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Saturday, May 28, 2016

840 pairs of pajamas???

They used to be "footie pajamas", but Lolo has outgrown them.
Think of 120 children wearing a clean pair of pajamas every night for one week.  That’s 840 pairs of  jammies, and that is what we need your help with TODAY.

Winter is upon us, which means it’s 50F at night and 75F during the day.  But to our African friends, its really really cold.  They bundle up in big winter coats, wool hats, scarves and often, knit gloves if they have them.  We Canadians walk around in short –sleeve shirts, and don’t feel cold until it’s around 65F (yep, its true).  But it is cold at night for our children because none of our buildings have heat (or air conditioning in the summer), so we need help. 

Even Isaiah is outgrowing his pj's. That's a good sign!
The container is getting ready to ship out of Georgia and with the help of more than 300 people shopping on Amazon we have 100,000 diapers and pallets loads of wipes ready to ship.  In addition we have had 6,000+ brand new towels donated (that will be wonderful for community distribution) and a myriad of other much needed items.

What we need now are pajamas.  We do have enough (from the Amazon Baby Registry) for our newborns to age 18-months, but we really need help for 18-months to 6-years. 

Lenah and Lolo love their warm pajamas on a cold Saturday morning.
Two of my friends from University days (Lisa Salerno and Sheila Stogstil) decided to set up a registry just for PJ’s and so far they have received 60 pairs.  Another friend (Kristen Ortiz) went bargain shopping at Kohl’s and for $250 purchased 56 pairs of winter jammies from their sales racks.  The goal is to get 700 pairs of pajamas to GA to go in to the container, and they can be summer or winter pajamas.

Would you consider shopping today?  You can easily get to Lisa and Sheila’s Heart for Africa Pajama registry by just clicking here.  Then choose the shipping address of Scapes Landscaping.

OR if you live in the US you could go shopping at your favorite store and ship them to:

Pete/Julie Wilkerson
5115 Old Ellis Pointe
Roswell GA 30076

OR if you live in Canada you can shop and send them to:

Fraser/Leslie Wilkinson
368 Hoover Park Drive
Stouffville, Ontario

Yesterday I picked up baby #120.  A little 7-week-old baby girl who was dumped in the forest.  I found myself suddenly overwhelmed (again) by the size of the responsibility that the Lord has laid on us, but then I was immediately reminded that HE is the father to the fatherless and He must and will provide for His children.

Baby Emma

Will you be a part of His hands of provision today?

Thank you for buying pajamas for our children.

Live from Swaziland … praying for 700 pairs of pajamas.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tug-of-war with a baby.

A week ago I was called by a Doctor with whom we work closely, typically with abused children who need our help.  This time she called about an 18-month-old child whose mother was mentally disturbed and was abusing the child.  Time after time the mother would go to the hospital to get her HIV medication and dump the baby at the hospital for days at a time. 

In February of this year the mother put the 15-month-old baby on the ground and stomped on her leg and broke the baby’s femur (that is the big bone between your hip and your knee). 

A Child Protection Act was only made law in 2012, but that law allows the Social Welfare Department to remove children from an abusive situation. Up until 2012 there was no law in Swaziland that protected children.  Because of the severe abuse, absence of food and mother’s mental illness, it was decided that the child should be placed with us.  The mother agreed that she could not properly care for the child and was happy that the child could live somewhere and be well cared for.

Chris Cheek and I got in the car Thursday morning and made, what I thought would be, a quick hospital pick up of the child, followed by the Social Welfare report and Court order.  When we arrived at the hospital we found the mother there with the child.  The other women in the ward started “talking trash” (as we would say in Canada).  I didn’t know what they were saying in siSwati, but I knew it was about the two white ladies and it wasn’t good, and the environment became hostile.  As it turns out they were telling the lady that she should not give us her baby as we would sell the baby and she would never see her again.

The mother started walking down the corridor and then bolted out the door.  My experience with women who don’t want their children is that they leave the baby and then run out the door, but Chris has a different background (working with abused children in the US) and was suspicious that the mother was running with the baby. Chris was right.

The mother made a dash for the front gate of the hospital with Chris walking quickly behind her.  It was a tricky situation because she is the mother of the child, but we also knew that she is abusing the child so Chris called out to the security guard to stop her.  Then all hell broke loose.

The security guard almost tackled the frantic mother and a tug-of-war ensued with the baby.  The mother was screaming like a wounded animal. She had the child’s legs and the security guard had the child’s arms. The child was screaming, the mother was screaming and all the people around stood and watched in horror. 

The guard won the battle and quickly ran the baby over to Chris.  We then quickly jumped behind a truck so that we were not in view of the crowd who just saw a baby being ripped from a mother and handed to a white lady.  UGH.    I had made a 911 call to the social worker when it all started and he arrived just as the baby came to us. I asked him to please go and explain what happened to the whole crowd because feared for our lives going to our car (which was right by the front gate) with the child with those people still there.  Clearly, this whole event would have looked highly suspect to ANYONE watching and mob justice is not a good thing in Swaziland.

He went to the gate and shared the whole story. The security guard knew that the mother was not mentally stable as she has a history at that hospital.  We went back inside to get the child’s health card and it was then that we discovered the broken femur. One of the nurses told us about the mother stomping on the leg and breaking it. I burst in to tears, thanked them and we walked out the door with our newest baby girl.

We found out later that the mother went to the police station and arrived back at the hospital with the police to arrest the two women who stole her baby.  We were on our way home at that point so missed that part of the drama, but we are told that the police and the hospital staff were able to explain to the mother who we were and where the child was going to live. She was satisfied, and even happy I am told.

