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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Swazi mud

The last few week’s blogs have been very heavy, so today I will attempt a bit of levity with some really awesome news about making lemonade out of lemons (or, to be exact, ceramic beads out of the mud from a drought-parched dam).

In 2005 I met an interesting newlywed couple – Jere and Janet Scott. They traveled on an 11-day service trip with us from their home church in Hawaii.  Every year since then Jere and Janet have come to Africa to serve with us, in each and every country we have served in (Malawi, Kenya and Swaziland) spending as many as six weeks a year by our sides.  Oh the stories that they could tell (and do)!

In 2010 when we were just getting started on Project Canaan Jere told us that we needed a carpentry shop so that we could not only build everything that we need out of wood, but also start our vocational training program.  It was built in no time and Jere outfitted it with all of the equipment that was needed to build our cribs, bunk beds, roof trusses, cupboards and now new for 2016 … awesome wooden Christmas ornaments!

Last year Jere and Janet shipped a pottery wheel and kiln over in our UPS container, not knowing that a year later we would not be able to buy local handmade ceramic beads from our local supplier (yes, God’s timing is always perfect).  They decided to provide the funds to build a “pottery barn”, which was ready for them when they arrived this year.  

For the past six weeks the Scott’s, joined by their travel-partners-in-crime (Jane and Frank Tauanuu and Mark and Lisa Hackett), they have worked tirelessly to get the pottery barn set up and ready to make beads, bowls, ornaments etc and train young Swazi’s to continue the work. 

Of course, nothing is easy here.  As soon as they fired the kiln, all four of the coils fried making the kiln unusable L .  But they were not defeated.  Off they went to South Africa for a brutally long day and they were able to order a new kiln that is being made will be here in a few more weeks (sadly, after they leave on Tuesday).

In the meantime, Jere (or McGyver as you might call him) “whipped up” a Raku kiln made out of wire mesh, a ceramic heat blanket (left over from Ian’s pizza oven) and a weed-burner (aka blow torch).  The first test got the kiln up to a temperature 1,835F when they were glazing their first round of pottery!!  Not one word of a lie. 

When the new kiln arrives we will start making our own ceramic beads out of Swazi clay, straight from dam #1, which has gone dry due to the drought.  Beauty from ashes?  Lemonade from lemons? Absolutely.  

These products will be will be part of the Khutsala Artisans treasures and will be branded “SwaziMUD”, which seems like an appropriate name for this new product line (thank you Kim Evinsky!).   We are in the throws of building a new and incredible website for our Khutsala product (that Canadians will be able to order from too!!!), but if you are looking a gift item or want to start your Christmas shopping early, please feel free to go to and shop today! If you want to be a part of our sales team, please email

We are thankful for all who come to volunteer with us, whether it’s for an 11-day trip, six weeks every year, or move for a life-time.  We are especially thankful for Jere (who turns 83-years-old this month) and Janet for showing us all how to serve the Lord with determination, purpose and joy.  You are an inspiration to us all.

Live from Swaziland … I am excited about SwaziMUD!


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