Saturday, April 5, 2014

When Two Ministries Collide

New Life Children’s Homes is a complex, multifaceted operation that is difficult to explain to people – even if they have spent years prancing around this place. There are many aspects of our work here including caring for orphaned and vulnerable kids, operating a school, running a farm that provides food and income to the kids, employing house mothers whose job is to oversee the “farm,” as well as employing nearly 20 other folks from the community to make everything work. It is a place for training others (from kids to leaders in our country), as well as a place where people do business. It is a busy and sometimes crazy place. This makes it attractive to others – from Swazis who want to see a place that a bunch of crazy Americans are helping run to foreigners who want to meet and support the kids and missionaries. We get quite a few visitors who all have their own angle of interest.

This past week, we hosted the Minister of Agriculture for Swaziland (akin to the Secretary of Ag for the U.S., who is currently Tom Vilsack). Along with Minister Vilakati about 25 other government leaders descended on the farm for a tour of the many agricultural operations. Peter (NLCH founder and director), myself, and Mthi (our farm foreman) each talked about different facets of the farm. Below are some pictures of our time with the minister.

More than anything, this brings an immense amount of pride to each of our farm workers and our kids. They see that important people are visiting because of their effort. It is fun to be a part of a team that works hard to serve our kids and community while producing high-quality products. 

The craziest part of the meeting? As we wrapped up, Minister Vilakati asked where we were from in the U.S. After I told he that I came from California, he mentioned that he was familiar with the state from his college years. He said that he attended school in San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly! After we gave each other half-hugs realizing we were both Mustang alum, he then mentioned he received his masters at UC Davis. Whoa! I did my graduate work in Davis. Though we did not proceed to a full hug, there was a pleasant appreciation for each other’s paths that brought us both to a small farm in Swaziland. What an interesting connection!

Below is a picture of the great team that we have assembled on the farm (from L to R), Harriet Makhubu (leads the chickens and the nursery), Raymond Dlamini (our sales and marketing director), Sipiwe Shongwe (house mother), Winnie Johnston (house mother), Mthi Nhleko (farm foreman), Peter Kopp (founder and director), Winile Khumalo (house mother), Happy Msibi (house mother) and, well, me.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for this project.

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