|Yesterday's newspaper article about the case.|
Saturday, August 18, 2018
This week I spent two days in a Swazi courtroom, praying for a young woman who had to testify in open court that her own mother forced her to have sex with strangers for money.
The girl’s mother sat just 25 feet away across the room from the girl, with arms crossed, glare in her eyes and enough attitude to fill the room.
The girl was terrified and could hardly be heard as she whispered her story through a cracked voice in her mother tongue – Shangani. The interpreter would then translate the African language in to English and the High Court judge would write down every word of both questions and answers (there is no court stenographer). At times the details were so painful that the interpreter herself found it hard to speak without showing her own emotion.
At 16-years-old this girl was ripped from her home in a foreign country and smuggled in to Swaziland through a fence in the Swazi bush. Her mother would take her to bars, ply her with alcohol and then sell her for the night to a stranger (always a white man) for R200 ($14 US). If she tried to refuse she would be beaten or not given food for three days.
I have known this young girl for many years now and through that I had heard her whole story, but alas, my jaw dropped time and time again as she squeaked out her testimony for the world to hear as though she was using her last breath of air to do so. She was ashamed, embarrassed and afraid, and the world was listening.
How does a human being sex traffic another human being? How does a biological MOTHER sell her own daughter to perverted men who will pay for sex with an underage girl?
The legislation that made human trafficking a crime in Swaziland only became legislation in 2009. It was only three years later in 2012 that the Child Protection Act became law in Swaziland – the same year that we moved here. We all hear and read about human trafficking and while the problem is growing globally, I fear that the people of the world may be getting tired of hearing about it and have grown numb to the pain that so many are suffering.
This week was a hard week for me with my trust broken again by another office break-in on Project Canaan. Then my heart was shredded into a million pieces by listening to a girl, who is the same age as Chloe, share her two-year journey in hell.
The court adjourned after she was finished testifying and will resume in December. Until then there is no closure, no healing and more fear. Please join me in praying for justice for this victim and for victims around the world. Please pray for healing and forgiveness that can only come through Jesus. Please pray for courage and strength for everyone fighting darkness every day.
Live from Swaziland … Come Lord Jesus, come.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
In a few short hours we will host an 85th birthday party for our dear friend, Jere Scott. We met Jere and Janet back in 2005 when they came on their first Heart for Africa mission’s trip. We became fast friends and they have come to serve alongside us EVERY YEAR since then. Jere and Janet have been involved in almost every department on Project Canaan from building the Kufundza Carpentry Shop and SwaziMUD pottery barn, to building furniture, organizing containers, training staff, preaching, loving, counseling and feeding us all.
Then there is our friend Robert Smucker who was one of the very first people to step foot on Project Canaan. Robert walked the land and climbed the mountains (avoiding as many snakes as possible) and helped scope out roads, building locations and water. He stood by us when Board members didn’t believe that we should buy the land, he designed lots of furniture and to top it off, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and biked across South Africa to raise money and awareness ALL while holding a fulltime engineering job!
Frank and Jane Tananaau first came to Swaziland in 2006, packed up and MOVED here for a year and then returned for six weeks almost every year to serve alongside Jere and Janet with any and every project that they are involved in. Frank retired from the US Army in 2011 and between he and Jane they build, sew, drive, cook and love on our children, our staff and us.
What are you doing with your life? Do you think you are too old? Are you too busy at work? Do you have too many health issues? What lie is keeping you from serving the Lord with all your heart and soul?
Between Jere and Janet, Frank and Jane, they have had multiple hip and knee replacements and two of them are wearing leg braces today, while they continue to serve, but it hasn’t stopped them from hearing God’s voice and being obedient to His call. Robert has been dealing with a serious health issue for the past few years, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to support us in Swaziland, AND to expand his service to some of the most dangerous places on earth, going where the Lord sends him to help people in desperate need.
What lie is stopping you from going on a mission’s trip? What lie is stopping you from volunteering at your church? What lie are you telling yourself that is preventing you from stepping out of the boat, helping people who need help and receiving the blessing that comes with following Jesus?
Living in Swaziland isn’t easy, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world, or doing anything else with my life. I LOVE IT and I LOVE seeing friends come alongside and be blessed by serving the Lord with all their hearts and souls.
