Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brrrr and it isn't even the coldest month yet!!!!

We are sending you a cold greeting from Lesotho today. It is suppose to snow tonight, but no accumulation at this point. I can tell you that we have never been this cold in May and I think we are going to have the worse June and July of our lives(weather related only) because we are spoiled and used to it being summer ;)I am wearing a long underwear shirt, a vest, a fleece jacket, a fleece blanket and my nose and feet are freezing cold (yes, I am wearing my shoes). Our house is at 50 degrees Fahrenheit and it is 10pm. I must humbly confess that I thought people were kind of wimpy when they talked about how cold it is in Lesotho because I thought I am from Michigan where it snows for at least 3 months each year. What I did not take into account was my lovely furnace (Oh, I will NEVER take it for granted again), heated cars, and insulation. Not only is our house cold, but when you go to any other building it is cold too, such as school or church. We are learning what it means to wear layers and we are especially thankful for the person who invented electric blankets so our nights can be more tolerable :) I have to confess also that if we are all this cold today which is the day before June, what will we be like in the end of June and in July their coldest time of year! The schools actually shut down for one month between June 23 and July 23 because of the cold and the inability to heat the school buildings. My how different things are here from in Michigan where a class would not be without heat. Air conditioning is optional, but I always knew my kids would be warm at school.
I am beginning to look around me at the kids who live near Beautiful gate and feel a lot of compassion for them. If I am this cold with all my layers, what must their feet feel like with those worn out and holey shoes and no socks. Or worse yet, barefoot! I have all these layers on and a blanket and some of them do not even have a coat on. And not just to be cool like some kids do in America where they wait at the bus stop and freeze, just to look cool to their friends, but these kids don't have one or have outgrown their only one. My kids have begun to go outside the fence and play soccer with the neighbor kids and I think I'll begin to pray about what it is I can do to help the kids. Maybe I'll have to start a warm sock and shoe ministry :) As for me, Bryan and the kids, I guess we will all have to start sharing the same couch when we relax in the evening so we can share body heat. If we can't beat the cold then some warm family cuddle time is in order!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Bi-Polar Day :)

Today was what I have come to think of as a bi-polar kind of day. It started with an adoption ceremony which was, to be honest a little bitter sweet. I feel bad saying that, but I have fallen in love with the little boy who was adopted today and I am going to miss his sweet smile and happy voice when he would say ‘Me’ Anita booooook. I am so happy for him that he has found parents who are going to love him and cherish him and who will provide him with a hope and a future. I don’t for one second want the kids to stay here, but I sure am going to miss them when they leave 

As I was getting ready to make dinner tonight, a young boy of 18 years came up to the fence by our house and began asking me questions. He had noticed me and the kids outside a lot and wondered who we were and why we were here (good questions). I explained all about Beautiful Gate, about homeschooling my children, about us being missionaries, and many other things. Then he looked at me and said that he too was an orphan and asked what I could do to help him, such as offer him a job. I told him that I live on grounds and do not have any jobs to offer him. He could apply for a job at BG but I cannot guarantee that they would have work for him either. We talked a little more and then he thanked me and went home. It felt awful to send him away without a job or even hope of a job.

After he had gone, a large crowd of kids gathered at our back fence. It is normal for about 3 kids to gather there as Faith and Elijah have made a few friends, but today there were about 10. While I was cooking dinner, Elijah asked Laury to watch them if they went out of the fence and played with the kids. She agreed and then there were about 15 kids who gathered and we threw a soccer ball over the fence and they all cheered and started kicking it all around. There are twins who live behind us and we see them everyday, but they are very shy and have never talked with my kids before. Today they talked with Faith and then they came and talked with me at the fence with a few of their friends. It was a special time of feeling like our kids belonged in the neighborhood and it felt good. They played for about an hour before I had to call them in as it was getting pretty dark outside.

Each day is so different here, with so many ups and downs. There are happy moments, sad moments, proud moments, and moments I can’t even begin to describe. That is why I say that my days are a bit bi-polar.
God Bless You All,
Anita

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good-bye Azusa Pacific University Staff and Students

