Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Surprise

As a little child, I never would have believed that anything could be better than opening a present on Christmas morning. It was so exciting to see gifts under the tree and getting a new toy was so exciting. I think most kids find Christmas to be a tremendous day, even if it is only one small gift they will receive.

Now, I think that there is nothing better than bringing joy to a little child. Whether it be through a hug, a tickle, or just spending time together. It makes even the toughest day bearable if I have seen the smile of one of the Beautiful Gate kids or even one of my 3 kids. Joy is a special gift from the Lord.

On Sunday, I (and several BG volunteers and mission team volunteers) had the pleasure of wrapping/packing 61 boxes and bags with toys, stuffed animals, sippi cups, wash cloths, candy, cereal bowls and underwear. Monday night we delivered the packages after the kids went to bed and when I came home from church on Tuesday morning, I had a lot of kids waving their arms and motioning me to come into their house and see their presents. Two boys even passed me their cars out their bedroom window so I could see and touch their new cars. Their joy was so real and it brought such peace to my heart. I felt like I never need another gift again (material gifts that is) in my life as long as I can bring that much joy to a child, I will find satisfaction!!!

That being said, God had a special surprise gift for me for Christmas this year. On Christmas Eve I heard whistling outside my back door and when I went to check, I found Lucky (our "adopted"orphan who had moved away). I was overjoyed to see him and to know he is doing well. He came only for a day so I could give him a few Christmas presents (good thing I had a few extra coloring books and a soccer ball handy)and food, and then he took a taxi back. Seeing him healthy and looking like he has been eating and being looked after brought me such happiness that I spent the next few hours in thankfulness to God for His special blessings.
I have so much more to share about but this post is already getting too long. We were gone for a few days to Malealea so I was not able to post this Christmas post sooner.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No Room?

It is 5 days before Christmas and I do not have anything profound to say despite the joy of the season. I am so thankful and am enjoying the Christmas season more and more as each year passes. The thought of God's love in sending His tiny little son into the world to save us all. What a gift!

While I reflect on Christmas and the story of Christmas and the way God will make a way even when there seems no way, I find hope for our current situation. You see, Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem and report for the census and there was not even a place for them to stay. Yet, God provided for them - a stable not a grand hotel we might think of as the place for our saviour to be born! So while it seemed there was no where for our saviour to stay, God provided.

I am in no way comparing our BG kids to our saviour, but I am finding hope through God's word. You see we are almost full. Like the inns in Bethlehem that night, we are almost at capacity. 59 children; nine of which have come in the last 20 days. This month has been very high with new admissions, but the adoptions are on hold until at least February. Three months of kids coming in and not going out! We are concerned about them...what if we run out of room? What if we can not take more kids because our houses are full and our care staff are getting burned out with all the extra work? Where will they go?

But I have to trust. I have to believe that God will give us space, or help, or wisdom to be creative and provide for more children. His ways are not our ways, but I trust Him. He will provide a place for His children. He sent His son as a baby and later as a young man, He allowed Him to die for each one of these precious children and He will give them a warm, safe and loving place while they wait for Him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A little History

On Thursday my kids were able to take a little field trip in order to get a little more history of Beautiful Gate. Sue Haakonsen, co-founder of Beautiful Gate, came for a visit this past week and Bryan asked if she would be willing to go for a drive and show him where the first 2 Beautiful Gate locations were as he knew where the 3rd location was and we are residing in the 4th. I asked my kids to take a few notes and then share them on my blog.
Faith - "They started out with seven children and then it became 13. The first house looked sort of like a regular house but a little longer. I did not get to go inside. There were 2 rooms in the house. Once they had 13 kids they moved to the second house. It was a 2 story house and it could hold 21 kids."



We also took the kids to the cemetery where their children were buried before they moved to the Thatsane area. It was across from the real cemetery and is known as the paupers cemetery because it is the place where you can bury your loved ones if you have no money for a burial plot. Looking at it when we arrived, I never would have known it was a cemetery as there was a big hill and it had a lot of rocks on it. Had I not been told it was a cemetery, I never would have realized all those little mounds were babies who had passed away. 15-20 of Beautiful Gates babies were buried in this cemetery as there were no ARV's to help reduce the side affects of HIV/AIDS. Many children were so sick when they came to Beautiful Gate that there was no hope for recovery, just an opportunity for them to receive love and tender care before they went to meet God.
Faith - "I went to the cemetery and I was very sad because there were so many dead kids, like a hundred or so (not all the little mounds were Beautiful Gate kids).



The history of Beautiful Gate is painful, but also full of hope. It was heartbreaking to love and lose so many little ones, but they brought hope, love, and peace to those little ones who went on to heaven and there are so many more who have been adopted and are enjoying a second chance with a family who loves them and who will never let them go. I praise God for what Ray and Sue began and ask humbly that the Lord use my family to continue this wonderful ministry so His glory can be known!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Touching story of love

