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Saturday, January 27, 2018

When the little things become big things.

Last week I wrote about “the little things” that I needed to stop and give thanks for. Today I am writing about when the little things become big things.

Today my husband is happier than I have ever seen him. Well, maybe not ever, but he is skipping with joy around the house.  Why? BECAUSE TODAY WE GOT HIGH SPEED INTERNET AT OUR HOUSE.  AND, it is wireless. And it is unlimited for $130/month. 

When we first came to Swaziland the internet was DIAL up and it groaned trying to connect.  When we moved here 5.5 years ago the internet was so slow that we couldn't have a video Skype call with Chloe and Spencer because our screens would just freeze.  We have spent 5.5 years trying to get a land phone line brought to Project Canaan, but that has not been successful. 

For 5.5 years we have had to buy very expensive data packages from the sole cellular mobile carrier in the country and there have been many months that we go over our data plan (sometimes up to $500 USD - yikes!!!).  We are on the internet a lot communicating around the world. 

But today is a new day.  There is a new cellular mobile carrier in the country and last week we went to town to sign up!  Alas, nothing is easy here.  When we arrived at the store we learned that they had run out of routers that are needed to put the SIM card in, and wouldn’t have any in-stock for a few more weeks.  We went to another store, and it was the same thing – the country was out of the required router.  But Ian was not going to be defeated. The longer we are in Africa, the more determined we become to not give up and think creatively for a solution.  (Interestingly, our marketing company’s motto was once “Creative Thinking”).

Ian got on line and found the distributor for the routers in Johannesburg, a mere 6-hour drive from us.  Off we went.  Yep, we drove 12 hours to buy a $120 router.  Then we got back and went directly to the mobile store.  And again, they couldn’t get us set up until Monday. I thought I saw a tear in Ian’s eye, but maybe I was wrong. 

It was really really hot in the store so I went and sat in the air-conditioned car and waited.  He finally came out (having spent a full hour in the store) and we headed home.  He plugged in the router, and guess what?  It worked!  We were live and online! 

Today he is skipping around the house.  He is setting up Spotify and Netflix – two online solutions that we could never even consider. We can now watch Youtube videos, which we never do here. We can download books to ALL our devices!  WHAT?  Yep, it’s true. I don’t have to read a book on my phone because it will cost too much to download it to my computer and iPad.   Sometimes we laugh at ourselves being the “country mice”, but today these country mice became like city mice (living in the country).  

AND one more perk - now we can set up security cameras around the property to help with our ongoing security problems and finally see and catch who is breaking in to our buildings!  WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED!

Speaking of Youtube – you have to check out this really awesome video of our really awesome son Spencer. He was asked to do a “Student Talks”, which is like a “TED Talks” at Queen’s University where he is doing his Master degree in International Business. It’s titled “When to run off and join the circus – Spencer Maxwell”.   I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do (and now we can watch it over and over again with our unlimited internet access!!!) Here is the link:

Live from Swaziland … I love it when little things become big things.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

It's the little things

As I had my quiet time this morning I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving for this incredible adventure that the Lord has invited us on.   As I sat and contemplated what makes it so amazing, I realized it’s not the baby rescues, or witnessing health miracles, or seeing people come to faith, but it’s really the little things that make our new lives so amazing.

It’s the sheer joy in Peter’s face as he splashes around the swimming pool to stay cool on an "Africa-hot" day.

It’s an early morning message from a young mother at the Kibbutz, thanking me for being a role model to her as she navigates raises her son.

It’s little Moses sitting beside me at snack time and tapping me on the arm and with the biggest smile saying, “Mama, I am sitting beside you”. 

It’s watching our children play on their new swings for the first time (thank you Jacob Banta!)

12 new swings between Emseni 1 and Emseni 2

Shirley on the new swings
It’s watching one of our Aunties carry rolls of paper towels the traditional way - on her head.
The challenges we face here are huge and the work is seemingly impossible. Just living in Africa is not easy with differences in language/culture/religion/history, but finding joy in the little things makes every challenge, every set back, and every tear worthwhile.  I encourage you to look for joy in all the little things around you today – it can change your worldview, and your world.

James 1:2-4 reminds us to,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Live from Swaziland … trying to stay cool on a really hot day.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why do Christians do that?

Wendy turned 2-years-old this week and she is just now starting to walk.  We are encouraged.
This week I had several very disturbing conversations with government officials and Heart for Africa volunteers who told me about people “trash talking” the work that Heart for Africa and Project Canaan is doing in Swaziland. For those of you who English is not your first language, the dictionary definition of “trash talk” is “insulting or boastful speech intended to demoralize, intimidate, or humiliate someone insulting especially an opponent in an athletic contest.” 

We are not in an athletic contest, and they are not speaking these words so that we can hear them, they are doing it behind our backs, spreading rumors that are far from the truth, and criticizing every level of how we are serving God. 

The part that was most disturbing is that these trash talkers are people in Christian Ministry here in Swaziland.  It’s not just one that was reported to me, it was several, and it was people who have never been to Project Canaan, never met us and have never been a part of what we are doing.

Why do Christians do that?  Jealousy?  Pride?  Lack of self-control?  Or they are just plain mean-spirited?

When I told Ian I wanted to write this blog, but didn’t want to sound whiny, he suggested that I confess that I have had to put on my “big girl panties” and realize that people are people, and we are to love them anyway.  But the fact that the garbage is coming from people who profess to be Christians who are also serving in Christian ministry in a foreign land, made it a bit harder for me.

As I was trying to identify the emotion I was feeling I realized that it wasn’t hurt, it wasn’t personal offense, it was purely confusion as to the motive behind such talk.  What’s in it for them? Do they not know that Jesus hears their words, and he sees their hearts? 

The bible tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up”. Let us all try to encourage one another this week, and always.

Live from Swaziland … enjoying a hot Saturday with the Project Canaan kids.


Saturday, January 6, 2018


Happy New Year - I thought I would start you off with a fabulous video of some of 
our Swazi children singing this morning!

I love the first week of January.  We typically get to spend it with Spencer and Chloe, and in recent years, on a beach in Durban, South Africa overlooking the Indian Ocean.  We enjoy much needed family time (often only being together once a year), “down time” from work and time to think about, and pray about the New Year.

Then, the weekend before we go back to work (this weekend), Ian and I sit at with our laptops making plans for the New Year while we pray for God’s wisdom for each and every decision we make.

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But here’s the thing that we have learned about our plans.  We can make well thought out plans, we can write good strategies and come up with the clear tactics to achieve our goals but we must also be aware that God’s plans are not our plans, and we must be ready to be flexible and submit.   That requires quiet time, listening time, prayer time and being intentional to not only listen, but also to obey.
A good example of a bad plan. 
For those of you who are followers of Jesus, are you willing to give this a try in 2018?  If you do this, I promise it will change your whole life.  But beware! People will think you are crazy because you are not spending money where you used to spend it. You are not hanging out with the same friends you always hung out with. You are not listening to the same music, or watching the same shows or on the same websites that you once were.  But that is okay. 

Isn’t it time for change?  Isn’t it time for better plans?  Isn’t it time for a new life?

Oswald Chambers wrote, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….” Your choice must be a deliberate determination— it is not something into which you will automatically drift. And everything else in your life will be held in temporary suspension until you make a decision. The proposal is between you and God— do not “confer with flesh and blood” about it (Galatians 1:16). (For the complete article go to

Are you ready for a New Year?  I am. 

Live from Swaziland … Happy New Year!