Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Being on the mission field requires a LOT of flexibility

Yep, that means our plans changed.

Due to torrents of rain, the roads were unsafe to travel to the Bheveni Carepoint today. We were able to meet with some of the AIM Staff (including the D-Team ladies) and give them gifts at the office in Manzini. They say THANK YOU!!

We will have to wait and go another day when it is not pouring litres upon litres of water out onto the roads.

Since our day became free, we drove out a bit (on PAVED WET roads) to Swazi Candle and its surrounding shops. Came back to Manzini and went to the newest mall built, The Riverstone Mall, and looked around a bit and exchanged money. Then we stopped by the Spar Grocery and bought some wholesome snacks (panini buns, apples, mini Bonbel cheeses, and salami).

Jim and Anna have espcaped to a nearby, quiet, coffee shop for some introvert re-charge time while the rest of us are at the Donaldsons checking facebook, playing the guitar, taking a nap, adding more photos to our fb album, chatting about the culture,learning to play Mexican Trainwreck, and blogging the second post for today since I have the time and internet access.

Jim and Anna will bring back pizzas from The Rustic Tavern for supper. This is Anna's favorite pizza in the whole wide world. I bought a couple of yummy-smelling, fresh pineapples to slice up as a go-along. In case you are wondering, the food is pretty darn amazing in Swaziland. Okay, you all know me enough to know that most everything is pretty darn amazing to me in Swaziland.

If you are on facebook, look for our trip albums. I've already got two up!


We are here in the beautiful mountain kingdom that stole my heart over 20 years ago. We are about to go out for a day of ministering at the Bheveni Carepoint but wanted to give a quick rundown of the news:

*Day of quick sight seeing in Paris offered beautiful views, lots of walking, and no lost children!
*Sunday was spent worshipping at a Zionist Church. We and the Donaldsons were the first white people to ever attend this particular church. It was a true blessing. We were so loved and welcomed. The kids had a great time playing with the Swazi children.
*Yesterday was retrieving a delayed suitcase from the S'land airport and a braai (cookout) with the Donaldsons and many of their Swazi friends. That was a blast!

Today's prayer requests:

*Safety as we drive. It is terribly foggy and super rainy.
*That we'll be able to see a lot of children at the carepoint despite the weather and the fact that today is the last day of school holidays.
*That we'll have wisdom and guidance on how best to use our time at the carepoint today and being sensitive to the most urgent/important needs.
*Emotional energy and times of "vegging" for our family's introverts.
*Clarity from the Lord as we process what we're experiencing and continue to seek His will for our family.
*That we will be a blessing to all we encounter today --- missionaries, kids, Bheveni grannies and mothers, D-Team, etc.

Today and tomorrow will be at the carepoint. On Wednesday night, we will be going over to the McAdams' house. They are missionaries with Adventures in Missions. Thursday morning we will do some things around Manzini before "moving" down to "camp in" at the Moriah Centre in Big Bend.

Thank you all for your continued love, support, and prayers.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The day we've long dreamed of and planned for is here.

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We are understandably very excited but also have our apprehensions here and there. I know God is leading us, it is just a pretty big deal to go to Africa for two weeks. Wow.

Anyway, our whole family would really appreciate your prayers during this trip but here are some that especially apply for these first few days:

*That we won't forget important things such as passports, money, and kids.
*That we won't lose important things such as passports, money, and kids.
*Traveling mercies as we drive to the airport and then fly first to Paris and then to Africa and then drive on to Manzini, Swaziland.
*Protection in Paris. Alertness as well as peace. I admit it, the idea of taking my small children to a big city that doesn't have English as its first language is a bit freaky to me. But God is bigger!
*Ease of travel for the younger kids. It is the first time for the 4 of them to every fly.
*Pray for my ears. Due to a lot of scarring on my ear drums, I have, in the past, often experienced a lot of discomfort and even extreme pain. When I flew to Thailand, they did great. I pray the same for this trip.
*Rest during our flights.
*All our luggage will arrive safely and we'll be able to fit it in the rental van in Johannesburg.
*Ease going thru customs and the border crossing into Swaziland.
*That we'll be a blessing to all we encounter. A family our size traveling together will have plenty of questions asked and will have many opportunities to share what we're doing and WHO we're doing it for. I want us to be a light for God even before we land in Africa.
*Unity and love reigning in our family.
*That we'll hear from God and sense His calling and guidance every step.
*Protection for our house, animals, and those who are staying behind and taking care of our farm and other responsibilities while we are gone.

