This year has been flying by. When we got back from furlough after Christmas, we spent the next few months adjusting to new positions. Brandon is in charge of the new media and marketing department (pictured above) and, of course, IT. Brandon has the challenge of keeping old —sometimes ancient— laptops running and slow internet on. His new media and marketing department makes sure that our ministry stories are heard by our overseas partners so donors can see how their support is making a difference and that we are using our time, talents, and resources wisely. I now head the newly created HR department. I know HR, marketing, and IT are not the first things you think of when you picture a missionary, but good stewardship of employees and resources are essential in any workplace —let alone one that runs on the good faith of donors. The first part of my year was mostly spent creating an employee handbook and writing the annual contracts for our 90 local Swazi staff. About a third of our local staff are shepherds at our CarePoints; they directly engage our 7,500 kids four days a week. Other staff take care of things like sustainability projects, administration, maintenance and food deliveries.
Last Sunday, Brandon drove out of country to pick up a short term mission team. We were so excited because the team was from our home church but also anxious as this was the first short term mission we would lead by ourselves. Later that same day, I started cramping and bleeding. I was 12 weeks pregnant. I thought it was just a little scare, like we had with Zach. I had so looked forward to the next week when I would have my first ultrasound and get to share the news with our friends and family. By Wednesday, when the pain had only become worse, I knew it was serious. I was told to leave the team and go home to rest. I felt God prompt me to make an appointment with my Swazi doctor despite my intentions to ignore the pain. The following day, my doctor said I would need surgery as soon as possible. Within 24 hours we had dropped everything to see my primary OBGYN in South Africa. He gently told me that my baby had most likely passed away at 8 weeks, but my body took a month to recognize the baby’s passing. I felt horror, grief, and disappointment. I don’t know why these things happen. I don’t know why these things happen to me. I laid there alone in my hospital gown for hours awaiting surgery, looking at an unfamiliar hospital room, on the other side of the world from most everyone we know….