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Saturday, October 27, 2018

I'm tired

The face of hopelessness (identity hidden)
Ian left eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) for an extended trip to the US and Canada on October 5th and I followed a few days after.  We have collectively been on 24 flights so far, sleeping in six different locations and meeting with hundreds of people.

Why are we doing this? We are doing it solely to share what is happening at Heart for Africa and to raise funds to support our work. 

Meanwhile, back in eSwatini, our family has received ELEVEN children in the 19 days that we have been away.  The youngest is 5-days-old, the oldest is just over two years. Included in those eleven children are two sets of twin girls a pair of siblings and four children who are HIV positive. 

When we travel abroad our goal is always to educate people to what is happening in the tiny Kingdom, and invite them to join us in helping to raise the remnant that is being left behind as a nation is being decimated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Poverty leads to starvation, starvations leads to desperation, desperation lethargy, lethargy leads to hopelessness and hopelessness leads to baby dumping, child abuse and death.

Below are US and eSwatini population growth charts, where you can see the largest population base in the US is the 25-year-old, followed closely by the 55-60-year-olds. In contrast, eSwatini’s largest population is under the age of two years, and the second largest is the 22-25-year old group – the ones having all the babies.  But those are just charts, just graphs that people can dispute.  I have seen those 2-year-olds and those 23-year-olds. They are real.

I am tired, and discouraged.  We have worked in eSwatini for 13 years now, and have lived there for 6.5 years of those years, and the situation is not getting any better. I find that donors and friends tire of hearing the same stories that we tell about this baby being found in a pit latrine, or that baby being dumped in the river. Then there’s the story about this one coming with broken limbs or fractured skulls and then there’s the never-popular child with AIDS, Tuberculosis AND they are literally starving to death.  Who wants to hear about them?  It just makes people sad and kind or ruins your day. Heck, it makes me sad.

And why on earth would you want to give money to help two crazy Canadians who are now raising 210 Swazi children until adulthood?  We need donor support, but people are busy, distracted and often, disinterested.

While we are enjoying seeing trusted friends and having familiar food, I long to be back home in eSwatini where most of my family lives.  Every day we deal with death, child trafficking, rape, violent crime, lies, stealing, pain, heartbreak and hopelessness every day, and oh, the hopelessness - that is the worst. But I have found that hopelessness is nearly impossible to convey to a western audience and get them to respond. I have seen the face of hopelessness, hundreds of times, and it is always the same. The eyes of a hopeless person are empty, but still open. Their skin is dry and blotchy like they have never had a drink of water.  Their limbs are limp and lifeless, which usually matches their hair and the way their lips sit on their face – limp and lifeless. 

BUT I do see hope in the eyes of our children,  our amazing staff and the social workers/police/doctors whom I have the privilege to work with. I see joy in their smiles and hope in their eyes just knowing that someone sees them, hears them and cares. 

I am “cheating” by writing this blog on Friday night on a 3+ hour flight from Atlanta to Denver so that I am not “late” posting my blog after everyone has finished their morning coffee and moved on with their day. As I am writing this I am listening to a song by Lincoln Brewster called “While I wait”.  The lyrics say:

“While I wait, I will worship, Lord I’ll worship your name.
While I wait, I will trust you, Lord I’ll trust you all the same.

I live by faith, and not by sight.
Sometimes miracles take time.

You’re faithful every day.
Your promises remain.

Though I don’t understand it, I will worship with my pain.
You are God you are worthy, you are with me, all the way.

So while I wait, I will worship, Lord I’ll worship your name.
Though I don’t have all the answers, still I trust you, all the same.”

We need funding for our children. NO, we need funding for HIS children.  I’ll stop asking when He has provided sufficiently for the children He has placed in our care.

If you can sponsor a child today, please do so. 

Live from an airplane … I will worship while I wait.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

He literally almost died of hunger

19-month-old comfort after his first bath and meal
Last week I shared with you that we received 7 babies in 7 days.  I have written 335 blogs since we moved to Africa in 2012, one every single Saturday morning, without fail, but last Saturday’s seems to have struck a chord with many of you because it became my 2nd most read blog of ALL time in just 7 days. I have wondered all week what it was that made you share it more?

