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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I can still hear it… – by Volunteer Janice Johnson

I can still hear it…By Volunteer Janice Johnson

I can still hear the chickens loud and proud announcing, “This is the Day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  A couple of hours later the “Aunties” are meeting in the baby home singing and praying to God, our Father, as they bless the baby campus and walk the halls of the toddler home.  Around 7:05 am, I hear the pitter patter of feet running down the hall.

That was two weeks ago, when I had the opportunity to live and serve in the toddler home on Project Canaan in Swaziland, Africa with 24 toddlers.  Twenty-four different personalities that reminded me throughout the day of God’s goodness and grace.  I thought I knew what my role would be while I was there, but according to GOD’s plan and purpose, everyday was a different experience and an opportunity to serve Him…through the aunties, the children, at the pre-school and in unison with everyone on the farm.  I will never forget riding in the back of a beat up old pick-up truck with Chloe when we brought Nomsa “home” (in the back because her Tuberculosis is highly infectious so she had to ride outside.  So we joined her with masks on).  We heard the Aunties singing God’s praises (yet again) so she could see her twin daughters, Leah and Rachel, who live at the baby home.  Reading books and saying prayers with the toddlers, walking to Nomsa to take her meals, and “being thankful” in the midst of it all.

That’s what happens when you “Let Go and Let God”.  You experience His love and devotion in so many ways.  Several years ago, our Senior Pastor, Andy Stanley, did a sermon called One, Not Everyone.  It was very clear to me that in this season that I would go “Deep and Wide” in Swaziland with Heart for Africa.

On my last morning, as I helped dress another happy but squirmy toddler, I prayed and thanked God for this new generation.  Those pitter patter feet would walk for HIM;  those lips would speak for HIM;  and those hands would work for HIM.  And as young Gabriel would say…AMEN!

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Unity in Christ – by Kristal Flentge, Long-Term Volunteer

My husband and I and our children moved to Swaziland in January of this year.  We have had an amazing experience so far and I could talk for hours about all the ways God has shown up both in our preparations for moving here and in our adjustments and experiences once we arrived.  But there is one thing that has made my spirit sing in ways that nothing else has and that is this: the beautiful unity of the team working on the ground with Heart for Africa.

There are several volunteers and employees here and we all come from different backgrounds.  Some of us are white and some of us are black.  Some are American, some are Canadian, some are Kenyan…and that’s just to name a few of the nationalities represented.  We are Baptists, Charismatics, Assemblies of God, and more.  We are men and women, we are young and old, we are new Christians and mature Christians.  We represent many walks of life but there is one thing that ties us all together – the love of Christ.

Theologies, life experiences, backgrounds…in my short time here, I have not seen these hinder our group as we seek to serve the people of Swaziland.  We work together to solve problems, help others, grow our organization, and ultimately, to give glory to God.  We even throw in a few fun evenings of relaxing as a group in there!

 It is sometimes easy to become wrapped up in our differences.  Especially in the American Christian culture, our differences lead us down paths of infighting and discord.  At times, it can be hard to know how to step past those differences and simply work to love one another.  I have been immensely blessed to experience the unity and love here.  It is something that will not be soon forgotten. Our differences are not unimportant.  But the one thing that is of ultimate importance is the one thing we all have in common – a passion for Christ and His children.

I am so thankful that God has shown our family a clear picture of how His people can work together to do His good.  Thank you, Lord, for our experiences here.

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Get Down Swazi Style – By Amber VanWinkle, Heart for Africa Long-Term Volunteer

Serving in Swaziland is one of the most amazing experiences of our married life. We have enjoyed learning the culture, loving the kids, and falling more and more in love with God as we serve Him here in Swaziland.

We have had many memorable experiences, from Kenny driving the wrong way in the box truck when we first got here to praying with the older boys before bed. One of our favorite moments is captured in this amazing video below. We have Bible story and worship time everyday at school. We teach truths during this time that will make an eternal impact on the heart of these children forever.

One of the songs we worship to is Get Down. Get Down is one of my favorite kid songs EVER!  I used to sing this song when I worked at Auburn Church in Upstreet.  Now I am in Swaziland dancing with these amazing children.  The song has so many great truths that children of every culture need to know.  They need to know that…

In your weakness He is stronger.
In Your darkness He shines through.
When you’re crying He’s your comfort.
When your all alone, He’s carrying you.

He will continually lift us up – such a perfect truth. God is continually lifting Kenny and I up as we serve Him in Swaziland.  He is carrying us!  We know that He is our strength and comfort. So thankful for this truth and that these beautiful children get to learn it at such a young age.

Have so much fun watching the video because we sure did making it!

Link to video:

Shining Bright,

Amber VanWinkle
Check out our blog

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