We celebrated the adoption of 2 of our Beautiful Gate kids yesterday. They are brothers who will be heading to Canada in another day or two. I think they will be in for a surprise when the arrive home as it is definitely summer here and winter there!
The grandfather of the brothers came for the adoption ceremony. It is the first time in our 2 years here that a biological member of an adoptive child has been present for a ceremony. I know many of the adoptive families will drive to villages looking for family members so the kids can say good-bye, but having him at the ceremony was touching. He lives in the same village as one of our house staff and they shared the story of how the children's mother died and before she was even buried, their father died. The grandfather was left to care for them but he realized that he is old and could die before they are old enough to care for themselves. He asked for help from other relatives but no one was willing or able to help. He felt stuck because he wanted to give them a good future but knew he could not provide it himself. That brought him into contact with the house staff, our social worker and DSW where it was decided that the boys could be put in a care center and placed for adoption.
For the boys I feel like while hearing that story, it could have brought back more painful memories of their parents passing away, but it also was a chance to see how much their grandfather loved them. They know how much he wants them to have a good life and their new parents were there hearing the story too so they will be able to reinforce that when they are older and begin asking questions. I found it to be a touching and beautiful ceremony and praise God for the work he is doing in all of their lives. I also pray he will help these 2 boys to fit it well with their new family in Canada. The four of them look so happy together and they have two sisters waiting at home to meet them! Go with God and be blessed.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Skype Day

Today was a Skype day, which is quite surprising because it was pouring down rain ALL day and usually that makes the connection bad. My girls and I had a nice time reconnecting with their aunt and 2 cousins and as usual, I have to smile at the really creative ways the girls all play together ;) They had their squinkies and zooballs that their cousins (well truth be told, Aunt Kristin) have mailed them and had their little toys swimming in a "pool" and "hot tub." Yeah, we had a little mopping up to do afterward, but it was worth it!

Bryan and I also had the privilege of Skyping in with a team who came here from Holland, MI in October. They were giving their presentation for their church and we had the opportunity to share a little about what God is doing at Beautiful Gate. Bryan brought our newest addition, a 4 day old little baby boy for them to meet and I brought the little boy we blogged about on Nov. 9th so they could see how well he is doing. It is tough not getting to show pictures on the blog, but we try our best to protect the privacy of our kids. It was very nice to see the team and see some of the people we have met at Graafschap CRC. It has been a long time since we have shared with a church about what God has been doing here and saying it out loud is a good reminder of how faithful and loving our God is and has been (although I get a LOT of wonderful and heartfelt reminders from my friend Karen Boersema in my blog comments, thank you!)

After we came back home, we were able to reconnect with our neighbors. It had been awhile since we last Skyped and while it can sometimes lead to crying, it is always good to see each other! We got to see our old Christmas tree lighting their living room which made my kids smile. I praise God for Skype because it has made being oceans apart so much more bearable.

One prayer request would be for Elijah. Apparently it is his turn not to be feeling well. He said his back hurts, he was feeling sick to his stomach and his temperature was around 100 before he went to bed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lost in Translation

OK, I had a funny American moment last night and had a good laugh at myself so naturally, I thought I would share it with my blog readers. Last night I took a visitor into one of the baby houses. We were playing with the kids, holding babies, tickling the kids and reading books. One of the girls who is around 4 began to tell me that tomorrow is the last day of preschool and she was so excited because they were going to eat biscuits, cake and ice cream. She was so thrilled and I was sitting there amazed at how great her English is getting!
A little later in the evening, I was holding a baby and this girl came up to me and told me to put the baby down and come with her into her bedroom. She grabbed my hand and started pulling me into her room and then told me that she was going to show me her privates. Well, my thoughts were no longer about how good her English was, my thoughts were, oh no, that is something I do not want to see as in America "privates" are body parts we should not be showing other people. I was trying to figure out what I would say to her when she dragged me over to a bed that had a bunch of clothes on it and showed me her "private" clothes that she would be wearing to school for the last day of school. Well you can imagine my relief, hahaha. I totally forgot that everyday clothes are called private clothes in Lesotho because the kids have to wear uniforms to school everyday and can only wear "private" clothes on special occasions. I thought I would share this lighthearted story as it made me laugh ;)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feeling Better

Thank you so much for your prayers everyone. Faith is feeling so much better today. Her fever stayed low yesterday and this morning she woke up with a smile on her face and she has some energy. We are praying that this fever is done circulating through our family so that we do not have anymore scary moments with our kids or the BG kids.

While I was busy taking care of Faith on Tuesday, we had 2 couples come and get their children for bonding. One little girl is going to a local family and a set of brothers is heading to Canada. I did not get to say good-bye to the little girl but I was able to give a quick hug to the boys (they are a bit older and one of them was my daily hug giver) before they left with their parents. We will see them again next week and it will be great to see how they are fitting in with their parents!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Prayers for Faith

Today was a bit of a scary day so I thought I should just put a prayer request out there for my daughter Faith. A little over a week ago, Mercy came down with a mysterious fever that lasted for a few days and got pretty high. Well on Saturday night, Faith came down with the high fever. It was in the mid 103 range for 2 days and then today it went over 104 (sorry I don't know the Celsius reading). She also had a very random and scary allergic reaction to something. She was complaining about her back hurting for about an hour and then suddenly she said that her chest hurt and that she couldn't get a deep breath of air. I held her for a few minutes and tried to calm her down ( she was freaking out a bit), and then I looked at her chest and I could see her veins and her color looked strange so I carried her to the clinic to find one of our nurses (Donna is our lovely Australian volunteer and Patty is our wonderful full-time nurse). I got Donna on the phone and then found Patty and they were able to get her the right medicine to help her. She looked like she was about to pass out after that and then fell asleep for awhile. In the afternoon her fever went over 104 and she was a bit delirious, but after getting her back on some medication, and an antibiotic (thanks to Donna who is always saving the day for us when we have any medical worries!!!!), she has been doing much better. All that to say, please pray for Faith to feel better soon and that this fever will not affect anyone else in our family and especially that it will not pass to any of the BG kids. I do my best to keep my kids "quarantined" when they are ill, but it is always a fear of sickness being spread among children.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blessings beyond the sacrifice

On Thursday, I took some time and reflected about the things I am thankful for and one of the thoughts that kept coming to mind was the sacrifice to adopt. It is financially costly, the wait is long and uncertain, there is a lot of fear of the unknown, and there are so many other things which is unique to each person/couple who goes through the process. It is a sacrifice, there is no doubt in my mind, but I hear over and over again as a new parent holds their child with tears streaming down their faces, "It was worth the wait." "I would do it all over again." "This is the best day of my life." And then there are those who cannot even utter a word. It is a sacrifice, but the blessings of adoption far outweighs the cost, fear, uncertainty, etc! It is a priceless gift not only for the child but also for the family. I am so thankful for adoption and families who choose to adopt.