The little girl’s name is Christine (named after Chris Cheek because Chris may have saved her life on Thursday) and while she is now 18-months-old, she only weighs 14 pounds.  She doesn’t walk yet, but can crawl and talks!  She is the cutest little thing and loves to make people laugh.  There is much healing to be done, but she is now safe and being loved by all.

Would anyone reading this like to help support our 119th child?  Every dollar you can give monthly helps us provide the excellent care that these children need. And like anywhere, excellent care comes at a cost. 

To become a monthly Angel in Canada please click here.

To become a monthly Angel in the US please click here.
Live from Swaziland … thankful that I am not blogging from a Swazi prison with my friend Chris.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Her mother just didn't love her.

This week I heard one of the saddest stories I have ever heard. 

I was sitting with a young teenage girl who was impregnated through a violent rape. She is angry, hurt and cries uncontrollably, a lot.  I sat with her and asked her to tell me about her mother and father, and she got very angry.  But then she spoke.

When she was in 7-years-old her father was very sick (Tuberculosis she was told) and her mother moved away with all the other children, but left her alone to care for him, saying that she wasn’t the girl’s mother.  It took five long, painful years before the father finally succumbed to his disease(s) and died.  The young girl was left alone, but not for long.  When her mother learned that her father was dead she moved back home with the other children and kicked her out.  That was in 2012.  She was only 12-years old, but was sent away to live with a half-sister who was 21-years old and living with a man and their three children.

After she reported the rape the police went searching for her mother and found her. When they told her about the rape, she laughed.  They asked her to help her pregnant daughter, who was clearly distraught, but she refused. Not only that, the mother then went home and ran around the community, laughing about the rape and pregnancy. She even went to far as to go to the rural school to report that the girl would not be going back to school, because she was pregnant.  The girl tried to commit suicide and kill the unborn child.  That is when I was called by the police for help.

One thing that I have not been able to get used to here is how people laugh when they hear about someone else’s pain.  It’s very common and I find it disconcerting, and cruel.  Maybe it’s nervous laughter?  Maybe its what they have been taught?  But it’s hard to hear someone laugh when they hear about rape or child abuse.

I did not laugh when this teenager told me the same story that I had already heard from the police officer.  I wept with her, and told her how very sorry I was.  I told her I was sorry that her mother is cruel and inhumane. I told her I was sorry that she had to care for a very sick father and watch him die. I am sorry that she is pregnant. 

I also told her that my birth mother was 15-years-old when she got pregnant with me, and that God clearly had a plan. I reassured her that God has a plan for her life, and a plan for her unborn baby’s life.  She did not seem at all reassured, and remains very angry and hurt, but she has been told. And I will tell her again and again.  Please pray with me for her joy to be restored and her heart to be healed, by the only Father who will never leave her nor forsake her. 

Live from Swaziland … praying for all of the women in Swaziland.


PS - On a happier note, today we were able to deliver food to all of people who were retrenched when we closed our farming operation due to lack of water.  BIG shout out to Judy Wilferth and our friends at La Croix Church in Cape Girardeau, MO for hearing the cries of the people and providing 2-months worth of food for each and every person.  One lady said that last night her family ate the last bite of food that they had, and she didn't know what she was going to do.  She cried out to God for help, and today He answered her prayer.  Amen.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

When you fail as a mother

I clearly remember coming home from the hospital after Spencer was born and feeling completely inexperienced, untrained and totally ill-prepared. With a touch of postpartum depression I imagined the Police arriving with Child Protection Services to our front door to take him away because I had absolutely no qualifications to take care of a newborn baby.  I remember kneeling on the floor, leaning on a chair and sobbing.

Today I have two beautiful children (Spencer 21 and Chloe 19) and they survived and thrived despite their mother’s lack of qualifications, and I am so very proud of the young adults that they have become.

Now I have 117 other children whom I (Ian and I) are legally responsible for and while I feel much more prepared than I did when Spencer arrived, there are so many complicated levels to raising, educating, loving and protecting children.

Last week we had a huge scare at the new Emseni building, and one that made me feel like a total failure as a mother and protector.  We had an electrical fire. 

“Coincidentally” (or because the God is God) I just happened to be in the building, with my friend Pete Wilkerson, when the power went off, the sparks started and fire started to pour down from the ceiling as the plastic light ballast melted.  Within ONE minute the flames were big and hitting the carpet below.  Pete and Allen were able to put the fire out by jumping off the counter top and flicking it with sheets and a teddy bear (not ideal, we know), while I helped the caregivers get all of the children out of the building to safety.

I lost years off my life that day and (more) gray hair suddenly appeared.  Why had that fluke fire happened? How was it possible that Pete and I were in the building for only 90 seconds and in 60 of those seconds a fire had started?  What if we had not been there to help?  And then there was the next level of questions… where was the fire extinguisher?  When did we do our last fire drill?  Why haven’t we installed smoke alarms yet? 

And there I was, a complete failure, again.

Now, if my mom was here she would say, “Jan, you can’t blame yourself for that.  It was not your fault.”  And I would argue with her that it is my responsibility to make sure our children are safe at all times.  We moms carry the weight of the world, my mom taught me that and there is no talking us out of that.  But my mom also taught me that when we are weak, He is strong, and on Tuesday morning our heavenly Father knew exactly where I was to be when that fire started. The fire wasn’t a surprise to Him and He was right there with us to protect His children.

Ian picked me up and brushed me off after a good cry, fire extinguishers were purchased (we do have them in all the other buildings, but they were on back order), smoke alarms are being ordered and an investigation in to the root of the problem is still happening.  We are to give thanks in all things, so I give thanks for His hand of protection over my life and the lives of my family.

“…we are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me.”

Live from Swaziland… I miss you mom.


PS – yes Spencer and Chloe I would love a plastic children’s walker for Mother’s Day!  And it’s not too late to shop on our Baby Registry site!