Today is Thanksgiving day in the US and I can’t help but think of all the things in my life I am thankful for. There are the usual things most of us are grateful for: Great parents, terrific kids that are genuinely good people, my precious granddaughter, the love and support of so many dear friends near and far, my home, enough food to eat and enough money to buy things I want instead of just need. I’m thankful I live in a country that has so opportunities for us all and that lets me have my beliefs, especially in God. But really, at the top of this list is the blessing to serve the Lord and his children in Swaziland as well as in South Africa and Malawi.
I spent a good portion of my morning on the phone talking to my Swazi sister, Thoko. (And as my mother once wrote in her prayers: I’m thankful for the telephone!) We share things that sisters share such as how our family is doing, the weather, what is happening in our different parts of the world. Then our conversation always turns to our One Child kids. Here is just a snippet of what we talked about.
We talked about Bongiswa, the young man who just started University of Swaziland. He is studying hard and is determined to do well. He knows the sacrifice we are making so he can attending university and he is well aware of the hardship this opportunity creates for his special needs brother and two younger sisters who are back at home in the rural area without him to take care of them. He reminds us often that he will not forget and will not fail. Thoko and I talk about how the name “One Child at a Time, One Heart at a Time” came to be and how we have been able to help so many of our kids. We hold onto the vision that even if funding doesn’t allow us to continue with all of our kids, we have made a difference in so many children’s lives and hearts. Maybe, the last 5 years have all been about preparing for Bongiswa to be our “one child.” Once again, Thoko and I share how thankful we are and praise God for his wisdom and all He has given us. Both of our families have also benefitted from our relationship with each other and our different cultures.
We also talked about the horrible drought that is severely impacting Swaziland. It is too hot and dry to grow crops in most of the country because of lack of available water. Cattle are dying where they stand. I’m sure there are other deaths caused by the extreme heat and drought this year but those aren’t talked about. This leads us to talk about Christmas food parcels for our One Child families. We usually provide a small one each year and spend about the equivalent of $25 each. This year because of the rising food costs and the grave situation of our families we are going to look at individualizing our Christmas parcels more so that it better fits the needs of each family. A $25 food parcel for a family of two or three goes alot further than it does for a family of 5 or six kids. I told Thoko to price things out and give me her recommendations and we will adjust accordingly. We can’t just look away and ignore this need. We can’t feed them everyday, but we can give them a Christmas meal with enough for a few days of additional food. So if you are reading this, and are thinking what to buy for someone who doesn’t need or want anything, how about making a donation to One Child at a Time, One Heart at a Time in their name? The food goes a long way, but the knowledge that people care enough about them to make this time of the year special lasts forever.
Yes, I am truly blessed to have been able to serve the Lord and his children internationally and at home over the years. Living in another culture where the needs are so great and the resources so small is truly a life changing event. It has changed my heart and thinking in so many ways. I sometimes struggle being back in the US where we do pretty much everything in excess (except maybe taking care of others especially if they are different from us.) I never dreamed I would go to Africa and I never dreamed that 11 years after my first trip to South Africa I would still be so passionate about my life and work there. The Lord certainly did change one child and one heart big time.