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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thoughts on spiders, snakes, abandoned babies and Jesus

It's a rainy morning in Georgia and I am jet lagged, tired and a bit foggy, but I want to put my thoughts in writing while they are fresh. It seemed that it was a week of extremes (as always?), and I will write things here that may not help in our "recruitment" efforts, but maybe they will help us all with a deeper understanding of Jesus and His plans.

I just arrived home from 10 days in Swaziland where my dear friends and sisters (Lori Marschall, Janice Johnson, Bree Friedl and Annie Duguid) worked tirelessly to get the El Roi home for abandoned babies ready to open - and it is officially open now! What an amazing group of women they are.

We were blessed to have nine teams of visitors come to Project Canaan for 3 hour tours over five days. We welcomed senior members of several big hospitals, Police Child Protections services, Planned Parenthood, World Vision, Pastor and members from Mbabane Alliance church, the "Queen" called Inkhosikati LaMbikiza (who is the Patron of the home) and on the last day the Deputy Prime Minister of the country and twenty of his Social Welfare Officers who are responsible for OVC's in the country. It was glorious to show them all the Lord has done in only 2+ years at Project Canaan. Now we wait for government approval for us to receive babies and are praying for "Joshua" to arrive any day.

While the Lord is blessing the team at Project Canaan in unimaginable ways, it is not easy work. And it is not always safe. Many of us are quick to judge "Africans" and wonder why they don't just get up and work or why don't they just solve their own problems. But we can't even begin to imagine the basic challenges in day to day life.

Last week we stayed in the newly built (and beautifully modern) Lodge at the farm. We were staying were we were comfortable and could focus on the work. Here are some my thoughts on what we saw and experienced.

Spiders - First day there I got a large spider bite on my finger. It blistered, bled a bit and is now healing. Didn't really hurt, just a bit ugly. Haven't really seen many/any spiders, but I know they are there.

Snakes - Several days later Annie went to use
the bathroom (without her glasses on) and saw a frog on the bath mat. Well, the frog slithered away and she realized it wasn't a frog. After an emergency phone call to and visit from Kaleli we discovered it was a baby Puff Adder snake. Not good. Speaking of frogs - there are frogs everywhere ... think of the story of Moses and Pharoah. For those of you are now saying "oh, I won't ever go and serve there" or "I don't like spiders and snakes" I would like to say "NEITHER DO WE!" And I can assure you that the orphans and vulnerable children who we are called to serve don't like them either and don't have doors and windows that shut tight to keep them out. So, we suck it up, pray, and go.

Electricity - There was no electricity for the first few days of our stay. We were thankful for Peter getting up and putting on the generator so that we could have lights for a while at night and could eat with lights on. When the electricity did come back I was SO thankful because it was SO HOT at night and we were then able to use the ceiling fans (windows closed tight due to snake incounter).

Water - We don't have a water filtration system at The Lodge yet so we (Lori) had to boil all our water to drink, cook and even to wash our dishes. Simple? Yes. Time consuming? Definitely - but at least we had a gas stove to use for heat - we didn't have to go collect wood. Our water for showering and cooking comes from the bore hole in the farm and is pumped up to a 500,000L holding tank. We must always use it sparingly because when it runs out, it runs out. Speaking of running out - the dam that we must use to irrigate the crops is almost empty. Without rain the crops will die and our plans for a second and third crop (using drip irrigation) will not be possible. Water is life. Period.

Orphans - I was speaking with Pastor Mike, who is the newest member of the Project Canaan team. He delivers maize and Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) meals to our rural church partners. His heart broke as he told me about six very young children (5 different families) who live near him, right near our farm, and have lost their parents (that means 10 adults have died). He has little to give, but with the FMSC MannaPacks he can now feed them twice a week. His challenge? All the other little eyes who peek through the cracks in the wall longing to eat too. We will work on growing his feeding program soon.

Abandoned babies - oh yes, abandoned babies. Meeting after meeting we saw our Swazi brothers and sister lower their heads and shake them slowly as they shared story after story of young girls giving birth to premature or malnourished babies and then dumping them in the pit latrine, on the side of the road or in the garbage dump. It is a tragic situation of hopelessness. We heard of rape, incest and hunger driven prostitution. It is dirty, ugly and shameful, and no one really wants to talk about it. Can you blame them? But they exist and El Roi sees them (see Genesis 16:3) and He is asking us to care for them. Maybe he is asking YOU to care for them? EVEN if there are spiders and snakes and no filtered water and random electricity? Hmmm.

Jesus - He sees you and He loves you. He sees the abandoned babies and loves them just as much. That is why He calls us to "GO". He sees Kaleli and his team cry out for the rains to pour and He is the ONLY one who can make it rain. He sees Pastor Mike feeding the six young children who live near him and then He asks La Croix church to send 270,000 FMSC food packs to help. Jesus healed my spider bite quickly and protected Annie from the poisonous snake in her bathroom! Jesus invited each and every Swazi who came to visit to see His work and His glory. He gave us a beautiful place to stay, a roof over our heads, soft beds, fresh food, wonderful fellowship and best of all, His very presence. And He gets all the glory. Jesus is alive and well in Swaziland. Amen.

What are you worried about today? Are you worried about not having clean water to drink today or that taking a long shower might use up all the water? Or are you worried that you might see a poisonous snake in your room? Or are you afraid to go down the road in case you find an abandoned baby?

Matthew 6:25-34 Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
PS - yes I do realize that I had this scripture in my last blog. I thought it was worth repeating.

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Thank you for reading, praying and acting.