I was reading my Facebook "recent stories" and I hope it is okay to post this as it is now official, but I am so excited because Bryan's sister and brother-in-law are starting their journey on this wonderful road of adoption. I realized something new. I have seen the joy of parents and grandparents as they come to Beautiful Gate and meet their children, but now I am beginning to feel the joy as a future aunt! Adoption blesses so many and now my kids are going to be blessed with a new African cousin :) Here is Amy's post:

It's official! Andy and I are joining the 8% - one less orphan in Ethiopia :)

“The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.”
― Katie J. Davis, Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption


We love you Amy and Andy and we will be praying for you as you start this amazing jouney!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

As I reflect on the past year and what I am thankful for, it is hard to find words. I am so thankful for so many reasons, for so many people and for the way God has blessed us this past year. But I will highlight a few of the things on my heart...

I am thankful for mothers/couples who have given up a lot of the things they want in order to save money to add a child to their family through adoption. By giving up their wants, they are giving a child what they need. A loving home and a family.

I am thankful for the workers at Beautiful Gate. Sometimes children come here with little hope of a good future due to the devastating start they have had in life, yet these workers love on them, stay up long hours caring for them, give them good nutrition and smile and sing to them about God. Wow, my heart overflows with gratitude when I think of this unbelievable love.

I am thankful that God has chosen to save each of the children here at Beautiful Gate. He knows them by name and He has a future and a hope for each one. He may have allowed them to be in a tough place, but He rescued them and brought them to a place of safety.

I am thankful for the many people around the world who have shared their hearts, time and resources with Beautiful Gate. Many teams and individuals have come through our gates this past year and it has been wonderful to make new friends. There are many people who love and support BG whom I have never and may never meet. Thank you for sharing your resources with the kids and staff at BG because without your help, we could never have had such a blessed year. I am thankful for the many individuals and churches who have been praying for BG. God has been good and He has heard your prayers!

I am thankful that God has brought our family to BG. It is not always easy to be in Lesotho, but God is faithful and He has blessed us with everything we need and more.

May God bless you all as you take time to give Him thanks for the blessings in your life!
Anita

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Relaxation

Bryan surprised me and took me away on Friday to a hotel that was pretty much in the middle of nowhere in South Africa. It was a very nice place and was surrounded by mountains, grasslands and a dam. We actually sat outside before dinner and saw a few rhinos on the other side of the dam. It was such a relaxing place and we had a very nice time. The best part was that we only had to drive an hour to get there and our 2 American volunteers watched our kids for us so we had plenty of time to relax.
Today was my birthday so we drove into Bloem and did a little Christmas shopping for the kids since they were not with us. When we arrived home, the living room was decorated with some welcome home and happy birthday signs from the kids. It was a nice way to feel appreciated by my husband and my kids.
While we were away yesterday, a set of twins was brought to Beautiful Gate. They have been in the hospital for a few weeks and are still under weight. One is about 4 pounds and the other is about 3 1/2 pounds. Please pray for them to remain in good health and to gain weight so they do not need to be brought back to the hospital. We hear that there are problems again at the hospital that was striking last month so we ask for your prayers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

God's Mercy

Well, I am going to try to recount for you a...hmmmm...merciful day we experienced last Friday. I have been working on a Ladie's Retreat committee for the past year and I left early Friday morning to Wyndford Farm so we could arrive early, set up and pray for all the ladies who would be driving from many parts of Maseru to join this retreat. The two nights before the retreat, Mercy was ill with a high temperature, but with no other symptoms. I was a little concerned because she was quite warm when I took her temperature on Friday morning, but I needed to be at the retreat and knew Bryan would be able to get her the medication she needed to keep her temperature from getting too high.

While I was away, a new baby boy was brought to Beautiful Gate. He is only a month old and was found abandoned in the forest just outside of town. This is very significant based on the events that followed on Friday evening. This boy's name means Mercy and once again I am utterly blown away by God allowing the perfect name to be chosen for a child's circumstances.

Friday evening Mercy's (our daughter as now it could get confusing) temperature shot up to 103.7 and she was feeling miserable. Poor Bryan was trying to comfort her and cook dinner for them all when suddenly there was a freak hail storm. 7 minutes of hail beating down on Maseru. Damaging windows, causing leaks in roofs and covering the ground and causing mild flooding in a few areas. Marble sized hail drumming down to earth in the exact spot that baby boy had been laying only a few hours before. Bryan had water coming through the kitchen door and then coming through the kitchen ceiling and was busy mopping it all up with towels. He did manage to sneak in a few pictures.
Thank you God for your mercy. That you saved your little boy just in time and also that you brought Mercy's temperature back down again on Saturday so she can feel better.

