Sign up to receive this blog by email

Saturday, November 9, 2019

What if?


We are in Toronto this weekend … our old “stomping grounds”, and it’s weird.

I remember always wanting to live in Toronto because I thought it was the greatest city in the world. I loved the noise, the high-rise buildings, musical theatre, the speed of life, nice restaurants and skanky bars that we would visit to listen to live music.  I didn’t mind the traffic or the cold weather or the snow, I just loved Toronto.

But it seems I have changed.

I cannot express how happy I am to have our family together. Spencer flew in from Chicago, Chloe drove in from St. Catherine’s and Ian and I drove from Ottawa, after spending a few days visiting the Maxwell family and our friends from the Egg Farmers of Canada.  Nothing makes me happier than having the four of us together, anywhere in the world and for any amount of time.  But I am starting to get homesick.  I miss my little ones. I miss their squeals of joy, their never-ending chatter, their hugs, their innocence and I miss my Swazi friends and family. 

There is a purity of spirit that I feel when I am at Project Canaan, and while most people in the country are living in abject physical poverty, their internal joy overflows from their smiles to their words of encouragement and thanksgiving.  But I don’t see that in North America. 

As we have traveled the past 20 days to eight cities in Canada and the US, I can’t help but notice the poverty all around me. It’s not poverty of income or wealth, it’s a poverty of spirit.  I got in the elevator to get to the AirBnB that we are staying in and I greeted the people and they just looked away as if I was crazy.  Everyone is moving so quickly to get to the next thing on their schedule, but rarely taking the time to be present where they are (I too am guilty of that!). I’m not saying everyone is like that, and I am not doing a good job putting words to my thoughts, but I feel a sadness and emptiness here that I just don’t feel back in Eswatini.   

I often wonder “what if” we had said NO to this calling to serve “the least of these”?  I would never have seen the miracle of Princess walking or Holly and Ivy hearing or Jonathan being raised from the dead.  I would never have understood how “life-giving” fresh water really is or how terrifying fire can be or how often a chicken lays an egg (!).  But most importantly, I may never have learned that God IS our provider, His grace IS sufficient, and His mercy is new every morning.  I have learned that from living in Africa.

 

This weekend we will see friends from high school, our business days and our life in Toronto. There is no way for me to adequately explain the joy (or the sorrow) of living in Eswatini, but hopefully they will see it in our eyes and hearts.

To my Swazi friends and family – you have changed me, and I will be forever grateful for your patience, your kindness, your grace and your love.

Live from Toronto … I don’t miss the cold weather!

Good morning Ottawa.

Janine

 PS - if you want to come visit us tonight or tomorrow please check this link for times and locations. 



Saturday, November 2, 2019

Heading to Toronto with apprehension


Ian and I are on a 30+ whirlwind trip to raise awareness and funds for Heart for Africa and the work we are doing in Eswatini. We are half way through our travels and all has gone well to date.

Next weekend we will be in Toronto, our favo(u)rite city in the world .  We LOVE Toronto and are excited to be there with Spencer and Chloe, but it’s not without apprehension.

Here is why.

We have four different events on November 9th and 10th, and we have NO idea if anyone will attend them.

The first one is a gathering of high school friends from our Grenville Christian College (GCC) days.  While it is the school where Ian and I met, it has been under fire for many years by staff and students who consider it a cult.  The once popular boarding school has been closed for many years and there is a Class Action lawsuit against it by many former students who were really messed up and/or hurt during their time there.  Most high schools have regular alumni reunions, but GCC hasn’t because of the conflict amongst the alumni and, frankly, some of the memories that people may not want to face.  So … we are sticking our necks out by calling a gathering of GCC friends on Saturday, November 9th from 5:00 to 7:00PM at the Amsterdam Barrel house, which may be a total bust with only Ian, Spencer, Chloe and I sitting together (with our friend Sandy Dameron Carrington).   I hope our GCC friends will come and reunite.

After that event we are hoping to see old friends and business associates from our ONYX Marketing days, but again, those days were a long time ago and we kind of made a mess of things when we closed the company without warning. ONYX Marketing was a very successful Marketing Agency from 1988 to 2004. We had a great business model that attracted the best people in the marketing industry to come and work hard, and play hard, and yes we played very hard. And then I went to Africa, my life was changed and the whole thing came to a crashing halt. 

The Good old days
We haven’t had much contact with many people from the “good old days”, but again are sticking our necks out and inviting anyone and everyone who might be interested in seeing us and hearing about why we really did close our company and what we are doing with our lives now. Spencer and Chloe will both be with us for moral support J , but it might just be us with our friend Diane Wilson sitting at the Amsterdam Barrel House from 7PM to 9:30PM on Saturday, November 9th.  And that would be okay too.

The following day we are speaking at the Peoples Gospel Church (Chinese) at 11 AM, thanks to an invitation from our friend Annie Tam and then heading to the Ballantrae Golf & Country Club Recreation Centre in Stouffville from 2 PM – 4 PM with an open invitation to anyone who would like to come and hear about what we are doing in Eswatini and how we can get more Canadians involved.  We are thankful to Ray and Pat Stadnick and Leslie and Fraser Wilkinson, who are co-hosting the event, but it may just be the eight of us.

If you live in Canada and knew us from one of our past lives, and wondered “what ever happened to the Maxwell family”, please do join us at one of the locations we will be at in the GTA.  They will all be very casual and we won’t ask you for money (well, you never know 👀).   You can check out all the location details at this link.

Live from Minneapolis … it’s a cold (and FROSTY!) Saturday morning.

Janine

If you want to see what we are doing without joining us at an event in the GTA please go to www.heartforafrica.ca.