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.
When our children see something that looks the same as something
else they immediately say “same same”.It could be a twin, an article of clothing or a candy.It’s really cute, and we hear it all the
The past 48 hours here has been the “same” as the past 12
months and also the “same” as the past 10 years – filled with the highs and
lows of life in Eswatini.
On Thursday we had extreme heat here and the humidity was
unbearable.The heat caused the power in
the whole country to shut down and then come on for a bit and then off
again.The greenhouse was too hot for
anyone to walk in to it because the fans weren’t working.When the power grid for the Kingdom goes out
we have back-up generators that automatically turn on. On Thursday the
generator which provides the air for the green house (keeping the plants alive
and fish oxygenated) is the same one that keeps the 5,000 laying hens cool with
fans and it’s the same one that we use to milk cows and keep the milk cool (not
to mention the power for mechanic shop and many people who live there).We don’t have air conditioning in our
buildings so we depend on ceiling fans to keep us alive.
Well, that generator got so hot that it too overheated and shut
off. Within 30 minutes we started seeing chickens die from the heat.While one team worked on fixing the big
generator, another team got a small generator to the green house to try to at
least keep the fish in the Aquaponics systems alive, and another team went to
work at the laying hen barn to try to mist water on the birds and water the
roof to cool it down.Within an hour we
had lost 166 chickens to the heat. The power finally came back on and major crisis
was averted.Another day in Africa.
Early the next day I received a phone call from social
welfare about a newborn baby girl who was born on Sunday, December 22nd
and whose mother just ran away from the hospital, having given a false name for
herself so she was untraceable.Within an
hour Ian, Chloe and I were in the car to go and bring home a new baby girl
(whom we are naming Jaimee). Ian looked at me and said, “You will be 74-years-old
when Jaimee finishes High School with us”. Another 18-year commitment (God
willing).A sobering thought.
The lows are low and the highs are high. This year we lost
two babies, we had a massive fire that burned most of our property and we
watched people die of hunger or malnutrition throughout the country. We also celebrated the 10th
anniversary of Project Canaan, received 42 new babies who now call Project
Canaan “home” and were able to restart our agriculture program.
I could share similar highs and lows over the last decade,
but I think you get the drift, and I’m tired.
The one thing that has remained constant through the joy and
the sorrow has been the presence of God.We try not to fear, we try not to worry and we try not to be
discouraged, which would all be impossible without His peace that passes ALL
understanding.He is the King Kings and
the Lord of Lords and the Prince of Peace, and we rest firmly in that knowledge
and rely on His power.
This job is an impossible one by human standards, but NOTHING
is impossible to the creator of the universe.
This morning Chloe and I went down to hang out with the
kids.As we sat and chatted with some of
the older kids, others were doing chores around us, taking down Christmas
decorations, sweeping, weeding and even delivering toilet paper from storage to
each house.As I rounded the corner to
the swing sets I could hear our 4-year-old girls swinging and singing “Away in
a Manger” and it simply brought me joy.God
has a plan for each of these children just as He has a plan for Spencer and
Chloe and just as He has a plan for you.Don’t miss out on His plan because you think your plan is better. I
promise you, it isn’t.
Thank you to everyone who has read this blog in 2019 or
maybe even from the beginning. Thank you to everyone who sponsors
a child, gives to Heart for Africa
on a regular basis or has made a year-end
donation.We only have three more days to meet our year-end
goals that will allow us to continue accepting more children, growing more
food, feeding more children and employing more adults in 2020.
Will you partner with us by giving your best gift to HIM today?He is our provider, but He is inviting you to
be a part of His plan.
One of the things I LOVE about living in Africa is that I
don’t feel the “hustle and bustle” of the Christmas season. My shopping is
done, wrapping complete and now it’s time to sit and enjoy the view, and my
We did have two staff parties this week for our 320+ employees
and I didn’t have to do anything other than attend.I love seeing the child-like joy that our
Swazi brothers and sisters exhibit with their bread eating contest or when they
cheer on the three men who are trying to drink a 2L bottle of Coca Cola first. From
a tug of war (in bare feet on a gravel road) to the free dance competition,
from Swazi cultural dances to poems about Project Canaan – it’s all fun and there
is a sense of innocence that I don’t feel at any other time of the year.
2019 started with the death of two babies – a very bad way
to start the year.Throughout the year
we received 41 new children, some very sick, malnourished and almost dead. But
we have managed to love them back to life.We have had many hospital admissions, broken bones, Tuberculosis, meningitis,
brain surgery, HIV/AIDS, lumbar punctures and we have a little guy with a very
rare and serious condition called Steven
Johnson Syndrome (he also has been diagnosed with Lissencephalye).Please pray for Kenneth and the Aunties who
are caring for him. My learning curve remains steep, my prayer life active, and
my eyes focused on the creator of the Universe.
Most of Project Canaan is closed for the holiday season and our
staff typically save holiday days for this time of year so that they won’t be
back to work until January 6th.Of course our Children’s Campus staff are all busy with keeping 257
children fed, cared for, loved and busy!Our days are filled with swimming lessons, karate, long walks, scavenger
hunts and yummy food.
Yesterday we started our day with an urgent phone call about
a mysterious fire that started in the Emseni 4 boys home, that burned a couch
and could have ended in disaster.Then
we ended our day hosting 22 kids up to our house for dinner and ice cream sundaes.They were all the Primary school kids who got
all A’s and B’s on their final report card. Our lives are filled with joy and
heartache, often in the same day, and lots of “unknown”, but we know that we
are exactly where we are supposed to be, and rest well in that knowledge.