Our 16 house guests have just left to head back into South Africa for a safari and then to all sorts of places including back home for some and European travels for others. It was a blessing to serve them and to spend 2 ½ weeks with them. Their joy for the Lord and compassion and love for the children here and for the Basotho people was encouraging to see and be a part of. It was tiring at times because I have never cooked for 22 people 3 times a day (Laury helped a ton or I never could have done it). We decided to do their cooking for them to allow them to have as much time in the community , in class, and with the Beautiful Gate kids as they could get. I think it worked out well for them as today they gave a presentation about what they had learned in the 2 ½ weeks they were here. They had been to the Chinese factories, police/fire station, churches, schools, hospitals, and talked with the neighbors around Beautiful gate to gather their information. I did not get to hear the whole presentation, but what I heard was very informative and well done. Not only did they gather information about the community, they showed that they really cared about those they met through their stories and through their tears as they left.
It is inspiring to see young people who are ready to take on the challenges of the world and make a difference. They have the kind of faith that Jesus wants us all to have. Faith that they can move a mountain, help a community ravaged with HIV, make Beautiful Gate an even better place for the staff and children, faith that is real and is not discouraged by statistics or odds that are not in their favor. We could all learn from them and should do our best to encourage them. I did not bless them as much as they blessed me this week by allowing my family to see their enthusiasm and hopefulness. 3 of the girls even took the time to write me and Bryan notes of encouragement and thanks. They were very interested in our story and what brought us to Beautiful Gate. One of the girls also did not allow a single meal to pass without expressing her thankfulness to myself and Laury. They played and talked with my children for endless hours with patience and real interest so my kids felt loved and important. These students have beautiful, thankful and encouraging hearts and it was a blessing to be a part of their lives for a few weeks. I am thankful that they came here to bless Lesotho, Beautiful Gate, and also my family.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Container update

Here is an update on our/Beautiful Gate's container shipment. It sounds much better than the first email we received. More delays but at least no threats of destroying the boxes this time.

It appears the container has left Djibouti - whoo hoo!!! It is scheduled to arrive in Durban, S Africa on the 30th of May and Cape Town on the 8th of June. However, that route has plenty of delays on it and it appears it will arrive later than the 8th. I tried to change the final destination to Durban but no luck. So, that is what I know so far. Also, we have not cleared customs as of yet so I'm praying that some good news will come soon on that.


Still praying for a miracle to happen regarding customs and delivery.


Your prayers are still appreciated in this matter and hopefully in a few weeks we will celebrate answered prayer :)

Also, Faith Mercy and I are pretty sick, might be strep, and may be making our first visit to a medical clinic today. Mercy's ear is pretty painful as are Faith and my throats so prayers for healing would be appreciated as well.
Thanks,
Anita

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Every Tribe & Nation

While I was listening to Ray the other day, it just hit me about how every tribe and nation will be present in Heaven. It is an easy thing to read, but it is a lot easier for me to understand since I have seen many different people and cultures here in Africa. It amazes me that there are eleven different official languages in South Africa. And, most kids in Lesotho know English and Sesotho languages pretty well. Can you imagine what it will sound like in Heaven? Everyone will be praising God in their own languages and cultural traditions. I have a feeling that we will be in awe of the way that God created us, each individually His!!

I have truly been blessed to be here at Beautiful Gate! I have had the opportunity to meet Basotho, Australians, Canadians, Americans, Dutch, Swedish, South African, Zambians, Zimbabweans......and the list goes on and on. It has been really fun for me to hear their dialects and you really have to be "quick on your feet" with the different sayings and vocabulary.

Thank you again for all of you who are praying for us. We still do not have our car yet (I won't expand on that) and our container shipment has been delayed again. We expect the container to arrive in Cape Town on June 8 (for now). I am sure that someday we will look back on this "waiting time" and see how/why God made us go through this time. Maybe it was to just teach me patience, or maybe He is keeping us from something terrible. (I like the first option better). Do you think it would help to tell God that I have become a more patient man? Would that help the car to be released?

Also, thank you for all your prayers of support and love. We can really feel them. Life is definitely different here. It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to bless each of you with all that you are in need of.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tired

Hi everyone. I am sorry it has been a few days since we posted on our blog, but we are so busy with the 16 guests we have staying in our house with us. We have a team of 12 college students (social work department) from Azusa Pacific University (California) staying with us along with their Professor and her family. It is wonderful seeing these college students and their passion for meeting the local Basotho people and experiencing the culture. Laury and I are providing all their meals and trying to make them feel welcome. I don't remember when I have ever been this tired so I am pretty sure my posts will be sporadic for the next 12 days. Sorry but that is all the energy I have and need to head to bed so I can have the energy to get through tomorrow. Goodnight friends

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Empathy

I feel sick. I am beginning to think that God has given me a thorn in my side here in Africa and it is my empathy. When I see a person hurting or here a sad story, it just makes me emotionally and physically upset. I am so bothered by something that was shared with me today and I need to write it down. This blog has turned into our journal so it seems the best place for me to share my thoughts.

We have a woman (I don’t feel right saying her name so I’ll leave it anonymous) who has agreed to help us clean our house and help us prepare food for the 16 guests we have staying with us for the next 2 ½ weeks. I was asking her a little about where she lives and her family when she showed me a picture and shared with me the story of her granddaughter.

