On May 31st, 2012 the Maxwell family boarded a plane and moved to Swaziland to live at Project Canaan. I hope to update my blog on Saturday mornings and share, as honestly as I can, the highs and lows of our life in Africa. We are living on a farm in a remote part of this tiny Kingdom and are serving the community as well as the orphans and vulnerable children of the nation. The 365 day count down started on June 1st, 2011, but the real journey begins now. Thanks for joining us.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015
Sometimes, love hurts.
Samuel and his new baby sister Samantha
This week I got a call from Social Welfare and I greeting
him with, “How are you?”.His
response was, “Not good mom, I am not good”.That is a fairly common answer when he calls me, because he
is not calling with good news … ever.
He asked me if I remembered a baby who was placed with us by
the police in 2013 and he gave me the surname.Yes, I knew that baby, it was Samuel.Samuel’s father was a refugee from the
Congo and his mother was a Swazi woman who was a drunkard and kept leaving
Samuel in the market, on the side of the road or wherever she placed him in a
I remember getting the call from the police asking if I
could come and help at the police station because it was 5PM and they had a man
who didn’t speak English or siSwati, but he was asking them to take his baby
whom his girlfriend had left in the town market.(Up until that time I didn’t travel with a diaper bag and
formula at all times, but because of that day I do now).The baby was screaming from hunger and
the cloth that was wrapped around his waist was soaked.The police said that they had to
investigate this situation, but I could I just take the baby for the night and
help them out? I did, and took
Samuel home to be bathed, fed and loved.
Samuel - November 2013.
The next morning I was called by the police to say that the
mother had arrived at the police station frantically looking for her baby. She
was sobbing and wanted him back so badly.Lori Marschall was with me and we got in the car and “returned” the
baby.The mother was given a stern
warning by the police, we prayed for the safety of the baby and handed him
over, truly fearing for his life.
Returning Samuel to his mother.
One week later Samuel’s mother left him on the side of the
road near Manzini and ran away (not to be seen again for many many
months).The baby was placed back
in our care permanently and the refugee father signed the papers putting the
child in to our care.
That was the baby that the Social Welfare officer was asking
me about.And the reason he asked
was because Samuel’s mother had just been found again living on the street,
this time with a 9-day old baby girl.She was reported to the police and together they went to the homestead
to investigate the situation and see if they could find a family member who
could take the baby and help the mother.
Sadly, they learned that this 33- year old woman had lost
both her parents when she was young, and had been raised by her paternal Grandfather,
but also that had spent most of her life living on the street or going from man
to man for food, and love.She is
HIV positive and this baby girl was her 7th child: two are dead, two
are living with the Great Grandfather, one is living with his biological
father’s family and Samuel is living at Project Canaan.
I drove to town later that day and met with the mother and
an Uncle, who was very unhappy about the woman’s behavior and begged for our
help.As we sat in a government
office (that was at least 90F), the Uncle and the police told story after story
of this woman’s life.The whole
time she sat quietly while tenderly caressing the baby’s tiny fingers and
examining the baby’s face for small flecks of dirt.She loves that baby.I brought my iPad with me with a Christmas photo of Samuel on it.I asked if it would be appropriate to
show her the photo and I was told “yes”.When the police officer showed the mother the current photo of Samuel,
she immediately broke down and wept.She loves her son.
Today is Valentines’ Day, which is not a day that is
celebrated around the world, but in North America there is a plethora of red
and pink hearts, fresh flowers, chocolate and lovely meals.It is a day that we are reminded to be
intentional about our love for others.It is a day that we celebrate love and the people whom we love.
The police, Social Welfare and the family of Samuel’s mother
truly believe that the best way to protect and LOVE the baby girl was for her
to be placed out of harms way and in to the loving care of the El Roi Baby
Home.We have named her Samantha. The mother will be getting a
tubal ligation (funded through my Compassion Purse) and we pray that she will
stay in the homestead where her other two children live, and not run away again
to a life of addiction, prostitution and hopelessness.I wish I could say that I am hopeful,
but there is nothing I can do for her.
As you celebrate your loved ones today, please remember
those who love, but are hurting.They are all around us, not just in Swaziland, but all over the
world.Today I am reminded that
Jesus is love, and He will never fail us even when people do.I hold on to that knowledge as I head
down to tell our babies and our Aunties how much I love them all.
Live from Swaziland … let us love one another.
PS – An important side note: women in Swaziland, no matter what their age, do not have the
right to choose a tubal ligation (having her tubes tied).In order for that to happen a Senior
male member of her family must go to the hospital and sign the papers stating
that the family agrees that she will no longer be having babies for the
family.I hope I don’t get in
trouble for writing this, but it's the truth.Some hospitals require a letter from a Doctor at a
Psychiatric Hospital saying that the mother is mentally insane, which is the
only “acceptable” reason for them to tie her tubes.We still have some work to do here.