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Saturday, September 28, 2019

We have figured out how to make snowmen in Africa! ☃️

Khutsala Artisans is an incredibly important part of the Project Canaan Ministry because it employs 100+ people, who in turn are providing for 1,000+ people from their wages.  While we make and sell dozens of different 3D animals, keychains, and lots of SwaziMUD jewelry (handmade ceramic beads), it is our annual Christmas tree ornament that is our biggest seller of the year.

This year our ornament is the CUTEST little snowman, complete with a red scarf made from authentic Swazi fabric.  And of course, we made a larger decoration to sit on your mantle and match the ornament.  

So now we need to sell them all!  I am looking for 20 people TODAY to become Khutsala Brand Ambassadors and commit to selling 50 ornaments each (snowman or an assortment of any of our ornaments).  They are all in our warehouse in Michigan and ready to ship to you next week!  You would be surprised how many people post the ornaments on their social media pages and sell 50 to 100 within hours!

Our ornaments are only $12 each and make a perfect gift for anyone on your list, plus you are helping employ Swazi’s with all the profit going back to help provide for our 248 children. Will you be a Khustala Ambassador this year?  If yes, please email me at or and we will get you set up!  

We also have a really great fundraising program through Khutsala where we can make customized keychains (or ornaments) for your school, club, sports team or even your next missions trip!  The photos below are two examples of custom work that we have done recently.  It’s an easy and fresh way to raise money without selling high calorie snacks!

This past week we also worked on a beautiful beaded poinsettia bowl, and so while we haven’t made any yet I thought I would show it to you today to see if anyone likes them and would buy one?  It’s 9” wide x 2.4" high and will retail for $45. If you are interested in ordering one (or more), please email me directly at and I will bring them back with me when we head to the US/Canada in October.

We need your support more than ever with so many jobs on the line.  Will you shop at Khutsala today or become a Khutsala Ambassador?  THANK YOU!

Live from Eswatini … laughing that we are making snowmen in Africa!


Saturday, September 21, 2019

The heart of Project Canaan is pumping again

Many people think that Project Canaan is all about our children, but some of us would disagree with that.  Project Canaan is so much more than a home for orphaned and abandoned children, it is truly a place of hope in many other ways.

When the drought hit in 2016 the country was devastated.  We had to suspend our farming initiative and I distinctly remember all of the irrigation drip tape being rolled up from the fields and the pipes being put away. It was very depressing.  We had just finished building the greenhouse where we had planned to start a hydroponics program, but there wasn’t even enough water to do that, and so it sat empty.  It wasn’t until our friend Billy Nolan from North Point Community Church asked if we had heard of Aquaponics (which we hadn’t) that we were able to at least start working on that project while we waited for rain and started the monster project of bringing water from the top of our mountain.

While the rains have not yet come, we are now water secure and we have been able to fill our dams, roll out the irrigation drip tape and start planting crops again.  Our greenhouse is full to overflowing with all the tomatoes/cucumbers/peas/red peppers and broccoli that we can eat (and sell).  The aquaponics system is providing us fresh tilapia fish and all different types of organic lettuce that we serve every day. It’s simply wonderful.

Ian checking out the newly planted beet root
But when I say that the heart of Project Canaan is beating again, it is the whole agriculture part of the farm that I am referring to.  We live on a farm, and when nothing is growing on a farm it is disheartening and depressing for all.  The farm is the heartbeat of Project Canaan and while there is a buzz throughout the project as everyone sees the spinach and cabbage flourishing in the fields, it is the rows and rows of beet root that has got everyone talking.

Who would think that beet root would be something that we talk about every day?  I sure didn’t. In fact, Ian is down in the greenhouse and fields multiple times a day to oversee this incredible new crop. We have hired a Farm Consultant from Zimbabwe and he is an expert in his field (and now in our fields 😂) and he is passionate about all things agriculture.   We have a customer who will buy as much beet root as we can produce, so we are planting 150,000 beet root seeds every two weeks in the green house.  They live in the greenhouse for three weeks and then they get moved outside for a week to “harden”, then they get planted in the fields.

We planted our first 150,000 seedings this week and will plant another 150,000 in two weeks. We will start harvesting the beets in eight weeks and then “double crop” the field by preparing and replanting it again.  In the next 12 months we will produce and sell more than 1,100 tons of fresh beet root, which will help feed the country, and also help generate income for Project Canaan.

In addition to this, the beet greens (tops of the beets which are extremely high in nutritional value) will be cut off and distributed to our church partners to add to our child feeding program, providing extra nutrition to children around the country.

The heart of Project Canaan is beating again, and this would not be possible without the 9.5 KM (6 miles) of piping which brings water from the top of our mountain.  Without water security we would not been able to risk the investment for the beet root with the knowledge that the rains still may not come.

Water isn’t just for the crops though, it’s for our swimming pools!!! Now that we have lots of water, and summer has arrived, the pools are open and our sprinklers on on!!  I just had to throw in a cute video and couple of photos for your enjoyment.

Live from Eswatini … water is life.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

What did my mom and Ian have in common?

Planting banana trees in honor of my mom.
Tomorrow is Ian’s 54th birthday. It would have been my mom’s 88th birthday if she were still alive. But that's not all they had in common.

