Friday, November 22, 2013

Guest Blog: Tommy's Parents Visit Swaziland

We are POMs (Parents of Missionaries). When God invites a son or daughter into missions, He also invites the parents. For some POMs, the invitation from God is a complete surprise—for us, the invitation was somewhat expected.

“Your children are doing this because they love me and because I’ve asked them them to do it. Please let them go with your blessing and support. I know you will miss your children, and I’ll make sure you don’t have to face all this alone. I promise you it won’t be easy, but I also promise you joy.”
-Parents of Missionaries by Savageau and Stortz

With much prayer, we planned our trip to serve with Tommy and Mandi for two weeks in late September. We wanted to encourage, learn, teach, work alongside and share the joy that is promised.

After many flight hours, we were welcomed with open arms, not only by our children, but by the children they “parent” at New Life Homes. The house mothers, farm workers and teachers welcomed us into their community. 

We shared stories, hiked to the river, taught school, and prayed together. We sang His praises, danced, played soccer and cheered as each child’s gifts reflected the Lord’s goodness. We shared meals and worshiped at their church. And all was good.

We worked in the fields harvesting crops. Farm management ideas were shared, marketing strategies discussed. Long drives to town on very bumpy roads reminded us of our unnecessary constant complaints about American roads.

We wanted to know what a missionary’s life was like, and we found out. It’s a lot of work, and it doesn't stop at sundown. Little eyes appear at the doorsteps for any excuse to visit and share. Heart-to-heart
talks occur often, as each child finds the path that God has designed. And as in any family, discipline strengthens the soul’s resolve.

Now when Tommy and Mandi write about a child or adult on the farm, we can put a face to the story and a special prayer is lifted up. We see their challenges, joys and peace at the end of each day.

Some days, it is very difficult and lonely for us POMs. We miss them terribly and are so thankful for the opportunity God gave us to be with Tommy and Mandi. Continue to pray for them and for those on the
farm. Continue to pray for us, as we too were called by God to be Parents of Missionaries.

Dick and Ellen Nelson
Parents of Tommy Bottoms and his wife, Mandi

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

From One World to Our World

Have we mentioned that the kids at New Life Homes LOVE soccer? You can find them playing soccer at recess every day, and we even have our own soccer field (part of the pasture) and competitive soccer team. The problem is, with terrain like ours in rural Swaziland, the balls don’t last long. Traditional soccer balls will last a few weeks at best. That’s why we were so excited when a friend here told us about One World Futbols. These soccer balls are made especially for kids living in third-world conditions—where rocks, mud, and cow patties are part of the sport. My mom made a brief inquiry to the company to see if they would donate some balls for the kids, and we were shocked to receive such a generous and speedy reply. They wanted to donate 20 soccer balls.

Shipping became the most obvious obstacle, since the balls don’t actually deflate. Tommy’s parents bravely volunteered to transport 20 official-size soccer balls from California to Swaziland when they came to visit us in September. Nothing like adding some extra stress to your typical travel concerns! Their gigantic duffle bag caused a few raised eyebrows at customs and several requests to deflate the balls, but they did arrive to the farm safely, much to the joy of the children here. 

We laughed at their initial comments about the balls. 

“It feels like kicking a stone.” (Obviously not used to fully-inflated balls.)

“Sit on it!” (Marveling at the engineering.)

“This thing is a soccer ball?” (Skeptical of the color and material.)

Needless to say, they were a huge hit. Each of our classrooms has their own ball, as well as each of the orphan homes. We’ve also stashed a few away for the future. We (and the kids) are extremely grateful to my family for requesting them, One World Futbols for donating them, and Tommy’s parents for lugging them half way around the world. The kids have received so much joy from this gift!