|Celebrating Megan's 1st birthday on September 15, 2015.|
Saturday, August 27, 2016
On Thursday afternoon we lost our beautiful baby Megan to PCP pneumonia (Stage 4 AIDS related pneumonia). It is a deadly and unforgiving form of pneumonia that takes the lives of almost everyone that it attacks, both young and old. When Megan first came to us she was very tiny and very sick. At 2-months-old she was fighting HIV, tuberculosis and severe malnutrition. In isolation for many months, our medical team and Aunties worked tirelessly to keep her stable while dealing with feeding tubes, fevers, mal-absorption, thrush and a myriad of other issues.
On Monday morning she, along with her ten brothers and sisters (who are HIV positive), were on their way to see the specialist at the Baylor Pediatric AIDS clinic for their monthly checkup and medication. They noticed Megan’s breathing was becoming a bit labored and the doctor was very concerned, sending Megan directly to the local private hospital to be assessed. She was admitted immediately and the testing began.
By the next morning we were told that she was in kidney and heart failure. WHAT?!? How could this be? It was the dreaded PCP pneumonia. PCP - three little letters that are a secret code for “almost certain death”. I did not know that at the time, but I do now. But we prayed and we hoped and we prayed some more. Only a few hours later she was put on a ventilator to help with her breathing and take some extra strain off her little body.
Wednesday came and went with reports of septicemia, acidosis and still no urine. But Thursday morning had a better report. They were starting to wean her off the ventilator and thought it would come out completely by Friday! We were assured that she was not out of the woods, but that she was heading in the right direction. I quickly sent out an update to our Boards of Directors and 30 minutes later I got a call from Helen, who had stopped by the hospital.
Megan was dead.
I was not prepared for those words. None of us were.
Megan is no longer suffering. There will be no more anti-retroviral medication and no more feeding tubes. There will be no more physical therapy to help with her mobility (or lack of) and no more exercises to help build muscle in her legs so that one day she could stand on her own. And there will be no more tickling, no more clapping hands and no more birthday cake.
Megan was born on September 15, 2014 and shared her 1st birthday with Ian (also September 15th). Next month there will be one less cake and our little Megan will be deeply missed.
Live from Swaziland … this isn’t getting any easier.
Thank you for the many prayers, condolences and expressions of love on Facebook, by email and elsewhere. If you would like to help us cover the costs of Megan’s hospitalization or the emergency medical costs for any of our children, you can do so by clicking here for the US link and here for the Canadian site. Thank you.
Saturday, August 20, 2016
I find myself crying a lot these days when I sit with Ian at night watching TV. It’s like I am on overload and don’t know how to “de-frag” my brain or put my world on hold for a time. But in the morning I go down to the Children’s Campus and am refueled again as I see babies walking whom we thought would never walk. Or children laughing whom we thought may never laugh again. And then I get a call about another child and the horrific situation that they are in, and my heart sinks and the tears need to be held back until the child is safely at Project Canaan and I am home on the couch again.
We received eight babies in ten days over the past two weeks (!). That means we now have 135 children whom we are legal guardians for until they finish High School. We also have 20 babies who we do not have any funding for. That is a shortfall of $4,500 each and every month. So, really, I only need 100 of the 1,000+ people who are going to read this blog this week to sign up to give $45 a month to cover them all. OR maybe 45 of you could sign up to give $100 a month? Or, maybe you would like to make a one-time donation of $2,700 to cover the cost for a whole year? I don’t know how the Lord is going to provide for His children, but I pray He does (and does it quickly!).
Each of these new babies who arrived has a story worse than the one before. One little girl is HIV positive, but because her mother dumped her with strangers at 3-months of age, she was never started on treatment. No one knows her name or when she was born so we “threw a dart” and gave her a birth date of December 17th and we are calling her Margie. Can you imagine … she is living with strangers for five months and they didn’t know her name or age? They guessed that she was 3-months-old when they got her.
Another baby was dumped in a pit latrine on a Sunday and not found until the following Thursday! Can you imagine, a newborn baby girl, lying in human waste for FIVE DAYS???? No water, no food, no clothes, only darkness, and many years of urine and feces. AND she lived! And she is only had a few bruises and a bit of swelling on her face! A MIRACLE for sure.
|Five days in a pit latrine and she looked this good!|
And then there’s the drought that I keep talking about. Everywhere we go there is such a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. I feel guilty when I take a shower that I think is too long and wish that we could water the grass at the baby home campus so that the children aren’t playing in dirt. But then we go out to the community to see elderly people who take all day to walk to and from a nearly dry river to get a bit of water for cooking.
So this week I am struggling. I am struggling because I miss Spencer and Chloe who seem to be a million miles away in Canada and the US. I am struggling because I feel like I am always asking for money on Facebook and from my blog readers. I am struggling because I wonder when our Boards of Directors are going to tell me that I am not allowed to bring any more babies to Project Canaan. I am struggling with the tuberculosis that we are dealing with on a daily basis. I am struggling because I am a “fixer” and this can’t be fixed. With the drought upon us, every government person or police officer or hospital worker that I speak with says things are going to get worse before they get better.
And then I go back to the Word of God and see that I really am blessed and should not be carrying these burdens because Matthew 5:1-12 in the Message bible says,:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”
Live from Swaziland … He carries me.
