Friday, March 30, 2012

Good-bye Lucky

Oh, what a sad day for the kids and I. Our orphan friend, Lucky, just came over and told us that his sister is sending him away. When I asked why, he said he does not know, but she told him that he is leaving today to go live with his uncle. I asked if it might be better for him at his uncle’s home, but he said that his uncle is even poorer than his sister. He seemed scared and sad. He asked if he could work for me one last time so he could take some food with him and I told him to just play soccer with my kids and I’d pack him a bag with some food, toiletries, toys, school supplies and a little money so he would be prepared for his journey. He and Elijah played soccer for an hour and had a nice time and then they hugged to say good-bye.

One really sweet thing Elijah did was he found an old piece of metal and some wire and he hooked it together with a few sticks inside and told Lucky to use it to make a fire and keep warm. Elijah said he was sad that his friend was moving and he did not say it, but his gift also shows that he is worried about Lucky being able to stay warm and have enough to eat (he also told Lucky he could cook his food on it).
We are going to miss Lucky’s smile and good attitude. He has been such a good friend to my kids and I have enjoyed many good conversations with him. He is kind, friendly, helpful and has an honesty about him that makes him so easy to love.

The heavens have opened up and it is just pouring rain. It feels so appropriate on this day when a child who has already lost both parents, has a sister who is sending him away too. How hurt he must be because he has told me before that he does not want to go. I am crying for him and I feel like God is crying for him too. Crying for his loses, his fears, his uncertainty of having a meal each day, his loss of many friends in this neighborhood, and loses that I don’t even know about. God is going with him and He will take care of him. We are just going to miss Lucky, Elijah’s first African friend, so much!I know God put him on our path for a reason as so I pass on my blessing to him as we part ways;

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
may the Lord turn His face toward you and smile on you,
may He fill you with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness and self control all the days
of your life.
May you grow up to be a Godly man with a heart after
God's own heart and
may you live a contagious Christian Life,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Experience

Today, I wasn't just a mom or a teacher and an "aunt" playing with the Beautiful Gate kids. Instead, I got to put on my co-director's hat and head to a meeting at the American Ambassador's house. The topic of discussion was international adoption, so there were representatives from 2 orphanages, the 4 reps for adoption (US, Canada, Netherlands, and Sweden), the police, lawyers, UNICEF rep,the Chief Legal Officer (DSW), the Senior Child Welfare Officer, a High Court Judge, and the American Ambassador. There was many other groups represented as well of which I did not catch the organizations, but it was unlike any meeting I have ever attended before.

There were about 30 of us and we had several speakers discussing the roles of each group that is involved in adoptions. We discussed the things that are going well, the things that are not going well, and a recent Child Protection and Welfare Act which is now in effect in Lesotho. The discussions were open and honest and helpful which is a good thing if there is to be unity among these departments. I did find it very difficult to jump in to discussions as there were many people who were raising points and by the time I got to ask my question, we were on a whole different subject :) I know that change does not come easily, painlessly, or quickly, but I do feel like Lesotho is going to sort this adoption process out and God will be glorified.

Days like this are when my life feels a bit surreal. I am just an ordinary person. I have no gifts or talents that make me great and I have absolutely no skills or abilities to speak with people of political power or create change. Yet, through my "normalness" God is still able to use me. I think that is the theme that keeps coming back to me over and over in Lesotho. Without God, I am nothing or no one special, but with God, all things really are possible. I am but a lump of clay in His mighty hand.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Elijah's Play, Work & Daddy

This post is from Elijah:
"I have been playing with them and they have kind of made up their own wrestling games. I love playing soccer and tag with them, mostly soccer. My legs are more used to soccer than running all the time like tag. There is one little boy who loves hugging me and I have given him about a million hugs now! It makes me smile and then it makes him smile and then he goes off and plays with the other kids.

I have kind of gotten close to the maintenance guys because I go there many days and learn things and I have made my own collection of things that look like nails but are not nails and can not be used again. I don't know what I am going to with them myself, but I am going to figure something out. I have the maintenance guys with many things. I have made a wooden fish, and I have helped with a new house that is being built. I am learning many things from them such as how to measure tubes, how to put up gutters, and how to use a hammer.

