Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Holiday

Well, we are about to take a little holiday with our friends from MI, so we will not be posting for about 6 days. We (both our families) will be heading to Jo-burg and spend 2 days on safari and just have a little time to visit with each other and relax before Bryan and I get into the busy time that is ahead of us. When we get back from our trip, we will have one week to say good-bye to our friends here and pack up our house and then we will fly to England. We will spend a week in England doing some fundraising for Beautiful Gate and visiting with our friend Jenny, then 4 days in the Netherlands (one of which will be a reunion of kids who were adopted from Beautiful Gate/Lesotho) and finish with 2 days in Belgium where we will see our friend Andrew and Bryan will share with a few groups, before heading back to London for 2 days and then we are homeward bound. I think we might sleep a lot our first week home, hahaha! See you next week.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thanking God for adoption - again!

Today was the adoption ceremony for my friends and their new 3 year old girl. I was worried about falling apart during my part of the ceremony, but managed to keep myself together. There were times in their waiting process where I worried that this day would never come as they were encouraged several times to move to a different country for their adoption, but they held fast. They waited and they received their perfect match. A child who fits so perfectly into their family! God has been good to them and despite the work and effort involved in having 4 children (especially with 1 being new and trying to find her place among the family), I am sure the blessings will far outweigh the sacrifices.

We also had another family who adopted a precious baby girl today. I did not have the privilege of meeting these parents when they came to meet their child or the day they came for a tour and I am disappointed that did not meet them sooner. They are an amazing couple and I have never seen such pure love pour out of a couple before when looking at their precious daughter. The mother shared a testimony with me that I wish I could share with you, but I did not ask permission. My heart was touched and tears sprang to my eyes as we spoke. I praise God that He has placed this sweet little girl into their arms as they have been longing for this day for years. They left a precious gift for the children here at Beautiful Gate that may make me tear up for a little while.

God smiled down on Beautiful Gate and these families today. Putting together 2 perfect matches. My favorite part of this job is seeing these families being formed. As I said in my prayer today, our staff have shown true religion by taking care of orphans in their distress, but today these 2 girls have left Beautiful Gate and are no longer orphans. Thank you God, from the bottom of my heart, thank you God for adoption.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Imagine

Today I want you to imagine with me so that maybe you could really get a feel for life in Lesotho, not just Lesotho really, it happens in many countries around the world unfortunately. Imagine that you are walking to work or to the grocery store or wherever it is you really need to get to this morning. You do not have a car because they are just too expensive so you are walking. You are close to a ditch near the side of your walking path and you hear the distinct cries of an infant. You look into the ditch and there you find a 2 day old baby girl wrapped up in blankets, abandoned, alone, scared and hungry. You decided that today you will have to be late to your destination because you have to get to the nearest police station to drop off this precious child. Thank you for not just passing by because many may have come before you and would have because a baby's life is just not important to some. This was the first baby that was brought to us on Tuesday this week.
This next one is not really child appropriate so if your kids are readers and are next to you, you may want to ask them to step away for a few minutes. Imagine that you are a young girl living in the mountains and you are walking alone somewhere, maybe to the store to get things for your parents, maybe you are walking home from school. Suddenly you are ambushed by a group of men who rape you and weeks later you find out that you are pregnant. What should you do? I found out that in this culture it is acceptable for girls to have abortions even though it is illegal and many girls who would not have an abortion, would strangle the child as soon as it is born because of the way the child was conceived. But you do not choose either of those options. You carry this child until you are full term, give birth to the child and then immediately (without even seeing the child) sign over the rights for the child to be adopted. That is how we got our second newborn baby on Tuesday.
I do not know the circumstances that led the first mother to abandon her child, but the second mother holds a special place in my heart. I cannot imagine 9 months of torture, knowing that you are carrying a child that was caused by the most painful day of your life. A constant reminder everyday of your trauma, yet she did what was best for the child. She was selfless and compassionate enough to know that the child did no wrong in this circumstance and she choose to give this child a good life. It actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of her sacrifice for her son's life. Well done young lady, well done and may the Lord be gracious to you and heal you from the pain in your body and in your heart!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Glimpse of love in action

