Night had set in and we were sitting in the house when we heard "Make(Mahgay) Jen, Make Jen, are you home?" Our neighbors Zanele and Ntombie were calling from the gate. I went to greet them and see what was wrong. "Our neighbor Beatrice has died. The family is gathered at her home. We are going to see them. Will you come with us and pray for them?" So many emotions hit me at that moment. The community has embraced Justin and I, they trust us, they know who sent us, they are asking us to come to them. What an honor.
Out of respect, I changed into a skirt and wrapped my head and off we went.
Normally, heading out in the dark in the bush of Africa with only my two friends and a flashlight would seem crazy but the peace of God that night was palpable. We were on a mission to bring some peace to a grieving family.
Ten minutes later we arrived, took off our shoes, and entered the house. The family was gathered in the living room. They greeted us and we sat down. The family told stories of Beatrice and talked about how much they loved her. They spoke of her last days when she fell ill and passed away. They told me how honored they were that I was there and they had heard that I had visited Beatrice at her home before. They asked if I wanted to say anything. Deep breathe Jen, this opportunity is pivotal!
There is something that happens when someone dies in Swaziland. There is an unseen battle that sometimes happens with rural families. There are ancestral traditions and practices vs biblical truth that war as the family lays someone to rest. I had an opportunity to remind this precious family of who is in control and where our beloved Beatrice is!
I talked about meeting Beatrice for the first time. She was in a wheelchair all wrapped up in a blanket, hands consumed with arthritis with her weathered bible sitting on her lap. She spoke of our Lord and how much she loved Him. She said even though her hands were in pain and she could hardly turn the pages she read her bible everyday.
She saw the bible in my lap and asked me what I wanted to share. I shared scripture with her about strength and hope and prayed for her. I prayed for healing, peace and endurance to finish the race. She finished well and is in the arms of Jesus now. Because of her faith she is in heaven, dancing, no more pain. I told the family, take comfort in that! Believe in that! Rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus! Then we prayed, in English and Siswati. Two cultures, one heart.
As Zanele, Ntombie and I walked back home I pondered the magnitude of that moment. God has given Justin and I an opportunity to change a community, shine light in the darkness, one family at a time, one moment at a time.
Please join me in praying for our community, Mnyokane, as God deepens these relationships and gives us more opportunities to share the gospel.
Since our last newsletter Justin was re-admitted to the hospital in South Africa and had to have a colon resection and colostomy placement. He spent 14 days in ICU with numerous complications. His body was just so weak from the infections that it took a long time and a lot of medical care for him to be released.
We were so blessed to have both sets of parents come to Africa to be with us through this very tough time. They have since returned home but it was such an encouragement and help to have them here. God knew what we needed and he brought them here to us :)
We are home now in Eswatini(Swaziland) and Justin is recovering well. His appetite is back and he is gaining weight and strength. With all the infections since December he lost almost 40 lbs.
We continue to follow up with his surgeon and he needs one final surgery to reverse the colostomy. The doctor is monitoring him and will make a decision on the date when he thinks Justin is strong enough for the surgery.We anticipate at least a week in the hospital and an additional week in South Africa for that.
We are so grateful for everyone's prayers, texts, phone calls, visits, and donations during this time. God always puts people in place to remind us we are not alone. He is always with us and never stops taking care of us!
The people in the community where we live have been very concerned about Justin. You see, when someone enters the hospital here they likely will not come home. The mortality rate is very high. So while we were gone the community was praying for us and they were so happy to see Justin come home.
We've had numerous visits from the members of our community to check on Justin.
One visit in particular happened right after we got home. Our neighbors came to see us and pray for Justin. It was a beautiful time to hear them sharing scripture and praying in Siswati to our Lord to give Justin strength and healing. We were humbled and blessed to see the fruits of our work here in the community coming full circle. What an affirmation from the Lord that we are right where He wants us.