Is today the day you will take a step of faith? Why don’t you join us on an 11-day service trip in November and help us prepare for Christmas for 195+ children? You can sign up today at https://www.heartforafrica.org/2018-trips/
Live from Swaziland … I am thankful for good friends.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
|Photo credit: Chris Cheek|
We are just a couple of Canadians who moved to eSwatini, Africa to serve God through a bunch of orphaned or abandoned children who have been dumped in pit latrines, left in plastic bags in trees, dumped in the river or even lit on fire by their parents. That’s it. No hidden agenda.
I see how critical people are of Pastors (our Pastor Andy Stanley sure gets his daily dose from believers and unbelievers alike!), politicians, Royalty, celebrities and then there is the day-to-day bullying in schools and Sunday Schools every – single - day. It’s exhausting to observe.
I do embrace constructive criticism as that is how I learn, grow and get stretched, but I don’t handle “stupid” criticism well at all. I find myself having to repent from being condescending, dismissive or critical (the CDC as my family calls it) of those people.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
This week we got an email message from a lady responding to our diaper drive who said, “I can't believe you are using diapers and purchased wipes for those babies! What do villagers use?” I wanted to respond with the photo above and a message that the “villagers” (even though Swazi’s don’t live in villages) don’t use diapers (known as nappies) or wipes. They use leaves to wipe the babies bare bums as they toilet train them in the bush. And what do you mean by “those babies”??
But I didn’t.
Then there was the Swazi man who sent us a message through the website accusing us of making up statistics about his country, said that we taking advantage of Swazi’s because they are all gullible and that we are getting rich off of the faces of the children. To him I want to respond and say that I was rich when I lived and worked and employed people at my company in Canada, and I sure didn’t need to move to a country dying of HIV/AIDS and poverty to get richer. Furthermore, I don’t believe that ANY of the 280+ Swazi people that we employ at very fair market wages are gullible. Not one.
But I didn’t.
Last week Pastor Andy said, “The best way to avoid criticism is not to do anything.” I choose to be criticized. And I am trying to respond with grace (or not respond at all).
For those of you who support us (and why would you be reading this if you don't?), and who think our babies should wear diapers and be cleaned with wipes, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU from all 195 children and our 77 staff who care for them. More than 380 people shopped on line and bought 104,000+ diapers, 360,000+ wipes, 17,000 Pull Ups and endless educational supplies and toys, bicycles, sheets and towels. Yes, our children do ride bikes and they do sleep with sheets and dry off with towels (okay, no more CDC today). I love my Heart for Africa family and am so thankful for your love, grace and support.
Live from Swaziland … feeling a little salty today.
Saturday, July 28, 2018
Last week I wrote about our little girl named Dinah who needed heart surgery, urgently. (You can read about it at http://janinemaxwell.blogspot.com/2018/07/urgent-heart-surgery-needed.html). Within 48 hours of my blog being posted, we had the entire $21,000 US that was needed, and I was absolutely in awe of God’s provision. Twenty-two different people responded and wanted to be a part of Dinah’s journey.
I quickly contacted the surgeon in Johannesburg and Dinah was booked for further assessment two days later (Wednesday), with surgery planned for Thursday.
In last week’s blog I also wrote about Camp Canaan and how the theme for the week was Jeremiah 29:11. The entire scripture reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Wait for it!
As we started the laborious paperwork required to take a child out of the country, I sent a text to Margie to ask what Dinah’s full name is as it is shown on her travel document as the surgeon needed it for his paperwork. When Margie messaged me back, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Dinah’s middle name, given to her by her own mother, is PROSPER!
God’s plans are to PROSPER Dinah, and not to harm Dinah. He has plans to give her hope and a future, and that is just what happened.
Thursday morning Dinah went in for heart surgery and it was successful.
Several hours after the surgery Margie (who was at the hospital with Welile) told me that the anesthesiologist told them that she would wave her $700 fee and asked that we use it for another child in need. WHAT? Who does that? I sent an email to the surgeon whom I had been communicating with, and he responded saying that the surgeons were also waving their fees (another $3,000+) to support our work and our children.
