Monday, July 30, 2012

Gifts from home !!!!!

 Elijah and Mercy hugging Faith on their birthday.
 Faith is happily cuddling her new blanket from Great Grandma Lue.
 Elijah, Faith and Mercy were so EXCITED to get an entire dufflebag full of books from Elijah's best friend Jordan. He is such a sweet boy and for his 10th birthday, he asked all his friends to bring books for Elijah, Faith and Mercy instead of a present for him. I cried so much the day his mom emailed me to tell me that story. Thanks Jordan - my kids were so happy with their books that they did not want to open the other gifts from home.
 Thanks Josh, Katie and Olivia for the books (and Sammy too)! Thanks also Sammy for all your work in the secret gift too. You are awesome!
 Mercy was such a good girl during school today, she quietly looked at all her new books from my mother while I taught Elijah and Faith.
 Then we had some cheese nips from Sandi and they were so good and cheesy that Elijah had to close his eyes and savor the flavor.
 Showing off some of his new books. He surprised me because the first book he wanted to read was Black Beauty because he wanted to know if it was the same as the movie he watched once.
Peek-a-boo, Faith got a few Junie B Jones books from Randy, Lynae, Ethan, Josiah and Levi! She was so excited (and thanks for the pants and stuffed animal too) Elijah was very excited to get a few new magazines and sweat pants too! Thanks Meyer family.

The kids got mad at me for taking so many pictures so I do not have pics of all their gifts from friends at home, but really want to say thanks to the Kroll family (the cards and kool-aid and yummy things for cooking), Vern and Dianne (they loved their bendable dolls and already ate one of their bags of M&M's and I am stocked again with my favorite cooking items from home), Sam and Bethany (I have never seen those cherry candies before but they are awesome and I have hidden the Reese's pieces from my family members because they are one of my favorites, hahaha), Thanks Paige, Kelly, Kristin and Rick for the birthday presents for the kids. They were already asking me when they could sign up for the webkins web page ;) and Mercy loves the baby critters. Elijah's walki talki's actually work great and are such an awesome thing to have on campus (we better watch out or Bryan and the staff might "borrow"them). Thanks Haven Library for all the books and the cd, that was so thoughtful too.

Our kids library has grown so much and I was overwhelmed with gratitude to so many friends and family as they pulled out book after book from the bags brought by the HCHS basketball team. I do have to admit that as a bunch of teens watched my kids stop what they were doing and get SUPER GEEKED about reading, they were not super impressed, HAHAHAHA!!!!! But I am happy and proud of my kids for their love of reading :) Thank you for your thoughtful gifts and for thinking of us all. The team will be blessing the staff and kids later this week with some gifts as well.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Driving confidence

Well, first of all the Holland Christian girls basketball team has made it safely and yesterday they received all their missing luggage (which caused great rejoicing among them). They are a great group of girls and I am looking forward to seeing their eyes open to the culture around them as they go through the week.

Yesterday, Terp (their leader and our good friend) had a surprise lined up for the girls (which I won't spoil as I am sure they will want to tell all their friends and family about it first). All I will say was that getting there was an adventure for me. There were 22 of us that needed to get to the place and so I needed to be a driver. I have done very little driving and only really driven in town, but yesterday I was driving through rural, semi-mountainous Lesotho and part of South Africa and through a new border post, a police stop, and on a road that a little Camery should not really be able to drive on especially with 6 people in it making it even lower to the ground. I won't lie and say I wasn't extremely stressed out during this adventure, but the good news it that I have a lot more confidence in my driving skills now (and now know how people around here get through the pothole and rock filled roads in their little cars)!!!

It was a lot of fun to sit in the car for about 6 hours with 3 high school/recently graduated girls. I had a little foreshadowing of what Faith and Mercy could be like in 10-12 years. (I better not even go there!!!) One of the girls happens to be the babysitter of Elijah's best friend Jordan and I can tell that Jordan and his mother Sandi have only said good things about Elijah because she seemed to like him before she even got here (thanks for the gifts you sent the kids,Sandi and Jordan - she made sure they were in her carry on so that they did not get lost which was wise since their luggage did get lost). All 3 of the girls were teasing him and laughing with him and teaching him new games from their Ipods during my drive and although I don't think he would admit it - he was having a great time :) Faith and Mercy were in a different car so I am not sure how their ride went but I am sure they had a nice time with new friends to talk to.