I also just want to say that my weekend away was absolutely amazing. The team from Florida who came to help were real servants and treated us women like we were precious treasures. I was very blessed and my spirit renewed by my time away and I know many other missionary women felt the same way this weekend. I would like to give a very special thank you to Antje Dew, Julie Wildschut, Tammy Vandoeselar and Chris Rosencrans for what you did on your end to make the weekend possible for a few very special and wonderful missionary women!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our final good-bye

So as not to stick my foot in my mouth again, I have waited a few days to post this on the blog. I have written before about "our orphan," Lucky having to move away and then circumstances proved that he did not in fact have to leave, but this time he has really left.

His sister left him with her 2 children a few months ago and his brother-in-law is not working. He did not know what to do as he still wanted to finish school, but was trying to look after his sister's children. I suggested he talk with his village chief to seek some advice. They determined the best thing was for Lucky to take his niece and nephew and move to his Uncle's house in Mafateng (where he was going to move last April). After getting behind on the rent for 3 months, Lucky realized that he would in fact need to move to Mafateng.

He took his niece and nephew last Friday, came back on Monday to try to work on his secondary school enrollment and then left on Wednesday to live with his uncle. My kids and I were sad to see him go, but at the same time, we are trusting that with other family members around, he will have the chance to finish school and at least get a good education.

I think I will really notice he is gone in a week or two when I no longer here him whistling or "knock knocking" at my kitchen window. He is a good boy, with a good heart and so we will continue to pray that God will provide for him and help him to be a very successful man who loves the Lord. Go with God Lucky, and we thank God for the time that we were able to walk this journey of life together.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Teams

On Tuesday, our team from Graafschap church left to return to Michigan. We had such a lovely time with this group. Lots of laughs and a few tears. Some good heart to hearts and some adventures which included Bryan almost losing a hand!!!!Literally!!!! We shared some unforgettable moments, like CRAZY boarder crossings, sunset over the city, play group, blessing the staff and lots of dinner conversations. I am glad God chose to bring them here when He did because having some friends, old and new, from home made us feel really refreshed and encouraged. We look forward to having a reunion next summer with all those from West MI who have made it out to Beautiful Gate.


We also welcomed a new team today. A group of 8 women from Gainsville, Florida have come to help with the ladies retreat I have been on the committee of. They were surprisingly alert for their tour of Beautiful Gate, but I am sure they are all sound asleep right now :) It is a very busy spring time here at Beautiful Gate with teams and volunteers, but God is always good and His timing is perfect.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The strike is over

I do not know if there has been any real peace or agreements between the hospital staff and their "union," but the strike is done for now. We have 3 children who need to see the doctor tomorrow and so we are praying that they will be able to be seen despite the backup of many others who will be trying to get in. They do not have appointments, instead it is more like the DMV where you get a number when you walk in and wait to be called! It can take 1 hour or it can take several, every time is different.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hospital Strike

Our nurse went to the hospital on Tuesday morning and found the parking lot barricaded and was unable to get through. Thankfully she only needed to get a medication refill and was able to get one at a pharmacy in town. Currently it has been 2 days and the nurses, doctors and cleaning staff at the hospital are still on strike. T'sepang Hospital is the newest and the only public hospital that most families can afford and we at Beautiful Gate take the children there when we need medical care because the government pays for it. Please pray for a peaceful resolution very soon as it is a huge inconvenience for those who are in need of medical help.

I looked up an article in the Lesotho times:

Hospital workers down tools

MASERU — Workers at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital downed tools on Tuesday demanding a three percent salary increment. The strike at the hospital comes six months after management bowed to pressure and awarded the workers a 3.5 percent wage increase in April following another strike action.
The protest however nearly degenerated into violence as nurses who were accompanying patients from other districts in ambulances were barred from entering the hospital premises.
Patients were also turned away as doctors said they were only attending to emergency cases.
The workers were holding placards with messages such as, “We work like slaves but are not appreciated with the cent that you pay us, expect too much . . . We want the money.”
Motsopa said they were aware that the strike was illegal but had no option but to embark on protest action to force management to deal with their grievances.
“It is not fair for the police to come here and threaten us yet we are fighting for our rights. This is the only way for management to address our grievances,” he said.
He said the police had warned the workers to stay away from the hospital yesterday if they were not prepared to go back to work.

. . . police say strike is illegal, issue ominous warning

MASERU — Police yesterday warned workers at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital that their strike which began on Tuesday was illegal because they did not follow proper procedures. Senior Superintendent Mofokeng Kolo said the employees who picketed outside the country’s biggest hospital had not given a notice of their intention to strike.
“We never threatened the employees even though their strike is illegal. We have warned them that since their strike was illegal we will do whatever it takes, good or bad, if they continue to threaten other employees who were on duty,” he said.
“It was reported that they were blocking ambulances that brought patients from other hospitals and they even threatened other employees who were still on duty. What they were doing was illegal and we will take action against it.”

October is the time of year for pay increases and unfortunately employers and employees do not see eye to eye. Please pray for peace and understanding and for unity within the country of Lesotho.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Team from Michigan

Today Bryan got up extra early so he could drive to Bloem and pick up a team of volunteers from his hometown, Holland, Michigan! We have a team of 7 and 2 of them, Mary and Rachel, were here last October to help us with our 10th anniversary celebration. They enjoyed Beautiful Gate so much that they went back to their home church, Graafschap CRC and put together a team.

They stayed overnight in Jo-burg so they were not as jet lagged as most teams coming from America. I gave them a tour of the campus and then went straight into the houses to play with the kids. One of the little boys that Rachel and Mary had spent a lot of time with last October went running right up to them which made them feel really special. We have 10 days ahead of us and I look forward to seeing how God will use them and bless them during that time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Long Overdue Celebration!