I am going to do a separate blog post with other stories about what God has been doing in the community during this season and the relationships He is cultivating. Check back later on the blog for more stories.
We were finally able to take possession of our cows. They arrived two weeks ago and are loving their new home. This is the beginning of our project to provide beef and income for long term sustainability here. We have hired two men in the community to help with the cows. This is a dream come true to provide jobs in our community!
We are continuing to be blessed with donations for the baby home. We recently had a team from the US come for an afternoon to visit and bring donations of clothes, sheets, bibs, toys, and more.
After much prayer and confirmation we have put registering the home on hold until Justin's final surgery is completed and he has recovered. Once we submit everything to the government we are on their time line and if we are not available for meetings we will not be seen favorably. We do however need to continue raising funds so that when we are ready to register we have the funding in place for opening with no delays. If you would like to partner with us and provide a one time or monthly donation click on the ministry support tab at the top.
Continued healing and strength for Justin
Emotional healing for us as we process these last few months
For God to continue to deepen our relationship with the people in our community and glorify Him
Complete funding for the Baby Home
The Lord gives strength to His people;
the Lord blesses His people with Peace.
It has been some time since we have written a newsletter. It seems every time we sit down to give an update something happens and it gets postponed. It has been a whirlwind the last few months. Please bare with us as we try to get you caught up on our life's events.
We were scheduled to go to the US and Jen received word her grandmother was not well. She changed her ticket and left two weeks early to be with her grandmother and family. Justin joined her after getting everything settled in Swaziland. Her grandmother passed away and it was such a blessing for Jen to get to see her and spend time with her before she passed. She is walking with Jesus now, of this we are sure!
We were able to visit with many people and churches and give updates on ministry and share vision for the baby home. It was an encouraging, uplifting, blessed time with fellow believers. We are well on our way to the baby home being opened and fully funded. We'll talk more in a minute about current needs.
After returning from the US we resumed our discipleship ministry in Swaziland and started decorating and prepping the baby rooms. On Christmas day Justin was not feeling well. It seemed to be a stomach bug which is not uncommon here. But at 3am following Christmas he woke up with pain and his fever spiked to over 103 and despite medication and cooling it was only getting higher.
We are unable to obtain advanced healthcare in Swaziland so we waited for the border to open at 7am and drove to South Africa. He was taken to a hospital where they admitted him with severe diverticulitis after labs and a CT scan. He was hospitalized and given IV fluids and antibiotics for a week. This was a new diagnosis. He had never had this before. We stayed a few days in South Africa to make sure he was recovering. Everything was fine and we returned home.
Upon returning home Justin's pain and fever returned. We drove back to South Africa and after a very scary few hours of labs, scans, and prepping for surgery to remove part of his colon, the Lord calmed the raging storm and he was readmitted for diverticulitis, an inflammatory mass in his colon, and they noted that one of the areas of diverticulitis had ruptured at some point but had sealed off (God gets all the credit!). After a week of IV fluids and antibiotics, pain medication, and nothing to eat or drink, the infection and inflammation were healing. Although we were exhausted and scared. God never left us and he sent many earthly angels to support and encourage us along the way.
Justin is now home in Swaziland recovering. He is tired but gaining strength everyday. He is on a liquid only diet for continued healing of his colon and until his follow up colonoscopy with the doctor the first week of March. We are making lots of home made soup and he is drinking supplements.
Thank you all for your prayers for us. We know God hears and he responds. You are our warriors in this battle. Please continue to pray for strength, healing, and for God to reveal His will in all of this. We love Him and continue to serve Him all of our days!
We continue to move forward with the baby home and are in the process of registering it with the government. This will take time, meetings, and paperwork and we are prepared for it. We will keep you updated on the progress as we proceed.
If you would like to donate to the baby home you can go to the ministry support tab and give online or mail a check. We will need to be fully funded by the time we open the doors so there will be no delay in taking in babies. Your support goes to buying diapers, formula, baby food, salaries for the ladies helping with the babies, and so much more!