I am definitely ready to have dad home because he has been gone for a month and I miss him so so so much. I miss him because he plays tickle monster, tag and hide-n-seek and he reads to me a lot. Daddy is gone because he is on a fundraiser right now. He went to our home town, California, and Vancouver where a lot of our Beautiful Gate kids have gone. I know the fundraiser is for good for the kids and staff at Beautiful Gate, but at the same time, I think it is kind of bad because he has been away from our family for so long and we love him. He is coming back Saturday, this week, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Haircut for Charity

I am humbled to re-post a facebook event that my brother-in-law started a day or two ago. I am so lucky to have many wonderful in-laws and he is a one of a kind, funny and loving brother-in-law and I am a better person for having him and Bryan's sister in my life (that is actually true of all of Bryan's family). My children love to spend time with him and through many years of teasing he is no longer called Uncle Andy, but he is now Uncle Knucklehead (my kids did not start it either, their uncle did).

Well, over the many years we have known each other we have had many super fun memories such as playing family hockey games,me having a baby on the day of their wedding and missing the wedding (but I NEVER forget their anniversary) and countless late night game nights full of a ridiculous amount of laughter, but through all of this there is one very unique competition we have always had going. Which one of us had the longer hair and after I got mine cut, could I get it to catch up to his. Well, I was starting to get a little smug as now that I am 10,000 miles from my hairdresser, I have only had one trim in 15 months so I was on my way to catching up and maybe even winning...

Then I get this invitation from Andy,to an event and I actually can't even describe how I feel; I am sitting here with tears welling up in my eyes....

"Since 1996, I have grown my hair to its current ridiculous length with small trims to maintain its health. Swearing I'd never cut it all those years, there is just no stopping an idea whose time has come.

My hair will be donated to Locks of Love. Evidently. I have enough to donate twice!

But there is something more. In doing this, I am raising money for Bryan & Anita Geurink and their family as they continue their mission in Africa at Beautiful Gate.

Please read their blog: (I won't put the web address because you are already reading our blog!)
After reading their blog, you can donate directly to them. Just follow the link on the right, You will receive a receipt for tax purposes. Or you can connect with me personally and I will send in a lump sum.

As of this writing, I have secured $250. The goal is to raise $900.

The CUT OFF date is during the first week of April. It won't be LONG... so I am starting a BUZZ about it!"

This is a very loving action and I wish more than anything I could be there to watch his haircut, not only is he loving our family in a special way, but he is helping to provide wigs for people who are fighting cancer. Very noble and shows the character of my brother. So, please consider donating to this cause because I want him to be blown away by the good he is doing for others. We love you sooooo much Andy and thank you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Internet is Back!

I am probably just a bit tired from having Bryan gone for over 2 weeks, but I am having a difficult time thinking of something really worth your time to read, and nothing comes to mind, sorry. The Internet has been down for over 4 days which is why I allowed over a week to go by without any posts and I did not realize how much I rely on the Internet until it was unexpectedly gone. So instead of catching up with friends, I read a book, scrapbooked for Beautiful Gate, watched a few movies and while it was relaxing, it was a bit lonely.

Things are going very steady here which is a very good thing. I am used to days which fluctuate between major highs and major lows so a few days of steady are actually quite a blessing. I pray that it continues for a while longer. We have 9 children who are either placed for adoption or being reunited with their families maybe as soon as Easter, so it is going to get much busier. Thankfully Bryan will be back before Easter so I will not have to fill his shoes at these ceremonies and good-byes.

I guess the one thing that keeps coming to mind is that I would appreciate a few extra prayers for Lesohto, especially Maseru. There has been a bit more crime lately, no major injuries just a few robberies and they have just announced that they will be holding elections for Prime Minister and other government positions on May 26. Please pray for peace as election times can be very stressful and people under stress can make poor choices.

