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Saturday, November 24, 2012

I do not like spiders, snakes OR crocodiles.

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing this blog, but another week has passed. We did not receive a new baby this week, but the week still flew by with other excitement. 

I hesitate to talk about the “other side” of living in Swaziland since so many people who read this blog are so interested in and committed to hearing about what is happening with the abandoned babies, orphans and vulnerable children of Swaziland. But there is another side to this country, one that is filled with danger, poison and scales. I will call these things the “creatures of Swaziland”.

There is high risk in writing this blog because many of you may have been contemplating coming to Swaziland and serve with Heart for Africa, but may read this and say “no way”.  If fact, I will confess that I used to NOT talk about these creatures for fear of scaring people off, but not anymore.  Not only is my family living with these critters, but more importantly, the babies, orphans and vulnerable children that so many of your are concerned about have to face these animals all the time, so here it is - the truth.

Ian, Chloe and I are covered in bug bites. Not sure from what kind of bugs, but we itch a lot.  They are likely just ants, mosquitoes or some other flying bug, but we are not sure.  Speaking of flying bugs.  We seem to go through one-week long phases of different kinds of insects.  One day, huge moths will appear on all our outside walls and windows and stay for a week or so, then disappear. They are beautiful and docile so you want to pick them up, but apparently that is not a good idea because if you hold one and it urinates on you, it will burn your skin like acid.  The next week we have an flock (infestation) of termites and in a few days there are piles of termite wings all over the ground and our cars.  The next week, a totally different kind of insect and the following week another different one.  It's actually quite interesting, once you get your head around it.

Last week we had a giant swarm of little black bugs whip through the farm and in to all the windows that were open.  The baby home had screens on all the windows except in the bathroom and the room was FILLED with a swarm of bugs that had to be killed with multiple sprays of  “DOOM”, and then the carnage removed with a broom.  Then there are the spiders. I HATE SPIDERS.  And yet there they are.  Always hanging around.  Each one seems bigger than the next and Ian graciously comes to the rescue each and every time Chloe or I call him (or scream). 

Wednesday morning I arrived at Project Canaan and received a call saying, “Janine, are you on the farm? We just caught the crocodile!”  Sure enough, the crocodile, who had taken up residence at Project Canaan a couple of years ago, was now in captivity.  It was approximately 7 feet long (2+ metres) and was VERY VERY angry to be caught in a huge cage.  When Mark Klee, Denis Musyoka and Ben Sleeper decided it would be fun to once you realize that the crocodile is lookied two feet in the air and screams like a girl  (haha) and Denis and Ben cracked up laughing (after checking to see if their hands were still attached to their arms).
Attached to the cage was the cutest/brightest/coolest looking frog I have ever seen. It was about one inch long (2.5 cm) and had vibrant yellow and black stripes. As I leaned it to take a closer look and photo Kaleli told me to step back!  Apparently those little critters are bright so that you lean in closer and then they spray poison on your face from the yellow stripes on their backs.  Sheesh. Who knew?

I am thankful for all that I have learned about the “creatures of Swaziland” from Kaleli and when I we were talking about the crazy noise that came from the crocodile, he said that is also the sound that a Python makes when it is sending you a warning. Good to know.



Mark and Cameron Klee with the python
Speaking of pythons, on Friday morning I received a familiar call saying, “Janine, are you on the farm?  We just caught a python!”  Really?  Jumped in the car with Albert Smith and Ben Sleeper (what guy doesn’t love a good reptile adventure?). We went to straight to the field right where Sarah and James are setting up a hydroponics test project and there it was – the biggest snake I have ever seen in my life.  Albert pulled out his handy-dandy tape measure and it measured 13 feet long (2+metres), and weighed 65+ pounds (30KG). 

Apparently the snake had been seen the day before by our goat herder and he notified the team to be on the look out. On Friday the goats refused to walk down that road (smart goats) and then the snake was seen again, help was called and snake was killed with a shovel.  The snake was lying in wait for a goat to walk by so that he could grab it, incapacitate it and swallow it whole.  Then, it would sit and digest it for the next three months.  I am told that this size of snake can consume a large adult goat WHOLE.

Now, back to the babies, orphans and vulnerable children of Swaziland.  While you were reading this some of you were thinking, “oh, my husband/son would love to read this!” and others of you were thinking “Oh my gosh, I am NEVER going to Swaziland and neither are my husband/son”.  Frankly, as I was writing it I was thinking “I am never going there!” but alas, I live here.  But I have doors, window screens, bug spray, long boots, long pants, after-bite lotion and a husband to call every time I see a spider.  The babies, orphans and vulnerable children of this country don’t have any of those luxuries, not even a father to call to the rescue.

Who will protect these children from bugs, crocodiles and snakes?
How many children get acid burns each year because they didn’t know to not hold the moth?  How many itch themselves until their arms and legs bleed because they are covered in bites and have no screens to keep out more bugs? How many children are at risk from crocodiles or pythons waiting along the road for some small prey to attack?

I am not trying to be dramatic here friends, this is the simply truth.  When a child is left without a mother and/or father, there is no one to teach them about danger, about how to avoid bites or what a crocodile or python sound like in the long grass.  It is estimated that more than half of the population of Swaziland are orphan and vulnerable children.

Thursday was Thanksgiving in the USA and I am thankful for the knowledge of the protection that I have been given throughout my life.  I am thankful for window screens, bug spray and after-bite lotion.  I am thankful for Google to look up photos of bugs/spiders I have seen and thankful for a husband, father to my children, who lives with us and comes to our rescue when we are in distress.  Please pray with me for the children who are not as fortunate as many of us have been.

Live from Swailand … praying for protection for all.

Janine

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