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Saturday, October 18, 2014

$55,000 USD literally blew away.

 I did not grow up on a farm, but I always felt great empathy when I would watch the news and see farms wiped out because of not enough water, or too much water, or too many insects or even a hail or wind storm. I saw the despair in the eyes of the farmers, but it was not until this week that I felt that first hand.

On Thursday night as I was letting the dogs out of their pen I looked up at the sky, pulled out my phone and took a photo.  It was black and luminous, and while I LOVE a good storm (especially sitting on my patio in Africa!), the sky didn’t tell me that a friendly storm was on its way.  I quickly finished up outside and only minutes after I got inside did the rain start coming in horizontally, across a 15 ft verandah/patio, to our glass doors.  Seconds later our heavy, teak patio furniture was flying across the deck and on to the ground, only to be plummeted with large marble sized hail.  

Looks like Canada!
All six dogs were freaking out and desperate to get inside, and all ran past me when I opened the door to let the little ones in.  I am a journalism major so am usually quite quick to take photos of things happening, but also Ian is in the US this week so I needed to take photos because he might not believe what I was seeing.

The storm lasted about 30 minutes and then the rain subsided.  Amazingly the electricity was still on and our phones worked.  I sent a message out to all the supervisors or building representatives on the farm to see if everyone was okay.  It seemed there were no human injuries so I called William to meet up with him to assess the situation on the farm. By the time I reached the bottom of our mountain I met Stanley (our Farm Manager) and the Farm Supervisors. They all shook their heads at me and said, “Janine, the crops are all gone”. 

Now, when they said “gone” I thought they meant “destroyed/broken/unrepairable”, but they really mean “GONE”, as in the “blew away”.  The sun had gone down and another storm was forming quickly so William hopped on the back of my ATV and we went up to check the baby and toddler home.  There were six broken windows in the baby home and three broken ones in the infirmary, where we had four sick babies at the time the storm hit. Thankfully, no one was injured, even though the whole infirmary is covered in broken glass. Thank you Jesus for your protection.

Torrential rains started, I drove William back down to the farm then headed back up to our house.  I was absolutely drenched when I finally got inside and I even had 2 inches of water INSIDE my rubber boots.  I was a sight for sore eyes … but I don’t think the dogs noticed.

Early the next morning I drove around the farm to get a more thorough report to send to Ian, and our Board of Directors, who are having their Annual Board meeting this weekend. The dairy and cows were unharmed, in fact we even got a new calf the day of the storm.  But the fields were bare, as if they had never been planted.  We have been doing rotational crop farming so that we always have crops being planted and always have vegetables being harvested.  This allows us to provide year-round employment for 100+ people just through the agriculture program on Project Canaan. 

Friday was a dark day, and when the workers arrived at work, 70 of them were told that we didn’t have any work for them because there was nothing to pick.  Up until Thursday night we had been picking literally tons of green beans every week and we were just ready to start harvesting our mini-vegetables (zucchini and squash), but now there was nothing to pick, and the “pickers” were sent home.    Each of those 70 workers is responsible for at least 13 dependents at home, that means a minimum of 910 people may/will not have food until we have crops ready to pick again in 4-6 weeks.

On Thursday night, in 30 minutes, $55,000 USD blew away on Project Canaan, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.  On Friday the workers who kept their jobs started pulling up all the drip irrigation tape so that the land can be ploughed and we can start planting again on Monday.  The cost just to replant all of the fields is more than $11,000 USD, but the bigger loss is the profit that we would have generated by selling the vegetables – with 100% of the profit that goes DIRECTLY back into buying baby diapers, baby formula, providing care for our 76 abandoned babies. 

Our goal is to be self-sustainable by the year 2020 so that we can provide all that is needed to run Project Canaan and the Children’s home, without outside help.  We want to be able to provide for ourselves, but this week it seems that we took two steps forward, and three steps back.

Now, that being said, I am a firm believer that ONLY God can make it rain and only God can make hail.  For that matter only God can make a green bean or a mini-zucchini.  He has provided all that we have to this point and each and every time we have been in need, HE HAS provided, often even before we knew we were in need. He is El Shaddai, and we give thanks.

In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in the Message bible says, "Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you to who belong to Christ Jesus to live."  Sheesh!

I won't lie and say that I do that all the time, but when I know that ONLY HE could create the weather that took away that income generation both for Project Canaan and for our workers, I choose to give thanks for how HE will provide.  I don't know how He will do it, but I know that He will.

Africa ain't for sissies.

Live from Swaziland … I will praise Him through this storm.


PS – If you are able to help us with rebuilding our crops and helping us provide for our children we would greatly appreciate any assistance you can give.   

In the US please give here. 

In Canada please go to:  

Please put "Farm Emergency Fund" in the comment section.  

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Speechless. Thank you for serving a God who is bigger than the storm!