Sign up to receive this blog by email

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Horror turned to joy



Just four days ago Eswatini was the hottest place on earth with temperatures as high as 44C / 111F, and then it dropped 40 F and has been cold and rainy for the past few days.  We go from dripping with sweat to being bundled up with long pants, socks and jackets!  But at least we don’t have any snow, so I won’t complain (much).

Gaby is (finally) home from the hospital and got to sit with Ian for graduation.
Our children just finished their school year which runs from the end of January to early in December, and yesterday we witnessed the Kindergarten graduation, which was amazing.  It wasn’t just the cheering squad of Aunties/Uncles/Big brothers that brought me joy, and it wasn’t just the understanding that some of them had worked SO very hard to pass this year’s tests, but it was the knowledge of where they came from and where they are today.

As I watched each child go up on stage to receive their graduation diploma my mind raced back to the first day I met them.  I vividly remembered the day that little girl was found in a plastic bag under a bush, having been there for two days after birth. I remember being in the operating room when that little one came out of her mother’s womb before the mother was taken back to the National Tuberculosis Hospital with multiple drug-resistant TB.  And that one over there was strangled at birth by her mother while in prison and a prison guard had to do CPR to bring her back to life – she still has a small scar on her neck where her mother’s finger nail dug in to her skin.

Each of our children have had unique and horrific beginnings, and each one is worse than the next.  But seeing the joy on their faces yesterday helped fade the memories of the past, and quickly fill my mind with joy and thanksgiving of all that God has done in their lives.  And it was a strong reminder of all that He has done in OUR OWN lives, having been given the privilege of serving the Lord through these children.  

Pure joy.
Heart for Africa has a really cool Gift Catelog this year designed for people who want to give an important Christmas gift that has long term effects.  You can give the gift of education for one of our children, or perhaps a pair of rubber boots to help them get to school through the ankle-deep mud, or maybe a few fruit trees that will provide healthy fruit for decades to come?  Please be sure to check out our catalog and share it with others. 

And don’t forget to shop at www.khutsala.com for the perfect African Christmas decoration or piece of jewelry. 

As you enjoy the Christmas season with friends and family, please consider making a year- end gift to Heart for Africa so that we can continue to have “room in our inn” for babies in desperate need.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ US Donors: http://bit.ly/2019YEGIVINGUS
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ CA Donors:  http://www.heartforafrica.ca/2019-year-end-giving/ ‎

Live from Eswatini …please watch our year end video and be encouraged.

Janine

Saturday, November 30, 2019

She gave her best to me.



Just before we left for the US our 7-year-old, Hannah, came up to me and asked to speak with me. We stepped away from the other children and she handed me a rock. She whispered, “This is a gift for you.”

And then she put another rock in my hand and said, “And this one is for Babe Ian.”

(Babe is pronounced Bah-bay and means “dad”).


Hannah knew that we were going to go away on a long trip and that we wouldn’t see each other for a long time, so she gave us a gift to remember her.

I gave her a big hug, thanked her, then got in my truck as quickly as possible so that no one could see the tears rolling down my face.

Her gift reminded me of the well-known Christmas song called “The Little Drummer Boy”, which tells the story of a young boy who is asked to come and meet a newborn King, and bring his finest gift. The child explains that he is a poor boy and doesn’t have a gift fit for a King, but suggests that he plays his drum, which is giving all he has.  Jesus (the newborn King) smiled at the boy. 

What if we were to be like children again and bring our very best to the Lord?  What does your drum look like?

Would it be stones found on the ground?  Would it be spending time with someone you love (or don't love)? Would it be a food basket to a family in need, or a car for a single mom? Would it be a year-end gift to Heart for Africa or another charity?  Are you giving Him your best this Christmas?

Gaby is still in the hospital after the 3rd surgery on her shoulder/arm.

As you start or continue your Christmas shopping I am asking you to perhaps spend a little less on people who already have so much, and make a small (or large) gift to children who have very little.  Our children may be poor in material goods, but they are rich in spirit and joy and love.  Your gift will help us welcome more orphaned, abandoned, broken, burned and hurting children to a place of HOPE. 

Miriam helping the smaller girls put the angel ornament with their name on it, on the tree.
Your gift will be matched up to $50,000.  Will you help us give the gift of LIFE today?

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ US Donors please click here.
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ CA Donors please click here.

