10

What an amazing and proud feeling I have as a father to be able to follow up my son’s blog describing his first mission’s trip and first visit to Africa.  What Evan didn’t mention in his blog was that during this trip he came to the realization that he needed and wanted God in his life as his personal Savior.  WOW!  What a night that was to sit there next to my son and hear him literally cry out for God to save him and come into his life.  Even now tears again fill my eyes remembering that night!  What a true blessing and honor it was to a part of such an amazing 10-day trip and to be able to share it and serve God with my wife, my kids, and my father.

I remember one night sitting down in the restaurant with my dad and my son having a drink and bite to eat and realizing that there were 3 generations of Anderson men sitting there reliving the events of the day. We weren’t talking about the most recent sports stories, the current economy, Evan’s upcoming school year, but rather we were talking about the day we just had serving out in the community, what impacted us the most, what we wish we could do more of, and just how truly blessed we are back here in the United States.  Blessed we are, not just financially and with material possessions but with the fact that the mere possibility of 3 generations of any given family can actually sit down together and have a conversation.

For those of you that have been to Swaziland or any part of Africa really, you know exactly what I mean by saying that we are blessed to be able to have 3 generations sit down to talk.  That opportunity just doesn’t exist in Swaziland.  Kids are raising kids there.  The parents are long gone, and by that I mean passed away, victims of the horrific spread of AIDS/HIV across the entire country.  We knew all of this ahead of time but even while you are there you see all the kids and somehow still in the back of your mind you don’t really process it correctly.  You see all the kids and you somehow think “ oh they are just here during the day, their dad is out at work and their mom is home or also at a job.  When these kids get back home later tonight their parents will be there”.  NO!  That is not how it works in Swaziland.  When those kids go home, if they even have a home to go to, they go home to no parents.  I remember the exact moment distinctively during our trip when this fact became extremely evident to me and I no longer had that false sense in my head that somehow the kids went home to parents.  It was Thursday, the last day out in the community at our church #28, Vovovo Baptist Church.  It was shortly before lunch time and we were all outside in the school/church yard playing when my wife came up to me with a beautiful little baby girl in her arms.  The baby girl wasn’t more than a year old.  Candy then asked me how I thought she got there to the church.  I looked over at all the Go Go’s who were cooking lunch and assumed the girl was brought by one of them.  Candy said no, she came with her brother.  When I asked where her brother was, Candy motioned down next to her leg to a small boy, not more than 5 years old who was holding onto Candy’s leg for dear life.  I guess my puzzled and shocked look advised Candy that I was in disbelief, because Candy went on to tell me that the boy had walked into the yard a few moments ago with his sister strapped to his back with the girls blanket.  I just could not believe what I saw there before me.  Where were the parents and what kind of parents were they to leave their one year old child under the care of their 5 year old son?!   I will tell you what kind of parents – non-existing parents in the most literal sense! They are dead!  These two small children will now go through life with just each other and how long of a life can and will they honestly have like that?  The small boy would not leave his sister’s side. If Candy or I were holding the baby girl he was latched onto our legs.  His one year-old sister was all he had in life and if he lost her or lost sight of her he had nothing else in life. With the Pastor’s help we were finally able to convince him to let us watch his sister for a bit so he could go play and actually be a 5 year-old boy for a while.  To see his face light up when he finally realized it was ok to go play and actually be a boy instead of a father figure, that’s a smile I will never forget.  But I will also never forget the fact that him or his sister will never have the opportunity to sit down and be a part of a 3 generation conversation. They can’t even sit down with 2 generations – their parents – and talk.  And what is worse about that is that they aren’t the only ones!  There are thousands upon thousands of other kids just like them.

The next time you talk to your kids or your parents – even just talking, no special movement or accomplishment, just simply talking – remember how truly blessed you are.  Thank God right then and there for that conversation for there are so many kids in Swaziland that will never know the joy of a simple conversation with their parents.  Conversations that we take for granted all too much.  Shame on us.

In closing let me encourage you, just as my son did, to make plans now to go on one of the many trips next year.  It will truly change your life, open your eyes and heart to a country in need, a country full of children who will never be able to sit at a table with 3 generations of their family and just talk about the day they had.  Stop taking life for granted, stop getting lost in your everyday conversations, decide today to give of yourself by serving on one of the mission trips. If you are a parent, especially a father, lead your family on the right path and go serve together as a family!  Who knows, you too might be able to sit around the table with 3 generations of your family and talk about the amazing day of service you all just had.  Or maybe, your son or daughter will come to you and ask you to kneel beside them as they ask Christ to be the Lord of their life!  Who knows unless you go and find out!

Share on Facebook

Comments are closed.