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 The little ones playing with their Glow Sticks on New Years Eve!
 Mazwi being "cool" and sending me a couple of deuces.  Too bad he's covering his adorable melt-your-heart dimples!!
 This made me cry... I will cherish this masterpiece forever!
Thank you Art for the Nations for the generous donation of craft supplies - the kids LOVED it! 

The “crossover” – as my children call it: (aka Dec 31st part two)
Tonight was my favorite New Years celebration EVER.  We were invited to a University of Swaziland professor’s home who helps out with Mazwi’s family when I am not here.  She hosted 3 neighbor children, her two children, and Mazwi and Philo as well as the 6 of us.  It was super fun!  Kelley and Jess brought glow in the dark bracelets/wands and yo-yo’s which were HUGE hits with the kids.  We also did a puzzle and a craft project (THANK YOU ART FOR THE NATIONS).  The kids were to cut out a string of 4 people and decorate them as friends or family.  Celimphilo (Mazwi’s 14 year old sister) made a string that said “Katty” (shout out to Miss Katy Schueller – a past/present/and future GHFP service-learning participant and team leader), Annie, Mphilo, and Mazwi.  It literally brought tears to my eyes. 

These two orphans (Philo and Mazwi) are particularly alone and vulnerable.  Before GHFP came along and before we started sponsoring their education they didnt have anything to eat or transport to Lobamba clinic for Mazwi's HIV medication, and were not being educated.  As a result, Philo is 14 and only going into 5th grade.  She is tall and developed and looks ridiculous next to her tiny peers.  We even have to have a tailor custom-make her school uniform, but she is the hardest worker I know.  And little Mazwi is HIV-positive with a dead mother and a father who abandoned him but he rises above that and has been working so incredibly hard developing into such a remarkable little boy…by far my favorite person in the entire world.  I have never seen such resilience, hope, innocence, happiness, gratitude, and strength in my life – and he’s only 10! Please dont think of HIV victims as hopeless individuals sitting around waiting to die.  Mazwi is teaching me to live and never ceases to amaze me with his joy and positivity. 

Tonight, as I was sitting at the professor’s homestead at the top of a mountain surrounded by the most amazing children in the world staring off into the darkness as fireworks are echoing and lighting up the dark sky with brilliant colors I hear Mazwi’s giggles in my left ear and Philo exclaiming “Oh Annie! I am SO happy” in my right.  I don’t know what I have ever done to be the luckiest girl in the whole world – but I thank God for continuing to bless my life with these children. 

Saying goodbye to the kids is always hard but Mazwi’s big hug made it a bit easier.  He whispered in my ear “Annie will you please take me home with you?”.  I would give anything to tell him that I would gladly do that not only tonight but every single night for the rest of my life.  Nothing would make me happier.  But reality strikes my gut like a freight train and I just squeeze him a bit tighter and kiss his forehead promising to see him tomorrow.  As our car pulls away and down the mountain I gaze up at the homestead growing smaller and the physical distance between me and Mazwi growing greater and I am reminded that I only have 3 days left.  3 days is not enough time.  I am already looking forward to June! 

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