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Entries in Swaziland (27)

Giving Children A New Place To Play

How many of us grew up on a playground, chasing friends and competing to see how high we could swing?

Should children growing up in poverty be denied that opportunity?

Get a glimpse at what one devoted group of generous donors did for thousands of kids in Swaziland!

Click to read more ...

Mlandvo's Story -- John 14:18

When five-year-old Mlandvo’s mother died, the cause was listed as “undisclosed sickness.”

In Swaziland, this is how a community refers to the fact that the person had HIV/AIDS. Mlandvo’s mother succumbed just as several of his father’s other wives had. Polygamy is common in Swaziland, and in some ways this hastens the spread of the disease.

In some ways, it also explains why so many children are left to fend for themselves.

In other ways, it does not – although Mlandvo’s father was still alive, he did not live in the same house. And as is common with these polygamous family situation, his father’s other wives were not interested in caring for Mlandvo and his younger brother, Simiso.

Instead, Mlandvo and Simiso were left in the care of their older sister. She was enrolled in the equivalent of 9th grade and had a chance at creating a better life if she completed school. And so Mlandvo and Simiso would stay at home while their sister was in class.

With these additional responsibilities, Mlandvo’s sister was soon overwhelmed. Mlandvo became very sick, and Simiso was growing weaker and weaker. Their father did not believe in seeking medical treatment, and thus their little lives were in peril.

And yet nearby was a One Child Matters child development center. The staff at the Ludzeludze center became aware of Mlandvo and Simiso’s situation and intervened. Because the center had access to a local clinic, they secured testing and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis.

One staff member relates that “Mlandvo would be lying helpless on a sick bed or even have died a long time ago” without the assistance of the center staff. One Child Matters' Children’s Crisis Fund provided consistent support so Mlandvo and his brother could continue their treatments.

Mlandvo is slowly gaining weight and growing stronger. He receives daily meals at the child development center, and special protein-enriched rice packs are available for him to take home to supplement those meals. He is enrolled in the center’s preschool and is excited about learning and playing like all little boys.

This is the ministry you support – help to those physically orphaned and left with little recourse. Because of your giving, we can continue to offer help to children like Mlandvo – and that help comes in the form of medical assistance, nutritious food, and love and support from caring adults.

When speaking to his anxious disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus comforted them by saying, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18.) And so do we. One Child Matters works to help those in the greatest need, especially the children.

To learn more about the Children’s Crisis Fund that helps children like Mlandvo, click here.

Snapshot: Swaziland

This week we turn our focus to Swaziland, a small country situated between Mozambique and South Africa. Swaziland is slightly smaller than New Jersey, but with 1.4 million inhabitants, has one-sixth the population.

As we’ve written here before, the problems Swaziland faces are so much bigger than the country itself. Swaziland continues to have the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world; estimates from several years ago found that one in four adults had HIV.

Where does that leave the children?

A member of the mission team from Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, was reminded of “Kings and Queens,” a song by Audio Adrenaline:

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Children in Swaziland face tremendous instability. If a parent falls ill of “the sickness” as they sometimes call HIV there, they are often sent to live with relatives, who may be caring for several children or grandchildren. The mission team met a 93-year-old grandfather living with his daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. A grandmother with five children in her home, whose husband left her. A mother who at 29 is dying of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS could no longer care for her 9-year-old daughter and sent her to live with relatives.

When stability fails, it is the children who suffer. And so with the help of our partner, Children’s Cup, we work to meet the needs of children by offering nutritious meals, medical attention and screenings, educational support, Bible clubs and discipleship by caring adults who can be positive role models in their lives.

These child development centers also offer another crucial opportunity: the chance to be a kid again. The kids in Swaziland celebrate the birth of Jesus in a huge way (you can see photos of their Christmas parties here), because it’s made all the difference in the world. There is playground equipment thanks to the efforts of several partner churches, and fun activities galore.

It’s so important to offer a safe and engaging place for children to come, learn, and grow. We are grateful for our partnerships with Children’s Cup and several churches who have stepped up to meet the needs of these children.