If you would like to mail in a year end giving check/cheque please send to:

In the US:                                           
Heart for Africa                                   
PO Box 1308                                        
Roswell, GA 30077   

In Canada:
Charitable Impact Giving
1250 – 1500 W Georgia St                          
Vancouver, BC  V6G 2Z6
                                                                

Don't forget to shop at www.khutsala.com!  There are lots of sales on this weekend!

Live from Eswatini … it is 105F today, and not feeling very Christmasy!

Janine

Saturday, November 23, 2019

65 children moved today


Today is a big day for the children at Project Canaan. Every house has children leaving and new children coming in. Rosalie moved from Kuthula Place to the El Roi Baby home and eight babies moved up to the toddler home (and boy, are they ready to move!). 


Eight toddlers will leave the lower campus and move up to Emseni #1.  Then 12 little girls will move to Emseni #3 and four little boys will move to Emseni #2 (both from Emseni #1).  Three boys left Emseni #2  and moved up with the big boys at Emseni #4, and 28 big girls will move from Emseni #3 to the brand new, and beautiful Emseni #5!


Kuthula place now is home to 12 babies (4-days-old to 6-months-old).  The El Roi Baby home is now home to 38 babies (6-months to 18-months).  The Toddler home is now home to 41 x 2-year-olds and there are 163 children living up on the Emseni Campus. 

We received two new babies this week, both boys, both from tragic situations.  One of the boys was born on Tuesday and left in the forest, only to be found by strangers and taken to the police. The other baby is 2-months-old and his mother strangled his 3-year-old sister and dumped her body in to a pit latrine (outhouse), only to be found 8-months later.  Just when I think I have heard it all, a new story comes to us.


While we thoroughly enjoyed our 30-day trip to North America, I can’t adequately express how good it is to be home!  There is nothing like being mobbed by the sweetest little boys and girls and hearing stories from the older kids of things we missed.


We will be welcoming our last volunteer team of the year on Monday. They will be here to help us put up our Christmas tree, decorate the dining hall, ice cookies and wrap Christmas pajamas for our children.  Would you consider joining us next year at this time to celebrate HOPE with the children and staff at Project Canaan? There is no time like the present to start saving and planning! 

Don’t forget to check out www.khutsala.com for your Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping!  We have lots of beautiful new product that helps us continue to employee artisans and give them a hope for their future.

Live from Eswatini … Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends!

Janine


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thoughts from 30,000 feet in the air - what is the truth?

CTV Ottawa with Egg Farmers of Canada CEO, Tim Lambert

On October 16th Ian and I left the comfort of our home in Africa and headed to North America for a month-long journey to build awareness of what is happening in the Kingdom of Eswatini, the developments on Project Canaan and to raise money for the project to continue.

We have flown 26,000 miles (42,000 KM), visited 14 cities (sleeping in 14 beds), driven 1,200 miles (2,000 KM) in rented or borrowed cars, spoken to hundreds of people, answered a million questions,  eaten too many good meals and braved the snow/slush/blizzards of a Canadian winter.


The highlight of our trip was, without doubt, spending time with Spencer and Chloe. We got to see Chloe’s new student housing at Brock University and meet many of her close friends, and then got to witness Spencer graduate from Queen’s University (Smith School of Business) with a double Master degree in International Business and Marketing Management).  I am very proud to announce that Spencer was hired by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) in Chicago, and will fulfill his dream of becoming a Marketing consultant there.  We are so proud of both of our children.


Having two grown children studying marketing, we often find ourselves discussing our past lives in the marketing world, learning lots of new things from them and observing what hasn’t changed at all. The question of “The media vs. The message” came up the other day, and it made me reflect on our 30 day journey. Were people responding to the media (Ian and me) or to the message of HOPE that we were sharing.


In some ways the trip was disconcerting because it seemed that people looked at us as Super-heroes having given up a life of luxury to serve the poor, but nothing could be farther from the truth, and the truth is what we were trying to share.

The truth is, we were called to serve the poor and the oppressed, and there is nothing that gives us more joy than to do that.  The truth is that I was homesick for 30 days and can’t wait to land in Johannesburg in a few hours (we are on our last, 15-hour, flight).  We will stay overnight (the border from South Africa to Eswatini closes at 10PM so we have to stay in SA) and then get up in the morning, grocery shop and then make the 5-hour drive home, with hopes to see the children before they all settle in for their dinner and evening routines.  The truth is, I miss our little ones.

Thank you to my dad's family for coming and supporting us.

It’s not an easy road to travel, but one that I wouldn’t change for anything, but it is hard to straddle between a world of abject poverty and despair to the a land of riches and plenty, especially when many who have plenty still think they are poor.

