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, April 4, 2015
Baby Shirley is home in Swaziland. Gogo Shirley is home in heaven.
Baby Shirley at 6-months old after surgery.
This blog is based on a eulogy that I wrote for Shirley Ward’s
funeral on Thursday of this past week. It’s a story of incredible “coincidence”,
or “fate” or “God’s plan” – depending on how you see things. I personally see the hand of God in this situation.
I want to tell you a story.
A story of two people
named Shirley, both of who were chosen by God to make a difference in the
world.It is a story of hope from
hopelessness and one that will be told for generations to come.
The first person we
will call “Gogo Shirley”.Gogo
Shirley is our friend, our sister, our mother, our Grandmother and our Great
Grandmother whom we celebrate this day.
The second person we
will call “Baby Shirley”.
The very day
that Gogo Shirley was taken to Durban, was the very day that a little
baby girl was picked up at the Mawelawela Woman’s Prison and sent to live at
the El Roi Baby Home.We named
this little one “Baby Shirley” because she had just survived the fight of her
life, and we wanted to give her a strong name and a namesake who was a
Jesus-loving, God-fearing, prayer warrior.We named her after Gogo Shirley Ward.
Gogo Shirley in July 2014 at the official opening of the El Rofi Medical Clinic.
This little baby had a
horrific start to life.Her young
mother was filled with hopelessness and decided to dump her newborn baby in to
a pit latrine after giving birth on September 10, 2014.Six hours later the mother went back to
check on the baby only to find her still alive, so then she threw in fire on
top of Baby Shirley to try to kill her.Someone heard the small baby’s cry and ran to her rescue, and because of
that person, Baby Shirley lived.
Baby Shirley at 6-weeks before surgery.
injuries were extensive and she spent 6-weeks in a government hospital fighting
for her life.When she came to the
El Roi Baby home she struggled to breathe and ended up in hospital with
pneumonia several times because food would go down in to her lungs.
We know that Gogo
Shirley prayed tirelessly for Baby Shirley, and the Lord heard her prayers.Baby Shirley was taken to the US for
surgery and care.She is alive and
well, and even thriving after her life-saving, life-giving surgery.
Baby Shirley was being
loved and cared for by complete strangers who claimed her as their own and
worked diligently to save her life, while Gogo Shirley was being loved and
cared for by her own family who did everything in their power to help extend
But God’s plans are
not always our plans.It is He who
gives life, and it is He who takes life away. He has numbered our days and it
Is He who decides when we are to be taken home.
And do you know
what?The very day that
Gogo Shirley went “home” to be with the Lord was the very day that Baby
Shirley came “home” to Swaziland to live at the EL Roi Baby home again.
This story is one of
so many stories that each of us could share about seeing the hand of God on
Shirley Ward’s life.
Shirley who met with Cindy Van Wyk and told her we were looking to buy some
land, which eventually became Project Canaan.
Shirley who sat for hours (or days) on end in government offices to try to
determine the process for opening a home for abandoned babies.
Shirley who met the Social Welfare Officer who brought the first baby, Joshua,
to the El Roi Baby home.
Shirley who answered phones, ran to the bank, anointed babies with oil, cried
when babies died, cheered when babies were rescued, called the Inkhosikati when
we needed help, met with government leaders and pastors to make sure that the
orphans of the Kingdom were allowed to attend Litsemba.
Shirley delivered food to families in need and to our partner homes.Shirley reconciled accounts, handled
accounting and paid bills.
was a mighty warrior with a sharp sword and an army of angels behind her.
Shirley, you were a
great friend, an incredible role model and have changed the face of
Swaziland.You will be greatly
Your name will be
known to all of the children at Project Canaan and your strength, your
fortitude and your faith will remain with all who live in the city on the hill
that you helped build.You
Shirley’s family had a service in her honor on Thursday, and
her ashes will be returned to Swaziland where she will be buried on Project
Canaan when we arrive back at the end of April.
All that can be said now is “Well done, good and faithful
Live from Georgia … He is risen indeed!Happy Easter everyone.