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! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

God Moment

Yesterday, as I was preparing to go for a walk with my friend Donna, I grabbed some change and put it in my pocket. I NEVER grab change and put in it my pocket before a walk because I like to tell the truth when people ask for money and I say I do not have any. I just felt like I needed to have some money today. We went on our walk and nothing unusual happened and no one asked for some change. On my way home I went past a tuck shop (small store) and thought about getting some fruit for the kids but we did not really need any so I kept walking home.

Once I was home, I hurried outside to take my laundry off the line. As I was busy doing that, Luky (the orphan boy we have hired to pick up litter) told me he would like to talk to me. He waited patiently for me to finish with my laundry and then told me that he is unable to cook the papa I gave him on Monday because he is out of propane and paraffin (something like kerocine I think). I began to be worried because I know we can not go out and buy him a tank of propane (don't have a car, etc). So I asked him how much it would be for paraffin and it sounded like he said R50 but when I asked again he was saying R15. I prayed that God would guide me wisdom and then I remembered the money it my pocket. I prayed there would be R15 in my pocket and so then I would know that I was suppose to help him more than just the food I have been providing each week. I pulled out my coins and sure enough I had R15 exactly. I just had to smile as I put it in his pocket. God guided me as I asked for His wisdom to know how much to help Luky and I really feel peace that our family is here to take care of him. God brought him to us for a reason and I love how obvious God's answers can be sometimes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our first Good-bye

Back in 2009, I came to Beautiful Gate with a mission team and one of the main jobs of our team was having the men build a memorial wall for children who have passed away while being cared for at Beautiful Gate. I never thought at the time it was being built that I'd be back here and the moment that Bryan and I have feared for the past 7 1/2 months has happened. We will be adding a new name to the wall.

A little baby girl who was sick from the time we got her a few months ago and has been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia, possibly TB and complications with HIV has lost her battle and has gone on to be held in Jesus' arms. She will be missed and I am glad that the Bo 'Me' were able to hold, feed, and love on her for the brief time we had her here. I did not get to hold her much as she was sick a lot, but my family and I have been blessed for being able to be a part of her brief stay here at Beautiful Gate (she was not placed for adoption yet for those of you who are adopting from BG and follow our blog).

I don't know when we will have her funeral or what role Bryan will have to play in that ceremony. I don't know the words yet to explain this loss and the causes of it to our children, but do plan to allow them to be a part of the funeral if they choose. I know God will comfort the Bo'Me' who cared for her and He will give us the wisdom and grace to handle this very sad loss of such a precious little daughter of God. So I will write more later but want to leave you with this poem from the memorial wall at Beautiful Gate...

Only a baby's grave-
A foot or Two at most,
Of tear-soaked earth, But a loving God
knows what the little grave cost.

Only a baby's life-
Brief as a perfumed kiss,
So quickly it goes,
But our Father knows
We are nearer to Him for this.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Boxes and Birthdays

Well, TIA is the best way to start this email. I know there are many of you who donated to Beautiful Gate and were hoping to see some pictures of the boxes being opened, but the 'Me' who inventories our supplies was not available last week so we have not been able to open the boxes yet. It is important to have her do this inventory as she is the one who puts things away in storage and hands out needed items to the houses, so she needs to know what is available so she does not buy items we don't need ;) That being said I hope (with my fingers crossed) that I can get some pictures next week.

On a different note, today was a fun adventure with a little pre-birthday celebration for Elijah and Mercy. Our friends Allan and Donna took us to a little game park about an hour and a half away, in South Africa. Once we got there and the kids got to play on a little playground for a bit, we began our adventure to go see a few wild animals. Well...Allan and Donna made it up the VERY steep hill, but we did not because our truck did not have 4 wheel drive so..... poor Bryan had to back our truck (Beautiful Gate's truck that we borrowed) down the steep hill (he is an amazing driver, I never could have done that) and Allan had to turn around at the top of the hill and come get all of us.