Wow, I have been waiting a VERY long time to write this post. I believe it was one or two days before we packed up and moved our family to Lesotho that I received a phone call from a mother who told me she was matched with a child at Beautiful Gate. It was really cool to hear from a future adoptive mother (especially because she does not live far from our hometown) before I even came to Beautiful Gate. Oh, but it has been a long and painful journey for this mother and her son. There have been about 25 children who have been adopted into new families since I have been here (December 2010) and finally, after all this time of watching his friends be adopted before him, my precious "Honey" (our silly nickname for each other) has gone with his mother and new sister, for bonding!

Sometimes children come into their first meeting with their family a little shy and apprehensive and many take a long time to smile. Not this boy, he was grinning from ear to ear. All he has wanted for years is to have his mommy. Whenever one of his friends was adopted, he would cry and ask his house mother or our social worker when he would get to be with his mother. When would he finally get to go to America? It broke our hearts to see his pain month after month.

I did not ask for permission to post a picture or ask to use her name but you know who you are, new mother of my little "Honey." You are such a blessing to him and I know that the road was long and hard, but thank you for not giving up. Thank you for trusting God and loving him even when it would have been easier to give up. I knew you would love him and I knew he was more than worth the wait. So thank you for making his greatest hope and desire come true today, he has a mommy and will never ever cry again because of his desire to be a part of a family. He is a son and a brother to many and I thank God that I won't have to wipe away any more tears and I also am happy because I know I will see him again next summer!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

All in a day's work

Well, after a week of cleaning up some pretty gross things, mostly in the middle of the night, I will write the post I was going to write last Thursday. Yep, 2 of my kids had the flu and it was a yucky week!

So Thursday morning started in the "usual" way. I began teaching my kids their school lessons and half way through, Bryan came and told me that an adoptive family was here to meet their child. I had to be strong( I absolutely love watching new families meet for the first time) and tell him that I needed to finish the kids lessons and then I would come (boy am I glad I followed through with that as the day was just going to get more packed). I went in later and met the parents of one of our little baby girls and it was very special. It is rare to have a family from overseas adopting a child under the age of 1 and it was sweet to see them interacting with her.

After they left, Bryan called me into the office for an unexpected visitor and we needed to sort out how to handle the situation. At the same time we were dealing with this issue, someone came to drop off a child into our care. Before we could finish with the child intake a doctor and his wife came to see Bryan about a proposal we have put into the Ministry of Social Development (formerly DSW). We had no news to share with him on the proposal. After we saw them off, I went home to make lunch and Bryan stayed in the office. I think he made it home for lunch at 2.

Later around 3:45 we had yet another unexpected visitor, the grandmother of one of our children and she wanted to visit her grandson for a bit. I was asked to supervise the visit as all the office staff get finished with work at 4pm. It was really sweet watching him with his grandmother and it was obvious that they love each other. I do not know the story and wonder if it is just that his grandmother cannot afford to raise him??

Needless to say, after our very busy day, I decided we needed to get off campus so we could all relax together as a family so we went out for pizza. Yes, they do have some nice pizza in Lesotho. The only thing we thought we had to do that day was meet the new adoptive family, but it turned into a non stop day of visitors! All in a day's work! I think this day makes a fine example of why I sometimes do not find the time to reply to emails in a timely manner as often by the end of the night I just want to go to sleep ;)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Water

Water is such a simple thing, such a basic necessity for our survival, and usually so easy to get. Even I, who live in a 3rd world country, have the luxury of turning on a faucet and getting water when I want or need it. Granted, it would not be wise for me to drink it as I might be sick for a week afterward, but it is readily available.

I can not seem to get water out of my head (that sounds strange doesn't it). From the time I wake up at 6am until about 8pm, all I hear are squeaky wheelbarrows passing by my house as people head to the community water spigot and fill their buckets for the day. It is not easy and many stop and rest several times as they walk back home as the burden of the wheelbarrow is more than they can handle. Some are younger than Elijah and Faith and it amazes me how strong they are.

But that is not what has me pondering water today, instead it is a simple picture of a young boy bending over a water hose that has a hole in it. He was so young and yesterday was a hot, dry and windy day and my heart just tightened to see him struggling so hard to get his mouth in the right spot where he could get some fresh "clean" water.
It is my prayer that one day he will have a sink with clean water where he can easily get a drink when he is thirsty. I cannot imagine how hard life can be for some of these kids when even something as simple and basic as water (also necessary for life) is hard to get.

Monday, October 1, 2012

New beginnings

 
Well last Friday was a day of new beginnings for 2 of our Beautiful Gate boys. We had the adoption ceremony for the boys and then on Saturday, they were flying to their new homes in the Netherlands. This ceremony was full of joy and tears, but they were mostly happy tears. Faith did a great job saying good-bye to her "son" and she was so happy for him to be with his new family. After the ceremony, we took the families on a tour to see where their boys grew up. They took it all in and video taped the rooms and the places their children spent so much time so they would always have memories. They want their children to remember Lesotho and Beautiful Gate and the mothers who cared for them. So many families want their children to have memories of their time here and it is encouraging. So here are a few pictures of these new, beautiful families...
 
 
 


On a side note, today was our first official day of school for the 2012-2013 school year. The Safari class now consists of Elijah -4th grade, Faith- 2nd grade, and Mercy- Kindergarten. The kids decided that this year we are in need of a class pet, so Faith's outdoor cat, Gatsby was chosen. We took a few fun pictures to start the day ...



