Last year at El shaddai was full of memories and improvements, and we are all excited to share with you what God has in store for 2016! The year has just begun, and so many exciting things are already taking place! In January, we graduated two of our children, Siboniso and Nolwazi, and sent them off to college in South Africa! Siboniso is training to become a chef and Nolwazi is training to be a hotel director. We are very proud of the steps they are taking, and would love your prayers for them to continue to prosper in their new life.
At the beginning of January, we also accepted 5 new volunteers into our home. 4 of them come from the United Kingdom and are volunteering as teachers, and one of them comes from the United States, who is teaching as well as leading chapel for all of the children. Our Father has such an amazing way of placing people in our ministry at the right place and at the right time. We have also welcomed new management into El Shaddai. The Bothma family has come to oversee the operations with the pig farm, and other maintenance jobs.
As 2015 came to an end, so did the school year. In January, the children finished up their final days of vacation and transitioned back into school. A small group of our own were struggling with their studies, and we prayed for God to provide a helping hand. Soon enough, we discovered a wonderful school that helped care for youth who struggled with learning disabilities. The school's name is called "Saint Joseph" and our children, BoyBoy, Takhona, Lindo, Thembelihle, Mthokozisi, Vuyisile, and Mecelani have been sent there so that they may reach their full potential with their education.
Along with the new staff and new school year, we are full of excitement as we also plan for a new year of fun with all of our children. It has just been 3 months and we have already celebrated many birthdays! This past weekend, we took our youngest teens, Welcome, Dean, and Phiwa out to town to celebrate their birthdays. They were privileged to see the new Batman vs. Superman movie. We are also preparing for El Shaddai's first ever "End-of-term" camp! From sleeping outside in tents to competing against one another in many games and activities, our children have an eventful break in store for them!
I believe that the most amazing thing that has been taking place here at El Shaddai is the amount of fire that has placed itself in the hearts of the children. Since January, the youth have been growing more in depth with their relationship with Jesus. The chapel services alone are overwhelming us with satisfaction. hearts are breaking for our heavenly Father, and the lives of these young ones are being morphed and sculpted in the utmost beautiful way. Several of our teens will be baptized soon and we are excited to see the young leaders that they are becoming. Jesus is moving at El Shaddai, and it is absolutely beautiful!
As we are very joyful and excited to see the many wonderful things happening in Swaziland, we are also sad to share some news with very heavy hearts. One of our beautiful children, Khetsiwe, has been diagnosed with PDS which is a heart disease. She is in dire need of an operation, and it has become hard on all of our hearts. We are in desperate need of prayer for her heart as well as funds to come in so that the doctors are able to perform the operation. We believe in a God who makes the blind see and the deaf hear with a snap of his fingers, so we lack anything but confidence that our Abba Father will provide for our beautiful Khetsiwe.
God is performing wonders at El Shaddai Childrens Home, and we are so blessed to share everything that He is doing with all of you. God bless you, and we hope your new year is going great!
Hello fellow volunteers!
When you come to El Shaddai one of the ministry opportunities you may be assigned to is the homeschool program, Oikos.
My ministry time was spent assisting in a 12th grade English class for about 12 seniors, personally tutoring a 2nd grade boy in English and Reading for a class period and then an 11th grade girl in Science.
Most of the kids are self-motivated enough that you don’t have to do as much actual teaching as you are there for them to come to when they have questions and need help.
There is a set curriculum that Oikos uses but I was free to adjust my class time to include other educational activities like playing Monopoly!
Author: Jessie Meltz
Photo Credit: Jessie Meltz
"Nobody said it was easy..."
Coldplay's irritatingly catchy lyrics played on in my head as my co-teacher and I stared at our new 5th grade class; helpless as we witnessed them seemingly act out a scene in their classroom that can only be described as part Ferris Bueller's day off and part Hunger Games. When we entered the room, trying our best to be clothed in authority and love, the commotion died down a little, but their mischievous eyes followed us all the way to the front of the class, smiles widening as new jokes popped in their minds that would be prepared just for us, given at the just the right moment of class, where it would do the most harm.
Teaching isn't easy for anyone, but it looks especially hiccup inducing when you only have three weeks to teach three classes with kids that are beautiful, bright, and creative, and use every one of their talents to mess with the new teachers.
However, underneath these playful and sometimes disrespectful eyes, are children who long to impress, long for someone to notice why they are special, long for someone to push them into achieving their goals, and long to be loved. Many of these kids are residents of the El Shaddai orphanage, and others come from around the mountain villages. All have stories that can (and have) induced me to tears; stories of abandonment, death, abuse, poverty, and AIDS--and all come back to school, day after day, striving to look at their future in hope.
That day, we had the students draw a picture of who they wanted to be when they grew up, and write down why. There were drawings of pilots, doctors, nurses, chefs, teachers, and policemen. The best was their description of WHY they wanted to be these things. One young man wrote down confidently that he wanted to be a "police" because he wanted to "stop thieves" and "walk children across the street." This statement accompanied a grand picture of a little thief with an air bubble that said, "No! I want to steal! I am hungry and its fun!" and then a picture of a giant policeman with an air bubble in all caps stating, "NO! YOU WILL NOT STEAL BECAUSE I WILL NOT LET IT! I HAVE A GUN!!!"
However, most of the children were very shy in showing their pictures, or sharing any information at all. We tried to coax volunteers and only received little sniggers or cast down eyes. One quiet young man, one of the older children, hesitantly raised his hand, and we pointed at him with relief. He cleared his throat and read his sentence in a loud mumble.
"I wish to be a father when I grow up."
The class erupted in fake and jeering laughter which was immediately squashed by my co-teacher and I. The young man looked down at his paper.
"Go on," I said. "So far it sounds amazing. What is your reason?"
This little bit of encouragement silenced the rest of the students and they all turned to look at their classmate. He looked up at me and smiled, and then read on.
"I wish to be a father when I grow up, because I believe that it is very important that a child has a father. So I will be a good father."
I swallowed back some emotion in my throat. I knew that this student's father died of AIDS, and I wasn't sure about the rest of his family. I threw my hands up in the air and said with exuberance, "Wow! That is a FANTASTIC reason!!! Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!"
His grin matched mine. He looked around the room and then back at me, pleased with himself.
That was all it took.
Suddenly every student's hand shot up like they were catching a baseball in the World Series.
"Teacha! Teacha! Pick me! Look at my picture! This is what I want to be!"
All their faces radiated open hope that we would approve of them and praise them. That we would see them and tell them that they were special.
Amidst the irritation and frustration, throughout the spit wads and paper airplanes, the heckling and the disrespectful tones, there are moments like these. Moments and opportunities to tell kids that they are loved, they are important, and that they have a future.
And we get to point them to the ultimate Father, the one that claims them, never leaves them, embraces them, and takes great delight in them. Every moment, every day.
Oh yes. It's all well worth it.
Author: Tori Thompson
Photo Credit: Kylee Wilson
The authors of this blog are various and sundry, from the long-term staff and volunteers at El Shaddai, to missions trip volunteers, and maybe even a few people in between.