Monday, March 31, 2014

Church Family

On Saturday, a team of 21 from the Holland/ Zeeland, MI area arrived at Beautiful Gate. Most of them attend our home church in Michigan, Haven CRC. It is absolutely wonderful having our church family here on campus with us. They are ready and willing to do whatever needs done and their enthusiasm is catching. I noticed such a fun and relaxed attitude today among our staff and it felt so good.

Watching a team fall in love with the kids or sit in the office, at the maintenance shed or on a couch and talk with our staff, always touches my heart. Seeing my American friends embracing and learning to love my Basotho friends, is such a great thing. That is when I really know that my friends from America will never be the same again. Orphans have a name, a face, a personality and have become real and will never be a statistic again. My Basotho friends have families of their own, desire to live for and serve God, work hard at their jobs to provide and will never be just a statistic again. They also have a name, a face, a personality and have shared a bit of their lives. It is beautiful to see that transformation and I love the way God brings about connections.

16 members of this team attend our home church and it is so encouraging to know that they are getting to see what God has called us to and it is great to be able to share that none of this is because of Bryan or I. Neither of us is equipped to keep Beautiful Gate operating smoothly, but God has been gracious to us. Sharing our love for this country and the people here is one of the privileges of being the directors. Having the support and encouragement of this team as they embrace us and tell us that they are glad we have extended to stay an extra 2 years (till 2017 instead of 2015 for those of you who are not on our newsletter list and did not hear the good news)

Today I saw eyes light up with joy and laughter as kids ran to team members for love and hugs. I heard shouts, cheering and laughter as kids learned how to hop and race on a ball and were cheered on by the team. I heard our staff singing a traditional song and saw their happy faces as they "performed." I saw tears well up in many eyes as they became overcome by emotion and love. I saw kids fall and gently be lifted up. Today I saw a picture of heaven with love and joy and pure delight. Lives are being touched and I thank God that He saw fit to send this group of friends from home.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I came face to face with a 6 year old's fear and it caught me off guard, but it should not have. If from the time you were 3, you were surrounded by orphans, your mom was not just your mom but also your teacher.  And for 3 years you prayed for a friend of your mothers who had cancer and the friend died, then I can understand why there is fear.

Bryan and I were going away for an overnight and Mercy became distraught. She was sobbing and really upset about us leaving in the morning so I pulled her into my room and lay down next to her and asked her what was really bothering her. She said, "Every time you go away, I am scared you will never come back. I think that you are going to die and leave me without a mother." Wow, that is a big fear and a reasonable one with the situations she sees everyday. Children dropped off at Beautiful Gate with no one to take care of them or love them, children without their mom.

I did not want to dismiss her fear as unfounded as I do not know the time or day of my death, only God knows. However, I did my best to explain to her that God's plan is the best plan and if He takes me home, then it is my time. There are plenty of people in our family who would care for her and not leave her an orphan at Beautiful Gate. How sad that we live in a world where children have to fear where they will go if their parents die. How sad that at the age of 6, Mercy thinks about my death and is surrounded by fear. Even at the age of 6 and even knowing how great of a place Beautiful Gate is, she knows that it is NOTHING like being a part of a loving family.

Mercy and I spent some time holding our newest little baby who came in on Friday and it was beautiful to see the love Mercy had for this little tiny baby. She did not want to let go so we could put the baby down for the night. Her fear of being in a situation without a mother has caused her to love the kids here fiercely and while I am proud of her deep unconditional love for the kids, I am sad for her heart of fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." I am praying for her to put her trust and faith in God as she works through this fear.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Great Letter for a Bad Day

Today was the kind of day that made me wish I had stayed in bed. I had some pretty big staffing issues arise that just made me feel incredibly frustrated, sad and even sick to my stomach. I do not want to go into the details, but I am just glad it is the end of the day and soon I can go to sleep.

I came home right before dinner and told the kids that I was going to go out with a friend because I was extremely frustrated at a situation that had nothing to do with them, but I needed to get off campus. They were concerned, yet fine with this request and I went out for dinner with my friend Kimberly so I could talk out my day. It was a nice evening and then this is what I came home to…..

Dear Momey,
I love you for you'r hart it's so loving and kind and caring. I know you will stay that way forever. You are the top notch mom. I whold (would) never take anather (another) mom. I'll never forget you. I wold (would) never take anything to reaplace you. When I fall you hellp me up when I cry you confort me. Love Faith

(I may need to work a little harder in the spelling area of Faith's school, poor girl takes after me).

