The first of many (a first outreach experience) – Swaziland

It’s four o’clock in the morning. I drag my still asleep body out of the much too comfortable king size double bed. I fall back in bed. Just five more minutes. I can’t do this, I tell myself. This is just too hard. I’m too stressed. I have too much work to do. I don’t want to. I look over to Brigitte where she is busy getting dressed. I wish I can look like that at four in the morning. I probably looked like the Grinch. Cilliers knocks on the door, and enters with his goofy grin…and two cups of coffee. If there is one thing that makes life better at four in the morning…its coffee.

I groan and look at him. This is your fault. I blame you, I think to myself as I look at him, almost galloping out of the room. After a dreadful thirty minutes packing our things, we’re off. Why am I doing this again? We are the first ones to arrive at our destination. Great. Just great. It’s winter. It’s cold. And now I have to pack a bus. Great. I have never seen so many shuffles together. Poles…what are we going to do with that?! I groan picking up a six-pack long life milk, and a sack of oranges. Don’t think about it. Slowly but surely, everyone starts to arrive. Happy thoughts. You can do this. We finally loaded everything into the buss, and we are off to pick up the rest of our group members.

So there we are, a bunch of normal people, on our way. I looked around in the buss. Everyone is trying to get a last few hours of sleep in. Around eight, everyone waked up as we stopped at Alzu for snacks. Make sure you enjoy your snacks, because you are not going to have any for the next ten days, says some guy with a funky beard. Euw. Oh my goodness. That girl has pink hair. Cilliers, Brigitte and myself try not to stare too much at that pink hair. Cilliers looks over at me and grins, Oh well, at least it’s clean.

We got out as we stopped at the border, and did all the necessary paperwork. My first time entering to another country. I look over at Brigitte trying to savour the moment. She’s talking to the girl with the pink hair, Cilliers is talking to a guy in a big hat and a camera and me…well I’m just a wallflower. As we get back onto the bus, I introduce myself to Rozamarie (The pink-haired girl), and we start talking. Well, okay. This isn’t so bad, I think by myself. We made a new friend on the border, not a lot of people can say something like that you know.  After a nine hour buss drive, a hotdog and a few snacks later, we arrive at our camping site. I hop out of the buss. Dust. Nothing but dust. Great. There are a few houses on a hill, and a four-wall structure they call a church building. We are definitely not in Pretoria. We were pointed to where we were supposed to pitch our tents. Brigitte and I look at each other as we are helping to unload the bus, and I can see the same thing reflecting in her eyes as in mine. Why are we here? 10561575_844239845601008_2588509833066797611_n

Brigitte, Rozamarie and I set up camp. I looked at our three sleeping bags next to each other. Well this is going to be interesting. We also met Adriaan and his wife, Lydia, who arranged everything. As we ate our first meal that night, we were told that we would be divided into groups of three or four people that would rotate and pray every hour. Great.

Welcome to Swaziland. Welcome to your first outreach. But what I didn’t know, was that God had so much more planned for me.

During our time in Swaziland, we helped building bricks for a church, served the community with the Word of the Lord and “skoffeled” a whole rugby field over to plant a vegetable garden. Not really a whole rugby field, but if you are hunched over for five days “skoffeling”, even a meter feels like a mile. We had a cold front for the first few days. We has to share one long-drop between fifty people. We played soccer, we bathed in the river, we worked, we ate like kings. We prayed at one, two even four in the morning, we sang, we read the Bible, we prayed and prayed as if we could not get enough. Our bodies were physically and emotionally tired, but it is as if through His Word, God gave us a living and everlasting fountain that gave us renewed strength for our tired, cold and sore bodies. What we did not have, was sleep. The one thing I complained about was the one thing that was a minor thing. We got up at five to help Lydia make pap for everyone and for a few hours, us girls in the tent ate our snacks from home, and Rozamarie drank her R10 Coke from a nearby tuckshop. Yes, you read correct. Swaziland has Coke, too. We created new friendships that will last for a life time and just became more aware of God’s presence in our lives, even if we aren’t aware of Him.

We were so aware of God’s amazing power that we did not care what we looked like, how much we worked, as long as we worked in honour of Him. I looked around the plain that we called home for a few days, and realised how little we actually need in life. Each child and adult in that community had so much enthusiasm and love to give. It didn’t matter how little they had, they weren’t afraid to give so much. The Lord worked in many ways those few days and changed so many of our hearts. On our way back to the big city, one of our fellow group members had seizures. I have never experienced something like that, that day. A group of dirty strangers praying and declaring God’s name and favour over Gerhard’s life and body. Nothing happened to Gerhard.

We were glad to be back home, realizing how much we actually have. How could I not go? was the question racing through my mind as we unloaded everything from the buss. I will miss all these faces, but I know we have a special bond that connect us, and that we will definitely see each other again. As we said goodbye, it was here, in Swaziland, that I realised I found myself again. Guys do you know what will be great now? Brigitte squealed as we got home interrupting my train of thoughts. An actual shower? Cilliers laughed and grinning happily at them I said, a toilet?

I would like to say a special thank you to everyone who experienced the Swaziland outreach with me. I’ve learnt so much from each and every one, and learnt that there is more to life that just work. This will be the first of many, as we go North, proclaiming the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

by Zenna Müller

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