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.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Praying, Hoping and Trusting God

I received an email from our friend Lindy on the 14th of August, and it was a hard email to read. I can not pretend to understand the fight she has been in for over 3 years and I have written about her and her family in my blog before and today I am going to copy her latest blog post into my blog and ask for all of you who know her and all of you who don't, please pray for her and her family.

Six Months

August 16th, 2012
Since my last post I had another blood transfusion (last Friday) and thoracentesis (this past Monday).
I said to Dusty that ever since I went to the ER and spent a week in Spectrum a few months ago that things with my cancer have changed. For the worse. Yes the chemo is shrinking the spots we can see, but it’s clearly not helping with the fluid. The doctor who performed the procedure said I would probably have this every three to four weeks! Ouch! Having the fluid drained hurts.
Last Wednesday we met with Dr. VanderWoude. She thought it was going to be a routine visit until I dropped this question on her. “What’s my prognosis?” She sat down and explained to me and Dusty that I’m at the point where chemo, any chemo, is not going to give me more time. She said I can keep taking the chemo if it makes me feel like I’m “fighting”, but she said that if I choose to stop treatment it’s not giving up. I would be opting for a better quality of life. Chemo made me miserable. It was no way to live. Most of my time was spent sleeping or in bed. We left her office with a big decision to make.
After an afternoon of ups and downs, prayers, thoughts, and questions, Dusty and I decided to stop the chemo. I’m done with the misery. Dr. VanderWoude estimates I have 6 months left (give or take).
We are now working with Hospice. I will meet my nurse tomorrow. Her name is Jane.
Please pray for our family as we work through this new phase of life and guide our children through it. Pray for the kids. Our family. Our parents. Our friends.
We’ve been blessed by so many. I will update my blog whenever anything exciting happens. I promise.
Thank you to everyone for bringing us meals, the gifts cards, and donations.
We will continue to have all communication go through Dani.
Please do not stop by unannounced. We just can’t deal with that right now.

Today at the breakfast table, I explained to our kids about this post as best as I can, and Mercy (who has honestly prayed faithfully each day for Lindy for over 2 years) said, "But Mom, I pray everyday! Why isn't God answering my prayers?"  Oh Mercy. I tried to explain that God has not given us the answer we want yet, but there is always hope and we have to trust God and keep praying everyday, every time we think of her, Dusty, Brooklyn, Max and Samantha. My kids were pretty upset, but determined to keep praying and keep asking God for that miracle. If it was that hard to try to explain to my kids, oh the unbelievable pain that Dusty and Lindy are in trying to help their 3 precious children understand. Please pray for a miracle, our God can do the impossible, He can heal and restore her health.
Her blog is on the bottom right of my blog under blogs we follow if you want to stay updated for more prayer requests.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sleep Living

Sleep living, I am not sure if that is actually a phrase that I am allowed to use, but I am thinking that it is the phrase that best describes where Bryan and I are at right now. We have been going non stop since July4th between work, volunteers and teams, last Saturday was the only day we did not have something going on, but then we had a beautiful Dutch family showed up for a tour of Beautiful Gate. The volunteers we had, Cassi and Andrew were a lot of fun to host and we had such a nice time with them. Then we had the Holland Christian Team and that was an amazing experience full of tears, laughter, painting, panic (well at least Hannah, Anna and Olivia got to see me panic), heartfelt moments to cherish, and just loads of fun with the kids and staff here. Then we had the team from the United Kingdom which was also full of laughs, fears, bonding with babies, painting, games and surprisingly even make-overs (NEVER expected that in Africa). Now the volunteers have all gone (except Paige but she is our new daughter so she doesn't count) and the teams are done till October, so we have a little break.
I am refreshed in my spirit from new friendships that have been formed. I am awed by the love and strength of many volunteers as they stretched themselves out of their comfort zones, and were blessed because of it. My children have a library full to overflowing and it brings me tears, and the Beautiful Gate children have also been blessed beyond measure by new books and toys. My heart is full to overflowing with gratitude and love for many who have done so much for Beautiful Gate and also for us. We know that we are far from home, but we know we have not been forgotten. Please also know that we have not forgotten any of you either. I have about 50 facebook and email messages that I need to return or send, and every night I have been meaning to do it, but I just can't think straight and I am surprised I was even able to get this post written. So while my heart is full, the rest of me is a bit worn out from the last 6 weeks. Thanks for being patient with me and good-night!!!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Poem about my Home

