Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Joy

This Christmas season was one filled with a lot of joy. This year was very low in donations of toys and clothes, but God provided a few families at the end of the year who were able to donate toys and money for Christmas outfits for all of the BG kids. One of our volunteers, Brittany, and I went shopping for 61 outfits! It did not seem like a big task when we started, but picking the right size and style for each kid was a pretty big task. We really enjoyed ourselves and seeing the kids showing off their outfits to one another on Christmas day was pretty special.
Christmas Eve was the day we celebrated Christmas with our staff. My mother-in-law, Mary, sent us a new devotional for December and so Bryan shared the devotions for the 24th of December. It was a very good message to help us begin our celebration. We gave each staff member a mug from Holland Christian's last team and a Jesus Calling devotional from the Corley family. They were very thankful and were also thankful because we had many donors come alongside BG in 2014 and we were able to give each staff member a little Christmas bonus in their pay check. They work so hard being the hands and feet of Jesus to the kids here and I thank God for providing the funds we needed to give them a little extra appreciation.
Christmas day was a very hot day and we had a neighbor donate 2 bouncy houses for our kids to jump in for the day. It was chaos and fun to watch the kids and the staff jumping in the houses. I have never heard so much laughter at BG. When it got too hot, the staff added water in the bottom of one of the slides and then all the kids got naked and climbed into the water. For the first time in 4 years, our staff did not even make the kids go inside for a nap, they all stayed outside for the whole afternoon jumping, laughing, eating watermelon, getting doused with the hose and throwing each other in the water (that was staff on staff as the kids were already in the water). I spent an hour supervising the kids in the water and got a nice sunburn which is so opposite of the Christmas weather we used to have in Michigan!
Then our final moment of joy came in an unexpected visitor. We were just finishing a scavenger hunt for Elijah's present when we were told that Lucky was on campus to visit us. It has been over a year and a half since we have seen him. He is 17 years old and tall now - crazy!!! We had a nice visit and it was such a fun surprise to see that he is ok and looking pretty healthy. I am thankful that God has been taking care of him and that He brought him back to BG so we could visit with him again. It took me a long time to give him his soccer ball, but Aaron Wildschut, I finally gave him the ball you sent back to Lesotho. It has been a great week, full of joy and I am thankful the Jesus came so our joy could be complete.
Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Faith and Mercy's Random blogpost :)

"Africa is a pretty nice place to live. The amazing sunsets and beautiful views, I am pretty sure everyone would want to live here if they could live the life I have. I have found that it is very nice to see how the volunteers act when they reach BG. The churches and very wonderful and the Basotho love the little that they have. I just like that because they love what they have, but some people just want more and more and more. I am looking forward to Christmas but it is hard to get in the Christmas spirit because it is so HOT! Love to the whole world, Faith"




"Africans really celebrate for what little they have. Even though they are poor they celebrate. They are really creative too. They find food somehow and sometimes some and the kids come to the fence and ask for papers so they can color. I do like to play with the BG kids because they are a lot of fun to play with. We have a new school and it's really fun. We have some friends with us in our school. I like to play at school a lot because we play tag and all those fun games. It is nice to know that people love each other. It has been really fun playing outside. I got to hold some snails today and they were really slimy. Faith and I had the snails race and it was funny because the same two kept winning (they had 10 snails in the race). Today I have been having so much fun and I love it here in Beautiful Gate. Love, Mercy"

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

4 Year Anniversary

I am sitting in my office and looking out of my window and what I see is so precious. Little children playing, laughing, singing and a few who are crying because let’s face it, when 35 kids are together crying will happen! One of the older boys was lifting up one of his little “brothers’ and helping him into a swing and then began to push him. This view never gets old. This life never gets old, frustrating at times, but never old.
My kids and I during one of our first hikes in December 2010.

Bryan and our kids looking over a cliff in December 2010.


December 6th marked our family’s 4th anniversary here at Beautiful Gate. It is so hard to believe that it was 4 years ago that we stepped off an airplane and were welcomed to our new home. We were so anxious. We followed God’s leading to come and now He would have to help us and lead us into our new life. We kept hearing people saying names that were too hard to remember and greeting us in a language that sounded nothing like we had ever heard before. Would we ever figure out their names?? 4 years later we know all 45 staff by name and probably 59 out of 61 kids by name. There are always one or two babies that I forget the names of.
It was never in our plans to become the directors, but God had a bigger and better plan than we could have imagined. He would raise up supports for us around the world not only to support Beautiful Gate financially, but also with an endless supply of volunteers and teams. We could not have done it for the last 3 years without that constant support and with God’s faithfulness.
We have seen children come in to BG extremely malnourished and then thriving and hitting milestones. We have seen children come in who were too sick to recover and then they were loved and cared for until they were embraced into the arms of Jesus. We have seen mothers, whose children were lost, come to Beautiful Gate and find their children and rejoice with tears of joy. We have seen so many families come to us childless and leave with a beloved child that is a perfect fit into their family. We have also seen people from all over the world come here and experience a peace that is indescribable and leave forever changed. Best of all, I have witnessed my own children learning the true meaning of love and compassion.
We have been adopted into the Beautiful Gate family and it is a beautiful family to be a part of. Our children have aunts and uncles and big brothers and sisters all over campus. They also have lots of little brothers and sisters on campus that they can play with. My only regret it that we have been too busy to really learn enough of the language so that we’d better be able to communicate with our African Family.

It is so hard to believe that we are over half way through our commitment now, with only 3 years remaining. It is hard to think about a day when we have to leave so we will not reflect on that. Many of our staff say the same thing, that they do not want to think about us leaving them so they refuse to talk about that too. God is so good and I know that He will guide us and give us His wisdom for our future. I am thankful for the last 4 years and look forward to the next 3 years. No day is ever the same and it will be an adventure for our family and for Beautiful Gate!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Last team of 2014

We have a team here from Holland Christian High School (and also a small family from Colorado who are with them) and tonight we sat down and took some time to share about our day. It is always interesting to see what things strike people and make an impression on them. It could be about the looks of Beautiful Gate, the fact that the kids are so happy that you forget they are orphans, the happiness and friendly attitude of our staff, the funny thing a kid said or did and so many other options. It helps me to think about my life and my attitude. Have I become so accustomed to our lives here that I forget to be in awe of those things that I used to notice?


I had the opportunity to share with them at the end of our devotional time and I read a blog post by Katie Davis (Kisses from Katie). It was a thought about how working in a third world country is like trying to empty the ocean with an eye dropper and when your glass is half full, it rains. The first time I read that post, I was so relieved that there was someone else out there who felt the way I felt, but who was able to explain it way more eloquently. There will always be poverty, abandonment, death, HIV, and many other problems in Lesotho, but it is not our job here at Beautiful Gate to fix all that (thankfully cause we would not be able to keep up). It is our job to give each kid hope for their future, to try by all means to find them a family, and to love them unconditionally the way God loves us.