Thanks so much and hopefully, the next time you hear from me, I'll already have wonderful things to report.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


...I am feeling so so many mixed emotions. Mostly good, as this smile attests, but also other feelings.

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I've worked hard today, along with the kids and Jim, on getting packed up and ready to go and through out the day, there have been a fair share of ups and downs, good things and not so good.

I'm excited, obviously. Everyone around me and those who are friends with me on facebook know I've been counting down the weeks and days til we depart for quite a while now. I'll probably be skipping down the concourse at the airport in Johannesburg. Either that, or doing my own rendition of a traditional African dance.

I am feeling so incredibly blessed and honored. This is truly a dream come true to go with my husband and all our beautiful children to Swaziland. God has given me such an incredible trip and has used so many precious people to make this trip possible.

I am also feeling a bit anxious. Will we forget important items? Why can't I find the missing extra memory card for the camera? How will the kids handle flying? Will we lose anyone in Paris? YIKES! That just reminds me, I've still got to make little i.d. cards for them to have with them with our cell phone number in case they do get separated from us!

Okay, so now I'm actually feeling more than a bit anxious.

I'm also feeling sad for my 8 year old. He just won't accept the fact that he can't take his stuffed Big Dog on the airplane. There is a reason he is called BIG Dog. He's got several other stuffed animals, but he's fixating on this one. Pray for him to not let his put a mar on the start of his trip and he'll wake up at peace with our decision and ready to pick another animal friend. It hurts my mommy heart that I can't just make him be okay with the situation and move on. I hate seeing him so deeply upset.

And then I'm back to the anxious part. We received so many great donations from people. But when it came time to pack it all up, we just couldn't fit it all. As it is, we are taking 14 checked pieces of luggage and 18 carry-on pieces of luggage. I know we could have technically had 18 checked bags, but we have got to be able to transport the luggage from the Johannesburg Airport to Swaziland. The van that we are renting is bigger than a mini-van but smaller than the 15 passenger van that we drive and which will transport all our stuff to the airport tomorrow. So I'm feeling not great about the situation. We did pack everything that was requested or sent for specific people. We are leaving behind duplicates and items that weren't requested but would have been nice to take. All of these items will still be used for ministry eventually, but it still just makes me sad to not be able to take it all. Yet, I'm fearful of what will happen when we land in Johannesburg. In the past, our teams have always been met by a van and trailer sent over by missionaries in Swaziland. The trailer ensured plenty of room for luggage. But because we are going over as a family and need to have our own transportation to use the whole time we're there in Africa, we won't have a trailer for copious amounts of luggage. I know that this kind of fear is not from God. I have prayed that I used wisdom and packed the right amount. So pray that God will work it out and pray that I won't allow the worry to rob me of the joy of this journey. My sweet husband said that even if he had to rent another van, he'd make it happen. I am blessed. If my husband would go to such great lengths, I know my God would and will.

If the Red Sea, Jericho's Walls, and a giant named Goliath were no big deal for Him, then I know with my head that a bunch of luggage filled with socks for orphans, clothes for hardworking grannies, school supplies for kids who are living in extreme poverty, and little toys and goodies to bring joy to little ones and the big ones who serve them, is absolutely something God can provide for. Now pray that I'll let that sink deep into my spirit.

If I'm going to effectively serve Him on the mission field for the rest of my life, then I have GOT to learn to trust Him with childlike faith.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. He is using them mightily. I guarantee that and I look forward to sharing the stories of how He works once we get back or even, perhaps, some from Africa.

Til then, as the Swazis say, sala kahle (stay well)!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


...we can survive anything!

WOW! I've packed our big family for a lot of trips in the past, after all, none of our relatives live nearby so any family get-together almost always requires some packing and preparing. Heck, one time we even took six of the kids all the way out west as far as Nevada via lots of stops along the way.

But none of that compares to preparing for a two week stay in Africa plus the added travel days on both ends. I'm thinking that a whole lot of opportunities for repentance and forgiveness and growth is going to be happening...and that's before we even pull out of the driveway on Thursday!

