Final journal entry:
"It's the last day and I pray that it would be used effectively to speak life over many little bodies. I'm not ready to leave. I dont want to go back. I can feel God here and I fear I won't be able to sense His presence in America."
The last day was full of celebration and goodbyes. Full of long, tight hugs, "I love you's", and promises to keep in touch. It was the very definition of bitter-sweet.
When we arrived at Bhobogazi my little buddy was there waiting to play. I immediately scooped him up into my arms and snuggled his precious little body. I have no idea his name, but he is forever etched upon my heart.
Here are a few photos that we took of our wonderful team before we headed out for ministry.
The ladies of Bhobogazi
Teammates quickly became family
The weather was picture perfect. It was sunny and warm and the views were breath-taking. We spent the morning inside of a lovely women's hut. Her hut was made of mud and she was clearly distressed that the summer rains may wash her home away. Can you imagine having to worry about your home not withstanding rain?
We were all crammed inside of her tiny home, sitting on heavily used chairs, and occasionally a chicken or two would wander inside. It's was odd, as I sat there in the cool air, staring out her tiny little window, I couldnt help but feel at home. It was cozy here, filled with so much love, with so much hope. I had a clear view of the African country side, I had my husband right beside me, and I was listening to some amazing women share scripture back and forth. Perfection.
Our new friend shared scripture that she drew strength from and later we shared a realization we all came too - the same Bible, the same verses that we draw strength from, are the same words that this women in the African bush draws strength from. Our world is so tiny. We are all in this together, no one is to be forgotten.
It was a visit I won't soon forget.
While we waited for the rest of our team to get back from their home visits, we spent some time just playing with the kids, which if you haven't figured out, is the best thing ever!
We did our last session of VBS and then threw the children a carnival. We had a balloons, a jumpy castle, bubbles, nail polish, and all sorts of fun things the children to do. They were beyond excited and hardly new what to do with themselves.
Seeing the pure joy on the childrens faces was such a blessing.
The kiddos jumped and jumped until their hearts were content! We were able to play some music from our bus and the girls showed off their dance moves, and might I say, they have some serious moves!
Too soon the day was over, so we gave our final goodbye hugs and cried our final goodbye tears.
We all gathered around in a massive prayer circle to give a few final words of encouragement and love. We prayed to our mighty Savior and left our beloved Bhobokazi.
We went to pick up the rest of our team at their carepoint, which turned out to be such a blessing. I got to see my sweet friend Thandelueto (the girl I bonded so tightly with on day one) and tell her goodbye.
My sweet Thandelueto and I
This last day spent with the children was heartbreaking. Driving away from their tear stained faces and not knowing if we would ever see them again was almost more than we could bare. I miss them deeply.
A little update:
About 3 weeks after returning home I had a wonderfully unexpected surprise! One of our translators, Sdumo, fortunately has a cell phone with internet access. I noticed that he had posted a photo on facebook of my precious Thandelueto and one of her friends. I asked Sdumo if he could tell her that I said "hello" and that I was thinking of her and loving her. By the grace of God he was still at the care point with her, and her and I were able to have a little conversation. I was able to reassure her that I would never ever forget her and that I loved her so very much. It was the biggest blessing. I thought that I would never be able to speak with my sweet friend again, especially not over the internet, but God knew just how to lift my spirits and set up this devine appointment! Praise the Lord!
Often it is hard to leave those you love. Our natural instinct is to stay and to care for them. But, that isn't always an option. One thing I have held tightly to is the fact that the Lord loves these precious people more than I could ever love them. He can care for them and protect them more than I would ever be capable of. He IS our Creator, Sustainer, Protector, our Father.
I had to chose to release them back into His hands. That is where they are safest and most dearly loved.