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A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – Our December Newsletter

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A very belated Happy Christmas from Team Bonsey!

We hope you all had a joyful and peaceful time. We were certainly thinking of home and enjoying all the photos and messages that arrived .

December has been a busy month but a great opportunity to share with others the meaning and reason for Christmas. As schools break up early here, there is limited teaching in schools about this season.

table photo

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It has been a great privilege to host the annual community event, Bethlehem in Swaziland. The families came from 8 different nations and explored the Bible story through craft, carols and a nativity play (see below!)

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Some of our neighbours and our landlords attended too. We were also able to have some of the children from ABC Ministry. Miraculously God held back the rain until we had completely packed down and were inside, then the thunder hit and the storm fell. It had been threatening all day and with no inside space big enough and no Plan B, we were on in our knees in faith. Thank you Father.

Health clinics continued throughout December. Each clinic was followed by a Christmas meal of chicken and rice for the volunteer community workers (see photo above!). The volunteers are trained in basic healthcare and visit people in their community who are unwell. They are equipped with basic medicines and report each month on who they have seen. The Christmas meal is much enjoyed and they each receive a gift. There are 69 volunteers and counting across Swaziland…

We were also able to distribute knitted goods to families in need. A huge thank you to the Coldstream Knitters and the Love 13 knitters for their hard work and fantastic knitting. You make so many faces smile:

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(No smiles allowed in Swazi photos but truly they loved their new jumpers!)

Dean continues to teach woodwork when his students are available. One of those recently obtained a carpentry job at a local hotel. Such an encouragement to see him progress and obtain paid employment which is so difficult to find here. He has some new guys who have asked to start lessons also. He has been christened  “the walking pastor” as he continues to walk the area talking about his faith and encouraging people. Hollie dog gets lots of exercise!!

Miriam has completed grade 00 at school (equivalent of grade 1) and will start her last year of preschool in January:

Miriam

Primary school starts at age 6 and a half, but she will need to take a test in March to get a place. We hope one of her friends from our estate will go to the same school and we can share the travel. That would be 30 minutes each way in the other direction to which we go now!

We continue to work alongside ABC ministry, assisting with whatever is required and enjoying the children.

We spent Christmas Day with other missionary couples far from home. One of the couples is new here and finding their feet. As Swaziland is called the graveyard of missionaries we talked about tough situations and cultural issues and shared Christmas traditions and foods. We were not at all sure about green beans mixed with cornflakes alongside our roast potatoes but hey, we are told its popular the other side of the ocean!! Hopefully they enjoyed the laughter and our crazy English party games. Miriam chose pass the parcel for her game.

As we look back over the last year we are thankful to God for each and every opportunity He has given us, for His faithfulness in sustaining us and for the blessing of family and friends who pray for us, support us and love us.

Thank you for being a part of Team Bonsey and for helping us make a difference.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year and His peace in 2018.

With our love

Dean, Lynn and Miriam

xx

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November Newsletter!

We started at All Nations Christian College in September. It is based in Ware, Hertfordshire and we live on site with the rest of the student community. There are at least 80 students and 12 families, with 27 children living here. We are doing a 10 week intensive course called En Route, it is designed for those working overseas or those preparing to go. There are daytime classes, lots of homework and many weekend trips to various places of worship or cultural belief. (photos below of our International night – we all had to dress in our home or work country and cook food from there).

There are 12 people in our class from 9 different nations. We learn from each other and from the lectures, practical classes and trips. The college offers a wide range of courses varying in length from 1 day to 3 years or beyond. If you are interested here is the link..

As we enter the sixth week of study, the realisation that time is going so quickly sets in. We have learnt so much about ourselves, our ways of learning, about different faiths, cultures and beliefs. This week in particular has covered security and risk issues, how to cope when life is challenging overseas and how to stay calm when a high risk event is happening, whether a natural disaster or man made crisis. It is a good opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the last three years in Swaziland and to consider how we go onward from this point. (below – our All Nations class):

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Miriam has settled into the local village school. There are 5 other children from college at this school. It took some adjustment to get used to the longer school day and different ways of doing things but she is catching on quickly. It is fascinating to watch the children at All Nations play. Play really is a language of its own, no matter which one happens to be your mother tongue. Believe us there are so many different ones spoken around here!