When her granddaughter was one month old, her mother began to beat her. She would scream for the baby to shut up and stop crying. When the baby cried because she wanted to eat or needed a fresh diaper, the mother would beat her. She beat her so badly that the girl ( who is now 20) can not speak at all. She cannot walk and has to crawl to get places. The mother died from AIDS and left this child with the child's grandmother. At this point in the story she pulled out her granddaughter’s picture. The girl is standing on her knees and has one arm turned in at an unnatural angle. But, she is smiling and she is beautiful.

Then the woman tells me that she used to work at a hospital teaching people about AIDS prevention and would leave her granddaughter in the care of some of her family members. When she returned home from work, her granddaughter had blood in her urine and would whimper every time she was touched. Upon further investigation, she realized that her family was beating the child. The woman then began to cry (and so did I)and I put my arm around her as she cried. Once she regained control, she told me that this granddaughter will be in her care until the day she dies (I believe she quit working so she could look after her full time). I told her that I was so sorry that things have turned out so sad for her granddaughter and she got a brave look in her face and said, that is just the way life is here. She then pulled out a picture of one of her daughter and told me that she was murdered by her husband almost 2 years ago, so she is raising 5 grandchildren now.

This poor woman is leaving her house at 5am to get here by 8am so she can earn some money to help her children and grandchildren. And it sounds like she is scared while she is away that something bad will happen to her granddaughter (she will be gone 12 hours, 3 days a week;6 hours spent in transportation and 6 hours of work). I am thankful that she felt comfortable enough to share her burdens with me the first day we met, but it makes me feel sick to my stomach thinking of all that young girl has suffered through. I feel such empathy for her that I literally feel sick. I had a hard time going about the rest of my day because my mind continued to dwell on her story. Will you pray with me that her grandchildren are protected by God and his angels as she is away from them and that God will show grace to me by giving me the wisdom and the words to bring her encouragement and support while she is here with us these next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prayer Request

We just received this email from a charity in Zeeland who was very generous and asked us if we would like to have some boxes send to Africa on a container since we were moving here for 5 years. Then, there was still room in the container so a few churches put a whole bunch of boxes together for the children at Beautiful Gate. It was supposed to be here last week when our Michigan visitors were here, but missed a boat due to paperwork issues. As you can see from the email below, it is still having paperwork problems. We would appreciate some prayers as there are many items in those boxes which Beautiful Gate needs for the children here.

A charity in Zeeland has sent a container to S Africa filled with shoes, medical items, misc. items for an orphanage, and personal items for a family who moved there for 5 years. We are in desperate need of prayer to make it happen. The basics are the S African gov't has been giving us the run around and requiring more and more paperwork. We have and are trying to meet their needs but are running out of time. The container is scheduled to land in Cape Town on the 22nd of May. If we do not clear customs by then, we face the possibility of heavy fines (Thousands) or worse, the destruction of all our items. Right now, we are pursuing both the paperwork that has been requested this last time and looking at all scenarios if the paperwork is not done in time. Back up and back up to back up plans are needed as this has turned quite political. I'm confident that the goods will not be destroyed but the gov't can play this card if they wanted to.

I'm asking to put this in your prayers. I'm hoping for a resolution as early as tomorrow. However, I know that nothing will happen without God orchestrating it. Please ask him to help clear up the red tape.


Thank you for your prayers and please pass this along to friends or church prayer chains as it would be heartbreaking for Beautiful Gate not to receive these needed items. God is bigger than this and He will work this for His glory.
Anita

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Story of Two Women

Once there were two women,
Who never knew each other.
One you do not remember,
The other you call mother.
Two different lives
Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.
The first gave you life,
The second taught you how to live it.
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality,
The other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent,
The other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions,
The other calmed your fears.
One saw you first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.
One gave you up; it's all she could do.
The other prayed for a child,
And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me through your tears:
Heredity or environment- which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling, neither,
Just two different kinds of love.

(Author Unknown)

Today at church, Pastor Vern gave a very special message for Mother's Day. He talked about how mother's carry their children in their wombs, but for those who take care of someone else's child, their heart is their womb. Both are necessary for that child and each have been chosen by God for their role and purposes in that child's life.