So y'all keep on praying for us. I've got almost all the people packed so tomorrow I hit full-force the beautiful piles of donations that are going to bless so many in Swaziland. Pray that we use good organization skills, that we show patience and grace to each other, that good attitudes and work ethics prevail, and that we remember who we are doing all of this for and that our God is worth it. Obeying Him, serving Him, taking His message of love and hope to His precious ones in Swaziland is absolutely worth it all.

Bheveni kid

And introducing my kids to Swaziland and watching them discover the life that God has planned for us there is going to just be amazing icing on the proverbial cake.

For now, I'll share another day from last year's trip when I had the blessing of introducing Jim to Swaziland and my Swazi friends:

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Friday, October 3, 2010

Today was spent meeting up with old friends in Mbabane.

The first friend was Josiah Matsebula. Josiah was one of the youth in the SWAT group I helped lead in the 1980's at Mbabane Int'l Baptist Church. Josiah is married to Goodness. They have two boys. She is a teacher's assistant at a primary school near Checkers and he is a Baptist pastor who also does carpentry and rabbit raising. We met him at the main Mbabane post office and then road with us to the Mbabane Clinic.

The Mbabane Clinic is a very modern, clean hospital and there we visited James Dlamini. James was the gardener for Patsy and Roy Davidson way back when while Josiah worked for Anda Littleford. James is now an accountant at the TIMES OF SWAZILAND but is presently on medical leave. He has extremely high blood pressure and has diabetes. He has been hospitalized and went blind a month and a half ago due to the health issues. James looked very much the same, just a bit older with whiskers. His mother was with him at the hospital. He was very surprised to have me visit and we spent some time catching up on news. We also sang "It Is Well With My Soul" with him and prayed over him. James is very concerned about what whill happen to him if he dies.

After we left teh Clinic, we stopped by the school where Josiah's wife works. We were unable to see her because she was in a meeting. But Josiah showed us some carpentry work he had done and then we left.

The next stop was The Mall. There we met briefly James' wife. She is a cashier at Pick-n-Pay.

We then went into the AFRICAN FANTASY shop. This is where they sell the darling African and Swazi themed cartoon items such as "Two Wild African Cats". I bought a "Children of Africa" poster and a Swaziland homestead t-shirt among other things. Jim bought a hat to keep the hot, African sun off of his head.

I have a lot more to type about this day but to be honest, my fingers and arms are really hurting and I need to stop. Tomorrow is going to be here all too soon and with it a lot of effort --- mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.


Monday, January 09, 2012


Crazy amazing but we've just got two full days and a few hours left to prepare and pack for our Swaziland trip.

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It has been so fun to see how God is bringing in the needed provision. All of the items but two things on the "wishlist" have been provided. And to be honest, one of those things has been searched for high and low to no avail. Who knew Jiffy, white, frosting mix could be so elusive?

So as of now, the only things left on the list are:

*The a fore mentioned frosting mix (that apparently Amazon.com carries but they seem to be the only ones)

*A laptop computer battery for a house parent at a children's home.

Speaking of that children's home, here's an account from last year's trip journal which tells about our visit to that same ministry.

Thursday, 9/30/10

We spent three hours at Hwane Farm and Teen Challenge touring it, meeting staff, and talking with Timothy Makhanya.

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He was very, very helpful, gracious, and informative. He confirmed the great need for more ministry and help in [the area of Swaziland that we believe God is calling us to live and serve]. Wow!

We then went to the coffee shop at Ngwenya Glass for lunch. It was very, very good food. The chocolate cake was especially great.

We then toured the glass-blowing factory, wandered thru the shops, and visited with many of the clerks and craftspeople. We especially had a good chat with the owner of a wooden toy shop (The Rocking Horse Company) who also owns the Chocolate Studio.

We left and drove just a it thru Mbabane before heading back to Manzini.

The Brittens, missionaries who have been in Swaziland and South Africa since 1967, joined us for a taco/burrito supper.

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They shared with us how God led them to Africa and told us about the work of the Zion Bible College and gave their insight on many issues related to life in Swaziland and ministry.

After everyone went to bed, I spent some time online, especially messaging back and forth with David, Betsie, and Anna. It is nice to know that they want us back home.

Hopefully, the next time we are in Africa, it will be with them.

