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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Knee surgery and Whoppers with cheese

Whopper with cheese for Valentine's day.  Delicious!
Ian and I have always enjoyed Valentine’s Day.  We take turns planning it – one year Ian plans what we do and the next year I plan it. That way we are surprised every other year and we can enjoy doing something special for each other.  Over the years we have eaten in the finest restaurants, stayed in the nicest hotels, traveled to exotic countries and given/received lovely gifts on February 14th.  Our celebrations have changed quite a bit in the past 10 years, becoming much simpler (and cheaper!) as our lifestyles have changed, but we still celebrate a day of love for each other and for our children.

This year it was quite different with Ian being in a South African hospital for knee surgery and me staying at a nearby hotel on a day that the African country’s corrupt leader was forced to resign.  But really, it was possibly the best Valentine’s Day yet.  Why?  Because Ian was in pain, and the surgery would take him out of pain (who doesn’t want that for their spouse). Because the hotel I stayed in had crisp white sheets, big fluffy pillows air conditioning and I got to eat a Burger King Whopper and French fries from McDonalds!!  (We don’t have either fast food chain in Swaziland, and I love burgers).

As I sat and ate my Whopper with cheese, alone, I thought of my friends Terry McGill, Linda Howard and Sandy Wise, all who have recently lost their life partners, and who didn’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their loved one this year.  What would they give to be eating a burger in a hotel in Africa while their partner was having knee surgery in an African hospital?  Just about anything, I would imagine.  This knowledge made me even more thankful for our situation, while feeling heartache for my friends.

Ian with Pete Wilkerson as we arrived back on Project Canaan.
We have been married for 26 years, have lived in three countries and have 2+178 children.  We have laughed more than we have cried.   We have played more than we have fought.  We have lived complicated lives and simple lives (and we sure love the simple life better).  I will say that the Lord could not have given me a better life partner and we compliment each other in so many ways.  He is my rudder through smooth waters and through the storms.   His faith in God is unshakeable and that faith keeps many people who know him focused on Jesus, not themselves or their circumstances.

Proverbs 3:6-12 (The Message bible) says:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

Happy Valentine’s Day Ian.  I love doing life with you.

Live from Swaziland … I am thankful.


PS - This is day #3 since surgery and Ian is walking without crutches and is in NO pain (no pain killers).  We give thanks for total healing!   Also, check out our brand new US website at!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Loving them back to life.

If you are reading this blog before 9:00AM EST, be sure to go to the Heart for Africa Facebook page at 9:00 AM EST sharp where you will be able to join our LIVE VIDEO feed of the Project Canaan Valentine’s Day party with the Emseni kids (age 3-7).  If you missed it, go to and scroll down to the video.

We typically have Kids Club at 9:00AM Swazi time on Saturday mornings, and each week the children rotate in small groups every 15 minutes through five stations. There is a theme each month and each station supports that theme including; a craft, dance party, physical fitness activity, bible story and bible memory verse.  

The entry door to Emseni 1
Today we moved Kids Club to the afternoon so that our friends and family from abroad (aka YOU) can join us!  Our theme today is “Jesus loves EVERYONE” and we believe that with all our hearts. 

Each February we focus on building monthly support for our children, and we call people who give monthly our “Heart for Africa ANGELS”. It is through our Angel support that we provide everything that each child needs from food to clothing, from vaccinations to medical staff, from 24 hour care to 24-hour love.  We simply can’t provide all that we do without our monthly donors.

I know that some people are critical of how we do things? Do the children REALLY need three meals and two snacks every day?? Do they REALLY need their own birthday cake?  Do they REALLY need such a low child-to-caregiver ratio (1:5 NOT including our full time cooks, cleaners, drivers and nightshift)?  Do the children REALLY need a pop up swimming pool?   My answer is yes. They most certainly do.
Happy 4th birthday TODAY Gabriella!  We love you.
These children have been put into our care and we are the legal guardians. Why shouldn’t they eat well (most arrive severely malnourished), be well cared for (most have been abandoned or abused), have their birth celebrated every year (so they know they are valued) and have a way to COOL DOWN in the Africa heat (no, there is no air conditioning).  For those of you who know Ian and I well, we want to do things with excellent, not half-baked.  And as we continue to serve the Lord in Swaziland, through these children, shouldn’t we do the best that we can do? 

Our theme for Feburary 2018 campaign is “Love 2 Life”.   Our monthly supporters LITERALLY help us to love each and every child back to life. 

If you read this blog regularly, or if this is your first time, please consider giving any size gift monthly to help us be able to continue caring for these children. 

In Canada you can become an ANGEL by clicking here.

In the US you can become an ANGEL by clicking here.

Thank you for helping us loving 179 children back to life.
Live from Swaziland … Happy Valentine’s Day!


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Let’s talk about the weather

Yesterday was a scorcher with a high temperature of 50C or 122F.  It was too hot to even get the air conditioning in my truck to get cold.  Our buildings are not air conditioned so when I went down attend Samantha’s 3rd birthday party, I wasn’t surprised to see all of our toddlers in shorts, no shirts, dripped with sweat.

