Wednesday, December 28, 2011

God heard our prayers...

Last month I asked for prayer as we have over 20 children who are placed, but they have been stuck here longer than necessary. Well, God heard these prayers and He is moving kids to their new adoptive families and reuniting others with extended family. Currently we have 5 children who are bonding with their new families. 1 going to America, 1 to the Netherlands, 1 to Sweden and 2 to Canada. We also have one of our oldest girls who will be moving to her grandmother's home and another little boy who will be rejoining his family ( since asking for prayer we have 7 either adopted or in process and 7 who are reunited or going soon). God has answered our prayers in a huge way, and I am so grateful to Him as we have very happy families and we have more space in our homes for those children in Lesotho who need it.

With this joy of answered prayer comes one more request for prayer. The last month has had many children leaving for adoption and reunification and our house mothers are feeling the pain of loss. With the adoptions, they feel mostly happy because they know their children will be happy, but they will miss their children. With reunification come sadness as some kids are returning to the same people who abandoned them or let them get so sick that they almost died. When the social welfare department decides a child needs to return home, it may not always be in the best interest of the child and it leaves these mothers with a lot of anxiety and pain for the children they have loved and cared for. Please pray for these house mothers to find peace and healing and pray for the children who are returning home. Pray that God will protect them, guide them, provide for their needs, and that they will feel love, and also that if this new situation is not safe, that He will bring them somewhere safe.
Thanks again for your prayers as we are seeing the evidence of them!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!!!

Here is a picture of our staff Christmas lunch. They cooked some chicken on the Braai (grill), made papa, chakalaka with baked beans, and cut up some watermelon. Not your typical Christmas feast, but it is summer here and grilling was nice ;)

The staff are busy inspecting what is in their new bags.

Last night Bryan and I delivered the Christmas gifts for each house. This was the pile for Pula 2, plus a walker and some blocks which were not in the picture. There was also a second gift for all the children who are over the age on 1 because we had several people bring gifts Friday and Saturday, so after wrapping 60 presents earlier in the week, I got to wrap 50 more yesterday ;) whew. We also had a box of candy canes, a card, and 24 cupcakes for each house as a gift as well.

Christmas breakfast of french toast and hot chocolate with whipped cream (I found some at the store for the first time and we HAD to buy it) with some sprinkles.

Here is a picture just for my friend Donna, She gave them all a special present with a special peg that she had made for each kid. Thanks Donna and see... I did not forget the pegs!

This picture is priceless...when you go shopping and you find that gift that you just know they will love and then they actually DO love it and show it...priceless!! Faith your expressions are the best and I love you. Thanks for letting me post this ;)
Merry Christmas from Africa to all our friends around the world! Thank you Jesus for being our best gift ever.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Staff Christmas

We celebrated Christmas with all our staff today and it was a great celebration. We all did a little to make the day successful so it was relaxing and fun to have a few hours to share a meal and be thankful for the staff God has placed at Beautiful Gate as well as for them to be thankful that God has provided them a job. We had many donations come in over the past year so we saved up the items until we had enough for all the staff. Today we gave them all a nice blue bag, a notepad, notebook, hand cream, and the women received a few gold pins.

Bryan and I decided a few months ago to start putting aside some extra money so we could give them all a Christmas bonus of M100. The budget at BG has been very tight and we knew they would not be getting a bonus of money, yet we felt they deserve it for all their hard work and gentle care for the children here. As we put aside money, we had a few people also send money to BG to be split between the staff and the children and just yesterday we were told of another M9000 coming to be used for the staff and kids so between all these, we were able to give the staff each M200 (M8000 total for the 40 staff).

I did not get to stay and watch the staff receive their gifts as Laury, Nthabaseng (volunteer from Netherlands) and I went into the baby houses so all of the staff could be together. I heard a lot of clapping and yelling and Bryan told me that many of the women took out their cash and started fanning themselves with it while talking excitedly. Our staff work so hard and have so little, yet they just smile so much and really know how to celebrate and thank God for their blessings, whether big or small. Today I was once again reminded that it truly is better to give than to receive. Thank you to those who have shared so generously with us because you have helped us to share with our amazing staff here at Beautiful Gate!
God Bless You,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thoughts from our Kids

Mercy says, "I love Gracey and also Laura and Anni, Bonnie, Charoli, Matt, M'e Laury, Ntate Allan and M'e Donna. I want to say good-bye to the Australian Team and to Ntate Allan and M'e Donna for a few weeks. I played a board game, played ponies with Anni, and I watched the suuuuunset. I am looking forward to Christmazsssssssssssssssssssssssssss. My Grandpa and Grandma are coming and I am so happy. (I let Mercy type several words herself!).
Merry Christmas - goodbye"

Elijah says, "We just had some people leave today and we are quite sad, but it is also fun because now we can have family time. Yesterday night we went to see a sunset and it was awesome. We played with our friends, a game that you claimed things as your own and then you could do whatever you wanted before someone else did it. There were 2 people per team (a friendlier form of king of the mountain?). Then exactly at the end of the sunset, Henry and I were using rocks as fake money to buy mountains. Then we went home, but before we went home we had ice cream, and boy was it good. I am looking forward to when Oma and Papa come because it will be a blast! We are going to take them to a lion park and to pet a cheetah, hopefully and to the beach and to an elephant park and back to Lesotho and to the river and then to home. (he has a lot of plans doesn't he!). Thanks for reading my paragraph."

Faith says, "I miss my family and it has been such a great time here. I think it would be great for all of you to come to Africa. Fresh air, nice animals, and awesome awesome fun. I am having the most funnist time in all my life in Africa. I loved seeing the black-backed jackal in September when we went on a safari. I love love love love love you so much. Love my family!"
From Faith Geurink

While Faith's post was very upbeat, she is very sad because she made a great friend from the Australian team and they had such fun for 3 weeks and her friend left today which has left Faith pretty sad. She could use some prayer as she seems to struggle a lot with homesickness and then having her African friends coming and going (volunteers, BG kids, and Missionary families). Bryan and I worry that she might decide not to keep reaching out to these new friends because it hurts too much as she has a very sensitive heart. Thank you for your prayers for our family!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bittersweet Day

I was a bit too tired to blog last night but wanted to share about our day. It was a bittersweet kind of day. The morning was the bitter part. The management team decided a few months ago to shut down the preschool here on grounds for many good reasons, but with that decision came the unfortunate job of letting some of the staff go. There is one staff that I admire greatly who is a preschool teacher and we had her farewell yesterday. She is a woman who shines the love of Jesus so brightly that you can feel it. Her love and admiration for children is an example to other staff. Her smile and ever ready singing brighten every one's day. Her attitude and perseverance are admirable too and it saddened my heart that we had to let her leave Beautiful Gate. I wanted to share my thoughts with her and give a little speech, but I had a lump in my throat and tears streaming down my cheeks (I know that seems to be an everyday occurrence for me now doesn't it!). I went home and wrote her a letter about how special I think she is and I am praying a new position will open up soon so she can work at Beautiful Gate again.

The sweet part of my day was when 3 Swedish families showed up to pick up their new children for bonding. It was beautiful as usual to see their anxious expressions as they waited for their children to arrive then change to huge smiles as they were handed their daughters (all 3 couples got girls which is highly unusual). I took pictures for one couple and then left the room so they could bond.
I went home to prepare lunch for my kids and then heard Elijah yelling into the kitchen that someone was at our house. I went to the door and there was one of the girls who was being adopted (about 3 years old). Her new parents asked her to show them where her house was and she brought them to my house. I know that she KNOWS where her house is and found it really sweet that she brought them to my house ;) She is one of the little girls who yells M'e Anita every time she sees me and wants me to play, and I guess she wanted to make sure she got to say good-bye or wanted me to meet her parents. Whatever the reason, I was touched that she came to see me and then I walked her parents to her real house ;)

God is in the process once again of moving kids around. These 3 left for bonding yesterday and a new little girl moved in. Plus we had the other 2 kids we were expecting move in last week. We had one girl go home with her aunt last Friday and another little girl go to her grandmother's house yesterday. I am guessing that December is going to be a busy month with adoptions and a few older BG kids being reunited with family, so hopefully there will be many happy Christmas celebrations coming up!
May God bless you as you take time to think of Him during this busy holiday season!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Divine Appointment

Today, I left the house at 5:50am so I could meet with my friend Donna and go for a walk. She is usually quite punctual, but I did not see her at our usual meeting spot. I decided to walk to her house and see if she was coming out of her gate. As I turned down the dirt road to get to her house, I passed a woman who had a heavy backpack, and 3 heavily loaded bags that she was carrying. We glanced at each other and when I saw her face I could tell she was struggling. She said to me, “M’e I am not well. I am just not well.” I asked her if I could pray for her and she said yes and laid all her heavy bags in the dirt road and I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed for her. As soon as I finished, I realized that I was not meant to go walking, but I was meant to carry some of her burdens home so I grabbed a few of her bags and started walking with her. She was so grateful and kept thanking me for praying and for carrying her bags. She said she knew God was making her better and that she was feeling better already.

