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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Change of plans

Thuli, Portia, Joanna, Naomi, Phoebi, Faith moving to E5
Since we receive approximately 40 new babies each year, and each of our children’s homes have 40 beds, we need to build a new home every year.  Our tiny babies move from Kuthula  Place to the baby home, the babies move to the toddler home, the toddlers move to Emseni #1 and then the older kids shifts up the mountain. It’s a big deal and we had one of those moves today with 17 children moving.  The older kids are always telling me that boys will move in to Emseni #6 and then girls in Emseni #7. It’s fun to watch their excitement as they see a “right of passage” with each move.  In the photo below you will see where we were to build our next home, Emseni #6, and it indeed was to be for boys. But this week we had a change of plans.

Ian and I took Margie Brewer and Cheri Peters (a Canadian Board member) up to the Upper Campus, which has no buildings on it yet.  We wanted to show them were O2 is going to be built as we are starting construction next week. The new O2 building (short form for Oasis #2, but also a play on Oxygen) will eventually be a dining hall for the teenagers, but we are building it now so that it can be a recreation hall for playing games, doing homework, choir practice and other activities, providing oxygen for their minds and souls.  We are really excited about this building because it will have a second story which will be an open-air patio, doubling the usable space.  Both floors will have a huge fire place for those cold winter nights and the upper floor will have offices, a meeting room, all purpose room and lots of toilets.  

Architectural drawing courtesy of Tim Hens.
While we were showing Margie and Cheri the location of 02 we shared our concern about building Emseni #7 after O2 was built because there wasn’t really a lot of room to drive in front of O2 to get building materials (and it would be a big mess for many months) to the Emseni #7 site. Just then, Ian had an idea, and shared it with us. He asked, “Why don’t we build Emseni #7 first before Emseni #6, and build it at the same time as we build O2?”

Pause. Think.

The next home needs to be for boys, and it was to planned to be located in the Middle Campus, but then we would have a home for girls up at the Upper Campus in 2021 and they would be alone up there for a year. Not ideal.  BUT, if we built Emseni #7 before we build Emseni #6, and moved the older boys up there, then in 2021 when we build Emseni #6 it will be for girls and they will still be tucked in to the Middle Campus. Then in 2022 the next building on the Upper Campus is also for boys.  It wouldn’t’ be until 2023 that girls move up top, which means they would be 12-years-old.  This could work!  And, it’s always better and more cost effective to have our construction teams in one location, which means they could build these two buildings in tandem.

Upper Campus where E7, O2 and our Special Needs home will be built.
This would not have even been a possibility if we had not received $95,000 from our friends at Keller Williams to start building this next home for our children.  We still need to raise an additional $130,000 to finish the building, but we have enough to get started and I believe that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds needed. 

I LOVE how God works and I LOVE how He only gives us one page at a time and then throws in surprises like a change of plans on what we will build and when we will build it.   I LOVE that I get to do life with my best friend and that we get to see His goodness and mercy and provision every single day.

If you would like to help us build a home for 40 boys you can buy a block for only $25, or 100 for $2,500 today by clicking on one of these links:

Live from Eswatini … it’s a good thing we like change.


Saturday, February 22, 2020


HOPE RISING with the Mock family

This past week I experienced something that I had never experienced before. I was invited to speak at the “Inspiration Morning” portion of the Keller Williams annual Family Gathering in Dallas, Texas.  For those of you who may not know, Keller Williams is the largest Real Estate Agency in the world, with 180,000 agents in 43 countries, and this week’s gathering was “only” 15,000 of those 180,000 people.  This is a crazy story so I do hope that you will read it all.

In early January we got an email with the invitation to go and speak at the February event, and then I got on a phone call with the marketing/event team to share my story and discuss what they wanted me to share.  I quickly learned that their theme for the weekend was “HOPE Rising”.  They didn’t know that Heart for Africa is all about HOPE.  As I was telling them a bit about how we got in to this, I started the story with me being in NYC on September 11, 2001 and Ian being on an American Airlines flight to Chicago.  One of the ladies on the other end of the phone stopped me and said, “Do you know who the first inspirational speaker of that morning will be?”  I said no, I didn’t. 