I love when we get to share our passion with a new team. They can share their stories and love for BG and we can do the same. Our love for the kids and staff gives us a common bond of friendship and it is a real blessing. Even my kids were telling me that they enjoy having this team here because some of the members were very complimentary and made them feel very good about themselves. It has been a busy year, full of teams and volunteers and this is our final team for 2014. We have been blessed and we are so thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Graduation Day

Today was the preschool graduation for the school where several of our BG children attend school. We have 2 boys who graduated this year and we took 8 of the preschoolers along with us to their graduation. There was much celebration in the little building we were all sitting in as the kids sang, acted out a play, danced and recited poems. One of the perks is that it is an English medium school so much was done in English.
One of my favorite parts is when each graduate does a little speech called "myself, myself." The child says their name, age, parents' name, teachers' names, school name and what they want to be when they grow up. They practice a lot during the year and for the BG kids, they say the names of all 4 of their house mothers, along with volunteers in their house and sometimes even Bryan or I. They often include the maintenance men as their fathers which is sweet, but it is also sad. They have so many people who love them and who care for them each day, but moments like today are a harsh reality that our kids do not really have a "normal" living situation.
The celebration took 4 hours (once again they really know how to celebrate in Africa and this was only preschool!!!) and then the kids came home and had a big celebration with their peers and house mothers. They ate cake, cookies, marshmallows, and chips and were super happy. Then there was dancing and balloon fun to end the celebration. I am so proud of these boys and really hope that one day they will get to celebrate their high school graduation with a family of their own. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy of our awesome day.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Neighbor Kids

It has been months since I have had a neighborly visit from the kids in the neighborhood, but they stopped by today for some coloring. It started with 2 kids, then quickly became 4, then 4 more came and then 4 more came, so I think there were 12 kids who got coloring pages and some crayons. It has been raining a lot in the last few days so I felt bad watching the kids sitting on a dirt road behind my fence as they colored, but they were all as happy as could be (their mothers maybe less so after they see their muddy bottoms and knees).
I love when I can share a simple thing like a coloring page and see a child's face light up. After they colored their pictures they came back up to the fence to show me and I love their creativity. I have never seen so many rainbow animals in my life and I think it is because they wanted to use every single crayon color that I had available for their picture.


Just thought I'd share a little glimpse of the sweet little faces I got to see today. Anytime a camera comes out, then there is a lot of posing, but as you can see in the top picture, they were very focused on their coloring pages :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Retreat

Today is the start of the Lesotho Ladies' retreat. We will be spending the weekend at Wyndford Farm in South Africa. There is a team of 4 women from the states who will be leading us in worship and teaching us more about God's joy. Please pray for all the missionary women who will be attending this retreat as well as those who are leading it. Being in full time missions in Lesotho can be draining and hard at times and I know a lot of these women look forward to this weekend each year. Also, please pray for the husbands and kids who will be at home this weekend and for them to have good times together too. I know for me, the past 2 times I went one of my kids got very sick and it was a huge distraction. Please pray that none of the kids or husbands get sick and that satan will not use things like that to distract the women from their time away with God.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

When you Look into the Eyes of my Child - Poem


As I was sitting alone the other night, I had an overwhelming desire to write a small poem from the perspective of a mother who abandoned her child. I have heard so many different reasons for abandonment and while I still disagree with the way it is done, I also try to see things from their point of view. 

When you look into the eyes of my child,

What do you think of my choice?

Do you think that I am a monster?

Could you have walked in my shoes

And made a different choice?

 

When you look into the eyes of my child,

Do you hate me?

Do you think it was easy to walk away?

That I did not cry out in anguish as

I said good-bye to my little one.

 

When you look into the eyes of my child,

Do you know that my life is over?

That I have nothing left.

I go to bed hungry each night and

I am getting weaker everyday.


When you look into the eyes of my child,

Did you know that I was raped?

Do you know how hard my life is?

That I am an orphan who is caring for my siblings

And had to drop out of school.

 

When you look into the eyes of my child,

See that I have given them hope.

Understand that I had no other way.

Give them the love I will always

Wish I would have been given.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cape Town Adventure

Beautiful Gate South Africa celebrated their 20th anniversary this past weekend. The founders and the directors of BG South Africa (BGSA)have been extremely helpful and supportive to Bryan and I as we have taken over the leadership of Beautiful Gate Lesotho (BGL). That being said, we decided to take 4 members (all Basotho) of our management team along with us to celebrate the success of BGSA. The ceremony was nice with a lot of singing and speeches and even a really nice presentation of the children who are part of their after school program. There were a lot of parents who graduated from their parent training program as well and it was such a nice celebration. Well done Beautiful Gate South Africa. I am proud to be affiliated with your organization!


As wonderful as the celebration was and I could say a lot about it, what is really on my heart is the reaction of our 4 staff to their trip to Cape Town. Only 1 of them had been there since childhood and so the experience was new and exciting for the other 3. The enthusiasm they had for the ocean, mountains, wildlife and food was overwhelming, There were times when they were speechless (which pretty much never happens with this group, hahaha) as they looked out over the vast ocean and then they broke into songs and hymns praising God for His creation. The two guys even struck up a conversation with a stranger at a gas station about the beauty of Cape Town and how you can in no way deny God when you see such a beautiful place.




They swam in the water and waves despite the cold water and breeze, they walked next to penguins and baboons (the baboons were a bit scary to me), they sat in awe of creation at the south western most point of Africa, they hiked and they laughed and joked with each other till they almost cried. Being on this trip broke some of the barriers between boss and staff and we all could relax together and experience a common bond of appreciating God's handiwork.




What can I say to such things? My heart is so full and I only wish I could give the same experience to all my staff. I felt like crying once or twice just by the joy they expressed and their words of appreciation for being able to join us on this trip. God is good and this last sentence is dedicated to our 4 staff members, "I like it for the laughter, the singing, and the energy!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beautiful Restoration

Today was a day of restoration here at Beautiful Gate. What satan has meant for harm, God has turned to good. What has been incomplete, has now become complete. What was broken and missing has now been restored. Another orphan has joined his family and a lost child has been found.

There was a little boy here at Beautiful Gate before our family arrived in 2010. He has been here for such a long time and has waited anxiously for the day when he would have a family. I remember days when other kids would be adopted and he would sit by himself during playgroup and he would have tears run down his face. So broken and so alone as he waited for his turn. He is such a softhearted little guy and it always made us feel broken hearted as we would hold him in our laps and dry his tears. We prayed with him and asked God to provide a family for him.

Today was the day and God has answered our prayers! He now has his very own mom and dad and he could not have been more proud. I do not think he stopped smiling the entire time they sat together in the chapel and it made all of our hearts glad. No more tears and wondering when it would be his turn because now he will never be alone again. His heart is no longer broken and his desire for a family has been made complete.

As if this was not enough restoration for the day, we also celebrated with an aunt as she came and was reunited with her niece. She cried tears of joy as she held her niece for the first time and then said that she looked just like her sister and cried more (I am not sure if the aunt's sister has passed away or disappeared??). It was really sweet to see her smiling at and kissing her new niece with such a look of love in her eyes. She cried when she told us that she did not even know she had a niece until our social worker found their family and told them. It was obvious that she is happy to be the one to care for this precious child.

