Thursday, January 26, 2012

Impact Stories from Swaziland

I am excited to be bringing you this story!
You see, this beautiful young women, is my cousin.
And this is her story.

Being able to be a part of the Samaritans Purse - Operation Christmas Child was amazing. I have packed the boxes in the past and it was incredible to be able to see the joy that these boxes bring to so many children.
I was in Swaziland, Africa during the gift distribution. I was working with a mission’s organization called "The Luke Commission" (TLC.) TLC is an incredible organization ran by an amazing couple, Harry and Echo VanderWal who are both doctors. This couple and their team go out into rural Swazi communities doing clinics 2-3 times per week and treat 100's of people medically for no charge. Once or twice a year boxes get sent to TLC and they bring the boxes to a clinic into a community that is in great need.

On top of getting treated medically, about 300 kids received Samaritan's Purse boxes. Most of the kids who received the gifts were very poor and did not have a lot of material possessions. Many of them had ripped clothing and were not wearing any shoes. A lot of the kids came to the clinic with their grandmothers (gogo's as they are called in Swaziland) because their parents had both died. This is very common in Swaziland as HIV and AIDS is so prevalent. A lot of the kids who were at the clinic probably didn't have a guardian at all. We met a lot of kids who were fending for themselves, and raising their baby brothers or sisters at a very young age. So you can imagine how a box filled with clothes and toys would be an incredible blessing to so many of them.

Seeing them open their gifts was priceless. The staff at TLC had all of the kids who received a gift sit on the ground in a large group with all of their gifts still unopened.

A Swazi staff member explained to the kids into a megaphone where the gifts came from and talked to them about the love of Jesus. Most of the kids in Swaziland know about God and could understand that the Lord was the one who allowed them to be blessed with these wonderful gifts. After a few minutes, everyone counted to three together and all of them opened their gifts at the same time.

Kids were standing up, holding their favourite gifts high in the air. Kids were dancing around with enormous smiles on their faces. Kids were screaming and laughing. They were sights and sounds that I know I will not soon forget. The kids especially loved the toques/hats that were in their boxes. They were all walking around wearing them afterwards. And toques are especially nice gifts for kids living in Swaziland as it gets very cold there in the winter! They also loved the tennis balls (they use the balls a lot for different games that they play) and the teddy bears.

These boxes truly bless all of the children who receive them. It shows them that they are loved and it brings them hope and joy. I am sure that for each and every single child.. the day they received those gifts will be a day that they will never forget.

Thank you Amy for sharing your pictures and story!

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