Monday, July 29, 2013

Amazed

Wow, my family is loved and blessed in so many ways. I sometimes wish that I would just let everyone walk in my shoes during my good and bad times so you could really understand how I am feeling because there are times that I have no words to explain my innermost feelings. Yesterday, our family got to go to our home church twice. We were welcomed and hugged and it felt so good to be home. Bryan and I had the opportunity to share our joys, sorrows, blessings and challenges at the evening service.

I am normally extremely nervous when public speaking, but God gave me a real sense of peace as we answered these questions. I looked out over the congregation and I saw looks of love, looks of encouragement, looks of understanding and eyes of concern and eyes welling up with tears as we shared our hearts. God was there last night and I felt His presence there. It is so hard to describe, but I have not felt so loved and supported in a very long time. I have missed my church family much more than I even realized.


Our friends Terp and Chris came up with the perfect songs for the service (and even learned to sing my favorite song from Kutless, "I'm Still Yours") and after Bryan and I shared, Terp had us walk into the center aisle and had the congregation surround us and put their hands on us in prayer.

After Terp prayed, Steve shared a plan that he and his wife Julie had in order to help people remember to keep us in their prayers. The congregation committed to remembering us in prayer and signed 2 picture frames with pictures of Beautiful Gate in them. One to keep at church as a reminder and one for us to take with us so that when we feel far away or are struggling, we will be reminded that there are always friends praying for us. Wow, what a gift. We are so blessed by our church family and yesterday was a night I will not forget. God is faithful. We have been gone for a long time, but we were not forgotten. God is amazing and He has renewed our strength and filled us with hope for our future at Beautiful Gate and with our amazing family from Haven CRC.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thankful day

I have good news today about the 3 kids who are or were in the hospital. One little guy who has been in and out of the hospital is now back home and has put on a little weight. He is even able to stand while assisted and it is amazing. I have not seen this for myself, but our volunteer, Kristen, sent me a photo. The other 2 are doing much better, one of them is going to be released tomorrow hopefully and the other is in need of a scan in order to gain more insight as to what is causing her problems. None of these children are matched at this time and will be able to relax and take their time to heal, and I pray that their health will grow stronger and that one day soon, God will provide them with a family of their own.

This week our family has been camping and it has been very relaxing. My kids have ridden bikes and swam more in 4 days than they did the entire time they have been living in Lesotho (well, they would have ridden bikes if they had them there). Needless to say, they are sleeping real well, hahaha. Tonight was a fun night because their cousins are staying with us while camping for the next few days. While we were in England, I began a new thing where I tell them stories before they go to sleep and their cousins were excited to share that story time with us. They are already planning some adventure ideas for me to use in future stories. It filled my heart with joy and thankfulness to tuck them in and hear them all say their prayers and each one of them thanked God for their cousins among the other things they were thankful for.

Once again I feel like we are living in 2 completely different worlds in my mind. I rejoice for the sick kids who are getting better at Beautiful Gate and I rejoice for friendships that can be completely restored after over 2 years of being apart. I am thankful that my kids are getting to really enjoy themselves and that tomorrow I get to celebrate the birthdays of Elijah and Mercy, yet tonight as they were saying their prayers, both of them were praying for Beautiful Gate. Elijah was praying that God would help them through any tough times they may be facing and Mercy prayed that all of the orphans would get a mom and dad. I thank God for the good that He is doing both here and there, and that He will continue to answer our prayers.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Trusting God

Have you ever felt like your heart is living in 2 different places? You want to be fully invested in one of those places but it is so hard because you are just stuck between them. That is a little of how we are feeling right now. It feels so good to be home and to reconnect with those we love and have desperately missed over 2 1/2 years, but something is missing...

Today Mercy's best friend in Lesotho (from BG) was reunited with her Uncle. I have posted about this girl a few times before and I am so happy for her that she has a family member that she can go and live with. I hope he loves her, has the resources to feed her and has the care and discipline to give her the medication she needs to stay alive. We are far away and will never get to say good-bye and tomorrow I will share this news with Mercy and show her the last picture taken of her special friend. I hope that we can both be joyful and thankful for the time we have known her and not sad, but it is hard to miss it.

Today, one of our special little buddies has gone back into the hospital. I have also blogged about this little boy before and he has been in and out of the hospital many times since February. He has pneumonia and has been underweight and struggling with his health since he came to us. He is such a wonderful little guy that all of us volunteers at BG have fallen in love with (especially Terp) and while the nurses are hopeful that he will pull through, it is hard to miss it. I want to go to the hospital, hold him and pray for him like I used to when I was in Lesotho.