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Above: Miriam in her school’s Harvest Festival

Thank you for your prayers, your interest and your encouragement. We appreciate your interest in what Team Bonsey are up to next!

With our love

Our Autumn Newsletter

Dear All,

As we come out of Autumn and into Winter it is now very cold! 0-4 degrees at night and there have been frosts. We have also had some very large hailstones which have dented cars. Some the size of fists!!
King Mswati 3rd recently celebrated his 50th Birthday and 50 years of independence. In recognition of this he renamed the country eSwatini. It literally translates as the land of the Swazi’s so not too much difference there. We wondered if all the companies with Swaziland in their names would need to change too but it seems not! There were many celebrations in the country.
We were able to watch the Royal Wedding at our friends’ Liz and Brad Walkers house. We dressed up in red, white and blue and waved flags and masks. It was great to share the day through the tv.
Dean and his carpentry friend Harry have been working on a very large jungle gym at Miriam’s school for 2 months. This was a combination of ministry in giving of time and ability to the school expansion programme and of training. Here are some photos!
4 older youth from the Remar orphan project assisted in the project and learned many skills. The money given,  is going to be used to equip them with tools in their own carpenters shop. They will be making beehives to sell.
For many children who have not been able to complete schooling for one reason or another,  learning a trade is a lifeline.
In Swazi culture, showing public enthusiasm for anything is not common but these guys could not hide their smiles at what had been achieved. We look forward to the open day on June 16th when they have been invited to attend and be thanked.

It has been a month of entry and exit, it is that time of the year. There were 4 families to say goodbye too and one to welcome.  Helping people prepare to go both practically and emotionally is a real part of life here:

The Bible talks about leaving well, as in not leaving anything undone you should have done or leaving relationships broken. It is always a challenge to say goodbye. We have helped pack, built packing crates, watched children, helped sell things and generally provided coffee, cake and tissues.

Here’s a photo of one of the packing crates we built:

This next week there is a container to assist with packing.

Thankfully we have done that before so have some idea!! The new family arrived with little idea of what to expect, so it has been fun to assist them in finding their way around, help them to settle and feel at home. There are 4 children so Miriam is happy!
The Health Team is undergoing a huge change as Head Nurse Clair has returned to the Uk after 5 years here. A great loss to the team. We had a farewell at Mkhaya game park and saw the rhinos.
(Lynn and Clair)
The rural health clinics continue and see anywhere between 80 -150 people a day. The clinics are 2-3 hours away and so when the weather is unpredictable we can get stuck as recently happened. The van slid into the mud and it took us a very long time to get out! Mud is good for the skin eh!
Food collection and distribution continues, to ABC ministry, to Remar project and to others who need it. Some weeks there are 50-100 crates to sort and deliver. We are thankful for the flexibility of our car, mostly it all fits in but occasionally Dean has to walk home!
On a personal note we have celebrated Miriam’s 6th Birthday with a Rapunzel party (see the photo below) and our 10th wedding anniversary with a hot chocolate out, too cold for anything else!!!

And here we are on our 10th wedding anniversary!

As we look toward September we feel it’s time to be home for a while, we have been here three years now. We have applied and been accepted for a short course at All Nations Christian College in Ware, Herts. It is a 3 month course for those already working overseas or those wanting to go.
After discussion with our church in the UK they agree it is the right decision giving  time to reflect on what we are doing, consider what the future holds and help us to learn how to do things better.
If this is something you could support us in, please contact us. There is a considerable cost for tuition, accommodation and flights home. We also have to maintain our current home rent and find a dog sitter. Many logistics to consider, not least of all a UK school for Miri for a season.  Please join with us in praying about this.
As ever we are thankful to God for sustaining us and to you all for your support, encouragement and interest.
See you soon!
With our love
Team Bonsey
Xx