 The kids got excited about showing their grades so they used their hands to show their grade. I did not remember the sign for a k in sign language so Mercy stuck with a 0 so she is grade 0 since next year she will be in grade 1 ;) I think I am the luckiest teacher in the world!!!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Little breakthrough

Today was a special day for me. There was a young boy who came to Beautiful Gate just before we left for our trip. Our volunteer, Paige, has been observing him for the past week and noticed that he has not been talking or showing any emotions. I decided to go ahead and try to give him some extra attention today and see if I could help him feel more comfortable here at Beautiful Gate. He was standing alone on a sidewalk during playgroup and watching the other kids playing. I got a soccer ball and put it in his hands, and then motioned with my feet that I would like him to kick the ball to me.

He did kick the ball to me twice but he did so very unenthusiastically. Then he picked up the ball and indicated to me that he would rather play catch. I caught the ball and then went over to him and helped him hold his hands the right way so he would have a chance to catch the ball too. He looked up at me and had such a look of trust on his face that I felt myself melting a little inside. We played catch for a bit and then he went and sat down for snack time.

There was a school group visiting today and they sang a song to the kids and after they finished one of the songs, he said the word Alleluia (which they had just sung). I was clapping my hands right next to him and he also clapped his hands and swayed back and forth a little. I remember Paige looked over at me with a shocked expression. After the singing, he grabbed another item for me to play catch with and if my hands weren't ready when he was ready to throw it, he said something to me in Sesotho. It was such an awesome day!! By the time I had left playgroup, he had smiled, played, talked and danced which Paige had not seen him do for over a week and she is volunteering in his house. She said when he came home from playgroup and heard the radio playing, he actually swayed a little to the music.

It is days like this that make everything worthwhile. God has us here for such a time as this. He wanted me here to connect with these kids and care for them during this season of their life while they are waiting for their family to come. I praise God for moments like this where we have a tangible way to understand why we are here!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A needed break!

A few days away to refresh our spirits and just be together as a family (yes we have adopted Paige into our family so she will be in our pics too).
 

 We went a little sign happy on this trip because pretty much everywhere we went there were warnings of crocs, hippos, or leopards. We did see crocs and hippos on this trip but not one leopard (much to the kids disappointment).

                                       Funniest sign EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!
 Bryan was driving around a corner and had to slam on the breaks because this big guy was in our way and he was in no hurry to get out of our way either. We were almost late getting out of the park because he walked along the road and blocked us from passing him for aver 15 minutes.

 The kids enjoyed taking pics with funny/scared looks on their faces. Here, Mercy and Faith have a crocodile behind them on the shore, Thankfully they are safe in a boat.

Having a few days off campus and to ourselves was just what we all needed as a family. I had a lot of time to think and reflect and focus on the important things in life. It was also a great way for our family to get to know Paige more and see her reactions to the ocean and wildlife of South Africa. We will be jumping right back into the busy life of being directors as we have a few adoptions to look forward to this week, and many projects.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good-bye for now

Our internet was down for a day and when we got back online, we saw an email from our church telling us that our friend Lindy has "won the race." She has beat her cancer and become pain free in the arms of Jesus. Please continue to pray for Dusty (her husband) and her 3 children Brooklyn, Max and Samantha, and also her parents Mel and Lois. She has many friends and family who will miss her dearly until we meet again. We love you Lindy!

Our family will be leaving first thing in the morning for a few days in South Africa. We will probably not have internet access so this may be the last blog post for a week. We look forward to a few days of just being together.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Faith's son

I know that I do not usually post 2 days in a row, but I feel the need to share our day. For Faith and I, it was a little tough because we found out very last minute that Faith's "son's" parents were in town (from the Netherlands) and wanted to come get him right away. Beautiful Gate was given no warning that they were coming which is bad in that it is very hard when children are removed from their house mothers with no warning so the mothers can say good-bye. Today, it was that kind of shock for Faith. She has adopted this boy as her very own "son" (the house mothers used to call him her son, they are the ones who started it and then they began calling me his grandmother, yep I am feeling a little old). She has spent countless hours feeding him, playing with him and making him laugh and she loves him deeply. She has known that he will be adopted, but finding out 2 hours before he was leaving was tough on her. She and his house mother went for a walk together and then picked out a perfect outfit for him to wear. It was so sweet to see them sharing their moments together before saying good-bye to their little "son."

His house mother came and got Faith to help her get him ready before meeting his new family. They are such a precious couple. They cried when they got him and would not let him go. After some time of bonding, I shared with them the special relationship between their son and Faith and they were so touched by the extra love and care he was shown and then they took a picture of Faith so he could remember her when he gets older. It was so sweet. I think Faith felt much better after meeting his parents, but she was a little quiet afterwards. I decided to take her out for a little mommy-daughter date and we both felt much better after a cup of tea and a muffin. Please do not misunderstand, we are so happy that he has found a good home and we wanted him to be adopted, we were just taken by surprise by the lack of notice/preparation given.

One other area of concern I'd like to share is for one of our Beautiful Gate children (who is not placed for adoption). This child went in for a check up and a spot was seen on one of their lungs. Further testing will be done in the week to come, but please pray with us that this spot is nothing serious.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Update to previous post

Ntate Mpho's daughter is doing much better. She has been going to the doctor often to get her bandages changed and starting on next Monday, she will go for physical therapy. The burns on her arms and stomach were not as severe, but the burn on her chin is. She had a difficult time eating for a day or two, but her parents were able to force feed her enough to get her medicine to stay down. We praise God for the healing she has had so far and we are trusting and asking Him that she will have a full recovery. Ntate Mpho has been so positive and was even saying we needed to rejoice in all situations the day after the accident happened. He admitted that it is not easy, but he amazed me with his positive attitude and thankful heart.

