Thursday, April 10, 2008

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CLOTHING THE CHILDREN OF THE DIRT...
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...with love and over 300 brand-new outfits, complete with underpants and sandals.
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Lisa Black, AIM missionary in Swaziland, wrote about a recent ministry experience on her blog:
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This last week has been one of the most memorable ones of my life thus far. [My daughters]Alexis, Emily and I along with three team members, Heather, Caitlin, and Becky lived in the bush to handout all the clothes to the children at 6 different care points in Nsoko. My instructions to my team of beautiful young women were this:
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" take your time, pray constantly, and listen to the whisper of the Lord."
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Africa does not need more humanitarian efforts; any celebrity can show up for that, what these children need is a very real, very tangible touch of God.
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So, we patiently set up our stations, in the dirt, with the flies, and the cattle dung, our packages of baby wipes and lotions, nail clippers, and bags of new clothes. One by one, for days, we wiped down, clothed, prayed for and prophesied over the children. Little babies to young teenagers, we took our time, despite the heat, the crowds, and towards the end, our own fatigue. I would do it again tomorrow if I could. There certainly is no lack of children that need help.
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Many times, as I would look into the eyes of the little ones that stood before me, the Lord would show me who they were. I saw the future pastors, teachers, warriors, mothers and fathers. I saw tender hearts who knew the Lord; I saw broken spirits that were on the verge of losing all hope.
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When we first arrive, the children are unsure and quiet, even if they know me and my daughters; they are not sure about the others we have with us. They do not fight, and rarely cry, they just go along with what ever is happening, this, I always find disturbing. It is almost as if they have surrendered to the fact that they are defenseless and vulnerable, and there is no use in fighting. We speak gently to them, and they start to relax.
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Removing their rags from their little bodies is something that still amazes me. Many times it is hard to tell the girls from the boys, since their hair is all the same length, and they wear whatever is available, little boys with pink flowers on their shirts, it is their only option. Several times at one care point I removed "shorts" from little girls that were actually cut up old sweat-shirts, their legs going through the arm holes. Many 3 and 4 year old children were squeezed into t-shirts, the tag reading "6-12 months" size, their malnutrition tummies, bloated and pushing out of the too small shirt.
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As I wipe them down, I pray over every inch of them, I speak softly and smile while I smooth lotion over their dry skin. Their skin soaks it up quickly and evaporates, as their spirits soak in the truth of whispered prayers. All the while in the background their stories are reported to my team by the GoGos, "mother dead, father dying, lives with grandmother" or " six years old, both parents gone, head of house old, caring for 2 younger siblings"…hard to comprehend, hard to walk away. Although we sat with hundreds, all special, all precious there are certain ones whose faces are burned in my heart. The sisters, 3 and 4 who giggled in sheer delight during their "spa" treatment, looking at each other, eyes sparkling, princesses in new white dresses. The little boy with knees like a camel who let out an audible "ahhhh" when I rubbed in the lotion, and then threw his little arms around my neck. The beautiful little angel that stood before Alexis, only 8 years old, they looked nothing alike, but they had identical hearts…I saw my own sweet daughter pray the gift of purity that she so gracefully flows in over her new friend. She dressed her in a yellow sundress, and the little angel, still shy, began to glow. I saw each of our own six children in the eyes of the little ones we touched, I saw Caleb's tenderness, Michael's depth, Tyler's warrior, Emilie's determination, Alexis' goodness, and Noah's wild and intriguing character.
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These children are not different than ours; they are not different than yours. They deserve food, health, clothing, education, a father's protection and a mother's tender touch….and just like all of our children, in them lies the truth, the hope, and the future of the world.
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When the process is over the children are transformed. Their heads no longer hang, but their posture is straight. They are no longer ashamed, but proud. Their former sad faces are full of life, and smiles. The girls prance around in their dresses, their feminine spirits brought to life, and the boys, look like young men, walking taller and more sure of their masculinity.
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This clothing drive was so much more than new clothes for orphans, it was hope and dignity and a touch of God in a tangible way…. .
For all who sacrificially gave, I hope you understand the depth of the gift you gave….all those who received it certainly do…..Thank you…..
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Lisa Black
Manzini, Swaziland
http://lisablack.myadventures.org/
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And then her husband Gary posted this follow-up:

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I have had many people ask me for specific ways in which they can tangibly help in Nsoko, Swaziland, and many have sent money for clothes. Here is a list of what we need urgently and what will help us start educating the children and producing our self-sustainability projects.
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Most of Phase One is done - the church is planted, (see video), the community center is built and paid for (we are feeding hundreds everyday, doing workshops on AIDS and teacher-training five days a week in the community center), the security fence is up, and the ground is graded.
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Our immediate needs are:
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Drilling of bore hole and pump - $7500 ($5000 raised; need $2000 more)
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Electricity for whole village - $2500 (ready to be installed)
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Pastor Gift's house - $12,000 (He will be managing on site)
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Transportion to get food and medical - $375 per month (to reach all 7 care points)
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Clinic built and furnished - $19,125 (doctor has donated all med equip)
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Church building, open steel plan - $7000 We have already out grown the center!
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Sewerage $588
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For $350 a month we can provide a package of Maize, Maltabella, (porridge), Beans, Oil, Sugar, Salt and Soap for 120 kids! Think about that: for $350 a month, 120 of our "Children of the Dirt" can eat nutritious food once each day - this has not happened in this area for a long time!
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The eight orphan homes where we will house six to eight double orphans (a double orphan is where the mom and dad are both deceased and the child has no other family at all) are ready to go up now as we have the construction teams waiting. A church or a business could sponsor a home for $22,589. We have the mothers ready to move in.
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Then soon after, we have to start working on the market place in front of the village. The locals can sell all of their goods to help with the self-sustainability of the project. Then the vegetable gardens, the essential oil fields, and the fish ponds will need to be in place to produce income on a monthly basis. Each double orphan will be in charge of her own 10 meters of garden. They can sell it, buy more meters and become their own entrepreneur. We are helping orphans to build life skills and deinstitutionalizing them!
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Remember, you can come and see all of this happening right before your eyes on our vision trip this June.
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If you want to make an online donation, please click on "Give to the Nsoko Project" or click "Support Me!" and get the mailing address to send a check. Make sure and note what you are wanting to give to.
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Would you please pray about how God might want you to partner with this exciting and life-giving work? Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or ideas. The Blacks and others working in this ministry in Swaziland are authentic Christians who are not just passionate but trustworthy. Your money will be put to the use its intended for and children's lives will be changed as a result.

2 comments:

Coffee Bean said...

Oh my gosh, this made me cry.

Elysa said...

I know. Lisa's blog has that affect on me often.