Published on: 15/05/2020

Smarts in Swaziland

Newsletter May 2020

Dear friends and family

Hello from all of us in Bulembu, Eswatini, We are praying for all of you and very grateful to you for continuing to pray for us and support us during this time of global upheaval. Here in eSwatini we're going into our second month of lockdown and getting used to living differently like many of you around the world.

In Bulembu the schools are closed but the children are able to do school work at home. On a Sunday large speakers are set up outside playing worship music towards the children's homes and they all stand outside their houses and sing and cheer. The pastor has been able to deliver a message every week and our Mother church broadcasts a recorded service online. These are just a couple of the changes that we have adjusted to since March.

n this newsletter, we have updates on the ballet merit, the worship academy and how that's continuing in lockdown, see a video of us, a couple of poems from our girls, prayer points, and photos of our unconventional Easter service!

First Ballet Merit completed at Discovery Rangers

The children were sad to end the 2 months of ballet and they did a great job of trying something completely new to them and learned a dance to 'oh taste and see that the Lord is good' which they insisted on singing while dancing! Their enthusiasm is so infectious. Thank you so much again to all of you who donated ballet wear, we will be seeking more items, especially tights and age 10+ sizes as and when borders re open to enable more children to be kitted out! I wish you could have all seen the delighted looks on their faces when they put them on. They begged to be able to take them home but unfortunately we don't have enough to go around. The demand is high for classes to be added to the older age groups in Royal Rangers and once all the children have had ballet we plan to offer tap if shoe donations suffice, so watch this space and get in touch if you're willing to donate, collect or help deliver! Thank you!


Worship Academy Continues in Lockdown


Session 2 lessons before lockdown

Right before social distancing began we had our second session of worship academy and people started to get used to their chosen instruments, thanks to the volunteer teachers who gave their time and skill!


High School graduate Mancoba (intern at church) makes an enthusiastic drum coach!

During week 2 we had some new people on board and began by looking at Jehoshaphat and the unusual victory God's people had in 2 Chronicles 20 when singers were sent out on the front line of a impossible battle. We were looking at the role of praise in spiritual warfare and how the people, despite huge adversity, listened to the prophet and risked their lives by going out at the head of the army singing 'Praise the Lord, his mercy endures forever.'

Rather than shouting a battle cry, they 'praised the beauty of (God's) holiness'. Since then, God has been continually reminding us not to strive but to 'stand firm and see the deliverance that the Lord will give' (2 Chron 20:17)

We have adapted to social distancing by sending out bible studies digitally and pointing students to online theory and music resources, enabling them to continue learning in various ways. We are impressed by the diligence of the students who have kept going with piano, drums and guitar where possible and we've discovered methods of teaching that we would never have come by otherwise.


Piano students learned with David Werle, now returned to Germany

'You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions. Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.. do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.' 2 Chron 20


Hello from the girls!

'eSwatini' by Seren:

Up in the sky so very blue
I see a bright and pretty hoepoe
Now I look upon the ground
And see what I can see
The flowers look so beautiful
And lots of them are bright and yellowy
Why don't you come to eSwatini
To see what you can see


Sunday church at home - Anaya

'Red Dirt Road' by Tallie

Bump, bump., bump!
Bump! goes the kombi
Driving on the red dirt road

Stop, stop, stop!
'Stop!' cry the people
'We want a lift
on the red dirt road!'

Screech, screech, screech!
Screech! goes the kombi
Stopping on the red dirt road

Scrape, scrape, scrape!
Scrape! Goes the door
on the kombi on the red dirt road

Vroom, vroom, vroom!
Vroom! goes the kombi
Starting on the red dirt road

Bump, bump, bump!
Bump goes the kombi
Driving on the red dirt road


Health and Safety: We are grateful for the slow speed of the outbreak up to now in eSwatini. We need urgent prayer for the government to have wisdom, and for protection over the country and Bulembu as the country has minimal resources and over all poor immunity and insufficient health care. There is severe risk of hunger during lockdown so the government has eased lockdown this week to aid the economic crisis caused by over a month of lockdown. We are not only praying against the spread but that those who are unable to work won't starve. The government is fighting this double crisis, pray for success.

Mental Health: As you know this current situation is extremely challenging to manage, so pray that all Challenge Ministries staff will be able to maintain good self care and mental health and for Bulembu ministries staff to have grace to sustain them during this double crisis. Too many people in eSwatini have compromised immune systems due to the AIDS epidemic, so it is difficult to cope with the extreme pressure and not give way to fear.

Aunties and children: Pray for the Aunties and other frontline staff taking the full weight of the care of our many children in the village. Pray that all stay safe at this time.

Pray against the increase of domestic abuse across the country, this is already a vastly extreme problem, and in lockdown it has become even more rife. Pray for those working against this, such as our ICBCs (challenge ministries mobile health care, those who visit homes etc) around the country to succeed in this fight.

Funding: Bulembu is sadly in a major financial crisis due to an extreme drop in support, a large fall donations from abroad due to job loss and other pandemic related economic problems. This is affecting every area of the village. Bulembu cannot afford to lose staff and is facing very difficult decisions. We thank our supporting churches and those who have stepped in to help Bulembu Ministries as well as our family, we can't thank you enough. Please get in touch for ways to get involved and help this or visit and have a look at some of the fun fundraisers happening now, as well as the child sponsorship and other initiatives.

Guidance: Pray that we make wise decisions as we navigate a changing situation. Pray for us to do well in our current roles- digital worship academy, media, tech, and assisting fundraising as well as encouraging prayer and fasting, intercession and worship in the village.

Family: Finally please pray for our 3 children to be safe and feel stable while everything around is different and scary. After six weeks, they miss their friends and travelling, like you and yours do! Thank you, we are praying for you too.

Unconventional Easter

Bulembu used creativity to make sure resurrection day was still celebrated well by using our new Sunday morning tradition- blasting music outside toward the childrens houses and encouraging a socially distanced drive-in situation for staff! So we stood below the children's hill and sang with the biggest flags and streamers we could find. Jesus is still alive! They will remember Easter 2020.


Childrens singing in gardens Easter morning- they won't forget!


We pray that all of you stay safe and well and know God's grace through the rest of this year. 'You will be secure because there is hope' Job 11:17

Rachel, Dan and the girls

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