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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Returning to my Mission

These are just a few of my pictures from my latest mission trip to Swaziland. My major task was to create another documentary for Compassionate Life Foundation. The plan was to use the documentary as a video example to current and prospective donors to show the positive effect our work has had on the area. As fate may have it, the video will be delayed for a while as the footage and camera was stolen from my suitcase in the Johannesburg International Airport. That's another story in itself. All I have to say is that the devil is a strong force that seems to work hard to keep good people from succeeding.

On another was still a very successful trip. I was able to see how the children have grown up so healthy because of our contributions. In fact, one little girl in particular really sticks out. Her name is Maria and I met her last time. This time she was so much bigger and entirely healthy! Praise God for the amazing miracles he can perform. What a blessing she is. Here is a before and after picture:

I was able to spend time with some of the donors children. This relationship building is vital is our development in Swaziland. They need to be assured that we are here to stay and that we will never abandon them. I think this brings great comfort in the children. They light up when they see you. It is so beautiful.

We had a birthday party for all the Children that celebrated birthday's within the past month. It was also Busisiwe's 51st birthday, so we celebrated that as well. It was held in the church building that the New Covenant Free Methodist Church funded to build. Our July 2007 team was able to finish the building, and it still looks as fantastic as the day we completed it.

As part of our documentary, I was able to meet and interview a woman who had contracted the HIV virus recently. She was very ill. It was an honour to talk face-to-face with a local Swazi to get their side of the story. She commented on how difficult it was to get tested. The social pressures of not knowing if your HIV positive are high. It's almost a "sweep it under the rug" mentality. She made it clear that she regretted not getting tested earlier, and she recommended all to get tested before it was too late. Words of warning from a woman who has lived it first hand. What an eye-opening experience.

Just one look at how the average Swazi lives and you can see how much need their is for your help.

Well thats all from me for now. May God Bless you and Keep you, and shine his light upon your face.


Derek T. Van Dam


  1. Ian Mac3:19 AM

    Great pics, Derek. Good you are reaching out to the people. BTW, I enjoy the weather on E. Excellent work.

    Ian M (Midland MI)

  2. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Welcome in South Africa. I follow your blog and realy enjoy seeing you discover your calling in life.

    I am a South African photographer that covered our country extensively over the last ten years.
    Shout if you want some images to send home.

    Enjoy your stay and thank you for the very possitive image that you send back to the States about our lovely country.


    Karl Steyn

  3. Derek
    Derek it has been a treat to see the pictures of South Africa. I'm glad you are making a difference in their lives.

  4. Derek - welcome to my country (although you are here already for a while!) May you be blessed for the work you are doing in the communities!

  5. Anonymous9:54 AM

    Thank you Derek for all the Breathtaking and Heartfelt pictures and messages you post continually on your blogsite. I am soooo very blessed to have access to your wonderful experiences regularly. Miss you much. Can't wait till we can chat over a cup of coffee upon your return. May God Continue to Bless Each and Every Moment of your Monumental Journey!!!

    Your Friend,
    Bill Pavlov

  6. Teresa5:09 PM

    Thank you Derek for posting this, Busisiwe and Kitsiwe both look great! I'm sorry to hear about your camera, I haven't spoken to Linda about this yet so I didn't know the story. Your pictures and adventures are always a treat! They do however keep me crossing the days off on the calendar until July! Miss you!

  7. Hello my favourite weather man :)

    These photos portray so much. I think it is great what you are doing in Swaziland. The people there appreciate it more than you will ever know. The real happiness on their faces (and yours!) tells a beautiful story.

    Hope you are still enjoying Cape Town. I have just been there this last week - it was stunning as usual.


  8. Anonymous6:39 PM

    Greetings from Michigan Derek,
    Great pictures that you have posted and especially the one of you and the little girl. You still light up when you are holding her. Sorry to hear about your video camera but you will always have the memories in your heart atleast no one can take that away from you. Maria is still adorable and that is great news that she is healthy...Take care and look forward to hearing from you soon.


  9. Anonymous9:32 AM

    The path to hell is paved with good intentions. In order to help these people you need to be speaking to anthropologists and sociologists who have studied these societies in depth and are aware of the ramifications of any developmental strategy which is what you do when you "help". Think of the disaster of Ethiopia. Swaziland is a country ravaged by the West. It is the West (your home) that is responsible. We elect governments to be responsible and therefore your public officials are the ones who should be doing something NOT YOU. This is the big con of the modern world. In our own country South Africa we are conned by big business who use the poor to promote their businesses! Our government should be doing the things big businesses do like houses for AIDS orphans and such!

    And, as a Christian you should know better than to publicise your good deeds. Big business does that in order to procure more business - there are no morals in business the current state of the World's economies prove that.

    Please do not be naieve about everything. Swaziland is a product of the West. They could quite simply stop the opression overnight but look at how long it goes on and on...ZImbabwe is another point in case. ANd, don't forget our own Minister of HEalth who disputed the HIV virus! The denial of funds to Kwazulunatal and so on. The poor and gullible are used by Satan and his followers (practically the whole wide world of Mammon worshippers) who the biggest culprits and murderers are to be found in government. Make no error the world are murderers with their indifference and interference! And governments are run by big business.

    So underlying your experience is a fundamental evil. Moreover consider this family you were with! Are you telling me that they do not resort to practises that our Lord hates - superstition and muti (magic).

    Its not the same as your world experience Derek! Other cultures.

    But, thank you for caring.

    And as for positive images you do more harm than good. South Africa is like a drug addict who does not want to admit that he has a problem. Think of families that accentuate the positive of their family members who are alcoholics. What good does that do! NONE. We need to as South Africans acknowledge that our country is a cesspool of evil.

    God Bless

  10. Hey Derek,

    I told a friend that I wanted to contact you to give you some advice (good advice, I think) but then said to him I had bad stalking skills. Then, after a basic search, I found your blog. Okay, I am now officially a creepy stalker. HA HA.

    I was really impressed by your blog and by various other things I have seen or heard. I was wondering about exploring the possibility of a friendship. If we went ahead with that and if things worked out, that's great; if they did not work out, we would go our separate ways.

    To confirm, I am not a stalker. HA HA HA. Seriously, one of my friends is up and coming in Hollywood (no, it's not Charlize - sorry). I also had in the past the contact details for several famous people but I never used those - they and I were not and are not friends. Just so you don’t feel too special about being famous, I want you to know that I enjoy some notoriety. HA HA HA.

    Anyway, if you're interested in testing the friendship waters, just let me know. How you would let me know, I am not sure. Discretion and privacy are an issue for you, obviously, and to some extent for me too.

    If we never make contact, have a great life, keep up the good work and continue to follow your dreams.

    PS: You have never seen me on American Idol because I can’t sing.

  11. PPS: If you want to know what I think about a certain comment on this page, let me know, because I am ready to tear into it. I know though you probably would not want that or like that. It simply is not fair, it is extremely judgemental and it demonstrates a considerable lack of education, both in terms of God's word and ways and in terms of how the world works in various ways. Sorry, I am rather angry at the moment. I do not tolerate fools gladly (and everyone who knows me knows this).

  12. Graham G1:34 PM

    Good to see the other half of you, away from the camera. Just stumbled on this web page...ummm


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