SAVED FROM FIRE
By Mary Grace Rumford and Caitlin Walton, Adventures In Missions Interns
Today we had the blessing of visiting Nonhlahla at her home, a home destroyed by a fire two nights ago. Nonhlahla has been sick for many years, long enough that she is unable to remember when her sickness began. Because of the sickness, she cannot walk and has little to no strength in her right hand. She was so thin and seemed frail and broken. Nonhlahla takes care of two children about three and four years old, while her sister comes to help feed, bath and put the children to bed. She told us that her sister arrives early in the morning to make food and gather water for Nonhlahla and the children before going to work in the sugar cane fields.
The night of the fire, her sister was there helping feed and then putting the children and Nonhlahla to bed. After everything was done, her sister placed the matches on the bed with something covering them and told the son, Eric, not to play with them. After her sister left, about 20 minutes later, Nonhlahla woke up feeling very warm. She quickly realized the end of their bed was on fire and Eric was standing by the door. She told Eric to go outside and gather water so she could try and douse the flames. However, as she threw water on the fire the flames got bigger and the fire rapidly spread. Nonhlahla managed to crawl out of her home before the thatched roof caved in and consumed everything in her home.
Today we found her home in a pile of ashes; everything was destroyed. She lost her bed, blankets, table, cutlery, basins, and all the clothes for her and the two children. As Caitlin and I searched for words of comfort for Nonhlahla, I told her we are so thankful that she made it out alive. Her response was simple and deep, "It would have been better if I had not made it out alive. She was honest, but broken. She appeared to be at the point where life is hard and hurts too much; making death seem welcoming. We read Psalm 139: 13-18 and told her how beautiful she is and how she is loved by her heavenly Father. We also emphasized that He knows the pain and sorrows surrounding her and He hears her cries.
After praying with her, we were able to leave maize, beans, blankets, clothes, basins and a Bible for her and the children. We saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes as we went through the clothes and then placed a necklace around her neck. When we left she was praising the Lord and so grateful for the visit. Despite all of this, Nonhlahla still needs so much more. She lost everything in the fire and is relying on the Lord and the faithfulness of people for their provisions.
To read more about the work of Adventures in Missions in Swaziland, visit their website: http://swaziland.myadventures.org/