I happened to have a box of 48 Icy Pops in the freezer for a rainy day (I mean hot day) so I took those down to the party. Each 2-year-old received their frozen treat by extending two hands, giving a little courtesy and saying some form of “thank you”. I LOVE how our staff teachers our children good manners and Swazi customs.

Princess with an ice pop in the pool.
After getting their treat they all headed into the sprinkler and/or kiddie pools to try to cool down.  It’s hard to explain heat and humidity that we experience here. Everyone moves slowly, intentionally, and you only do what you have to do.  And remember, I grew up in Northern Ontario, where we had snow from October – May.  I thought this pre-menopausal mama was just simply going to go up in a puff of smoke.

39 toddlers enjoying the sprinkler
At the end of the day an incredible storm hit with a lightening show that brought Ian and I out on to the patio to watch (like watching fireworks, complete with “ooh’s” and “ahhh”s), and the dogs hid under anything they could find.  Then the hail started, plants knocked over and we had to move inside because the rain was horizontal.  And last, but not least, the power went out at around 6PM.  The power is still out as I write this, and we are thankful for our generator that has kept our lights on and our refrigerators cold.

February is Valentine’s Day month and we have a treat for you! Next Saturday, February 10th at 9:00AM EST (that is 4:00 PM Swazi time) we are inviting you to celebrate Valentines day with the children at Project Canaan through a live streaming party.  If you read my blog of last week you will know that we now have unlimited high speed internet, which will allow us to do this (  I will be streaming live from the HEART FOR AFRICA Facebook page and then I will repost the video on my personal page when the party is finished.

Did you know that in February 2017 more than  $18.2 billion USD was spent on flowers, candy and cards for Valentine’s Day loved ones according to the National Retail Federation?  Would you consider reducing your Valentine’s Day spending on friends and family and becoming a monthly donor to support our 179 children?  Maybe you would consider a one-time gift?  Your gift helps us love our children back to life. 

To give in theUS click here.

To give in Canada click here.

I hope you will join our Valentine’s Day party next Saturday, February 10th at 9:00AM EST – Janine Willis Maxwell Facebook. 

Live from Swaziland … we are always grateful for rain.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

When the little things become big things.

Last week I wrote about “the little things” that I needed to stop and give thanks for. Today I am writing about when the little things become big things.

Today my husband is happier than I have ever seen him. Well, maybe not ever, but he is skipping with joy around the house.  Why? BECAUSE TODAY WE GOT HIGH SPEED INTERNET AT OUR HOUSE.  AND, it is wireless. And it is unlimited for $130/month. 

When we first came to Swaziland the internet was DIAL up and it groaned trying to connect.  When we moved here 5.5 years ago the internet was so slow that we couldn't have a video Skype call with Chloe and Spencer because our screens would just freeze.  We have spent 5.5 years trying to get a land phone line brought to Project Canaan, but that has not been successful. 

For 5.5 years we have had to buy very expensive data packages from the sole cellular mobile carrier in the country and there have been many months that we go over our data plan (sometimes up to $500 USD - yikes!!!).  We are on the internet a lot communicating around the world. 

But today is a new day.  There is a new cellular mobile carrier in the country and last week we went to town to sign up!  Alas, nothing is easy here.  When we arrived at the store we learned that they had run out of routers that are needed to put the SIM card in, and wouldn’t have any in-stock for a few more weeks.  We went to another store, and it was the same thing – the country was out of the required router.  But Ian was not going to be defeated. The longer we are in Africa, the more determined we become to not give up and think creatively for a solution.  (Interestingly, our marketing company’s motto was once “Creative Thinking”).

Ian got on line and found the distributor for the routers in Johannesburg, a mere 6-hour drive from us.  Off we went.  Yep, we drove 12 hours to buy a $120 router.  Then we got back and went directly to the mobile store.  And again, they couldn’t get us set up until Monday. I thought I saw a tear in Ian’s eye, but maybe I was wrong. 

It was really really hot in the store so I went and sat in the air-conditioned car and waited.  He finally came out (having spent a full hour in the store) and we headed home.  He plugged in the router, and guess what?  It worked!  We were live and online! 

Today he is skipping around the house.  He is setting up Spotify and Netflix – two online solutions that we could never even consider. We can now watch Youtube videos, which we never do here. We can download books to ALL our devices!  WHAT?  Yep, it’s true. I don’t have to read a book on my phone because it will cost too much to download it to my computer and iPad.   Sometimes we laugh at ourselves being the “country mice”, but today these country mice became like city mice (living in the country).  

AND one more perk - now we can set up security cameras around the property to help with our ongoing security problems and finally see and catch who is breaking in to our buildings!  WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED!