Then she went on to tell me that the first speaker of the day would be Beverly Bass, the first ever female Captain for American Airlines who just happened to be flying from Paris to Dallas on 911.  Hers was one of the many planes that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada that day where the 7,000 passengers and crew were welcomed by the small Canadian community with a population of 9,000 people.  What are the chances of this Canadian being in NY on 911 and that American Captain being in Canada on 911 and both of us being on stage in Dallas, Texas almost 20 years later. Then they told me that  “HOPE RISING”  was the theme for the event.

It was a pleasure to hear Captain Bass speak so highly of her experience in Canada and then to learn that a Canadian written Broadway Musical called “Come from Away” was being performed all over the world.  Mo Anderson, Vice-Chairman of the Keller Williams Board, surprised Captain Bass that morning by having the original leader singer from the Broadway production, who played Captain Bass herself, sneak up behind her on stage and perform the song that tells her life story.  HOPE RISING indeed.

Then it was my turn.  I have never spoken in a room with 15,000 chairs, and an overflow room outside.  My 20 minutes of Q&A with Mo flew by, leaving a few teary eyes in the audience and then suddenly there was a young choir standing beside me and Mo said, “We raise you up” and the choir started to sing.  If there were dry eyes left in the audience when I finished speaking, there certainly were none after the first 20 seconds of the choir singing “You raise me up”.  I wish I could post the whole song in my blog, but alas, blogger only allows 100 MB videos.

THEN, to top it all off, Mo handed me two checks totaling $25,000 and challenged everyone in the audience to go to their Keller Williams App and donate $20 to Heart for Africa so that we can build another home for 40 more children (Emseni 6).  What?? Who does that?? Mo Anderson, that’s who. 

Four days later, at the time of me writing this blog, more than 800 Keller Williams Agents have made donations totaling more than $45,000 and we hope to be able to fully fund the $225,000 building in the weeks to come.  While funding is critical to us continue building our homes, it was the words of encouragement spoken over us at the event and written in the “comments” section of our online donation page. I have read each and every one of them and am so thankful for their generosity and prayers.  One person wrote “As a gay HIV+ person, I would like to thank you for your efforts”.  HOPE RISING around the world.

And how did all this happen you ask?  Well, Kasey and Elizabeth Mock started supporting Heart for Africa a couple of years ago and Ian and I had the privilege of meeting them in November 2019 while we were speaking at a private gathering in San Antonio, Texas.  Elizabeth’s sister was a client at Barry Harp’s accounting firm in Dalhart, Texas, and when the Harp’s moved to Eswatini to serve at Project Canaan, Elizabeth’s sister told Kasey and Elizabeth about Heart for Africa.  Kasey Mock is the owner of Mock Ranches and Director of Operations at Keller Williams Land Division.  He shared our story with the Keller Williams Marketing department and voila … the invitation to speak was extended. And “coincidentally” it was the year that Captain Beverly Bass was also invited to speak AND the year that the theme was “HOPE Rising”.   I just can’t make this stuff up!

God is in the details and we just loving sitting back and watching His handiwork.

Ian and I were honored and blessed to fly to Dallas and back this week. It took us 36 hours of travel, each way, and our bodies feel like pretzels today, but this week was a week that we will never forget.

If you would like to buy one of our brand new HOPE keychains, they are on sale now at

Thank you Mo Anderson, Kasey Mock, the leadership of Keller Williams and all of the agents around the world who believe in putting God first, then family, then business.  Amen to that.

Live from Eswatini … it’s so good to be home!


