Sign up to receive this blog by email

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Does God really care about the little stuff? (Oh, and two newborn babies arrived today)

On Thursday Ian and I drove a group of people back to Johannesburg to start their 15 – 30 hour journeys home.  We decided to drop them off, run some errands in Joburg, go out for dinner on a “date night” and then take a leisurely drive back to Swaziland on Friday.

One of the errands was to look for “Bumbo” seats, which we need at the El Roi Baby home.  Our team had found them in Swaziland, but they cost around $50 US each, and we need 20 of them so the thought of spending $1,000 US on seats for our babies was tough. 

Ian and I found them for $38 US so I called back to Swaziland to cancel our order, which, was only minutes from having a deposit put down!  Ian stood at the check out counter at Baby City and asked to speak with the Manager about getting a discount for making such a large purchase AND of course share WHO was going to be using those seats.   It’s quite common here to ask for a discount and it almost always results in a 10% reduction in price, which would then have taken us to under $35 US per chair.

Just then a lady walked up to Ian and told him that she was the Sales Representative for the Bumbo competition chair.  She said she had overheard his conversation about the babies in Swaziland and had already called her boss to see if they could help us out. She explained that their chairs are specifically designed for an African baby’s shape and they were manufactured in South Africa, then she gave us the phone number for her boss and said that “Louise” was waiting for our call.

I called Louise at the Snappi Baby Seat company and she told me that they would be happy to sell us the seats at her cost and deliver them to anywhere in Johannesburg!  Well, her cost was $10 US and since their warehouse in Pretoria was on our way home to Swaziland we said we would stop by and pick them up.  Forty minutes later we were at the Snappi warehouse and decided to buy 40 of them (store 20 in the baby home storage container) and spent $400 US. Then she gave us another 10 seats for free for a total of 50.  

To review the numbers, we were to spend $1,000 US on 20 seats.  We ended up spending $400 US on 50 seats for an average cost of $8 US. 

It was a chance meeting at a Baby City store in Johannesburg.  We stopped at several other stores before we stopped there, but the timing was perfect and we saved a lot of money.

Yesterday we clearly saw the hand of God and it made me ask the question, why?  Why would God care about the price of chairs? Isn’t it all His money anyway? We work diligently to stretch every penny that is donated to us by our donors, but ultimately we believe that those funds come from Him.  But when this story unfolded yesterday we felt God so very close to us in the van.  When we told Louise the story of some of our children she wept.  When we showed her the photos of Deborah’s burned body, she wept, and gave us more Snappi Baby Chairs.

Was our meeting at Baby City a “chance” encounter?  Was our drive through Pretoria a “chance” drive?  I don’t think so.

“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head!  Luke 12:7 The Message Bible

And in other news … we got two more babies this morning!!  A newborn girl named Patricia and a newborn boy named Ezra, both abandoned by their mothers. Ezra was left in an empty garbage can/drum and Patricia put in a plastic bag and dumped in a pit latrine after birth.  The babies were born 3 days apart and both have had positive HIV rapid tests and are on treatment. They are home at the El Roi Baby home where they will be loved and cared for.


El Roi, the God who sees, saw us at Baby City, He saw Louise in her warehouse and He saw Ezra and Patricia when they were abandoned by their mothers, and He saw the mother’s in their hopelessness.  It’s hard to grasp the depth and breadth of His love for us, but I know that God really does care about the little stuff.  I hope you do too

Live from Swaziland … we have 98 babies now.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

The dying baby arrived in a cardboard box.

This past week we celebrated two birthdays for two boys who turned 4-years old. People laugh at me when I refer to them as the “big kids”, but they are our big kids and they are miracles.

For those of you who don’t know Caleb and Emmanuel, let me tell you their short life stories.

Caleb was born on July 11, 2011, and he was given to us in a cardboard box by his own father.

I was not in Swaziland when Helen went to pick up Caleb, but I am told it was a very traumatic day, for everyone. Caleb’s mother had died of HIV/AIDS related illness leaving her husband and baby with full-blown AIDS.

The father had no means to provide Caleb with food, clothing, love or life-saving medication and so Caleb was in and out of the hospital for malnutrition and HIV/AIDS related illnesses. Some times the father would stop the medication completely, leaving Caleb resistant to 1st line medication.  The Doctors and Baylor clinic worked with the hospital Social Worker to find a solution and that is how Caleb arrived at the El Roi Baby home.

He was a very sick baby when he arrived with lesions all over his body, raw and open wounds and eyes that were filled with sheer terror.  There were days when Helen thought that we might lose him to the disease that was trying to steal his life, but El Roi saw him. With special love, food, medication and praying without ceasing,  his little body returned from the brink of death caused by the effects of poverty and AIDS. 

Caleb will be on his ART (Anti-retroviral treatment) for life, or until a cure is found or he is healed.  It is a twice-daily routine that cannot be missed.  While Caleb is a happy and active boy who celebrated his fourth birthday on July 11th, he is still wearing clothes that are size 12-18 months (!) and he is on a special high calorie diet to try to put meat on his bones.  

