Saturday, August 25, 2018
We now have 196 children who have been placed with us through those very Social Welfare Officers, and it was wonderful to see their joy and amazement when they got to see the children that they had placed in to our care.
I cannot say enough about these people who SEE IT ALL. We have received children who have been burned by their own parents, have had arm/leg/skull fractures at the hands of relatives, been dumped in pit latrines (outhouses), strangled and put in a garbage can, dumped in the river, put in a plastic bag and hung in a tree, left on the side of a busy road, left at a bus stop, or even abandoned in the hospital after birth. Every one of our 196 children come with a horrific and unbelievable story, but they are some of the ones that the Social Welfare Officers were able to help. There are many more children that they can’t help, and they are heartbroken.
Day after day they hear stories of abuse, starvation, abandonment, rape, pain and suffering, but often all they can do is council and console the person who is telling the story. The toll that it takes on them immense and I often wonder how they do their jobs day after day without crumbling.
But yesterday they came to have their “joy-buckets” replenished and I believe that they were hopeful when they saw our/their children singing and dancing with restored bodies, minds and hearts.
At the end of lunch, Pastor Nate Ferguson gave them a word of encouragement and then our children gave a full performance with poems, song and dance. It was magical and our guests cheered over and over again, sometimes jumping up to join in the singing and dancing. At the end there was a spontaneous eruption of dance that brought joy to my heart and I knew that if for only a brief moment in time, these people who work so hard for so many, were happy and filled with joy.
Some days are harder than others, but yesterday was a GREAT day and my “joy-bucket” was also filled to over-flowing. How do you fill your "joy-bucket"?
Please join me in praying for the Social Welfare Department of eSwatini and its leaders. Let us pray for courage and strength to endure and that their joy-bucket will remain full.
Live from Swaziland … taking it easy today.
Saturday, August 18, 2018
This week I spent two days in a Swazi courtroom, praying for a young woman who had to testify in open court that her own mother forced her to have sex with strangers for money. The girl’s mother sat just 25 feet away across the room from the girl, with arms crossed, glare in her eyes and enough attitude to fill the room.
The girl was terrified and could hardly be heard as she whispered her story through a cracked voice in her mother tongue – Shangani. The interpreter would then translate the African language in to English and the High Court judge would write down every word of both questions and answers (there is no court stenographer). At times the details were so painful that the interpreter herself found it hard to speak without showing her own emotion.
At 16-years-old this girl was ripped from her home in a foreign country and smuggled in to Swaziland through a fence in the Swazi bush. Her mother would take her to bars, ply her with alcohol and then sell her for the night to a stranger (always a white man) for R200 ($14 US). If she tried to refuse she would be beaten or not given food for three days.
I have known this young girl for many years now and thought that I had heard her whole story, but alas, my jaw dropped time and time again as she squeaked out her testimony for the world to hear as though she was using her last breath of air to do so. She was ashamed, embarrassed and afraid, and the world was listening.
How does a human being sex traffic another human being? How does a biological MOTHER sell her own daughter to perverted men who will pay for sex with an underage girl?
The legislation that made human trafficking a crime in Swaziland only became legislation in 2009. It was only three years later in 2012 that the Child Protection Act became law in Swaziland – the same year that we moved here. We all hear and read about human trafficking and while the problem is growing globally, I fear that the people of the world may be getting tired of hearing about it and have grown numb to the pain that so many are suffering.
|Yesterday's newspaper article about the case.|
This week was a hard week for me with my trust broken again by another office break-in on Project Canaan. Then my heart was shredded into a million pieces by listening to a girl, who is the same age as Chloe, share her two-year journey in hell.
The court adjourned after she was finished testifying and will resume in December. Until then there is no closure, no healing and more fear. Please join me in praying for justice for this victim and for victims around the world. Please pray for healing and forgiveness that can only come through Jesus. Please pray for courage and strength for everyone fighting darkness every day.
Live from Swaziland … Come Lord Jesus, come.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
In a few short hours we will host an 85th birthday party for our dear friend, Jere Scott. We met Jere and Janet back in 2005 when they came on their first Heart for Africa mission’s trip. We became fast friends and they have come to serve alongside us EVERY YEAR since then. Jere and Janet have been involved in almost every department on Project Canaan from building the Kufundza Carpentry Shop and SwaziMUD pottery barn, to building furniture, organizing containers, training staff, preaching, loving, counseling and feeding us all.