And how cool that this is coming true. God is taking them back with us this time. What an amazing, amazing blessing.

A couple of prayer requests before I sign off for the night.

Please pray for my full healing. I'm still feeling weak and headachey from the stomach virus that hit yesterday. Pray that no one else will get it!

Pray for us as we organize and pack all the donated items as well as our personal items. Getting nine people plus a wonderful amount of ministry supplies ready is a big task but I know God will give us what we need to get it done! Pray that we'll have wisdom to know the best way to do it and that all the things that need to get down between now and Thursday morning will happen with grace and perfect timing.

And most of all, pray that God is opening our ears to hear and our hearts to receive all that He wants to tell us and show us. I want even our pre-trip days to glorify Him and be used for His glory and our good.

Til tomorrow, as the Swazis would say, sala kahle (stay well)!
Elysa Thandeka

Sunday, January 08, 2012


...as we prepare to leave for Africa in just over three days and a tummy bug is going thru our family. The hunky hubby and the teenaged sons had it about a week ago. Then when no got it for several days, I thought the rest were going to remained unscathed. Well, I was wrong and came down with it today.

Please pray for us. We all need protection and healing in these days leading up to Swaziland.

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Thanks and hope to post more about our trip and preparations tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is a tourism video that tells a good deal about the culture and shows just how beautiful Swaziland can be. Of course, it doesn't even mention the majority of people that are struggling to survive, the high HIV/AIDS rate, and the large number of orphans. I do enjoy the lovely side of Swaziland but I go because He calls. He calls to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the orphans and widows in their distress. I go because He has honored our family with participating in His loving, saving plans for this nation.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


I feel like I need to keep pinching myself to make sure I'm not really dreaming. My family of a million kids is actually going to Swaziland for two whole weeks! It is better than a dream come true. It is the amazing, beautiful, crazy, good, miraculous life that God has custom designed for us. Wow.

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And the blessings just keep getting heaped on us. We've been receiving packages and provision from people every day this week and just got two more boxes today. I wish every single person who has contributed was going with us and could see the faces on the children --- and happy adults --- when they receive their gifts. Socks and notebook paper and stickers are a big, big deal when you're an orphan living in a mud hut with six other children and no parents. Goodies from America are a huge boost when you're a missionary struggling with homesickness and wondering some days if anyone remembers you.

I promise to take lots of pictures, though. In fact, I'm sure my family will complain that I'm taking too many, but how can I not? There will be so many images that I will want to capture so I can hang on to them long after we're back in the States and preparing for the big move to live there.

In the meantime, I wanted to update you all on the last few things we're trying to get for the trip then I'll share some more from our last trip.

Here's the list of "love to have" items:

*Hard case to borrow for an acoustic guitar. My son David would love to be able to take his Taylor to play at the ministry sites we'll be visiting as well as lead our family in worship. Plus, he's a bit of an addict where his guitar is concerned.

*White Jiffy frosting mix for an American missionary.

*Size 3 casual sandals for my daughter LG. Even boys' leather or athletic types would work. Our stores aren't carrying sandals yet and it is going to be HOT in Swaziland!

*A laptop battery for a houseparent at an orphan home.

*An American teenaged missionary kid just asked me if I'd bring some sweets over for her from back "home". She loves Jelly Bellies, Lifesavers, Gummi Bears, Dum Dum Pops, Jolly Ranchers, any kind of CHOCOLATE!

We are also still accepting donations to help cover our expenses such as van rental, petrol, and food. Online donations can be made at our PayPal account. Go to this link to get there:


And now back to an account from last year's Swaziland trip. At this point in the trip, our Bheveni Carepoint Team (along with our daughter Anna) have returned to the States so Jim and I are on our own to explore Swaziland and seek God's will for our future.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

After a nice, light breakfast with Inge and Dudley, we loaded up the car with clothes adn other items such as play-doh and party goods for the kids at the preschool.

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We got to Moriah Centre in Big Bend a little after 10:00 and just as last time, it was lovely to see Di Hampson and spend time at the Moriah Centre. Many improvements have been made since last time including electrical lights in all the rooms, bright murals painted on the walls, and playground equipment in the back.

