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Saturday, November 15, 2014

She bought 100 angel Christmas tree ornaments to put on her own Christmas tree?


I was recently chatting with a woman named Kirsten Ortiz who I learned has 81 Heart for Africa Christmas ornament angels on her Christmas tree, and nothing else other than lights.  I asked her why she would do that, and this was her response (shared with permission).  You will want to read to the end.


“In November of 2011, I stood in the unfinished kitchen of what was to be the El Roi Baby Home, imagining what this place was to become.  I imagined what it would look like with children in those rooms.  And at that moment, God tied my heart to Heart for Africa and to Project Canaan.  I came home from that trip changed and would never go back to being the same person.

Anyone who knows me, knows that among the things I love most in this world, family, children and Christmas are at the top of my list.  I have always loved Christmas and decorated early…like seriously early.  I usually decorate in October, but have been known to start in September.  November would just be unheard of!  But things were different after my trip to Africa when I saw how little people in other parts of the world had and a struggle in my heart began.  How could I buy bows, lights, stockings, and other Christmas knick-knacks when there were babies on the other side of the world who needed that money to pay for their formula and diapers?  I could choose to spend less on me, and more on them.  Christmas of 2011 was painful, as it often is for someone who has been on a mission trip when they try to process all that they saw and learned.

By Christmas of 2012, El Roi had opened and 22 precious babies called it home.  I had been praying for these babies by name with my daughter.  That year I was overwhelmed when my sweet six year-old daughter decided firmly that she did not want to receive presents, but instead wanted people to donate money to the baby home.  Our 2012 family Christmas picture reflected the changes taking place in our hearts.


I traveled back to Africa in the spring of 2013 and the struggle I wrestled with grew stronger.  How do I balance my life here in America with the great needs there in Africa?  I can’t forget the things I have seen and I can’t un-know the tragedies and horrors I have learned about.  God will hold me responsible for what I do with this knowledge.  We had already simplified our lives in many ways so that we could help others simply live.  So, when Heart for Africa announced in September of 2013 that the Swazis working in the Khutsala Artisans Shop had made angel Christmas ornaments, it was clear to me what I should do.  Since I simply love Christmas and God had placed on my heart the children of Project Canaan (which by the time Christmas rolled around was now 47 precious lives), I needed to buy one angel ornament to represent each child.  I placed an order for 60 ornaments figuring it allowed for additional babies and was beyond excited.  Then only days after I ordered the ornaments, my heart broke as I read that Solomon had passed away.  When the ornaments arrived, I decided that I would add a nametag for each child.  That year my mother graciously let me put my angels on her tree and I knew I couldn’t leave Solomon out so I put his angel ornament at the top of the tree.  My daughter amazed me again by asking for donations to the new toddler home instead of presents.


Well, the babies kept coming in 2014, and our family has continued to pray for each child who calls Project Canaan home….all 81 of them.  As we near Christmas of 2014, I have already decorated of course.  I have fewer decorations than I did years ago, and the ones I have are more meaningful to me.  But the decorations most meaningful are my angel ornaments.  They bring me joy in the spirit of Christmas, and I also feel blessed to know that the money spent on them served a double purpose in providing income for hard working Swazis and funds for the baby home.  We ordered another 40 ornaments this year, and I’m hoping that will be enough!  Our tree is covered in reminders of the precious lives that God has seen and protected there in Swaziland.  As I stand and look at our tree with these reminders, I close my eyes and remember standing in the baby home, empty, yet God had plans to fill it.  And my eyes fill with tears and my heart fills with joy as I prepare to go and meet these children in a few months.  I am just in awe of the God we serve and His perfect plans for all these little lives and the lives of all who are connected to them.  I am grateful for the obedience of His servants who have supported Heart for Africa and these children.  And I am in love with a Savior who died for me and all the other sinners in this world.  This is Christmas to me.”

I have been inspired by Kirsten and her family and have decided to put a Christmas angel ornament on our Christmas tree on Project Canaan, with each with a child’s name on it, just as the Ortiz family has done.


If you would like to purchase an angel ornament for a specific child, please put that child’s name in the Comment section when you shop.  Each year we will add angels as more children come to us.  When the children grow up and leave Project Canaan, they will be able to take their angel with them.  You are also welcome to send that child a Christmas card in the mail, which will also go in their treasure box.  The address is:  Heart for Africa, PO Box 433, Lobamba, Swaziland H107.

Now, doesn’t that make you want to start shopping and also order a few ornaments for friends and family?

Order yours on line by clicking here.

Live from South Africa … I am almost home from my 2.5 week journey to Asia!

Janine

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