Monday, January 30, 2012

Adoptive mother's heart

I was catching up on facebook and a post from my friend Julie Meyaard caught my eye. Julie is a friend from my church back in Michigan and she has 6 amazing biological children and 1 amazing adopted daughter from Ethiopia. I remember a conversation we had once, when volunteering in the church nursery, about her adoption ( before I ever knew God was going to call our family to Lesotho to be very involved in adoptions ourselves ). Seeing the joy on her face and the love in her eyes, I knew adoption was as much a gift to her family as it was a gift to this sweet young girl from Ethiopia. While God has not called us specifically to adopt and add to our family at this point, He has given us a heart for adoption and a great love of bringing families together. For the next 4 years, Bryan and I will be witnessing God's beautiful plan for many families who are waiting to bring a special child/children into their family. So these are the words of my friend...

As I watched another adoption video today with tears streaming down my cheeks I wondered how it appeared to those who had not walked the journey of adoption in their own lives. Does it look fake...the matching adoption tshirts, the picture of a multi-cultural family with big smiles at the airport? Let me assure you there is a ton of PAIN in it all....the beautiful piece is what God does through adoption. He takes the broken hearted and heals their hurt. This is not to say that parenting a hurting child will ever be easy but the blessings far outweigh tears. The freedom of letting go of what you thought(or maybe others think) your family should look like and filling it with the children that God chose for you is overwhelming beautiful.

Adoption is an act of love, and I can tell you that these children are worth it. I know the children at Beautiful Gate so well and I see their faces each day and just wish for them to be with their new family. I used to be a little afraid of adoption because I feared the unknown, but now I see the kids each day and think how ridiculous my fear was. They are kids... they are JUST LIKE MY KIDS! They cry when they hurt, they laugh when something is funny, they love to be held and tickled, they want to be hugged and kissed, they love to run and play, they like to learn new things, they test boundaries, and most of all they want to be loved and know that they matter to someone. The only difference between them and my kids is that my kids have parents and the kids here are wishing they did. May God show each of us His plan for our families and may we be fully open to His perfect plan!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mercy's vacation

Mercy is going to tell you about her trip to Kruger National Park!

"I got to see a spotted hyena, a leopard, an elephant, a hippopotamus, a rhino, a zebra, a crocodile, a giraffe, a chameleon, a lion, a cape buffalo, a wildebeest and lots of different kinds of deer, like impala. Um, at Kruger Park I saw lots of animals and it took a lot of time and I even had to sleep in the car. It was fun and scary and I was really tired. We stayed at Hazyview Cabanas and it was really fun there. I got to swim there. I rode on an elephant and it was really fun. I got to rode on the biggest elephant and his name was Tempo. He was really bumpy and it was my first time riding an elephant. Not for Elijah and Faith because they got to ride one at the circus once. He did not get to eat because he wasn't hungry. I feeded him when we were about to ride him. He ate tiny pills (actually large pellets but small when compared to an elephant's trunk).
Goodbye - Mercy"

Friday, January 27, 2012

We are home again ;)

We just arrived home from our week away at Kruger and we had an amazing trip. Right now, we are all exhausted after a long drive in a hot car (no AC all week as it broke right before our trip) and I have lots of unpacking to do, so the pics and stories will have to wait till tomorrow, but I wanted to let all our family and friends know that we are home safely. Sleep well my friends, I know we all will!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Packing then off to Kruger National Park

Hello everyone!
I just want to update you that we will be leaving for a family vacation early tomorrow morning (1/20) and we will be gone until the 27th of January and I do not think I will have Internet access where we are staying so I will not be posting until the 28th (at the earliest). I just wanted to let you all know so that you do not wonder where we are or think something bad has happened ;) since we will not be posting.
We are headed to Kruger National Park and really looking forward to some family time. Just us and Bryan's parents and I don't think we have had a week off in 2 years as the year before we came we were busy fundraising and we have been here for a little over a year. We are looking forward to relaxing, spotting animals, swimming in a few pools, and just growing closer as a family with no interruptions from work, etc. Not that our work is bad in any way, but I think it will do our hearts good to be somewhere else for a week and for Bryan and the kids to have more time together! Have a GREAT week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Party Time!

Today was a special day for 3 of our little BG kids. Over a year ago, there was a local volunteer who would make birthday cakes for the children. She injured her knee and had to stop volunteering so I never was able to witness a birthday party here at Beautiful Gate for one of our orphans. After having a year of adjusting to the culture, teaching my kids, and balancing the chaos that is my new life living here ;), I have decided to take up cake making for birthdays. I wish I had taken a class on cake decorating when I was still in America, but there is no time like the present and if you have a website with ideas and how to's, please feel free to share those with me!!!!!

My friend Donna made cake for one baby house and I made a cake for the other. We sang Happy Birthday (in English because I still have not had someone teach it to me in Sesotho), had them blow out their candles and handed out cake. There were 2 girls and 1 boy who had birthdays this month so the 2 girls celebrated together in one baby house. I put butterfly wings on them and some feather head dresses (interesting mix but TIA). They were all smiles and had a lovely time, and by the time all the singing was done, there was not much left of their candles when it came time to blow them out!

