Since January, we’ve been hosting the teens for a weekly gathering.
During our first couple years in Swaziland we tried launching a community-based youth group, but it really wasn’t the intimate setting we were looking for. Early this year we introduced a special time just for the high school students living at New Life Homes. We found what we had been looking for. The perfect mix of intimacy, depth, and familiarity.
We may be missionaries, but the topics for our weekly gathering don’t include God, the Bible, or even Jesus. We talk about sex. And yes, at the beginning it was very awkward.
We have learned that sex is a taboo topic here in Swaziland, as it is in much of the world. However, in Swaziland, the stakes are much higher. People are contracting HIV from their sexual habits at an alarming rate. The purpose of our meetings is to help the teens think proactively about their sexual decisions and make wise choices now and in the future.
We have been using Cru’s CrossRoads curriculum (crossroadslink.org), which uses character-based education to teach adolescents the benefits of abstinence. We talk about everything from social pressure, to STIs and birth control. We also tell lots of personal stories, which adds just enough humor to the environment. It has become a weekly highlight for Tommy and me. We have been so impressed by the teen’s honesty and their willingness to ask questions and discuss difficult topics. They know a lot already, but are desperate for a forum to make sense of it all.
We took the teens on a canopy tour to celebrate our time together and make some memories with them. It was a fantastic day. Please join us in praying for this group and for the young men and women they are becoming.
Thank you for praying for us, especially during this challenging time of transition. Tommy is stateside right now, and I (Mandi) am coping with single parenthood for 11 days (not that I’m counting). It is also a very busy time at school, with the grade seven students writing their national exams, and organizing curriculum and supplies for the next year’s teachers. We’ve begun packing, sorting, and finding homes for many of our possessions here in Swaziland. I’m so thankful for a small house! We have four weeks until our departure. Our house may be ready, but our hearts still have wrapping up to do.