Friday, May 11, 2018

ADJUSTING to the "NEW NORMAL" Part 1

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 

Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;therefore I will wait for him.”  - Lamentations 3:19-24


Our dear friends and family, 

Thanks so much for standing with us in your prayers! They really do make a huge difference!  Please know that we also pray for YOU our SUPPORT TEAM regularly!  

Since you last heard from us there has been much change.  Some of the changes have been rather painful & challenging, while others are thankfully great developments!  The storms of our lives in the past 5 or 6 months have brought to my mind the above verses from Lamentations.  It can be so easy to constantly "remember my affliction." We are tempted to unhealthily focus on our challenges. Then often bitterness tries to creep into our hearts, thereby threatening to damage the wellspring of our life.

For me (Dennis), I've dealt with depression for years, both before I was a Christian and after.  Lots of people in the church are afraid to discuss depression (& many other mental health issues) because somehow we think that if we are dealing with these problems than we are "not good Christians", or that we are somehow "weak in the faith." But that's complete rubbish!  When painful storms come (because of years of struggling with depression) the tendency of my flesh is to stay focused on those painful challenges and then lose hope.  Its a familiar path my heart walked for years before knowing Jesus.  Now as a follower of Jesus part of the battle for me is to reject that familiar path.  I have to actively "call to mind" the GREAT LOVE God has for me, and stand in the truth of God's compassion for my situation - I repeatedly remind myself of God's Truth.  He is so extremely and utterly faithful to us, His children!    

So while the past six months have been challenging, and painful at times, there is much to be thankful for!  We choose as a family to constantly remind ourselves of the goodness of the Lord!  Below are some of the changes, both for prayer and for His praise!   

A pic w/ our niece "Khosi"
Health Update:  In our last email update I (Dennis) shared about my health scare over New Years.  Since then I have been seeing a heart specialist.  He has been fantastic! The first thing he did was put me on 1 medicine instead of the 4 meds the hospital had me on.  My focus has been on exercising, eating healthier, checking my blood pressure regularly, and reducing stress.  Thanks for your prayers for this!  Things are going much better these days!  In fact, my blood pressure reduced very much and is normalized, and I am now on a half dose of the 1 medication.  In March  Thandeka injured her leg while she was playing on a trampoline!  She severely sprained her right knee and the ligaments below it.  She could not put weight on her right leg for 3 weeks plus & ended up missing school for most of that time. Again, we want to thank you for your prayers!  As of today she is walking, and much to her delight :) back in school.     
 


Will you please pray for Zwakele's Mother?
Some of the challenges we've seen were unexpected and life changing.  In the past couple of months my mother in law suffered two strokes.  We thank the Lord that she is still with us!  And she is recovering.  But she is not 100% and she is not the same as before.  She now needs someone to be with her at all times.  This was a sudden change.  It's part of what I mean in our title coming to terms and adjusting to a "New Normal."  It seems like we are in a different stage of life now.  



Will you please pray for my precious mother in law Jane Dlamini?  Things are much different for her now, and its been hard on her as life took an unexpected turn.  She was a regular volunteer cook for years at AIM's Timbutini Care Point.  At this point, she is now unable to do this.  She was also used to starting fires, cooking food for herself, as well as a host of many other "regular normal life activities." For anyone its hard to come to terms with these kinds of changes.  Please pray for her recovery, and that we can continue to get her the best care as possible.  Thank you so much!
 

Welcome Vumile Dlamini
As our brother Maurice Dlamini left Catalyst Swaziland last December, we started looking for other people to help with our ministry.  In February, we welcomed our friend Vumile Dlamini to the Catalyst Family!  She was hired as our first staff member!  We have known Vumile for some years having met & served with her @ Healing Place Church.     

Vumile is a wonderful young lady and we are excited to have her serving with us @ Catalyst Swaziland!  She is passionate about the Lord and following Him.  Vumile is initially hired with us for a period of 6 months.  She then hopes to qualify for the University of Swaziland, starting her studies in August 2018.  Please keep her in your prayers so that, Lord willing, she can reach this goal for her life!    

