Wednesday, December 28, 2011

God heard our prayers...

Last month I asked for prayer as we have over 20 children who are placed, but they have been stuck here longer than necessary. Well, God heard these prayers and He is moving kids to their new adoptive families and reuniting others with extended family. Currently we have 5 children who are bonding with their new families. 1 going to America, 1 to the Netherlands, 1 to Sweden and 2 to Canada. We also have one of our oldest girls who will be moving to her grandmother's home and another little boy who will be rejoining his family ( since asking for prayer we have 7 either adopted or in process and 7 who are reunited or going soon). God has answered our prayers in a huge way, and I am so grateful to Him as we have very happy families and we have more space in our homes for those children in Lesotho who need it.

With this joy of answered prayer comes one more request for prayer. The last month has had many children leaving for adoption and reunification and our house mothers are feeling the pain of loss. With the adoptions, they feel mostly happy because they know their children will be happy, but they will miss their children. With reunification come sadness as some kids are returning to the same people who abandoned them or let them get so sick that they almost died. When the social welfare department decides a child needs to return home, it may not always be in the best interest of the child and it leaves these mothers with a lot of anxiety and pain for the children they have loved and cared for. Please pray for these house mothers to find peace and healing and pray for the children who are returning home. Pray that God will protect them, guide them, provide for their needs, and that they will feel love, and also that if this new situation is not safe, that He will bring them somewhere safe.
Thanks again for your prayers as we are seeing the evidence of them!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!!!

Here is a picture of our staff Christmas lunch. They cooked some chicken on the Braai (grill), made papa, chakalaka with baked beans, and cut up some watermelon. Not your typical Christmas feast, but it is summer here and grilling was nice ;)

The staff are busy inspecting what is in their new bags.

Last night Bryan and I delivered the Christmas gifts for each house. This was the pile for Pula 2, plus a walker and some blocks which were not in the picture. There was also a second gift for all the children who are over the age on 1 because we had several people bring gifts Friday and Saturday, so after wrapping 60 presents earlier in the week, I got to wrap 50 more yesterday ;) whew. We also had a box of candy canes, a card, and 24 cupcakes for each house as a gift as well.

Christmas breakfast of french toast and hot chocolate with whipped cream (I found some at the store for the first time and we HAD to buy it) with some sprinkles.

Here is a picture just for my friend Donna, She gave them all a special present with a special peg that she had made for each kid. Thanks Donna and see... I did not forget the pegs!

This picture is priceless...when you go shopping and you find that gift that you just know they will love and then they actually DO love it and show it...priceless!! Faith your expressions are the best and I love you. Thanks for letting me post this ;)
Merry Christmas from Africa to all our friends around the world! Thank you Jesus for being our best gift ever.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Staff Christmas

We celebrated Christmas with all our staff today and it was a great celebration. We all did a little to make the day successful so it was relaxing and fun to have a few hours to share a meal and be thankful for the staff God has placed at Beautiful Gate as well as for them to be thankful that God has provided them a job. We had many donations come in over the past year so we saved up the items until we had enough for all the staff. Today we gave them all a nice blue bag, a notepad, notebook, hand cream, and the women received a few gold pins.

Bryan and I decided a few months ago to start putting aside some extra money so we could give them all a Christmas bonus of M100. The budget at BG has been very tight and we knew they would not be getting a bonus of money, yet we felt they deserve it for all their hard work and gentle care for the children here. As we put aside money, we had a few people also send money to BG to be split between the staff and the children and just yesterday we were told of another M9000 coming to be used for the staff and kids so between all these, we were able to give the staff each M200 (M8000 total for the 40 staff).

