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,
Anita

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.
Love,
Faith

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.
Love,
Anita

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,
Anita

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!
Anita

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
Anita

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Statistics

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,
Anita

Friday, October 7, 2011

Busy!!

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!
Anita