I then went over to the other baby house and got all the kids together in a group and put a feather head dress on the boy who was celebrating his birthday. We had him sit in a little chair and sang to him. I felt bad for him because he looked scared :( I do not think he has ever had people sing and make him the center of attention, and once we were done, he seemed a little more at ease. I gave him a great big hug and kiss, and I think he will be more prepared for his new family at his next birthday.

It was fun to do something "normal" today for the BG kids. A day where they are singled out and important. They can dress up and get an extra big piece of cake because today, it is their special day. There are so many times I think to myself, "What if Elijah, Faith or Mercy were orphans and what would I want people to do for them?" And then it is easy to prioritize the BG kids and do extra things for them, like making birthday cakes each month! I am enjoying my role as their Aunt who spoils them a little till Mommy and Daddy can come and take them home ;)
Have a blessed day,

Monday, January 16, 2012

She is better!

I'll keep this short as I am tired. After 3 nights of not sleeping well due to Faith's high fevers, I think she is getting better and now I am ready to sleep a whole night through ;) Yesterday I took her to the hospital due to a rash that developed and then she began throwing up. Doctor had no idea what was causing her high fever but gave me a broad spectrum antibiotic in hopes that it would fix it. It took a few hours to get her to take her first dose as she was very nauseous, but I think it is just what she needed. She woke up feeling pretty good with her head hurting "just a crack bit" in her words! She was great all day and the fever and headaches did not return! Yeah! Thank you God! And thank you for praying with us for her healing.
Good Night,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sleepless Night

Last night was a very bad and sleepless night for me. I will tell you one of the hardest things about being in Maseru is the lack of good and trustworthy health care options. Faith was feeling bad in the early afternoon and then began to have headaches and neck pain at the base of her head. Her temperature began to rise and when I gave her ibuprofen, it just kept on rising. It hit 104 F/39.8 C as bedtime neared and I had given her both Ibuprofen and Tylenol. My friend Donna, who is a pediatric nurse (and a major blessing) gave me some advice about what I should do if it got any higher or if it was still very high in the morning. So I went to bed with thoughts and fears of meningitis on my mind. I tried to be brave and prayed God's healing over her, but I was terrified that she would get worse.

If she worsened I would have to get her in the car, cross the border into South Africa, and drive her 2 hours to the hospital that would be able to treat her the best. I did not sleep much at all and was up many times checking her temperature. God was very gracious and her temperature went back to 99.4 by morning. It did get worse again this afternoon and went back up to 102.2, but with both medications going, it is staying controlled.

For me, being a mother in a 3rd world country and having my kids get sick is a real fear. In Zeeland,I was so comfortable to call my doctors or take my kids in whenever I felt they needed to be looked at and it was a 10 minute drive and I trusted the doctors and nurses. God has been very gracious and given me a great friend and resource in Donna or I would be a basket case at times ;) It is also a huge blessing to have my mother-in-law here as she is also a nurse and we can bounce ideas off each other. She can keep me calm if I am worried or she can verify that I have reason to worry.

At this point we will keep an eye of Faith tomorrow and if the fever returns we will seek medical care, so please pray that she is feeling better and that this is not a serious illness. More that likely it is just a virus but she has no cold or flu-like symptoms, just head and neck pains, and a fever. Thank you for your prayers for my little sweetie.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Special Day

Wow, yesterday was a really special day. We had 2 couples who adopted their children and it was a milestone for Beautiful Gate in that one couple adopted their son from us 3 years ago and is the first couple to come back and add another Beautiful Gate child to their family. Seeing their joy and tears and hearing them choked up while expressing their thankfulness was touching, but also seeing the faces of the staff at seeing one of their boys being loved and well cared for over the past 3 years, was amazing too.

Another part of the ceremony that was special to Bryan and I was that the first child who came into Beautiful Gate after we moved here, was joining his family as well. We watched him from the time he was only about a week old until this past week when he left for bonding and it blessed us to watch him join his new Mom and Dad. He was happy and doing great and I could tell by their looks and actions that they were totally in love with him.

For those of you who were nervous on my behalf, I survived running my first adoption ceremony. I was a bit nervous, but it helped that both couples had visited the week prior for a tour and one couple came for dinner so I was more comfortable than if it had been total strangers ;)Praying God gives me the grace to continue in this role as needed, but I will be very happy when our social worker will be back to running them when she returns from her vacation/holiday.

The final thing I wanted to share was a very new experience for me. All the staff are in a first aid training this week and we had a new child brought in from DSW. Our social worker asked if I would admit the new baby as she had to get to the training. I have never admitted a child and the social worker who brought her had never filled out the forms, but we managed our way through the forms and then I was given the honor of naming the little girl. In honor of my dear friend, Lori, I named the child after the girl they loved and had to let go when they were in Lesotho. It is a beautiful name with a very special meaning and I was amazed how sacred that moment was to me. Holding a new born child and choosing her name as if she were my own. I did not know how emotional it was to receive a child and take that first responsibility for them, other than when I delivered my own 3 children. I felt like it was a holy moment between God and myself and I committed to care for her, love her, and help her grow until He brings the family He has already picked out for her. I am in awe of the huge responsibility He has entrusted Bryan and I with and pray He continues to give us the wisdom and justice to see it through.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Malealea Outing

We decided we had better head off campus for a day of sightseeing for Bryan's parents after our fun but busy week (sorry to miss you though Katie). We took them to Malealea Lodge as we took a trip there in the winter and it was so beautiful. When we left last winter, we all talked about how much fun it would be to take Oma and Papa there.