One of the Connection Pointe team members wrote of her experience interacting with the children at the center her church helps support.

What I noticed more than anything was their joy. The kids you see in the sponsor pictures look so serious or even sad. But if you tell them to “schlega!” they will smile so big! They are happy to be alive. The kids play well together, poke and tickle each other, chase each other, kick the soccer ball (really well), and are just kids. But they have so little. It truly amazed me how much joy they have just having their clothes, maybe shoes, and food. It makes me think – do we really have more?

Thank you for ensuring that children all over the world have not just a little more, but enough to thrive. Sponsorship builds hope-bringing, world-changing, God-serving young adults. We are proud to be a part of what God is doing in countries like Swaziland and others around the world.

How You Are Fighting HIV/AIDS 

Did you know you are a fighter in the battle against HIV/AIDS? Here's how we -- because of your help -- are moving to address the needs of children in countries devastated by this disease.

Click to read more ...

Medical Mercy in Swaziland

On a day where we as Americans stop and recognize what we have and what we want in this country, it may be fitting to read an update from Dr. Beyda and the Medical Mercy team currently serving the children in our projects in Swaziland. Please keep them in prayer!

Day 1
We went to the very first project ever opened and where we had built out medical clinic over 5 years ago. 307 patients were seen after a late start. A few very sick children: one who was sent to a hospital, one child who was severely neurologically devastated from birth, and one who need her foot amputated due to progressive gangrene. All that in addition to 5 hours of lectures to the Health Care Workers, nutritional assessments, dental hygiene, VBS, spiritual counseling, pharmacy, all patients entered into our database using bar codes, reading glasses for the elderly and more.

The team didn't blink an eye. For now, everyone here sends hello to their loved ones. We were promised a working internet server tomorrow. We'll see. Tomorrow is another day, another test of our endurance and a test of faith.

Day 2
A place far from the main city finds a small project with 150 children. A somewhat slow day leaves us moving through the patient load easily without stress and able to spend time with our patients.

The children are anxious for attention, going from one of us to another, looking for and receiving hugs. We look to their faces as they sing, seeing happiness despite the lack of comforts as we know them. I wonder if we should look at ourselves once in awhile and see if we truly need all that we have.

All is well. The team is cohesive and working in unison, the purpose evident.

Staff In Need Of Urgent Prayer

Please pray for our ministry partners and friends, Charlotte and Mitch Hildebrant, who oversee our child development centers in Swaziland.

We rarely request prayer for individual staff members, but this is an exceptional case. Our dear friends and partners in ministry, Mitch and Charlotte Hildebrant, need your prayers.

Mitch and Charlotte are the directors for Children’s Cup – Africa, our partner in Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. (Before that, they worked with One Child Matters and Bethesda Christian Broadcasting!)

UPDATE: Mitch has had a second abdominal surgery and is recovering well. Praise the Lord, he has not needed another chest tube. We are praying for cotinued healing. More updates in the prayer requests below.

In the middle of March, Mitch went to the hospital in Swaziland with appendicitis. During the appendectomy, the surgeon discovered a (thankfully benign) tumor in his intestines. Since then, however, Mitch has had serious complications, including pneumonia, dehydration, and several severe infections. (You can read more about that here.)

He was eventually transferring to a hospital in South Africa with better medical resources, but doctors are still struggling to address these pressing health issues, and they face several more weeks of treatment and recovery.

Our heart aches for our friends, because we know their hearts long to be on the field ministering to the kids in Swaziland.

We also know we have some serious prayer warriors in the Mission of Mercy family (after all, the last time we asked for prayer, God stalled a major cyclone and sent it away from southern Africa)!