My friend Lindy is not doing well from what I hear. We are all struggling with this news. Mercy and Faith immediately drew cards for me to send her as soon as I explained how sick she has become and that there may not be much time before she meets Jesus. I took pictures of their cards and posted it on her facebook page because I wanted her to see them right away. My kids are asking some tough and honest questions about God and sickness and I am trusting Him for the answers. I know there is nothing we could really do to help the situation, but I think honestly, we'd all like to just be home right now. We are trusting God that He has us here for a reason and so we will stay the course, but our hearts are in Zeeland.

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Please keep praying for Lindy (and her family) and Ntate Mpho's daughter.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Yet...I will rejoice

Though my friend who has cancer has been given 4 weeks to live,

Nor can I support her and her family the way my heart desires,

Though our staff's 10 month old daughter has been severely burned and is in a great deal of pain,

Nor do I have the words of comfort to offer her parents,

Though our new nurses' work permit has been denied,

And the budget at Beautiful Gate is tight and only getting tighter,

Yet... I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength.

Today I am going to choose to thank God for the nice memories I have with Lindy, Dusty, Brooklyn, Max and Samantha. When we chose to move here, I was confident that I would see Lindy again when we went on furlough, but God's plans are not ours. It may be in the next life, but I will not stop praying for her until He calls her home and neither will my sweet little Mercy who continues to pray each day. I thank you Lord for holding them through their tears and fears and that you will never let Dusty, Brooklyn, Max or Sam go even if you call their sweet, loving, funny, courageous, caring, brave, and faithful wife/mother home to be with you.
Today I am choosing to thank God for his protection of Mpho's daughter. While she has some pretty bad burns, the boiling water did not land in her eyes (Mpho is one of our staff and his little daughter grabbed the handle of a boiling pot and spilled it down the front of her last night). I thank you Lord for a car that runs well so we can share it with those who are in need. I thank you Lord that when we have no words to say, you are the great comforter.
Today, I am choosing to let go of my fears and desire for control. I am choosing to trust You God for a work permit and finances for our care center. Lord I thank you that you know our needs and you are faithful. You will care for the needs of our staff and we do not carry that weight alone. I rejoice in You Lord because you are my God, the healer, the provider, the comforter and our loving shepherd. It it not easy, but I choose to rejoice in You!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Needing to rejoice more

I just sat down to write and as I listen to the sounds around me, it sounds almost like there are airplanes landing over my roof. There is a massive wind storm happening this evening and I praise God that I am in a nice warm, sturdy home. My children have recently taken to praying  for all the street kids to have good food and a warm bed and I especially think of them this evening because it is a very cold wind that is blowing and with the rain, it would be a very bitter evening to be without a home/shelter. It is so windy that my living room curtains are swaying to the breeze!!!

Have you ever come to the Lord with such a massive list of prayer requests that it felt as though you'd never make it through them all? I feel like lately, I have so much to ask Him for on behalf of friends and family, people I love who are very sick, problems specific to Lesotho and the people/children here, funding for Beautiful Gate, people/countries devastated by damaging weather, for those who are unsaved, and so much more. I can sometimes feel discouraged by the great amount of need.

I just finished reading a book to my kids about a missionary named Joy, who was such a prayer warrior. But the secret to her prayers was that she truly rejoiced in all situations. She trusted God before He even answered her prayer and thanked Him and rejoiced. She was in some pretty bad situations and rather than feel overwhelmed and discouraged, she always reminded those who were with her to be thankful and rejoice. God did some INCREDIBLE things in her life and I was just inspired to be a little more thankful. To try to rejoice in all situations because God is worthy of praise even in the tough situations.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Injustice

I am still working through some feelings, which I know can be very dangerous when I am writing a blog post, so bear with me. I do not know how I feel tonight. I think I am suppose to be happy but I have not gotten there yet. I am still struggling with worry which I know is a sin so I am trying to push it aside and rejoice.
2 months ago, we received a new child from DSW and this child was a little over a year old. Our social worker handed me the police report and told me to read it as she walked away (I think she was uncomfortable with how she was feeling and thought I should read the report for myself). I was horrified by the police report. This young child was found buried alive! It was wrapped in a blanket from head to toe, laid on a rock and was buried underneath a bunch of smaller rocks. If someone had not been walking by and heard its crying...
When the child arrived here, it cried constantly especially when the house mother left the room. It was so traumatized by the experience. Over a few weeks time, the child was able to relax and stop crying and even went out to join the play group during the day and began to smile and have fun. Our staff loved this child through a very difficult time and I found myself checking in on it more than I normally do with new children because of the circumstances that brought the child to us.
Today I was told that there was a family in the office who were searching for their child. DSW referred them to us and after an intense interview by our social worker to make sure they could describe a child that fit a description of one we had on campus, it was determined that the child who came 2 months ago was in fact theirs. When I saw which child was brought to them, I was shocked.
It turns out that they are not the parents but the aunt and uncle who were caring for the child. Its mother came to them and said she found work in Maseru and took her child. She then showed up for work after having abandoned her child and no one who knew her in the Maseru area ever knew she had a child. They told us that she is in the female prison now.
After we prayed for the child, I went up to it to say good-bye and the child jumped out of it's aunts arms and into my arms. I have never had any child do that before during a farewell and it touched my heart. I gave it a hug and a kiss and wished the child well before the aunt and uncle left.
I am happy for that child in that it is returning to an aunt and uncle who seem to love the child and want very much to look after it, but I worry about the future of this child. The justice system here is not like what I am used to and the mother could be released before long and her parental rights (most likely) will not have been terminated despite trying to kill her child. I pray the aunt and uncle are strong enough to refuse her the child in the future and that the child will grow up in a loving home where it can forget the injustice done to it at such a young age. God is watching over this child tonight and I pray He covers this child with His protective wings!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Choked Up

