Friday, May 25, 2018

ADJUSTING to the "NEW NORMAL" Part 2

Our Dear Friends & Family,

We hope that you are doing well!  We are so thankful for your continued prayer and financial support as we serve the Lord here!

This post is the continuation of some of the changes we have seen in the past 5 or 6 months! 
As we stated before, there has been a lot of change around here lately...



A Nation Celebrates & Changes it's Name!  
On the 19th & 20th of April Swaziland celebrated 50 years of independence as a nation as well as the 50th birthday of our King, His Majesty King Mswati III.  During the celebrations the King announced that this nation would no longer be known as "Swaziland."  From now on this beautiful country would be called "eSwatini." Swaziland was the name appointed by the English as they colonized this region, and so the King wanted to bring even the name of this land into Independence.  "eSwatini" basically & literally means "the place of the Swati (people)."  Many other African countries had already changed their names soon after they achieved independence. A few of these are: Zambia, Zimbabwe, & Lesotho.  So, being 50 years post colonization it was the right time to make this change!     




New & Deeper Partnerships       



AIM (Adventures In Missions)  

I (Dennis) started my journey here in eSwatini working under AIM back in 2004.  I served with them for 7 years, leaving midway through 2011.  We left on good terms, and have remained friends with them.  In the past few years AIM has grown so much, having nearly 100 employees here.  For the past couple of years I've spent a couple days a week volunteering & working with a group of young people called "Shepherds," as well as the Life Coaches from their Sports Ministry.  The Shepherds are the young Swazi's who do the discipleship teaching @ AIM's 35 Neighborhood Care Points.  The Shepherd's are also part of a larger program AIM runs called "SLA," aka the Swaziland Leadership Academy.  The goal of the SLA program to keep developing these young people as they continue to serve @ the care points.  In March a team of us started a program that focuses and goes deeper with that development goal.  We don't have an illustrious name, we simply call it "SLA Fridays!"         



From Left: Xolani, Dennis, & Sebe 3 of the SLA Friday Leaders
We split the Shepherds into two groups according to the year they joined AIM/SLA.  Every Friday our leadership team (of 6 great people!) meets with one of the two groups to facilitate the Friday program.  We have a time of worship & devotion, small group mentoring, and a time we call "Focus," which is a teaching of a self leadership principle.  The goal is to be a training resource for these young leaders, an advocate, a listening ear, & to encourage them to continue in their service to Jesus & their communities.  Its a lot of work, for every Friday of execution it takes at least 1 or 2 full days of preparation. So for me 3 of my 6 working days a week are spent on this partnership.  But Praise God it has been a great time so far.  There has been a lot of fruit, and this is a much needed program.  I will update some more specifics in later blogs!     


New Catalsyt eSwatini Partner:  Mafutseni EWC                                                                            In March we also started a new partnership with a church called Mafutseni Emmanuel Wesleyan Church.  Mafutseni is simply the region where the church is located, its actually "just next to" Timbutini, about a 10 minute drive from where Zwakele was born and raised.  



Pastor Mngometulu & myself
Above is a picture of the Lead Pastor of Mafutseni EWC, named Sikelela Mngometulu.  He's a great man of God, and we have known him for years.  He's actually the pastor who married Zwakele & I ten years ago!  They have rougly 60+ children they are feeding every Sunday after their worship service.  These children are either orphaned or simply come from vulnerable situations.  The church has a passion to help the people of the community and believe they should be doing this type of ministry.  Initially they had another NGO that was helping to supply some food to make this feeding possible.  Unfortunately that NGO could help no longer.  After meeting with Pastor Mngometulu we decided that we would form an initial partnership.  We are now helping to provide a large share of the food needed to feed these children every Sunday.  This happens simply because of your financial support to us! Again, because of your support we were also able to purchase 100 plates and 100 cups for them to use.  Praise God & thank you for your prayers and financial support!    

Mafutseni EWC Building

Mafutseni EWC Preschool Room & KItchen 

PLEASE PRAY WITH US                                                                                                                      Would you please keep these two partnerships in your prayers?  We desperately need the LORD'S empowerment & presence as we serve Him.  We want to really see the Lord at work in our lives, and His love, power, and service to flow out through what we are doing!  There are many challenges, much attack from the enemy, and some discouragement along the way.  But we are persevering by His Grace.  We are continually asking the Lord for a Holy Tenacity...to be resolute in our commitment to Him and not grow weary in doing good!  Thanks so much for standing with us!  More to come soon! May God bless you abundantly!    

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