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.