I am thankful for everyone who came to meet us, greet us, hear us speak, share in our joys and our tears, made a financial gift and/or prayed with us.  You were all a blessing to us and we are leaving North America encouraged that there are some people who DO care about “orphans and widows in distress” (James 1:17)

Canadian friends Leslie and Fraser Wilkinson

Tuesday is my birthday and I have the privilege of sharing it every year with three of our children:  Rachel and Leah turn 7-years-old (their mother died years ago after a long fight with Tuberculosis) and Maxwell turns 5-years-old (he was abandoned on a railway line and came to us with the name “Maxwell” on his health card!). It will be a day of fun, lots of cake and pure joy and I can’t think of anywhere I would rather spend my birthday.

Today I am going to make a bold ask of you the reader. Would you consider making a donation in honor of our birthdays?  We have a year end matching gift of $50,000 right now so any donation you make will instantly be doubled. Many of you knew Rachel and Leah’s mom and perhaps would give $7 for each of the twins or $70 or $700?  You could give $5.00 or $50 or $500 in honor of Maxwell or his very name?  And I will turn 56-years old, so perhaps you would like to give $56?  Or $560?  Or even $5,600?



Every dollar that you give will be matched and go directly to helping us feed more children, rescue more babies, employ more people and educate the future leaders of Eswatini. HOPE – that is what we are all about.

Thank you for being on this journey with us.

Live from 30,000 feet above the earth … on our journey home.

Janine

Saturday, November 9, 2019

What if?


We are in Toronto this weekend … our old “stomping grounds”, and it’s weird.

I remember always wanting to live in Toronto because I thought it was the greatest city in the world. I loved the noise, the high-rise buildings, musical theatre, the speed of life, nice restaurants and skanky bars that we would visit to listen to live music.  I didn’t mind the traffic or the cold weather or the snow, I just loved Toronto.

But it seems I have changed.

I cannot express how happy I am to have our family together. Spencer flew in from Chicago, Chloe drove in from St. Catherine’s and Ian and I drove from Ottawa, after spending a few days visiting the Maxwell family and our friends from the Egg Farmers of Canada.  Nothing makes me happier than having the four of us together, anywhere in the world and for any amount of time.  But I am starting to get homesick.  I miss my little ones. I miss their squeals of joy, their never-ending chatter, their hugs, their innocence and I miss my Swazi friends and family. 

There is a purity of spirit that I feel when I am at Project Canaan, and while most people in the country are living in abject physical poverty, their internal joy overflows from their smiles to their words of encouragement and thanksgiving.  But I don’t see that in North America. 

As we have traveled the past 20 days to eight cities in Canada and the US, I can’t help but notice the poverty all around me. It’s not poverty of income or wealth, it’s a poverty of spirit.  I got in the elevator to get to the AirBnB that we are staying in and I greeted the people and they just looked away as if I was crazy.  Everyone is moving so quickly to get to the next thing on their schedule, but rarely taking the time to be present where they are (I too am guilty of that!). I’m not saying everyone is like that, and I am not doing a good job putting words to my thoughts, but I feel a sadness and emptiness here that I just don’t feel back in Eswatini.   

I often wonder “what if” we had said NO to this calling to serve “the least of these”?  I would never have seen the miracle of Princess walking or Holly and Ivy hearing or Jonathan being raised from the dead.  I would never have understood how “life-giving” fresh water really is or how terrifying fire can be or how often a chicken lays an egg (!).  But most importantly, I may never have learned that God IS our provider, His grace IS sufficient, and His mercy is new every morning.  I have learned that from living in Africa.

 

This weekend we will see friends from high school, our business days and our life in Toronto. There is no way for me to adequately explain the joy (or the sorrow) of living in Eswatini, but hopefully they will see it in our eyes and hearts.

To my Swazi friends and family – you have changed me, and I will be forever grateful for your patience, your kindness, your grace and your love.

Live from Toronto … I don’t miss the cold weather!

Good morning Ottawa.

Janine

 PS - if you want to come visit us tonight or tomorrow please check this link for times and locations. 



Saturday, November 2, 2019

Heading to Toronto with apprehension


Ian and I are on a 30+ whirlwind trip to raise awareness and funds for Heart for Africa and the work we are doing in Eswatini. We are half way through our travels and all has gone well to date.

Next weekend we will be in Toronto, our favo(u)rite city in the world .  We LOVE Toronto and are excited to be there with Spencer and Chloe, but it’s not without apprehension.

Here is why.