It is always sad to see the brokenness that comes along with running a child care center. Children who are without parents and who desire having a family with all of their hearts. Or children who are lost and their family is unknown. Today we saw God bring hope back to these kids and these families through adoption and reunification and it is the most beautiful sight in all the world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

School Update

Last week flew by as I was busy getting a house ready for our new teachers who arrived last Friday. Beth and Dawn are sisters from California who have sold their belongings and moved here to Lesotho with their daughters. They are elementary school teachers from a christian school and have been teaching for many years. I asked for help finding 2 teachers so we could start a small school and they felt God had been tugging on their hearts for awhile for them to come to Lesotho.

I am anxiously excited to see what this year will bring. I have just started my 4th year as the kids teacher and I am about to hand my job over to these 2 wonderful ladies. I know that this is for the best as I have really been feeling led to be more involved at Beautiful Gate, but it is a very big transition for all of us. The kids are used to being on campus and having me around 24 hours a day, I am used to being with them all the time as well, and now Bryan will have me working in the same office with him during the week and hopefully won't get too sick of having me around :)

There is a season for everything under the sun and this year is a season of learning to share the educational responsibilities of my kids and learning to let go of control. It is a season of learning where my place at Beautiful Gate is going to be and how God has gifted me so that I can be a useful tool in His work here. It will be a season of transitions for my family but also for the teachers as they have to learn to find balance living and teaching in the same house, learning to adapt to a new culture, trying to be good mothers to their children as they also adapt to being away from home and many other things that will come up.

Please pray for all of us as we transition and adjust together. There will also be 3 other kids joining the school and please pray for them as well as they all learn how to enjoy being together, learning together and growing into better disciples for God's kingdom. We are all feeling that this plan is from God, but we also know that with all change, there can be "growing pains."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

An 11 year old's heart

I have seen many different phases in the lives and hearts of my children over the past 3 3/4 years. I know that when we first arrived, my kids fell head over heels in love with the BG kids. For Elijah, he made some pretty solid friendships despite the language barriers. Then one by one the kids began to get reunited with family or they would get adopted and I noticed that as each friend went away, so did Elijah's carefree friendship with the BG kids. He eventually stopped going to the playgroup and even tried to refuse adoption ceremonies. His heart was broken and it was too hard to love and lose a friend. Before furlough, he even began to lose his smile and became very serious.

During furlough, he reconnected with a few of those special friends and got to see them in their new home, new country and new family. It was like it all clicked and he could realize that they were happier in their new family than they ever could have been at BG. I think he began to soften his heart toward adoption more and not feel the sting of a lost friend.

Since we came back, I have noticed that the carefree and fun big brother attitude is back and Elijah has been making friends with the kids again. He has one little boy who adores him and wants to spend every minute with Elijah that he can. Before furlough, I would have to beg Elijah to play with this boy, but now he seeks him out. He says nice things just to make this boy feel good about himself or to reassure the boy when he is having a tough day. I am so proud of Elijah for his growth and that he came to this conclusion on his own that it is better to love and lose a friend than it is to hide at home and not make friendships. Yesterday when he was watching a slide show, he saw this boy and said, "that's my buddy!" I could not be more proud of his heart. He even asked if we could adopt this little boy and I had to tell him that he is now matched and rather than be disappointed, he was happy that he would have a family and even wishes that he will have a big brother in his new family.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Women's Appreciation Day

August was women's month so our management team wanted to take a day to celebrate our women staff. We could not pull it together during August, however we celebrated yesterday here at Beautiful Gate. I had the role of welcoming everyone - as the mother of Beautiful Gate and as I stood looking at all of our beautiful women staff, it struck me how blessed I am to be here. I told them that on days like this, I feel like I was born in the wrong country because their traditional clothes, beautiful singing voices and beaming faces are nothing like where I come from (no offense Michigan friends, but these ladies know how to dress up, sing, dance and celebrate)!!!
There was some special music and during that time, I found a staff with a hidden talent. One of our newest staff members, our driver, has the most amazing voice. He sang a hymn and it brought tears to my eyes. Wow, all of the women cheered and praised God. There was much singing and celebrating and then we had a guest speaker. She was such a good speaker. She challenged the women, spoke truth into their lives, made them laugh till they cried, confronted them, encouraged them and prayed for them. I was so honored to be able to share those moments with our staff and I am glad that our social worker suggested this special day.

After the celebrating we had a braai (BBQ) and then took some pictures. Such an incredible day to tell our staff that we appreciate them and all they do for Beautiful Gate. Such an honor to be able to go to work each day and serve the Lord with other women who love God and who are working hard so they can hear their Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I will never be able to pay them what they are really worth, but I can't wait to see their crowns when we meet in glory.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Parliament reopening?

We have no idea if parliament is going to open today or not. Once again there are rumors everywhere about what will happen if it does open and what could happen if it doesn't open today. Things have seemed very normal for the last week when traveling in town. We still have not been traveling at night or going to busy places during the day where there could be demonstrations. Please continue to pray for Lesotho's government to make the right choices for the people here.


http://lestimes.com/mosisili-urges-thabane-honourable-thing/


Here is an article that sums up a bit of what some of the officials are saying.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Local Adoption Ceremony

You may think that after being here for 3 ½ years that adoption ceremonies could get a little “normal” and lose a little bit of that first excitement. Surprisingly, that never seems to be the case. Each family has a different story and each child is so unique and has a story of their own. When you mix those two stories, often a beautiful and joyous occasion is created.


Last Friday, we celebrated with a Basotho family who were bringing their child home. They took her home on Monday and then returned Friday for their adoption ceremony. I thought it was a very powerful ceremony. The mother explained how at first, she did not think that her daughter was going to be a good match. They came twice a week to visit her while waiting for the court order to come out and during that time, they really bonded. She was so thankful that she was wrong and that this little girl has turned out to be the perfect match for their family.Paballo adoption pic
The day they took her home happened to be during one of the days of political turmoil and the lights were shut off for 45 minutes at their house (and all around the city). She was sure that her new daughter would be screaming or crying and fearful, however, she started singing a hymn that she had learned either from her house mothers or from the playgroup. Her new mother was so pleased and it really reassured her that her daughter was well loved and cared for by our staff.


Hearing the staff sing and praise God during this ceremony and hearing the parents testimony of this perfect match and seeing the father’s tears as he tried to thank all the staff at Beautiful Gate – those things will never be normal or unexciting. We are so privileged to be a part of this act of love and I can only pray that the political issues will not interfere or delay the adoption process because finding a family is the most important thing we can do for each child who comes through our gate!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Psalm 91


When tempted to let fear crawl in today, I found myself having to read Psalm 91 to my kids as part of their homeschool lesson.
v.9-11 "Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways."
v.15 "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."