I did not get to stay and watch the staff receive their gifts as Laury, Nthabaseng (volunteer from Netherlands) and I went into the baby houses so all of the staff could be together. I heard a lot of clapping and yelling and Bryan told me that many of the women took out their cash and started fanning themselves with it while talking excitedly. Our staff work so hard and have so little, yet they just smile so much and really know how to celebrate and thank God for their blessings, whether big or small. Today I was once again reminded that it truly is better to give than to receive. Thank you to those who have shared so generously with us because you have helped us to share with our amazing staff here at Beautiful Gate!
God Bless You,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thoughts from our Kids

Mercy says, "I love Gracey and also Laura and Anni, Bonnie, Charoli, Matt, M'e Laury, Ntate Allan and M'e Donna. I want to say good-bye to the Australian Team and to Ntate Allan and M'e Donna for a few weeks. I played a board game, played ponies with Anni, and I watched the suuuuunset. I am looking forward to Christmazsssssssssssssssssssssssssss. My Grandpa and Grandma are coming and I am so happy. (I let Mercy type several words herself!).
Merry Christmas - goodbye"

Elijah says, "We just had some people leave today and we are quite sad, but it is also fun because now we can have family time. Yesterday night we went to see a sunset and it was awesome. We played with our friends, a game that you claimed things as your own and then you could do whatever you wanted before someone else did it. There were 2 people per team (a friendlier form of king of the mountain?). Then exactly at the end of the sunset, Henry and I were using rocks as fake money to buy mountains. Then we went home, but before we went home we had ice cream, and boy was it good. I am looking forward to when Oma and Papa come because it will be a blast! We are going to take them to a lion park and to pet a cheetah, hopefully and to the beach and to an elephant park and back to Lesotho and to the river and then to home. (he has a lot of plans doesn't he!). Thanks for reading my paragraph."

Faith says, "I miss my family and it has been such a great time here. I think it would be great for all of you to come to Africa. Fresh air, nice animals, and awesome awesome fun. I am having the most funnist time in all my life in Africa. I loved seeing the black-backed jackal in September when we went on a safari. I love love love love love you so much. Love my family!"
From Faith Geurink

While Faith's post was very upbeat, she is very sad because she made a great friend from the Australian team and they had such fun for 3 weeks and her friend left today which has left Faith pretty sad. She could use some prayer as she seems to struggle a lot with homesickness and then having her African friends coming and going (volunteers, BG kids, and Missionary families). Bryan and I worry that she might decide not to keep reaching out to these new friends because it hurts too much as she has a very sensitive heart. Thank you for your prayers for our family!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bittersweet Day

I was a bit too tired to blog last night but wanted to share about our day. It was a bittersweet kind of day. The morning was the bitter part. The management team decided a few months ago to shut down the preschool here on grounds for many good reasons, but with that decision came the unfortunate job of letting some of the staff go. There is one staff that I admire greatly who is a preschool teacher and we had her farewell yesterday. She is a woman who shines the love of Jesus so brightly that you can feel it. Her love and admiration for children is an example to other staff. Her smile and ever ready singing brighten every one's day. Her attitude and perseverance are admirable too and it saddened my heart that we had to let her leave Beautiful Gate. I wanted to share my thoughts with her and give a little speech, but I had a lump in my throat and tears streaming down my cheeks (I know that seems to be an everyday occurrence for me now doesn't it!). I went home and wrote her a letter about how special I think she is and I am praying a new position will open up soon so she can work at Beautiful Gate again.

The sweet part of my day was when 3 Swedish families showed up to pick up their new children for bonding. It was beautiful as usual to see their anxious expressions as they waited for their children to arrive then change to huge smiles as they were handed their daughters (all 3 couples got girls which is highly unusual). I took pictures for one couple and then left the room so they could bond.
I went home to prepare lunch for my kids and then heard Elijah yelling into the kitchen that someone was at our house. I went to the door and there was one of the girls who was being adopted (about 3 years old). Her new parents asked her to show them where her house was and she brought them to my house. I know that she KNOWS where her house is and found it really sweet that she brought them to my house ;) She is one of the little girls who yells M'e Anita every time she sees me and wants me to play, and I guess she wanted to make sure she got to say good-bye or wanted me to meet her parents. Whatever the reason, I was touched that she came to see me and then I walked her parents to her real house ;)

God is in the process once again of moving kids around. These 3 left for bonding yesterday and a new little girl moved in. Plus we had the other 2 kids we were expecting move in last week. We had one girl go home with her aunt last Friday and another little girl go to her grandmother's house yesterday. I am guessing that December is going to be a busy month with adoptions and a few older BG kids being reunited with family, so hopefully there will be many happy Christmas celebrations coming up!
May God bless you as you take time to think of Him during this busy holiday season!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Divine Appointment

