Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Birthday BG

12 of our children have gone into foster care. It is not a very developed program and is not used very much in Lesotho, but it has worked in a few cases. 19 of our children have been transferred to other care facility either because of their age or because they had siblings or family living at or near other centers. We always do everything we can to help children to return to their family if there is someone within their family who can provide them with love and care. We have had 145 children who have returned to their families here in Lesotho.
When children are abandoned or do not have any family members who are able to care for them, we then look into placing them into adoptive families. It is so amazing to see the way God brings just the right family for each of our children. We have had 216 children who have been adopted both locally and internationally.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Being Loved

For those of you who make the choice to adopt older children, I would just like to say that you are amazing. It is not an easy journey to welcome a child who has already lived several years outside your home, and who may come with a lot of baggage and heartache. It can be totally heartbreaking on the days where they beg to leave and go back to their other home or orphanage. It can be heartbreaking when they sit crying and won't tell you why they cry, or worse, they hide those tears behind anger. They may not chose you or like you for a long time because of the way they have been hurt in the past. I have heard stories of terrible struggles and heartaches for some families, but I have experienced and seen the blessings of taking the risk with many other families.

I share this because my youngest daughter has decided that she wants to be a part of our family. She has been asking to go back to Beautiful Gate, or to go and live with friends of mine who are more fun than us (seriously who could be more fun that my crazy family, hahaha) or have better stuff than us. These comments were expected because I know it is common for a child to struggle to attach and to struggle with transition and change. I always listened to her and told her that I was sorry, but she was a part of our family and couldn't go back or go live with someone else. I never showed pain or disappointment, just listened and said I was sorry. It isn't her fault that her life before our family confused her as to what family can be like. I continue to show love and hope that she will feel safe no matter what her heart is feeling.

What wasn't expected was the Mother's Day card I received last month and the comments I have been hearing this month. After 16 months with me as her mommy, she has chosen to keep me. Wow, what a blessing. I chose to adopt her, but I cannot make her want to be my daughter. She has decided that she really wants to be a part of our family. There is no greater gift than to receive love that is voluntarily given. Not forced nor manipulated, but given from the heart. It makes me understand why God lets us chose to love Him, and why He does not force us to chose Him. I have hoped and prayed that I would be loved, and it is amazing that it is happening. Sunday as we were walking into church, it was so beautiful to see her run ahead and grab her daddy's hand. She has decided to keep him too and there could be no better gift the week before Father's day. I know that the journey will continue to have ups and downs, but the best part is that we are a family and we will support each other through the ups and downs of life. God is doing something incredible in our lives, and we thank Him that He is walking with us.
I did not write this to embarrass or share too much personal information about my beautiful daughter. I wrote this because I know that many people face different challenges when adopting older children. I want to encourage you all to keep your heart open and don't give up. It may take 16 years instead of 16 months, but it is worth it. If you feel like you have already hardened your heart, pray for God to soften it because a child can clearly see a heart that is safe and one that is guarded.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Update on the Geurinks

I am all settled in again working full time at Beautiful Gate. My heart is always wondering about my dear friend Kim, but I have to leave her in God's capable hands. Thanks again for your love and support as I headed to the states to see her.

I returned to BG the day before some of our volunteers were leaving and now all of our volunteers who were here for 3-5 months have left and 2 new volunteers have arrived. We also had a team when I got here and now a new team is here, so it is our busy time again. The winter months fly by because of all the teams and volunteers who come through BG. It is good for it to fly by because it is so cold. The only hard part is the late nights as tonight will be my first night eating at home with my family in 5 nights. I think they kinda miss me ;)

In family news, this is the last week of school and sadly it is also the last week ever of our beloved KCAL school (the tiny missionary school we started with another MAF family). It has been amazing to see how much my kids have grown through this time with this school. They have been stretched and have grown so much, and I am very grateful that we were able to have this opportunity. I am so thankful to those who have partnered with us to make this school a success. Teachers who gave up a regular salary and were living off donations of others so they could teach missionary kids.

Our family is also in the process of packing up our house. We are going to be house sitting (which is a win win because the house won't be empty for them and we are paying less rent than our current house) for 6 months for our friend Tyler while he goes to America and gets married to his beautiful fiance' Emily. We are hoping to move into a Beautiful Gardens home in January and then leave it fully furnished for the wonderful woman who is going to be taking over my role as operations manager. We have no idea how long we will be living at Beautiful Gardens, because it depends on the visa approval for my littlest sweeties. I think it will be super cool to live there and know that the rent we pay is actually going to bless Beautiful Gate!! All that to say, we will be moving twice in the next 6 months, and then again once the visas are approved so your prayers for sanity and peace over our family would be appreciated.

Next month is also the month where Bryan's sister Kristin is coming with her daughters, Paige and Kelly. My kids are beyond excited for their cousins and aunt to finally see this amazing ministry, and are counting down the days! We have so much happening this year, but we are doing our best to enjoy each moment and be fully present and not always worried about the next thing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Praying for a miracle