I sobbed as I read his email. These are TOP pediatric cardiac surgeons, and they are not charging us for doing Dinah’s surgery. Of course, there are still hospital costs, surgical costs etc, but we have funding for that. What a huge God-kiss (and financial gift) that is to us.
Dinah was to be in ICU for three days and in hospital for an estimated ten days (due to her weakened and malnourished little body), but on Friday she was moved to the ward and was doing well. We are told that Dinah may even come home on Monday or Tuesday!!
God is good, all the time, and I LOVE seeing how HE is touching people’s hearts and inviting them in to His story.
There are only two more days in our 2018 Diaper Drive and I am asking you to buy diapers and wipes for Dinah and her many many brothers and sisters. Will you join the story today? It’s as easy as clicking on this link- the UPS container will ship from Georgia next week.
Thank you on behalf of Dinah, and all the children who will benefit from your generosity.
Live from Swaziland … it is time for some rest.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
This week we hosted our 3rd Annual “Camp Canaan” with 115 of our big kids (ages 3-7) and the theme was “Created by God. Built for a purpose” The supporting bible verse is “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11
The children had a blast learning about all the how God created us all differently and that was underscored by each station, the favorite being face painting.
Then I pointed at a sweet girl in the back and reminded reminisced that we didn’t think she would ever sit, walk or see, but there she was singing and dancing to one of her favorite songs.
Then there was the little one found as a newborn in a plastic bag under a tree – burned from the hot plastic against her bare skin. She knew all the hand movements, dance moves and sang about how God created her.
Last week I shared with you that we have a little girl named Dinah and my heart has been very heavy this week because Dinah need heart surgery urgently. Dinah is 22-months old and cannot stand, doesn’t crawl, doesn’t smile, doesn’t talk. Her favorite place is sitting with her head on someone’s chest, and honestly that’s about all the energy she has because of her heart problem.
God made Dinah, and He made her heart, and it needs to be fixed. It seems to me that the creator of the Universe, the one who created the heart in the first place could/should just fix it? So why isn’t He? That left me perplexed as I watched our children on stage jumping, singing, clapping and dancing.
Without heart surgery (or divine healing), Dinah will never be on that stage dancing and singing.
As you may recall, Dinah arrived when she was 18-months old and only weighed 15 pounds. She was in and out of hospital for much of her short life, being treated for malnutrition, but sadly, no one noticed that she had an enlarged heart and a significant heart murmur. Last week we took Dinah to South Africa to see a pediatric cardiologist and were told that she needs to have surgery as soon as possible. For the medical people reading this wanting to know the details she has a large PDA (8mm), enlargement of LV and LA, no VSD or ASD, left to right PDA shunt gradient of 45mmHg (suggests moderate elevation of PA pressures). I don’t completely understand it all, but I know some of you want to know that details.
The cost for the heart surgery, including a 10-day hospital stay (due to her body condition from malnutrition) is $21,000 USD, but the good news is that it can be done at an excellent Pediatric Cardiology hospital in Johannesburg. This surgery should have been done days or weeks after her birth, but it was undetected until now, so now is the time.
Maybe you have been reading this blog for a long time and watching from a distance. Maybe you have cried with us, laughed with us, prayed with us and celebrated with us, but have never gotten involved. Maybe you have been very involved from the beginning, but now it’s time to step in again.
I am inviting the thousands of people who will read this blog to PLEASE consider helping us save Dinah’s life, by providing the funding for her life-saving surgery.
Will you help us today?
In the US please click here.
In Canada please click here.
Live from Swaziland … I am thankful that God created Dinah for a purpose.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
When Ian and I sit outside on our patio in the evening we hear a wave of children’s voices coming over the mountain – children at play, children laughing, children singing. It is magical and emotional. There are 115 children living at the Emseni Campus now and keeping them all active and organized is a monumental task, done with excellence by our Emseni team.
Part of what helps keeping them active is having bicycles to share, wagons to pull each other around in and balls to kick. Our toddlers enjoy playing outside and learn balance on tricycles, and teeter totters, and our littlest ones learn to climb up small ladders and slide down small slides.
This video shows Hosea playing ball with his sister Princess because she cannot walk. I LOVE this.