Speaking of Youtube – you have to check out this really awesome video of our really awesome son Spencer. He was asked to do a “Student Talks”, which is like a “TED Talks” at Queen’s University where he is doing his Master degree in International Business. It’s titled “When to run off and join the circus – Spencer Maxwell”.   I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do (and now we can watch it over and over again with our unlimited internet access!!!) Here is the link:

Live from Swaziland … I love it when little things become big things.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

It's the little things

As I had my quiet time this morning I was overwhelmed with thanksgiving for this incredible adventure that the Lord has invited us on.   As I sat and contemplated what makes it so amazing, I realized it’s not the baby rescues, or witnessing health miracles, or seeing people come to faith, but it’s really the little things that make our new lives so amazing.

It’s the sheer joy in Peter’s face as he splashes around the swimming pool to stay cool on an "Africa-hot" day.

It’s an early morning message from a young mother at the Kibbutz, thanking me for being a role model to her as she navigates raises her son.

It’s little Moses sitting beside me at snack time and tapping me on the arm and with the biggest smile saying, “Mama, I am sitting beside you”. 

It’s watching our children play on their new swings for the first time (thank you Jacob Banta!)

12 new swings between Emseni 1 and Emseni 2

Shirley on the new swings
It’s watching one of our Aunties carry rolls of paper towels the traditional way - on her head.
The challenges we face here are huge and the work is seemingly impossible. Just living in Africa is not easy with differences in language/culture/religion/history, but finding joy in the little things makes every challenge, every set back, and every tear worthwhile.  I encourage you to look for joy in all the little things around you today – it can change your worldview, and your world.

James 1:2-4 reminds us to,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Live from Swaziland … trying to stay cool on a really hot day.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why do Christians do that?

Wendy turned 2-years-old this week and she is just now starting to walk.  We are encouraged.
This week I had several very disturbing conversations with government officials and Heart for Africa volunteers who told me about people “trash talking” the work that Heart for Africa and Project Canaan is doing in Swaziland. For those of you who English is not your first language, the dictionary definition of “trash talk” is “insulting or boastful speech intended to demoralize, intimidate, or humiliate someone insulting especially an opponent in an athletic contest.” 

We are not in an athletic contest, and they are not speaking these words so that we can hear them, they are doing it behind our backs, spreading rumors that are far from the truth, and criticizing every level of how we are serving God. 

The part that was most disturbing is that these trash talkers are people in Christian Ministry here in Swaziland.  It’s not just one that was reported to me, it was several, and it was people who have never been to Project Canaan, never met us and have never been a part of what we are doing.

Why do Christians do that?  Jealousy?  Pride?  Lack of self-control?  Or they are just plain mean-spirited?

When I told Ian I wanted to write this blog, but didn’t want to sound whiny, he suggested that I confess that I have had to put on my “big girl panties” and realize that people are people, and we are to love them anyway.  But the fact that the garbage is coming from people who profess to be Christians who are also serving in Christian ministry in a foreign land, made it a bit harder for me.

As I was trying to identify the emotion I was feeling I realized that it wasn’t hurt, it wasn’t personal offense, it was purely confusion as to the motive behind such talk.  What’s in it for them? Do they not know that Jesus hears their words, and he sees their hearts? 

The bible tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up”. Let us all try to encourage one another this week, and always.

Live from Swaziland … enjoying a hot Saturday with the Project Canaan kids.


Saturday, January 6, 2018


Happy New Year - I thought I would start you off with a fabulous video of some of 
our Swazi children singing this morning!

I love the first week of January.  We typically get to spend it with Spencer and Chloe, and in recent years, on a beach in Durban, South Africa overlooking the Indian Ocean.  We enjoy much needed family time (often only being together once a year), “down time” from work and time to think about, and pray about the New Year.

Then, the weekend before we go back to work (this weekend), Ian and I sit at with our laptops making plans for the New Year while we pray for God’s wisdom for each and every decision we make.

Add caption
But here’s the thing that we have learned about our plans.  We can make well thought out plans, we can write good strategies and come up with the clear tactics to achieve our goals but we must also be aware that God’s plans are not our plans, and we must be ready to be flexible and submit.   That requires quiet time, listening time, prayer time and being intentional to not only listen, but also to obey.
A good example of a bad plan. 
For those of you who are followers of Jesus, are you willing to give this a try in 2018?  If you do this, I promise it will change your whole life.  But beware! People will think you are crazy because you are not spending money where you used to spend it. You are not hanging out with the same friends you always hung out with. You are not listening to the same music, or watching the same shows or on the same websites that you once were.  But that is okay. 

Isn’t it time for change?  Isn’t it time for better plans?  Isn’t it time for a new life?

Oswald Chambers wrote, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….” Your choice must be a deliberate determination— it is not something into which you will automatically drift. And everything else in your life will be held in temporary suspension until you make a decision. The proposal is between you and God— do not “confer with flesh and blood” about it (Galatians 1:16). (For the complete article go to

Are you ready for a New Year?  I am. 

Live from Swaziland … Happy New Year!