As we walked I asked her what her name was and where she was coming from. She said her name was Patricia and she was gone for a week trying to sell things that she had sewn. She was such a sweet woman and she told me that she loved me and was happy that I was her new friend. She showed me her house which was a very small 2 room cinder block home and invited me in. I brought in her bags and met her daughter who had been sleeping on a blanket on the kitchen floor. They were both very sweet and Patricia told me that she would like me to come visit sometime, and although I am a bit nervous to ever invite myself to someone’s home, I really felt God pushing me along and I think I will visit her.

I got home and found out from Bryan that Donna had sent a text last night saying she would not be walking this morning and I just smiled. God had a divine appointment for me this morning and I couldn’t be happier that I missed the text. So often I am just too busy and have my day too scheduled to catch these moments that God is just waiting to give me. I think I needed to remember that today. So I will leave you with the words of Jesus today because when I helped this woman with her physical burdens, the gratitude and relief she expressed was so heartfelt and I think, if we lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus, wouldn’t we feel that relief and gratitude as well. I am feeling a gentle nudge from God to lay my burden for “my boys” at His feet. I will keep praying for them but I am ready to lay my burden of worry at the cross!

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
May God give you all a divine appointment this week as well!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

1 YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, 1 year. Sometimes it feels like it flew by. Other times it feels like we have been in Lesotho for such a long time. But it was exactly one year ago that we were in the airport for the agonizing good-bye to our family and friends. I still remember that I was "okay" until all of them circled around us and began to pray for us and then the tears flowed freely...I actually think it was when my mother-in-law, Mary blessed us that I cried (thanks mom, it was a special blessing). Mercy was shocked to see me crying so she walked over to the chair where her stuffed animal Kody was and handed him to me. She asked why I was crying and I said it was because I was going to miss my family and friends and then like only a 3 year old can, she said, "Mom, I'll be your friend in Africa." And she has ;)

Today, as we remembered our feelings of last December 4, I decided that we should make today a fun day. We have begun to call ourselves American Africans and so we thought that we would celebrate our first year as American Africans and take the kids swimming. We went to the pool at the Maseru Sun for Faith's birthday last year and surprised the kids by taking them back today for some fun in the water! They were very thankful and thought it was a great way to spend the day.

The hotel also had an outdoor chess game board that the kids thought was super cool. What kid wouldn't love to play with chess pieces that are half their size. Elijah and Bryan will have to play against each other sometime, but today it was a bit busy at the pool and by the chess board.
Thank you so much for following our journey this past year and feeling empathy with us as we have gone on many ups and downs, and for your many heartfelt prayers during some struggles that just took our breath away. Thank you for your comments on this blog as well as countless emails. We have felt your love and support carrying us through and encouraging us along. Also, many of you are sacrificing financially by supporting us each month, quarter, or annually. We are not yet fully funded for our next 4 years, but because of your love and dedication to us and Beautiful Gate, we are confident that God will provide for us. If you have only recently begun to follow our blog and would like to contribute to our fund, we would be very appreciative. We are missionaries/volunteers here at Beautiful gate and are not paid which is why we are in the process of continuing to raise funds to cover our next 4 years.

Mail the funds to:
C/O Danell Czarnecki for Geurink Missionary Fund
6950 Edison Avenue
Chino, CA 91710

Once again, thank you for the role you have played in making our first year here in Lesotho at Beautiful Gate, an unforgettable year. Our family has been very blessed!

Blessing to You,


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brief overview of the last few days

On Saturday - we celebrated with the older preschool kids as they graduated preschool. They looked very official in their caps and gowns. The girls did a few traditional Basotho dances as did a few of the preschool boys. It was a very nice celebration.

On Sunday - we went to church and then enjoyed the afternoon relaxing and not doing much of anything as we prepared for our team of 13 guests from Australia to arrive on Monday.

On Monday - the boys our family is very close to went back home to their mother. It was heartbreaking to say the least. When the boys got here in August 2009, they were so sick that the staff did not know if they were going to live. Our social worker reminded the mother of the boys circumstances when they arrived and asked her to make sure she cares for them so they never get into those circumstances again. The boys' house mother was literally sobbing and I was not much comfort to her as I cried right beside her. Our social worker has shared too many sad stories of children reunited with their mothers and it has not given me much reason to hope, but I am doing my best to lay them before Jesus because He loves them so much more that I ever could. He will watch over them even when no one else can. He will keep them safe and away from harm because He is their Father, friend, and comforter.

After the boys left, I helped prepare dinner for the Australian team. They arrived just after 6pm and were all VERY tired ;)

Today - I got up at 5:30am and took a walk with Donna and 2 of our team members then was busy the rest of the day with cooking and homeschooling and a little bit of cuddle time with the BG kids and my own.

I feel a bit like I am on auto pilot. I am very busy when there are teams and our new school year has just begun and I am trying not to fall behind. I hope all of the above makes sense as I have been up for too many hours already and don't have the energy to read over what I wrote.
Good night,

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, if I were still in Michigan, we would be at my friends Sammy and Eric’s house with their 3 children along with anyone else who needed to have some adopted family to hang out with for Thanksgiving Day. It has been our tradition for most of the 12 years that Bryan and I have been married. However, if I were there, I am pretty sure that my friends would not be in the process to adopt a sibling set from Lesotho (they may have begun the process of adoption but they probably would not have chosen Lesotho), so I am THANKFUL that I am here in Lesotho.

On this holiday in America, we often stuff our faces with all of our favorite foods, sometimes to the point of having a stomach ache. And then we sit and talk with our family and friends and just enjoy our day, being thankful. Today I walked my children to a cemetery where we buried a little girl who had not reached even two months of life. As we walked I saw Elijah grab the hand of the ‘Me’ that this little girl was named after(one of her house mothers) and comfort her as they walked. It brought tears to my eyes and I am THANKFUL that my kids are here in Lesotho.

Today Bryan would usually be sitting on the couch surrounded by his buddies watching football on TV. And then he would be enjoying some of his favorite desserts. Instead he spent the morning preaching his first sermon at a funeral for a precious baby girl. I saw his heart break as we left the cemetery as he had never planned to preach at a funeral, especially that of a little baby. Then later, I listened to him talking and laughing with some of the Basotho men as they enjoyed the lunch “Me’ Mamatela prepared for us after the funeral. I was so proud of him for being strong enough to preach but also knowing how to let go and relax with his co-workers. I am THANKFUL that Bryan is here in Lesotho.

Yesterday, my friend Edward told me that he and his wife were expecting their 3rd child and they were so happy. But, that last Wednesday his wife began to bleed heavily and he rushed her to the hospital and they lost their baby. He said that he is sad and the pain is so much that they will not try for another baby, but then he said that he trusts God and knows that God is in control and he accepts whatever plan God chooses for him. I am amazed by his testimony through the pain, and I am THANKFUL for my 3 healthy children and I am THANKFUL that God has placed us here to be a comfort to our new friends in their many times of hardship. Today I am counting my blessing and I am THANKFUL for the path God has placed us on, even if it hurts sometimes.
Have a blessed and thankful day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yet I will Praise the LORD

Though there are starving children living next door to me,

Though my son’s best friend is an orphan being raised by his older sister, and often does not have enough food to eat,

Though I do not have enough money to help some of the kids who need it desperately,

Though God has not chosen our family to be a forever family to the boys we love,

Though my heart has more scars in one year than it had in the first 34 put together,

Though God has called home a precious baby girl whom I love dearly,

Yet I will praise the Lord. His name will be praised in all circumstances and I will put my trust in Him because He has good plans for us.

One very important lesson I learned 12 years ago when my sister took her life was that God allows very painful and bad things to happen. He could have stopped her, blocked the lies of satan, and took her out of her desperate situation, but He did not.

God could have healed this baby girl. He could have saved her and allowed her to live long on this earth. Her mother was just about to sign the adoption papers which would have released her for adoption and He could have provided a loving family with a beautiful, sweet baby girl, but He did not.

