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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Not a good way to start the New Year, or maybe it was the best way?

Our family in enjoying a much needed, long overdue holiday, together on the beach in Durban, South Africa.  Each day starts with a view of the Indian Ocean and ends with a delicious meal, Cribbage games and watching Scandal Season 2 together.  The reason we can go away worry free is because we have such an incredible team of people living and serving at Project Canaan.  They only contact us when there is something that we need to know or that they know we would want to know.  That is how the day started.

Today, my first FaceBook message was from Kenny VanWinkle. He and Amber graciously offered to live in our house while we are away taking care of chickens, dogs and security.  Kenny’s message to me read something like this:

Hey Janine. Hope your vacation is going great. We had a couple of visitors last night. Came out of the bedroom and there was a 3.5 foot long snake coming out of the pantry. Chased it and cornered it under the stove. At the same time saw another one come from under a chair in the living room and go down the hallway. Called Denis and we killed the one under the stove. Not sure what kind of snake it was. Kinda looks like a Puff Adder, but it hissed at me really loud, and it long and skinny. Haven't found the other one yet. And we have looked like crazy. Just curious if you guys have had this problem before. We haven't left any doors or windows open. Anyway just wanted to let you know what's going on. We are still searching for the second intruder. Other than that all is well. Pretty sure I lost a few years off my life last night! Haha”

I know lots of you (Beth, Penny etc) hate when I talk about snakes, but I have a point. I will get to it.

After that I was looking through friends FaceBook posts and saw this photo from Brooke Sleeper of little Esther’s foot with a hookworm working its way through her skin.  We try to get the Aunties to make the children wear shoes, but heck, its Africa.  Everyone is in bare feet, right?  I wonder how many other people have hookworms making tracts that no one sees? Probably many.  I was able to contact Brooke to find out what she was going to do and she said that Esther’s foot is very itchy and after 3 days of treatment the worm(s) will die.  YUCK!!  Again, I have a point to why I am telling you this, and will get to it.

After reading my morning news, we got up and headed to the lobby at 5:45AM where we were getting a car to take us Deep Sea Fishing. We were all so excited for another great Maxwell family adventure. One of our favorites from the past was White Water Rafting down the Great Zambizi River in Zimbabwe. Maybe today would be even better than that?  We arrived at the chartered boat, hopped in and off we went. Simple.  I had packed lunches, water, cold drinks, lots of sunscreen and cameras.  It would be a perfect day (other than how it had started).  But I knew I had forgotten something. What was it?

It wasn’t until we left the harbor and we headed in to the open water that I remembered what I forgot, but it was too late. You see, I get really, really, REALLY motion sick.  And it started.  We had traveled out in the Indian Ocean about 2.5 miles and then stopped. We were all handled fishing rods and told to drop the lines to the bottom. Immediately fish were on Chloe’s and my line and up we successfully caught 8” fish. I did that once, and then things started to spin.  I moved in to the shade and sat down in the breeze. I was in a full body sweat. My head was sweating and even my upper lip and I knew I wasn’t going to make it.  I moved to the front of the boat to get more breeze and see the shoreline and tried to regroup.  What was I thinking? This was my idea to go Deep Sea Fishing!  How could I have forgotten such an important thing!

I didn’t want to tell Ian how sick I was getting for fear of ruining this great adventure.  It turns out we were only fishing for bait at that stop and soon we were heading back out to the open sea.  The swells were high as we crashed into and over each wave.  After 15 minutes of debating if I could call a helicopter to be evacuated or if I could just jump in the water and sink or swim (didn’t care which at that point), I went to the skipper and asked how much farther were were going.  He said, “Only another 9 miles out to sea”. I panicked.

He, and my family saw my panic and he gave me a anti-nausea pill.  Chloe was looking “green around the gills” too and so she took one too.  Fast-forwarding to the end of this terrible morning, by 7:30AM I was begging God to take me home.  Spencer and Ian were reeling in big Dorado fish (Mahi Mahi), I was power puking off the side of the boat and Chloe was curled up in the fetal position trying to “find her happy place.”   

The adventure was to last until 2PM, but we were back on shore by 10:08AM, much to my joy (and thanks to the understanding men in our family).  Oh my, my, my we were SO SICK.  But we have some great fish to show for it and will be eating it at dinner tonight (if I ever get this blog posted).

Near the end of the day I got a message on my phone from a Child Protection Police officer. He message read, “Good afternoon Janine.  We have yet another discovery of a dumped baby who has been rushed to the hospital.  Do you sill have space at the El Roi Baby Home?”

My reply was, “Yes, we hope to always have room for babies that you find dumped”. 

We are awaiting the details of this newborn baby, our first of 2014.

So, how do the snakes in our house, the hookworm in Esther’s foot, the adventure at sea and a newborn baby possibly all fit together?  It’s easy.  If we were too afraid of snakes to have said “yes” to this calling (and I HATE SNAKES!), I wouldn’t have had the privilege of receiving the phone message about a dumped baby. While I am totally grossed out by Esther’s hookworm (and may have wanted to cut my own foot off), we have an awesome Nurse Practitioner who said “yes” to the calling on her life and she can treat Esther and do another “teaching” on the importance of wearing shoes outside (oh, and we have shoes for all of them – we are blessed).  If we had said “no” to God’s calling on our life we wouldn’t have had the amazing opportunity to drive to Durban, stay on the beach and go Deep Sea Fishing in the Indian Ocean.  Sick or not sick, I got to be a part of a really cool adventure that our family will not soon forget.  And, at the end of the day, I got a message about a baby whose day was much worse than mine, and yet I could be a part of making his/her day better.

It’s January 2014 and we all are starting a new year.  I pray that you will not let your fears, your phobias or your excuses rob you of the huge blessings that the Lord has in store for you because you are thinking about saying “no” to what HE is asking you to do.  Today was a great day in my life – not an easy one, but another great one. I am so very thankful that we said “yes”.  You will be too.

Live from South Africa … it’s Saturday evening and time to eat Mahi Mahi.



  1. Janine - you are such an inspiration and always see the positive. I look forward to your posts. I will see Strib in a few weeks in Seattle, so excited about this! Happy New Year to you all! Keep up the amazing work - Amy

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