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Saturday, January 18, 2020

A new kind of January?

Typically, Ian and I travel to the US/ once a year, in October for fundraising events and Board meetings. But this year we were invited to a very special event at Sea Island in Georgia in early January so we headed west and started a busy year of travel. We were honored to be able to speak at the AWAKENING 2020 and to spend time with dear friends AND, a bonus visit with Spencer!

Jan & Ernest Taylor with Jean and Jerry Eickoff

Spencer in the Canadian seat at the G8 Summit table at Cloister.

Then we headed up to Boston to visit Nokuphiwa (Phiwa) and Nokwanda.  Phiwa is here in the US for her second round of reconstructive surgeries to repair the burns she sustained when she was only 2-days-old.  She is here with Nokwanda, her faithful friend, big sister and guardian. They are in the US for four months while Phiwa has the skin on her scalp expanded through weekly injections of fluid that will allow enough skin to stretch enough to eventually cover her scalp once they do the crainioplasty in early March. We enjoyed taking the girls to see “Star Wars” (don’t judge), out for a great seafood dinner, and of course, ended with a trip to Target for whatever they needed (including introducing Nokwanda to “Cherry Garcia” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream).    

From there we traveled to Nashville where we had a two day “off site” meeting with our Heart for Africa US staff.  It’s always fun to get together with this team of people whom we love dearly, and it was a chance for us to share our vision for 2020, discuss plans to help feed more children and have a good belly laugh or two.  This year we added Hannah Gaddis to the team and she will be leading our Hunger Initiative 2020 (stay tuned for more info next week).  We also hired a Marketing Coordinator, whose name will be familiar to many of you … Maggie (Taylor) Lian!  Maggie’s mom, Donna Taylor, worked at Heart for Africa for many years and we are thrilled to have the next generation on the team.

Yesterday we came back to Atlanta to meet with some amazing women from Easter Seals who will help us think through and design our home for disabled children. Then it was home to pack, enjoy a quiet evening (did you know that you can order pizza and it is delivered to your door? We need THAT in Eswatini!). 

While we were busy in the US, the Project Canaan Academy School year started with 187 children in attendance!  The kids were SO excited to go back to school, and we are so thankful for Amber VanWinkle and incredible group of teachers.

In addition to that excitement, we welcomed our 260th child last week. His name is Dillan and he was born on March 27th, 2018.  We are thankful for his life and thankful that we get to play a big part in his future.

Ian and I hop on a 16-hour flight back to Johannesburg tonight and then make the 5-hour drive home in the morning.  These trips don’t get any easier, but we enjoy the time we get to spend with friends and family and are thankful for the team that keeps everything running smoothly at Project Canaan while we are away!

Live from Pete & Julie Wilkerson’s couch … we are going home today!


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