Hope & Heartbreak (SWZ)

Lacey Shurmer is a volunteer from Calgary, Canada. She has been with Hands at Work since February this year.

I was recently in Kaphunga, Swaziland for three weeks to build capacity into the office administrator of Asondle Sive Bomake Home Based Care. It has been five days since my return and part of me is still unable to comprehend all that has happened. Looking back over my journal entries, I see that each experience falls into one of two categories: hope or heartbreak. It is impossible to rank the significance of either of these feelings. Which should I tell about first? Hope or heartbreak, hope or heartbreak....

Hope: November 5th: This morning Nomsa Lukhele, the woman in her late sixties with whom I am staying and who started the Swaziland project and coordinates the Home Based Care, came and got me for breakfast. She said that some of the volunteers had already arrived for the HBC meeting. The volunteers were so cute, all bundled up in their blankets and jackets because it was plus 8 and they were freezing!

As the meeting started, one of the ladies began singing and as I watched them I choked back tears.These ladies are so beautiful and I can’t imagine the pride God has in them. Three of the ladies are easily as old as my grandmother and use canes, yet they walk extreme and mountainous distances, carrying food parcels and loving the orphans like Jesus would have—using the little that they have to take care of children that aren’t theirs. I was humbled to be with them.

I stood up to start talking to them, wanting to encourage them. I probably freaked them out because I was crying, but I told them that I wanted to be like them, that I want to be giving like they are. I told them that I could write a book about spirituality and pleasing God like so many people do, but my book would simply say, "Go see the ladies in Swaziland. See how they give and are an example for their community and for me."

I encouraged them to keep going and that when they see God he is going to look at them and say, "Well done my daughter."

It was beautiful to be with them....

Heartbreak: November 13th: After lunch we went to the hammer mill to grind maize for a lady who Nomsa called "Lacey's Gogo." She was referring to a little old lady who can’t see who lives down the road from where Nomsa stays.

The other day I went on a home visit with Glory, a HBC volunteer, and we visited this same Gogo and when we came to the house she was working hard to grind maize by hand. Glory and I took over and I thanked God that we were able to make life that tiny bit easier for her.

I was really happy when Nomsa said we could bring her some already-ground maize today. When we arrived she had locked herself in her house. Baba Samuel Lukhele, Nomsa's husband, told us later that she locks herself in everyday until her grandchildren come home because once three men came and threatened her and now she is too scared to be out of her home.

When we sat and Nomsa showed her the ground maize she let out the most joyful noise and then she crawled on the ground to kiss all of our hands.

"How good is God that he brings you here to care for me?" she told Nomsa in Siswati.

How good is God that he lets me experience these things? I have been changed forever. I will never be able to live for solely myself without hating myself and I praise God for it.

Hope: November 3rd: "When people look at me, they wouldn't think I would be the one to do this work. I am not educated, I don't have money, but me and God have a secret, you see..."

Nomsa said this last night and it keeps running through my head. Me and God have a secret. I like that.

If God and Nomsa are the ones with the secret then we can surely have hope that soon enough all these tears will be dried and the suffering with stop.