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Saturday, December 8, 2012

How many Grandchildren am I feeding?

Back in October when our friends from the US Bank were visiting I blogged about visiting a family where there were five children living alone in our neighboring community.  The eldest child is 11-years old and the youngest is 3-years old.  The parents of these children were murdered in South Africa and now they are left to fend for themselves and raise each other.  We had visited the home and given them all new pairs of TOMS Shoes and some food, and then wondered what could really be done for this family.

The blog was read by a woman in the US, who then contacted me and asked how she could help this family.   She said that she and her husband were elderly and living off his disability pension, but that if she sent us money each month, could we provide food for the children?  We have seen this time and time again. The people who  seem to have the least, seem to give the most.  It never ceases to surprise and encourage me, and when it happens I try to think carefully about how I am supposed to respond.

How can we help?  That is often a difficult question to answer for many reasons.  Helping can cause many problems if not done with care and caution.  There are so many Orphan Headed Households in Swaziland that we must be careful to not put the children in further danger by providing them with food and supplies.  We need to be sure that the food won’t be stolen by other people and or misused.  There is also the issue of physically buying food to supply them, the time required to go to town, the cost of the vehicle to drive and the petrol to get to town and then to the community.  It is so often hard and costly to help.  But how could I say no this woman who was willing to give sacrificially to help these children who have nothing?

So we met as a team and discussed how we could best assist these orphaned children.  I love our team at Project Canaan.  They have such tender hearts for people who are hurting and Antony, Denis and Pastor Mike worked on a plan and a budget.  Then the conversations started with the community and the children’s Grandmother, who lives in a different homestead, but was willing to help. The children would often go to their Grandmothers house after school, but she rarely had any food so they would go home hungry. If only we could meet their basic food needs that could help a lot.

While it seemed that it took an inordinate amount of time and conversation to help this one family, our pastor back in Georgia, Andy Stanley, encourages the people in our church to “do for ONE, what you wish you could do for EVERYONE”.  It is easy to look at all the poverty and all the hungry children and say, “well, that’s only one family who would be helped, and it’s a lot of ongoing work and effort to help them”.  I met three families in five days who had five children in each home, under the age of 13-years and had no adult living with or near them.  But we decided to do for this ONE family what we wished we could do for them all.

After a month of discussions, planning and negotiations we arrived yesterday to deliver food to the Grandmother of the five children so that she could cook for them and provide a stable and healthy diet to these children in need.  We sat under the tree in her front yard and listened to this very old woman tell about her family, her dead children and the grandchildren who were left behind for her to care for.  I asked how many grandchildren she was feeding?  She looked at me with some surprise at the question, then her face looked puzzled and then she shrugged her shoulders.  I clarified my question and asked how many grandchildren were actually living with her at the homestead, and whom she cared for?  She smiled, then asked if she could call them all so that I could count them (since I seemed to be the only one interested in the answer). 

The children were called and they all filed out of the one room house they were standing in. There were fifteen children in all. The eldest was 11-years old and the youngest was 18-months old.  We suddenly realized how big this Grandmother’s problem was.  She had 15 little mouths to feed and had no food to give them.  When we pulled out this week’s food allotment (including cooking oil, salt, sugar, beans, cabbage, bread etc) she looked at us and said, “God has heard my prayers and sent help.  Thank you so very, very, very , very much for hearing the voice of God and bringing help to me through this food.”   I quickly told her the story of the woman in the US who was the one who was praying for the family and who had sent the money for the food. But this Grandmother assured us that it was her heavenly Father who had provided. There was no doubt in her mind that the God Who Sees (El Roi), saw her in her need, and answered her prayers through an elderly woman in the US who has little to give, but is giving so much.

Yesterday was a good day and I am proud to serve with amazing people who love the Lord and serve Him selflessly without ceasing each and every day.

Live from Swaziland … doing for ONE, what I wish I could do for EVERYONE.


PS – for those of you who care about my farm animal update – we got our first baby chick at the nest at our house this week!  It is wonderful seeing new life around us.

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