Today we got to give a tour to our friends who are adopting. They have heard so much about Beautiful Gate and it was very nice to introduce them to our awesome staff and to show them the different buildings that they have heard us talk about so often. At the end of the tour, we sat around in the playgroup area so their daughter could play with some of her friends. I enjoyed introducing my friends to many of the amazing children here at Beautiful Gate.
As I was talking to them about the children, I had my eyes out looking for one girl in particular. There is a sweet little girl who has really taken a liking to me and I have been working a little with her to help her learn to walk. As I was looking around for her, I saw my daughter, Faith, coming to me and helping a little girl walk and sure enough it was "my little girl." It made my heart sour to see Faith helping her walk and sharing toys with her and when Faith was ready to leave, she bent down and gave her a huge hug. It was one of those moments where you just sit silently, observing love in action. Thanking God that despite the hard questions that have been asked by my kids recently, they have compassion for these kids.
Yesterday, I sat with my 3 kids and we watched, Annie, for the first time. It was interesting to hear them processing whether this story could be true. Were orphanages really like that and their care givers so mean? Were there really that many orphans around the world (maybe they think it is only a Lesotho problem)? Despite the difficulties of the past months and the times I have really questioned what the long term effects of all this is going to be for my kids, glimpses of their compassion, love and genuine concern for justice for the poor and orphans, has helped me know that this is where they are suppose to be right now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My friend

Yesterday, our family took a little drive up to Jo-burg to "fetch" our friends, the Beuker family. Sammy and I have been friends since our Freshman year of college, almost 18 years now. We became friends very quickly when our mutual friends introduced us at a lunch table in the cafeteria, and later when I was dating Bryan, he and her boyfriend Eric became quite good friends. After college, we actually moved into the same neighborhood as them and lived across the street from each other for 4 years. We both have 3 children, a boy and 2 girls and they are all within 6 months of each other in age.
I actually was able to be with her as she walked down the aisle to become a wife. I was able to be with her for the births of her first 2 children. Laughing with her (apparently I was doing some sort of liturgical dancing in the delivery room), rubbing her feet when the pain was intense, etc. And now, here they are in Lesotho of all places and I am going to get to be with her as she becomes a mother of her 4th child. I do not get to be in the delivery room as she has the child added to the family, instead I get to be part of the delivery.
You see, I have been waiting anxiously for this day because the Lord had ordained that her 4th child was going to come from Beautiful Gate. I have been holding this child, I got to help her practice walking, I got to help her eat her meals before she could hold the spoon for herself, I got to push her on the swings over and over again, I got to play tag with her. I got to keep her safe and well fed until her new mother could come and get her and I never could have known that this special mother would be my own special friend. God has a way of making the most unexpected relationships happen. Who could have ever guessed that an innocent friendship starting at a lunch table would have ever gone down the path that ours has taken.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Special Mother's Day song

One night a couple weeks ago, Terp and I were sitting around in the living room and she was playing the guitar. We were singing a bunch of songs and then we thought of some lyrics that we could sing to the house mothers for Mother's Day. There have been 2 occasions when the staff have been really happy and they have sang songs to me and have used my name in those songs. There is nothing more flattering than hearing the house mothers sing for someone when they are happy so I though we should return the favor. Terp and I had a ton of laughs as we tried to come up with the lyrics, but also some moments of pure appreciation for all they do to care for our precious kids. Here is what we came up with ...
We sang this song to the tune of Hallelujah (Shrek song)

We know you change 50 nappies in a day
And wipe all the tears away,
But you don't really complain about it do you
You cook the food and you clean the clothes
Wipe the snot off of their nose
And you keep on singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah. . . (x 3)

You took the job despite the pay
And the blue stick means you stay
And you don't really complain about it do you
You deal with hardships that make you cry
You fall in love and you say goodbye
But you trust in God singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah. . . (x3)

We are grateful for you each and everyday
We are so glad you choose to stay
Your dedication makes us sing Hallelujah
We see your love and your faithfulness
Open arms and a hug and a kiss
For you we tell God Hallelujah
Hallelujah. . .(x3)

What a joy to see their smiles and see them dancing on Friday and today. It was so nice to bless them with music and singing and to show them that we care about them. I thank God for these special mothers and praise Him that He brought each and every one of them here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Anxious, but there is grace