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After a thorough tour of the preschool, we brought in the clothes and the teachers all selected one outfit for each dhild. I really enjoyed seeing the way things are progressing and chatting wtih the teachers including showing them and giving them photos from my last visit.

Afterwards, Di treated us to lunch at a very chic yet comfortable coffee house attached to the Spar grocery store in Big Bend.

She shared her heart about what she envisions for the Moriah Centre and ministry needs of the community. She was very kind and encouraging to us. She and her husband have been living in Big Bend for 19 years, and like me, has always felt at home.

AFter Di left, Jim and I did a little shopping and browsing in the Spar. We bougth soe food items to take home with us.

We then left BB and drove back to Manzini and went to the market. We visited vendors I had met on my last trip. I was disappointed that Prisca wasn't there as I had visited with her about 4 times last trip. I was also sad to find out that another woman (whose photo I had brought to give her) had died two years ago leaving her nine children to be raised by her sister Goodness. Goodness' husband died just a month or so later leaving her with not just her sister's children but her five as well. She asked me to pray that God would help her to expand her house as it is only one bedroom. We bought several items from her. We had not planned to but I wanted to do something to help her.

We also talked to a young man who I bought items from last time. From Sezar we boughgt a batik print and a wooden hair fastener. Sezar is Mozambican and asked us to pray for him as he is in Bible School wtih the Aseemblies of God in Maputo and desires to preach Jesus everywhere he goes.

Then it was back to the Donaldson's for a supper of sweet-n-sour chicken and afterwards games --- Farkle, Spades, and Nertz.

I have five more days in my travel journal and five days til we leave. Don't know if I'll get it all posted here or not but we'll see. Hope springs eternal in the heart of a procrastinator.

Friday, January 06, 2012


...to tell you how full of blessings today has been so I'll just share a photo with you.

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Yep, this arrived today. A HUGE 52 POUND BOX along with 4 other packages and a good-sized check to help with our Swaziland trip expenses.

God's provision is absolutely overwhelming.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


In just seven days from now, we'll be on our way to Africa via Paris. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. I am so excited. By the time we leave, I'm going to be unbearable to be around I'll be so crazy with joy.

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I wanted to give you an update on some of the specifics concerning the trip. I spent several hours today shopping for needed things and meeting with a friend who has generously given bags and bags of items that will be going to the orphans, missionaries, and others.

We've now received almost all the items that we need for the trip. The last few things include:

*Dvds of various genres and shows (used are fine) for an Adventures in Missions staffer in Manzini.

*White Jiffy frosting mix for Dudley Donaldson, the Bible teacher we'll be staying with.

*Laptop computer for a house dad at an orphan home up in the mountains outside of Mbabane.

*Space vacuum storage bags to help us fit in all the donated clothes plus our bedding and towels.

And yes, we are definitely still accepting financial donations. We still don't have all the money we need to cover our on-the-ground expenses such as van rental and food. If anyone would like to make a donation, you can send us a check (let me know if you need our address), give it to us in person, or make a donation via PayPal. Here's the post with our PayPal link:


Okay, so that's an update on our upcoming trip. Now for a look back at last year's trip:


Ate nice breakfast in open air pavilion at guest house with the Bheveni Team.

They took us to the Avis Rental which was right in the same building as the car-fix-it place where they needed to get trailer tail lights fixed. We said our goodbyes after much laughter over the sketchy bathrooms (with Kelly!) and the tiny size of the car with our big amount of luggage.

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Jim had to really concentrate but did great with driving on the "wrong" side of the road.

Went thru gorgeous scenery as we passed thru Jeppe's Reef and Pigg's Peak and Huwane area on way to Manzini.

Rained a bit on us in Mbabane and Matsapha area.

Arrived around 2:20 at Inge and Dudley Donaldson's house on outskirts of Manzini. They live in a beautiful location.

Nice, home-cooked meal and good conversation. Also got to call home and talked to my mom and [the two little girls], as well as getting some computer time.

Also, talked briefly with Di Hampson [with The Moriah Centre] who we will see tomorrow and Josiah Matsebula [one of the former youth from my days living in Africa] that we will see Friday.

Tomorrow, I'll post more info about our upcoming trip as well as transcribe another installment from last year's trip journal.

