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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ditched baby update and some "first world problems".

We have just finished our first full week living in Swaziland.  It was a lot harder than “planned”.  I am a great planner, and you would think that since I have spent 150+ weeks in Africa over the past nine years that I would know that things never work out here the way I plan them, but alas, I had higher expectations, and my own expectations created a bumping landing here in Swaziland.

First, the good news; if you read my May 23rd blog you will remember the story of the young girl who gave birth to a baby and dropped it in the ditch only to be caught by police and put in jail for abandoning her child.  Well, it didn’t quite happen like that, in fact after the young mother abandoned the baby she ran away so that the police wouldn’t catch her and put her in jail.  The family promised the hospital to come for the baby, but they never did.  I dropped in to the hospital on my first day here to check on a different baby (a newborn who had been found in a bag up in a tree) and instead I found the little one whom we thought had been taken home by the family, as promised.  After a good conversation with a very helpful doctor and a wonderful Social Work Department we were able to bring the 4-month-old baby back to El Roi while the police continue to search for the mother and/or settle whether the family does want to keep the child or not. 

Spencer was with me when we drove in to pick up the baby boy (who we will call “David” for now since he is not in our permanent care yet).  The Social Worker took us to her office and we passed by two tiny little bundles sitting on the chair outside her office.  It was a set of twins, maybe a day old.  I asked the Social Worker what their story was and she told us that the babies’ mother had been raped by her own father.  The twins were a result of the rape.  The man had been charged and was given 27 years in prison, which is excellent and very uncommon here in Swaziland.  Incest is considered private and rarely goes to public court and is almost never settled in public court, so this is good news.  The Grandmother of the babies (who could be the mother of the girl or could be another wife of the man) has offered to raise the babies.  I am not convinced that this will work out, but we will keep tabs on it.  Sorry that was all so confusing.

As Ian, Spencer, David and I headed back to El Roi I received a call from Helen Mulli who said we had just received ANOTHER baby from a different hospital.  The hospital Social Worker and people from the Social Welfare Department stopped in unannounced with a little 3-week-old child.  His name is Jeremiah and he was found abandoned at a bus stop in Mbabane at the age of one week.  He had been in hospital for two weeks and now El Roi is his home. We now have seven babies under the age of one year, and they are all doing very well.  By all accounts this was a great start to my first week living in Swaziland.

So why is it then that I let the rest of the week fall apart?  The container we shipped two months ago had landed here weeks ago with our furniture, clothing, food, beds, towels, sheets and every other earthly thing we could have shipped, but was stuck in red tape at customs.  Our house, which we are building on Project Canaan and which was to be completed in April, is not finished.  After talking, pleading, crying (and some gnashing of teeth) we finally moved in on Thursday, only to find toilets overflowing (or not working), no hot water in some rooms, doors with no keys, workers all over the place looking in windows with no curtains, and worst of all, there is not a single electrical plug (or mirror for that matter) in ANY of our bathrooms.  We have since learned that it is against fire code to put them in bathrooms in Swaziland.  Sigh.   I thought I was going to have a stroke.  We couldn’t get people to understand the urgency of getting settled so that we could get on to the work we were here to do OR to get Chloe in her new school (having showered and with clean clothes!).

Side note:  For those of you in the mission field I know you are cracking up at this, but for those of you in your comfy homes, a little empathy is much appreciated.  J

It was at some point on Thursday, when Lori Marschall and Jana Franz arrived to help get The Lodge ready for our Summer Interns, that I realized I was really tired of hearing myself complain.  I was also disappointed in myself that I couldn’t be more “go with the flow” now that I live in Africa and even more disturbed that all these comforts were so very important to me.  It seemed that I am happy to serve Jesus, but not until all my boxes are unpacked, the toilet works and the shower has hot water.  Oh, I also would like my fridge to work, the electric fencing to be installed to keep us safe, maybe a washing machine to wash our clothes, and really, would an electrical socket and a mirror be too much to ask for in my bathroom?  If I had all those things sorted I could really really serve the Lord and the people of Swaziland better.  Sigh.

The scripture tells us that we are to give thanks in all things.  I wasn’t giving thanks for the beautiful home that we were building.  I wasn’t giving thanks for the people who were trying to help, and I had quickly forgotten the blessing of having two new little babies.  Yes, I am human.  Yes, I like nice things and comfort.  And yes, I am learning.   I seem to be a slow learner, but He is a patient teacher and for that I am thankful.

It is Saturday morning in Swaziland and I am alive. Today is a new day and I look forward to enjoying the view of the mountains, spending time with my family and listening for His small voice in the wind.

Thanks for reading. 



  1. Janine, we are human and Jesus loves each of us where we are. Yes as a missionary in Ghana I had to shake my head and say "a hot shower? Have learned to enjoy a bucket shower. It is hard not to focus on the little things. Satin loves to keep us there and then we miss the big things -- two babies. You are doing great. Keep going forward in the Lord's work.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful reminder to praise the Lord and give thanks in all things! I am praying for your family!

  3. Dear Janine, Thank you for the details of your first week in Africa. I would imagine it takes some time to adjust even though you have spent so much time there over the past you are living there, not just spending time there. Big difference.
    You are about your Father's business, and it is very apparent that He has a lot of important "business" for your family there. I'm thankful that I have part in this through prayer and giving. God bless and protect you and your family!

    Kathleen Hughes

  4. Oh how I love you Janine! Sending hugs, prayers, and empathy from my comfy first-world house. :)

  5. Love, love, love your honesty and willingness to share the good and the bad! I'm praying for your family as you settle in to this radically different life. May God continue to bless you in amazing ways.
    Cindy McRoskey

  6. Thanks so much for recording your thoughts aand so many details about whats going on with the babies. I feel like weve just have an in person visit. Thank goodness you are not so superhuman as to be able to totally ignore the challenges of setting up a new home across the world! Wew continue to be in awe of what god is doing thru the obedience of your family. God bless you, Ian and the kids!


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