Last night I told the kids we were going and they were thrilled and began to talk excitedly about what color horse they wanted, etc. We left early this morning and when we arrived we signed up for the 2-3 hour pony trek where you take a break after the first hour and take a steep hike to some bushman paintings. It was so scenic and a great opportunity to see the true rugged beauty of the Lesotho mountains. The hike to the paintings was a bit difficult at times, but a very cool opportunity to see some real cave drawings as it is something we learned about in art class last semester. It was such a nice family day and I am thankful that we had the opportunity to spend quality time with the kids doing something they LOVE.

The kids are getting ready for the big ride - Safety first ;)
Elijah and Faith are ready to go. All 3 of them have a helper who will walk their horse.
Here we go leaving the Lodge and heading out into the great outdoors, surrounded by mountains.
We all decided that Mercy is a natural at riding. She was so comfortable in the saddle.
Here is a picture of some cave drawings. There are not many at these caves, but it was worth seeing.


Friday, January 6, 2012

What day is it??!!

Okay, I honestly keep forgetting what day it is...I am going to attempt to recount my week as best I can, but I am sure I'll forget some things.
Tuesday began with an adoption ceremony at 10:30am. The night before, BG's social worker told me that she wants me to start doing the adoption ceremonies in case she is unable to attend due to being on leave or at a meeting, etc. I was unprepared for this request and told her that I will watch her a few more times and then I will give it a try. For those of you who know me, I am not a public speaker nor am I comfortable even in small group settings, so I will be getting stretched again. After the ceremony, I walked around with the new family and talked with them for a bit. We also had a 3 week old baby dropped off. He was found on the side of the road somewhere. It was special to see how happy his house mother was to hold him and welcome him to her family.

Wednesday Bryan with the nurse and social worker went to the hospital to see a new child who might be coming to BG. She has a lot of special needs that will require extra care. It looks like she will be coming, maybe next week. The doctors were very concerned that she find a place to go as growing up in the hospital is not much of a quality of life for her and her parents have stopped coming to visit.
I was out playing with the BG kids and we had unexpected visitors, who happen to attend our church. Bryan and Laury were busy so I gave them a tour and took in some donations they brought. It was a nice visit as they had never been to BG and hearing their perspective was encouraging. I also spent a lot more time in the baby houses and with the play group since we are not having school this week.

Thursday was just busy! We had 6, yes 6 kids brought in from social welfare and it was crazy. 4 of them were tiny babies less than a month, we also got a 1 year old and a 7 year old. The house mothers were shouting and trilling with excitement as each kid came and they were all hoping to get one of the tiny babies ;) During this excitement I also got to give a tour to the new parents of the first little boy who came to BG after Bryan and I moved here. We watched him grow over the last year and now he is with his mom and dad and it was very special. We also had our friend, Nthabasang over for dinner (volunteer from the Netherlands) so my in laws could pepper her with questions before they travel there on their way back to the US.

Today we had the adoption ceremony for 2 more children and I had my pastor stop by unexpectedly so it was a very busy morning and I had no choice but to do a little talking at the ceremony as Bryan was gone at a court hearing. I showed one of the families the houses that their son was raised in and then hurried home to check on my kids. Tonight we will also be having another adoptive family over for dinner and we are excited to see how they are bonding.

God brought my Mother and Father in law here at the perfect time as this has been the busiest week I think we have had a BG and it was hard to keep track of my kids during all these visits, tours, and adoptions! Bryan and I keep looking at each other and asking which day it is and what we have going on because it has been busy! I guess the rest and relax post was not really true, hahaha. It is busy but it is a blessing to be a part of it all here at BG.
Sorry I did not get a post out sooner for those who check often!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Free Time

Bryan's parents arrived on Friday Dec 30 and so we will be taking some time to enjoy the sights of Lesotho and South Africa with them over the next 2 months. Bryan is going to work this week as we have 5 adoptions that should be happening this week (children are already bonding with their parents). Oma, Papa, and I are taking the kids to the river this morning so they can jump and play in the sand. We will be taking this week off from school so we can enjoy "Grandparents Week" and then we will do school off and on depending on when we travel with their grandparents.

It is such a blessing to have them here. I have heard many times that returning home will be way more of an adjustment than when we arrived here in Africa. So, the more friends and family we have who come and visit us, the more people we will have who will understand us when we return home. They are happy to see the people, buildings, and sights that they have heard us talking about for over a year. And now that they will be here for 2 months, they will have a real opportunity to experience the culture as well as our dialy ups and downs. I praise God for this opportunity for our family to grow even closer during this time and there are really no words to describe the happiness I see in my 3 children as they play with, cuddle with, and show their grandparents around campus.
Thanking God for His timing and gift of family,