So yesterday, I was gaining confidence in my driving and my kids were gaining friends. It was a blessed day and I am sure we will have a lot of good times with this team over the next week!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


We have been blessed with 3 volunteers here at Beautiful Gate. We have Paige, from Zeeland, MI, Cassi from St Louis, MO and Andrew from the UK. They have each adopted a house and have been helping the Bo'me with feeding children, cleaning up, and entertaining children and when that does not keep them busy enough, they sneak over to playgroup and help out the 2 staff who run playgroup. They have been helping these 2 bo'me learn to use some of their new items which we were able to order for them with a small grant from UNICEF. These staff have never used play dough or the painting supplies before and there were many other things Cassi found and offered to show them how to use which the ladies were happy to see and learn about. As Americans, it is hard to imagine the staff not knowing how to color, paint, or use play dough, but when we travel around and see the conditions of the houses they live in or the limited supplies they have in the remote areas, it is quite obvious that they have not been exposed to these crafts. It is such a blessing to have extra volunteers around who can help us.

It is also a blessing for the kids. Extra hands to cuddle them with, new friends to play with outside, someone to watch whatever cool new thing they learned how to do, someone to hold them if they get hurt, someone to feed them quicker when their house mother is busy with another child, someone to teach them to color and to get excited about the picture they drew, and so much more. There have been many volunteers who have come in our time here and I am sure there will be many more to pass through the gates of Beautiful Gate and they are such a blessing to the program here and also to us. We have learned something from each of them and it is so special to be a part of their growth as they process the things the see and feel while in Lesotho.

We have a team of 15 coming this Thursday from our hometown and another team of 12 coming the day the 15 leave with a family of 3 coming as well during that time and Andrew and Cassi will be leaving so it is going to be busy for the next month. Pray with me that God will touch each of their lives as they bless our staff and children by volunteering here!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Correction and more bad news

I found out that the information I had been given the other day was not correct. The former staff whom I was told was in a car accident and lost her legs, was not actually in an accident. Both of her sons were in the accident while on a taxi to meet their mom. The older son was in fact killed and the younger son was injured, but we do not know any details. Bryan is hoping for an update tomorrow and plans to talk to the staff about ways we may be able to support this staff member while she grieves the loss of her son. I am thankful that the mother was not injured as we previously thought, but her emotional pain must be unbearable right now.

Last night, Lucky came to see me and told me that his sister and her husband got into another fight. He said that she sold their table and some other things, took her son and left. His sister also has a daughter, but she left her with Lucky and her husband. From previous conversations, I know his brother-in-law often goes into South Africa to look for work. Lucky said his sister is not going to come back, which will leave him in charge of his niece if his brother-in-law leaves to look for work. This could be really tough for him because he is 14 and may be in charge of a 2 year old and then what happens to his chances of finishing his education? Life is hard and I feel so helpless to know what to say to lucky to help him through his worry and fears. I just keep reassuring him that God loves him and is watching over him.

This song was going through my head as I reflected on all the hard things going on in the lives of those around me, but also dear friends at home struggling with terminal cancer.

Life is Hard, but God is Good by Pam Thum...

You turn the key
Then close the door behind you
Drop your bags on the floor
You reach for the light
But there's darkness deep inside
And you can't take it anymore

'Cause sometimes living takes the life out of you
And sometimes living is all you can do

Life is hard, the world is cold
We're barely young and then we're old
But every falling tear is always understood
Yes, life is hard, but God is good

You start to cry
'Cause you've been strong for so long
And that's not how you feel
You try to pray
But there's nothing left to say
So you just quietly kneel

In the silence of all that you face
God will give you His mercy and grace

Jesus never said
It was an easy road to travel
He only said that you would never be alone
So when your last thread of hope
Begins to come unraveled
Don't give up, He walks beside you

On this journey home and He knows

Life is hard, the world is cold
We're barely young and then we're old
But every falling tear is always understood
Yes, life is hard, but God is good