Then there is our friend Robert Smucker who was one of the very first people to step foot on Project Canaan. Robert walked the land and climbed the mountains (avoiding as many snakes as possible) and helped scope out roads, building locations and water. He stood by us when Board members didn’t believe that we should buy the land, he designed lots of furniture and to top it off, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and biked across South Africa to raise money and awareness ALL while holding a fulltime engineering job!
Frank and Jane Tananaau first came to Swaziland in 2006, packed up and MOVED here for a year and then returned for six weeks almost every year to serve alongside Jere and Janet with any and every project that they are involved in. Frank retired from the US Army in 2011 and between he and Jane they build, sew, drive, cook and love on our children, our staff and us.
What are you doing with your life? Do you think you are too old? Are you too busy at work? Do you have too many health issues? What lie is keeping you from serving the Lord with all your heart and soul?
Between Jere and Janet, Frank and Jane, they have had multiple hip and knee replacements and two of them are wearing leg braces today, while they continue to serve, but it hasn’t stopped them from hearing God’s voice and being obedient to His call. Robert has been dealing with a serious health issue for the past few years, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to support us in Swaziland, AND to expand his service to some of the most dangerous places on earth, going where the Lord sends him to help people in desperate need.
What lie is stopping you from going on a mission’s trip? What lie is stopping you from volunteering at your church? What lie are you telling yourself that is preventing you from stepping out of the boat, helping people who need help and receiving the blessing that comes with following Jesus?
Living in Swaziland isn’t easy, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world, or doing anything else with my life. I LOVE IT and I LOVE seeing friends come alongside and be blessed by serving the Lord with all their hearts and souls.
Is today the day you will take a step of faith? Why don’t you join us on an 11-day service trip in November and help us prepare for Christmas for 195+ children? You can sign up today at https://www.heartforafrica.org/2018-trips/
Live from Swaziland … I am thankful for good friends.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
|Photo credit: Chris Cheek|
We are just a couple of Canadians who moved to eSwatini, Africa to serve God through a bunch of orphaned or abandoned children who have been dumped in pit latrines, left in plastic bags in trees, dumped in the river or even lit on fire by their parents. That’s it. No hidden agenda.
I see how critical people are of Pastors (our Pastor Andy Stanley sure gets his daily dose from believers and unbelievers alike!), politicians, Royalty, celebrities and then there is the day-to-day bullying in schools and Sunday Schools every – single - day. It’s exhausting to observe.
I do embrace constructive criticism as that is how I learn, grow and get stretched, but I don’t handle “stupid” criticism well at all. I find myself having to repent from being condescending, dismissive or critical (the CDC as my family calls it) of those people.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
This week we got an email message from a lady responding to our diaper drive who said, “I can't believe you are using diapers and purchased wipes for those babies! What do villagers use?” I wanted to respond with the photo above and a message that the “villagers” (even though Swazi’s don’t live in villages) don’t use diapers (known as nappies) or wipes. They use leaves to wipe the babies bare bums as they toilet train them in the bush. And what do you mean by “those babies”??
But I didn’t.
Then there was the Swazi man who sent us a message through the website accusing us of making up statistics about his country, said that we taking advantage of Swazi’s because they are all gullible and that we are getting rich off of the faces of the children. To him I want to respond and say that I was rich when I lived and worked and employed people at my company in Canada, and I sure didn’t need to move to a country dying of HIV/AIDS and poverty to get richer. Furthermore, I don’t believe that ANY of the 280+ Swazi people that we employ at very fair market wages are gullible. Not one.
But I didn’t.
Last week Pastor Andy said, “The best way to avoid criticism is not to do anything.” I choose to be criticized. And I am trying to respond with grace (or not respond at all).
For those of you who support us (and why would you be reading this if you don't?), and who think our babies should wear diapers and be cleaned with wipes, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU from all 195 children and our 77 staff who care for them. More than 380 people shopped on line and bought 104,000+ diapers, 360,000+ wipes, 17,000 Pull Ups and endless educational supplies and toys, bicycles, sheets and towels. Yes, our children do ride bikes and they do sleep with sheets and dry off with towels (okay, no more CDC today). I love my Heart for Africa family and am so thankful for your love, grace and support.
Live from Swaziland … feeling a little salty today.