Spencer and Chloe are home for the holidays and my heart is
full.I love sitting by the fire and
talking for hours, I love cooking their favorite meals and I love seeing them
interact with the other children who call us “mom” and “dad”.My world is spinning properly today and I
have much to be thankful for.I pray
that you can take a moment of calm to reflect on all that you have to be
thankful for – even in the darkest days we all have reasons to give thanks.
Live from Eswatini … Merry Christmas from our family to
PS - please consider making a year end gift to Heart for Africa today.
🇺🇸 US Donors: http://bit.ly/2019YEGIVINGUS 🇨🇦 CA Donors: http://www.heartforafrica.ca/2019-year-end-giving/
Last Saturday afternoon I received a call from a social worker
who was clearly distraught. She was in a police car with two babies who she had
just found locked up in a very broken down room made of mud and sticks, but
missing most of the mud and sticks. It was a very cold and rainy day and a
neighbor reported the case to the police after no longer being able to live
with the screams of terror coming from the two children.
I was told that the father AND mother would lock the two children
(17-months-old and 3.5-years-old) in that room EVERY DAY while they went off to
work for 10 to 12 hours at a time.The children
were half naked, and the small boy didn’t even have a sweater.But the worst of it to me, was the shovel
left in the middle of the floor with the pap (cooked maize flour) on it for
them to eat during the day, like dogs.Who
does that? Where has the humanity gone?
The parents were in police custody and they social worker
was desperate for a place for the children to go before the sun went down.
Unfortunately, we don’t accept children over the age of 24-months, so I suggested
they go to the halfway house (which is full to overflowing) or a hospital (the
social worker would have had to go and stay at the hospital with them) or to
another home (no other homes accept children late on a Saturday night).This social worker pleaded with me for temporary
placement for the kids so that at least they would be safe and warm and clean
and have food in their bellies.
A photo from inside the house looking out through the walls.
I said yes.How could
When the police van arrived late in the day, I reached in to
receive the 17-month-old boy who was the size of a 6-month-old. The 3.5-year-old
boy jumped out of the van and wrapped his arms around my legs and gave me a big
hug, then looked up at me and smiled.That child should have been freaking out with fear and trepidation!He was just removed from his house, his
parents taken away, he rode with strangers for a hour and then was met by a
middle-aged white lady.But instead, I
think he was just happy to see someone who looked friendly and who was loving
his little brother.
The malformed and rotting teeth of the 3.5-year old
I never get used to this type of unnatural response from a
child who has had so much abuse and abandonment, so young.
We now have a small clinic at the Children’s Campus and it has
two isolation rooms, which have been a HUGE gift to us all, and it’s been used
since the day it was finished back in August.We thank the Lord and all the people who gave money to make this clinic
possible.Because of YOU were able to
bring these two children in for the weekend while another alternative care
facility was found.The children made
the front page of the national newspaper and there was a public outcry against
the parents, but we hear stories of children being locked in houses all day ALL
THE TIME.This is not new.
Just two weeks ago we received a set of twin boys who are
15-months-old and also the size of 6-month-olds. The smaller boy weighed 12 pounds
and the other twin 13 pounds.They came
from the exact same situation, locked in a mud room day after day, week after
week.The photo below shows a twin on
both sides of our boy Cornelius, who is roughly the same age.Cornelius came to us as a preemie, under
three pounds in weight, but has responded well to food and love and he is
DOUBLE their size.
For the love of God and humanity – something has to change
I’m asking you to join us in rescuing more children in need
in 2020 by making a Year End gift today.
Just four days ago Eswatini was the hottest place on earth with
temperatures as high as 44C / 111F, and then it dropped 40 F and has been cold
and rainy for the past few days.We go
from dripping with sweat to being bundled up with long pants, socks and jackets!But at least we don’t have any snow, so I won’t
Gaby is (finally) home from the hospital and got to sit with Ian for graduation.
Our children just finished their school year which runs from
the end of January to early in December, and yesterday we witnessed the
Kindergarten graduation, which was amazing.It wasn’t just the cheering squad of Aunties/Uncles/Big brothers that
brought me joy, and it wasn’t just the understanding that some of them had
worked SO very hard to pass this year’s tests, but it was the knowledge of
where they came from and where they are today.
As I watched each child go up on stage to receive their
graduation diploma my mind raced back to the first day I met them.I vividly remembered the day that little girl
was found in a plastic bag under a bush, having been there for two days after birth.
I remember being in the operating room when that little one came out of her
mother’s womb before the mother was taken back to the National Tuberculosis Hospital
with multiple drug-resistant TB.And
that one over there was strangled at birth by her mother while in prison and a
prison guard had to do CPR to bring her back to life – she still has a small
scar on her neck where her mother’s finger nail dug in to her skin.
Each of our children have had unique and horrific
beginnings, and each one is worse than the next.But seeing the joy on their faces yesterday helped
fade the memories of the past, and quickly fill my mind with joy and
thanksgiving of all that God has done in their lives.And it was a strong reminder of all that He
has done in OUR OWN lives, having been given the privilege of serving the Lord
through these children.
Heart for Africa has a really cool Gift
Catelog this year designed for people who want to give an important Christmas
gift that has long term effects.You can
give the gift of education for one of our children, or perhaps a pair of rubber
boots to help them get to school through the ankle-deep mud, or maybe a few fruit
trees that will provide healthy fruit for decades to come?Please be sure to check
out our catalog and share it with others.
And don’t forget to shop at www.khutsala.com
for the perfect African Christmas decoration or piece of jewelry.
As you enjoy the Christmas season with friends and family,
please consider making a year- end gift to Heart for Africa so that we can
continue to have “room in our inn” for babies in desperate need.
🇺🇸 US Donors: http://bit.ly/2019YEGIVINGUS
🇨🇦 CA Donors: http://www.heartforafrica.ca/2019-year-end-giving/
Live from Eswatini …please watch our year end video and be encouraged.