Please join us in praying for Mitch and Charlotte. Here are a few specifics:

  • Please pray against a second intestinal leak, which could lead to major infections and another surgery. Also pray that Mitch’s wound from the first surgery would heal supernaturally fast.
    UPDATE: There was a second leak and a second surgery the 3rd week in May. Thankfully Mitch has responded well and it looks like his intestines are functioning. We are praying this will be the last major surgery and he can move on to healing from here!
  • Please pray for minimal pain during dressing changes, that his oxygen levels will be high and his blood pressure low. Please pray against the multiple infections, especially those which have settled in his lungs.
    UPDATE: This is still an accurate request. Keep praying against infection!
  • Please pray against the anxiety this situation naturally produces in Mitch and Char, and in their families who are so far from them during this scary time. Please pray for peace and solid rest for Mitch and Charlotte. Please also pray for the Children’s Cup staff who continue to serve the children in One Child Matters projects.
    UPDATE: Mitch's mother is now in South Africa with Mitch and Char, praise God. Please continue praying against anxiety, which is affecting Mitch's breathing. Please continue to lift up the Children's Cup staff as they are short-handed and still trying to serve the children faithfully.

Friends, we are grateful for your partnership in prayer and for the children. We trust that the Lord, who made healing a major focus of His ministry on earth, will continue to provide for Mitch and Charlotte.

How We're Praying This Week

So much is happening all over the world -- here's how you can join us in prayer for our projects and the areas we serve.

PRAISE: Confounding all storm path projects, Tropical Cyclone Irina HAS TURNED AND HEADED OUT TO SEA! We had asked for prayer late last week as initially Irina looked to hit our projects in Swaziland and Mozambique.

To our amazement and, frankly, God’s glory, the storm is no longer a major threat. This is fantastic news because it is harvest season in this region, and the heavy wind and rains from this type of storm could devastate a much-needed maize harvest.

Current forecasts show that Irina is weakening as it spins over the colder waters of the south Indian Ocean. We are praying that Irina continues to weaken and stays far, far away from our children and projects in southern Africa.

TRIP PRAYER: A women’s mission trip to Cambodia leaves on Thursday, March 8. This diverse team of 40 women will serve Mission of Mercy’s Mechrey Floating School as well as the projects in the Siem Reap area. We are praying for safe travels, and that all of their supplies arrive safely in country!

PROVISION PRAYER: We’re also praying for our projects in Lebanon, as more and more refugees flee the violence in Syria. One of our projects is especially close to the Syrian border, but many of our programs serve the refugee population in other areas of Lebanon.

As the influx of exiles grows, so too does the strain on infrastructure, increasing the chances that refugees will face discrimination from established families already struggling to get by. In addition to praying for a quick resolution to the violence in Syria, we are praying that the fleeing families are finding sanctuary, and that those receiving them are able to provide help to them.  

UPDATE: Cyclone Turns Toward Ocean, Prayers Still Needed

Image courtesy of the Pacific Disaster Center's Global Hazard Atlas. For updated storm pictures, click on the image to be taken to their website. March 4 UPDATE: Your prayers are working! Tropical Cyclone Irina has shifted course and is not following the path initially projected.

As our friends and staff in Swaziland shared, "a strange phenomenon has the cyclone circling in the ocean. 'Strange phenomenon'... LOL... yeah, we know His name!"

Please keep praying with us. The new projections still pose some risk for our project in Xai-Xai, Mozambique, especially, which already suffered major damage from previous storms in January. The areas our projects serve are marked with white dots in the image above.

Please continue to cover them in prayer, that Irina continues to turn and does not hit Xai-Xai or other areas in Swaziland or Mozambique.

The original March 2 Path and Request:

Tropical Cyclone Irina as of March 2. Image courtesy of the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System/UN/EC. Our friends and staff in Mozambique and Swaziland are coveting your prayers as Tropical Cyclone Irina heads their way. Expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours, Tropical Cyclone Irina is gaining strength; the Mozambican cities of Xai-Xai and Maputo, where Mission of Mercy has two projects, are in its path.

The storm is also projected to hit Swaziland, and many in the area are already fearing damage on the scale of a 1984 storm that devastated the region. As the maize (corn) harvest is approaching, the expected flooding and wind damage could have disastrous effects on the nation's food supply.