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Struggles and pain

Today was a day filled with sorrowful news. Two staff have been gone from work for a few days so Donna and I were going to visit them today. Just before we left, I found out one of the staff had returned to work today. She stopped by my house and told me she was feeling better. What had happened was that she found out her daughter wasn't doing well and she rushed to see her. When she saw her daughter, she collapsed (I am assuming it is because her daughter's diagnosis shocked her) and that is why she was gone for a few days. Her daughter is still in the hospital with some health problems ( I am not sure what is causing the problems but it sounds like bleeding ulcers??) and just found out she is 2 months pregnant. This staff member is very concerned for her daughter's health.

Then we went to see the other staff member who has been away for awhile. She is feeling much better, but began to tell us of some concerns she has. Her husband is a detective and was gone on a case of a 25 year old who has murdered 2 young boys. The story was pretty awful, and I do not feel comfortable sharing the details online, but it is a diffucult thing for her husband to deal with. Then she shared that she had just received a text message from a neighbor, before we came, telling her about a fatal accident involving one of our former staff. This woman was visiting her mother in South Africa and was in an accident where her legs were cut off at the knees and her 11 year old son was killed. She knew no more details, but was very concerned for her friend.

There is so much sorrow and pain around here. Days like this are difficult to process and be able to be encouraging to the many families who are suffering. Mother's who have lost sons, mother's whose children are very ill, mother's who are facing the harsh truth that their son is a murderer, women who will never walk again (health care is not the same here with all the options we would have in America), and to women who are carrying the burden of their friends and spouse. God is bigger than all of these problems and He will comfort and help in ways I never could. I am glad He is in control!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The beauty of prayers

Today was a bit of a tough day for our family as it was Laury's final day. We spent the morning helping her pack up and just doing anything she needed help with so we could spend a little extra time with her. After lunch, we packed into the van and headed off to the airport. Several times, Faith made comments about it being such a bad day and Elijah said that it did not feel right to have Laury leave.

We shared a house with her for 16 months and ate all our meals together and went on several car trips together. She has literally been a part of our family the whole time we have been here and been such a HUGE support to Bryan with administrative work as well as just being understanding, loving and supportive to all 5 of us. We will miss her.

As we began the tough process of saying our good-byes at the airport, we made a circle around her and the kids circled inside our circle and I prayed and then Laury prayed. We thought we were done when all of the sudden there was the sweet voice of Faith lifting a praying to God and asking for Laury's safety and that she would not miss us too much, and then Mercy joined in and prayed for Laury's flights and finally Elijah thanked God for Laury and their time together. It was beautiful and brought me to tears. Their love and faith and trust in God, even on a day when it hurts and it is hard to pray and say good-bye, left me speechless. God is good. He will be with Laury in California and He will be with us here, and we will all be thankful for the time He gave us as a unique family of 6!

Good-bye my dear sister, 'M'e 'Mathabo - go in khotso

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rejoice Rejoice!!

I have two good things to share today...
The first is that the little boy from Beautiful Gate who was in the hospital has been able to return home and he is doing well. I was out of town all day today and was sick yesterday so I have not been able to go and see him, but I plan to go give him a great big hug and kiss tomorrow!!!

The second thing involves my little sweetie (daughter), Faith. I took her to an ENT in November and he told me the her ear drum was beginning to suck in on itself and that she was going to need to have tubes put into her ears again, but only one ear had lost itsoriginal tube so he told me to come back in a few months and if the second tube fell out, he would schedule her to have tubes put in again (rather than do one ear now and the other in a few months). Literally, he said that her ear was pretty bad and I should not wait more than 9 months to get her in as more than that could lead to more permanent damage to her ear drum.

Today we went to see him and figured he would schedule Faith for the tubes and then he said something I have never heard a doctor say yet about Faith's ears...HE SAID THEY WERE LOOKING NORMAL AND WHEN HE TESTED HER HEARING SHE PASSED!!!!! FAITH PASSED!!!! for the first time in over 5 years, she has no slight hearing loss or blocked ear or an infection or anything like that!!! And then he told me that we don't need to see him again :)

Faith literally danced out of his office and hugged me and danced some more and the first thing she wants to do is go swimming and stick her whole head under water. I love my little girl and I did not realize how incredibly happy she would be with this news. And now if my little girls doesn't answer me when I ask her something, I'll know she is ignoring me, hahaha.

