Thursday, January 30, 2014

_____, Wealth, Contentment, Health

Greetings friends. As I (Tommy) woke up this Sunday morning and perused the CA headlines, once again, water (or lack thereof) was a major issue. I was reading about how Governor Brown declared 53 of 58 counties as natural disaster zones. I saw pictures from the Mt. Shasta snow cam that looked more like a barren Missouri field in mid-August. Things do not look good, and for this reason, I extend my thoughts and prayers to the many farmers affected by this dire situation back home. This week we have been joined by a few of Mandi’s college friends. One of the individuals in the “estrogen gang”, Jonnalee Henderson caught me up on some of the water challenges that farmers are facing. Brutal. As much as I despise political water battles, these challenges got me to thinking about our water situation here in Swaziland. Our main issue here: we do not realize how fortunate and wealthy we are. Nearly everyone here, including ourselves, have rivers and streams crisscrossing their property.

We have had rains that have kept our crops afloat. We have wells that are hitting water at 60 feet. Not only that, but as I stand on our veranda and look out towards Mozambique, I see puffy cumulonimbus clouds looking to burst again any time.

Poverty is a problem of the mind, under-appreciated and under-utilized resources if just a side effect of that problem. Mandi and I are often told by the Swazis how lucky we are that we are so wealthy. I do appreciate the situation that we come from, but we encourage our Swazi friends who envy our financial wealth to redefine wealth to include resources. Now look who is wealthy. As you drive into Modesto, CA, you see the city slogan that reads: Water, wealth, contentment, health. There is wisdom in including water first in the slogan. Without it, the other three attributes become much more difficult to obtain. This is true whether you do not have water (the case if California), or you do not realize what you have (the case in Swaziland).

For you, we pray for snow, rain, and common sense discourse as you discuss these challenging water issues. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to try to work to change the mindsets of people here so that they will feel empowered to recognize and responsibly utilize the resources that God has so richly blessed them.

On a side note, we would like to feature the two kids who are leading the unofficial mango eating competition on the farm.

Ndu (top right) and Vusi (bottom) spend more time in trees than on the ground (this is not an exaggeration). They also have the stickiest hands on the farm.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meet Siyabonga

Have you noticed how easy it is to miss changes that happen slowly? One of our little ones has been making slow but steady progress and we just had to share!  
Five-year-old Siyabonga became part of the New Life Homes family in August 2012. The circumstances leading up to his placement at New Life Homes were very poor. He was living with a grandmother who was unable to care for him properly. When he arrived he was obviously sick and very malnourished. 

Over the past year, Siyabonga has transformed into a happy and healthy little boy. He is constantly entertaining us with his rodeo clown antics (somersaults, chasing dogs, karate chopping, climbing trees, and other general mischief). He also loves to start worship songs at our weekly prayer gatherings. Looking at him, it is hard to imagine the child he was when he arrived. He is full of energy and life!

It is still amazing to us how children respond to a loving and stable environment. The kids at New Life Homes are fed in many ways—healthy food we produce ourselves, love and discipline from the housemothers, teachings about God’s bottomless love. It seems that for Siyabonga, this has been the perfect recipe for producing a happy and healthy child.

In Siswati, “Siybonga” means “thank you.” Will you take a moment to thank God for what he is doing in Siyabonga’s life? Pray that Siyabonga would continue to thrive physically, and each day would trust more and more in God’s love and grace.