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Saturday, August 26, 2017

The feeling of helplessness

This 5 foot tall beauty is carved from Spring Stone and will be auctioned at the Georgia event.
I have received many emails over the past few weeks saying, “I feel helpless”.  The messages have come from our staff and friends around the world in response to my blogs and social media posts about the vandalism and attacks that we have been living through on Project Canaan.

I understand that feeling of helplessness.  I too have felt helpless as thieves continue to break in, steal and frighten our volunteers and staff.

Yesterday we were in South Africa where we purchased powerful tasers and pepper spray to provide to those most vulnerable. In addition, we are working diligently on a security plan that will further secure everyone on Project Canaan, but as we know, if people want to get in to a building, they can get in, and so we also continue to pray for protection for all.

So what do we do?  We keep on keepin’ on (as my friend Rose Smith often says).  We endure. We (try to) give thanks in all things. We refuse to be bullied. We refuse to be afraid.  And we spend more time with the children to remind ourselves why we are here and whom we are here to serve.

Sarah, Titus and Hannah - why we do what we do.
And what can you do?  The truth is, we need your support now more than ever.  And today I am writing to invite you to come and meet with Ian and me in October and give us a hug, encourage us in person and hear more about what is happening here.

We will be in Georgia, USA for a Drive and Dine event on October 11th.  There’s a golf tournament during the day and a fun-filled dinner at night.  If you would like to come and show us some love, please buy your tickets today here:  Click here for Golf   Click here for Dinner

These 22" birds are carved from Green Serpentine stone and will be auctioned in Georgia.
We will be heading up to British Columbia, Canada on October 14th for the 2nd annual Evening of HOPE and would love to see our Canadian friends and family at that time.  Please buy your tickets today at this link.

This 22" statue is made of Spring Stone and will be auctioned at the BC event.
We shipped some AWESOME handmade stone carvings that will be available for auction at both events, and there will be a silent auction at both events.  But what we need most is to know that we have people standing with us, praying with us and supporting us during these dark days.

This fabulous carving is 20" high and is made of Spring Stone and will be auctioned at the BC event.

Thank you for continuing to read and share this blog each week.   Your friendship and prayers are felt.

Live from Swaziland … enjoying time with all the children today.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Another break-in and now an assault ... what would you do?

Jere's arm after tacking the robbers.
There has been a rash of break-ins on Project Canaan.  The first major one was last July when thieves broken in to our front office, right under the nose of a sleeping guard (and his defense was the he was asleep!). Six weeks ago our house was broken in to ( ), a month later the VanWinkes house was broken in to (  and this week the thieves escalated their crime to a new level.

On Wednesday night vandals broke in to the Guest House while our dear friends, Jere and Janet Scott, were sleeping.  Janet awoke with the men in their bedroom and when she shouted at them they hit her in the head twice. Jere (who is 84-years-old) jumped up and grabbed one of the robbers, and pulled his ski mask off before they ran out the door with multiple electronics and cash. We are so thankful that they weren’t hurt or killed, and both are strong and more determined than ever to continue serving the Lord here in Swaziland.

Janet's black and blue eye from being hit
Daily we reminded that we are living/working/serving in a third world country.  We are surrounded by hunger, orphan headed households, poverty and lack of education, which is leading to anger, jealousy, a sense of entitlement, but only by a few.  And you know what they say - it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.  I think there are a few bad apples in our basket.  That being said, there is crime everywhere. Houses are broken in to all the time in Canada and the US, cars are stolen, people are robbed. This is not a third world problem, but it is a very real, ongoing problem for us here.

We have local and regional police involved as well as a private investigator.  We are working on a broader security plan that will need to involve weapons, cameras, better trained security and more fencing.  But I HATE that we have to do this. I HATE that a few young people who are smoking dagga (weed) are giving a nation a bad name. I HATE that by writing this blog and sharing what is happening that some people will no longer want to support Heart for Africa financially or change their plans to come and serve here because they are afraid.  I HATE that there is fear amongst some of our volunteers and fear amongst most of our staff.  And I really HATE that Spencer and Chloe have to be worried and afraid for us a million miles away.

It would be easier (and likely much wiser) for me to stay silent, and not tell you how many calls we now get in the middle of the night from police or investigators asking about this person, reporting an incident that just happened or wondering if we are okay because our dogs have gone crazy barking.

What would you do?

We are weary. We are not sleeping well.  We (I am) are trying to not be intimidated or fearful, but alas, we are along way from home, and at times feel very isolated and alone.

I can certainly see why so many people have just packed up and moved home after trying to help in Africa. I can also see why donors are skeptical and don’t want to support ministries in Africa. I GET IT. 

But we will not be leaving.  We will endure.  We will continue to pray for wisdom, and strength and endurance and financial support and protection as we continue to love and care for 162 precious children who GOD himself has entrusted us with.  HE IS our protector and HE HAS won the battle. 

This is how Jonathan sleeps, with one leg crossed the other - he is why we must not be afraid.

This is Bonita's 2nd birthday - she is why we must not be deterred.
Thank you all for your many words of encouragement, your prayers and your love.  If you feel that you want to help us financially as we incur more costs to further secure our volunteers and children, I thank you in advance for that too.

In the US click here.

Thank you.

Live from Swaziland … it is Saturday morning.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Another break in on Project Canaan AND they tried to poison the dog.