This is then end of part 1...We will have more ministry updates in part 2.  I am excited to share with you a new ministry partner that we have developed!  Please look for that post next week!  Thanks and God Bless You!!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Great to be in the Kingdom!

“Greater Love has no one than this:  to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13



Our Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from Swaziland!  We’ve been back in Swaziland for almost 2 months now.  As Zwakele & I talked the other day, our time in America seemed so distant, like it just flew by.  Being back in the States is predominantly a “working trip.”  While we did take some time to rest, we were also incredibly busy.  Even so, there was so much we didn’t get done, and many people we wished we could have spent time with.  We really wished we would have had a few more weeks there…




However, it HAS also been GREAT to be back in The Kingdom of Swaziland.  It’s been wonderful to reconnect with the amazing people that we work and do life with on a daily basis.  The normal parts of our Swazi life resumed:  Thandeka attending school, and Zwakele and I ministering in our different partnerships.  We jumped right back into our routine of big group teachings, meeting with people 1 on 1, speaking at church, & working in the rural areas both at care points and home visits.  




Challenges Came Quickly!                                                                                                                      On the 24th of October, while driving on a rural road we punctured the oil pan on our car.  We were far from home in a very deep rural area.  When we broke down we really had that “middle of nowhere” feeling.  There was no help around us for miles, it was a nice 100 degrees (sarcasm implied), and we ended up being stuck on the road for 6 hours! 





The car was just fixed last week, and at a cost of about $500.  This was a big unexpected financial hit to us for sure, kind of a “one step forward, 2 steps back feeling.”  But we Praise God that He really helped us in this situation and gave us wisdom.  FIRSTLY:  As we drove we never heard the hit or knew that we punctured the oil pan.  There was no huge bump!  But thankfully, I saw the oil light flash on the dash, and immediately stopped the car.  As my mechanic said “It’s good that you stopped the car, if the car had stopped itself, we would have a totally different situation!”  I.E. an overheated & ruined engine.  SECONDLY:  When we broke down we were a 2.5 hour drive from home.  When we finally reached different towing companies, they were going to charge us $350 just to get us back to home.  This is a crazy cost, and they were really taking advantage of our “remoteness.”  But the Lord provided a close friend who organized a vehicle and a flatbed trailer and towed us all the way home for about $100 total. So there was much to be thankful for, even amidst a challenging situation!       
  


Here is a new version of the part that caused all of the trouble! 


Will you Pray with us?                                                                                                                             Please pray that we would end 2017 on a strong note!  In the next few weeks we have many different ministry events that will be serving in.  Our heart’s cry is that Jesus would be glorified through us and that people will encounter Him as they meet us.  One specific request is that we will be helping at a Sports Ministry Camp from the 11th until the 15th of December!  There will be 55 high school aged kids from different rural areas.  Will you please pray that God would greatly impact these young people for His Kingdom?  Also please pray that the LORD would use & work powerfully through those of us who are staffing the camp!  I will be speaking for one of the sessions at the camp and serving throughout the rest of the days.         

A Few Praises
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We gathered on Thanksgiving with about 20 other Americans and had a great meal together!  It wasn't the same as being home with family, but it was the 2nd best possibility.  Another praise we would like to share is Thandeka completing her preschool and getting ready to enter 1st grade in January.  We are so happy for her, & can't believe she has grown so much!  The picture below was taken on her Preschool Graduation:     





Thank You!                                                                                                                                            Thank you so much for your love, prayers, & financial support to us.  We only have one supporting church, which is Kenmore Alliance Church.  We so appreciate the way the church, and individuals have laid down their lives for us.  We couldn’t serve here without your love!   

God bless you all!
Dennis, Zwakele, Thandeka, & Busani Brock

Friday, September 15, 2017

Greetings From The USA!!!

Our Dear Friends & Family,

Hello!!! Greetings from the USA!  We flew from Johannesburg South Africa to the USA on the 25th of July.  