PS – we are getting a 2-month-old baby on Monday.
Canadian monthly donor page.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
I fear that you are tired of hearing about the drought, but I beg you to read just one more blog on this topic and hear about a “short term solution” that we have found to help some of the neediest people.
Yesterday’s national newspaper announced that the country’s Capital of Mbabane (which has been on water rationing for many months) will be going to the level of rationing. Starting today, people living and working in the Capital will have their water turned OFF for FOUR days, and then turned back on for two days. Off again for four days, on for two, until the rains come. Think of the implications this has for hygiene, health, business and life. BUT, if there is no water, there is no water.
Project Canaan still has water in dam #2, which means our borehole still has water, but the dam is shrinking daily. We have had the property surveyed and we are told that there is no water to be found, so drilling another bore hole is not an option. Bringing the water down from the mountain springs at the top of our mountain is the only solution that we see, so we expectantly wait for the Lord to provide the $800,000 US needed to do that.
But, while we wait on him, we have to help those in greatest need in our own surrounding community… the elderly and the orphan headed households. Today I want to share our plan with you.
We have hired a young man, who will work 6-days a week with the Community Health Motivators to identify the people in greatest need. Every day they are identifying people literally dying of thirst because they have no water or starving to death because there is no firewood to cook with and/or no food to cook.
|Drought Relief Food Pack|
We have created a Drought Relief Food Pack for only $75 US or $100 CDN and will feed a family of 1-3 people for a full month, including food delivery and follow up. The pack includes 22 pounds of rice, 22 pounds of maize flour (the staple here) 22 pounds of onions, 11 pounds of sugar beans, salt, cooking oil, soap, sugar, soup mix, 60 eggs, 4 cabbages, candles and matches.
For the families where there are children, we will distribute Feed My Starving Children Manna Packs. Where there is no access to water or firewood, we will take wood and water from Project Canaan.
Our desire is that we can visit each of these families monthly to encourage them, pray with them and deliver food. Our hope is that we can do this until the rains come and the next crop is harvested in April 2017. We need to help people get through the next nine months (praying that the rain comes).
Matthew 25:34-40 says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Will you help us today?
You can buy a Drought Relief Food Pack in the US by clicking here.
You can buy a Drought Relief Food Pack in Canada by clicking here.
Live from Swaziland … giving thanks for His provision.
Saturday, August 6, 2016
The last few week’s blogs have been very heavy, so today I will attempt a bit of levity with some really awesome news about making lemonade out of lemons (or, to be exact, ceramic beads out of the mud from a drought-parched dam).
In 2005 I met an interesting newlywed couple – Jere and Janet Scott. They traveled on an 11-day service trip with us from their home church in Hawaii. Every year since then Jere and Janet have come to Africa to serve with us, in each and every country we have served in (Malawi, Kenya and Swaziland) spending as many as six weeks a year by our sides. Oh the stories that they could tell (and do)!
In 2010 when we were just getting started on Project Canaan Jere told us that we needed a carpentry shop so that we could not only build everything that we need out of wood, but also start our vocational training program. It was built in no time and Jere outfitted it with all of the equipment that was needed to build our cribs, bunk beds, roof trusses, cupboards and now new for 2016 … awesome wooden Christmas ornaments!
Last year Jere and Janet shipped a pottery wheel and kiln over in our UPS container, not knowing that a year later we would not be able to buy local handmade ceramic beads from our local supplier (yes, God’s timing is always perfect). They decided to provide the funds to build a “pottery barn”, which was ready for them when they arrived this year.
For the past six weeks the Scott’s, joined by their travel-partners-in-crime (Jane and Frank Tauanuu and Mark and Lisa Hackett), they have worked tirelessly to get the pottery barn set up and ready to make beads, bowls, ornaments etc and train young Swazi’s to continue the work.
Of course, nothing is easy here. As soon as they fired the kiln, all four of the coils fried making the kiln unusable L . But they were not defeated. Off they went to South Africa for a brutally long day and they were able to order a new kiln that is being made will be here in a few more weeks (sadly, after they leave on Tuesday).
In the meantime, Jere (or McGyver as you might call him) “whipped up” a Raku kiln made out of wire mesh, a ceramic heat blanket (left over from Ian’s pizza oven) and a weed-burner (aka blow torch). The first test got the kiln up to a temperature 1,835F when they were glazing their first round of pottery!! Not one word of a lie.
When the new kiln arrives we will start making our own ceramic beads out of Swazi clay, straight from dam #1, which has gone dry due to the drought. Beauty from ashes? Lemonade from lemons? Absolutely.
These products will be will be part of the Khutsala Artisans treasures and will be branded “SwaziMUD”, which seems like an appropriate name for this new product line (thank you Kim Evinsky!). We are in the throws of building a new and incredible website for our Khutsala product (that Canadians will be able to order from too!!!), but if you are looking a gift item or want to start your Christmas shopping early, please feel free to go to http://www.heartforafrica.org/NewOnlineStore.aspx and shop today! If you want to be a part of our sales team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are thankful for all who come to volunteer with us, whether it’s for an 11-day trip, six weeks every year, or move for a life-time. We are especially thankful for Jere (who turns 83-years-old this month) and Janet for showing us all how to serve the Lord with determination, purpose and joy. You are an inspiration to us all.
Live from Swaziland … I am excited about SwaziMUD!