Trusting in the words of Isaiah 41:10
"Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Have a blessed day,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating King Moshoeshoe

Sunday was a day of much celebration throughout Lesotho as locals took some time to remember their first king! Wherever we went, we saw Masotho dressed in their traditional shashoeshoe material in honor of their king. We at Beautiful Gate were blessed by a fun cultural experience yesterday! There is a group, called Care To Care, of young Masotho who are discovering some of their talents and they asked if they could come to Beautiful Gate and throw a party for our children. They had singing and dancing they wanted to do, and they even rented a bouncy house for our kids to play in. Well, their ideas were great, but the weather did not cooperate so there was no bouncy house due to thunderstorms. However, we took our party into an empty building and were able to celebrate anyway.

There were a few speeches, which were difficult for a bunch of kids to sit through, and then they had their choir sing and some boys did some traditional dances as well as a few hip hop dances. It was very entertaining, especially the traditional dances! The men were kicking and raising their sticks, and one was playing an accordion. But the funnest part was this little boy who lead their dance in front by doing some really cool shoulder jerking and arm movements while stomping. He was talented and I need to have someone teach that one to Elijah :)

The party ended by them sharing some traditional food that they had prepared for our orphans. It was something like boiled pinto beans and sorghum (a type of grain). The BG kids gobbled it down happily and my kids ate it a little less happily (Mercy swapped her full bowl with one of the kid's empty bowls so made a friend that way without hurting any one's feelings). They added some aromat seasoning to the adult's food bowls and I thought it tasted really nice (don't faint Sammy and Julie). I loved sharing in the culture with the staff and kids and I was very humbled by this group of young people wanting to come and bless our staff and kids. How many of them are probably growing up with no parents and yet they still think of the little children and it gives me hope for the future of Lesotho's young generation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Step Forward - Two Steps Back

Today was a time of blessing. My friend, Donna, brought our little malnourished boy to our house today during tea time and we had some fun trying to get him to laugh. His smile is enough to just bring tears to your eyes as he is a child who has seen and felt pain that I could never begin to explain, but the smiles that come from him and his laugh, oh what a blessing! When Donna had to leave, I decided to keep him for awhile longer and my girls played peek-a-boo behind the chair where I was sitting. He laughed so hard he almost fell off my lap! Then the girls just got into fits of laughter and we were all having such a great time. Right now, there is no greater picture than that of this little boy's smile. There is no better sound than his sweet laugh. He is precious and I am in love with him. Right now, there is no greater mission that to show him and let him feel God's love for him so that he knows he matters in this world. He is important, a little prince whom God created and to whom God will provide a bright future.

Today was also a day with reminders of the harsh realities of the lives of the children here in Lesotho. A little baby boy was suppose to be returned to his mother today as she has served her 1 month jail sentence for abandoning her child. However, she and her husband are fighting over whose child he really is and the father doesn't want him. It is sad to think that he was thrown aside once and may have to be returned to a home that does not want him. How I wish we could keep him here and find him a family - we WANT him!!! We love him and we care about his life and his future, but we cannot determine his fate if he has a family.

And, as the day drew to a close I got to meet the newest addition to our Beautiful Gate family. She is perfect, and looks only to be a week old. She was found in a pit toilet and was just released from the hospital. Thank Lord God for sparing her life as well as protecting her from the acid burns many kids who have been found in the pit toilets suffer from. Why the mother chose to kill her, we will never understand. We can not think about it too much because it would bring despair. Life is hard for babies and young children in Lesotho, and it is hard for their parents and extended families. Please continue to pray for the Basotho people.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bryan's Speaking Schedule

Several of you have asked about Bryan's schedule and so I am putting a few dates and places out there for you if you are interested in hearing him share about what God is doing at Beautiful Gate as well as ways you can get involved! I do not have the exact times for each service but I do believe that each church has their own website that contains the times of their services.