Who am I to question His plan? In Jeremiah 29:11 God tells us that He has a plan for us and it is not in His plans to harm us. So while this may look like “harm” to our human eyes, God is sitting outside of time and orchestrating something good. I love God with my whole heart and although that heart is still hurting and scarred, it is trusting in Him completely. His love endures forever and I choose to accept His will and plan as I know that He is in control.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Hurts

I don't even know where to some ways I feel numb, but if I were numb, I wouldn't hurt so much. I am in so much emotional pain that I feel like I could vomit at any minute. One of our dear, precious baby girls (here at Beautiful Gate) passed away today, very unexpectedly. She is only a couple months old and was healthy and thriving with no indication of sickness, and now she is gone. Oh, how it hurts. I was just there holding her earlier this week and it doesn't seem real. I was so shocked when I heard of her passing that I went to see her for myself because I just couldn't believe it. There she was wrapped up carefully in a few blankets, but no breath.

I hurt too much to even ask God why.

I hurt so much that my tears are just sitting in my eyes ready to roll down, but they seem stuck.

I want to run away and just sit on a mountain alone.

I thought my heart hurt enough when I found out the boys we love as our own would be leaving this week, but now on the eve of my 35th birthday...I am being forced to say good-bye to a precious girl who never got to see her first.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Love and Let Go

Well, in typical God style...He is in the process of answering our prayers but just not in the way we had planned. 2 boys(brothers) from Beautiful Gate are going to be going home to their mother this coming Saturday. She was being treated for mental illness for the past few years and has received a clean bill of mental health from DSW and will now be taking on her responsibilities as a mother again.

When we arrived at Beautiful Gate 11 months ago, all 5 of us fell madly in love with these 2 brothers and as we were unsure of how severe their mother's mental health and knowing they had been at BG for a few years, we began to pray that they might be able to join our family. I found it strange that all 5 of us felt the same way and when the kids would ask me if we could adopt them, I always told them to pray and God would show us. As the months passed, I was becoming more and more convinced that God was going to say yes and had my hopes set higher than I should have. I cannot explain the bond between the 5 of us and the 2 of them but it just felt so right and perfect.

Then I found out their mother was released from the hospital and could come and get them anytime and I had to pray that God would put them in the right and the best place, even if it was not with our family and He is in the process of doing that. Our family will be learning how to love and let go because the best place for these boys is with their mother and we just need to trust that she will be able to maintain good mental health and care for them. Living with 60 kids is dangerous for one's heart and we will just need to be careful with our hearts in the future. So God is clearing out 2 more beds at BG this week for the 3 - 4 kids who are still to come this month and if we can get a few adoptions this month also, then we will be able to save and serve more of God's little ones. God's plans are always perfect and while they may not always be what we pray for and hope for, we just keep trusting that He knows the future of all the BG kids and He will bring them to the right family!
God Bless You All,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adoption Prayers

We are in need of some prayer in the area of adoptions. We have 61 kids and 4 more who will be here by the end of November. We are set up to only have 60 kids and right now, we do not have the funds to open up another baby house so our houses are crowded. This is a huge problem as we want to give the best care to our children and we do not want to over work or over burden our staff. We are to the point of needing to turn away any new referrals for kids, yet we know that Beautiful Gate is the best place for babies and young children in Lesotho who are orphaned or abandoned. We need prayer to know what to do next, and we need extra prayer warriors who can pray for all our pending adoptions.

Currently, we have 23 children who are placed for adoption and a few of them have been placed for about a year now. There are a few new appointed members of government who have really slowed the process of adoption down. Some for good reasons like tightening down on child trafficking, but others for what appears to be power and control more than the benefit of the children. Please pray with me that these adoptions can speed through quickly as then we will not be in our overcrowded situation, the children and families who have been waiting can begin their new life with their forever families, and we will have room to continue taking in new babies and toddlers who need the love, hope and care of Beautiful Gate.

Thank you for your prayers because God is just waiting for us all to ask and we know that He will make it happen!

Monday, November 7, 2011


I went to a ladies missionary retreat this past weekend. It was just what I needed to refresh my spirit and encourage me as Bryan and I begin our new roles as directors of Beautiful Gate. I discovered that while raising 3 kids and living on-site at an orphanage, I have not had much time to reflect on how I really feel about all the changes in my life over the last 11 months. So, this weekend was a chance for me to do that. Our retreat was held at Wynford Farms in South Africa, located just outside Lesotho and with an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. We worshipped in a chapel with big windows in the front so we could enjoy looking at God's splendid creation while we sang to and talked about Him. I do not know if I have ever had such a relaxing time in my whole life (not to mention eating that much food or consuming that much tea).

I really had to look deep within myself and discovered that I have lost a lot of my joy in the past 11 months. With saying "see you later" to family and friends, moving to a new place, having God change our entire reason for being at Beautiful Gate (from helpers to directors), learning to be a teacher, seeing poverty, hunger, pain, and even experiencing death. I have allowed the worries and doubts of life to steal my joy. I always try to spin things in a positive way if I can, but inside I was feeling hallow, empty, scared. Not the emotions a missionary should be feeling, but nevertheless, feeling discouraged and overwhelmed with the tasks ahead and the thought of balancing my family and our new roles here. But this weekend, I was able to look deeper into those emotions and accept that they are not from God (I knew that before but yet let them linger). He has chosen me as a wife of Bryan, a mother of Elijah, Faith and Mercy, a teacher (homeschool and sunday school), a director's wife, a playmate to 60 Beautiful Gate kids, a supplier of books and toys to the neighbor kids, etc. He trusts that I can do it or He wouldn't have given those roles to me. I do not have to doubt or worry because my Father is in control and will give me what I need, SO it is time to let His joy shine in my heart again. I am no use to my friends, family, husband, kids, etc if I let myself get defeated by satan and lose my joy. My prayer is that I can keep my eyes fixed on Him so that I do not lose my joyfulness again ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tea Party in Africa

One event each day here in Lesotho that is very different from Michigan is the morning tea time. We did not have such a thing in our day, yet as most kids do, our kids pretended to have tea parties on occasion. They would play dress up and get out their tea set and pour water for each other. Well, a few days ago we got a magazine in the mail (Thanks Nancy for the Kidsclub subscription) and it had a few suggestions for hosting your own tea party with a new friend. Faith and Mercy came running and asked if we could host a tea party. So, we looked over the article and made a plan to invite our friends Donna and Allan over for a tea party (lunch).

So on Tuesday night we made sugar cookies and made them in shapes of leaves for the boys and flowers for the girls. They frosted the cookies themselves and then used candy to make initials on each person's cookie. Then on Wednesday morning the girls (and Elijah too) woke up early and went outside to pick flowers and leaves to decorate the table. They made name tags for each person and decorated those with stickers. As lunch time drew near, they picked some fresh peas from the garden and then helped me roll out pizza dough so we could make special sandwiches for each person. They had so much fun getting ready.

Donna and Allan came before Bryan and Laury got back from work for lunch so Donna and the kids played hide-and-seek for a little while and then we all enjoyed their tea party. It was so sweet so see the joy on their faces as everyone complimented them on such a nice lunch. I think I may be in trouble because they are going to want to have a tea party everyday now! So, now we are have tea time as part of our daily schedule might just have to keep that when we move back to Michigan ;) Hope you enjoyed a story about my girls (and Elijah helped quite a bit too).
I tried to post a picture but after an hour of waiting for it to upload, I gave up.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Like a Proud Mother

I had an experience I'd like to share because it was such a good reminder as to why our family is here at Beautiful Gate. When we arrived here is December, there was a little girl here whom we paid special attention to. She was a few months old, but all bones with no muscle tone at all. Her mother suffers from mental illness and though she thought she was feeding her, the baby was not receiving any nutrition. When I tried to put a very small and light weight toy in her hand, her hand would drop down immediately as if the toy weighed 10 pounds. It was sad to see such a fragile little girl. We used to go and take her from her house and bring her to our home for little visits just to make sure she was getting a little extra love and attention, in hopes that she would grow and be healthy.

The other day, I went into her house and offered to help feed the children their lunch. She finished her lunch and then crawled over to the table. I then watched as she stood up and began pushing the little plastic table around on the floor. She was very proud of herself and kept looking over as if to make sure I was watching her. She then got so excited that she let go of the table and as she did she pushed it away a couple inches. She took 2 steps and then grabbed the table again.

I was so happy to watch her taking those first few steps because 10 months ago, she looked like she was skin and bones and now she is healthy, happy and reaching very important milestones. I felt like it was a peaceful sign from God that He had His hand on her the whole time. He knew her mother was not well and that this little girl would find a safe haven here at Beautiful Gate. Moments like this where we see a child come in who is malnourished, under weigh, failing to thrive, etc, yet God brings them to full health and catching up to other kids their age, and we see a glimpse of God's healing power.
Thanks be to God,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Faith's post about our visitors

I had fun and Terp (Christina) wanted to play with all the children of Beautiful Gate. She played with me but not as much as she played with the kids at Beautiful Gate. . I wish she would come back and I would go for a big visit. I love you all and I miss you so much that I feel like hugging you and kissing you for all the days of your life. So, I will say to you, you are the best friends I could ask for.
My favorite part about having the MI team here was when Kassidy taught me how to make a twisty bracelet. I miss Kassidy but I had so much fun in Africa that you should come whoever reads our blog. I love everyone and I miss everyone. But you are going to come someday, I know it. Good-bye, I will talk to you maybe tomorrow or even today.

Well, you never know what they are going to say, but I try to just let her talk and I write it out. She was very sad when the Haven team and Mary and Rachel left on Monday. Both Mercy and Faith said they wanted to cry as we left the airport. I knew I'd be sad when the team went back but I failed to realize how sad the kids would be. Mercy adopted my friend Lori as a second mother for the 10 days. She would cuddle with her and have her read books and hold her hand when they were walking. It was very sweet. I am thankful that we are not having school for another week or two so we can spend some quality time together. Saying "see you later" is hard but it is so worth the time with friends. I guess having friends come and go and the joy and sadness that goes along with it is just one more unexpected thing for me to teach my kids. God will give us what we need whether we are joyful or sad and we thank Him for the blessing of friends all over the world.

Monday, October 24, 2011

We are Official

Wow, where has the time gone. The last 4 days have gone by as a blur of activity and I did not find a minute for a blog update. I wanted to start out by saying that it is official now. Ray and Sue are moving on to a new season in their lives and have decided to step away from Beautiful Gate as directors and begin a new ministry in Cape Town, South Africa (about 14 hours from Maseru). They have dedicated the last 10 years to making Beautiful Gate the best and most excellent Care Center in Lesotho and they are now entrusting Bryan and I to take over the leadership and care of Beautiful Gate. On Thursday, we had a beautiful retirement party of Ray and Sue and shared a nice dinner with them along with family, friends, and staff. It was a night to honor them for their hard work and perseverance to make Beautiful Gate what it is today.

Friday, we had an open house where over 300 guests were invited to celebrate Beautiful Gate's 10th anniversary. There was singing, dancing, horses, a bouncy house for the BG kids, speeches, and the handing over of leadership. Ray gave Bryan his staff and Basotho blanket as a symbol of this change in leadership and declared Bryan as the new director of Beautiful Gate. Sue handed me a lovely basket of flowers and encouraged me to care for the kids and staff and teased me to maybe even consider adopting a few BG kids into my immediate family like she had. It was very meaningful and a little emotional. I felt a great sense of pride in Bryan as he stood up on the stage ready to take on the next step in Beautiful Gate's future.

One of the most meaningful moments for me was when our new pastor spoke a word over Bryan and I. He reminded us that Jesus was 30 when He began His public ministry, Solomon was 30 when he became king, and Joseph was 30 when he became Pharaoh's right hand man. It was so encouraging and reassuring to me that just because we may appear to be young to be directors of an orphanage, God has chosen us for this ministry. He called us here as we have been hearing over and over for "such a time as this." Please pray for us that we can be bold, true and faithful like Jesus, compassionate and generous like Joseph and wise like Solomon as we walk in faith as the new directors of Beautiful Gate Lesotho.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Staff Gifts

I do not know if I can even put words to my day. I had the best experience and want to tell you all about it, but you would have had to see and hear it to fully grasp the depth of it. To give you a little back story, my church along with another church donated the 56 boxes on the container that we received in July. In these boxes, there were tons of items for the kids here at Beautiful Gate. So, when the leaders of the mission trip that is here now asked me what they could bring. I suggested that rather than collect a bunch more things for the kids, why not bless the staff instead. The response from the staff was just amazing.

There was a purse/ bag for each staff member and it was filled with items like lotion, gum, combs, shampoo, conditioner and R20. Each staff member was called up to receive their bag and many of them danced up there and made a big deal of their gift. After they had their bags, we pulled out a solar power bible for each staff member and the response was incredible. A group of women jumped up and began a dance and sang praising God while waving their bibles in the air. It was so incredible that it brought tears to my eyes.

When is the last time we received such a small gift and praised God with all our strength and sang and danced before the Lord. It was a holy moment of true worship and I am blessed to have been a part of it. At the end of the celebrating, Christina told them she had one last gift and that gift was Bryan and I. She said that we are family of Haven church and that she wants them to accept us into their Beautiful Gate family. Which of course brought more tears to my eyes as many of the staff came and hugged me and thanked me. It amazes me how grateful they are and is a lesson in gratitude and thankfulness to me.
Have a blessed day,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Good Devotions

Today was a blessed day. The Haven team was very busy working, serving, playing and helping and it was good. We came together at the end of the night and Terp read us a devotion from a young woman who is working in Uganda. I loved a comparison that she used about working in a third world country.

"Sometimes working in a Third World country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eyedropper. And just when I have about half a cup full of water it rains: More orphaned children from the north migrate to where I live, more orphaned and dead babies are found, more people are infected with HIV. It is enough to discourage even the most enthusiastic and passionate person. And yet the discouragement lasts only a moment and God tells me to keep going. That He loves me. That He loves these people. That He will never leave or forsake any of us, not one. That my work is important-to Him."

Kisses from Katie (book)

It was so amazing to hear my own feelings being reflected (and much better described) through this book. I could not have said it better because it is all to often that we feel like we are getting used to living here, and then something drastic will happen and shock us back into the fact that we are living in a third world country and it can be difficult and unpredictable. Yet, in spite of those moments, God is pushing us on and reminding us to love those around us and care for them. We can not change their circumstances many times, but we can love them. I was very encouraged by this devotion tonight and am so very thankful that I have my friends here not only helping and encouraging the kids at Beautiful Gate, but they are coming along side and encouraging me.
Have a blessed day!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Haven Team is here

Hello Everyone!
Sorry I have not written in a week but I was recovering from tiredness after having the 22 people from Jo-burg, and then I was not feeling well for a few days. I am recovered from both of those and enjoying some quality time with friends from Holland/Zeeland. The "Haven" (some are actually from other churches in the Holland area)team arrived yesterday around 6pm. We talked for a bit then quick ran into the houses to play with kids for a few minutes before we had dinner. It was such a blessing to show my friends all my Beautiful Gate kids. Despite their massive jet lag, we were able to have dinner and make a few plans before they all had to head off to bed.
Today we went to TY to a weaver workshop/ store and witnessed some Basotho women weaving and spinning wool into yarn. The team enjoyed the new sights and then browsed through the shop looking at all the tapestries. Then we took them to the Kome Caves and they had to take a pretty steep hike to get down to the cave dwellings. Today, all the families were home so we were able to see all 5 of the houses. We had some great conversations with the tour guide, the taxi drivers and each other. I can not even begin to tell you how amazing it is for our family to have our friends here. I know they are not here for us, but so that they can bless Beautiful Gate and the kids and staff here, however, they are a blessing to us. Sharing our lives and stories in person rather than over the Internet is so good for us. I'll try to post a little extra this week as they are not keeping a blog (maybe I can get one of them to post too so you don't just get my perspective) I am off to bed because I have to help with Sunday School in the morning.
Good Night

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Africa has always been a continent with statistics that are pretty awful. The widespread effect of HIV/AIDS, the short lifespan of adults, the staggering infant mortality rate, the orphan epidemic, hunger, starvation, and the list can go on and on. I am going to apologize in advance for this comment, but Africa was easier as a statistic. Our family gave money to help with Aids research, orphan care centers, sponsored a child from Kenya for 12 years, and gave to charities helping to provide clean water, however it was all so far away and it did not change the way we lived or did things.

Now those jobless, hopeless adults live outside my fence, the orphans are both inside and outside my fence, AIDS is everywhere with 1:3 infected, and hunger is everywhere I go. It is not a statistic anymore, it is our reality. I think it has hit me very hard as I watched our friend rushing back and forth from the hospital for 5 days. His 10 month old daughter was very ill and she took a bad turn to the point that the doctors told her parents there was no hope. He woke me up at 6:10 that morning and needed a car to get to the hospital so I gave him our car keys. He was shaking because of the bad news. I prayed so hard for her and thankfully God provided her healing. I KNOW what the stats are for infants in this country, but they are my friends and I didn’t want them to be one of those statistics. It was so hard to see them worried and praying with all their might and being forced to go to the worst hospital I have ever seen because it was all they could afford. God got them through it, but it made my heart anxious because life is not kind to those living in 3rd world countries, but these are my friends and I love them.

I hope that my first paragraph did not seem heartless to you but I think there are those who can relate. We hear of AIDS, starvation and other horrible things, but until you face it, it is not so personal. I cared but they were not my friends and were not like Aunts and Uncles to my kids. They are people just like you and me and trying desperately every day to make enough money to feed their families and to keep their kids healthy. Trying to offer their kids the best education they can. I am not sure how I could have been so blind before and not seen how much they are like me and my family. Just because they were on the other side of the world did not mean they should have just been a statistic. I have learned my lesson and God has blessed me with new friends and please pray with me that they will be healthy, happy, employed, and go to bed with full stomachs each night.
God Bless You,

Friday, October 7, 2011


One thing I had not anticipated with our choosing to live onsite, was how much we would be involved with all of the teams that come to Beautiful Gate to volunteer. Since we are staying in half a house with a shared kitchen, most of the teams stay in the room off the kitchen and on the other side of our house. It has been an enormous blessing to build new relationships but it also keeps us very busy. We had a youth group from Jo-burg, SA come from Sunday at 12pm to Thursday at 10am. There were 20 students ages 14-22 and 2 leaders. Laury and I prepared all the meals for them which kept us very busy in the kitchen and the pay-off for me was that they kept my kids busy by playing games with them, reading to them, or just talking to them. My kids were very happy and were all smiles with that much attention! What another unexpected blessing of being onsite.
The team worked on many projects, and then spent a fair amount of time playing with the BG kids as well as having some pretty huge soccer games with the kids outside the fence. The language barrier did not interfere at all as the games they played with the younger kids were full of motions and funny sounds. There was face painting, games of Simon says, duck duck goose, and of course chase and tackle the big guys ;)
Unfortunately for the team and Laury, a stomach bug went around and I think 8 out of the 28 of us here got the stomach flu. Thankfully my family was spared but Laury was sick for 24 hours so I learned what it is like to cook for a large group by myself (I might never let her go back to California). They made it safely back to Jo-burg yesterday afternoon and my family is still doing well. I think it is harder for my kids to go from that much attention back to just mommy, but they have one more week till a team from our home church arrives and then we are going to have friends from home so that will be a blessed time too. So sorry I did not post for about a week but I was very busy!

Friday, September 30, 2011

African Customer Service????

So, I feel compelled to share with you our experiences of "great" customer service.

1. Anita and I were out on a date to see a movie and then get some dessert at the restaurant in the mall. On the dessert menu, there was a chocolate brownie that you could get in "full size" and "bite size". Anita asked the server for a "bite sized" chocolate brownie and the waiter said that they were out of the "bite sized" brownies, but had the "full size" brownies. I will let that one sink in a minute............ After Anita ordered the "full size" and the waiter left, we both looked at each other and said, "You COULD just cut the "full size" brownie into "bite size"!!!! Needless to say, we had a great laugh!

2. When we print pictures here in Lesotho, we take the digital pictures on a flash drive to the mall and insert that into the Kodak machine and select the pictures to be printed. On the last 10 trips, the flash drive portion of the machine has been broken, but the employee has willingly put the flash drive in their computer and transferred them onto a different media format that does work in the machine. This takes time, but works. Well, just the other day, we went to the same machine with pictures on the flash drive. The employee said that the machine would not work with that drive. We said that we have given them the drive before and that they have transferred it to another media that would. But, this time the employee said that they could do that but would need to charge us for the extra time to transfer the photos to another media.................... So, let me get this straight.......YOUR machine is broken so the extra time that is involved to complete the picture printing would need to be paid by the customer?!?!?!?! Needless to say, we went down the street about 2 kms away to another Kodak machine and had them printed there.

These are just two examples of the strange (or non-existent) customer service here in Africa. Anita and I can laugh at these, as we are getting used to them. I had to call someone in America the other day, and I couldn't help but be excited about the customer service that I received over the phone, and I let them know it too!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Off to Bond- Then to Sweden!

What a blessed day it was here at Beautiful Gate. Today one little boy, who has been matched for over 13 months, finally had the chance to meet his parents and go off to bond with them. Once again I was struck by how well our social worker is able to match kids with their perfect parent/parents. The parents and their new son hit it off very well and they even stuck around and watched him play with his friends during playgroup so they got a real good glimpse to his life here at Beautiful Gate and are now spending 1:1 time with him till the adoption this Friday. This couple is from Sweden and are the first couple we have met in our 9 months here from Sweden so now we have had couples from all 4 countries, which Lesotho works with, come during our time here.

The highlight for me was that there was a management meeting that the office staff needed to be in and so they asked me to stay with the couple and answer any questions, etc. till their ride came. It was very special to be able to sit and talk about Beautiful Gate, their time of waiting, Lesotho, HIV/AIDS and many other topics. And amazingly enough, my kids played very well together in the sandbox for over an hour so I could really be helpful to this couple. I am usually very busy either teaching the kids, cooking meals, cleaning or doing other things that I do not often get to spend time with adoptive families (except the last group from Canada who were here a little longer than they had planned – hope all is going well for you and your little blessings!!!).

I have spent many hours kicking balls back and forth with their new son and playing hide and seek and will miss his handsome little smiles and his spontaneous hugs. As it was getting close to time for him to leave, he actually ran up to me and grabbed my legs and when I bent down he gave me a huge hug and kiss. Usually I initiate the hugs and kisses but I am honored by his little gift to me. Another happy ending of a family who has persevered the waiting process and received the reward of a happy, healthy, and loving child that will be theirs forever. Thank you once again God for the most beautiful, precious gift that is adoption!!!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Deliver, Wait, Play and Skype

Sometimes I just like to journal my day so you have a little idea of what we do. Today was a very different day as when I woke up my house was still quiet. My 3 kids slept over at their friends' house (with Ray and Sue's daughters) for the first time. I had hoped to sleep in but Bryan and I had work to do. Yesterday Laury and M'e' Matsakulu shopped for the kids and staff here and the order was for 3 weeks instead of 2 and it was a lot of work to sort. Bryan and I were unable to help distribute the food as it was after 5:30 when we finished sorting and we were going on a date (I know I have terrible priorities but this was out first night here without the kids and I was NOT staying home to work). So first thing this morning we loaded the wheelbarrows with food and brought them to the houses. It took us about an hour to load, deliver and unload the wheelbarrows and we were sweating. Good morning workout!

Then we, along with our 2 roommates headed to Ladybrand so we could pick up the kids and have lunch. Wow, were we surprised by the line up at the border. Today was a holiday in South Africa so they only had one person at the window stamping passports. It took us over an hour and a half to get through the border and then got stuck in some construction so we were late picking up the kids and for lunch, oops...TIA

We came back and thankfully the lines were smaller. Bryan and our 3 kids put on their swimsuits and washed our truck and I decided to go to playgroup for awhile. I was mobbed. I think I had 8 kids in my lap at one time and I did not think that could be done! Still am not sure how I survived, hahaha. The kids enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their afternoon snack and they were so cute because they kept trying to feed me. After snack time, I tickled about 15 kids and cuddled with about that many too and then they had to go inside to get ready for dinner.

I made dinner for our family and our 2 extras (roommates who are like family) and then cuddled up on the couch with my kids to watch Megamind while Bryan headed to the office to skype with some Canadian friends who have adopted from Beautiful Gate. We both have another skype date tonight with a friend from church who will be bringing a team here in a few short weeks! So, that was my day today. Hope yours was a good one too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back from a great getaway!

Well, after many hours of driving, we safely made it to and from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. What is there, you ask? How about elephants, cheetahs, meerkats, cervals, giraffes, kudu, buffalo, red heartbeasts, warthogs, black backed jackals, tigers, zebras, crocodiles, lions, lion cubs, leopards, ostrich, dung beetles, baboons, vervet monkeys, snakes, snails, crabs, various birds, etc. etc. I think you get the point. Anyway, we had three wonderful days (all sunny and windy) in Port Elizabeth. But, we saw more animals than you could imagine.
On the first day there, we went to Daniell's Cheetah Breeding Farm and another place called the Reptile House in Lenmore. At Daniell's Farm, we were able to learn more about cheetahs and even pet a full grown adult cheetah named Ola. We were also treated to being able to hold 1 month old lion cubs as well. At the Reptile House, we were able to hold various snakes (the non-poisonous kind) as well as see other poisonous snakes too. We also had the very rare experience of holding a meerkat. There were also four crocodiles too.
On the second day, we went to Addo Elephant Park. Obviously, we saw some elephants. Early in our car expedition there, we were able to stop and let 5 elephants cross the road right in front of our vehicle. I dare say that we saw over 50 different elephants during our day at the park. Since elephants are Anita's favorite animal, I think it goes without saying that she loved it! We also saw the jackals, zebras, buffalo, kudu, and many other animals there. What a great day!
On the third day, we went to a place called Seaview Lion and Game Park. They had over 10 different full grown lions, 4 lion cubs, 2 tigers, 2 leopards and other various animals. We were also fortunate enough to witness feeding day for the lions. It is really amazing how much power those animals have. They were able to carry off large pieces of food easily, when it took one human a lot of energy to get it off the truck. After seeing those animals, we drove to the Indian Ocean shoreline and did some exploring of rocky outcroppings. We were able to do some "biology" lessons with the kids about snails, crabs and other various sea creatures. The kids also collected some shells.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend the Port Elizabeth area for anyone that would like to see many different animals. I am pretty sure that we will be back there again in the future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No internet

We will be leaving first thing in the morning and heading to Addo Elephant Park in Addo, South Africa. Our roommate, Laury's friend has come for a visit and they really wanted to go somewhere special, and since Bryan is the designated driver because he is comfortable driving a manual car on the left side of the road, we are all taking our first real vacation. We did a 3 day weekend to Durban in February to buy a car, and went to Cape Town for a Beautiful Gate conference and were in meetings all but 1 1/2 days so now we will be having 3 days to relax and sight see (plus 2 days of driving as it is about 8 hours away). Our whole family is in need of a break with all the changes and planning that has been happening at Beautiful Gate! It will be a good time for a break from school for the kids and I and a nice opportunity for the kids to have more 1:1 time with Bryan and finally see some animals. One highlight we are really hoping to check out (besides my elephants) is a cheetah farm. Elijah LOVES cheetahs and we are going to surprise him by taking him there. They actually let people walk the cheetahs everyday at 4:30pm, but you have to be 12 years to do it, poor Elijah. We will not be anywhere with Internet so we will not be bringing our computer. Therefore there will be no posts until late Monday or Tuesday morning. If there is an emergency and you need to contact us, you can call Bryan's South African phone #011 27 719 290 513.

Have a great weekend and for those of you on our support list you should have our September newsletter in a few days which will explain some of the changes here at Beautiful Gate. If you are not on our newsletter list and would like to be then please email us at and we can add you so you can receive our quarterly newsletter.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Mercy

Okay, I just have to tell you about my 4 year old today. I know that when you share a story, it is usually not as funny to those who read it as it was to you when you saw or heard it, but I am going to try.

Today around 11am our kids were playing with a few cats in the middle bedroom. They had the door shut and were having a great time, so I did not really check on them much. Tonight at 7pm, I was folding and putting away laundry and decided to put some of the extra sheets and towels in a closet in that middle room (which was God ordained as I pretty much never open the closet in that room). As I opened the closet door, a little cat came out of the closet. I immediately called the kids into the room and confronted them about the cat being locked in the closet and Mercy said she had done it. I sat by her and explained that she could have hurt the cat by leaving it in there without food, water and enough oxygen. She then began to cry and said she had put it in there because she wanted to play with it later and then she forgot where she put it! I felt so bad for her as she cried but it was actually pretty funny to me. Her brother and sister are much better at catching the cats than her so she had thought she found a pretty good way to get the cat when she wanted to play.

Then as we were tucking the kids in bed, Bryan was praying and asking God to help us find an affordable place to stay in Port Elizabeth (we are thinking of taking a long weekend trip there to see the elephants at Addo National Park) and when he said amen, Mercy said, "Why is she poor?" I laughed so hard and told her that daddy said Port Elizabeth not poor Elizabeth. My youngest child really makes me laugh and everyday is such an adventure with her as I never know what to expect!
Children are a blessing from the Lord.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Where do you see Beautiful Gate in 10 years...

This week we had a team come from Cape Town and meet with us and our leadership team here at Beautiful Gate and we had a 3 day workshop brainstorming that question. It was an amazing time as it was my (Anita) first time sitting down with staff and hearing their hopes and dreams for Beautiful Gate's future. They were very open and honest and there were times they even allowed themselves the freedom to think and dream big.

I feel like the unity and sense of vision that has come from these meetings has inspired the staff and brought us all closer. We shared our hearts and all have the common goal to love God first and to care for His children to the best of our abilities no matter what our job here is. I am thankful for this opportunity and feel as though it was perfect timing as we are beginning our transition into the director roles here.

The team that came was such a blessing to Bryan and I as they really came along beside us to support us, encourage us, and to help us plan for our next few years here at Beautiful Gate. God's timing keeps showing up as perfect and never ceases to amaze us. The last 10 years of Beautiful Gate have been excellent and are full of miracles and testimonies of God showing up at just the right time and I feel confident that the next 10 years will be just as much or more. Praising God for His guidance and feeling at peace that He will continue to show us His perfect plans.
God Bless you!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sad Day

Today made me cry. I don't like days like today because they leave too much to my imagination and make me sad. There is a sibling set that came here back in March. The boy is 3ish and he has a younger sister. I remember his first day here, how sad and slowly he walked down the path to his "new home." He looked so scared and all alone and I remember thinking that I needed to really go out of my way to make him feel welcome. His second day here, I put him on the swing and he seemed a little unsure both about me and the swing. I pushed it real slow and tried to talk to him soothingly and after that I couldn't get him off the swing for weeks :) I would tickle him and chase him around till I could get a huge smile out of him and it brought such joy to my day. Now whenever he sees me, he yells 'Me' Anita and waits for me to come over and tickle him. He has the BEST laugh and smile!

As I walked home today, he was on his motor bike and pushed his bike to me so he could say hi and get his daily tickle. I played with him for a minute and then went inside to check on my kids and that was my last minute I'll have with him. I am glad I kissed him and told him I love him because now he is no longer our child at Beautiful Gate. He and his sister were taken back to their family today with absolutely no notice. Social welfare came and said that their parents "worked out" their issues.

Earlier this year his parents had a big fight (which sounds like it happens often) and the dad decided to go to South Africa and left the kids with their mom. She then decided that she would get even with her husband and abandon their children. Really, you are a grown up who had a fight and you think, "Oh, let me just abandon my children, leave my 3 and 1 year olds alone to feed themselves and change their diapers, etc and that will really show my husband." I know I should not be writing this today because my feelings are too raw, but it just sucks that the kids are being returned to parents who earlier this year had not one thought to their well being when they were angry with each other. What happens when they have their next fight?

I think that the part that made me cry the most was seeing his face as he was ready to walk out to the car. He was not happy to be going home. He looked scared and unsure. He did not smile or say anything. Please pray for him and his sister. Pray that their parents truly have worked out their issues and do not do this again. God loves them so much more than I do, but I am not doing a very good job trusting today so maybe you could pray for me to put my trust in His care. Sorry to be so down but my heart is so sad today.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time with God's Children

Today was just amazing! On Wednesdays at 1:00pm the staff have a time of worship together (called Time with God) so they can pray, sing, and encourage each other with scripture. One of the leaders of the worship team decided to step out and left every third Wednesday open without a leader. The worship team's solution was absolutely perfect! Now every 3rd Wednesday of the month from 3:00-3:45pm any staff who wants to can take 45 minutes off work and just play with the children, hold babies and feed babies. House mothers can switch houses and play with the kids from another house (one house staff will always be in their own house though in case there are problems or questions). There are many staff who do this each day at tea time with the playgroup kids, but there has never been a planned time for all of us to meet together and play.

At 3 o'clock today we all met in the circle and sang father Abraham and did the motion and then listened to some scripture about caring for children. Then we split up and grabbed kids and babies. The office staff, preschool staff, maintenance men, my family and many of the house staff went all over the place playing with kids. I have never heard so much laughter at Beautiful Gate between the staff but also among the children. It was perfect and made me smile and feel content. It was like a miracle of team building among all the staff as well as bonding with each and every child. The staff were the hands and feet of Jesus today and it was truly beautiful.
I hope your day is blessed too,

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

I never would have imagined that my life would be like this. First of all, I never would have thought that I would be living in Africa. Second, I never thought I would be a missionary. And lastly, I could never have imagined the people that I have met since being here.
I have met local Basotho people and new friends from countries all over the world. Today we had the opportunity to have lunch and fellowship with 3 other families from our church here in Maseru. One family was from Belgium, another from the Netherlands, another from South Africa and then our family (including Laury). It was a great time of learning about our different cultures and languages. But, I have to admit that South African hospitality is some of the best. We have also been blessed to meet a few other Americans (mostly with Mission Aviation Fellowship) at church and will be getting to know them more in the very near future.
Once again, this is just a small glimpse of what Heaven will look like, as there will be "people from every tribe and language" there. I look forward to getting to know all of them better and also meeting new people as well.
Thank you for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

3 new Canadians on their way...

Today is a bit of a bittersweet day for our family. As much as we know that the children here at Beautiful Gate are only here temporarily, and are just awaiting adoption to their families, we forget how sad it is to say goodbye. Our whole family is feeling it today as we said goodbye to 3 children who met their mom and dad. Being there when they met was the most beautiful scene. It was so special to see the instant love of the parents for these 3 children that they have been praying for and waiting for, for many years. A dream come true, their family complete, and the joy was evident. Honestly we are so happy for them and we praise God for putting them in loving Godly homes. Today was also the first time I felt like I knew the families who were adopting. The mothers had emailed me a few times before they came and we were able to encourage and pray for each other. Then seeing them here ready to meet their new children was so joyful. The adoption process is a very long journey for some families and it was such a blessing to see them "in the delivery room" in a sense.

As we walked back home, Elijah said he was going to miss one girl so much because she is one of his soccer buddies. He even wanted me to run out to the store and buy her a soccer ball as a goodbye gift. He also said he was going to miss her brother so much too. Faith was sad because she and the girl used to do cartwheels together all the time and then just sit in the grass and laugh. She spent hours in the sandbox with both boys as well, building, cooking, driving and any other thing they could come up with to play in the sandbox. I am going to miss hearing the girl yell, 'Me' Anita COME! 'Me' Anita SIT HERE! 'Me'Anita Boooooook! And one of the boys is the sweetest most sensitive and shy boy I have ever met. They brightened my day every single day since I arrived at Beautiful Gate on December 6th. May God bless them and keep them and turn His face toward them and their families and smile on them.

I am thankful that God has placed our family here and that we have built relationships with the kids and are building relationships with some of the families as well. At the rate things are going here with adoptions, I am finding more and more reasons why I will need to visit Canada one day to see all these precious kids. And I am still praying for a miracle for one mom in particular who lives close to my hometown and has waited a long time for her son and several very special families in West Michigan who have started the process or are seriously considering adoption from Lesotho. From what I saw today and many other times since December, it is worth the wait, the anxiety, the financial strain, etc. Just don't be surprised when I cry when I have to say good-bye to your new children because I love all the kids here with my whole heart!

PS. There is peace in Lesotho again. The march on Monday was peaceful which was an answer to prayer. I do not know the outcome of anything that brought on the strike and the march. I do not know if the people will get a raise in pay, but according to our staff, it is very doubtful. I also do not know yet what has happened with the taxi fares. I do not know if they went from R4 to R5 or if it went from R4 to R10 which had been proposed. So while I feel like I have very little to offer in my knowledge of justice in wages and taxi fares, I will at least inform you that there is peace and everyone is back to work. Thank you for praying because after the protests and destruction that occurred last week, only God could have kept the mobs calm on Monday as they marched.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Toy Library

Today, I was struck by an interesting idea... my children's outdoor toys are becoming like a toy library. We have around 20 neighbor kids who come to our fence daily asking to borrow toys. I was very cautious in the beginning because I was not sure if they would really borrow the toys or if they would think I was giving it to them to keep. Thankfully 80% of the kids at least understand English so it has been working out. We have been sharing our soccer balls for the past 5 months (3 have been lost or popped and today they got to play with our 4th, we are going to need to require visitors to bring us a deflated soccer ball when they come visit so we can keep up with demand, hahaha, but recently we have been sharing our tennis balls, footballs, and hoolahoops. There are several younger kids who do not play catch or soccer very well so we have been giving them coloring book pages and a few crayons to color with.

God has given us a lot and it feels good to have a "toy library" so we can share from our blessings with those who have less than us. This method is especially nice because now we do not have to play any favorites by giving things to certain kids, but instead we share with them all. It is beautiful to see their smiles of joy when the toys come out. It is nice also because they do not come just to get the toys, they also ask for Elijah, Faith and Mercy to come and play too. Some days I let them walk around and play outside the fence and other days when I can not watch them outside the fence, they just play catch over the fence with my kids. Today we had kids here from 1-6pm. I let my kids play for a while outside the fence and then pulled my laptop outside and played some children's christian music while they all played.
Thanking God for creative ways to impact our community,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quiet Weekend before the March

The weekend is calm and peaceful in Lesotho so we will be taking this opportunity to head to Malealea to do some hiking. It is a beautiful scenic place and we have never been there, but have heard that it is nice. I think only Elijah would be ready for pony trekking of our 3 kids so I think we will be doing some hiking on foot instead. Looking forward to some fun family time on a peaceful day.

There is another march scheduled for Monday from 10-2pm. It is suppose to be peaceful and their hope is to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, but once again we have been told to stay home. Bryan, Laury and Jessica will be leaving to head to Jo-burg, but they will leave before the march begins. The kids and I will remain at Beautiful Gate and pray for peaceful resolution.
Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lesotho Update

We wanted to update you all again with the situation that is here in Lesotho. Please read the last post for the first day of the "stay away" days for the factory workers. After that strange and eventful day, there was very little news yesterday, other than the occasional workers still picketing on the main street by the factories. There were two more shootings yesterday. And, protesters were pulling people out of their houses and beating them, if they were found to have gone to work. One of our staff had to dress in disguise so that he could make it to work. Beautiful Gate sent most of our staff home early yesterday so that they would be safely there when the tension level was set to rise (3-5pm was anticipated to be the most tense hours, as that is when the factories were to let out).
Today happily started off quiet, but we are not sending the van into town for fear of the protesters either injuring the vehicle or even shooting at our staff in the van. Sounds rough, but anyone that is perceived to not be following the "stay away" policy is considered to be against them. (Even though they would agree that an orphanage cannot stop its operations). We were also able to learn that the Government of Lesotho has turned off all public radio stations in the area today. This is unfortunate for us, as this was our easiest way to gather information on what was going on around the area. This has made some of our staff a little concerned, in that the government is starting to take away the "Freedom Of Speech" by shutting down the radio stations. Of course, we can get the one channel that is run by the Government. And, we are also able to pick up one other South African radio station. So, I am now having to listen to my drivers each time they are out and about in town to see how things are progressing. This is very tough, as each person can have their own opinions.
We have also heard that the Prime Minister of Lesotho has fled to South Africa. This is not surprising, as he appears to have sided with the Chinese factories all along and has not even made an effort at negotiations in this process.
Also today, protesters were being arrested and put in jail. But the worst part is that we are hearing that the judges are no longer hearing their cases at sentencing, so the protesters are just having to wait.
We have also heard that South Africa has sent representatives to assist the Lesotho Government with this situation. Hopefully they can restore peace and work towards peaceful negotiations.
Happily, Beautiful Gate has been able to keep a low profile through this and we have not had any incidences during this time. All our staff are safe and staying out of the politics (without being caught by either side). Today is also supposed to be the final day of the "stay away" protest. So, we are anxiously waiting to see what tomorrow will bring. We are still taking precautionary measures tomorrow, but are hoping to have some of the staffing issues return to normal.
I must say that I have learned a lot during this time! And Anita and I continue to ask you to pray for Lesotho and the situation. We know that God is in control and we pray that all sides will be heard.
Thank you for your prayers and support during this time!
Keeping you informed,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Urgent Prayer Request

I almost did not post this because I don't want to alarm our friends and family, but prayer is very needed right now, so please know that we are being safe and cautious (and NOT leaving our house until it is over). There was a march and a stay-away protest/strike scheduled today in Maseru. The taxis (main and almost only transportation for most Masotho) are raising their rates and may even more than double the current rate which has caused fear and panic for the local population. They then planned this march/strike in order to let the factory owners know that they need more money so they can afford to travel to work each day.

We were told that while this is a planned and supposed to be a peaceful demonstration, it would be wise of us to stay home and not travel during the next few days. So yesterday, we bought enough groceries for a week or more. Today was the first day of the strike and it did not remain peaceful. Three people were shot and one was fatal. There were rocks flying and tires burning and they even created a road block at the end of our road to prevent either people or police from traveling by the factories (protesters made the road block, not the police). A few of our staff spent the night here so they would not have to travel through the dangerous crowds who had gathered to protest. Several others are pulling a double shift so that our drivers are not required to drive by the factories to pick up our staff. All this is happening in Ha Thetsane and that is where we are living so we ask for prayer that the strike will end soon and that no one else will be shot or injured in the next few days. I understand their desperation as they already make such little money and the taxi prices being raised is going to really hurt those who are already poor and barely making it. God is in control and I know He will care for these scared and desperate people, but pray for peace and calm as they make their statement to the factory owners and the government officials.

Here is the email from the American Embassy that we received;

As anticipated in last week’s security notice, crowds are gathering throughout the city, such as in Thetsane near the traffic circles of the industrial area and near the stadium in preparation for a march. The march is scheduled for today between 1000 and 1400 hours, and the proposed route is from the sports stadium to Main North 1, down Mpilo Road to the Moshoeshoe Statue.

The Embassy reminds you to take proper precautions when traveling, such as avoiding areas of potential intimidation, route of marches, and ongoing demonstrations. Avoid any large crowds/gatherings of people. Ensure you have alternate and tertiary travel routes. Carry your cellular telephone, and report all security concerns to the Embassy immediately.

Protesters have blocked Kofi Annan Road (Pioneer Road) near Maseru Private Hospital with burning tires, rocks, wire, and other improvised obstacles. This route should be avoided until further notice.

Thanks for your prayers as Lesotho needs them right now.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Super Bo M'e

Today we had the funeral service for Nthatua, a 5 1/2 month old girl that went to be with Jesus. It was truly an honor to be a part of the service. We began the service with a couple songs as we followed the hearse down the gravel road to the cemetery. The men had already dug up the grave site and the casket was taken from the hearse and near the grave site. Three people were asked to recall moments from Nthatua's life. It was a beautiful time to reflect and see the love that she received from the staff at Beautiful Gate. Then the House Mother of Nthatua was asked to give her memories from their time together. At this point, the House Mother broke into sobbing and it spread through the crowd gathered around the site. She was not able to give testimony at this time, so another House Mother was able to speak on her behalf.

That was when I realized how much these House Mothers love these children. This is not a job for them. Each and every one of these children are just as important to them as their own children. These House Mothers are amazing women! I cannot imagine the "scars" that these ladies have. All the heart ache and pain from all the funerals of "their kids". Even the adoptions to "forever families" leaves a "scar". Even though the adoptions give each child a bright hope and future, it is also another goodbye for the House Mother. Today I was wondering how they do it.
And then I read the Bible in Ephesians 3: 17-19, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Nthatua was able to see a glimpse of God's love through their House Mothers. This is their calling. They are here to love every child that comes into their home. And they love each child so much, that they are willing to "give them up" to adoptive parents so that the children can be blessed even more. I cannot even imagine giving up my own kids to another person, and here they do it with the grace and understanding that reflects Jesus.

I thank God for that moment of seeing His love for us, through the work of the House Mothers here at Beautiful Gate. You never know where you will "see" God, but keep your eyes upon Him and you will be blessed at the most unexpected times.


Monday, August 8, 2011

A Mother's Love

Today I was reminded that I am in Lesotho, a 3rd world country where poverty destroys families. There is a little girl here whom I have loved on and worked hard to help her learn to walk. Over a month ago, she was reunited with her mother who had abandoned her when she was a baby. Today, her mother brought her back. She just couldn't afford to feed her and keep her warm. Seeing them together and the mother's anguish that she could not care for her child was heartbreaking. The mother wrote her daughter the most beautiful letter I have ever read and told her how much she loves her (I was tempted to post it but thought I should respect the mother who wrote it and the future family who will adopt this beautiful girl). She is not giving her up out of hatred or lack of love, she is giving her up so she can have enough to eat and a family who can provide for her. The letter is so heartfelt and the most wonderful gift she could give her daughter so she will always know that her mother cared so much that she gave her up.
Beautiful, heartbreaking Lesotho.
There have been times where I have wanted to hate these mothers who just abandon their children and leave them out in the cold where they can die or be hurt by wild animals, or leave them in trash bags or in a pit toilet. I want to yell at them about the way they are neglecting and abusing their precious gifts from God, and yet I feel the Holy Spirit pricking my heart to love them and to pray for them. I have tried to do that even before we came here to live. To try to put myself in their shoes knowing that the mother could be dying of AIDS, or she may have run out of food and can't bear to watch her child die of starvation. Today, God showed me one of those mothers whose love is pure and true. She may have done it wrong the first time when she abandoned her daughter, but this time she knew Beautiful Gate was here and she brought her to us and did the last loving thing she could do, give her to a family who can take care of her basic needs and so much more because she knew she could not and had to walk away in tears. This is a kind of love I cannot even begin to explain or feel because loving your child so much that you have to let go is unimaginable to me and I respect her and I love her and will pray God's peace for her.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Several updates

I just wanted to share a few updates with you. Mercy had her bandage removed and redressed yesterday and I am happy to report that there were no signs of infection. She has been so tough and brave and I am happy that her hand is healing up nicely. After 2 days of it being tender, she just got back to her regular old self and acted as though it never happened ;)

The staff member who inventories our donations was out sick for over a week and did not come to work to unpack all the boxes. He is back and so he and the 'Me' who is in charge of the baby houses have begun to unpack the boxes and inventory all the donations we have received. I asked Bryan to get a few pictures of them so he will hopefully have pictures of the mounds of donations soon.

Bryan and I received some really cool T-shirts that the Holland Christian girl's basketball team had made to support Beautiful Gate. They have done several fundraisers for Beautiful Gate as well and we wanted to say thanks. Also we received 2 donations this past school year from students at Zeeland Christian. One time, students did a pop can drive for us and collected cans from around Zeeland. If you know any students who are on the basketball team or at Zeeland Christian who have been involved in supporting us and/or Beautiful Gate, tell them thanks from us! It is so amazing when young students understand how important it is to help others and to care for orphans. Their love and service toward God are such an amazing testimony and example to all of us.

My last update is on the little baby girl who passed away. Family was located according to the police, but the family is either unsure the baby is theirs or may not be able to pay for the burial and service so may release her back to us. We do not know when she will be buried nor by whom at this point so we will keep you posted when we know more. The police are going to get back to us soon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mercy 0..... Cactus 1

So, some of you have asked us what we do on our Saturdays off. I am here to tell you that we like to spend them at the local hospital. Not volunteering, but giving them more work to do (and some of our money :) ). Today started out like most Saturdays. And after a short trip to town this morning, Anita and I decided that a nice family hike up a local mountain would be nice. Anita packed the lunch stuff and water. After parking near the local chief's house, we proceeded up the mountain. The first part was only moderately steep and the kids did a great job. So, Anita and I decided to keep going to see if we all could make it to the top. About 90% of the way to the top of the mountain, I had to help the kids go over a large rock. Mercy decided to start leading the way up from there (which was okay by me, as it started to level off again). Then Anita and I heard a blood curdling scream from Mercy. About 20 feet up from us, she had slipped and put her hands out in front of her to catch her fall. Unfortunately there was a cactus where her left hand had landed to stop her fall (she properly fell face forward toward the mountain to stop her slide).
When Anita and I arrived at the scene, we noticed blood on Mercy's hands and some thorn-like objects coming from her hand. So, I started picking out some of the easy ones. And that was when Anita and I noticed that there were two very deep thorns in Mercy's palms and one that went all the way through Mercy's ring finger! It was at that moment that I knew we were in for a long day. So, I gave my backpack to Elijah and picked up Mercy in my arms. The family then had a long decent down the mountain (remember, we were 90% to the top). I hurried as fast as I could (without falling myself with Mercy in my arms) to get back to the truck. Once there, we headed straight for the private hospital near Beautiful Gate. Mercy proceeded to get x-rays and then had minor surgery to take the thorns out of her left hand. All went well at the hospital and we are now back home at Beautiful Gate. Mercy is still a little groggy from the anesthetic (they had to put her out for the surgery). The first thing that Mercy said when she woke up was, "I feel weird!" She immediately went back to sleep.
Please pray that Mercy does not get any infections in her hand from the deep thorns. We did receive antibiotics for that and also some pain medicine. She is such a trooper and now I owe her a large candy bar for being so brave. The cute part is that she is intent on sharing her candy bar with friends and family.
So there you have it. Just another Saturday in Lesotho! :)