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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hello Las Vegas? This is Swaziland calling.

It was 2:30AM in Las Vegas (which was 5:30AM in Georgia and 11:30 in Swaziland) when my iPhone rang.  I had it plugged in only to use the alarm to wake me in the morning. It never occurred to me that someone could reach me on it while I was in the United States because it is a Swaziland SIM/phone.


I left Swaziland on Saturday morning, drove to Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday night, arrived in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday morning then flew on to Las Vegas, Nevada arriving around 1PM at the Mandalay Bay hotel.  Mandalay Bay has 3,309 hotel rooms and an average of 2,000 people checking in and 2,000 people checking out EVERY DAY.  It is a beautiful and monstrous building that is designed to have people spend as much money on leisure, entertainment, eating, drinking and gambling as is humanly possible in the few days that each visitor stays there.  Oxygen is pumped in at an alarming rate to keep you alert and awake and there are no windows to the outside in the entertainment areas so you don't know if it night or day.  It is an experience of a lifetime and one that is not easily forgotten.

The Famous Las Vegas Strip.

When the phone rang I was sound a sleep in a very comfortable King Size bed with a window that looks at the full length of the famous “Las Vegas Strip”.  I have a flat screen TV, full mini-bar, large bathroom with double sink, shower and large bathtub, all made of marble of course, and I am staying there FOR FREE as a guest of John Bardis and the wonderful people of MedAssets.  Several years ago Ian and I were honored to be given the first Dr. Norman Borlaug Humanitarian of the Year award, and we are now invited back each year to celebrate with the new recipient of the award.  We are given a beautiful hotel room, invited to a fabulous meal at the famous Aureole restaurant with Dr. Borlaug’s family (Daughter Jeannie Borlaug Laube and Grand-daughter Jennifer Borlaug Marsh) and get to enjoy meeting many of the 4,000+ attendees of the Healthcare Business Summit.  We have a table set up and can share what is happening at Project Canaan and the El Roi baby home and we have gained much support from people we have met over the past five years in attendance.

In fact, we have met several of our Board members through this annual conference, including Sandra Green, Tom Finucane and Ned Lehman, and are thankful for all the friends who continue to support us as a result of the MedAssets partnership.

Board members Sandra Green and Tom Finucane.

Back to my 2:30 AM phone call.

The phone rang and I was in a dead sleep.  I fumbled around and wasn’t quite sure where the noise was coming from, but eventually rose to the surface of my slumber just in time to answer the phone before the caller gave up.

“Hello?”

“Hello Sisi?  Janine, is that you?”

“Yes, its me, who is this??”

“Its XXXX (NAME HELD FOR PRIVACY) from the XXX hospital in Swaziland. I need your help. I have a bad situation.”

By this point I had sat up and turned on my light to try to ascertain where on earth I was.  I was jetlagged and my body was still somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. I actually was quite shocked to have a sweet Swazi voice in my ear and then see the opulence of my surroundings when I turned on the light.  Oh my gosh, how could I ever tell her I was in Las Vegas (of all places!).

She continued, “There is a new baby born on Saturday morning and there is a bad situation. Will you come and get the baby?!”

AHHHHH!!!  I am in LAS VEGAS – literally 10,300 miles away from Swaziland. 

It was funny. I had an immediate moment of shame and guilt that I was where I was and she was where she was.  She was doing her job and I was gallivanting in Las Vegas.

But then a gentle voice came to me and assured me that was false guilt.  She was doing her job in Swaziland, and I was doing my job in Las Vegas.  I was reminded that without the word being spread and without people knowing about the plight of abandoned children in Swaziland that people wouldn’t have the opportunity to pray for the babies or give financially to support them.  Sigh.  I knew that was truth.

I told my sweet sister that I was not in the country, but that she could call the office and speak with Shirley or she had Ian’s number and either of them could go and help straight away.  Then she asked the question I had hoped to avoid. She asked where I was?  I am not gonna lie, while I knew that I was where the Lord wanted to me, I just couldn’t bring my self to say,  “Las Vegas Baby!!” and so I told her I was out of the country and that I would be home in a few short weeks, which is absolutely true.

It was a short call.  No clue what it cost, but it was a huge gift to me.  I loved hearing that Swazi voice so far away from me, I loved that the calls are still coming and babies are still being saved and I loved knowing that I didn’t have to be there in person for that baby to find his way home to El Roi.  I am so very thankful for Shirley and Ian and Helen and the whole team at El Roi who seek out, welcome and love each and every baby who is chosen to come and live with us.  

I am on a 22-day Speaking Adventure and today I am on Day 7, which finds me in Dalhart, Texas (about an hour from Amarillo, Texas).  I am honored to be invited here by my friend Shelly Harp and look forward to an amazing weekend of sharing, laughing, selling jewelry and celebrating all that God has done for us at Project Canaan.

On Monday I head to Georgia to reconnect with Chloe (who has been on Spring Break with one of her best friends for the past week) and join up for a couple of days with the amazing women at the US Bank and WLA (Women Leaders in Action).   I get to see my friends at Womenetics as they film a story of how WLA, UPS and Heart for Africa all came to work together for the children of Swaziland.  It is a great story to tell and I will be sure to post the link in a future blog once the video is complete.   Then I speak at Emory University on Thursday and after that Chloe and I head straight down to Florida State University to see Spencer perform multiple shows in the “High Flying Circus”.  I miss my son desperately and look forward to three days with both of my children together.  YIPPPE!!!!

Tumbleweeds are blowing in Texas - just like in the movies!
I started to type that I wish I were in Swaziland right now, but then stopped and deleted that sentence.  I don’t wish I were there, but rather I am glad I am here, right were I am supposed to be. I am thankful for all the invitations to come and share the story of Project Canaan. I am thankful for all the planning that my assistant Tricia did to make the plan work from coast to coast and north to south. But mostly I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for the next 15 days.  I feel like it is Christmas morning and there are many gifts under the tree to be opened.  Every one is a surprise and look forward to seeing what He has wrapped up for us all.

Live from Texas … the tumbleweeds are blowing!

Janine

PS – the baby is not at El Roi yet.  The paperwork is being completed with the Social Welfare department and we expect our little baby boy next week.  Stay tuned!


Update photo of the new Toddler home (left) and preschool (back center).

3 comments:

  1. Welcome to Dalhart and Thank you for blessing us with your message! I love the tumbleweed picture; very accurate description of northwestern Texas! See ya at church and congrats on the new baby next week!

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