Sunday, October 28, 2012

Welcome to the Farm

With only four childrens' homes on the farm, each new addition is something to celebrate. Last week, we received news that six children have been joyously welcomed to the farm in the past month. 
The photos below show baby Busiwe being welcomed to the farm by the children and Tommy in 2006.

Two of the children are HIV-positive and have never received medical care. Two of the children, siblings, come from a background of serious neglect. One of the girls is an albino that has been rejected and abandoned by her family. Albinism is a serious cause for concern in Swaziland, where albino children have been targeted because of a belief by witch doctors that the blood and body parts of albinos can bring good luck and fortune when used in potions (an interesting, but somewhat graphic article is below).

Please pray for these new arrivals--that they adapt to their new surroundings, their new families, their new school, and their new way of life. Change can be hard, even when it's a change for the better. Please pray for strength for the children battling HIV/AIDS and that the doctors would have the wisdom to provide the care they require. Pray that the children and staff at New Life Homes would be sensitive to each child's unique needs and know how meet them in a practical and loving way. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I (Tommy) was taking a look back at some old journal entries from the first time I was in Swaziland in 2006. My entries were filled with amusing stories--and almost all were overly dramatic

I get pretty excited about spending a significant amount of time interacting with the children "on the farm.” Unlike last time we were there, many of the kids are now entering their teen years. Previously, one of the boys that had just turned 13 began to ask me some challenging questions, such as “When are boys old enough to start having babies?” My initial reaction was to respond with a “well… never,” but I assumed he knew which gender actually delivers babies. 
I stopped, took a deep breath, and began to wander into the weeds...talking about marriage and God’s plan. As I began to think that I was in the clear, he came back at me with a, “when…exactly?” 

Oh boy. Sometimes silence is good. This challenging conversation reminds me how the young men of Swaziland need positive male influences in their life-- and that is one statement in my journal that is not overly dramatized in the least.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Meet Mukelo

Teachers aren't supposed to have favorites. However, most teachers can identify a few students that have really left an imprint on their heart. That's Mukelo.

I don't know all the details of Mukelo's story, but I do know he came to the farm as an infant--sick and malnourished. When I met Mukelo in 2007, he was possibly the brightest five year-old I had ever met. Having been raised on the farm since birth, his mastery of English and Siswati (the traditional Swazi language) was remarkable. Mukelo would often serve as a tiny translator, communicating with visiting missionary teams and quickly relaying information to the other children.

Mukelo, in salmon-colored shorts, is proud of his scarecrow!
 Last time I was there, Mukelo declared himself the personal caretaker of my water bottle. It was really an obsession. He would clean it, refill it (only once with diarrhea-inducing rain water), and would always ask "where'd the water go?"  He would also ask me to set it on his head--somehow the dimensions of the bottle wouldn't allow him to do this himself--so he could carry it for me as we worked in the garden.

Mukelo was sometimes too smart for his own good. I can't wait to see this mischievous, delightful, and hope-filled little guy again! 

We just settled into our new (temporary) home. Please be praying for the many preparations, logistics, and loose-ends that need to be tied up in the next 90-days. It is sometimes overwhelming.