Today I celebrated Mother's Day by sitting next to a very special friend. Thank you to all of you who made it possible for me to get here. Kimberly was so surprised to see me and it was a tearful reunion (yep, the tears were all mine as I am getting a little more emotional in my "over the hill" age), and it is amazing to be here and see her in person.
It is hard to believe that she left Lesotho at the end of January in relatively good health, and now she is dealing with cancer. Despite her pain and despite being stuck in a bed due to the pain, Kimberly has such a good attitude. She is grateful for every day that she has and seeks to suffer with an attitude of rejoicing. She is being so strong and courageous despite the diagnosis she has been given as she is told that her cancer is terminal.
Seeing her push aside pain to enjoy every second with her daughter, Lebo, is amazing. They read books together, snuggle and pray together when Lebo comes to visit. It was fun to surprise Lebo with my visit too because she seems pretty happy to have her "Aunt Anita" around.
Some of my thoughts are that really, I am totally unprepared for this kind of situation. I have never walked through a close friend's journey through cancer. Last night Kim's pain was well beyond manageable and she was in tears. All I could do was hug her and cry with her because I had already done everything I could to have the nursing staff increase her medication dose, but the doctor in charge could not be reached.  It was heartbreaking. The whole reason she is at the place she is at is for pain management, yet it wasn't even close to managed. Cancer is a horrible disease and seeing it's effects on a dear friend just broke me.
Today was a whole different story. Kim was able to get the medication changes she needs, and has been feeling much better tonight. I am so thankful that she has received some relief. She is scheduled for the gamma knife procedure on May 24th. We don't know if the oncology department at the hospital will contact her to start chemo and radiation before the gamma knife or if they will do it after, so we are in the waiting game.
Few prayer points:
Please pray that the brain tumor will not grow bigger while she has to wait for her appointment and also that it will not add any side effects to her, such as weakness of limbs.
Also that the pain management will continue to work. Once the pain gets too high, it takes a really long time to get it back under control.
Pray for a miracle and that God would heal her and show His glory by making the impossible, possible.
Thanks for your prayers!!!!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Help Needed

I am writing this post to share some really sad news. One of my dearest friends, Kimberly, who has become like a sister to me has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer which is in many of her organs. She has been a part of our family for the last 6 years (she is a missionary through MAF) and comes over every Wednesday night for dinner. We have even taken multiple family vacations with her, we walked through the process of adoption at the same time (we were matched with our children at the same matching meeting and crazy enough, all 3 girls were raised by the same house mother at BG), she is on the board of BG and helped me pull off the best surprise ever when we had a Basotho blanket made for our handover ceremony this past January.
Kimberly waiting to go on her furlough until the day after Bryan and I had our handover ceremony so she could share in this special day with us. She was so excited to take her daughter Lebo home to meet her mother (who was just diagnosed at the end of last year with cancer and who is in treatments right now) and her sister, and nieces and all of her wonderful friends and family. She left Lesotho with every intention of coming back. We even made fun plans for August 12th....
But she is not coming back. She didn't even get to say good-bye and now she has been in the hospital for over a week and her situation looks pretty difficult. Not too impossible for God, but from an earthly perspective, it does not look good.
That being said, I have been feeling a need to go and see her and bring her some love from Lesotho. I am packing up a suitcase for her daughter and her of some of the things they may need since they are not coming back like they planned. I am bringing cards and videos of those who love her dearly and are not getting to see her again because they can't get to California. I am planning to go and spend time with her and hold her hand as she processes all of this life changing news. I am going to go see my little niece (Lebo calls me "Aunt Anita") and help her see a familiar face.
But I need a little help from others. Many of you have met her, and even if you haven't, I am asking you to pray for a miracle. Please pray that God would remove this cancer and allow her to be the mother she has always longed to be. I am also asking for anyone who has a little extra to give, to consider helping me pay for my plane tickets. This was not in our budget at all, but Bryan and I feel that this is what we should do, so if you are able to help, I would appreciate it very much. I have not told her that I am coming and plan to surprise her ,so if you are reading this and you know her, please don't share this with her. I am leaving this week so I can get there for her birthday!
You can give through our paypal button on this blog, but you need to select the down arrow where it says Bryan and Anita Geurink Fund or you can mail a check to:

AFBGI Ministries
Geurink Fund
100 Pine Street
Suite 107
Zeeland, MI 49464
Attn: Vern Meyaard

Thank you for your support and prayers. I look forward to sharing a little Lesotho with my friend!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thankful to be a Friend

There is so much to say, but  I don't have the words. Sometimes God allows us to be the ones to carry burdens for our friends, but those burdens can be so great. A dear friend of mine shared some very heavy and  heartbreaking things with me that left me speechless. I knew I needed to be strong and encourage her, but controlling my emotions enough to pray for her was very hard.

I was hurting so much for her that I just needed to pray the entire day. I had no words, but the Holy Spirit gave me words. I was searching for words I could encourage her with, and God gave me scripture. I felt completely helpless, but then God reminded me that sometimes, all we need is a friend to walk through a difficult journey with us.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

One thing that never changes here in Lesotho, or anywhere else for that matter, is the deep hurt and pain that people carry. They walk around with a smile on their face, but their heart is being shredded with deep hurt. I hope that I can always take the time to go beyond that smile because I want to be able to love people at all times.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Little Play Time

Today, I decided to leave my desk and go for a little visit to the soft play room (room for the 6 month olds until they are walking). It was really nice to spend a little time playing with the children. I had a few that really loved being lifted into the air and then they would just giggle. However, there was one that thought that was pretty terrifying so it turned into cuddle time instead of playtime for her. There have been so many new children being brought in to BG in the last few weeks, and I was able to see a few of them this morning. They have adjusted so well to their new environment. It is hard to believe that only a few weeks have gone by since their little worlds have been turned upside down. Children are able to adapt and adjust in the most remarkable ways, and I can only say that it is because of the grace of God.

One of the other things that is sweet about the soft play room, is the comments and knowledge of our local and international volunteers. They really know the children in that room as if it were their own child. How they eat, whether or not they like tummy time, moods, preferred toys, and so much more. It is not an easy job to care for 16 little ones daily, but they really take the time to know each child and it is nice to see. I think I will have to make a point to get into the playgroup more often because it was a highlight for my morning. A great reminder that through the ups and downs of life and ministry, each little child on our campus makes it all worthwhile (so do our beautiful staff, but I was focusing on the children today!).