Please join us in praying that Cyclone Irina changes its course. These two nations are still recovering from the havoc wrecked by two massive storms in January. We are standing with the children, their families, and the staff that serves them in prayer. Please pray with us!

We will keep you posted as we learn more information. As always, if your sponsored child is directly affected, we will contact you as soon as possible. If you would like to help us anticipate the needs in these two countries, please consider a donation to the Children's Crisis Fund.

Same Country: New Prayer Request

Cyclone Funso's projected path as of 5pm January 24th may avoid areas our programs serve. Image courtesy of the Pacific Disaster Center's Global Hazard Atlas.

UPDATE: Cyclone Funso's path is taking it out to sea. Praise God with us that our friends in Mozambique and Swaziland were spared more storms.

When it rains, it pours. And that’s definitely happening in Mozambique and Swaziland. Less than a week after Tropical Storm Dando made landfall and ruined both church buildings and homes in the communities we serve, now Cyclone Funso is threatening.

Today it strengthened to a Category 4 storm with winds over 130 mph. Thankfully, it seems to be drifting along the Mozambique Channel and has not veered inland.

We are praying Cyclone Funso continues on its projected path and skirts past Mozambique and Swaziland. Still, bands of intense storms are raking across southern Africa. Even Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is getting large amounts of rain. (You can see the general location of our projects in the white dots on the image above.)

As the ground is already saturated from Tropical Storm Dando, the aftereffects of Funso can still cause major damage. Please join us in praying for the safety of the children and staff in Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, especially those who may be staying under damaged roofs.

The weather reports show another round of storms brewing behind Cyclone Funso -- please pray with us that those storms also miss these beleagured countries. But if they don't, we pray that God will be making a way for those in the storm's path to find shelter and hope. And may His church continue to move to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world.

You can help Mission of Mercy respond to crises like cyclones and floods with a donation to the Children’s Crisis Fund. In the past, funds have been used to rebuild homes, provide medical treatment, and allow the staff to meet the most pressing needs in a community. Thank you for your continued support of our friends and the children they serve!

Tropical Storm Hits Mozambique

Weather as of 1pm MST, January 17. Image Courtesy of TerraMetrics via Weather Underground.We are asking for your urgent prayers for the children we serve in Mozambique, as they recover from the effects Tropical Storm Dando.

With forceful winds and heavy rain, Dando wreaked havoc in Mozambique, and in Xai-Xai (pronounced shy-shy) in particular. Today we received reports that the roof of the building that served as the project and church was ripped off.

The staff in Mozambique are in the process of checking on the children registered in our programs. As always, please know that if your sponsored child was directly affected, we will contact you personally; however, given the general state of things this may take some time.

If you would like to make a donation to help Xai-Xai rebuild, or to help the children and their families repair homes that were damaged, please consider making a gift to the Children’s Crisis Fund. Mission of Mercy relies on the CCF to respond and rebuild in situations like these.

Thankfully, Tropical Storm Dando has slowly lost intensity after making landfall, but is still dumping rain in Mozambique and Swaziland. Please pray for the children whose homes may have been damaged. May the Lord be their protection and keep them dry. And may His church rise up beyond the building itself and continue to serve this community.

Celebrating Jesus' Birth... And Life!

It's that time of year -- time for the sweetest photos that make you laugh out loud. Our friends and ministry partners in Swaziland, Children's Cup, know how to throw a party, especially if it's celebrating Jesus!

If you want to see more of this awesome party, click to read more. In the accompanying photo gallery you'll see what it’s like for a child to encounter Jesus and the celebration of His birth in a whole new way... from the child's perspective!

Click to read more ...

Christmas Wishes In Every Language

In the coming weeks you should receive a Christmas card from your sponsored child, and on it will be Christmas wishes in their own hand. We love this time of year because you can see the anticipation of Christmas in the children's heartfelt wishes. 

But very few of the children in our programs speak English -- so what do their Christmas wishes look like?