Today I am praising God for answering both of my prayers for our little BG boy and for Faith's on going hearing issues. After her last appointment with this doctor, it is nothing short of a miracle that God has brought healing to Faith!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Memorable Conversation

I had a very memorable conversation today that I do not think will leave my mind easily. Laury, Cassi (our volunteer for the month of July), and I took a trip to TY because Laury needed to pick up a tapestry she had asked for from the weavers. There is a specific weaver shop that we like to visit and take teams and volunteers to. Our friends Vern, Mary, Vern and Dianne introduced us to the shop a little over a year ago and Laury especially enjoys visiting the women and seeing the new things they have created since her last visit.

Today, it was much different than all my previous visits. There were less tapestries being worked on and mostly only small tapestries for sale today. The woman who runs the shop was so delighted to see us the she came running outside to greet us. We have talked with her several times in the past and she recognized us. As we went inside the shop and Laury asked for the piece she had ordered, the woman began to praise God. She said that the shop is failing and not getting enough business and is afraid they will have to close soon. She said that she has been going to bed hungry as she has not had enough papa/millie meal to eat.

She has never spoken like this before and I saw the sincerity on her face and from the sparseness of the shop, it appeared that things are not going well. She told us that the only things she needs are papa, tea and sugar and then she is happy and praising God and she thanked us for the items we purchased. I was not able to buy much, only a few small wallets for my kids and 2 nieces, but the gratitude she showed was so genuine.

As we were driving home I began to think…if I were to only get papa, tea and sugar as my daily diet, would I be happy and would I be praising God? I am considering taking a week and trying it because I have been living here for a year and a half and yet I still continue to forget sometimes how difficult life is for those living outside of Beautiful Gate. Obviously, I think of Lucky often, but I forget that people like him are the majority and not the minority.

What do you eat each day? Are you like me with multiple options for breakfast, lunch and dinner? And when you eat a meal, does your heart rejoice with thanksgiving to God for yet another day of not going hungry? I guess those are some of the questions going through my mind about my own life and why her conversation with me is so memorable and maybe it will be memorable for you as well.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Last few days

As we have been having internet issues, I have not been able to get a post up on my blog so, I’ll try to give a recap of the last few days. On Friday, we had a surprise farewell party for Laury and also said good-bye to our wonderful volunteer, Tammy. Tammy headed back to Jo-burg on Saturday morning so we took her and Laury out to Lancer’s gap to watch their final sunset over the city of Maseru on Friday night. We also had visitors for the weekend, Vaughan and Corne’ (Vaughan is the director of Beautiful Gate South Africa) and their 2 sons. They arrived on Friday morning and we able to join us for the farewell Braai (yes, we had a Braai/BBQ for Laury’s farewell, but she kind of guessed there was something up as we have never had a Braai for a short term volunteer before. We just knew she did not want a party but she has been such a blessing to everyone at BG that we were not letting her leave without one!). We took Vaughan’s family, Laury, Tammy, Allan and Donna to see the sunset. It was beautiful and peaceful and a night of good conversation and lots of laughter.

Saturday was spent relaxing and talking to Vaughan and Corne’ about Beautiful Gate South Africa and they asked us lots of questions about how things are going for us as directors. It was really refreshing to talk to someone who has walked in our shoes before as he took over as director of BG South Africa (in Cape Town) about 10 years ago. They are a very encouraging couple and our kids get along great so all in all it was a wonderful visit!

Today was a busy day of homeschool and a 2 hour meeting for me so nothing too exciting to tell about, but I do have a prayer request for one of our little boys. The boy who was recently diagnosed with HIV is having another episode of high fevers. His fever was so high yesterday and today that he was delirious and shaking (104/40 degree temp. last night and today). Our nurse had him admitted to the hospital again today so we are praying for a quick recovery. It is so sad to see little ones struggling with serious illnesses, but we are trusting God to bring him healing and bring him back safely to us at BG. Thank you for your prayers on his behalf!