Thanks again for all of you who are showing us support through prayers, donations, encouraging words, and just sharing in our excitement.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


Several of our friends have asked if we had a PayPal account they could donate thru for our upcoming Swaziland trip. We had set one up a couple of years ago for another trip but never used it. People asking about one got me to thinking so I went and found ours. We actually do still have one!

Swaziland Elysa with little girls at Fikile's framed

So if you'd like to donate funds for our trip via this option, here you go:

If you pay via PayPal, make sure you put in the "notes" if the money is for our trip expenses or if it is to buy stuff for the kids/missionaries/staff. The notes section can be found by clicking the blue letters "special instructions to recipient".

Let me know if for some reason it doesn't work for you.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012


The outpouring of responses regarding the remaining items needed for our trip has been amazing. I wanted to take the time to say a heart-felt thanks to all who have donated items and sent us money. I also wanted to give an update on the remaining items that are needed.

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Here goes, folks --- the last items needed for our glorious, amazing, upcoming trip to Swaziland!

*Balloons (Bheveni)

*Elastic waisted skirts (HN, carepoint gogos, teachers, and others)

*Laptop Computer - To be used by house parent at an orphan home (HFNM)

*Baby dolls (especially dark-skinned ones)

*Small toys such as Hot Wheels cars, plastic animals, balls, jump ropes, Happy Meal prizes, etc.

*Vacuum-air-out bags so we can fit more stuff in less space (for us to use on trip)

*Size 2 or 3 casual sandals for our daughter LG. Our stores aren't carrying these yet. It is going to be summertime in Swaziland.

I'll update this again in a day or two as I hear from more folks about donations. In the meantime, here is another excerpt from last year's Swaziland trip:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Today is our last full day together as a team. In the morning, Jim and I will return to Swaziland and the others will journey on to the airport in Johannesburg. Elliott the driver and the Brocks (Dennis and Zwakele) will drop them off --- including our Anna --- before returning to S'land the next day themselves.

I am eager to get back to S'land and see my new and old friends alike but yet I also miss the kids and will probably miss them even more once Anna leaves.

Today we did Kruger! And we actually saw all of the African "BIG FIVE"! We woke up at 4:20 a.m., left here at 5:00, and FROZE on the way there and most of the day. It has definitely been our coldest day in Africa so far. When the safari buggy wasn't moving, it was pleasant, but those sideless vehicles offer little protection from the wind, even when the plastic siding gets unrolled.

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We did a lot of shopping at the gift store there and Jim and I had tasty meat pies for lunch.

OH! We had breakfast packs-to-go in the a.m. --- boiled eggs, yogurt, muffins, apples, and various soft drinks. For mid-morning tea-time snack we had some fancy packed sandwiches.

Lynn was our tour guide. She is involved with ministries related to Heidi and Roland Bakker with Iris Ministries. She is writing a book and shared some stories with us about how God is moving and working in her life and the lives of others.

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The animals we saw included, but were not limited to the "BIG 5" (lions, white rhinos, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards), giraffes, impala, sables (very rare -- more so than lions), hornbills, water buck, African vultures, hippos, crocs, klifspringers, baboons, monkeys, zebras, etc.

I learned that baby elephants must eat their mom's poop to get essential enzymes.

After Kruger, we freshened up at the guest house and then went for supper at the Detroit Spur located in the Riverside Mall. I had rump steak with monkey gland sauce. I was quite good and NO real monkey glands.

We also got to go to an internet cafe there and I blogged, posted at Five in a Row, visited Betsie's new blog, and did stuff on facebook, including instant messaging Betsie. It was less than a rand a minute (13 American cents) so quite a good deal.

Back at the guest house, Jim and I walked around the lovely grounds a bit, avoided the noisy, guard geese, and then transferred over a bunch of stuff for Anna to carry home.

Monday, January 02, 2012


Since we're leaving for Swaziland next week, it dawned on me that I better finish sharing from our last trip's journal of events before I've got this trip's events to share. But first, let me do something else.

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A lot of folks have been asking us what we still need for our trip to Swaziland. I've gone thru and updated the list of items that we're still lacking. If you don't live locally, you've still got time to ship if you send it a quick way. If you don't think you can ship in time but you'd like to donate money so we can go out and buy the items ourselves, contact me and I'll send you our mailing address. And some have also asked if we still need funds for our trip. Yes, we are still
very thankfully accepting money to go towards the van rental, food, and accommodations.

