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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Please don’t feel sorry for our children.

Phayo and Mona Lisa are biological sisters and love each other dearly.
It used to bother me that people would tell us how they felt sorry for our children not being raised in a “normal home” and how sad it is that they can’t be adopted so that they could be loved “properly” by two parents.  No matter how we try to explain that they live in a Children’s Home where Ian and I are their mother and father and they have many loving Aunts and Uncles, it doesn’t deter their looks of pity and many “helpful suggestions” on how we can do things better.

I have been preparing a series of talks on “family” and “parenting” for our Care Team and came across an interesting article by an author called Theophanes that says, “Western Society seems to have this idea that there is only one type of family, that of the Nuclear form, which consists of a mother, a father, and children. This belief is an incredibly misinformed one as across the globe at any point in our social history there have been all sorts of views on what families are and how they should be composed”.

He goes on to explain the difference between Communal families (often tribal), Nuclear families (married parents and offspring), Polygamist families (Swaziland), Single Parent (everywhere) and Unrelated (gangs/street kids).

I know single parents who wouldn’t change their family structure for anything. I have friends who live with three generations of people in their home, and that is perfect for them.  And I know many divorced couples whom wish their family life had turned out differently, but there is now a new “normal” in which they raise their children.

Is one family style really better than another?  I think I was raised in the “perfect family” with a mom, a dad and only me.  But growing up I had people tell me how sorry they were for me that I had no siblings. I LOVED being an only child. :)

But now that I am mother to 164 children I have noticed an undercurrent in conversations I have with Westerners that our family here on Project Canaan is somehow “second best”, and I disagree.  The Lord is doing a “new work” here, and our children reflect that.  They are being raised in much of their culture, speaking their language and learning about the deep heritage that they come from.

Shirley and Christine
Our children are healthy (even the ones being treated for HIV/AIDS), strong, smart and even the most disabled child is loved and cared in a way that would be given to an “only child” in western culture.

Our Care Team are all “stay at home moms and dads”.  Our children are not distracted by electronics or an over active schedule.  They are loved by many in a large village, some whom they see once a year and some whom they see every day.  They play, fight, cry, whine, laugh and love, like any other “normal” kid. 

Little Wendy.
In today’s meeting with my staff I will ask the question “What makes a healthy home” and “What makes an unhealthy home?” Isn’t that really what we should be trying to achieve?  A healthy home environment filled with love, hope, inspiration, stimulation, discipline, joy, faith and Jesus at the core? 

Our family doesn’t look like your family. Our family doesn’t look like ANY other family.  We are unique, and like you, we were all placed in our families by our heavenly Father, who has great plans for our lives.  For that I will be forever grateful. 


Thank you all for being a part of our village.

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Live from Swaziland … I am off to a morning of games and fun with our big kids.

Janine

PS – Jonathan is still at the hospital, but he is responding to treatment and they do not think that he has TB.  They will discharge him when he weights 8.5 KG (18.9 pounds). Thanks for your continued prayers for him.

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