Smarts in Swaziland
Newsletter November 2020
Dear friends and family
We are thinking of you and praying for all of you in your various countries around the world and thank you for your prayers and support these last few months. The covid situation appears at a stable low here and we remain at zero cases in Bulembu itself which is a huge blessing! New infections have been below 20 a day for over a month and fatalities remain low country-wide. We are still unable to travel to South Africa where we would frequently buy supplies as an expensive test is required and travel still restricted. Our primary school has remained closed to all apart from the graduating year so it remains a tough time for our younger children. However God has been working in our youth and we have some great news!
48 Bulembu youth were baptised in September and October!
We have been so excited to hear of God moving among the youth in spite of the various restrictions still in place and they have been signing up for courses explaining baptism as a declaration of faith, culminating in baptisms of 18 youth in September and a further 30 in October. There were so many that the pastor ended up with a waiting list of more young people waiting for another date to be announced. We are praying that each one who took this step will continue to grow in faith in leaps and bounds! And that they will be a light to all their friends around them.
UK Charity Opportunity 2 Hope helps Bulembu save valuable funds through water heating project
We would like to thank our friends at O2H for their generous grant of £3000 to provide 2 of our children's family homes with water heating pumps which is incredibly economical compared to the current system and so will save the ministry valuable funds during financial crisis as heating water for each house is currently very expensive. Bulembu Ministries aims to supply every home in Dvudvusi (the homes where the children live) with this system over time. We are so grateful to O2H for their generosity! To explore O2H visit: https://www.global-horizons.org/humanitarian-partnerships/opportunity-2-hope/
Worship Academy Relaunch
We have now been running this latest worship academy for a couple of months. After the first week, we have been able to be there in person, which has been a joy for us, and it’s meant we are getting to know the new students.
Worship Academy has been getting younger this time around: we have had a group of younger community kids (children or grandchildren of staff) join us, as well as some aunties and other young people.
Each week we have a Bible study and worship time, and sometimes a practical workshop and we’ve covered subjects such as the power of music in worship, being filled with the Spirit, and listening to each other as musicians when playing spontaneously.
As our previous piano teacher David, who was a volunteer from Germany, had to return home in March due to the pandemic, Dan had to teach piano and guitar simultaneously (using video) for the first month, however in the last month we had the privilege of our friend Mduduzi joining the teaching staff to teach guitar, allowing Dan to focus on piano tuition.
Our drum teacher Mancoba Shongwe - has a good group of drumming students who are very keen and progressing well.
Mduduzi teaching guitar
Mduduzi, who is one of the young adults, who we have been good friends with since we arrived, has started teaching guitar for worship academy. He had just started his welding diploma course down in the capital Mbabane, when the first Covid lockdown happened, and so had to come back to Bulembu and has been working as part of the maintenance team. As much of higher education will not start until January at the earliest, we have been able to make the most of him being home, and of his great guitar skills.
Some of you may have seen Mduduzi in the Bulembu Choir performances in the UK, USA and online, he’s a lovely guy who loves Jesus. It’s always great when the Lord gives you opportunity to work with people you are close to.
He has taken over the guitar class with 5 students, and is doing a wonderful job.
Clair, teaching via video
As we mentioned in our previous newsletter, we have a new vocal coach, Clair Gregory, teaching via video, all the way from the UK. Clair is a long term friend of ours, and it’s been an amazing fun class for those who wanted to learn to improve their vocal techniques.
The class is even working on recording a song, which is exciting. Watch this space! We are so grateful to Clair, who’s locked down in the UK, for offering her time and talents to our vocals class.
Rachel has also started a couple of dance classes for staff kids' children over the last couple of months, one for some little ones, and one with older girls, which our daughters are also part of, and having a lot of fun.
Tallie, Seren and Anaya have been able to re-join some Royal Rangers events over the last few weeks, with activities such as cooking bread on sticks, craft, and water games. Royal Rangers has had to be scaled back significantly during the pandemic, with the children in the Bulembu programme having events separately to community children (like our girls). They've had a lot of fun, and are happy to have opportunities to spend time with their friends.
We also had the opportunity to get out of town for Dan's birthday, which was an incredible treat after 7 months not leaving our small town of Bulembu, especially with our current car problems (see the update in "Prayer and Praise" below).
The family on Dan's birthday
PRAYER AND PRAISE
Health and Safety
Please pray for the increase in cases to slow and stop in Eswatini and for the government to manage the fine balances involved in easing lockdown and managing the virus' spread. The alcohol ban was recently lifted and there were no disturbances, there has been a very slight increase in cases since but are thankful that the fatality rate has stayed very low and still no cases in Bulembu. Praise God!
Our primary school leavers and graduating secondary students are writing exams over the next month so please be praying for them especially after the extra difficulties of this past school year which has caused them a lot of stress. Pray that they know God with them in this challenge.
We would also like prayer for our car situation: following damage while it was borrowed, it has been undriveable for a long time having come back from the mechanic still broken more than once and is becoming unsustainable. Please pray for provision for a new vehicle that is appropriate for the rough roads out here.
Please pray for Rachel while she works towards the Movement Academy launch, which has been postponed during exam season as the age who are most interested are currently doing important finals.
It looks like the first movement classes will be Hiphop Challenges with Mancoba (drum teacher) where they'll be given Christian music and tools to polish up improvised dance to use in worship and ministry, and Power-up Clinics with Rachel where these street dancers will learn mime tricks, illusions, turns etc to upgrade their dancing.
Pray for Rachel as it looks like she may have achilles tendonitis and it's no fun to rest!
Thank you to everyone who has responded to our appeal for funding, we remain so grateful for your partnership in God's work here in Bulembu.
We are now fully funded for our personal living up to May 2021 now, which is a real blessing. We praise the Lord for His continued provision over the past 3 years. We are thankful for all the prayer and financial support that we have received. Every single prayer and every pound has made a notable difference.
If you would still like to partner with us financially, you can donate online using the button below.
Thank you for your continued support and we pray you'll keep safe and well,
More about The Smarts
Rachel, Dan and the girls