On May 31st, 2012 the Maxwell family boarded a plane and moved to eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) to live at Project Canaan. I hope to update my blog on Saturday mornings and share, as honestly as I can, the highs and lows of our life in Africa. We are living on a farm in a remote part of this tiny Kingdom and are serving the community as well as the orphans and vulnerable children of the nation. Thanks for joining us.
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Saturday, December 29, 2018
The truth about the “perfect” Christmas
I won’t speak for all mom’s, but I think I do speak for the
majority when I say that we want Christmas with our family to be “perfect”.We work tirelessly to find the perfect gifts,
wrap them perfectly, decorate the house the way you always do, bake everyone’s
favorite goodies, meal plan the favorite meals and then worry about what isn’t
going to go right.The sense of control
is profound and important, because we want perfection.
This desire for perfection escalates when you only see your
children once a year, and only once a year you are together as a family, and it’s
for a short amount of time. I know that many of you know what I am talking
This year was no different for me in this area.The HARDEST thing about being obedient and
serving the Lord by moving to Africa is the impact that it has had on Spencer
and Chloe. Spencer went off to University
on his own as we packed all of our earthly belongings and moved a million miles
away, and Chloe moved with us, only to move on to High School in Taiwan the
following year as it was a better fit.
That was 6.5 years ago, and they have navigated through life
with their parents a phone call away, but not a hug away.I have shed many tears over the things I have
not been there in person to help with, and can hardly see the computer as I
type these words.
Christmas is a most precious time for me, and for us all,
and I always want it to be perfect, and perfect requires control. Well, we all
know that we aren’t in control, God is.
When Chloe arrived she was missing a suitcase, which had all
her clothes and most of her Christmas gifts, which she too had worked so hard
to find just the perfect gifts for all of us. Not only did Ethiopian Airline
lose her suitcase, but there were items stolen from the suitcase that did make
it with her.She gift wrapped a box that
when opened on Christmas morning the recipient found the contents gone.Can you imagine that?
Spencer had a terrible journey home with 18 hours of delays,
including TWO disembarking from two airplanes due to mechanical problems. It
took him 52 hours to fly from Barcelona to eSwatini and we lost a day of
family time.And again, his baggage was
opened and he was robbed. They even took things from the bottom of his suitcase,
moving things around so that other Christmas gift items were broken. Yes, zip ties
are a great idea, and they will use them next time, but seriously?? Should they have to do that?
We are told that Joburg airport has one of the highest theft
rates in the world.That was proven true
when 100% of my family travelers were robbed this Christmas. Chloe’s bag never
arrived, she borrowed clothes for the week and finally found it in Joburg on
her way back out of the country on Dec 27th.While we are thankful that it was found, it
did not provide for the perfect Christmas (and resulted in dozens of expensive
phone calls to Toronto, Ethiopia and South Africa).
Did I mention that it is always unbearably hot here at
Christmas time (between 96F36C – 104F/40C) with full humidity, leaving us to
sit sweating under the fans and putting ice packs around our necks? Oh, and did
you know that with this type of humidity a pavlova (meringue) will not hold its
shape because it’s too humid? Christmas dessert was a fail. But Ian cooked the
turkey on the Green Egg outside because we simply couldn’t bear to put on the
oven in the heat, and it was perfect, and delicious.
But with all of that said, our Christmas was perfect.We were together, and we got to celebrate
Jesus’ birth together, as a family, once again.We enjoyed delicious food, that wasn’t always perfect.We survived the heat, with very little
complaint (except maybe from me J).We loved seeing 170 children eat French toast
and bacon until they couldn’t eat any more (Jonathan ate FOUR pieces and an unknown
number of pieces of bacon!) and then we go to hand out a special Christmas gift
to each of them and watch them all wait patiently and then squeal with delight
We live in a broken and hurting world where thieves steal Christmas
gifts from weary travelers, where mothers dump babies in pit latrines to die
and where each of us have moments of doubt, fear, pride, resentment, jealousy, anger
and we just can’t ever hit “perfection”.But friends, I was reminded over and over this season that Jesus came to
the earth and He is perfection, and He is all we need. Afterall, the first Christmas wasn’t so
perfect either though, was it? No room in the Inn?Having a baby in a barn with no medical
support?No clean water, warm bed or
pain killers?But in the end, it was all
worth it, and it really was perfect, it just wasn’t as Mary had planned it to
I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to serve “the
least of these” in this tiny Kingdom, but I am even more grateful that Spencer
and Chloe still come home at Christmas, knowing that their journey will be long
and hard and that they might be robbed. They know that mom and dad aren’t
perfect, and we all have our “stuff”, and yet they come.
I have had a very teary Christmas season, some tears because
I miss my children, some tears because I wonder if we made a huge mistake in
moving here, some tears are from gratefulness, and some tears because I see a
deathly ill child (Isabelle) smile when eating pudding for the first time.
Thank you all for reading this very long blog, and for being
on this journey with me in 2018.I will
continue to write in 2019 and hope that you will continue to pray with us, love
us and support us.
Many blessings to you and your family, broken and all.Let none of us strive for perfection in 2019,
except in Him.
Live from eSwatini … I am thankful.
If you would like to make a year-end gift so that we can
continue in 2019, please give here: