I know we have let a few days go by before with no post, but the last 6 days we were without internet. Apparently, someone stole the wire which was being used for our internet service, in order to sell the copper. At least that is what the company assumed as the wire was missing. Being that this is Africa it took 6 days to replace it and we shall see if the new wire will last or not, so if you do not hear from us for many days at a time, it is quite possible we have no internet. I have to go tuck my little sweeties to bed now and will try to post again soon as I wanted to be certain to let you all know we are healthy and safe, just having technical difficulties with our internet :) before we lose it again!!
Poverty...is such a difficult and painful concept to explain to young children especially when I struggle with it myself. I'll preface this by sharing some comments and art work from my kids today. This morning as we were walking home from a little shop (we had purchased 5 little deep fried "donuts") next to Beautiful Gate, Elijah said, "I feel like we are so rich." All I could say was yes we are rich compared to everyone he is friends with here in Lesotho. It has been bothering me a lot more lately myself as I watch one of the BG staff Elijah hangs out with. He eats plain bread everyday for tea time and then at lunch he eats papa (dry, powdered corn which is boiled). Always the same meal and snacks, he lives in a tiny house, and he walks everywhere because he has no car. He makes a little more, in one month, than we spend on groceries every week. Each Sunday we see young boys who are "parking" (parking is free on the weekend and we know that but we pay them for protecting our car anyway) cars just to try to get a little money. It is hard not to feel guilty, privileged, selfish, and many other things when you can see people with so much less than you everyday. It was so much easier in MI where I knew about poverty but I did not see it everyday.
Then there is Faith, my beautiful 6 year old daughter (she had her birthday this past Monday). When we were in Zeeland, she would play princess or pretend to be a puppy and it was always lighthearted and carefree. Now she pretends to be a poor orphan who dresses in rags and has to work hard for scraps to eat. I almost cry when she plays pretend because it hurts to think that there are a lot of children who live the way she is pretending to live in her playing. Then during our art lesson for today, the kids were suppose to draw a picture of nature. It was raining so I put a few rocks, leaves, and fruit on the table and let them draw. Faith drew an apple floating down a river. Then she drew the face of a girl and said it was a poor girl with no food and she was waiting to eat the apple. Elijah then had his picture be a couple of boys who collected apples and pears from trees and gave them to the poor.
It is a struggle when you don't know what to do. Do you give beggars money or buy some extra food and give it to them as you leave the store. Do you buy a bunch of extra shoes and keep them in the car for the next kid you see with his feet hanging out of his ripped up shoes? Are the kids on the street working for someone who takes all their money each night? God, you say feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned but we don't even know where to begin. There are so many and if you help one it is expected that you will do the same for the rest. This is a very jealous culture and I have been warned many times about being careful who I give things too because then I will be expected to do the same for everyone around. My actions are being watched by my 3 kids as well and I want to do what is pleasing to God and set an example for them. Please pray for us to have God's wisdom, discernment, and heart for those in need.
Bryan wanted to write this, but his right eye is almost swollen shut (an allergy?) and his other eye is beginning to bother him too, so typing would be difficult. Prayer would be appreciated as this is the 3rd day with no sign of improvement.
What is an average day like for Bryan... Wake up between 6:45-7am. Get ready and have breakfast with the family and at 7:30 walk to the Khotso baby house to pick up a girl for school. He drives her to school in one of BG's bakkies (truck) and has about 20 kids who stand at the fence and stare at him while he waits for her school to start. He then gives her a knuckle bump and sends he on her way to school and picks up one of the staff who lives by the school and drives back to BG. Once he gets into the office he goes into crisis mode by finding out what problems have popped up since yesterday and has to try to figure out how to fix them. He has various meetings with staff members. As of late, he has been helping out the finance department as much as possible trying to catch them up on their books. On various days, he is able to attend tea time at 10:30am. He goes back to work till lunch at 12:30pm and them picks the BG girl back up from school at 1pm. He handles other various issues that arise until most of the staff go home at 4pm and then enjoys a quiet hour of work till 5pm when he comes home. He then takes the very long commute across the lawn (hahaha) to get home and see what I have planned for the evening. About 2 nights a week we go get groceries (our fridge is much smaller than what we had before). Then he enjoys the rest of the evening with the family. HE has not had 2 days that are the same since starting working here so it is hard to describe a typical day. Some days he feels like he is on "crisis mode" all day and is exhausted at the end of work, but other days are rewarding like when there is an adoption or when he gives a tour and explains BG to someone new. All in all it keeps him busy but is worth it to further God's kingdom here at Beautiful Gate!
We have had a few adoptions in the last week and it was a little different this time because the kids were 3 and 2 3/4 years old instead of babies. The kids and the parents were perfect fits for each other and it just amazed me how well the social worker does with matching kids personalities with that of their adoptive family! The other thing that was different was that these 2 boys were headed to the Netherlands rather than Canada like the 4other adoptions we have witnessed. So since our arrival we have had 6 children adopted to their new families. It never gets old to watch families brought together. It also hit me this time (as the kids had been here awhile) how hard it is for the house mothers to say good-bye. These children are treated like their own children and they love them. One of the house mothers had a hard time giving her speech because she had so many tears. She said how happy she was for him and that they were tears of joy, but it reminded me that the house mother's need prayer and compassion as they have also bonded with the kids in their home and as happy as they are to see them adopted, they will miss their little ones.
Since we have come, we have also had 5 new children brought to us and one that is one the way once his medical situation is worked out. 2 weeks ago a little boy was brought, then last week a brother and sister were dropped off, and then yesterday a little baby girl was brought. I think the one that hit me the most was the brother and sister. The boy is a little older and I kept wondering what it must feel like to be left alone for who knows how long and having to care for his infant sister. Then he is taken from his home and brought to a place that is unfamiliar, and surrounded by lots of kids and grown ups that he does not know. My heart just melted as I saw him standing around unsure of himself. I have gone out of my way to play with him and slowly he is giving me shy smiles. The kids here are amazing and I am sure he will make friends and feel at home in no time and the Bo'Me' (house mothers) who care for the kids are so loving and kind.
Mercy and I spent some time today visiting the babies while Elijah and Faith were busy "helping" the maintenance men in the shop. Mercy loves to play with the older kids, but has a special place in her heart for the babies. She just sat on a bed holding the new little girl and when I went to put her back in her crib, Mercy protested that she was not finished holding her yet!!!! It was cute.
Bryan has a special job he does each day in that Beautiful Gate has one child over 5 years of age and she goes to school in the community, so Bryan brings her to school and also takes her home. He usually drives her to and from school, but today, all the cars were gone and he asked the kids, Laury (our suitemate) and I to walk with him. We thought it would be nice to go for a walk and also I wanted to stop by our favorite fruit stand near our home.
When we arrived, school had not let out yet and children began to stand by the fence and just STARED at us and our children (mostly the kids because there are very few white children who ever come to Lesotho). It was strange to be stared at by that many kids, but had I known what would happen next, I would have been just fine with staring.
School let out and the kids came running and then circled us in a very tight circle. and began to reach for the kids. They all wanted to touch Elijah, Faith and Mercy's hair. They got so close that Elijah and Faith latched on to me for dear life and Mercy jumped up into Bryan's arms. The girl we were picking up happened to be in no hurry to come so we were like that for about 15 minutes. Finally she came so Bryan and Laury went to get her and Elijah, Faith and I struggled to get through the kids. They were so cute and curious, yet they were scaring the kids so I finally asked them to stop petting my kids hair because they were scaring them and they back down a little. So the 6 of us walked home with at least one hundred kids coming with us and they were so close I almost tripped several times.
I was very proud of the kids because before we were walking they were quite scared and wanted up, but once we were on our way home, they began to talk with the kids and walked next to them. Faith and Elijah met a few kids who live by Beautiful Gate and are happy to know a few kids who live in their back yard :) They actually suggested that we do it again sometime, but I think I need a week or two before I am ready for that adventure again. MAkes me thankful that I have never been famous because I like my personal space too much!
So after our "reception" at the school I was nervous about Elijah's first soccer practice today and had Bryan go with him. Thankfully, that went better and he will have his first game tomorrow. It should be interesting since he does not know the rules yet :) I played a lot of sports but soccer is not one I ever learned all the rules for so I am of little help.
Elijah wants to share with all of you... "I go to school every morning until tea time. I help the maintenance men for an hour or two, like building things, watering flowers, and lots of stuff like that. Then I play with the kids and then I chill out in the house. Here are some of the things I love about Africa; I love helping the maintenance crew and today I did it all day and made something special out of wood with Bungee (staff), I love helping the staff and riding on the bus with Ntate Mpho. I love my homeschool books like Explode the Code, handwriting, and reading Charlotte's Web. I love the weather in Africa especially when it rains because we can get water from the puddles and use it to mop the porch with a broom. I love the stray kittens and their momma Tiara. I love that Dad doesn't have to work tax season anymore. I miss you friends very much!"
Faith wants to share with all of you ... "I love this place cause it has kittens and good kids. Also it is a very nice place to be and you can be here if you want. Can you come with us. It is a fun place. My kitten, Snowball is very kind but sometimes she wants alone time. I love you very much. I want you to come here someday. You are the most favoritest friends I have ever had and I really wish you could come here (I think she misses her friends A LOT). My mom is so weird and dad."
Mercy wants to share with all of you... "I like the kittens with Faith and Mommy and Daddy and the family. I like to cuddle with Mom and Dad. I like when you draw a picture for me and then I give you a picture back. I like it when you draw stars with me. Okay Jose. I like to say my new memory verse, 'Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit is the seat of mockers. Psalm 1:1' I love you Ms. Terp, Amen. I love Ms Lindy she is the best. Hi Oma and Papa, I love you."