Two days ago, I was busy making some beds for our UK team when I looked out the window and saw SNOW! It snowed for about an hour and the wind was blowing hard and it was COLD! I seriously thought I was back in Michigan for a winter day. It was the first day I was actually cold outside in Lesotho (that is usually a word we save for indoors where it is usually in the 40's).

Yesterday was also a very cold and windy day and during homeschool, I asked Faith to write a freestyle poem about her home. I laughed when she read it to me and thought it was worth sharing. I have no doubt it was inspired by the sudden change in the weather, brrrrrrrrrrr

A Poem about my Home

My home is warm
in summer.
In my bed it is warm too.
In winter one room is warm,
it is the living room.
But if you wear two of everything
in the other rooms,
you might get warm.
And that's my home!

Faith Geurink
Grade 1

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Overnight Shift

I had a great experience last week that I wanted to share about, but my internet has been gone for 4 days so I am just now getting a chance to blog :) TIA!!!
The team from Holland, Michigan decided to bless our overnight staff by offering to stay up all night and perform all the duties that the overnight staff normally does and to allow them a little time to sleep. I was with 4 of the team members and we were in the Pula houses. Our staff was a little stubborn and kept feeding the little baby in the room (10 day old) and insisted she would let us help her later, meanwhile I had a fantastic conversation with one of the girls from the team so neither one of us were tired, I can not say that about the other 3, hahaha. Finally at 3am we were put to work.

I was in the kitchen washing dishes, another girl was learning how to make the porridge and stirring it with a big wooden stick :) The other 3 girls were waking up kids and having them sit on their little potty chairs (which I assure you the kids did NOT like at 3:30am). They bathed kids and helped them get dressed and I moved on to making all the bottles for the babies on both sides of the house. Then I moved over to the other side of the house and had the fun job of putting kids in their nappies (diapers), slathering on some Vaseline and getting them dressed for the day. I had to laugh when a few of the kids said, "M'e Anita did you sleep here last night?" The overnight staff were happy to have our help and they thanked me over and over again. Then one of the house mothers (who had slept during the overnight) came into the bathroom where I was getting kids ready and her face was shocked, "You Me' Anita! You stayed up all night at our house, thank you so much!" is what she said as if I had done something grand. I actually had a great time and if I did not have 3 kids and a job as their teacher, I would do it more often.

What struck me the most was their thankfulness as if I had really done something amazing. I gave up a little sleep for one night and they made me feel like I had done something worth a medal :) Sometimes it is the small things that really make a difference and I am glad God put me and the other girls there to do our small thing for those house staff!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lost then Found!

Yesterday was a day of reality for the team who is visiting us. We were going about our day with the routine that we have kind of established when things changed quickly. Bryan shouted out to our friend Christina to run up to Khotso 1 and get the house mother because 3 police officers had just shown up with a child. Bryan and the house mother had the police fill out an intake form and discovered that this little boy had been found wandering in the woods near a school. He was a sweet little boy and very polite as we said "Lumela" in greeting to him and he responded in a nice quiet voice. The house mother got him all cleaned up and tucked in for the night. When we went back into the house with the team and explained what happened, it was obvious that many of them were quite thoughtful. While they are busy getting ready to eat a big dinner, play some cards or games and get cleaned up for the night, it was a reminder that there are children out there who are lost or abandoned, who are scared and lonely and it is all very close by.

We rejoice that his parents showed up today to take him home. I do not know all the details of how he got lost in the woods but I am happy that he has his family back. I also rejoice that the police brought him here where he could easily be tracked down and not traumatized too much by this incident. There is such need around us and it is great to report a good reunion this time, but I am sure it was a long night for the child and his parents!!!