In His service,
Hi everyone. Hope you are well and enjoying all the fall activities. We just wanted to give you a quick update on the baby home and our upcoming trip to Oklahoma.
Jen had to leave sooner than expected for some family health issues and is already in the US and Justin will join her next week.
Here is our schedule of churches while we are home.
October 14 Fitzhugh Baptist Church AM service
October 21 First Baptist Church McCloud AM service
November 4 Coalgate Methodist Church AM service
Novemeber 7 Ada First Baptist Church Wed PM
November 18 H20 Church Towanda, KS
We would love to see as many of you as possible. If you are not able to join us at one of these churches please contact us so we can set up time to see you. Also, if you have a group or Sunday school class that you would like us to share with let us know.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook message us. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you.
Below are the latest pictures from the Baby home. We are so thrilled with the progress. The floors have been finished, the walls painted, and the curtains sewn. We have already started receiving donations of items and funds to purchase needed baby supplies. You know what it takes to set up for a new baby and we need to multiply that for 8 little angels that will be living here :)
If you would like to donate towards the purchase of baby items click on the ministry support tab for more information. Let us know if you have any questions.
See you soon,
Greetings everyone from Eswatini. We are in the midst of winter here with lows of 30's at night and averaging 60's during the day. The grass has turned brown and everyone has started to burn the grass off. Seeing all these fires burning around us took some getting used to but now it is just the norm :)
As we mentioned before, we are coming to the US for a visit. We will be arriving September 18th and departing December 2nd. We would love to connect with as many of you as we can while we are there. If you, your church, small group, or Sunday school class would like to connect while we are home please send us an email @ email@example.com very soon so we can make that happen. We would like to have everything on the schedule before we hit the ground so that we can make time for everyone.
14-Fitzhugh Baptist- morning service
21-McCloud Baptist- morning service
4-Coalgate UMC-morning service
7-Ada First Baptist-Wed night service
18-H20 Church Towanda,KS
We continue to do home visits in our community to meet families and encourage them.
Most recently we visited a homestead where Siboniso lives with his family. His mother works in another town to provide for his needs and his grandmother is his daily caregiver. He is 13 years old. You can tell by the picture he is very small for his age and has many health problems. His grandmother loves him so much and cares for him very well. She gets up every morning, bathes, dresses, feeds him and puts him in his wheelchair to go outside.
His grandmother was so moved by our visit that she wept. She said that she is so tired and discouraged but our visit reminded her that God loves her and sees what she is doing. We brought winter clothes, hygiene items, and groceries, shared scripture and prayed for them. We love our community and that God has placed us here.
Pictured below is Siboniso and our friends in the community that go on home visits with us. They are amazing ladies!
A huge thank you to Glen Elder Community VBS and the Carson family for donating the funds needed to purchase the baby cribs and mattresses. Here is the picture from the day we bought them. God is good!
Many of you have asked us what our current needs are and those are items to stock the baby home. We would love for you to be able to send things back with us or mail them but it's just not feasible with shipping fees, baggage fees, and taxes. The best way to help at this time is to give financially. We are able to purchase things for the baby home in South Africa and Eswatini which is a blessing and we have received donations from people locally. We've listed some things below so you can have an idea of the need. If you would like to donate you can give specifically for an item or just a donation with no designation is fine. Feel free to give however the Lord is leading you.
Bottles Bottle drying rack
Pacifiers High Chairs
Bouncer seats Diaper Bag
Teething rings Nose Bulb
Nail clippers Baby clothes infant to 4 years
Changing Pad Diaper Bin
Baby toys Swaddling blankets
Sheets Mattress protectors
Kettle to boil water Thermometer
Booster seats Bibs
Bath towels Play mats
Baby walkers Nursery decor
Toddler dishes and cups
Thank you for keeping up with us and praying for us. Please let us know how we can be praying for you. Look forward to seeing you soon. We will put out one more update before we leave for the US.