Caleb is loved by all and we give thanks for this little life.

Emmanuel was born on July 17, 2011 and came to us malnourished and puffy from Kwashiorkor. 

I was living in Swaziland when the Social Welfare office called about him and had the opportunity to meet his young mother.  She was only 16-years old, she already had one child and was pregnant with another.  She came from a very poor family and had been working in prostitution for several years by that time. The pregnancies were a result of that life.  Emmanuel was a severely malnourished and sick baby so we had him admitted to the hospital immediately after we were given custody.  He was almost 1-year old when he came to us, but only had the development of a 4-month old baby.  His (ineffective) diaper was a plastic bag.

The mother asked us to take the new baby when he/she was born, but when the time came she gave birth in an outdoor bus stop and ran away with the baby and refused to give up the child. We have since learned that she had a fourth child and then a set of twins!  We pray for her and her other five children and we give thanks that Emmanuel (also known as “Manny” or “Emma”) is with us.

These are only two stories out of the 96 babies who now live at Project Canaan.  I often find myself saying that each child’s story is worse than the next one, but El Roi sees them all and has chosen each child to live at Project Canaan. Why only Emmanuel and not his siblings I do not know, but I trust in the Lord with all my heart and soul and give thanks for each and every life He sends to us

Live from Swaziland … Happy birthday Caleb and Emmanuel!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stop raping our children!


I am really sick and tired of newspaper headlines that announce that yet another young Swazi child has been raped, infected with HIV and/or pregnant.  What is wrong with these men? 

We currently have 15 babies who were born to mothers who were raped between the ages of 12 and 15.  We have another 15 babies who were found in pit latrines, wrapped in garbage bags or dumped in a river and we will never know how old those mothers were, but I can guess that they were all very young, very afraid and very ashamed. Many other babies came from victims of rape, but over the age of 16-years. 

It’s happening all over the country and in many cases is being hidden from the police and Social Welfare so the criminals can continue the terror that they put on young girls who can’t speak out for fear of being killed.  In so many African countries (not just Swaziland) a girl’s body is not her own, it belongs to her father, grandfather, uncles, cousins and brothers. What kind of a man takes joy in having sex with his own daughter, granddaughter, sister or niece?

In Swaziland it’s hidden under something called “tibitenhlu”, which is a common expression here used to mean “keep it hidden and in the house/family”.  In English we might say “sweep it under the rug or keeping things hidden behind closed doors”, but tibitenhlu has a more sinister meaning of hiding things within the family.

This past week I have been directly involved in a case of a 15-year old girl who was raped by her uncle for 4 years (and infected with HIV) and then for another year by another uncle and impregnated. The second case is one of a 12-year old who was raped by a family member and is now pregnant at the age of 13. 

I am sick of it.

This will be a short rant, but rapists be warned.  I believe that Swazi's will rise up and start reporting you to the police and you will be imprisoned.  You can also be assured that there is a special place in hell for you. 

Phansi Ngetibitenhlu bika kudlwengulwa kwebantfwana!
(Stop hiding secrets and report child rape!)

Live from Swaziland …


Saturday, July 4, 2015

What do hysterectomies, cosmetic surgery, Tuberculosis and tooth extractions all have in common?

The answer is, they were all a part of my week.

First, may I take a moment to wish all of our American friends around the world a Happy 4th of July!  We are thankful for you and all you do to help us here in Swaziland.

Now, back to the headline.

This week was like so many others, filled with crazy drives, crazier conversations and lots of hospital.

We started the week getting our two small Jack Russell Terriers spayed.  When the veterinarian came out after the surgeries he told us that he had done a hysterectomy on both of them based on some serious irregularities that he had only see a few times in his whole career.

Two days later we had to take in one of our Boerboel dogs (Georgia) for cosmetic eye surgery (I am not kidding).  Her eyelashes fold in to her eyes rather than sticking out to catch dust so she struggled seeing and always had eye infections.  She now can see much better, but did not AT ALL being locked up for a night while here stitches started to heal and ate her way through the wooden door (and propane tank) holding her captive. To quote Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing”, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”.

The next few are all human stories.

We got great news this week that two of our babies who had been on TB treatment were now cleared and finished their medication. That was awesome and life-giving news!

And the highlight for dozens of Project Canaan workers this week (in the medical world) was the arrival of Dr. Stuart Coe and his 17-year old daughter Kenna. They came from Alpharetta, GA to practice dentistry and spent Monday – Friday working 7AM to 6PM to help people with major dental needs.

Under less than ideal circumstances including equipment malfunction, daily power outages, communication challenges and some very complicated cases, they managed to extract 31 teeth, fill 59 teeth, take 80 x-rays on THE MOST AMAZING PORTABLE X-RAY MACHINE THAT WAS LOANED TO STUART and do the equivalent of $33,000 US in dental work (that is R396,000 in free dental care!).

All in all it’s been a great week.  This afternoon we expect 20 students from Changhua Senior High School in Taiwan to join us for the weekend.  We look forward to having our friend Mr. Lewis Lu back again.

Live from Swaziland … I must rush to the highway where the students bus just broke down.