Such a strange feeling to want to be in 2 places at the same time and be fully invested in either one at any given time, but I do thank God for the break and that we can be home for a time. I thank God that He is faithful and that He loves the kids, staff and volunteers at BG even more than I ever could so this will be my test of learning to trust Him while I am away.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Home Blur

Wow, has it really been 12 days since my last post???? I think that is the longest stretch when I have not blogged in 3 years!!! The last two weeks have been a blur of activity and catching up. We have hugged many friends and family, shared a lot of smiles and shed a few tears. We already had one big good-bye that we had to do yesterday as our neighbors have accepted a call to a church in Kansas and will be leaving in the next week or two. We will miss them a lot as our neighbors, but like I said to them, we can not really be upset with them as we started it by moving to Africa!
We have spent a week with 2 of my nieces, visited college friends, church friends, seen fireworks, been to a pool party, surprised a few friends with random visits and my kids were able to see our house yesterday and attend a VBS for one day. We are staying in Walhalla which is about a 2 hour drive from everyone except Bryan's parents, so our kids are already complaining about the drive, but it is much better than a 20 hour flight!!
The big question that we are asked at each get together is always, "How are you guys?" It is hard to sum up all our thoughts and emotions into a brief enough answer as not to overwhelm people, so we just say that we are fine. For the most part that is true. We miss our friends and the staff and children from Beautiful Gate, but it is so good to be home. I missed being with our loved ones more than I can even begin to express so it is just wonderful to get caught up again with everyone. Seeing my kids jump right in and just play and talk with their old friends just brings a joy so complete and fulfilling to me. They have missed their friends and missed just being carefree kids with no worries. Elijah has had many times where he has been stressed at Beautiful Gate, and Faith also has been so worried many times about children dying so seeing them just be kids is indescribable.
We know our time here is temporary so we are trying to enjoy each moment. There are things that are different and can make us feel overwhelmed, but we are trying to be patient and remind ourselves that many people just will not be able to understand what we have seen, felt and experienced over the last few years. People do not mean to do or say things that hurt us, it is just that our new "normal" is very different than what used to be our normal and for those who not seen or experienced it, it is very difficult to imagine. I thank God for many friends and family who are very loving and who are embracing us with open arms even if we are a bit changed. To summarize, there is a lot going on in my mind that I just cannot express, but it is good to be home.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Homecoming

We have been back in MI since last Wednesday. I think we are all adjusted to the time change and over jet lag. We saw many of our family members at the airport, had a dinner with some college friends on Saturday and went to Haven church on Sunday, so we have seen a lot of people we love in a very short time period. It feels like a dream in so many ways. When we left in 2010, I remember thinking that it was going to be FOREVER till we would see our loved ones again. The first few months seemed to confirm that feeling, but shortly after that, time began to fly. We got busier and more involved at Beautiful Gate. I began teaching Sunday School at church and we began to make friends in the community. I was no longer counting days till I got home and began living.

Now we are home. I want to share a little from my kid's perspective. Elijah has been a bit more quiet and serious since we left Lesotho. I noticed it in Europe, but it was even worse yesterday and today. I pulled him aside and asked if he would tell me what was going through his mind. He was reluctant and then he suddenly burst out that he was stressed. I did not know a 9 year old got stressed so I asked him to enlighten me. He said he feels overwhelmed. There are so many choices and options that he does not know what to choose. The grocery store freaked him out because it was the size of 4 football fields in his mind and his grandparents offered him the choice of any cereal he would like to try and he felt overwhelmed. I completely understand his thoughts and feelings and I really praise God for a chance for Elijah to share his heart with me so we can go through this time together. I imagine this is a small piece of what is to come when we move home for good.

Mercy does not remember Michigan. She has no memory of all the places we have taken her, our old house, her grandparents house, or parks we have played at. Everything is new and exciting for her because she has heard us talking about these places and now she has seen them herself. She too told me that she was so surprised by the size of the grocery store here (unlike her brother who felt overwhelmed, I think she liked it because there are lots of toy options, hahaha). I asked Mercy if she likes it here and she said yes she does like it here.

Today marked a long awaited day for all 3 of my kids but especially Faith. Today, as I write this, there are 5 kids sleeping in a giant homemade fort in the room next to me. My 3 kids and my 2 nieces have been planning this night for 2 1/2 years. They used to Skype and play together and then make plans for that they would do when they finally saw each other again. Today they played, tickled, laughed, teased, played baseball, ate, read, did crafts, and so much more and had THE BEST DAY EVER (I believe that is what one of them called it). I thank God that He orchestrated such a wonderful day for my kids where they could feel normal and have fun and by the end of the day, Elijah seemed himself again, not that all is perfectly well, but friends sure do help.