5 and a half weeks! I only have 5 weeks to get everything I do organized so that someone else can take over for me for a few months. I did not realize how many little things I do that add up to my days being full until I began to unpack my days and get ready to "hand over" my duties to someone else. Thankfully they get to skip the homeschooling part of my day as I get the joy of taking my "students" with me!
I need to get my house emptied out so people can stay here while we are gone. I have been cleaning our closets, going through book shelves, making the kids get rid of clothes that they have outgrown. 5 people living in a small 2 bedroom house do not have much "space" to hide things so that others can live here so it is going to take a miracle, but we will do our best.
I know that the above things will take care of themselves and we can make it work and it will be finished before we leave, and I am having a terrible time lately with random panic attacks. I have been chalking them up to all the stuff I have to get finished and organized before we go, but in the last day or two I have begun to wonder if it is going deeper. I have only been getting panic attacks when we are in a scary situation ( as most normal people would), but lately I have been waking up in the night with my heart racing and just feeling worried and scared and miserable.
I have not been home in over 2 1/2 years. I have read so many testimonies of people who have gone away to do mission work and when they come home, they struggle so much. Am I going to struggle? Have I changed so much in the last few years that I am no where near the same person who left? Will people even like the new me? I do not know these answers, all I know is that I feel like a clay pot that has been shattered and broken into thousands of pieces and have been glued back together. I do not know how strong I am. I do not know how easy I will be to shatter again. I cannot promise that I will be strong because I have been made weak. God has literally broken my heart for the things that break His, but I am trusting Him that He will give me the grace which I need to handle whatever situation or conversation that comes my way. And please show me grace if we meet and I am a bit of a mess about the people and little orphans that have become so part of heart.
I am sure that our 5 months at home will fly by and I will be so happy to see all my family and friends and to meet new people that I will be fine. I just need to keep telling myself to trust in the Lord and be of good courage. He has guided us so far and He will be faithful. And if you have a minute to pray, I ask that you pray for me to feel God's peace so that I will stop waking up with panic attacks and that I will lay my worries at the feet of Jesus and then leave them there and not be tempted to think on them again (after all I am human!!).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Group Post

I am sitting on the couch with Bryan on one side and Terp (Christina) on the other side and I decided that we should write a group post. Our topic is....... One of our favorite memories of our time together here at Beautiful Gate so far!

First will be Bryan, "After a really wonderful Christmas party the staff went outside to take a group photo while they were all wearing their orange Beautiful Gate shirts. A couple of the guys surprised me by lifting me up on their shoulders. It was cool! It felt good to feel appreciated by the staff. The team here at Beautiful Gate helped me understand what it is like for coaches after winning the big football game."

Second will be Terp, 'This afternoon, I spent some quality time in town away from the daily tasks at BG.  When returning on campus, honestly I was only thinking about one thing...relaxing tonight.  My heart was overwhelmed with love, as a group of children came running up to me yelling my name.  Their faces beamed with love.  It was like they had not seen me in a very long time, but it had only been 2 hours.  Every child wanted me to pick them up and swing them around.  When I picked up one of the boys and he immediately snuggled in tight and gave me a big kiss on my cheek.  Then in his beautiful voice, he started singing.  He is known as the "singer" on campus and he always sings for me, but the kiss surprised me.  Everyday the children here teach me about love.  They teach me about trust and they teach me about acceptance.  Every time we have an opportunity to "see" our Heavenly Father, we need to drop what we are doing and run into His arms.  In that moment, we have the freedom to feel His love as well as express our love back to Him.  Each day the precious children at BG teach me that our Abba Daddy doesn't care about how much work we do, or tasks we complete, or the presentations we plan, all He desires from us are moments when we drop what we are doing, run into His arms, take in His love and love Him back with singing."

Lastly Me, "Thinking of this question made me reflect on so many really good memories. Honestly, so many days are filled with happiness, smiles and love and I am glad we picked this topic as it is a good reminder after some really tough months. One of my favorite memories was our last time with God's kids day (first Wednesday of each month). It happened to correlate with our crazy dress up day where we (volunteers, staff and even some of the BG kids) all dressed in crazy clothes and made our hair look funny. At 3pm we all met in the grassy area in front of the baby houses and just played. The staff, the kids, the volunteers, the team from California that was visiting, everyone. We played with a parachute, soccer balls, and rugby balls. We played tag and chased each other till we were worn out. We held babies and tickled kids and listened and watched while the house mothers sang and danced. It was relaxed, free and fun. We were all like little children, taking a break from all the big things going on in our lives and honestly becoming as little children. I love how everyone gets really involved, even my own 3 kids and just comes together in fun and delight. It is such a great time for us to love on the BG kids as well as the staff having fun and playing together. It is what I picture heaven to be like when we get there. Innocent, delight and deep heartfelt laughter!