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Travel Journal: Echo "operates" on a mat in the bush

 Sanbonani from Swaziland,

Greetings from The Luke Commission. As each of us knows, no matter where we are or what we're doing, the more blessings we receive on one hand, the more trials and struggles remind us on the other hand that our every breath is a gift from our Creator. He knows the end from the beginning and is not perplexed by the middle.

We often live in the "middle" in Swaziland. We see God working, see precious souls say "yes" to Jesus, watch relief on the faces of those in pain, witness sight restored by way of eyeglasses, sense the encouragement of those who have so little, and know His protection as we travel.

Yet we also struggle. That's why we covet your prayers. The baby girl we took to the hospital a week ago is hanging on to this life by a thread. She has a rash which indicates AIDS. We touched and prayed for a 2-day-old abandoned baby girl this morning and will try to get her released to our care for the last 3 weeks we're here. But then what?

Several translators we work with daily are HIV positive; we learn of another almost every week. One young man watched his baby die last September, his wife in October, and his mother this January. Our workers expect a family member to die every six months.

Echo has performed several minor surgeries lately out in the bush. She trains her "nurses" as she goes. One young lady had a large abscess on her neck. A witch doctor ("traditional healer") had already tried his tricks. The lady was nervous but did not cry or scream. She gave Echo a big hug afterwards, not the usual Swazi sign of appreciation.

Echo has removed infected thorns from Swazi's feet, dressed many wounds, and cleaned fungal infections months or years in the making. Meanwhile, Harry sees patient after patient, listens to their symptoms and prescribes medicines. All this takes place with other activities swirling around them, sometimes outside under trees or tarps (sails to the Swazis), but always in primitive surroundings.

Swaziland has 65 chiefs. We met another one Saturday, as well as all his family and assistants. His people have been displaced by the sale of a big farm where they all lived until a year ago. Now 500 people are without homes, starving and sick.

When the chief's assistant pleaded with us for a clinic, he said "If you wait until September, so many will die. Our people have no food, no water, no medical care. The nearest clinic is 50 kilometers."

The chief's man also asked us to come on the weekend so the children could transport the sick via wheelbarrows.

Swazis are a religious people. They know the name of Jesus and sing about Him in their schools. But they don't know Jesus as revealed in the Bible. The fields are ripe unto harvest. After 19 clinics, 2,547 Swazis have accepted Jesu as their own. Most are Zionists; many received SiSwati Bibles. Thank you, Jesus!

If you enjoy numbers... as of May 4, some 3,479 patients have been treated, 1,345 eyeglasses distributed, 1,270 clothes given, 2,613 Bibles presented, and 830 packets of seeds donated.

Seeds went to two communities who grow gardens to feed AIDS orphans. Oh, the rejoicing that day! Other seeds were presented to a poor school which just started to allow their agriculture class to grow food for the children to take home.

We appreciate all you do for the people of Swaziland and The Luke Commission. To God be the glory!

Love in Jesus,
Jan for Harry and Echo, Jake, Luke, Zeb, Zion, Grace, and Kalvin


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