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Saturday, November 26, 2016

How to prepare for Christmas with 143 children?

Get a little help from your friends!

Today was the second annual Project Canaan Academy Christmas pageant and it was beautiful.

Our friends, Sarah and Luke Ferguson, joined Teacher Amber in preparing a wonderful fresh approach to the Christmas story and it was funny, heartwarming and they all did such a great job.  It’s a musical called “The Case of the Reluctant Inn Keeper”, told in front of a judge and jury. Hilarious and oh, so sweet.

Here are a couple of short videos so that you can enjoy a bit of what we enjoyed.

The November team that comes is our last group of volunteers for the year.  All of our volunteer teams are a blessing to us, but the November team is a particular blessing to me because they help us get ready for Christmas!  The literally help the children decorate the tree, hang garland, bake and decorate cookies and get everyone in the Christmas spirit!  Thank you Village Christian Church for your friendship, support and love (and for all the wonderful goodies you blessed us all with!).  

Don’t forget to shop at this weekend and use our discount codes for great deals!  EVERY dollar you spend helps us provide for the children in these photos.  We are thankful for all of your love and support.

Live from Swaziland … it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Happy birthday to me - and a gift for YOU!

Today is my 53rd birthday (I heard you say “Happy birthday Janine!” – thank you!).  I am really not sure how I got to be 53, since I was only 33 last year?  But alas, the wrinkles, the graying hair and the waistline all seem to point to 53.

Today I also share my birthday with Rachel and Leah (twins of my beloved and deceased Nomsa – see and a new little guy who joined us a few months ago, and the name on his health card was “Maxwell”!  Imagine a Swazi boy named Maxwell, with the same birthday as mine? We knew he was ours!

I can't recall who took this photo, but it's just the best!
So what does a girl who lives on a remote mountaintop in a tiny Kingdom in Africa ask for on her birthday?  That’s easy.  Rain.  And it is raining!  We have had what they call “small rains” on and off for the past few weeks and everything is green again.  The small rains typically come in September softening the ground for the “big rains” that should be upon us now, but we give thanks for gift of rain, period!

I also share my birthday with an amazing young woman named Nqobile, who is our HR Supervisor at Khutsala Artisans and lives at the Sicalo Lesisha Kibbutz on Project Canaan and it is with her in mind that I make this birthday wish and give YOU this birthday gift.

Birthday girl Nqobile is on the right.
For the next 48 hours I would like to offer you a 30% discount at so that you can start (or finish?) your Christmas shopping (or buy a few things for yourself)?  Our artisans have worked SO hard this year, but it doesn’t matter how much they make if it doesn’t sell.  We have a massive amount of beautiful and new inventory in the US right now and we need it to sell!  With that in mind, I am offering you a special discount for today and tomorrow if you will start your shopping. It would simply be the best birthday gift that Nqobile and I could ask for. 

The discount code at is: HAPPYBIRTHDAY (all caps).  It’s just that simple!  We have cool wall signs made of Lucky seeds (thanks for the idea Larenda Casey), coasters made of wood from Project Canaan and of course our stunning beadcraft.

Now that this blog is written I will go back to enjoying the sounds of the rain, the thunder of an angry sky and reading my birthday present from Ian, Ellie Weisel’s “Dawn”.  At 3:30 I will go and enjoy cake at the toddler home with little Maxwell and then head up to the Oasis for cake with Rachel and Leah.  A perfect day (but missing Spencer and Chloe).

Live from Swaziland …THANK YOU for shopping today!


PS - if you haven't seen the YouTube video done by my friends Gabe and Kayla Ferris, you MUST watch it now. It will simply make your Saturday!  Click here to watch now.  Thank you Ferris family!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Movin’ on up… to the east side

Today was a big day for seven of our toddlers who are now “Big Kids”.  Bella, Angel, Joash, Seth, Isaiah, Jerry and Zachariah moved from the toddler home up to the Emseni Campus.

The Emseni Campus is the “permanent” home for each of our children.  Typically, the children are 3-years-old or about to turn three when they move up. They will live there until they finish high school and move on to University, trade school or enter the work force.

Today five little boys joined the big boys at Emseni #2, which means there are only THREE spaces left there.  AND, since we now have 37 2-year-olds at the toddler home, we know that those spaces will be filled soon.  SO… that means we need to start building our third Emseni building this month!  We have the funds for the foundation, and pray that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds needed to build that building.  Within a year, all of those 37 toddlers will have moved up to Emseni and the 34 babies at the El Roi baby home will be at the toddler home.  The 11 babies currently living at Kuthula Place will move to the El Roi baby home.  And it continues.

It’s an exciting day when children “move up” to their next home, but bitter sweet for those of us who remember the day that each child arrived and the history that came with them.  It’s hard to believe that a new born who was strangled to death by her own mother and dumped in a garbage can, then brought back to life with life-giving CPR, is now big enough to walk up the stairs and climb in to her new bed. 

Today we give thanks for each of our children, for the Care Team who loves them and encourages them every day, and for all of the people who give on a monthly basis so that we can provide for our 143 children.

In addition, we give thanks for the rains that have fallen this week and for the green grass and leaves that have exploded to bring us all hope for the future.

Live from Swaziland … it’s a good day.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

We could have lost a baby today.

Today I witnessed a miracle. Yes, another one.

From time to time the police and social welfare ask us to help out with young girls who are pregnant and don’t want or can’t keep their babies when born.  The situations are always very complicated and we hesitate to get involved, but know that in the end we are likely preventing a baby being dumped in a pit latrine or left on the side of the road.

Today one of “my girls” gave birth to a beautiful 3.6kg (7.9 lb) baby girl, but not without giving us all a scare.  She was 42 weeks pregnant and had some complications. When I have pregnancy concerns, I always direct the girls to go to a wonderful missionary gynecologist who will see them immediately and help.

Today at 8:30 AM she was wheeled in to the theater (surgical room) to have a C-section and I was robed and masked to go and hold her hand and assure her that everything would be okay.  The Doctor had her instruments in hand, closed her eyes, and prayed.  It was incredible to watch and then feel God's presence at that moment.  As the doctor pulled the baby out she saw that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her little neck. She quickly unwrapped the cord and then told us that it was double wrapped. This unwrapping seemed harder and we could see that the baby was blue.  

The cord was cut and the baby was whisked away to the next room. I crawled under the oxygen tubes in my white rubber boots and green scrubs and followed behind.  The baby was indeed blue and they gave her oxygen and started to aspirate stuff out of her mouth and nose. Within about ten minutes she “pinked up” and started to make her arrival known.

It was explained to me that with the umbilical cord double wrapped around her neck, her 42 weeks gestation and very low amniotic fluid, that the child most likely have died if she had tried to deliver vaginally. 

Several hours later baby Noelle arrived home at Project Canaan and the young girl will rest and start the healing process in a private hospital.  It is funds from my Compassion Purse that allow me to make the call on taking a teenager to a private hospital when that care is absolutely necessary. So, for those of you who have given to my Compassion Purse fund, please know that you saved at least one life today, maybe two.

It looks like her hands are praying.
Noelle was given her name in memory of Noelle Crea Koosman, the daughter of our friends Rose and Mark Crea (CEO of Feed My Starving Children) who lost her fight to cancer a few months ago.  We pray a special blessing on baby Noelle and ask the Lord to send his peace and joy to the Crea/Koosman family today.

Live from Swaziland … I stand in awe of our maker, creator and healer.