So, we had 6 adults and 5 children in Allan's Surf. Not exactly comfortable, but we were not going to stay at the bottom of the hill and miss out on seeing animals. We saw a few Meerkats, Zebra, Kudu, Spring Bok, Wildebeests, peacocks and several ostriches. The kids got to pet an ostrich which was cool for them but we did not get too close to many other animals. The kids had no idea we were going to see animals today, so it was a fun birthday surprise for them. Now, they will be prepared for our next safari because now they know that you have to drive around a lot if you want to see the animals ;) Maybe next time won't be so crowded either. I thought it was a wonderful way to spend the day with friends and to celebrate their birthdays which will be on Monday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Boxes are HERE!!!

Bryan and his friend arrived back to Beautiful Gate this afternoon and they had ALL the boxes with them! There were 56 boxes full of things for Beautiful Gate! So amazing to see them all on the back of the trailer as they pulled in. It was in the afternoon when they arrived so they put the boxes in a storage room and tomorrow they will begin to open and sort the boxes. Bryan will try to get some pictures of them as they are opening the boxes and we will do our best to post some pictures tomorrow! We may have waited for months to get this shipment, but it is here and the wait is over. I can't wait to see what has been donated and am so happy that so many people were able to think and care about the children here and have given so generously!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Some Good News

Great news! Our container has been cleared from South African Customs in Cape Town and we will now be travelling to Beaufort West on Monday to get the donated goods for Beautiful Gate and our own personal belongings that we shipped in the container. Originally, the container was supposed to arrive in Cape Town in the middle of April and get to Beautiful Gate by late April. Here we are in July and we are finally getting to the last steps. The container was delayed out of New York in February and so our container made stops in Israel, Djibouti, Durban and finally Cape Town. Once it arrived in Cape Town, we had to wait for it to clear customs. This was made longer by the fact that 1 in 5000 containers are searched, and guess what?.... Our container was the "lucky" 1!!! So, after seeing that we are not smugglers, we are now cleared. I will be driving (with Ntate KB from Beautiful Gate) to Beaufort West on Monday. On Tuesday, we will then meet up with Todd Clevenger (who has made all this possible....Thank you Todd) and help with unloading the container. Once that is completed, Ntate KB and I will return to Beautiful Gate (probably on Wednesday morning) and start to unload the donations for Beautiful Gate. This has been an amazing process from the beginning. Satan has tried to stop this container so many times. But, the Lord's plans will never be stopped and we (Beautiful Gate) are eagerly awaiting it's arrival. Once again, I cannot thank all of you who have donated to this container! The kids here at Beautiful Gate will be truly blessed by all of you!
Also, on another positive note, Anita and I may have taken care of our "car issue" as well. Not exactly what we had planned on, but here is the story. On January 29, Anita and I went to Durban and "purchased" a car from a dealer in a shipping yard. This was done because you can buy a "better" car for less money. Over 22 weeks later, we are still in Lesotho with no car from the dealer. After many efforts to contact the dealer, we have finally heard from the dealer that the car will not be sent. So, we have "donated" a lot of money to this dealer with nothing to show for it. But, at least this has given us closure on the issue of waiting for the vehicle. (We will also be looking into legal action to try and get our money back, but that seems unlikely at this point). But, on the bright side, God has shown us another (much safer) option for our vehicle. There was a previous Beautiful Gate volunteer that was here that is going home to Australia (not Alan and Donna) and is looking to sell his vehicle. That vehicle is already registered in Lesotho and will be in Maseru on Monday (hopefully). So, when I get back from Beaufort West, I hope to inspect the vehicle and potentially purchase it. The best part is that I will know exactly where the vehicle is (no waiting for a crook in Durban to ship it). It is a completely different vehicle from what I ever dreamed of, but Anita and I feel that this is what God has planned for us now. It is a 1998 Land Rover Defender 90. Check it out on google. It is not much for looks, but it will allow us to go ANYWHERE in Lesotho that we want to go. Some of the roads in Lesotho are for 4x4 vehicles only and we will be able to take any of those that we want. It will be a lot of fun to explore more of Lesotho than we ever thought possible. The vehicle is short on storage space and not great on cruising mileage, but will be awesome in the mountains of Lesotho.
So, next week may be very busy for me but also complete 2 of the 3 most stressful things in my life right now. The third is culture shock and I don't know that there will be an easy answer to that. But, Anita and I continue to thank God for His provision. We still have "ups" and "downs". but God is faithful.
To Him be the glory!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fun despite the Cold

