The Small Things – by Brooke Sleeper, Long-Term Volunteer

When we think about the ways our perspective has changed since moving to Project Canaan, there are a lot of things we could mention, but one thought stands out. We’re learning to value the small things, knowing that in God’s economy, they are the big things. “‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but becomes the largest of plants.’” Matthew 13:31-32

It was a big move coming to Africa. The sheer logistics of it were big- the paperwork, the fundraising, what to sell, what to keep, what to store. But it was big in more significant ways too… leaving the place we’d called home for the last 6 years. Selfishly, leaving the lifestyle of a beach town was hard. Leaving the friends who’d become our San Diego family. Leaving the family who would now be a whopping15-hour flight away instead of a 4-hour flight away (seems like a day-trip now!). Leaving a church we loved and had grown so much in. Leaving jobs, and the sense of security and validation that a regular paycheck brings. Everyone has their own experience in moving here, and many were probably able to let go of these things more easily than we did, but for us it was a big step of faith.

Although “big” may have been the recurring theme as we left life in the U.S., “small” seemed to resound once we arrived in Swaziland. We were small people in the midst of a small country that most people don’t even know exists. Even our 12” Christmas tree reminded us that life was a little smaller now. And we’ve been continuously reminded that, although God works in big ways, He prefers to use small things on His way there. After all, of all the things He could’ve used to illustrate His kingdom in the Bible, he chose to use the picture of a mustard seed- a minute little speck that becomes something big in His hands.

We’ve seen the same idea on a daily basis working with the children of Project Canaan. Under His hand, we’ve watched many tiny, sickly babies as they blossom into vibrant toddlers with big personalities. They’re small lives that no one wanted: the uncared for, the abused, the neglected, the orphaned, the abandoned. They’re thrown in the bushes, left in toilets, tossed in the garbage, and deserted at the bus stop. And yet it’s these small, seemingly insignificant lives that Jesus uses time and time again to illustrate importance, “‘The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ Then He took the children in his arms…” (Mark 10:13-14).

In its most visible form, we see the concept in action at the farm; each season the small seeds go into the ground and erupt into hundreds of pounds of vegetables. These go on to feed hungry mouths both at Project Canaan and throughout Swaziland. Some get packaged up nicely and shipped all over southern Africa and Europe. But they all began as humble little seeds.

But perhaps our favorite lesson in “small is big” that God’s shown us here is the body of Christ. Project Canaan is made up of so many, many people coming together from various parts of the globe- some for a few days, others for a few years. But as we each contribute our small piece of knowledge, money, love, and effort, it’s incredible to see God weaving it together to accomplish more than any one of us could do on our own. One person is gifted at raising the funds to buy cows, another knows how to run a dairy to produce milk, someone else knows how to turn that milk into yogurt for the kids to eat, and another is gifted with the patience to be the hand that feeds those tiny mouths. And that’s just the yogurt! I could go on and on about how beautiful it is to see the body of Christ working together in so many other ways at Project Canaan- education, childcare, healthcare, employment, and administration- it’s 1Corinthians 12 in action, and we are so blessed to get to be a small part of the big work that God is doing here.

“There are many ways in which God works in our lives,

But it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are His

Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ.”

1 Cor 12:6,13

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Into, On, Around and Under – by Jamie Klee, Long-Term Volunteer

Hello, we are the Klee family.  We are formerly from the Atlanta area where we lived for 22 years.   Mark and I have 3 kids:  Austin who is 20, Bailey who turns 18 at the end of this month, and our baby girl, Cameron, who is 14.  In June 2012, 4 of us (Mark, Jamie, Bailey and Cameron) moved to Swaziland with a 40ft storage container filled with all our worldly possessions.  We hoped that by moving here permanently, we could help Heart for Africa’s mission to save and serve abandoned and vulnerable children in Swaziland.

For any of you old enough to remember Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor….I honestly can’t even remember the name of the popular TV show he starred in… but Tim’s love for power tools and building things describes my husband, Mark, perfectly.  He has an amazing talent for and receives joy from constructing and creating – and is always up for an adventure.  His first project, Kuthula Place, involved putting a metal roof on a round concrete building.  This project was certainly an initiation into problem-solving building with materials (and shapes) not typically used or found in the US.

Mark is the construction manager on Project Canaan and has been responsible for finishing Kuthula Place and Moringa House and overseeing the construction of the Manna Distribution Center.  He has constructed (and in several cases designed as well) the Preschool, the Toddler Home, the Container Stores, a home for our Baby Home manager, goat birthing units, the Kibbutz (13 total units), and the Medical Clinic.  He is almost finished with the construction of staff housing and the Kindergarten and is beginning construction of the Emseni Children’s Campus.  Let’s just say he keeps a full plate and enjoys (almost) every minute of it.  Keep in mind there are no Lowes or Home Depots here.  Sourcing materials has been a full time job, and has forced him to be very “creative” and “resourceful” in coming up with alternative solutions to masonry, electrical, plumbing, and on it goes….

The girls and I spent our first few months here transitioning to life in Africa and spent many hours with our first few babies at the Baby Home on Project Canaan.  There were 8 babies when we first came – and now there are almost 60!  However, I know those first connections we made with these babies…helping to pick them up from Social Welfare or the hospital, spending sleepless nights bottle feeding, changing diapers, and celebrating birthday parties (Bailey was our cake baker) will connect us for a lifetime.  It is an amazing opportunity for me as a mom to see both of my girls blossom with love and responsibility for these children.  We’ve often talked with each other about how it is going to feel walking down the street with one of our boys…they are toddlers now, but as parents we know kids seem to shoot up over night.  It won’t be long until we are no longer looking down to see them, but up instead!

I am now working with several of our Kibbutz women making jewelry to raise money for our babies.  (Shameless plug…please look through the HFA website for gift ideas.)  God has blessed us with amazing designers from the States who take time out of their busy lives to offer designs and guidance.  So, when I find myself getting frustrated because we’ve run out of supplies (that are not available in this country or continent), or we have no power for a few days which means no internet either, or our designs don’t turn out quite as I’d hoped….I try to remind myself that the profits from our efforts are going directly (or indirectly) into the mouths, on the bottoms, around the bellies, and under the heads of our precious children.

It hasn’t always been easy…but it’s been fulfilling!

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