Last year on July 18th we were all gathered at the new Imphilo Amphitheater to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Project Canaan. There were more than 1,000 people gathered together and 100+ family, friends and volunteers traveled to Eswatini to celebrate with us.
Early during the celebration that we saw smoke starting to rise over the mountain behind our house. Little did I know that only a few hours later the fires would be just a few yards from our home, and that 48 hours later we would still be fighting fires that would burn 90% of our property, putting our family and staff’s lives in danger.
The next day, on July 19th, I was standing near the chapel with Sarah Windham and Dr. Mark McGee when a red-hot fire ember flew 50 feet in the air, over our heads and landed on the top of the beautiful grass thatched roof of our chapel. Within two minutes the whole roof had erupted in to flames, and the chapel burned to the ground. I stood sobbing, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The fires would get worse that day, and would not be fully extinguished for another 18 hours.
This chapel was built and dedicated in 2009, and it burned to the ground ten years later. Today we are fighting a different kind of fire, and it’s called Covid-19. Its embers are flying high in the sky landing in all parts of the world, including Eswatini. Cases were continuing to grow, but now testing has slowed down because the government has run out of money for fuel for vehicles. The government is broke, so drivers can’t take test kits to clinics or take samples back to the lab to be tested. In fact, this week we had to drive to the police station to pick up a baby who had been left in the bush because the entire police department and social welfare department didn’t have diesel for their cars to take the baby to the hospital. Things are bad here.
I find myself in a funk as I sit and write this blog. Our borders are closed, and will be well in to 2021. That means we don’t get to see Spencer and Chloe for Christmas, we don’t get to go to Durban to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in October, we can’t even run to South Africa to pick up some fun food. We are stuck, and today I feel a bit like a caged animal.
I know many of you have felt the same way too, locked in your houses for months. We are all likely feeling the same way about Covid-19 and are “OVER IT!”. We don’t have the mask conflict here that seems to be plaguing the USA. Since we have the highest HIV rate in the world, and it is estimated that 70% of our total population has active or inactive Tuberculosis, we all really embrace social distancing and wearing masks. It’s the only way to stay alive here.
Today I will sit in front of small space heater (it’s winter here), with my cat, mourning the loss of our Doberman, Max, last week, and generally just feeling sorry for myself. I’m allowed to do that, for a day. Tomorrow is a new day and we will dedicate the newly built chapel with performances by all our children. I hope you will all join us on the Heart for Africa Facebook page on Sunday, July 19th at 9AM EST. I promise you will be blessed.
I will also be shopping on our amazon wish list and sending a few things on the UPS container that is shipping next month, and I REALLY hope you will too. This container is the one chance during the year to ship items to us, and now that we won’t have visitors coming for the foreseeable future, we really need help.
I would like to specifically ask for people to buy bikes and helmets for our staff and kids. We have 269 children who are LOCKED DOWN on Project Canaan – no field trips, no visits to town, nothing. So, riding bikes around the farm is a really great way to have fun and keep everyone active. Will you buy a bike and/or helmet today and help us out? I think I will get Ian a bike as an anniversary gift. 👀
Live from Eswatini … in a funk.