Not all my blogs are worth reading, but this one is a journal deep from my heart that hopefully the words I type can capture just a fragment of what happened today. Even just that fragment of words will carry the power of the experience in hopes that your heart can feel what I have felt.

There are many things that we will do in life that are simply fleeting and passing. They come and they go, while adding very little to the development of our lives and the way we view this world. But every now and then God enamours us with a smashing reality of life, outside of our picture perfect bubble. Whether it is an encounter with poverty, a single mom who is emotionally and physically damaged more than our feeble minds can handle, or an experience that shows us how billions of people live every day, all will have lasting effects. Today I can with all confidence say that I am blessed beyond my deepest imagine. The poverty we saw today was different than anything I have every seen or witnessed. It was much, much more than a poverty of physical and material possessions. That would be manageable, at least to the point of being able to overcome it and having a hope that the people could someday economic rise above the poverty in which they live. No, it was deeper than that. It was the type of poverty that is inward and strikes the heart. This poverty is why we have Vulnerable Children and Orphans all around the world.

Before I came to Swaziland I could have quoted you all the stats on AIDS, orphans, poverty, unemployment and everything else. But, stats, they are only the surface of the reality here on the ground. The numbers mean nothing once you are confronted with the reality of what is really happening. In Swaziland about 10% of the population is orphaned children, which doesnít sound like much, but when you drive the roads and all you see is children walking, it does something to you. I have never seen so many orphans in my life. Everywhere we went and everywhere we drove, there were orphans in huts all along the road. Here is the story of our day – – –

We got up at about 5:30 with our rented car and drove south in hopes to capture video footage to take turn into a short awareness film once we get back to Canada. We drove to the Mozambique border to try and find a refugee camp which we were told was down there. We never found the refugee camp, but instead our detour took us off the main road and down a dirt road with only small huts and people working in the field. The poverty was incredible. These people have nothing. I cant believe this is life, far different than anything I ever knew. We thought that the road would lead us to a pastor named Father Faguzi, who has been leading a spiritual revival in this part of the country, which has seen miracles, healings and everything else. We stopped a person walking on the side of the road to find out if where we could find this church. Every time we stopped, everyone knew that it was in the area and just keep going. Once we got there, it was incredible. People were coming from all over to be at the service. It was 10:00 on a Thursday morning. They told us they have service 3 times a day, 4 days a week. Every service is packed. The pastor told us that people walk even from South Africa and Mozambique to be there; up to 200 Km, just to be there. They get a quick prayer and whatever they bring with them, usually a bag of dirt, gets blessed and then they head home. It was incredible. What faith we saw!!! During the prayer time some women was released of a demon. But that was just the beginning.

After leaving the church, a little while down the road we came to a primary school, which we thought we would take a look at. We walked around the grounds and found out that the school actually started once all the refugees from Mozambique left. Think of that, the biggest school in the area, which has over 1,000 students was built by the UN for refugees and once they left converted to a school. They donít even have enough food for the children, so UNICEF comes by once a week and drops off buckets of rice and cornmeal. The deputy principal walked us around and showed us some of the classrooms; they have 90 kids in each room, which is smaller than some dining rooms back in the West. I was speechless.

On the way back to Manzini, where we are staying, off the road I saw a small brick building, with about 15 kids outside cooking around a fire. We pulled over and walked over to the children. We had brought with us small pieces of gum and so the kids came running from all directions. Easily within minutes we had over 30 children at our attention. There was an aid truck driving by which stopped to see what all the commotion was, they told us that all the kids were orphans and just come by this place for dinner, which is nothing more than a few handfuls of cornmeal. It was hard to leave, but what did we have that we could give them? How could we even begin to help them. As they waved goodbye and we drove away I thought to myself this is what I came here for. I came to see the problem, the reality of the life of millions of children and then to experience the future; the dark and the hopeful Ė juxtaposed all within the same country.

As we drove all we could see were children walking along the road, coming home from school. It was if only children lived in this country, tens of thousands of them. Then, again we saw a small brick building with about 30 children cooking under a tree. Again, orphans communing together to cook dinner. The local preschool teacher uses a huge black cauldron and cooks whatever cornmeal she has left from the last UNICEF drop and then disperses among all the children from the surrounding homes. There were so many of them. In order to stay longer I knelt on the ground and stirred my finger in the dirt showing them how to play tic-tac-toe. They were easily amused with the entertainment, once they caught on. The images we saw today and what we experienced will and should impact me for the rest of my life. Can you even imagine a country with so many orphans? It will only get worse with AIDS increasing. That is the poverty I have come face to face with Ė a poverty of a child who will walk through life with no one to look after him. I donít know how to even describe anymore this experience.

Since we have been here at the New Hope Centre Orphanage they have taken in 9 new kids. When we got here they only had 19, so we consider ourselves incredibly blessed. After driving into the villages today, I now can see how well the lives of the children at the orphanage are. They are given not just food and shelter, but rather a life filled with hope and a name that instills a promising future for them. It is something that I want to be a part of. It is not about numbers of how many we can save, but rather about doing more for a smaller amount. Here they are building lives and leaders that will impact more people in the long run than if they just took in hundreds by feeding and sheltering them.

Well tomorrow, once again my world gets flipped upside down. We have a meeting with the Minster of Economic development and Planning. We will be discussing with him a proposal on implementing an investment and micro-finance system to help alleviate poverty. I am incredibly nervous, as he is the 3rd most powerful man in the country. At the same time, lately I have been feeling a new shift in my life. It seems as if my 6 month hiatus from leadership might be disappearing. This is just the beginning of something that I have waited so long for. My prayer is that the connections which need to be made will be and that our heart to be involved and help make a difference will be seen. After what we experienced today, I desperately want to be a part of the future of this country.

I am sure this is just the beginning of working with Orphans as my heart has been torn in two for their plight and cry.