We have four different events on November 9th and 10th, and we have NO idea if anyone will attend them.

The first one is a gathering of high school friends from our Grenville Christian College (GCC) days.  While it is the school where Ian and I met, it has been under fire for many years by staff and students who consider it a cult.  The once popular boarding school has been closed for many years and there is a Class Action lawsuit against it by many former students who were really messed up and/or hurt during their time there.  Most high schools have regular alumni reunions, but GCC hasn’t because of the conflict amongst the alumni and, frankly, some of the memories that people may not want to face.  So … we are sticking our necks out by calling a gathering of GCC friends on Saturday, November 9th from 5:00 to 7:00PM at the Amsterdam Barrel house, which may be a total bust with only Ian, Spencer, Chloe and I sitting together (with our friend Sandy Dameron Carrington).   I hope our GCC friends will come and reunite.

After that event we are hoping to see old friends and business associates from our ONYX Marketing days, but again, those days were a long time ago and we kind of made a mess of things when we closed the company without warning. ONYX Marketing was a very successful Marketing Agency from 1988 to 2004. We had a great business model that attracted the best people in the marketing industry to come and work hard, and play hard, and yes we played very hard. And then I went to Africa, my life was changed and the whole thing came to a crashing halt. 

The Good old days
We haven’t had much contact with many people from the “good old days”, but again are sticking our necks out and inviting anyone and everyone who might be interested in seeing us and hearing about why we really did close our company and what we are doing with our lives now. Spencer and Chloe will both be with us for moral support J , but it might just be us with our friend Diane Wilson sitting at the Amsterdam Barrel House from 7PM to 9:30PM on Saturday, November 9th.  And that would be okay too.

The following day we are speaking at the Peoples Gospel Church (Chinese) at 11 AM, thanks to an invitation from our friend Annie Tam and then heading to the Ballantrae Golf & Country Club Recreation Centre in Stouffville from 2 PM – 4 PM with an open invitation to anyone who would like to come and hear about what we are doing in Eswatini and how we can get more Canadians involved.  We are thankful to Ray and Pat Stadnick and Leslie and Fraser Wilkinson, who are co-hosting the event, but it may just be the eight of us.

If you live in Canada and knew us from one of our past lives, and wondered “what ever happened to the Maxwell family”, please do join us at one of the locations we will be at in the GTA.  They will all be very casual and we won’t ask you for money (well, you never know πŸ‘€).   You can check out all the location details at this link.

Live from Minneapolis … it’s a cold (and FROSTY!) Saturday morning.

Janine

If you want to see what we are doing without joining us at an event in the GTA please go to www.heartforafrica.ca. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

It’s 3AM, I must be in Vancouver, Canada


We honored Robert Smucker with the Heart for Africa HOPE award at the Gala in Georgia.

Each October Ian and I land in Georgia and then begin a 30+ day, whirlwind fundraising trip around the US and Canada.  This year is no different.  We spent the past week in Georgia and just landed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for a weekend of family, friends and fundraising. 

I sometimes see people looking at me with a bit of pity that we have to fly around the country and ask people for money (aka fundraising) – who wants to do that?

But that’s not the way I see it. 

Our friends the Geiger's whom we haven't seen in 10 years!
Ian and I have the privilege of serving the Lord through the 252 children he has placed with us at Project Canaan and the people whom we serve with.  We also have the privilege of extending the invitation to you to be a part of the great work that HE is doing.  Why wouldn’t we love doing that?

Next week we head to San Antonio, Nashville, Minneapolis and Chicago, then on to Ottawa, Toronto, St. Catherine’s, Kingston, back to Atlanta and finally back to Johannesburg and home to Eswatini by the middle of November.

Serving the Lord isn’t always easy, but it is always an adventure. We are thankful for each and every person whom we will meet on this 30-day journey and for every person who helps us to reach our financial goals to be able to continue accepting children at Project Canaan. 

This past week we received a little baby girl, who we are guessing is around 6-months-old. Her mother left her in a Shebeen and the police were called to rescue the child.  We have given her the name “Kay” in honor (honour) of my Aunt Kay, who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 100 YEARS!  She was my mom’s oldest sister and she was a kind, loving, happy person who loved the Lord with all her heart and soul.  My prayer for baby Kay is that she will grow in love and faith to be a Godly woman like my Aunt was.

My mom on the left and Aunt Kay on the right (2005).
If you would like to sponsor baby Kay, please do so by clicking on a link below.



Live from Vancouver … I am going to bed.

Janine