We really have no more answers as to when the issues here will be resolved, but I really felt God speaking to me today through this scripture. I am a bit tired, stressed out, and weighed down with our responsibilities here for the last 9 days, but I know that God is watching over us. His angels are surrounding Beautiful Gate and he is never tired, stressed out or weighed down. Trouble could come, but I know that my God is with me. Enemies could be surrounding me on all sides, but I know my God is with me. I am thankful that my refuge is the Lord because when all others may fail me, He is faithful and steadfast. I still would not mind a peaceful resolution to come soon, but even if it drags on, we are not walking alone. God and many of you who read my blog are walking with us.
Thank you for your prayers during one of the most uncertain times I have walked through with my family.

Friday, September 5, 2014

God has been Faithful to Us

We are feeling optimistic about the situation in Lesotho. Yes, we cannot predict anything and things can change in the blink of an eye, but the prime minister is back and the police reported back on duty yesterday. There were no known issues of violence last night and so we have decided to call back our volunteers. We will continue to monitor the situation and if things grow tense and dangerous again, we will send them back across. We will all be staying on campus at night and will only go to town with others so as to remain safe, but currently everything is back to normal in the city.


As far as the government is concerned, I have NO IDEA what is going to happen. There is a chance that parliament could be dissolved and if not, they will reopen on September 19th. We have been warned that things could get bad again on September 19th, but we are trusting God for continued peace. We also pray that these uncertain times will not negatively affect the children in our care who are waiting for their family.


This past week has been a chance to see how faithful Gad has been to our family. We were safe and we felt His peace. Our family, church family and many friends from around the world were on their knees for Lesotho, Beautiful Gate and our family. We had many emails of encouragement and scripture verses and it strengthened us. We know that things are not finalized within the government, but we also know that God called us here for a purpose and He is not finished with us yet. We trust that He will hide us in the shelter of His wings through the storms that will continue to rise up in Lesotho.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Political Unrest in Maseru

I want to start this off by saying that all of the information that I am about to share is to the best of my knowledge through newspaper, radio and word of mouth.
In June, there was going to be a vote of no confidence in our current Prime Minister. So, he actually closed the Parliament (which is allowed by the Lesotho constitution), therefore not allowing them to vote him out. His Deputy Prime Minister is from another political party and is also not on great terms with the PM right now. On Friday, August 29, new reports are that the PM dismissed the General of the Lesotho Defense Force (most likely on grounds of corruption). So during the night (early Saturday morning) the Military, under direction of the dismissed General, went into action. They stormed 3 Maseru police stations and disarmed all the police in Maseru, one police man was killed and 4 were wounded. They were also reportedly looking for case files (apparently very specific ones). The military also stormed the PM’s house but he was long gone to South Africa. They also shot at the Deputy General of the Lesotho Defense Force’s house too (while he was in it) and he has since fled the country. That all happened in the early morning hours Saturday morning. Side Note: The Police support the PM, while the Lesotho Defense Force supports the Deputy Prime Minister.
The rest of Saturday was quiet and we even went to the mall to get supplies on Saturday afternoon and nothing appeared out of normal. Sunday was also calm around the city, but you could feel the tension in the air. During those times, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister were in talks with South African officials of how to resolve the issues here peacefully. In the meantime, the #3 in line to the Minister was in charge and he fell ill, so the country is technically being run by the #4 in line, until the PM or Deputy PM return.
Also since Saturday, the General that was dismissed has declared that he is still the General in charge of the Lesotho Defense Force and the Deputy General of the Defense Force is still in South Africa. One major issue right now is that there are one or two political parties that still support the dismissed General as the current General and the rest of the parties are supporting the Deputy General as the current General. Confused yet?
In the meantime, there are no police anywhere in Lesotho as they are terrified of being harassed or shot by the military. Yesterday (Monday) all was quiet in town and we went to dinner down town with a large group of volunteers. Ooops. Bad idea. We were all safe, but during dinner, the electricity went off all over Maseru (and at Beautiful Gate) and there were reports of gun shots heard in Maseru. We were able to finish dinner and drive back to BG with no incident. The roads were actually very quiet and no one was monitoring them. We also received an e-mail from the US Embassy that said all non essential US Citizens should leave the country due to deteriorating security and politics. So, this morning we woke up (no other incidences) and Anita and I decided that all our volunteers should go to South Africa for the rest of the week, while we monitor the situation.
Today has been quiet all day and BG has even been able to get all the supplies it needs to be self sufficient for a couple weeks, if needed. The Prime Minister has announced that he will be returning to Lesotho today, but no one knows when. This could be a very tense situation when he does arrive as the Defense Force does not like him and there are no police to help maintain peace. The US Embassy is worried about the lack of political leadership in Lesotho, the lack of police for normal civilian services, and the unstable military situation.
The Basotho people have impressed me, in the fact that, during this time of no police, there has been relative calm, no major crimes, etc. The morals of the people are keeping them in check. But, with that, ex pats are increasingly at danger of being looted or harmed, as we are seen to have money and stuff and there are no police to “catch” them. Lawlessness could rule, but it hasn’t so far. All of this “stuff” has happened in the city and we are outside of the city. So, we are safe, “hunkering down” and monitoring the situation. The Southern African Development Community (SADC,a group of countries in Southern Africa) are helping the PM and Deputy PM, and a timeline for the parliament to be restored has been made.
If anything should happen tonight, Anita and my kids will be taking a vehicle and joining the other volunteers in South Africa as soon as it is safe. I will be staying with Beautiful Gate through it all. It is easy for me to hide on campus and have the staff assist me with any food or other supplies needed. Please pray for peace and that there will be a steady and peaceful return to politics here in Lesotho. Please pray that the parliamentary timeline set by SADC will be installed and work well. There are SADC defense forces ready to intervene at a moments notice, but that is not wanted by anyone in Lesotho. The last time that SADC came in (1998) half of the city of Maseru was looted and burned. Please pray that cooler heads prevail in the government, police and military levels. Please pray for a peaceful night in Lesotho tonight.
We wanted to share this with all of you not because we are involved in the politics, but because we could be affected if these issues are not resolved peacefully. We ask for your support and prayers during this uncertain time. Currently, we have been able to keep things running normally here at Beautiful Gate, but it is possible that if a peaceful resolution is not agreed upon soon, our day to day operations could be affected.
Bryan and Anita

Monday, September 1, 2014

Political confusion

Tensions have risen again here in Maseru this evening. There is much debate about what is happening, what will happen and what we as ex-pats should do. Please continue to pray as the line between truth, rumor and fear is very confusing.


As I tucked my kids in bed tonight and prayed over Lesotho, I realized that I really feel God's peace. I trust that we are in His mighty and loving hands, and He has all of this under control. We are confused, but He is not. He knows the outcome and His will is perfect and will prevail! It is a huge relief knowing that we do not have to depend on our own knowledge or strength, but God is holding our hands and walking with us each step.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peaceful Day at BG

Today was a calm day in the city of Maseru. We have heard rumors that the march scheduled for tomorrow have been canceled, but we will wait and see what the morning brings. There are so many rumors and so much finger pointing that we really have no idea what to believe. So when our staff get here in the morning, we will just check in what what they saw on the way in as well as what they have heard on the radio. We thank you for your prayers and ask that you continue to pray for our government as there is so much strife and conflict that I fear, in time, it could have a bad impact on what we are trying to do here at BG, provide our kids with a loving family whether local or overseas.