Today I was beyond blessed to witness the handover of one of our Beautiful Gate children to her new mother. I have seen many handovers since coming here, but today's was so special and it got me choked up. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about the new mother's reaction to seeing her daughter. When the house mother brought the baby into the room, the mother quickly got out of her chair and walked to the house mother and just started sobbing. She held her new little girl close to her cheek and hugged her and then hugged the house mother and just kept wiping the tears from her face as she cried. She whispered to her little baby and showed her to her parents and they began to tear up. Her father walked over to us and just started shaking our hands and thanking us over and over again for what we do here. All 3 of them were so overcome with emotion that they could hardly speak. They thanked us profusely and wiped tears and handed their little daughter/granddaughter back and forth to each other. They thanked God and let us pray over them before they left with their new little girl and were full of joy and great rejoicing.

This child who left today was the one I named back in January. The only child I have had the privilege of naming which was very special to me. I have watched her grow and have made a special bond with her, and I know that God has picked out the perfect mother for my little girl. Such love and joy and peace she will know with her new mother. A mother who visited her often because she is a local Basotho mother, but who could not wait to take her home. She will have a great life and only God knows the impact she could have in Lesotho one day when she grows up!

If God loves us even more than this mother who showed such love today, it is no wonder that He was compared to the father who waited for his prodigal son to return and when he saw him in the distance he ran to him and threw his arms around him. I felt like I caught a glimpse of that kind of love today through a mother who was waiting for a long time for her daughter.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Volunteers!


July and August were very busy months for Beautiful Gate with international volunteers.  We had two individual volunteers on campus and we still have another with us until November.

The first to arrive was Cassi from the USA on July 4.  After many long flights to get here, she arrived safely, but her main luggage was a day behind.  After resolving that issue on July 5, she was assigned to help in Pula 2.  She helped to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner there, along with feeding the children and spending some quality time with all the children in play group during the times between.  Cassi returned home on July 30.
Cassi in Malleable

The second to arrive was Paige from the USA on July 12.  After arriving late in Joberg, she missed her connection and was able to arrive at Beautiful Gate one flight later than originally planned.  And all of her luggage arrived with her.  Yeah!  Paige spent the first day or two recovering from jet lag and has been assigned to Khotso 2.  She helps the staff at meal times, along with feeding the children and spending quality time with many of the children in play group.  She is also assisting our nurse with specific duties for children that have extra dietary needs.  Paige is scheduled to be with us for 4 months.
Paige arriving at Moshoeshoe Airport

The last to arrive was Andrew from Belgium on July 13.  He is a British man who resides in Belgium and has supported Beautiful Gate for quite some time now.  Upon arrival in Africa, Andrew and I had a wonderful two hour drive from Bloemfontein through many construction zones.  Andrew spent most of his days with the children in the play group and also assisted our nurse with taking height and weight measurements for reporting purposes.  He also assisted Khotso 1 during lunch and dinner times.  He returned home to his family on July 26.
Andrew lives very close to Brussels

Beautiful Gate also encourages our volunteers to explore this wonderful country and culture, so we decided to take one of the coldest days to travel into the mountains.  As you can see, there was a very nice amount of snow in the mountains and we even had to turn around for safety reasons shortly after the place in this picture.
Paige, Andrew and Cassi freezing in Lesotho!  :)
I know that when they all decided to come to Africa that they did not have a picture of a snowy mountain in their minds!

The very next day we decided to hike a mountain near Beautiful Gate after church.  It was not snowy there, but the temperatures were still very cold.  This hike provided a wonderful view of part of Maseru as well as the beautiful snow capped mountains of Lesotho in the distance.
At the top of the hike
Beautiful Lesotho!
It was/is a pleasure to have all three of them here with us and we look forward to how they have and will bless the children of Beautiful Gate!

On July 27, Beautiful Gate was also privileged to host 10 young women and 5 chaperones from Holland Christian High School's basketball team.  They were able to pet a lion, go horseback riding, play netball against the local high school team, lead worship time, paint a baby house and (most importantly) spend time with the children of Beautiful Gate.  Being athletic, play group time was definitely a highlight for many of them.  And, they also gave the overnight staff a well deserved rest for one night, as they took over the duties of that staff.  It was great to witness God working in their lives as they were able to see a third world country for the first time (for many of them).  The team returned home to Michigan, USA on August 6.
Horse riding at Malealea
Painting the Baby House
More painting!
Leading worship at chapel time!
The Team!

Lastly, we were blessed to entertain a team of 12 from England from August 7 - 15.  They were able to go to the Lesotho museum in Morija, drive to Mohale Dam, paint a mural in the playgroup area and (most importantly) spend some time with the children of Beautiful Gate!  Jenny Dobson, a supporter of Beautiful Gate Lesotho, led this team of various age groups during their time here and was able to show them what she was able to experience the last time she was at Beautiful Gate.
In Morija at the Museum
Painting the mural in the Play Group area
Messy Church banner - 1/2 is from their church and 1/2 is from Beautiful Gate
The UK Team in front of the completed mural
Each team brought their gifts and talents to help Beautiful Gate and I cannot express my appreciation for each volunteer that came.  Thank you for serving the "least of these"!  If you are interested in volunteering at Beautiful Gate, please feel free to contact me.  You will never be the same again!  You will be blessed forever!

Bryan

P.S. Sorry about the formatting.