PS If you know a Keller Williams agent, please forward this blog to them. If you or they would like to contribute to building a home for 40 more children, please go to this link today.  If you are in Canada, please click here.  Thank you.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Loving them back to life

Seven years ago today I was called by the police about a newborn baby girl who was found in a black plastic bag and left under some bushes not far from Project Canaan.  She had been there for 2-3 days, as evidenced by her umbilical cord.  Her body was covered in burns from the hot plastic burning her skin and she was bruised, bleeding and her eyes were swollen shut.  She had maggots and other insects crawling out of all openings and open wounds on her body and she didn’t weigh more than 3 pounds.  She came to live with Ian and me for the next 18 days while we got her injuries healed, and loved her back to life.  

I am tempted to show you a photo of the baby back then and a photo of her today, but we all have to be SO careful to protect her right to privacy, and although many of you know who she is, I won’t mention her name in this blog, but I have included a couple of photos of her in the early days below, including one of my favorites, which is of her hand beside Ian’s in the doll crib that dad made for me when I was a little girl. 

Last week this little girl turned 7-years-old and she enjoyed birthday cake with two other children who share the same date (different years).  It’s hard to believe that seven years have gone by and that this sweet girl is now in Primary School. Where did the time go?  She is happy, healthy, silly, a bit shy from time to time, and a complete joy to be around.  We have not seen any side effects from her rough start.  She was loved back to life.

And then there is little Buck who came to us and the end of last year.  He was severely malnourished and has been in and out of the hospital with a bulging fontanelle and fever, but all tests, including Lumbar Puncture’s and bloodwork have come back clear so we assume these are side effects of the malnutrition. This little guy is now 18-months old, and while he doesn’t walk (or crawl), he might just be the world’s fastest “scootcher! 

I know many of you will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend and so I will make this blog short and sweet and leave you with some photos that might just bring you joy!  This sweet baby is Treasure, and when she turns her (significant) frown upside down, her smile lights up the whole room. On Monday I sat with her and took some selfies.  As you can see below, she got the hang of it very quickly, mimicking each face I made to the phone.

February is Child Sponsorship month at Heart for Africa and we have had FIVE new people sponsor a child and ONE existing sponsor increase their monthly gift.  Would you consider sponsoring a child today or increasing your monthly gift?  We would very much appreciate your love and support.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ US:  
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Canada:

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!

Live from Dallas, Texas … it’s Saturday morning!


Saturday, February 8, 2020

ABC’s of living in Eswatini (Attacks, Birthdays and Crocodiles)

Attacks: On Tuesday I was notified by one of my female staff members that she and her elderly mother, her Aunt and her teenage son had been brutally attacked by a drunk/high man from their community. The attack involved threats of murder and rape and while he threw hard punches and big rocks, whereas my Supervisor responded with a bush knife (machete) and verbal assaults.   Once they got the attacker to run off, they called the police who told them that they must make their way to the police station (10 miles?) to make a report because the police did not have a vehicle to go and investigate. They went, made the report and then took the Aunt to the hospital for her head injury from the rocks.

The next day the man went back to the homestead when everyone was at work or school and attacked the elderly mother again.  The police were called again, and this time it resulted in an arrest.  On Thursday morning Ian, Shelly and I made our way to the police station to show our support (and disdain) at the hearing for the attacker. We waited 2+ hours before we witnessed the man confess to his crime.  Later that day he was sentenced to 6 months in jail, or an E600 fine ($40 US). He paid the fine and left.  He was then immediately arrested again for assaulting his own sister and goes back to court today. Who knows, maybe another $40 out the window.  While I appreciated the speed to trial and sentencing, I am always appalled by the ability to pay their way out of violent crime.