The kids here at BG had a relaxing and peaceful day. I love the bliss that kids can have when they do not know or understand the bad things happening all around them. All they knew was that there was a new family to hang out with as the Curtis family arrived yesterday and spent some time playing with all the kids at playgroup today. Nothing like a bunch of cute kids to give us hugs and smiles and take all our worries away. God uses many avenues to bring us peace and the Beautiful Gate kids are just one of those.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Political troubles in Lesotho

There has been some political unrest in our city. The parliament has ben shut down since June and was scheduled to reopen on Monday. We were warned to stay on campus that day, so we were planning to head into town this weekend for supplies. At 5:30am last night there were gunshots heard in town and the military surrounded the police stations and the state building. Beautiful Gate is on the outskirts of town and has not been affected by this, but we were surprised to find this news as we awoke today. Please pray for Lesotho and that there will be a peaceful outcome to these conflicts. We do not know what to expect on Monday but we can all rest easily because we know that our God is far bigger than these troubles!

Here are a few links from NY times

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2014/08/30/world/africa/30reuters-lesotho-coup.html?_r=1

Here is a link to the BBC article

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28994193

Like I said, we are all fine and going to just play it safe and stay on campus. Thank you very much for remembering Lesotho in your prayers.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Safely Home


Our family took 10 days to have a time to be together and reconnect, but also to see a bit more of this huge continent we live in. We traveled to Mozambique and spent 5 days by the ocean and wow, it was so beautiful. We were in a bay so there were not many waves and our kids swam in the pool and in the ocean non-stop. As I watched them splashing and playing, I just smiled seeing their pure joy. This vacation gave us a few days of no interruption and we had so much fun together. Amazingly, we managed the whole trip with no sunburns, so good job African sunscreen!

We did go snorkeling for one day but the ocean was not cooperative and we swallowed a lot of salt water as we tried to swim with big waves going over us and into our snorkels. Elijah and Faith braved it for a little while but Mercy was not going to get her face wet. Then they dropped us off on an island for a few hours and it was beautiful and it had a huge sand dune we could climb and more snorkeling with no waves. The kids were in heaven and ran all over the island.

Our last few days were spent in Swaziland and there was more to do there than we could squeeze in, but we did get to watch a man making candles and he spoiled my kids by asking them their favorite animal and then making it while they watched him and then he gave it to them for no charge. We also went to a glass blowing factory and saw some really beautiful things made from recycled glass. The kids read posters all about blowing glass and the process of making different glass items but did not get to see anyone blow glass because it was a Sunday.

We LOVED our time away and it was good for each one of us to have that time together, but we were all very happy to be back in Lesotho on Sunday night. It was nice to greet everyone at the border in the language we are now familiar with and it was just good to be back at Beautiful Gate and see our friends here. Beautiful Gate is such a great place to be and while the ocean and palm trees were beautiful, the weather was warm and inviting, and we had no worries for a few days, we are happy to be back home!
Our first house in Mozambique - 1 night only.

A pic in front of the glass blowing factory in Swaziland.

The view from our house in Mozambique where we stayed 5 days.


Apparently our house came with a cook so we had him cook one meal, crab curry and prawns. It was very nice.

This man made each of my kids their own candle animal. He is an amazing artist.


I tried to post this 2 days ago but we were having internet issues.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Vacation Time

Tomorrow is our 15th anniversary and we will be celebrating by taking the kids on a trip to Mozambique and Swaziland. We will spend 10 days away seeing some sights and also relaxing on a beach for 5 days. Faith has been counting down the days for the last 44 days and just now came and said that she can't sleep :) We are all looking forward to some down time and I am thankful that God has provided us with the amazing opportunity (our friend helped us get a really good deal).


We have to leave a day early so we can try to get our visas in order so please pray with us that all will work out and there will be no complications or delays. Prayers for our safety as well would be greatly appreciated and I hope to have some nice pictures to post upon our return. We will be missing an adoption and possible child reunification while we are away as well as a chance to get to know some short term volunteers who just arrived, so please pray also for Beautiful Gate while we are away as it is a very busy place!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My rambling thoughts

It is a cool, rainy Saturday here in Lesotho. After a winter of mostly sunny days, it is a great relief to have a cloudy rainy day. You see, August is WINDY season and the winter sun has dried out the land and grass so that when the wind blows, the top soil, dry grass and litter go flying through the air. I took the kids to the river yesterday for a little play time and we all had to cover our nose, mouth and sometimes eyes to walk there. Sometimes the dirt in the air is so thick that we cannot even see across campus and the sky looks cloudy even though we know there are no clouds. It is amazing to see and hard on those of us with allergies, but with the wind comes warmth and occasional rain.


The past month has been a time of many children coming and going. We have had 6 children who have been adopted and 2 who have been reunified and we have had about 5 newborn babies admitted. With the 6 children who were adopted, one family had waited 8 years for their set of siblings and the other families waited 6 years!! Wow, what a long wait for these families and yet they persevered and waited for their children. What blessed my heart is that every single one of them, after meeting their child, said it was worth the wait as the child/children were a perfect fit. It is amazing that God can orchestrate such perfect matches.


When I returned from furlough, our youngest child was 3 months old and we had very few newborn babies brought in for the 5 months after and now our houses are full of newborn baby cries again. One house is so full of little babies that they no longer have room for more. All their older children have been adopted or reunited so it is a really young house and a lot of work for the house mothers. Yet, when I go in there to visit, the house mothers are smiling and singing and playing peek-a-boo with their little children.


Hearing the cries of the newborn babies is a bittersweet sound. On one hand, I am extremely thankful that the babies have been brought to a safe place and have the hope of adoption. However, the fact that they have been abandoned, thrown away as trash or have been the victims of attempted murder, breaks my heart. I look forward to a day when there will be no more abandonment even if that means I will be without a job! I am also praying for the adoption process and that there would be a breakthrough that would quicken the waiting time for families who are trying to fill the call in their lives to love on the precious children not only here at BG, but around the world.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Think of Me"

For the past 2 days, I have been going into a house and looking at and holding a little boy. He is less than a week old and he is just an amazingly cute little guy. He is quite lucky to be alive considering his mother did not choose to get pregnant. This choice was forced upon her and yet she choose to go through with her pregnancy and give up her first son for adoption. She is only a teenager and knew she could not care for him nor did she have the resources to even try, so she did the loving thing, and is giving him a hope and a future.
Culturally, she could have ended his life without guilt or shame. Yet, she gave him life. Many girls around the world choose to have "fun" and are careless, get pregnant and abort their babies. They had choices and ways to prevent it and yet choose the easy and immoral way out by choosing death for their child. But this young girl, she chose life for her son. She gave him a chance and can sleep easier without the added trauma of murder to her conscience. May God pour His blessings over this young woman. When forced into this situation, she chose love.
So he arrived the other day, after hours, and I got to meet him on his second day of life. We had a social worker fill out an admission form and that is when I noticed that this little guy did not even have a name. So sad, and yet I know that he does have a name to God. He was knit together and God has a family for him. God knew that his mother would not be able to care for him, but God has a mother who is waiting and aching for a baby to hold in her arms. My heart aches for the girls of Lesotho who are being forced into these situations. My heart breaks for the tiny babies who come through our gates without the love and care of a mother. But my heart also hopes because I will get to see some of these babies in the arms of their chosen mothers. Mothers who will wait years and years until they can bring their child home.
In my reflective state of mind, I listened to the song, "Think of Me" by Lisa Chan a few times today. Here are just a few of the lines in the song that are moving...