Today I am asking you for YOUR help. I am asking that you go to our http://bit.ly/hfadiaperdrive link and do some shopping for our 194 children. There are bikes, tricycles, educational material, Little Tikes toys, dump trucks and pencil sharpeners. These are all things that we cannot buy here in Swaziland, and would really help us out. We still need diapers and wipes too, and the container ships from Atlanta in two weeks.
Our children love to play, they are learning to share toys, and we want them to be physically active as part of being well rounded.
Juxtaposed, we have a little girl named Dinah who doesn’t play at all. She doesn’t walk, doesn’t move and is completely inactive. Dinah arrived when she was 18-months old and only weighed 15 pounds. She was in and out of hospital for much of her short life, being treated for malnutrition, but sadly, no one noticed that she had an enlarged heart and a significant heart murmur. This week we took Dinah to South Africa to see a pediatric cardiologist and were told that she needs to have surgery as soon as possible, and that damage done to her lungs is irreversible. We have sought council from a specialist in the US and are working on understanding the costs of pediatric heart surgery.
Some of you are likely wondering how I could be asking for toys and bikes, when Dinah needs heart surgery, and it’s a good question. But each of us needs to do what we are called to do. There are many people reading this blog that love to shop, and love children at play, so we offer the http://bit.ly/hfadiaperdrive link to allow them to do that. There will be others who want to help directly with Dinah’s surgery, and I know that they will contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.” We have all sang that song, and I believe it to be true.
Please join us in loving our children by providing for them today.
Live from Swaziland … I am going shopping on http://bit.ly/hfadiaperdrive today.
PS - this photo shows the second floor of Emseni #4 going up quickly! Thank you to those who gave so generously to build a home for 40 children.
Saturday, July 7, 2018
I don’t think I have complained in a blog for a long time, so please allow me to do so today, and forgive my frustration and rant.
Our national newspapers are filled with more and more disturbing news each day, and reading the paper is not for the faint of heart. There have been many children kidnapped in recent weeks and used in human sacrifice to make a potion that is believed by some sects to make people more powerful when they consume the potion called muti. Yes, this is a real thing. Yes, we are taking more precautions for our own children and encouraging our staff to be cautious in their own homes. Yes, we are praying for safety for all.
Yesterday the front page told us that the Ministry of Health has not paid their bill to local drug provider SwaziPharm and now SwaziPharm cannot replenish its stock of lifesaving medicines, including meds for HIV, cancer and all other conditions. We received a letter from SwaziPharm earlier in the week apologizing for all of the out-of-stock issues we are having with them for our own clinic and children, causing us to have to seek medication in South Africa – not an easy solution.
Newborn babies continue to be dumped in pit latrines (two this past week), both by desperate mothers.
Allegedly the government owes millions for diesel/fuel used by all government offices. That means that police are impacted with no fuel, social welfare doesn’t have transportation to help children in need and no road work is being done, resulting in our vehicles being destroyed on 5KM of dirt road that resemble Swiss cheese.
Here at Project Canaan we are dealing with the dust that fills our lungs, triggers our children’s asthma and chokes our vehicles, moths that eat the clothes in our closets leaving holes in everything we own, and the task of cutting 27 KM/17 miles of fire breaks that our workers have to cut to keep us safe from wild fires and arsonists trying to burn us out.
Today I was re-reading Henry Blackaby’s book called “Experiencing God”. If you haven’t read it or done the study, it’s a must. My book is bathed in yellow highlighted passages, but one that stood out to me today was this: “God is never fooled. He always matches His assignments with our character and faith in Him.”
That sentence gave me reason to pause. First, it encouraged me and reminded me that it is GOD who called Ian and I to this assignment and we DO have extraordinary faith in Him. So rather than complaining, I need to remind myself daily of James’ instruction to us that says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4
Today I give thanks for the 130 people who have purchased 441 boxes of diapers and wipes on our Amazon Diaper drive. We have 1471 items on the list so we still need 1,030 more. Will you help us to day by shopping on line? It’s so easy and amazon will ship the items directly to our warehouse in Georgia. UPS is shipping the container for free and it leaves in just three weeks so we need to fill it quickly!
Thanks for reading this blog, for praying for us and for loving us.
Live from Swaziland … giving thanks for my village.