Currently he is in the Zeeland/Holland, Michigan area. His schedule is:
Wednesday March 7 - speaking at Holland Christian High School's chapel
Thursday March 8 - Presentation at City on a Hill, Zeeland at 7pm, I believe
Sunday March 11 - Giving a very brief update during the morning service at Graafschap, CRC church, Holland and then sharing during their Sunday School Class after church
ALSO March 11, 6pm - sharing during the evening service at Haven CRC, Zeeland (our home church)

Then he leaves on Wednesday March 14th and will be headed to California. He schedule is
Thursday March 15- speaking at Crosspoint CRC children's Center Chapel
Saturday March 17 - Men’s Breakfast, The River
Saturday Night Worship, The River
Sunday March 18 - CrossPoint Worship
Redlands Evening Worship
Wednesday March 21 - CrossPoint Youth Group (PM)

Bryan then leaves California and heads to Vancouver, Canada on Thursday March 22. I do not have many specifics for his time in Canada and will try to get more posted as it gets closer. One thing I will share (which he will not like) is that his birthday is March 24th and he really likes german chocolate cake so if any of his host families read my blog, feel free to spoil him for me as his birthday draws nearer ;)

Please continue to keep him in your prayers as this is his first time traveling around the world and sharing about Beautiful Gate. May God give him the words to speak and the strength and courage he needs as he follows the path God has laid out before him.
Thank You!

Friday, March 2, 2012


While Bryan and I were driving home from Jo-burg, I decided to help him do a little brainstorming about some topics he could use for his high school and middle school chapel presentations. I was thinking it may be a good idea just to help the kids put themselves in someone else's shoes. Such as thinking about their morning, where they slept, where they got their water, and how they got to school, etc and then compare that to Elijah's friend, Luky. So we asked Luky if we could take a few pictures of him and of his house. I knew he did not have much but the pictures Bryan brought back were just shocking.

Luky has to walk to the community well pump and get enough water for himself and his nephew, as well as his neighbor whom is his sister, her husband and her daughter. He goes once a day to fill 4 containers and then wheels them back home.

This is a picture of Luky's home. There are no windows, but once you see inside you realize that there is no need for windows. There is a lot of light shining through all the holes in his walls.

He sleeps on a blanket on the dirt floor and he uses a wheelbarrow for a closet to keep his few articles of clothes. He has no bathroom or running water indoors and uses an outhouse and has to borrow a wash basin that he carries from his sister's house. They have no money for heat so he never has a warm bath and his house gets freezing cold in the winter.

He has a nice garden area where he can grow some vegetables. His sister is out of work and his brother-in-law is struggling to find work so they live with very little money.

I am so glad that God has laid him on my heart and that we are able to provide him a little work each week as he really needs it. He lives in a tin shack with his younger cousin. He is 13 years old with no parents to care for him. His sister is busy with her 2 kids and is unable to do much for him and they often have disagreements. But, Luky has an easy smile and a gentle spirit. He is kind, honest and good and he has hope that God can give him a good life. The pictures I thought were just to help with a little presentation left me with much to think about as these are not just pictures of some poor kid growing up in Africa, these are pictures of my friend Luky whom I spend a lot of time talking to and sharing my soccer ball with each week.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

See you later

The last 2 months have been extremely busy and fun filled. Bryan's parents have been staying with us and we have gone on some fun sight seeing adventures with them, spent many hours at night playing cards, played with our 3 kids and the Beautiful Gate kids, watched and participated in 5 adoptions, received about 9 new beautiful Gate kids, and so much more. The memories we have made will last forever between all 7 of us because we had such a nice time. It was a real blessing to share a small piece of our new life with them and to have them here, seeing and living at Beautiful Gate. We were blessed beyond measure by having them here for a nice long visit and as our time drew to a close yesterday, we were all sad to say good-bye, but also feeling like we had a very nice amount of time together (I hope they can say the same next year when we will be staying at their house for many months).

As we stood around by the check in area and realized we had to give them their final hugs, Elijah just started to cry and told them how much he was going to miss them. If there is one thing I hate, it is seeing my kids cry so I also got teary eyed, then you know how it works..... As we were leaving Elijah said, "It is so easy to say hello but so hard to say good-bye" and then while holding Bryan's hand he told him that his neck hurt and Bryan figured out through talking with him that Elijah probably had a lump in his throat from trying not to cry. What a sweetie! We spent the night in Jo-burg and then drove home today. Faith said as we were driving home that she is used to saying good-bye to teams, but not to her grandparents. They have such big and loving hearts, please pray that God will comfort them and also that He will bring Oma and Papa safely to the Netherlands and then to Michigan. Also, Bryan is leaving on Saturday for the entire month of March so please pray that the kids will not be too sad and that God will bring Bryan back to us safely!