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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sometimes things just don't go as we plan them to.

Christmas 2012
Sometimes I have pictures in my head.  I don’t know if I put them there or if God does, but I get an image of something that I believe is to come and with prayerful consideration work towards bringing that picture to reality.

A couple or examples would include: Grandma’s Cows in Kenya 2007, Litsemba 2010 in Swaziland and Christmas dinner on our patio last Tuesday at Project Canaan.  I will explain. 

In 2007 I had a picture in my head of a team of people from Canada and the US herding cows down a long winding road in Kenya and delivering them to a group of women living with HIV/AIDS in order to help them generate income and to feed their children and Grandchildren.  When that day came and I was walking with a switch in my hand I knew that the vision that had become a reality had come from God.

In 2009 I had a picture in my head of thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children gathering in a large stadium in Swaziland and as they gathered together. They sang praises to the King of Kings and reclaimed the Kingdom of Swaziland for the Kingdom of God.  The following year I stood in awe as streams of children arrived from all over the country of Swaziland for Litsemba 2010 and filled the Somhlolo National Stadium for a day of praise and worship.

In the fall of 2012 I had a picture in my head of all the people who are living at Project Canaan and all the babies from the El Roi baby home gathering together on our patio for Christmas dinner.  I had shipped the fold up tables from the US, we would use benches from the chapel and everyone would bring food from their own family tradition.  We would grow and slaughter our own Turkey and Guinea Fowl, Helen would make Chapatti bread from Kenya and Jamie would do some home cooking from “the south”.  The babies would sit in high chairs and together we would overlook the beauty of Project Canaan as the sun set over our shoulders.

Christmas day arrived and so did the 28 of the 30 people who live/work at Project Canaan along with the 22 babies who live at the El Roi baby home.  But the photo wasn’t quite as I had seen it in my head. 

A huge storm came up in the middle of the day so the patio was wet and wind blown.  A large tarp was hung at one end (the end where the beautiful sunset should have been seen) to keep some of the gale force winds away so that we could actually sit outside.  The storm took out the power for most of the day so the turkey never did finish cooking (good thing we cooked 4 small chickens early in the morning as “extra” meat in case the unknown turkey was not enough).  The Guinea Fowl that we slaughtered looked more like an ugly Cornish hen and there was absolutely no appetite appeal with it at all.  Of course Helen’s Chapatti arrived well made because her stovetop is gas, not electric. Jamie could only use oven or stovetop, but not both at once so the cornbread stuffing made it, but the gravy didn’t (first world problems?).   Of course with no turkey there was little need for gravy.  Mark and Austin Klee didn’t make it at all because they got some kind of African bug and were very sick at home. The next day I was told by Ian and two others, who will remain anonymous, that they really doubted the wisdom of my plan to have us all together, especially the 22 babies part.  But I had heard that with the cows and Litsemba as well (by many).

Christmas day was a comedy of errors in a way.  The day did not turn out at all like the picture in my head, but in many ways it was perfect, in every way that mattered.  Spencer was home from University. Chloe and Ian were here and healthy.  We were surrounded by friends and family from Canada, the US, Kenya, Ireland and Swaziland and we had 22 babies who reminded us of why we were all living in Swaziland. 

I am sure that Mary and Joseph looked back on the day that Jesus was born and shook their heads (maybe even laughed?) at the circumstances surrounding his birth.  A stable?  Really?  No room in the Inn?  No hot water for baby birthing?  No midwife?  Not an ideal situation, but truly the best day of their lives.

My cousin Kim feeding baby Esther
December 25th, 2012 will go down in my books as a great Christmas, not because of the gifts and food, but because of the people who we were with.  I am thankful for all who have supported our move to Swaziland and all who have supported each individual who has been called here to serve the Lord through the children of Swaziland.  I consider it a true gift to live here and call Swaziland “home”.  I am eternally thankful for having a beautiful family, a beautiful home and the best job in the whole world.

As we close out 2012 and look forward to what is in store for 2013 I encourage you to give thanks for the things around you that may not be as you had planned them, but are still good in His eyes.  That is the standard by which we should measure “good”, not ours.  His ways are not our ways, and His plans are not our plans. 

Happy New Year to you all and may the Lord bless you and keep you as you follow Him and seek His will for your life.

Live from Swaziland … I am off to put new TOMS Shoes on hundreds of children’s feet!


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