Today, I left the house at 5:50am so I could meet with my friend Donna and go for a walk. She is usually quite punctual, but I did not see her at our usual meeting spot. I decided to walk to her house and see if she was coming out of her gate. As I turned down the dirt road to get to her house, I passed a woman who had a heavy backpack, and 3 heavily loaded bags that she was carrying. We glanced at each other and when I saw her face I could tell she was struggling. She said to me, “M’e I am not well. I am just not well.” I asked her if I could pray for her and she said yes and laid all her heavy bags in the dirt road and I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed for her. As soon as I finished, I realized that I was not meant to go walking, but I was meant to carry some of her burdens home so I grabbed a few of her bags and started walking with her. She was so grateful and kept thanking me for praying and for carrying her bags. She said she knew God was making her better and that she was feeling better already.

As we walked I asked her what her name was and where she was coming from. She said her name was Patricia and she was gone for a week trying to sell things that she had sewn. She was such a sweet woman and she told me that she loved me and was happy that I was her new friend. She showed me her house which was a very small 2 room cinder block home and invited me in. I brought in her bags and met her daughter who had been sleeping on a blanket on the kitchen floor. They were both very sweet and Patricia told me that she would like me to come visit sometime, and although I am a bit nervous to ever invite myself to someone’s home, I really felt God pushing me along and I think I will visit her.

I got home and found out from Bryan that Donna had sent a text last night saying she would not be walking this morning and I just smiled. God had a divine appointment for me this morning and I couldn’t be happier that I missed the text. So often I am just too busy and have my day too scheduled to catch these moments that God is just waiting to give me. I think I needed to remember that today. So I will leave you with the words of Jesus today because when I helped this woman with her physical burdens, the gratitude and relief she expressed was so heartfelt and I think, if we lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus, wouldn’t we feel that relief and gratitude as well. I am feeling a gentle nudge from God to lay my burden for “my boys” at His feet. I will keep praying for them but I am ready to lay my burden of worry at the cross!

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
May God give you all a divine appointment this week as well!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

1 YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, 1 year. Sometimes it feels like it flew by. Other times it feels like we have been in Lesotho for such a long time. But it was exactly one year ago that we were in the airport for the agonizing good-bye to our family and friends. I still remember that I was "okay" until all of them circled around us and began to pray for us and then the tears flowed freely...I actually think it was when my mother-in-law, Mary blessed us that I cried (thanks mom, it was a special blessing). Mercy was shocked to see me crying so she walked over to the chair where her stuffed animal Kody was and handed him to me. She asked why I was crying and I said it was because I was going to miss my family and friends and then like only a 3 year old can, she said, "Mom, I'll be your friend in Africa." And she has ;)

Today, as we remembered our feelings of last December 4, I decided that we should make today a fun day. We have begun to call ourselves American Africans and so we thought that we would celebrate our first year as American Africans and take the kids swimming. We went to the pool at the Maseru Sun for Faith's birthday last year and surprised the kids by taking them back today for some fun in the water! They were very thankful and thought it was a great way to spend the day.

The hotel also had an outdoor chess game board that the kids thought was super cool. What kid wouldn't love to play with chess pieces that are half their size. Elijah and Bryan will have to play against each other sometime, but today it was a bit busy at the pool and by the chess board.
Thank you so much for following our journey this past year and feeling empathy with us as we have gone on many ups and downs, and for your many heartfelt prayers during some struggles that just took our breath away. Thank you for your comments on this blog as well as countless emails. We have felt your love and support carrying us through and encouraging us along. Also, many of you are sacrificing financially by supporting us each month, quarter, or annually. We are not yet fully funded for our next 4 years, but because of your love and dedication to us and Beautiful Gate, we are confident that God will provide for us. If you have only recently begun to follow our blog and would like to contribute to our fund, we would be very appreciative. We are missionaries/volunteers here at Beautiful gate and are not paid which is why we are in the process of continuing to raise funds to cover our next 4 years.

Mail the funds to:
C/O Danell Czarnecki for Geurink Missionary Fund
6950 Edison Avenue
Chino, CA 91710

Once again, thank you for the role you have played in making our first year here in Lesotho at Beautiful Gate, an unforgettable year. Our family has been very blessed!

Blessing to You,