Okay, so below is the up-dated list of items that the carepoint kids, missionaries, Swazi leaders, etc. need or have requested. For some of the kids, these donations are HUGE needs such as school supplies. For others, like the missionaries serving there, little things like a new book or chocolate chips, give them that loving boost when they are missing home or feeling discouraged.

There are also a couple of things that we need to help us with our trip.

I am putting initials or names by some of the items so I can keep up with who the items are for. It also might help some of you if you are looking for items that would specifically go to the carepoint kids are a certain missionary or Swazi staffer that you know personally.

*pencils (Bheveni Carepoint)

*pens (Bheveni)

*loose leaf notebook paper (Bheveni)

*books by Francine Rivers (NM)

*stickers (Bheveni)

*balloons (Bheveni)

*pancake mix (NM)

*Clean, classic books such as ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, HENTY books, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, JANE AUSTEN, the old HARDY BOYS, etc. --- NO references to magic, witches, the occult, etc. (Bheveni Carepoint and others)

*Christian fiction --- young adult, children's, and adult (Bheveni and otherd)

*Children's picture books --- no references to anything magical (Bheveni and others)

*Colored Construction paper (carepoints and missionary kids)

*Mp3 player, any brand (TM)

*Elastic waisted skirts (HN, carepoint gogos, teachers, and others)

*Solid Stick Deod/Anti-perspirant (HN)

*Laptop Computer - To be used by house parent at an orphan home (HFNM)

*Monopoly Deal card game (HJS)

*Baby dolls (especially dark-skinned ones)

*Small toys such as Hot Wheels cars, balloons, plastic animals, balls, jump ropes, Happy Meal prizes, etc.

*Vacuum-air-out bags so we can fit more stuff in less space (for us to use on trip)

*Size 8 or 10 skirts that go to the knee or below for our daughter LG. Apparently, these skirt lengths are not in style right now and I've not been able to find her any.

*Size 2 or 3 casual sandals for our daughter LG. Our stores aren't carrying these yet. It is going to be summertime in Swaziland.

These items do NOT have to be new. Books can still be read even if they've been read a dozen times. Pancake mix needs to be uncooked, though. ;)

So now that I've taken care of that bit of business, here's the next installment from my 2010 Swaziland Trip travel journal:

September 26

[I got the team involved in this entry, asking them to write something about the day's events]

The Team's Day: One or more "things" about our day...

"Today we checked out of Tum's George Hotel. We worshipped at the Timbutini Church with our African brothers and sisters in Christ. We crossed the border into South Africa. Mbabane looks much more prosperous than Manzini. Much greener as well. The road to Nelspruit had breathtaking scenery and we saw a baboon and a giraffe. God is good - all the time!" J. Mac

"I saw a wild baboon!!" --- Kelly L.

"Looking out over several hills with the sun setting between all the trees as we drove close to Nelspruit [South Africa]. Also seeing the very well dressed women barefoot and eating hunks of meat and bread at the gas station." --- Erica Z.

"For me, it was nice to be at Timbutini EWC [Church] --- I had missed the last couple of weeks because of trips. It was great to worship the Lord with all hte brothers and sisters from America!! Church was long and hot (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). But it was nice, especially at the end when the church did appreciation for Pastor Walter with a special cake and a bedroom duvet set." --- Dennis AKA "Masoma" [missionary who helped us out through out our time in Africa]

"Dad danced. Mom made me write in her journal. I listened to Enrique and Shakira. Waka waka (this time for Africa)." --- Anna [our oldest daughter]

"Enjoyed worship with Timbutini and Pastor Walter's message. Feel like our trip has gone very well, but shorter than I'd like --- tough I don't know it could be "long enough". Enjoyed hearing 'God is Good --- All the Time!' again." --- Mike Brower

"My favorite part of today was getting the Timbali purses at teh AIM offices. I'm so excited to take them home to my friends and family. Oh, and I really liked seeing Kelly see a baboon! :)" --- Danielle Brower

Thanks to my AMAZING team, I don't have too much to write which means I can go to sleep quickly. That's a GOOD thing as we wake up at 4:20 a.m. to leave for Kruger Game Park at 5:00!!!