We came to celebrate my Parents 50th Anniversary!  What an Accomplishment that is!  It has been such a blessing to be back in Buffalo - to connect again with family, and our friends @ our home church of Kenmore Alliance. And while we have been able to have some fun, It’s also been a busy “working trip."  



I (Dennis) had the great opportunity to preach @ all 4 services on the weekend of August 19 & 20th @ KAC.  We also had a wonderful time sharing with all the children of the K-5th Grade Sunday School.  Next, this Saturday (tomorrow), we will be sharing about our work in Catalyst Swaziland in a special Missions Breakfast.  Lastly, I’ll be sharing with the Jr. & Sr. High Youth Groups in the first week of October.  Will you please pray for us for these last couple speaking engagements?  Please pray that the Lord would use us to speak for His Glory!    

We are so thankful that we have been able to also have some fun while we've been in the USA!  We saw lots of animals @ the Buffalo zoo, played games at Chuck E Cheese, went bowling, & we were able to spend 3 full days at a Family Bible Camp down @ the Jersey Shore!  These fun times were really such a blessing for our family!  I have attached a couple pictures to check out.  




Thank you so much for standing with us as we continue to serve Jesus in Swaziland!  We really appreciate your love to us through your prayer & financial support!  We pray for you, our support team/family regularly!  May God bless you immensely!     

Another way to connect with us is through Facebook:  
Search for:  Zwakele Mamba Brock  as well as Catalyst Swaziland.

Dennis (for Zwakele, Thandeka, & Busani)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Our Dear Friends & Family,

We are now a week into 2017, and as our New Year has begun, our family wishes to say a huge "Thank You" for your continued love and support as we serve here in Swaziland!

We crossed over into 2017 at our awesome place of fellowship here in Swaziland: Healing Place Church (or HPC).  It was a great time of fun, fellowship,  thanking the Lord for His faithfulness in 2016, & seeking His face for 2017.

The vision the Lord gave our family for last year was: "Compassion, Discipleship, Catalyst!". It was a vision of focus, where the Lord was shaping our work into these 3 categories. 

Compassion: We as a family are called to compassionate ministry - to show the LOVE of Jesus in tangible ways to people that are suffering.  We want offer His Hope, not just in words, but also in action.  We are engaged in compassionate ministry at a few different locations, but our main work is @ the children's ward in the Mbabane Government Hospital.  Our goal is to consistently minister there at least once a week.  I'm so thankful that we were able be there nearly ever week in 2016!

The hospital is never a fun place to be admitted, and that's definitely the case here in Swaziland.  When looked at with human eyes, the hospital can seem a very depressing & rough place - the facilities are not the best, the level of care much lower than someone in the Western world would be used to, less access to needed meds, & it doesn't always look, sound, or smell good.  Mothers & Grandmother's need to live with the patient who is admitted in order to care and see to their needs.  It's not uncommon to have a child admitted for 1 month.  Recently, we knew a pair of twin babies that both suffered burns...they were admitted for nearly 3 months!

It's hard to live at any hospital for a length of time.  It's hard to see your child suffering and you feel like there is nothing you can do.  It's hard to see other parents (maybe even the one in the hospital bed next to you) lose their child, and you wonder "What's going to happen with my baby?" Again, when viewed with human eyes, things can seem hopeless, & death can seem to reign in this place.

But that's where God comes in!  He has sent us to be a light in the darkness! Where death seems to reign, we choose to speak the reality that "Jesus Christ Reigns in this place!" Where there is suffering, he uses broken vessels like us, to be a conduit of His LOVE & Compassion.  To be an extension and representation of His heart that says "I love you & I am with you in this suffering."

Really what a privilege it is to be an ambassador for Christ.  I am totally unworthy, but yet he still uses me to shine His Love. 

