Sunday, May 6, 2012


UPDATE- All of the funds needed to buy the Thulwane children uniforms and shoes were raised! Thanks to all who gave!

Have you ever been in love with a place you have never visited or loved a group of people you have never met? If you have, then we have something in common. 

Under this tree, the love of Jesus has been shared through song, games, hugs and Bible stories.
For me, that place is a care point in Swaziland, Africa, named Thulwane. The people are the go-gos (care-givers) and the children that frequent the care point. Over the years, we have heard their stories. We have looked at hundreds of pictures brought back the teams who visit. We have prayed for them. We have wept over children who have been hurt in ways we can hardly comprehend. We have rejoiced over big, life changing improvements on the grounds of Thulwane. We have mourned for a little boy we never met, but loved because his big personality spanned miles. He lost his life in a senseless act of evil. These precious people have become a part of our family in a real way.

I first learned about Thulwane through my friend Crystal. I could write a whole post about Crystal and I probably should. From our first meeting, her passion grabbed me. She is the one who introduced me to Children's HopeChest and Tom Davis and HopeChest's work in Russia and around the world. We have one of those kindred spirit friendships. What a gift.

Anyway, I'm sure I had heard of Swaziland before the HopeChest meeting, but I couldn't have told you where it was on the continent of Africa. I surely could not have told you the difficulties her people were facing on a daily basis. My introduction to Thulwane came through a video about bananas and pizza.

And, it wasn't long after watching that video that we began sponsoring this little guy.
Our love for Thulwane and Swaziland grew. We began working on what Crystal and her husband Squeaky call the "Thulwane home team" doing what we could to help.

Now, fast forward a few years. After suffering our second miscarriage, I came to the place where I truly believed that the door to having a second child was closed and I was finally ok with that. That sounds so easy and simplistic typed out like that. It wasn't. It had been a long, hard, painful process.

With that closed door, though, I saw another one opening. And, in spite of the unknowns, I sent an email to Crystal and said- "Ok, I'm going to Africa with you the next time you go" (or something like that.)

I started getting ready. I filled out all the paper work. I prayed for a job to raise the extra money we would need to pay for this trip. God provided one. I didn't even apply for it. I got a phone call asking if I might be interested in a K4 teaching job at Grant's school. "Well, as a matter a fact, I would," was my answer (or something like that.) I applied for my passport. Details were coming together. My friends were getting excited about my trip and what it might mean for our community when I got back.

Then, we got a big surprise. On the day I received my passport in the mail (seriously, the same day), I received some other big news. I was pregnant. After years of infertility and two miscarriages this was an amazing gift. 

Needless to say, Gabe was born days before we were supposed to leave for Africa, I didn't make it on that trip. 

Life was good. We had our beautiful baby boy, the long awaited little brother. It was exactly how we had hoped it would be. But, there was a tiny bit of sadness for the other dream that was not meant to be, at least for now.

Fast forward a few more years. Going to Africa still has not become a reality for me. I don't have sadness about that now. It's ok. When it's time, I'll know. Thankfully, God has allowed me to see that I don't "have" to go to be involved in bringing hope and help. Being on the "home team" is a job I love and look forward to every time the planning for the next trip begins.

Actually, my place on the home team, is the reason for this post and that very long back story. Are you still with me?

The children at Thulwane have a need.  In Swaziland, children are required to wear uniforms to attend school.  That doesn't really sound like a big deal until you realize that $55.00 for uniform and shoes is pretty much an impossibility since the average family lives on less than $2.00 a day.

Education is so important. It helps break cycles. It gives the Swazi children a chance to help their people as they become the future leaders. These kids, so very much like our own, have much to offer.

The desire that Crystal's team has for each of the kids at Thulwane is simple- a new uniform and a new pair of shoes. Here's a part of an email she sent me...

"The kids LOVE school.  They love learning and many of their classes are in English.  So many of our kids love to have us teach them new English words and how to spell them.

The thought of going to University is only a dream for most.

Sandi, we have 15 year old boys who are in second grade.  If they can't go to school for a year or two, whenever they come back it's like they pick up where they left off... it breaks my heart, but they just see it as normal.

A new uniform and a new pair of school shoes means hope to them... They walk taller in new shoes...they are careful with them, they are proud of them...

I honestly do not know how they will react to new uniforms... It makes me cry just thinking of it."

For the last couple of weeks, I have not been able to get away from knowing that I need to do more to get the word out about this need for uniforms.
  I have started several posts on this topic, then scrapped them. I couldn't get the words right.  This weekend I started thinking and typing and my heart took this one to a more personal place than I had planned for it to go. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The simple truth is these kids and this place are close to my heart. It is personal.

Would you prayerfully consider how you might be involved in providing uniforms for the kids of Thulwane. I know $55.00 is no small amount, so I am asking humbly. If you can't give that much, please don't let that stop you from giving what you can.  Any amount will help.


If you would like to contribute to the uniform/shoe purchase you can do so online through Westwood Baptist Church. In the comments area please put "Swaziland Uniform/Shoes". The shoes and the uniforms will be purchased in Swaziland, which makes your donation a double blessing to the people of Swazi. 


  1. I love your personal story. Perfectly said.

  2. Well done Sandi! Such a blessing to journey with you through some of your hearts desires and convictions to seek
    righteousness! Thank you! Keep seeking. Blessings friend. Lynne