Fear not my friends. I shall continue to bring you all of the silly stories you have come to expect from this silly blog. But, I will be adding a new aspect to some of my posting . . . Let me explain.
My wife told me many years ago, when we first began dating, that she was going to be a doctor, and that she was going to go to Africa to help children.
After we were married, and then children arrived, this dream of hers seemed to slowly move into the background. Raising two daughters (and a childish husband) required all of her time for several years.
As our daughters grew more independent, Cynthia was able to battle her way through nursing school . . . Not quite a doctor, but certainly a step towards part of her plan. Still, Africa seemed to be nowhere on the horizon.
Fast forward a few more years, and an opportunity arose for her to go on a mission trip to Swaziland, Africa. I was delighted that her dream, although seemingly on a minor scale, would be realized. Little did I know, that mission trip was just the tip of the iceberg.
A while after returning from the mission trip, the directors of the Compassionate Life Foundation, through which she went on the trip, informed her that they intended to step down, and asked if she would take over as executive director.
*Jaw hits floor*
Cynthia accepted and, to make a long story short, is why I am now killing time in the Johannesburg Airport, waiting to board my flight back to the U.S.
It has been an incredible, frustrating, rewarding, awesome journey.
Compassionate Life is a small foundation that provides the primary funding for the El Shaddai Orphanage in Swaziland, and the CLF care center in the city of Manzini, Swaziland.
There is so much to say, too much for one post, but I will share a a bit of my first experience in Swaziland with you as I sit in the airport waiting to depart Africa.
Africa is amazing. It’s like a different planet when you have spent your whole life in U.S.
The trees are foreign. The animals are foreign. The social customs are foreign.
There is fear:
Will that bug bite me causing a prolonged and excruciating death?
Do Wildebeests eat humans? And do they have the ability to get through the locked car door from which I am viewing them?
Will I do something to offend the people I meet?
If I smile and nod at someone who said something I didn’t understand, will I end up married to one of their daughters? (There are no limits to the ridiculous levels fear can take you)
After spending ten days in Swaziland, I now have some of the answers to these questions.
Our first days were spent at the orphanage located up in the mountains. I don’t know how anyone could spend time there without falling in love with the children. Most have lost parents to AIDS, some were abandoned, and others have stories unknown to us. When you hear some of these horrific stories, and then see the smiling faces that are a result of living at the orphanage, it changes you.
They love to have their picture taken, and indicate so by yelling, “Shoot, shoot” (a picture). When you ask them their name, they like to give you the name of one of the other children . . . . A sport that they find hysterical, and makes it impossible to learn their already hard to pronounce names.
The second part of our time was spent in Manzini at a center (which makes you think of some large community center building, but is a small concrete structure smaller than most houses here in the states. This center provides tuition, food and tutoring for students in the local neighborhood, and for some of the top students, will also provide money for college or trade school.
Again, there is far too much to say in just one post. I could write an entire post alone on learning to drive on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, in the busy city of Manzini, where cars, people, cows and goats are going in every direction. I’m quite sure that the expletive took several years off of my life.
Or I could write an entire post on the Swazi people, who are quite peaceful, and mild mannered.
But I will just stop here with saying that it was the experience of a lifetime. And with Cynthia now acting as director of the foundation, this will likely be just the first visit of many.
Oh, I almost forgot,
The large, scary insect was a Dung Beetle, and quite harmless . . . Unless you are a hoarder of poop . . . In which case, you may suffer losses.
Wildebeests on the game preserve we were at seem rather uninterested in eating humans.
You can certainly offend people unintentionally, but I found most times, someone will politely let you know before you have gotten too far.
I am not aware of gaining any new wives during my visit.