As I sit and write this blog I am looking out over the Project Canaan farm and thinking of these two very special people in my life and how they have impacted my life, and so many others – my mom and Ian.

My mom was a fearless genius, a brilliant pharmacist, a renaissance woman, and a stubborn/tireless advocate. She would have LOVED everything about Project Canaan, especially the impossibility of the whole thing.  She would have wanted to be covered in grease trying to fix the bulldozer, but then she would have been researching how to get better yields of tilapia in the aquaponics system. She would have reorganized our pharmacy and tried to find medications around the world that aren’t available here and then she would have been finding new varieties of vegetables for our fields.  Her surname was “Willis” and there was a family play on the saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” that said,  “Where there’s a Willis, there’s a way”.  That was my mom.

My mom was also a mighty woman of faith and trusted in the Lord for everything.  I remember seeing my first miracle on her couch in the livingroom above the drugstore where we lived.  One of her friends was born with one leg several inches shorter than the other, causing a significant limp and pain. My mom was a “new Christian” and read that Jesus healed the lame, so she laid hands on her friend and prayed for her friend’s leg to grow so that she would no longer limp and be in pain.  I saw that leg grow with my own eyes, and I saw my mom jump up and down and shriek, cry and rejoice!  Her friend never limped again (but did have “growing pains” for a few days after the healing).
Mom with Spencer on his 1st Christmas.
My mom’s faith was unwavering and she taught me to believe in a God who never failed.

In that way, Ian is very much like my mom.  His faith is unwavering, and I see that every single day. AND he is really excited about the unknown and the adventure of learning.

For those of you who don’t know Ian personally, he is a very humble man who models grace, wisdom and hard work for those around him.  He loves to learn and is the first to admit that he knows nothing about many things that he is working on, but he is also the first to buy a book about butchering to learn how to carve up a cow or read the latest book on bees to learn how to get our Aviary back up and running.  He loves to learn like my mom did and I love that about him.

Hundreds of thousands of beet root seedlings preparing for the field.

Making our own minced beef after slaughtering a cow.
Ian is also a man of faith and believes in a God who answers prayer.  And why wouldn’t he?  He knows that it is impossible for us (Ian and Janine Maxwell) to start a farm in the middle of a tiny Kingdom in Africa and then rescue 247 orphaned or abandoned babies and commit to raising them to adulthood.  We didn’t know anything about farming, construction or growing fruit trees, but Ian had faith that God would send people who did and now we have field crops as well as hydroponics and aquaponics, we have built 63 buildings, and we have an orchard of avocadoes, papayas and have cleared land for a banana grove!

Ian is my rudder.  He is the calm in my storm.  He makes me laugh and consoles me when I cry.  But more importantly his faith is a constant reminder to me that God is in control, that He loves us and He is our provider. 

Will you join me in celebrating Ian’s life by buying him a banana tree for our new banana grove?  They are only $12.00!  That’s the best birthday gift ever because they will provide fresh fruit for years to come!

Tomorrow is also the birthday of our children Moses, Robert and Bernice so if you would like to buy them banana tree for their birthday or if you would like to buy one in memory of my mom, please click on the links below. Thank you!

In the US click here.

In Canada click here.

Live from Eswatini … banana pudding will soon be on the menu!


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Don't worry about it.

These 1-year-olds don't have a worry in the world. They are safe. They are loved.
Last Saturday I wrote about a 2-year-old baby girl named Isabelle, who has suffered more in her short life than anyone should in a lifetime.  You can read her story by clicking here.  I am thankful for the 797 people who read the blog, and most certainly thankful for all of the prayers, but I’m a bit surprised that not a single person signed up to sponsor her, not even for $10/month.  I understand that many of you already sponsor children and/or have other charities that you support, but I fear that my stories have become repetitive. This child has suffered terribly and that child is burned badly and this one was dying of starvation – maybe it getting old?  Maybe we are all becoming desensitized to the pain and suffering in the world. Maybe God just has a different plan for her life?  What I do know is that I am not to worry about it.

There seems to be a lot of fear and worry in our midst these days. How will we pay the bills? How will we continue to fund the organization when we keep getting so many babies? When will we have to start turning away children in need?  Ian and I are very human, and we get hurt and we get tired, but what we can not allow ourselves to do is start to worry about how the Lord is going to provide for His children.  We need to be still. We need to ask Him for direction and we need to wait patiently for His direction, and then go when and where He says to go.  And he has never NOT provided. He has never abandoned us or left us in need, and He reminded me that He made Isabelle and He know exactly what she needs.

I put on my Spotify before I started to write this blog and the song “Way maker” by Leeland started to play.  It is just what I needed to hear. The words that soothed my soul, and brought tears to my eyes say:

Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are
Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are

And then I remembered my friends Cheryl Lucas, Seth Condrey and Sarah Windham singing that very song on Project Canaan in July, and it was magic.  The Holy Spirit was palpable that morning on the mountainside in the tiny, broken, hurting Kingdom of Eswatini.  Below is a short snippet of their powerful song.

What are you afraid of today? What are you worried about? What is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep?  Matthew does a bit of a slap down to followers of Jesus who are afraid and worry.  Let’s see what he says in this Message bible translation and see if it might help.  

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  Matthew 6:25-34

Drop the mic.

Live from Pretoria, South Africa … taking a little break.