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.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Yesterday was the 2nd annual Project Canaan Academy talent show and I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with joy that led to tears flowing down my face, that seemed unstoppable.
You know that moment as a parent or family member who watches a child perform something on stage that they have been preparing for weeks, practicing lines, going over dance moves, or trying to remember their positions? I had that moment over and over again.
There were poems, ribbon dancing, singing and Swazi dancing, all followed by wild cheering from the proud Aunties, Uncles, teachers and visitors in the audience.
But there were a few acts that specifically brought tears to my eyes. First, it was our Pre-Kindergarten children who did a waltz!! It was the cutest thing ever, especially with Deborah actually spinning Timothy rather than the other way around.
Then there were “Emseni 5” kids with an incredibly well choreographed dance to the “Waka Waka” (It’s time for Africa) song, which brought the house down. It’s almost as much fun to watch the Aunties and Uncles jumping, dancing and clapping for joy as is it to watch the children on stage. But it certainly is the children that bring joy to my heart, and tears to my eyes.
Students from teacher Leanna’s Kindergarten class performed a “signing dance” to the Kari Jobe version of “Revelation Song”, and that just took me out. Tears poured down my face as I tried to keep smiling so that the kids didn’t think I was sad.
Being a proud parent of Spencer and Chloe has brought many tears of joy as they have performed in musical theater and other performance art events. Now that we have 193 more who we see living and thriving and overflowing with joy, I think I am going to have to drink a lot more water during the day to stay hydrated through my tears of joy that fall.
Thank you to each and every one of you who supports Heart for Africa and the work we are doing to love these children back to life and prepare them to be the future of the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Kingdom of God.
Thank you also to the 65 people who have already purchased diapers and wipes. In one short week we have received 272 boxes or 18% of what we need for the next year! I encourage you to go to http://bit.ly/hfadiaperdrive today and purchase much needed diapers and wipes for our babies.
Live from Swaziland … my heart is full.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
My “office” is at a picnic table outside the back of the El Roi Baby home and I love having meetings there. I have a weekly Supervisor meeting there, and almost all my meetings with VIP’s and visitors. I love meeting there because it allows me to spend time with our 6 to 18- month-old babies, each one cuter than the next. It also helps me get to know them and see their individual personalities starting to show even at that tender age.
Our staff is amazing and are incredibly attentive to the babies, but every now and then a waft of smell will pass my nose, and then like most mom’s I start sniffing children’s butts to find out which child is responsible. Sometimes I’ll just say, “somebody stinks!”, and an Auntie will quickly find the perpetrator and immediately get the baby changed.
We have 7 tiny babies under 6-months old, 31 babies who are 6-months-old to 18-months-old and we have 40 2-year-olds (those ones are being toilet trained). That’s 78 children who need diapers and wipes resulting in us changing almost 400 diapers every single day!
Thankfully, we have not had to buy a single diaper OR wipe since last August when a 40 ft container arrived from the US, filled by friends like YOU and shipped for free by our friends at UPS.
UPS has offered to ship another container in August 2018 and so it is time for us to start collecting diapers and wipes to fill it up! This is where I need your help with two things:
1. Would you visit our Amazon Wish List and shop today at http://bit.ly/hfadiaperdrive
2. Would you share this blog and any Heart for Africa social media posts relating to the 2018 Diaper Drive in the days and weeks to come?
Unfortunately, we do not have a container leaving from Canada this year, but our Canadian friends and family can shop on the US Amazon site.
Thank you all for your love and support and for helping us keep our babies clean and healthy.
Live from Swaziland … it’s Saturday morning.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Many of you have heard me say that our children live in a children’s home, not an orphanage and that we are a large family. One of the things that we work very hard on is helping each child find their own identity and we encourage their individualism. One of the ways we do that is to celebrate each child’s birthday with a cake, a gift starting on their third birthday. Our Aunties and Uncles dress each child in a very special outfit that has never been worn before, complete with shoes, and all the children celebrate that child for the whole day, announcing to EVERYONE whose birthday it is.
