Smarts in Swaziland
Newsletter January 2021
Dear friends and family
Worship Academy Drum student
We are praying for you and thinking of you all around the world and we are grateful for all of your support and prayer as things have become even more challenging coming into 2021. Eswatini has just gone through significant flooding due to Cyclone Eloise, though thankfully we had very minimal in Bulembu.
The country experienced a surge in cases through December and hospitals are now at capacity, with the country named as having the highest fatality rate in Africa last week. The numbers have steadied due to a two week tightening of the partial lockdown which was just extended to six.
Due to this, we are sad to have had to postpone the launch of the movement track along with all our in person dance and music classes at the worship academy. So we are busy going back to serving over WhatsApp and online wherever possible. We are very happy to announce that 15 more of our youth were baptised in December!
Worship Academy Finale 2020
Let them praise his name in dance; strike up the band and make great music! Psalm 149:3 (The Message)
Zoom Gymnastics Power-Up
Looking back we are very glad to have had the opportunity to be together and celebrate the year with all of our Worship Academy students for Christmas, and advertise the launch of the Worship Academy movement track. We were able to have another wonderful gymnastics session with Victoria Mitchell, who is a former world class tumbler, representing Great Britain and now volunteers her time to provide our very first movement academy Power Up! The idea is that our worship dancers get training in different areas that benefit their dance training and our new trainee hip hop teacher is especially loving it, along with several of our multi-talented music students! The Zoom classes were a total surprise and such a fantastic way to kick off our movement track. We can't wait to get back in action when lockdown is over.
The kids are loving their Upgrade sessions with former British medallist!
We have recently been assigned an office at the church especially for Worship Academy and Mancoba Shongwe our drum teacher is officially taking on our very first senior (teens) hip hop class to start as soon as possible. We also have a new trainee, young adult Mbongeni, a talented hip hop dancer and we are helping him with solo performance skills. He aims to start a youth dance fusion crew with Rachel when Covid regulations allow.
Mbongeni advertising the Movement track with solo 'Blessings'
We had three performances in total, advertising different styles available. Rachel performed a Christmas mime piece and Tallie bravely stepped up last minute to perform a Lauren Daigle song about giving your heart to God. At the end of the day some of our youth were already signing up for the Movement track so we are excited for the future.
Tallie performing mime-dance Rebel Heart
Bulembu Staff children worship through lockdown
Rachel's Worship Dance group
We were so glad that we were able to have this lovely group of staff children coming to worship at our home through lockdown with socially distanced dance classes in the garden! The girls enjoy learning dance and mime technique and using dance to praise God.
We are also really pleased that the girls even had the chance to do a spontaneous Nativity, dancing to Born is the King and O Holy NIght to celebrate Christmas before we all had to go our separate ways and have quieter festivities than we had hoped to.
A lovely way to close 2020 with our worshippers
We are now carrying on the group through the new lockdown, by having the girls do dance challenges via WhatsApp. The children earn "Power Pointes" for physical activities, and "Praise Pointes" for worship activities, by sending in photos of their efforts and prayers and gratitude lists over WhatsApp to get awards.
Thank you for your help with our monthly funding
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 June 2021 now, which is a real blessing. We praise the Lord for His continued provision over the past 3 years.
Car fund - We have had significant problems with our car over the past year, and since August we have not been able to use our car apart from short distances in the village – affecting our ability to get groceries and leave town for ministry. Bulembu, where we live, is 19km from the nearest town, leaving us having to rely on friends and colleagues to get shopping for us. So we are fundraising for a new car that is more reliable and better suited to the rough roads here. If you would like to contribute towards our car fund, you can designate a gift with the following information: Find out about Donating to our Car Fund
If you would like to partner with us financially for our general needs, you can donate online using the button below. THANK YOU
Hi from Tallie, Seren and Anaya!
The Royal Rangers former leader Sakhile kindly offered the staff children their very own Royal Rangers activity throughout much of lockdown, since they sadly had to be separated into bubbles for safety. They had a lot of fun on Sundays, ending in the big event of the year, the overnight hike! Tallie, Seren and Anaya's highlight of 2020 was going away with their Ranger friends to camp!
The children made their own shelters
Please pray for young adult, Sakhile, who has now moved on from Royal Rangers leadership to get work, to fundraise for a Christian course in Canada combining his outdoor pursuit talents with biblical training. Watch this space for how you can help Sakhile with his tertiary education as we would love to see him blessed back for all that he poured into our children and all of the Royal Rangers during his time as a leader. Get in touch if you already know you would like to invest in his future! Thank you.
PRAYER AND PRAISE
Covid: Please pray for the increase in cases to slow and stop in Bulembu and Eswatini and for the government to manage the fine balances involved in easing lockdown and managing the virus' spread. Currently at around 200+ cases per day, and sadly around 20 deaths per day. Please ask God to heal those who are ill in Bulembu and to help our managers and caregivers with looking after them and dealing with their quarantine and care. Pray that the number of hospital admissions will significantly drop so that they are no longer overloaded and that there will be adequate staff and supplies of PPE, oxygen and medicines as hospitals here are severely under-equipped.
Domestic violence: Pray that the cases of domestic violence will not increase as predicted during the stricter lockdown and for social workers helping the increased number of victims. Even this week we are hearing about young girls suffering, and an abandoned baby was added to Bulembu''s baby home. Pray for a change across the country among those responsible for this suffering.
Cyclone Eloise: We also had the edge of Cyclone Eloise that struck Mozambique, with over 300mm of rain here and across Eswatini. We are thankful that we are on high ground and have had little damage here, however we appreciate prayer for those affected in the lowveld of the country who have been displaced by flooding.
Rachel's achilles -Thank you for praying for Rachel's achilles tendon, which is doing well after some lovely supporting friends gifted physiotherapy over Christmas! Amazing! With extra rest over lockdown it's improved but please continue to pray for it to get strong enough to return to mime and dance, as it could still take quite some time to strengthen.
Car Update: A huge thank you to Parklands Church for launching the fundraising for us to purchase a new vehicle. We are currently only able to drive our car in Bulembu but not to the nearest town and city because of its limitations, so plan to replace it as soon as possible. Thank you to all of those of you who have given and to the pastors and representatives across the churches who have helped! We are needing to raise a remaining approx £2000 for a reliable vehicle.
Worship Academy: Pray for us as we attempt to continue providing resources for our students to learn from home and that they will not lose momentum, especially our young staff who were really looking forward to getting going. They have had a lot of setbacks and disappointments over the last two years and we pray that we will see them pursuing God and thriving in their gifts. Pray for wisdom when the time comes to re-open and for our new projects, the junior dance fusion crew, teen hip hop and our new junior vocal group to start well. Pray for provision of resources as we expand. Thank you!
Thank you for your continued support and we pray you'll keep safe and well,
More about The Smarts
Rachel, Dan and the girls