“7 babies in 7 days” (read at: had 9,300 reads in 7 days.  Coincidence?  Or just lucky #7?

Last week I also shared with you about us picking up little baby whom we have named “Comfort”.  He is 19-months-old and is the size of a 5-month-old.  He was found living with his 90-year-old Great Grandmother and was literally starving to death.  Yesterday our Social worker, Margie, sent me a photo of Comfort, only 10 days after arriving at Project Canaan, with the caption, “Baby Comfort after 10 days of good food and lots of love.  He’s crawling and smiling often!”
Happiness bringing toys for Comfort
I was at the airport in Chicago when I read that and saw his photo and almost burst in to tears. 

And do you know what made it even better??  I was working on child sponsorship updates to send to every person who sponsors one of our children and Margie also told me that our baby girl named “Happiness”, who is ONLY 13-month-old, was very quick to welcome the “new guy” and has deliberately spent her time moving over to sit beside Comfort, bringing him special toys and making sure that he feels welcome.  He is being COMFORTED by the Comforter, through another baby who was loved back to life this past year. Unbeknownst to me, that is common behavior for Happiness when a new baby arrives at the El Roi Baby Home. That to me is the hand of God working right in front of our eyes, daily.

Child sponsorship donor update
From last week’s 9,300 blog reads and shares approximately 15 of our our children have been newly sponsored!   THANK YOU to those of you who said “YES” and took action and joined us.  We are still very much behind on funding for the 29 children who have arrived this year, so I am asking again (still) for your help.

If you read this blog regularly, or if it’s your first time, please consider sponsoring one of our children today.  You can make a one time gift or sign up to give monthly.

We can’t save all the children in eSwatini who are in desperate need of help, but we do our very best to help those who are brought to us through Social Welfare with the police and hospitals who see the desperate need every single day.

Peace and Comfort share the exact same birth date.
Live from Vancouver, Canada … I am thankful for the support of our friends.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

7 babies in 7 days

This is how we found the 90-year-old Great Grandmother caring for the 19-month-old baby boy
For those of you who read last week’s blog, you would have read that we received baby #200 on the Friday before, and her name is Praise.  What a joyous day of celebration that was!

While you were reading the blog the next day, another baby was brought to us. She is 4-months-old and was left in the forest last Friday night and found by a stranger on Saturday morning. Police started the search for her mother to charge her with child abandonment.  We are calling her Treasure (found in the forest) and she is #201.

On Monday night we were called police to say that they had found Treasure’s 2-year-old brother and they brought him to us as they took the mother to prison for abandoning her baby in the forest. His name is Blessing and he is #202.

On Tuesday AM I drove to Mbabane to pick up a newborn baby whose mother was so traumatized that she tried to abort the baby several times and then threatened to drown the baby upon birth. Her name is Patience and she is #203.

Two hours later on Tuesday morning we were called from another part of the country about an extreme case of malnutrition in a 19-month-old boy who is the size of a 5-month-old. He was living with a 90-YEAR-OLD grandmother who had absolutely nothing to give him.  The photo at the top of this blog is a photo of the boy (left) with our boy Peace on the right. The two of them share the same birthday. You can see the devastating effects of malnutrition in his tiny and sad body. His name is Comfort and he is #204.

These two boys share the exact same birthday.  Peace (left) and severely malnourished new arrival Comfort (right).

On Friday AM we received our 10th set of twins.  They are the 7th and 8th born of a suicidal mother and the first baby was born in a bus stop and a good Samaritan took the mother and baby to the clinic where the second baby was born. Their names are Tabitha and Tamara #205 and #206.

Last week 4,900 people read my blog and only 5 people were moved to sign up to sponsor a child on a monthly basis. Since then we have seven more mouths to feed, seven more lives to pray over (several who are HIV+) and seven lives who need hope for their future. Hundreds of people “liked” the blog or shared it or commented on it, and that is lovely, but it doesn’t feed them, bathe them or help keep them alive.  Honestly, we really need your help. If EVERY person who reads this blog gave $10 monthly we would be in good shape.