"I have a name you can know it, it's been awhile since anybody asked..."
"Think of me, let me live in your mind..."
"Keep loving me, while others play blind..."
"Show true religion, cause words don't relieve, your actions they heal me, show that you believe..."
"Think of me..."


To mothers who chose life and mother's who bring those lives into their homes through adoption!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

7/11

Eleven years ago, I embarked upon an epic adventure...
I became a mother!
This event changed the course of my life forever. Nothing would ever be the same again...and that is completely fine with me.
You see, I am not one of those mothers who is going to complain about needing time away from my kids because I LOVE being with my kids.
I am not going to tell you all the things I miss from before I was a mother because my life is richer and fuller because of having my kids.
I enjoy who they are, laughing with them, playing with them, cuddling with them, crying with them and most of all loving them through every stage of their life. I do not regret the past and I do not worry about the future hardships to come, I enjoy them right now in the moment.
I say these things not to brag, but in hopes of encouraging others.
Children are a blessing from the Lord whether biological or adopted and I encourage you all to take every minute and live in it so you won't regret missed time once they are gone and out of the house.


Eleven years ago, God gave me a son who was so cute, sweet and easy to love. He has changed a ton over the last 11 years and has become a young man who loves God with all his heart, seeks justice for those who are mistreated, has the most creative and imaginative mind, enjoys being the big brother to over 60 sweet little Basotho kids and who will stop at NOTHING to get a laugh out of everyone he meets. God knew what He was doing when He created this guy because he is a joy to be around :)


Seven years ago, God gave me a daughter who was also cute, sweet and easy to love. She embraces her place as the youngest in our family by being our little clown. Her laugh is so hilarious that it makes all of us laugh with her. She loves like no one I have ever known and enjoys serving others. She spends most of her free time pretending to be an animal and loves to dress up and be a girly girl. But most of all she loves to bring a smile to our face and to cheer up the kids around Beautiful Gate when they are sad. She loves God and wants to please Him and prays more faithfully for people than I ever remember to. I am so glad God knit her together into such a great mixture of fun and love.


I praise God for another year with my precious kids and that I can celebrate the birthdays of 2 of them tomorrow. I did not do anything to deserve such precious gifts, yet God saw fit to give me 3 of the most amazing blessings in all the world. I will do my best to honor Him by investing my whole heart into them so that they in turn can pour their hearts out for others when it is time for them to serve God on their own.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELIJAH AND MERCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!







Bryan and I surprised them with a flight with MAF. They loved it except that Mercy gets a little airsick, bummer. They were celebrities at the village they visited too as I do not think too many white kids have flown there :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Reasons to Come to Africa

The other  night, Faith and her 2 cousins, Paige and Kelly, spent about 2 1/2 hours Skyping with each other. They did their usual things like playing with American girl dolls and having a dance party, but then they did something new which made my heart extremely sad. The three of them decided to convince their mom/Faith's aunt of all the good reasons they should come to Africa. My kids and their cousins are like siblings in that they are so close and they really love each other and miss each other so much while we are here in Africa. It is so hard to have them separated, but I have to trust God's timing and plan.
Sorry Kristin but I made a promise to the little sweeties that I would write out their list and make sure you saw it. They spent a lot of time and had some great discussions (more than one which made me want to cry because they love each other so much) and here is the list of all the good reasons why you should bring your two girls to Lesotho/ South Africa:


1. Good way to spend time together
2. It's educational
3. Once in a lifetime opportunity
4. African kids
5. Fun
6. Warm
7. New foods
8. Amazing views
9. Pet and see cool animals
10. Help kids
11. New culture
12. Exciting
13. Amazing sunsets
14. Swimming
15. Hunting
16. Fishing
17. You will see what life is like for us
18. We don't have to Skype
19. New smells
20. Stars
21. We can climb the big tree
22. Pretty flowers
23. Amazing trip
24. New language
25. Adoptions
26. See each other in person


With each list of good reasons, you need a few bad reasons too so the girls had:


1. Expensive
2. Long travel time
3. Mosquitos
4. Need shots
5. Passports needed
6. Poverty (seeing it I guess)
7. Boring trip in airplane
8. Water is not clean


As you all can see the good far out ways the bad, so it is a pretty convincing argument :) I praise God for a family that really loves one another and really wants to be together. We are lucky that our kids and nieces get along so well. I just need to remember to be thankful when I hear them talking and plotting together and not feel sad or bad that they are not able to be together as much as they would like. This is one of the unfortunate costs of obedience, but we have eternity to spend together making up for the time we do not get to be close to each other on Earth. And Kristin, I do not know if their argument will help you come here, but here is their well thought out list. If only the cost was not so high, then it would be so much easier.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quarterly Update


This is an article that I posted in our most recent newsletter so if you received our newsletter, you can ignore this post.

The last 4 months have been very full of visitors from around the world. We have hosted several teams, even a few from our own hometown which was great. During our furlough, we felt like we were too busy to really connect with a few people that we wanted to connect with and having a team from our church as well as a team from Bryan’s old high school, offered a great opportunity for us to make stronger connections.
Seeing those we love and respect coming through the gates here and falling in love with the same kids and staff we love is heartwarming. Seeing their tears, hearing their stories, and listening to their hearts about how God has met them while they served Him here is always so encouraging to us and inspiring also.


We have had 3 volunteers join our team this year and spending time with them has also been such an encouragement to us. Living in community day by day and seeing Jesus come alive through the actions and attitudes of those serving alongside us has kept us going through the hard times and helped us stop and give God the glory in the good times too. 