Birthdays: Wow, did we have a lot of birthdays this week?!  Just yesterday we celebrated Jacob (6), Deborah (7) and David (8) and we are all struggling with the question “How in the world did they get to be that age??”.  I told my staff that the first eight years of Spencer and Chloe’s lives seemed to go so slowly (well, not slowly, but just the right pace), but these kids are growing up faster!  Gabriel and Rose will be 10 this year!!!  As you likely know, this month is Child Sponsorship month and Jacob does not have a sponsor, so we have to use operational funds to pay for his care, school and birthday cake.  Once he is sponsored that takes extra pressure off of the organization.  It takes a village to raise 261 children, and we really need to expand our village this month. Will you sponsor a child today for $30?  $50?  $100 or even $225 per month?

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ US:

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Canada:

Crocodiles: And in other news … it appears that we have crocodiles in our dams again.  It has been reported by several people that there is a large one in the Living Water Dam and a small one in Dam #2 (and I’m guessing there are more??).  We had a big croc a few years ago and he was eating our small dogs. There is a saying in Africa that if you are going to cross a river, you must let your dogs go first because crocodiles prefer dog meat to human. Good to know πŸ™ˆ.  All crocodiles in Eswatini belong to His Majesty the King so we can’t kill them, they must be captured and released. No small task I assure you, but I am certainly on the watch for them on our morning walks.  Like the saying goes, I don’t have to outrun the crocodile, I just have to outrun Ian!

Life in Eswatini is always an adventure, with highs and lows, frustrations and celebrations, and I can’t imagine my life anywhere else.

Live from Eswatini … happy Saturday.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

HOPE starts with YOU❣️

February is the often thought of as the month of love with millions of people celebrating Valentine’s Day.  A quick Google search lead me to a statistic that said that is projected that $20.7 billion will be spent in the United States alone this year.  This is how that breaks down:
·      $3.9 billion — Total spending on jewelry for Valentine’s Day.
·      $3.5 billion — Total spending on date night.
·      $2.1 billion — Total spending on clothing.
·      $1.9 billion — Total spending on flowers.
·      $1.8 billion — Total spending on candy!!!!!
·      $933 million — Total spending on greeting cards.

Am I the only person that thinks THAT IS CRAZY?

Here’s an idea – why not sponsor a child at Project Canaan and give that sponsorship to your loved one for Valentine’s Day?   It’s giving the gift of love, and the gift of HOPE starts with you!  You can always add a piece of candy to sweeten it up, but a photo of one of our children is pretty sweet!  You could give primary medical care for a child for only $30/month, or give formula to a small baby for $50/month, or even pay for a night shift Auntie for $100/month.

Today was a big day at Project Canaan because we had TEN little ones move to their next home.  Five babies moved from the El Roi baby home to the toddler home, and five toddlers moved from the toddler home up to Emseni #1.   There is a video below of their welcome to the Emseni campus.  Of these ten children, six of them are sponsored and four are not.  Here is who moved, and who needs sponsorship:

Babies home to Toddler home:
Angeline - sponsored
Bruce - sponsored
Cornelius - sponsored
Miracle - sponsored

Toddlers to Emseni #1:
Amanda - sponsored
Lithle - sponsored

Lithle (sponsored), Peace (not sponsored), Mandy (not sponsored), Sbahle, Amanda (sponsored)

We now have 261 children living at Project Canaan and we are committed to these children until they are 21-years-old.  Most children who come to us arrive in bad physical shape.  Two weeks ago we welcomed little Raphael, who was severely malnourished and immediately admitted to our hospital.  The social worker didn’t know how many days it had been since he had eaten last.  The photo below is of Josiah (a baby we received at birth) and the new guy.  These two boys are two days apart in age, and you can see the size difference from malnutrition and stunting.  

Josiah (left) is sponsored. Raphael is NOT SPONSORED.
Raphael may never catch up to Josiah, but he will grow in strength and stature, now that there is hope for his future.  Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Would you consider sponsoring Raphael or one of our other children today?  HOPE starts when YOU sponsor a child.  I can’t think of a better Valentine’s day gift – the gift of HOPE and LOVE all wrapped up in a child's life❣️

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ US:

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Canada:

Live from Eswatini … praying for HOPE to be restored for many children this month.