Maybe you don’t like the idea of giving monthly, so today I am asking if you would consider giving a one-time gift of $2,700 to FULLY support one of these children for a WHOLE year.

This month we have our US and Canadian Board of Director meetings. If we can’t increase child sponsorship for our children, I know we will be forced to stop receiving children in the very near future. This is not a false threat, it is a reality. If we can’t properly care for them, we have to stop. And nobody wants that, least of all, me.

Please, will you help with just one child today?  Praise? Treasure? Blessing? Comfort? Tabitha? Tamara?

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.  Today, I am asking Creator of the Universe to rain down provision for these, HIS children, and encourage those of us who are weary and need to see His hand at work.

Live from Minooka, Illinois … show us your provision Lord.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

200 babies lives saved

On March 1, 2012 we received our first baby – Joshua.  The El Roi baby home was built and ready for babies in January 2012, and we wondered if a baby would ever come.  Since that day, we have received a baby every 12 days on average. Our family moved to Swaziland in May, 2012 to be with the children.

Yesterday we received a call about a baby girl who had been left with a stranger by her mother three months ago (!) and the stranger finally went to the police. Social welfare was called, an investigation ensued and the child was placed with us.  We have named her PRAISE, a treasured name that we had been saving for baby #200, hoping that she would be a girl, and she is!

The past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions for me personally as more babies arrive, more babies start to walk, more children lose teeth and more children can speak in two languages.  How will we fund them? What if we don’t get more donor support, how and when will we have to say “no” to a baby who has been dumped in a pit latrine, or left on the side of the road? 200 children is a lot of children, and our eldest (twins) are only 7-years-old. 

Ian and I think of each child as being a 22-year commitment to each child, because that would get them through any post-secondary education that they might seek. I will be 76-years old when PRAISE is 22-years-old.  I know that there are many great people who are alongside us in the calling, and there will be many more when we are gone, but that is Ian and my reality each and every day. Every time the phone rings with a baby in need, it’s 22 more years.  For our family members in Canada who say that we are retired … we are not.

I try to spend as much time as possible with the kids so that I know their unique personalities, likes, dislikes and what makes them laugh.  This past week I have been working on child sponsorship updates for our monthly donors and it was so fun to sit with the Sr. Supervisors and just talk about the children who have been sponsored.

Here are a few highlights so that you can know a bit more about a few of our children:

·      Shirley is a strong-willed child and is in a time of “testing” our staff.
·      Lucy is very smart and not only skipped Pre-kindergarten, she is at the top of her class in Kindergarten.
·      Timothy likes to paint within the lines, and is left handed.
·      Phephile wants to be Grace’s best friend and Anna is jealous of their friendship and is acting out because of it.
·      Most of our bigger boys want to be a Power Ranger or a Super hero when they grow up.
·      Nathan will cry if you make him do any form of physical exercise.
·      Margaret (2-years-old) is very caring for the other “little babies” and helps them up steps, helps feed them or helps them up if they fall.
·      Job, River and Hosea are the “3 Musketeers” at Emseni One.
·      Lenah, Angel and Deborah (who now prefers to be called "DD") are best friends and love to laugh and be silly girls.
·      Holly and Ivy are IDENTICAL twins, but Holly’s hair looks like Don King, so that is how you know which one she is.  We have nine sets of twins.
·      Jonathan is now speaking in English and siSwati, but his voice sounds like a high-pitched bird. A year ago we didn’t know if we would live.

There is no greater joy I have than to sit and watch these children learn, love and grow. Some days I take my laptop down to the baby home or the Oasis and that is my office for the day. I can’t do that at the toddler home – too many sticky hands and fingers!  The toddler home is for hugs and throwing the ball.

I can’t imagine what our lives would be like if we had not said “yes”, not having a clue what we were really saying yes to. Obedience precedes understanding, and I am so thankful that we were obedient because the blessing that has been given to us indescribable.

Please join Ian and me in sponsoring a child today. We have some awesome gifts from Khutsala to share with you for a limited time. See below.

Live from eSwatini … giving thanks for the support of others.