What do we do at the hospital?  Obviously, we pray for supernatural healing for the precious kids, pray for their caregiver, and speak the words of hope of the gospel, and words of comfort.  But this ministry is also a ministry of presence.  We spend time with the children and their caregiver.  We endeavor to be a listening ear. It's hard to be there, and so we want them to experience that someone is tangibly with them in this (& more importantly the Lord is with them).  We also believe that we should come with something: so we always bring some fruits to hand out, some gum and sweets, and as we can provide, small toys and/or crayons and coloring sheets.  Our goal is to share & show the love of Jesus, practically help, encourage, and bring joy, leaving a smile on someone's face. 

This ministry costs us about $20 dollars a week.  There were 3 times in 2016 that we didn't go because we simply didn't have the $20 to buy the supplies, & it's our passion that we need to have something practical to bless the patient. If it wasn't for our friends, family, & KAC for supporting us we could not do this. 

Please keep this ministry in prayer! Along with Zwakele & myself, we have 3 wonderful ladies as part of our team, who are dedicated week in and week out.  Please pray that the Lord would continue to use us as a source of His awesome love, hope, & comfort! 

God bless you!

In our next blog we will continue to share about these areas of vision and where we believe the Lord is taking us!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Brock Family in Swaziland!!!

Merry Christmas!! We hope you have a wonderful time with your family & friends celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus!

As I write this, on Christmas Eve, it's about 90 degrees Fahrenheit here in Mbabane Swaziland.  We have a full house of family visitors.  There are 12 of us squeezed in our house, but we are happy to be together, and looking forward to celebrating tomorrow! We will all go to church in the morning, and then head back home for a great BBQ!

Thandeka is 5 but turning 6 this February, and Busani will also be celebrating his 2nd birthday in February!

One of my favorite things about Christmas this year has been doing an Advent Countdown with Thandeka.  Reading a couple Bible verses each day and then discussing the significance of Jesus birth.  It's been such a joy to see Thandeka so excited to do the Advent every day, and for her to tell me how it's been the same as what she is learning in Sunday school!  Gods awesome love for us, freedom from sin, and Jesus being the light in the darkness are just some of the talks we've had.

I'm just so thankful that Jesus the light of the world chose to come to us, to be Emmanuel: God with us, humble himself to enter this dark world, show us the way and ultimately giving up his life for us, and then conquering death...all because he Loves us and wants to have relationship with us!

"The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned." ~ Isaiah 9:2

I am so thankful the Light of the World has come!  May He continue to shine His light through us as his children and ambassadors in this dark world!  Again, Merry Christmas!  Thank you for standing with us this year as our family serves Jesus in Swaziland!  May you have a wonderful holiday season, and may the Lord bless you in abundance!

Dennis, Zwakele, Thandeka & Busani
Busani, Thandeka, and their cousin Nonsiki. :) 

Merry Christmas from the Brock Family

It has been such a long time since we have posted to this blog. However, we have just discovered an app that we can download to our cell phone and post updates. So we now plan to dust this baby off and post regularly! This first post will be the test!  Here we go...

Brock Family

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Joy, Pain, & some GREAT News

 
 
Our Dear friends & family,
 
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” – Psalm 18:2
 
What an incredible blessing it is to belong to the LORD!  Whether in good times or in bad He is our Rock, our Fortress and an ever-present help.  He is always with us, and will never leave us nor forsake us!  The past few months have been very busy, and filled with great levels of both joy and pain.  But the Lord Jesus has been with us through it all, and we are so thankful for His sustaining love.  Now I would love to start with some good news first:     
 