Beautiful Gate is not a perfect place because we have not reached our destination in heaven yet, but it is great to see how God is using people from around the world to come alongside our staff and He has helped our staff come alongside those who are hurting. There are many issues that arise both through our staff and through our volunteers and it has given us many opportunities to grow and also to display the fruit of the spirit which God is pruning us to produce. All that being said, we feel God moving and shaping us and we love the way He is using His people to encourage each other in the amazing journey of life.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Prayer Request

We all have experienced that there is a season for everything just like it says in Ecclesiastes, and right now I guess is the season of frustration.
Running the day to day operations of Beautiful Gate is well more than a full time job. There are after hour emergencies, work that needs to be done over the weekend and mental and emotional stress of the job that is taken home each night. I know that is true with many Americans too and I do not discredit their hard work, but the added stress of a donation run organization in a foreign country do add a difficult dimension all their own. Sometimes there are so many great things happening that the difficulty is easy to overlook. A sick child is healed and returns home from the hospital, a child is reunited with a parent who really loves them, a child is adopted, one of our staff shows gratitude for something, a team comes and blesses our staff with special gift, etc.
But sometimes the difficulties of one thing going wrong after another with no break in between is too much and it overshadows the good.
We would appreciate your prayers. Please pray that things would stop "breaking" here at Beautiful Gate, that our equipment would work properly and be installed correctly and that our cars would be maintained well and a trustworthy and good mechanic could be found. Please pray that our staff would love one another and that they would work with unity and in a peaceful spirit with one another. Most of all, please pray that we would ALL keep our eyes focused on God and not let the worries of this world carry us away through fear or frustration.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Goodbyes, Apartheid and G.A.S.

Our family was away most of the last week because we took Grace and Terp to Koranna Game Lodge and met up with some of our friends who are living in South Africa. We had a lot of fun and relaxation time while we were there. We wanted to give Terp and Grace a couple days to have some down time to process all they have experienced over the past 6 months before hopping on a plane and returning to America. Terp and I made a fun little video about hunting and making a homemade bow, which amazingly, was able to shoot an arrow!!!!! Not enough force behind it to kill an animal, but it was impressive anyway (not that I would ever actually kill an animal).
We drove to Jo-berg on Wednesday to drop Terp and Grace off at the airport and Faith summed it up best when she said, "No one should have to say good-bye to 3 of their best friends on the same day." (Elaina is her friend who lives about 8 hours away in South Africa and we had to say buy to them before we drove to Jo-berg). Despite the sadness of saying good-bye to people we love, we were able to have some quality time together as a family for the rest of that night and the next day. I wanted to take the kids on a field trip to Soweto to learn more about apartheid, but we could not afford the tours (I had no idea anything in Africa cost that much, bummer). We settled for the Apartheid museum which was very informative but also very sad to see pictures and see first hand videos of the horror people faced in those years. Each of my kids wrote a paper about it and I was impressed with the things they picked up on while at the museum.
After that we decided to end the day with something a little lighter and took the kids to a place where they could feed giraffes and it was great. They had one of the biggest giraffes I have ever seen (and yes I have seen quite a few since coming to Africa) and unfortunately for Mercy, he confused her finger for a piece of food and squished it a little. After a few moments of tears, she forgave the giraffe, and Bryan told her she was in a rare club called G.A.S., giraffe attack survivors. We all has a very good laugh at that and continued with our day :)
I enjoyed our family time very much as it is a rare thing when we have a few days to ourselves so although our hearts we sad to say our goodbyes, God gave us a little present of family time so we could make a few more memories as well as have a few teachable moments through learning about the history of South Africa.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Little Babies

Today I took some time to go into the houses and hold babies and play with children. You would think that since I live on campus, I'd do that everyday. I'd love to but with teaching, being a mom, being in meetings and helping with teams and volunteers, I do not get to do that as often as I would like.
I visited my little girl who has special needs and who has been put on a feeding tube since she was admitted to the hospital last month. I found out that she has gained almost 2 kgs (4.4 lbs) since she was put on the feeding tube and since she was very malnourished, this is great news. I had fun holding her and another baby in her room and then laughing at the antics of the little boys in that house.
I went to another house and played ring around the rosies, played duck, duck, goose and read 2 books to the children. I had so much fun that I lost track of time. Holding babies, reading to kids, tickling kids, playing and laughing are all such a privilege for me and I love being able to bring joy into their lives.


Winter is here and we received a 4 day old baby this week and we have about 5 other new little ones on campus that have come in since the weather has grown colder. It is sad that we get so many newborns in the winter, but I am thankful that they have been brought to BG to be given love, care and warmth. I feel so honored that God would bring Bryan and I here along with our 3 kids because caring for orphans is hopeful yet heartbreaking, joyful yet depressing, and fulfilling yet tragic. Their stories break my heart and make me sad as some of their circumstances are just tragic. They have endured so much in their life already and yet God has a special plan for each one who comes through our gate and so we get to enjoy watching them join families. We see their faces light up when they find out that they have a new mom/dad who will be coming to take them home.
I pray that these little babies will have a family in the near future. I love playing with the older kids as well as the babies but my heart longs for them to be matched and placed with a family or reunited with a family member here in Lesotho so that they do not have to grow up in a care facility. I enjoyed my day with the kids and am thankful for the opportunity.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Swedish Celebrations!

While there are many Swedish families who are taking today and celebrating their midsummer festival, we had two families here who were celebrating adoption. They gave us a really beautiful book with hundreds of pictures of Sweden and then pointed out that today is a holiday there. A day to get together and celebrate the warm season (since they only really get 2 months of really warm weather). So while their fellow countrymen celebrate the warmth, they are spending a few weeks in the cold winter of Lesotho (which I am sure is not too cold compared to their homeland).

We had two boys adopted today and they both came to us as tiny babies. We have had the pleasure of watching them grow a little and hit a few milestones such as crawling, pulling themselves up, and walking. However, today we handed them over to their parents who will get to be there for them for every new milestone from now on. They will have parents to tuck them in, read them books, listen to their good and bad days, hug them, and love them forever. What a joyous day! Celebrating the warmth of becoming a family!

The beauty of adoption never gets old to me. It blows my mind that God knew before He knit those boys together that they were not going to be staying with their biological mom. For some reason, their mothers would not have the privilege of raising their own children. He had another plan that involved two other families who would come in and love the boys and raise them as their own. Wow, what an amazing plan. One which we can never fully understand because it is hard to imagine being the one who has to give up her son, but God’s plans are for our good. He knows what is best for everyone involved and I am thankful that He is in control. Here are a few pictures of these wonderful new families!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Delightful Visit

Earlier this year, 4 of our Beautiful Gate children were moved to another care facility being run by the Beautiful Dream Society. I remember the day well as there were more tears cried that day here at Beautiful Gate than I had ever seen before. It was a day of laying down our dreams for these kids to be adopted by a family of their own. It was never that we had bad feelings about the other care center, it was only hard because of our own desires and dreams for these 4 children.


Tonight Terp (Christina Terpstra) and I had the privilege of going to their care center and having dinner with the 4 children and their 8 brothers and sisters in their care facility/ foster home. Each child greeted us warmly as we came into the house and told us their name and then we ate dinner with the kids. The kids sang us a few songs and even showed us a few dances and a little rap song. I asked Terp to sing "Trading My Sorrows" to the kids while I cut the dessert I made for the kids and house mothers. That song broke the ice for us and helped the kids who did not know us to feel like we were okay. It was especially fun to see the banter between one house mother and a few of the older kids. They have so much joy in their relationship. I asked if I could take a picture of the kids and so one of the older boys lined up all the kids by size and then I took a few pictures of them smiling, then with funny faces and then laughing with them all leaning on each other's backs.