August 11 Blog

Last Saturday night we had another break in on Project Canaan, but this time it was at Amber and Kenny VanWinkle’s house.  The VanWinkles are long term volunteers and were offsite visiting friends when the thieves cut through the burglar bars at their home, went through their whole house and stealing laptops, iPhone, TV, a wedding ring and some personal family treasures.  Their Jack Russell dog (Yebo) was in the house, but clearly did not deter the burglars.

This was as devastating to Amber and Kenny as it was to us when our house was broken in to back in June (

We are quite certain that it is the same thieves and we are quite certain that it’s an inside job, meaning that people whom we know, trust, love and employ are directly involved with both break-ins.

We have hired a private investigator who is infamous in Swaziland.  His name is well known and as he says, “When a snake heads towards the monkeys, the monkeys will scatter”.  There certainly has been some scattering on the farm when this man started showing up on the premises to investigate.

Two nights after the break-in (with a 24 hour guard assigned to their house) the thieves came back and put rat poison in Yebo’s water bowl that was in the backyard inside their gated area. We are told that rationale was to scare us all in to calling off the investigation, but it will not be called off, we will NOT be afraid, and Yebo was smart enough to point it out to Kenny.

We are working with several experts on elevating the security all over the property, but won’t share any of those details here as many of our employees read this blog. Suffice it to say, things are changing at Project Canaan.

This morning my Facebook page popped up an image from five years ago. It was a photo of our first nine children, in their pajamas all sitting on a change table.  I went down to Saturday’s Kids Club and the Oasis and we re-enacted the photo of our first nine.  The kids squealed in seeing themselves as babies and loved crawling up on the bed to get the updated photo.

Levi, David, Caleb, Jeremiah, Emmanuel, Anna, Joshua, Esther, Miriam - 2012

Levi, David, Caleb, Jeremiah, Emmanuel, Anna, Joshua, Esther, Miriam - 2017
I sent both photos to Kenny and Amber to encourage them and remind them why we are all here.  While fear continues to want to keep a stranglehold here at Project Canaan, LOVE is so much bigger and SO much stronger than fear. I am sharing them today with you to show you what the love of Jesus looks like.  Look at the hope and joy in the eyes of our children now.  My heart is full.

We are told that the greatest commandment in the bible is to “love one another”, even when it’s hard. Today, and every day, we choose love.

Live from Swaziland … I choose love and I will not be afraid.


Saturday, August 5, 2017


This is 2-year-old Jonathan.  All of his parts are in the right place. I have an update on his health at the end of this blog.

I am not sure that I have every used the word “testicles” in my life prior to a month ago.  And in the last four weeks, it has been a word used in my daily vocabulary. 

Strangely, we have had four boys in the past few weeks who we have discovered in “well child check ups” to have un-descended testis ( 

This is more common than one might think, with 1 in 20 boys being born with the problem.  Typically the testis do make their way down to where they are supposed to reside, but if they don’t get there by the time the boy is 9-months-old, surgery is recommended.  Without surgery, the risk increases for infertility and/or cancer.

How hard could it be to have this kind of surgery in Swaziland you ask? Well, not really that hard at all, but there is only one urologist in Swaziland (we are very grateful that he is here!) and the cost is approximately $4,000 USD per surgery/child.  Yes, that means an unexpected cost of $16,000 in the past four weeks for testicles. You can see why the word has been spoken so often in my current circles.  What do we do?  We had a small amount of money in our “Emergency Medical” fund, but certainly not that amount.  But we moved forward in faith, and started with the first boy.

Now I am writing a blog using that word with the hopes that some of you will understand the importance of the surgery for the other boys and will help us out.

Ian and I often sit and look at each other and say, “you can’t make this stuff up”.  And we sure can’t.  And the other thing you can’t do is predict that four of your boys will have undescended testis next year and put it in a line item on a budget for Board approval. Imagine that conversation.

Speaking of testicles, I wanted to give you an update on the rapist that I had the distinct pleasure of capturing in November 2015. You can read about it at

This is the evidence bag that had the phone, machete, and the lady's underwear in it.
Last week he went to court, and while he confessed to multiple rapes while at the police station, he denied them in front of the judge.  The good thing was that the day we caught him, and put in the back of my truck, he had the lady’s cell phone (that he stole from her) in his bag, the machete that he attacked her with and his DNA was on her clothing.  He was found guilty of two counts of rape and one robbery. He will be sentenced next week, but we are expecting 15 years for each of the rapes and then the robbery on top. 

While I sat in front of the prosecutor preparing for court, an old lady sitting beside me described how this man had also raped her a few months before the November case.  These two ladies were sisters.  One, the eldest in the family, and one was the youngest.  My heart broke for them both, and while I think that we should have used his bush knife to cut off his … well … I won’t use that word again in this blog, I am relieved that there is one more bad guy out of our community. 

The guy in the red plaid is the rapist, the blue stripe was the arresting officer.
If you can help with our Emergency fund so that our little boys can get help, please do so by clicking on the links below so that we can proceed with the other surgeries.

In the US click here.

Live from Swaziland … Ian and I are having a date day.


This skin problem is directly linked to Jonathan's severe malnutrition.
PS Update on Jonathan.  Our poor little Jonathan started to lose weight last weekend and so they did another x-ray, only to find a spot on his lung.  They have started him on treatment for Tuberculosis and will keep him in the hospital for the next two weeks to see if he responds to treatment. If he gets healthier, that is great news. If not, it could be drug resistant TB, which is a different problem. We pray for quick and total healing.