Some other details ---

*Saw a little girl that Anna remembered at Pastor Walter's church from her AIM trip in 2009.

*Clyburns and McAdams family were present at service as well as the REAL LIFE team. They are families from Alabama that just arrived in Swaziland this week to serve for 2 years wtih AIM.

*Lunch --- sandwiches and crisps [chips] while parked in front of AIM office.

*Bought ice cream bar and dark chocolate at the store near Badplaas. Cashier thought we were German. I said, "we're American but I've lived in S'land so long I've lost my accent. ;)

*Supper at Jon Dory's at Riverside Mall.

*Guest house bedrooms are the most BEAUTIFUL rooms I've ever stayed in in Africa - maybe anywhere.

*I already miss Swaziland. Will be glad to be back there on Tuesday.

*I also miss my kids.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


As is the custom in America, many of us take time on New Year's Day to review the past year and look forward to the new year. We think about where we have been and what we have done and consider ways we want to make changes.

Dudley Donaldson and his wife Inge are missionaries to Swaziland that I've mentioned often here at Graceland. Dudley is also thinking about his past and what his future holds even though he's living far away from the American culture.

Donaldson, Dudley and orphans Resized

TWO BUCKETS by Dudley Donaldson

It is the time of year to think about making changes. New Year’s resolutions. Notice I said, “think” about making changes. Most of us never really succeed at keeping the promises we make for change.

Making bucket lists has become a bit of a fad over the past several years. In response to the theme of a popular film, many people have made a list of all the important things they would like to do before they die. They want to fill their life bucket with meaningful experiences and fulfilling accomplishments. These range anywhere from seeing the Grand Canyon to seeing my granddaughter become president.

I remember doing this once long before bucket lists became popular. Someone on a Chicago radio station was talking about making a list of ten things he would like to do before he died. He encouraged listeners to email their lists to him so he could read them on the air. I sent in a list and he used part of it. It was kind of a fun exercise.

But you know what? Things change. People change. I’ve changed.

Today I cannot tell you one thing I wrote on that list. I have no idea. When I wrote that list, I never imagined I would ever be a missionary in Africa. Not in a million years. But from the moment I said yes to God’s call to go to Swaziland, my bucket list began to shrink. Today, it does not exist. There is absolutely no life experience that I need to make my life more fulfilled than it is right now. I am in the center of God’s will for me. I could die today with a smile on my face, knowing that my life bucket is filled to the top with God’s blessings.

A few weeks ago we traveled to South Africa for another appointment with my ENT physician. We brought Ayanda—the little orphan girl he has been treating at no charge—along with us. Ayanda had written a note to the doctor, thanking him for all he has done for her. As he read the note, I watched as tears welled up in his eyes. After Ayanda left the room, I was alone with the doctor and I also thanked him for what he has done for her. He looked down and in a soft voice he said, “I am happy I could help her. You know, it really wasn’t that much. It really was just a drop in the bucket.” He paused a long while, and then he looked up at me and said, “But at least I hit the bucket.” Wow, isn’t that the truth?

There are two very different kinds of buckets. There is the bucket of exciting life experiences so many of usare wanting to fill. And there is the other bucket filled with lost, hurting people. The first bucket is empty and we are trying to fill it with adventure, excitement, and conquests that will give our life some sort of meaning or purpose. We do not want to die before our bucket is full.

The second bucket is full. It is filled with millions and millions of people in far-flung countries of the world who are hurting and starving and suffering in unimaginable ways. Many people don’t even want to think about this bucket, because it is too big and too full and, frankly, it is just too uncomfortable to consider. This bucket seems overwhelming. Anything one person does to help is just a drop in the bucket, so why even bother?

That is how it is with the orphan situation in Swaziland. And with the HIV situation. And the medical situation. And the poverty, the ancestor worship, the witchdoctors…it is overwhelming. What impact can one person have?

Two buckets. One represents the pursuit of an exciting life in the present. The other represents the opportunity to make a difference for eternity. Which bucket is holding your interest?

My days are now filled with opportunities to care for widows and orphans, to encourage those who are discouraged, and to present the light of salvation to those who are in darkness. I know, it is just a drop in the bucket. But at least I am hitting the bucket.

And God has made my life full.

To read more about the ministry that the Donaldsons are involved in, visit their organization's website: http://www.zema.org/