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.