|Mela, Eleasha, Dana, Barbara, Gwyn and Becky.|
Saturday, June 1, 2013
“I think that woman is carrying a dead baby.” Ian said.
“I think that woman is carrying a dead baby.” Ian said, as he drove across the narrow bridge near Gebeni.
Stop the car!
One year ago today our family landed in South Africa and prepared to drive to Swaziland where we would move in to our new home. It was a long awaited move for me because I wanted to move in 2003 when my feet first hit African soil. But God’s timing is always better than my timing and June 1st, 2012 was the day when that dream became a reality.
It has been a difficult year, but also one of the best years of my life. Today was just another “normal day” in Swaziland with highs and lows, but it seems to be indicative of the year we have lived.
We have a small team of amazing jewelry/accessory designers (volunteers) with us for a week working on the first “line” of accessories that will be made at the Khutsala Artisans Shop on Project Canaan. We started the day by visiting a local family who is destitute. There are 12 people living in the homestead and the husband/father died in 2001 leaving the young wife with 9 small children to care for. The woman explained that she has no education and no skill to earn a living. Her story was sad and her environment even more sad. I asked if she made grass mats that we might purchase and she came back with 4 beautiful grass placemats that she had made. Clearly she DID have a skill and after we offered twice her asking price (smile) I also placed an order for 40 mats that could be sold to trip participants this summer. Then Dana from WLA (Women Leaders in Action at the US Bank) also placed an order for an additional 40 and the woman squealed with delight! Never had she had an order for so many – typically she only made a few at a time. The day was off to a good start and we potentially had our first Khutsala Artisan employee.
We left excited about helping this family for the long term and were heading to an outdoor event called “Bushfire”. It is a 3-day festival of African music, culture, arts and artisans. We would shop, eat, get ideas and enjoy the afternoon before getting back to the design work. Not long after leaving we drove down a steep road and then crossed a very narrow bridge. Ian was driving the big van filled with women while navigating a bad road when suddenly he said, “I think that woman is carrying a dead baby.”
What? Stop the car!
I jumped out and ran back to find a woman walking up the steep hill, sobbing, carrying what looked like a dead baby. I quickly asked her if the baby was dead and she shook her head and said “no”. I then saw that her faced was swollen and covered in bruises. The baby’s head had a big bump and was bruised as well. I tried to get a man who walked right by her to stop and help interpret for me, but he was not interested in assisting in any way.
Through tears and heavy sobbing she told me that her husband had beat her whole body and that she was trying to get to the police. She had been walking for two hours (with many vehicles and people passing her, I might add) when we found her. The baby was alive, but both had been severely traumatized. We got her in the van and our amazing team prayed with her immediately for healing, protection, peace, joy and anything else they could think of. Twenty minutes later we had her at the police station to report the beating and then the police would take her straight to the hospital to have both mother and baby cared for. We will go and check on her tomorrow.
A shaken up group of women arrived at our destination (Bushfire Festival) and it was almost noon, but they pulled it together and forged ahead as planned. We had a wonderful couple of hours meeting other Swazi artisans and getting more ideas for our own designs. On the way back we stopped to pick up groceries for Becky Fern to whip up a delicious meal, while the other ladies got back to their design work.
As we were heading home I got a call from Nomsa at the TB hospital. Baby Rahab’s (who is in a different hospital suffering with pneumonia, malnutrition and severe dehydration) mother (who is at the TB hospital) had taken a bad turn in the night. She went through a series of seizures and then suffered a stroke. She appears to be paralyzed on her left side and Nomsa asked us all to pray because she didn’t think this young woman (23 years) would live through tonight. Becky, Eleasha and I will go in the morning to spend time with Nomsa and continue encouraging her. We sincerely hope that Baby Rahab’s mother is still alive.
So after dropping the volunteer team off at their rooms, Ian and I headed back to the farm, put the chickens away, let the dogs out, put on some music, threw in a load of laundry and then I sat down to write this blog and Ian went to work on a spreadsheet in his office.
It has been a year (day) of highs and lows, but through each and every situation we feel the hand of God on our shoulders and His spirit around us. Ian often says with a touch of sarcasm, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”
It is not easy, but there is nowhere else in the world that I would rather be that in His will, and I am thankful that His plan has brought me here. Thanks for joining us on this journey. I pray that you have been blessed.
Live from Swaziland … it’s Saturday evening (sorry for the late post!).