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Saturday, March 2, 2013

365 days of pain, sorrow and pure joy.

Celebrating 1st Anniversary together.
Yesterday marked the 1st Anniversary of the El Roi Baby Home opening.  While we had plans to have an event, invite friends and supporters and even bake a cake, we decided that was not the right thing to do.  Instead we sat together and gave thanks.  
Caleb in his cardboard box.

Caleb - the miracle baby.
We gave thanks for Caleb who was delivered to us in a cardboard box at the age of 8-months.  His mother died infected with AIDS, his father was dying of the same and Caleb was also deathly ill with HIV/AIDS. He also had Tuberculosis and was covered in oozing lesions.  With 24-hour medical care, love and prayer Caleb turned the corner from death to life.  Today he is a beautiful, happy boy who takes his Anti-retroviral medication with no problems and loves to giggle and laugh.  He is a gift to us all.

We gave thanks for Paul and Ishmael the twins who were found in a slum outside of Malkerns with no food.  They were 4-months old and weighed approximately eight pounds each.  They were wasting away when they were found, but with nutritious food, love and proper care they have grown to be joyful boys who always light up when someone smiles at them.  They are a gift to us all.
Paul and Ishmael found starving.
Paul and Ishmael one year later.  Pure joy.

We gave thanks for Joseph, the baby who was dropped in a “dry pit latrine” at birth.  There was no human feces in the latrine yet so he landed directly on rocks and lay there for 12 hours before someone found him.  Joseph remained in the hospital for several weeks while the doctor tried to save his life and care for his significant head injuries.  Today he is a very bright, alert, happy child who does not appear to have any lasting brain injuries.  Time will tell, but we give thanks for his health and life. He is a gift to us all.
Joseph's massive head injuries.

Joseph today.  A bright and shining star.
Deborah before being washed.
We gave thanks for Deborah who was found in a black plastic bag under some bushes. She was a newborn and was being eaten alive by bugs and ants. Her mouth, nose and ears were filled with maggots.  After five days in the hospital she came to us and is now weighing in a whopping 5.2 pounds.  She is a beautiful baby who spends most of her time eating and sleeping. Most of her wounds have healed, but there are two scars on her head that likely came from an animal tearing at the plastic bag (the very act that gave her fresh air and saved her life).  She is a gift to us all.

Baby Deborah covered in insect and animal bites.

Deborah at three weeks old. A sweet baby.
As we sat and looked at each tiny life that has arrived at El Roi in the past 12 months we gave thanks for each baby who had been chosen to come to us.  We also became aware that each of us have also been chosen “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14) and have been called to serve these babies who have been “abandoned or ignored” (Matthew 25: ). It was an overwhelming and humbling time together.

I asked each Auntie what their favorite part of serving at the El Roi Baby home was and several of them said it was the peace and love they felt towards the babies and the other Aunties. It is a
safe place for them, even when their lives are bad (and often not safe) back at home, they find joy and love at El Roi always.  El Roi sees them too. 

As I reflect back on this past year what I think of most, even more than the babies themselves, is the obedience of the people God has sent to us, even before there were babies.  Annie Duguid from the Watoto Children’s Home in Uganda came to Swaziland for a month to help set up, hire and train our Aunties, even though there were no babies.  Helen Muli quit a very good government job in Kenya and moved her family to Swaziland to help prepare the Baby Home and be trained by Annie, even when there were no babies.  One family in the US decided to start giving sacrificially to the Baby Home on a monthly basis in October 2011 – FIVE FULL MONTHS before we had a baby arrive, and those funds allowed us to bring Annie and Helen to Swaziland to prepare the home and train others.  There are so many other people who will remain unnamed who also did what they knew they were to do to prepare for little people we did not even know.  But the God Who Sees knew them and HE knew that we had to be ready.

Because of the obedience of so many people the El Roi Baby Home was ready and waiting for the first baby to arrive, and on March 1st, 2012 Baby Joshua arrived at Project Canaan, a “Place of Hope” and lead the charge for 26 others to follow him. 

Yesterday, as we sat and celebrated together I was again humbled by the faith of the women around me.  They serve tirelessly and with joy and love always.  They have faith that can move mountains, even when they feel hopeless themselves.  I give thanks for Helen, Thabile, Gcebile, Lindiwe, Nomsa, Dolly, Mandisa, Gcebile 2, Mona Lisa, Ntom’futhi, Zandile, Maria and Brooke, all who work daily at El Roi.  I give thanks for our volunteers who serve alongside the Aunties and make a huge difference at the Baby Home.

I am often asked, “how many babies can the El Roi Baby Home hold?” and that is a question that I can’t honestly answer.  Some weeks we get two babies.  Some weeks we get none.  My prayer is that we never have to turn a baby away. The Labakhetsiwe* Toddler Home is being built now and we will move all the 2-year old children there when it is finished.  We give thanks every day for all that has been provided.

Live from Swaziland … I am celebrating life!


* means “The Chosen Ones” in siSwati.

1 comment:

  1. I just love the restoration and healing Our God is doing in not only the children's lives, but also in the lives of all who interact with the children and read their stories. Seeing the before and after pictures alone, speaks a thousand words to the testament and character of our Heavenly Father who sees them, and sees us all. Thank you for sharing Janine.