I guess the best way to describe my time there was laughter. We all laughed and joked with each other and really, it felt like a family. Older siblings helping the younger ones, parents teasing their kids, laughter and chatter during a meal together, etc. I am so thankful that I got a glimpse into their lives at their new home because I see that the kids are thriving together. God has chosen them for this family and they fit in well. Once again it shows how much I do not understand God's plan. He has good plans for us and for our future. He has good plans for those 4 children and so I will trust His plan and His placement of these precious little ones.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mercy's Pretend Play

When Faith was 6, I remember that she used to dress up in rags and pretend to be a poor girl who had no food. I actually remember writing a blog post about it, but when I looked back over my blog I could not find the specific blog post. I remember wondering how much she had changed from pretending to be a princess in America to a pauper in Lesotho.


Mercy is 6 and recently I have come to notice a theme in her pretend play just like I noticed in Faith's at her age. Mercy is always an orphan who has been abandoned or her parents have been killed. No matter if she is pretending to be a little girl or if she is pretending to be an animal, it is always an orphan. Today she asked me to help her write a story and here are a few parts of her story;



...I am a cheetah. My mother was hunting and my father was babysitting us. My father thought there were too many of us so he abandoned me. I was the weirdest. My ears were black...When it was winter, I was very cold and found a sock to crawl into. I knew is stinked, but at least I was warm...


The story continued on and although the cheetah was found and adopted, it was a bit of a sad story with only an okay ending, certainly not the happily ever after that my kids would have imagined had we stayed in our small town in Michigan and never seen Lesotho and real poverty and real problems. Although the psychologist in me thinks this is a healthy way to process all that she has seen and heard, the mother in me wants to protect her a little more. I do thank God that we are here though because Mercy has a beautiful compassionate heart that adores the little babies at Beautiful Gate and I admire her merciful heart for the orphan.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hope of a Happy Life

Have you ever been thankful for someone's death? It sounds completely heartless and unchristian to think that way, right?!
I only ask that because of a little girl whom I love. She came here awhile ago. I remember her first day here and how sad she looked. Honestly, that is the way I remember her first months, pure sadness. She did not smile or respond to the people around her. She was content to just sit and stare. I worried about her. So young and yet so unconnected. What happened? Rather than read her file and find out, I just decided to try to make a connection.
It did not come easily. I had to work for it. Visiting her at playgroup a lot and just holding her in my arms so she would know she was safe and loved. Then one day it happened. I was walking toward the playgroup and she came running. Running to me!!!! And she actually smiled when I picked her up and swung her around. Wow, what an amazing smile. From that day on, it was our ritual that she would run to me and smile when I picked her up. I loved that connection.
She has recently left Beautiful Gate to be reunited with her family because her mother passed away. I wondered why that should make a difference and then Terp shared with me what she had learned from the girl's file. Her mother did not care for her and whenever she was moved to a different family member's house, her mother would beat them up and take her back. She was never safe until she came to Beautiful Gate. No wonder she never smiled when she came here. I cannot imagine the abuse she witnessed and may have even experienced herself. But now, she is free to be with her family again and they want her. She is loved and safe again.
That got me to thinking, am I happy that her mother is dead? I do not really know how I feel, but I am thankful that God has made a way for her to have hope and a future because the person who was standing in her way, is no longer there. I hope her mother found a relationship with Jesus before she died and I am thankful for the time I could enjoy with her while she was here waiting for a time where she could safely return home. Maybe I am not happy her mother died, I am just happy for the daughter to have the hope of a happy life.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Faithfulness

After several months of feeling like I was suppose to go and not being able to due to lack of transport or a team or volunteers, I have had my date with God :) I watched a video by Francis Chan where he suggested taking a vacation with God and I was really inspired by that idea. I do not have the time to take a vacation with God, but I have been wanting to go to a mountain and pray for several months and last Saturday I went. For those of you who read my last blog post, you probably could see that I needed to get away for a day!
The biggest thing I was reminded about is that God is faithful. After reading and praying for a bit, I read through my journals that I have written in sporadically for the past 15 years. After seeing how God answered my prayers, both in good ways and in ways I never expected, I was amazed. I am no longer surprised in any way that we live here in Lesotho after I read some of my prayers for my family back in 2009. I begged God to help me never forget what I saw on my mission trip, to break my heart for the things that break His, and to teach my kids what really matters in life. I went so far as to ask Him to burn the images in my mind for the rest of my life. God is faithful and He knew the only way for this to happen was for me to live here and to raise my kids here.
So while I may doubt my abilities at times, God trusts me. He had it planned out for me and He will guide me each step of my journey. I am thankful that I can spend quiet time with Him each day, but there was something extra special about setting the day apart for Him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Down Days

The last couple of days have been downer kind of days. I am not even sure I could put my finger on the exact cause, but I feel drained and worn out. There have been issues coming up on all sides with staff, volunteers, staff family members, government issues and BG kids. Sometimes I feel like we are drowning in issues, but we have to keep our heads above water so we can still run the day to day operations of Beautiful Gate, not to mention the responsibilities of raising and teaching our kids. It can be overwhelming at times and I am just in one of those phases right now.
There is one situation that I keep coming back to and I am desperate for God to move in this area, but the door has been slammed shut. It involves the health of one of our BG kids (who is not matched right now) and I ask you to pray with me that God will open the door or show us an even better option very soon. I hate the despair that I feel because I do have faith that God can do all things, He just seems to be saying no right now and I need to accept His timing. This is stretching me.
It is days like these where I wonder why God did not pick someone stronger, smarter or more experienced to help run Beautiful Gate. Today, I feel weak and unprepared for the calling. I just ask that in this moment of weakness that you pray for us, our family, our staff and their families and our kids here at Beautiful Gate. Thank you

Saturday, May 17, 2014

FREEDOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today Terp and I went on a little adventure to celebrate her college graduation and my half birthday since she will not be here to celebrate with me in November. We can justify a lot of things in order to have a day away :) We went shopping, had lunch, visited the Cheetah Experience (where I have yet to actually experience touching a cheetah, bummer), and visited a beautiful garden center. We were able to do all those things today because my friends, Benno and Wendy, have allowed me to babysit their car while they are in Canada and it is so great to have a little freedom.
I have tried to drive a manual but I am not very good at it because remembering to stay on the left and worrying about taxis pulling out at any moment are enough for me, shifting and big hills where I might roll back seem to be too much for my brain. I know it is a bad excuse, but I do not like it at all and prefer an automatic. So now I have a few months of freedom were I can drive a little (don't worry Faths' I do not have a lot of road trips planned). Just getting out of Lesotho once in awhile is a nice way to relax and clear my brain of my never ending to do list here at Beautiful Gate and also give me a chance to take my kids on a few field trips, yeah! :) I know that this is temporary and I am looking forward to having our friends back here at BG again.