We don’t give cake to all the kids on each birthday, but rather celebrate the day in the home where that child lives. On a child’s first birthday, there will be cake at the baby home. When a child turns two, they will likely be at the toddler home. And then when they are three, they will either be at the toddler home or up at the Emseni Campus, depending on their development. Once a child has moved to Emseni, they get the additional experience of choosing a “growth stick” where we measure them each and every year on their birthday. This was something that my parents did at our cottage each year when my cousins were there in the summer, and it was a tradition that I wanted to continue.
Today we will celebrate a very special birthday for the Patron of our children’s home – the Inkhosikati LaMbikiza (Inkhosikati means “Royal Highness”), and she is a favored wife to King Mswati III. It was her desire to come and spend her birthday with our kids, and so plans were made, a bouncy castle was ordered and a cake is being iced as I type this blog.
Typically we have Kids Club on Saturday mornings, but not today. Today the children will prepare for the Royal visit by sweeping the stairs, washing the chairs, decorating the Oasis and blowing up balloons. I LOVE that our staff are guiding our children to understand the importance of special visitors, preparing our home for special celebrations and celebrating life.
If you are reading this blog early, come back later today and I will post photos of the grand celebration.
Live from Swaziland … we are celebrating life.
Saturday, June 9, 2018
It is often said that we have built an ark here on Project Canaan, and as the waves of disease and poverty wash over the land there are 191 children who are safely on the ark. We believe that those children will be a part of the remnant who will be the future leaders of the Kingdom.
We all know the story of Noah’s Ark and that the animals entered the “two by two” – we sing that with our children weekly. I must add at this time that it makes me smile that we have nine sets of twins and an additional seven sets of siblings, who came to us “two by two.
Today I am writing to tell you about another kind of ark – one that has been custom designed at Khutsala Artisans and is being produced in the months to come. The entire 13 piece set is made purely of wire and glass beads and it is stunningly beautiful. The question is … would anyone want to buy a Noah’s Ark Set that is made in Swaziland/eSwatini, Africa?
It took two full months to develop and perfect the animals and the ark, and we are working on making 100 sets that will arrive in the US in early September, but we think we can push and make 200 sets IF we know that people will buy them and IF we have them pre-sold. The ark itself is 15" long x 9" high.
The set is $270 US and comes in a gift box with the label shown below on the front. It is perfect for your children, your grandchildren, a Sunday school class, church or even a VBS.
While we do not need payment until September, we do need to know if we can sell 100-200 arks. If you are interested in pre-ordering a handmade Noah’s Ark Set (or many) please go to https://heartforafrica.myshopify.com/products/noahs-ark and you can order and pay for yours today. If you would simply like to pre-order and then pay in September you cani email me directly at email@example.com.
Your support not only directly helps us employ 100+ people in our community, but 100% of the profit goes directly back to helping us provide for the 191 children living on Project Canaan.
Please share this blog and let’s get these arks sold!!
Live from Swaziland ... singin' "two by two".
Saturday, June 2, 2018
When I was a small child I was taught to pray with my eyes closed tight and would be corrected for opening my eyes until the prayer was finished. I was to keep them shut tight, as if that act would make my prayers heard by God (but maybe it was just so that I wasn’t distracted).
This week I attended two birthday parties and I will admit to opening my eyes during the time that our 40 x 2-year-old children closed their eyes, put their hands together and gave thanks for the cake that they were about to receive. At the first party for Princess I opened my eyes and peaked, and I am so glad I did because I saw little Jonathan with his hands clasped, and eyes shut so tight that there was no way of him being distracted from giving thanks. And he has a lot to give thanks for having arrived at the age of two almost dead from disease and starvation.
The next birthday was Benkhosi’s, and again I peaked, only to find Benkhosi praying with one eye open. What was he looking for, I wondered? Did he think his cake might go away or that something extra special would appear?
I believe in the power of prayer. Since living in Swaziland I have literally seen the lame walk, the deaf hear and the blind see. I have seen mountains moved, water come from dry land and funds provided, all in ways that defies reason. My prayer life has changed dramatically in the past few years as I now pray EXPECTING my prayers to be answered and I pray expecting to see the hand of God. Maybe that is why Benkhosi had one eye open?
Maybe we should all think about praying with one eye open this week – expecting to SEE God show up and answer our prayers. Why not? He wants to be seen :)
Live from Swaziland … praying with expectation today.