In most of the countries in which we work, the language spoken does not use a Latin or Roman alphabet such as what we use in English or what many of the countries in Africa or Central America use above. 

Yet the result is just as beautiful. Several countries, such as the Philippines and India, have regions that use different languages or dialects, which are represented below.

And then there's the Middle East, where Christ and the Christmas season was born. What wonderful wishes!

It's a bit early to wish you a Merry Christmas, but we can't help getting in the spirit! 

Continue Praying: Feed My Starving Children

Mission of Mercy is incredibly blessed to work with several passionate partners on the field, such as the staff of Children's Cup who help us minister to children in Swaziland and Mozambique.

Nothing encourages us more than when the body of Christ comes together to meet the needs of children. Even the smallest act, such as measuring basic food stuffs, can make a huge impact.

Yesterday we received some photos of our Children's Cup friends in Swaziland unpacking 1252 boxes of food from another partner, Feed My Starving Children.

The "Manna Packs" that Feed My Starving Children donates to organizations like Mission of Mercy are enriched with protein and nutrients which are essential for meeting the nutritional needs of children in our programs, especially in remote areas where food and transportation costs are so high.

In addition to Swaziland, we have used Feed My Starving Children rice packs in Haiti after the devastating earthquake and cholera epidemic.

Several shipments also went to Kenya in response to the severe drought and famine there. Over the course of a year and a half, Feed My Starving Children and Mission of Mercy made sure over 1 million meals made it to the mouths of hungry children in several areas around the globe.

What's amazing about all of these Kingdom connections is that several of our headquarters staff in Colorado Springs will volunteer to pack Feed My Starving Children meals at area churches this weekend. We are thrilled to take part in a program that we know saves lives!

We also want to ask for prayer for the continued needs in Kenya. The drought in the Horn of Africa continues to impact families across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. We are coordinating with Feed My Starving Children to send another shipment to our projects in Kenya, and the logistics are always harried. Please pray that we can quickly cut through the bureaucracy and customs issues and get this critical food source to the children and families who need it most! 

If you'd like to help us ensure that our children in Kenya receive the nutrition they need, please consider donating to the Children's Crisis Fund. Thank you!

Tour Of Homes: Africa

Homes in Sub-Saharan Africa reflect an ingenuity fitting of their sparse environment. Could you build a home out of mud, sticks, and tin?

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Quote Of The Day: Easter

In a letter to her sponsor, Temaswati from Swaziland asks,

Jesus Christ died for our sins in April, when did Jesus died in America? Please give me the month.

Just a reminder to write to your sponsored child about your Easter traditions, and perhaps to clarify that yes, Jesus died (once for all) in April!

Preview: What's The Weather Like?

As you eagerly anticipate spring and all its joys (flowers, warmer temperatures, allergies), your sponsored child may be preparing for another season entirely.

To give you a taste of what's to come, did you know that the names of the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) apply the same way regardless of where you live -- it is the months they apply to that differs.

For example, while we anticipate spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere is entering autumn. For those of you who sponsor children in Swaziland and Mozambique, this is particularly important -- while we are expecting warmer weather, they are gearing up for colder weather... which may not seem all that cold to you! Swaziland and Mozambique's coldest months are called winter, but their winter is from June to September, roughly speaking.

Enjoy the signs of spring, and check back for more fun facts as well as how you can talk to your child about the seasons and what you experience here!

If You Build It...

Yesterday's post revealed some of the practical projects we undertake -- but as our ministry is focused on developing children, we are compelled to assist with some fun projects, too!

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Building A Ministry

When you pray for God to meet your sponsored child's needs in extraordinary ways, this is sometimes the answer He delivers...

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Jack Be Nimble

Our sponsored children are creative beings, inventing games or tweaking rules of established sports to accomodate their resources. From simple to high-flying, these games sure look like fun!

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Nothin' But Net

Four quarters. A leather ball. A rectangular court with a hoop on each end. Think you know this game? It's sweeping the globe but it's not what you'd expect...

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