Hello from eSwatini! Watch the videos below and enjoy the updates.
A couple of days ago we were able to pick up our vehicle from the mechanic. Because of your prayers and giving we raised everything needed for the repairs! Our hope was to raise $10,000 so we could fix, sell, and purchase something newer and more dependable. Repairs cost around $4000 leaving a balance of $2000. Unfortunately that is not enough to be able to sell and replace. But that's ok. We have learned that you do with what God gives you and we are in total peace about that. We will hold on to the balance and put towards any repairs in the future that come our way.
A huge thank you to all who prayed and gave financially. We are blessed and encouraged by you.
*Pray for us as we make preparations for our trip to the US. A huge prayer has been answered as our travel costs have been covered. Watch for dates and venues coming soon.
*Pray for our community as winter has arrived. With that, illnesses become greater as most homes have no form of heat. We will continue to share the hope of Jesus with them daily.
*Pray for the ministries we are involved in. The ministries continue to thrive. Pray that everyone we come in contact would see Jesus in us.
We hope this newsletter finds you well and growing deeper in the Lord. What a wonderful beginning of the year it has been here in Swaziland. Below is an update on everything that's been happening.
In February I (Justin) started the new year with the Men's Ministry at Healing Place Church. We have met twice this year and already the men are interacting and engaging. This past Saturday we had our second meeting. Nathi, one of the men in our group led our devotion on "Knowledge". I'm seeing him shine with great leadership skills. The goal I have set for us this year is "How can we improve as men?". In each session we discuss areas that we are struggling in. Throughout the year I will ask different men in our group to share a devotion. This will help them be bolder in their testimonies and enable them to share what God is doing in their lives. We are averaging around 25 - 30 men. For me its not about the quantity but the quality. My desire is to see men stepping up in their communities and families as strong leaders. Keep these men in your prayers. I'm excited to see what God is going to do in their lives in 2018.
We have been spending time in the afternoons with the children in the community skipping rope, playing soccer, eating snacks, and learning from each other. It is a true joy to build friendships with these children and be a light in their sometimes dark world.
I(Jen) have started doing home visits to get to know the ladies in the community and build relationships with them. It is our hope to provide employment to these women at the baby home when it opens. They have so much love to give and desire to provide for their families.
I recently went to visit a neighbor and on my way encountered a man on the dirt road. With my limited SiSwati and him not speaking English it was difficult to communicate but I knew the Lord was leading. We introduced ourselves and discussed where we live. And then the man spoke a phrase in SiSwati that I understood. You come in the name of Jesus. I waved my hands and replied, yes, yes, we come in the name of Jesus and we love Him very much! That, friends, is progress! It may seem small but in this rural bush community, it's HUGE! Praise God for going before us!
Construction of the baby home continues. The walls are being plastered and soon the ceiling will be going up. Every time we walk through the home we are overcome with excitement of what the future holds. A beautiful, safe place for children to flourish and grow.
We thank you all for your prayers and financial support. Thank you for listening to the Lord and reaching out globally. Lives are being changed!
If you would like to become a monthly partner or give a one time donation please click on the ministry support tab. You can give online or mail a check to the address provided. If you would like to have automatic bank deductions email us or PM us on facebook and we can start that process for you.
Justin and Jennifer
2017 is coming to an end and we are reflecting on what a great year it has been for True Hearts Ministry. God has accomplished so much for His kingdom through us. We could not have done any of these things without you. You have blessed us so much. Our words could never express our gratitude. The only way we can express our thanks is to continue serving God each and every day.
With the end of the year just days away, you still can be a part of the ministry. All support that is given to the ministry is tax deductible. All financial giving that happens on or before December 31, 2017 is deductible for the year 2017. Give today to be a blessing to this ministry. We continue to pray that the Lord will bless you in return. May your 2018 be magnificent!
You can give by going to our Ministry Support page.
Watch the video below to see the update on the baby house.
To all our family, friends, and supporters may you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.