Teaching Ministry 
I recently had the great opportunity to teach again at Joy Mission Bible College in Ngculwini.  I taught a 4 week course on Expository Preaching.  When the College approached me to teach this class there was only a week and a half before it started.  So, I had to get right to work because I needed to build everything up from scratch.  I had to develop & write the class syllabus, source all my teaching materials myself, develop all the lessons, and students assignments.  It was a lot of work, but it was also very fulfilling and fun.  I had 13 students and they were all wonderful. 
Some of my students & myself from the Expository Preaching Class. 
I am so thankful that I had a lot of my own expository preaching books from my days as a student @ Nyack College – they really helped me!  I also realized that although I am no expert on preaching, I have been blessed to receive so much from those who poured into me over the years.  I am forever thankful to those who have poured Christ’s love into my life.  Their mentorship, love and support, has impacted me tremendously...I think of people like:  Jim Bailey, Jon Schuerholz, Ken Berding, Ron & Wanda Walborn, & Paul Hazlett to name a few.  The phrase “I stand on the shoulders of giants” rings so true for me.  My class went very well and I loved it.  As I said, it was very fulfilling for me to help equip my students for their ministry.  I will be teaching another class early next year in January or February.                 
 
A Painful Road  
One of the hardest things in the past few months was to lose one of our very close friends.  In fact in the space of 2 months we lost 3 friends.  2 friends died of complications from HIV.  That was terrible but we knew ahead of time that could be happening unless the Lord Jesus brought some significant healing.  However, we were incredibly shocked & unprepared to lose a dear friend very unexpectedly.  Her name was Nokuthula, and we first met her when she worked as an Aunty at the  Sandra Lee Centre.  She quickly became a very good friend to us.    
Nokuthula laughing with Zwakele behind her.
In fact, she was really one of Zwakele's closest friends.  Her passing was very painful for us.  Shortly after our family left the SLC, Nokuthula also left her job because of some challenges she was going through in her life.  In this season and up until her death Zwakele spent a lot of time with her.  Our friend had a very difficult early life, but she met Jesus and he changed her and brought her joy and great hope.  Nokuthula loved to laugh, I'll always remember that about her.  I joked a lot with her and we would always laugh so much together.  She also loved to sing and worship the LORD.  Although we are sad she is gone, we are incredibly thankful that she knew Jesus!  We will see her again one day!  Nokuthula left behind a sister (named Thando) who really has no other family.  Would you please pray for Thando as she continues to deal with her loss and please pray for us as we minister to her.  We've known Thando for a while, and love her and told her that we are now her family. 
 
 
Rural Outreach                                                                                                                                                      
In the past few months we have continued to regularly spend time in the rural area near Pigg’s Peak.  This is the community where we did some home visits with Pastor Jon Schuerholz when he came out to visit us in February of this year.  We have spent time building relationships, doing home visits, and meeting some practical needs.  One of the families who we met with Jon in February was headed by a pastor who had lost his sight.  Our family has grown to know this family quite well over the recent months.  As we spend time with this man I am often struck by his attitude.  He has gone through a very rough season in his life.  He lost his sight - how terrible a thing to go through.  Further, we recently found out that there was some medication he could have been receiving to help keep the sight in one of his eyes but the government hospital has run out of it many times.  Because of the poor level of care he has suffered so greatly.  I don't know about you but sometimes I complain a little too easily.  And some of the things I complain about are often trivial.  However, since I have started knowing this man I have never heard him complain.  In fact, he is often the opposite, ready to encourage us and filled with joy.  He has a joy that rises independently from the circumstances he exists in.  That kind of joy is rare, and can only come from Jesus Christ. 
Zwakele talking with the pastor and his wife.
 
Thandeka being silly with the pastors wife!
 
Because of a donation from a friend we were able to get the pastor a solar powered talking siSwati Bible.  He was touched and very thankful for the gift of the Word of God.  At our last visit with him he was telling us about the importance of the Word of God.  He said that many church's in Swaziland are distracted by so many things but what they really need is the Word of God.  He encouraged us to continue strong in the Word as it is the source of life.  Despite all he is going through, he remains passionate, walks in purpose, and is always encouraging and having the joy that comes from a life in Christ.  Praise the Lord!
The solar powered talking siSwati Bible.
Thank you Caroline McGraw for the donation!
 