Okay, bear with us as we come up with a few bad jokes about the cold weather inside our house :) Here are our top 10 reasons that you know when it is COLD inside your house...

1. You no longer need to refrigerate your butter, eggs or drinks because room temperature is about the same as the inside of the fridge.
2. You can buy cut roses and they last for over 2 1/2 weeks because it is like being in the floral shop's fridge (this has been proven as I have a dozen roses from Bryan that are over 2 weeks old and still beautiful).
3. You stop by the door on your way outside to take off your coat, hat, gloves, and scarf because it is 30 degrees warmer outside than inside.
4. You can all see your breath when you are eating breakfast together at the table.
5. You wear 2 pair of socks and slippers with a thick rubber sole and you still can't feel your feet.
6. You stand by the shower and debate with yourself for 10 minutes whether you can survive the minute it will take to get undressed and jump in the shower (if the pipes aren't frozen that is).
7. Your family is dressed like they are ready to go sledding, but you are only watching a movie together on the laptop.
8. You pull out meat from the freezer that you need the next night for dinner and it is still frozen in the middle after sitting on the counter for 20 hours.
9. You volunteer to do the dishes after meals because you want to thaw your hands in the dish water.
10. Your ideal family time is squeezing 5 people on a 2 seat sofa so you can read books and keep each other warm with body heat.

So we thought we would try a little humor while sitting here in the cold :) You may think that some of these are an exaggeration, but I can honestly tell you that when I leave drinks on the counter and then compare them to the drinks from the fridge, they are about the same temperature. Crazy!!!! We are enjoying every sunny afternoon out in the sun behind our house, and praise God for it's warming rays. It is so much warmer here in the winter than in Michigan and we find it ironic that we do whatever we can to stay indoors in a Michigan winter and we do everything we can to get outside in a Lesotho winter ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Today we had a family of volunteers from Cape Town, SA come and join us at Beautiful Gate. They will be doing some gardening and helping out at the preschool this week. They have two children, Faith 12 and Luke 11, as of today. Our kids were thrilled to meet another girl named Faith as we have met a few Elijah's in the states but not a Faith that is a kid. It will be a fun week of yelling Faith and having both of them answer ( I am pretty sure that we will not ever have that with another Mercy as we have never heard of another kid with that name).

The reason I am really sharing about our new volunteers was just to share a simple story which showed me a glimpse of how important learning different languages is becoming to our family. Today is Luke's 11th birthday so Laury (our suite mate) made him a cake and when it was time for him to blow out the candles, we all decided to sing happy birthday in our native languages. We sang it in English, Dutch, and Afrikaans. It was so much fun, but I was worried he would not have an candles left by the time we got through the 3 songs. I decided I need to learn to sing it is Sesotho so we can add another language ( I know how to sing it in Spanish, but don't think that would be too helpful in this part of Africa) next time there is a birthday. Uh oh, that only gives me 15 days as Elijah and Mercy will be celebrating their 8th and 4th birthdays on the 25th of July!!!