It touches me to see the joy and happiness of the children here at Beautiful Gate, but they would not be joyful, healthy, and well cared for children without the love and care of their house mothers. Their house mothers laugh with them, sing with them, hold them when they are hurt or sad. They are filling in the gap as God brings a new mother who will continue their love and nurturing for the rest of each child's life. Only God knows the circumstances each mother faced as she had to walk away from her child, or passed away to the next life, but God has brought over 260 children through the gates here at Beautiful Gate so they can be loved and cared for by their new family. First the family at Beautiful Gate and then into the family God has ordained for them. For those of you who are in the process of adopting and are reading this blog, please know your precious baby/ child is being shown love each and every day by their house mothers, the staff here, and by our family as they await their appointed time to become yours.
God Bless You,
Anita

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bryan's (Scattered) Thoughts!! Warning: It might only make sense to me!

Being the Operations Manager at Beautiful Gate has brought many joys, tears, good times, and hardships. It is amazing to notice the "swing" of emotions from one day to the next. There are so many things that I do in one day. Some decisions are small and easy, and others are large and tough. I really have to keep the "big picture" in mind at all times. I also have the pleasure of watching people's eyes "open" to the world that they live in when they visit here. Having groups come to visit has really become one of my favorite things. We just had Vern & Diane and Vern & Mary (from Haven CRC, our home church in Zeeland, MI) visit for about a week. This visit was a complete blessing from God for our family. We have been in Lesotho for 5 months now and our family has been through some ups and downs. There has been homesickness, laughter and many adjustments since coming here. But seeing someone from "home" and getting to know them so much better than when we were in Zeeland was great!

Side Note: Why is it that you need to move 1/2 way across the world to get to know someone better, when they lived just down the street when you were "home"????

Our kids (and us) quickly adopted Vern & Diane and Vern & Mary into our "new family" here at Beautiful Gate. It was amazing to see how quickly our kids bonded with them and "chatted their ears off". I hope that they get some good relaxation on the plane ride home.

We now have a few days to "catch our breath" and then we will be welcoming 16 people into our house for over two weeks. We have a group of 12 college students, 2 professors and 2 children coming to stay with us here at Beautiful Gate. The students are social work majors and will be learning a lot about the people and culture of Lesotho. I can't wait to show them around and watch the reactions of the students to a completely different culture.

I can now say that I have officially become an expert driver in Lesotho. I don't have to concentrate on driving on the left side of the road or think about which side of the steering column that the blinker is on! :) But, we are still waiting for our car to arrive from Durban (13 weeks so far, but who's counting). But, the great news is that I won't have to worry about learning to drive it when it arrives! :) This is really teaching me patience! (not my best fruit of the spirit) And, I am also starting to adjust to the "way things work" here too.

Well, I had better get back to helping the children at Beautiful Gate! Maybe I will have something "deep" and insightful on my next post.

Have a blessed day!
Bryan

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Learning a little culture

On Saturday, we took Laury, Vern, Vern, Mary and Dianne to Teya-Teyaneng (to the locals it is called Ty). The Bosches and Meyaards had been there 5 years ago and wanted to find the weaving place they had visited then. Bryan courageously drove us up a very bumpy road that was going to take us to the weaving store. We were beginning to get a little nervous that the road was leading nowhere when we saw a building that looked familiar to Dianne. The woman who worked there gave us a special tour and we were able to watch a Basotho woman weaving a wall tapestry of 2 zebras. Her hands worked amazingly fast and Faith especially was in awe of her as we just purchased Faith a weaving loom for her birthday in February. Then the Basotho woman took some goat fur and brushed in out, got the spinning wheel, and turned it into yarn. All 3 of my kids were mesmerized. I don't think they even blinked during her demonstration :)We then walked through a barn like building to where they dye the yarn. They use salt and vinegar and chemicals to dye the yarn. When I asked if they used natural dyes, she told me that they tried but the color does not last. She was very willing to show us around and answer our many questions.

Then, we headed for Kome to see the cave dwellings. There are 5 cave houses there and families are still living in these cave homes despite the modern dwellings all around them. There are two families who are descendants of the first cave dwellers who reside in these cave homes. They allow tours to come into their home and see what it is like. The first one was absolutely tiny and we were all shocked when she told us that 4 people live/ sleep in that home. It was extremely dark despite the bright sunny day and very cramped with a twin bed and a small table with a double burner propane stove and some pots and bowls. Where they find room for 4 people to sleep is unimaginable. I couldn't even stand up straight in the house and it was dome shaped which made it even smaller around the edges of the house. We really enjoyed hearing about the cave dwellers and it was neat to share in some more of the Lesotho culture.

We drove back to Maseru and went through Lancer's Gap which is a scenic hill that shows a great panoramic view of Maseru. It was very neat to see the city from the gap and gave me a better grasp of where parts of the city are in relation to one another. We really enjoyed our day of learning about weaving, cave dwellings, and also just enjoying the views and scenery in Maseru ans Lesotho. It was good to have friends here too to share it with us.