Kenmore Alliance Church also donated the funds to build a house for a widowed single mother of 4 in this community.  The process to get this house done has been quite frustrating.  It has taken much longer than originally planned.  We had a lot of problems.  First, it was so difficult to get a truck to deliver the building materials from the nearest city to the homestead.  The road was so bad and often inaccessible due to rains.  Secondly, we had quite an ordeal getting a builder and then working well with him.  Sometimes the builder would just not show up to work. :(  Other times he would run out of something which would cause him to stop working.  However, he would not communicate this to us and the work would stop for a week.  
Old & New:  The old house on the left and the new one going up in the back!
     
Taken about 2 weeks ago, the new house nearly finished!

Well just today (the 27th August) we received a call that the house is totally finished!  Praise God!!  We are so happy that the family will be able to enjoy a new safe place to live in.  Thank you so much KAC for your sacrificial giving to this family!  We will get a picture of the completed house posted soon!   
 
S.O.S.                                                                                                                                                                              
In July I had the great experience of leading a 2 week trip called “Steps Over Swaziland” (S.O.S.).  This was the third S.O.S. trip to Swaziland, but my first time to be involved with them. This years team consisted of 8 people from the USA who came to volunteer. 
 
The purpose of the trip was to raise awareness for various issues affecting Swaziland, to prayer walk the nation, and to do some practical outreach in communities around Swaziland.   Each day the team started by prayer walking a distance of 18 to 20 kilometers! 
The team and a group of Swazi's walking on Day 1.  Notice the police escort!
 
 
Part of the vision was to get young Swazi people from various church's to participate in the prayer walk and get them involved in their communities.  Praise God that on various legs of the trip we did have a number of Swazi's prayer walking with us! 
Day 1 finished!
 
After the team finished the days portioned walk, they would eat lunch quickly, and be driven to a ministry site where they would spend the rest of the day.  Many times this was at a neighborhood care point, although we also did a bunch of home visits and spent a day with The Luke Commission at one of their clinics.  My specific job as a leader was to handle the trips finances/accounting, run the logistics, support the team as they walked, and participate in the daily ministry.  While the team walked, at every 6 kilometers I would set up a relief station, giving the team water and fruit to help refresh them.   Because of my service the team ended up giving me the nickname "Carson," after the character on Downton Abbey.  I guess I'll take that over being called "Thomas" from Downton Abbey any day! :)
       
 
 
The team started in the Southeast region of the country and walked along the road up to the Northwest region of the country.  By the end of the trip the team had gone 122 miles by foot!  Quite a distance within a few days time.  It was a great trip overall, and a lot was accomplished.  It took weeks of work involved in preparation and set up before the trip but it was all worth it.         
The team brought a huge quantity of soccer jerseys that were given out at care points.  
YWAM DTS                                                                                                                                                         
Time has flown by!  I can't believe we officially started with YWAM in January.  Part of joining YWAM Swaziland is that the organization of YWAM requires that everyone who wishes to be a full time staff member go through a training called "Discipleship Training School," or "DTS" for short.  YWAM wants all their staff to know the organizations core values so hence the required training.  I will be starting my DTS this upcoming Monday, the 1st of September.  The training will run for 3 months, finishing at the end of November.  Will you please pray for me as I participate in this training.  I will be going through this training with 3 other team members.    
 
GREAT NEWS                                                                                                                                                      
We originally had planned to be back in America from the middle of July to mid-September.  We wanted to be home to see friends and family, go to the KAC Camping event, get a little break, and attend a good friends wedding.  However, something has come up that has prevented us from making the trip home just now.  Look at the picture below:
That's right Zwakele is pregnant!!!  The new baby is due in the last week of February 2015.  We are excited for this next member of our family!  Please keep Momma and the new baby in your prayers!  So far Zwakele has had a bit of a rough time with this pregnancy and she cannot wait to get into the 2nd trimester.  Next month hopefully we should be able to find out if were having a boy or a girl.  As of now the plan is to have the baby delivered in Swaziland, I will then make the mad dash to get all paperwork done and then LORD willing we will fly to states 1st or 2nd week of April for a visit!  Exciting developments!  
Thanks so much for your prayers and support to us!  We couldn't do this without your love!  May the Lord bless you abundantly!