I am so impressed by all the volunteers and many of the local Basotho people because most speak 2-3 languages. I am ashamed that all I know is a little Spanish and am currently trying to learn Sesotho, but feel like I have a bad lisp. There are some very very unnatural sounds that our tutor wants me to make and I just can't seem to do it. Bryan rocks in this area and will be speaking it in no time. I am proud of him! I think though that I will work very hard to make sure my kids learn a lot of the language because it means a lot to people when you try to speak to them in their language. I was ready to quit last week with my tutoring because it is frustrating and I am really bad at it, but hearing those songs in different languages re-energized me to try harder. I want to speak to the kids and staff here in their own language and I want to help my kids learn it too while their little brains are better at picking it up than my slow brain :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Latest Container News

Container Update from Todd who is back in Cape Town (after an unsuccessful trip at the end of June when he flew from Zeeland, MI to get the container, but the container never arrived). The Container is in Cape Town this time and he is working on getting it cleared through customs. This is the container that has thousands of pairs of shoes for a city in South Africa where the children run home from school barefoot going from one shade tree to the next shade tree so as not to burn their feet as badly. They had room left on the container after filling it with shoes, so a few churches in Zeeland/Holland filled 59 (I think) boxes for Beautiful Gate and let our family put 9 boxes on as well. I wanted to pass along his email as he asked once again for some prayer support...

Ok --- I spent the day in customs chasing one after another people and places. Tomorrow, I will attempt to chase down two new contacts, one on the inside. this is crazy!!! They asked for different paperwork. We gave them an invoice a couple of days ago. We gave them a packing slip which will be sent to customs first thing tomorrow. The problem is that customs will then inspect the boxes and weights to make sure everything lines up. Let me just say --- it might just not align up perfectly as things have changed. hum??? So - send a prayer for the container tonight. as we need God to pull another miracle for us. I'm jumping in the middle of things tomorrow so pray that I do be-friend them instead of ending up on the other side of

I was within 100-200 yards of our container today ---- so close but yet so far.

This is a good thing --- It will help so many people. Plus Bryan and his family are waiting for their items. We are close. Homestretch. Pray with me! Pray hard for the customs to show favor for us and release the container.

Hopefully Beautiful Gate will be blessed by many good things in the next week. I am looking forward to seeing the faces of the staff when we unpack those boxes and bless the kids and houses with many good gifts from some very loving and generous people in Michigan.
Thanks for your prayers,

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th :)

For the first time since I can remember, I am not going to be watching the 4th of July fireworks tonight. It has always been a fun family time for me. As kids my dad would find 2 or 3 different cities who were showing fireworks on different nights and he would drive us around to them. We would enjoy some snacks and drinks and wait and wait and wait (you get the idea) for it to get dark. It was one of the funnest times I remember as a kid. Since having our own kids, Bryan and I have been getting together with his family in Ludington, MI to watch the fireworks each 4th of July. Elijah and his Aunt Amy have had a standing date for many years that he would sit on her lap, watch fireworks and enjoy some cuddle time. I always enjoyed some really good conversations with my brother-in-law during our July 4th weekends and good quality time with my nieces and their parents and my mother and father-in-law. Then after the long wait to leave the fireworks, we'd put the sleeping kids to bed and play board games into the wee hours of the night/morning. Today as I was thinking about this holiday (which is the day our county celebrates its freedom) that I have more fond memories of this holiday than any other, wow. All of them great family memories.

So in honor of July 4th, the kids and I downloaded a video off You Tube of London's 2011 New Years celebration (it took me an hour and I only got half of it but it was still worth it). Wow, that was pretty cool and the kids were very excited to see all the fireworks. Elijah said thanks and that it really made his night because I found fireworks for him to watch. I told him that I know I am no Aunt Amy, but he would have to cuddle by me while we watched it. I am so thankful that God gave me children who are so easy to please. It really made all of them smile and they all thanked me before going to bed. I guess we found a new temporary way to celebrate until we go home on furlough and watch the real ones :) Oma and Papa we have already invited ourselves to the 2013 July 4th fireworks in Ludington!!!! So for my American friends, enjoy your day.
God bless you all and also all those who have fought, and are still fighting so we can celebrate our freedom.