Seriously, I am THE luckiest mother in the world. I went in to give the kids a huge hug and kiss and then talked to all 3 of my sweeties about why I was frustrated and thanked them all for their love and understanding. I do not deserve the 3 amazing kids that God has blessed me with and I could never thank God enough for them and all the things they teach me daily.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mercy's Post to her family

Today Mercy is going to share some thoughts about life since we have been back from furlough.

"I miss Oma and Papa. They are the best and I miss Paige and Kelly. All of my cousins are very good. I miss Natalie, Andrea and Charisse. I miss Grandma June, Grandpa Bob, Uncle Bob and Uncle Daniel, Aunt Chris and Uncle Ken. I miss Aunt Amy and Uncle Andy and Aunt Kristin and Uncle Rick.

I wish my cousins could come to Lesotho. There is a big tree that all of us could climb. Faith calls it the heart tree because the branches and leaves look like a big heart. Most of the time we call it the big tree.

I am in first grade. I like first grade. I do math, phonics, reading, writing. Sometimes it can be a little annoying because it is a little hard. My favorite thing about school is my animal encyclopedia book.

I love talking to Grace (one of our super cool volunteers). I love visiting the houses and feeding the babies. I once fed 4 babies at the same meal! I like to help with the little girl mom likes to play with and her name means flower. She is blind, she has beautiful eyes. I wish she could be my sister.

If someone comes to Beautiful Gate they might get called a Makhooa (means white person). I love living at Beautiful Gate except I do not like the frogs. They are very loud at night and so are the crickets. Sometimes they both get inside our house. Aunt Terp is really good at catching frogs so she gets them out.

Today, I talked to Grace while we were in burritos by blankets. I saw a spider on her blanket and she got it off. We made a hammock today, us 3 kids and Daddy. Mine did not work out the best but it was still fun."

From: Mercy

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Needing Wisdom

Emotions are such a tricky thing and I sometimes wonder what to do with them. Living in Lesotho has proven to be too much for my emotions at times because I have feelings of great joy and feelings of complete despair on the same day. It sure can be tiring! Today was not nearly to that extreme,  yet I feel very drained.

Today Terp and I followed Donna (a member of our team from Mississippi) around and videotaped her working with some of our special needs kids. At first it was really cool and amazing to watch her work, but after several hours, it began to feel overwhelming. Terp and I looked at each other and expressed the same thoughts that our staff, as good as their hearts are for the kids, do not have the time to work this diligently with our special needs kids and still care for the 12-14 other kids in their home. I run out of time to do simple things in my house and I am only raising 3 kids!!!

While I am looking forward to having our lovely missionary friend, Mari, come and help out, I realize that there needs to be day to day “work” in order to make an impact with these special kids. Some options are being tossed around in our minds right now and I ask that you pray for us to have wisdom.

You see, God has entrusted these kids into our care and it is not a responsibility that Bryan or I can take lightly. What we choose and how we implement corrective approaches to situations like this, can improve or be a detriment to a child for the rest of their life. Early intervention is the key to success for so many kids. So that is why I sit here with my emotions going up and down. I am happy we have found people to come alongside us and give us sound advice, yet I am overwhelmed by the great amount of need before me. I am so pleased with the progress I have seen in some of these kids in the last 2 months, yet I am fearful of the long road ahead for one girl in particular. I am trusting God and trying to tune out the lies of satan. Please pray for all of us here at Beautiful Gate as we strive for excellence so that God’s glory can shine through the kids He has entrusted into our care. Pray that we seek Him first in all we do so that any successes we have can point to Him. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My New Love

I know better than this...
I have learned the hard way before...
Yet I still allow myself to do it...

I have fallen head over heels in love with a precious little girl. For the past two months, I have been spending some of my free time working with her. She is over a year old and could not hold her head up. She has little muscle tone, and is mostly if not completely blind. There are many other things that she is struggling with and that we do not have answers for, yet she is the MOST beautiful girl I have ever seen. She rarely cries and her eyes are so intensely lovely that she just draws you in. She finally knows my voice and touch to the point that she does not startle every minute like she did when I first started holding her and my heart squeezes inside my chest in those few instances when I say her name or touch her and she smiles. Oh, God it just takes my breath away.

Faith and Mercy love to help me with her and have fallen in love with her too!

To those who have the chance to help her, she is insignificant and overlooked. The doctors will not give a referral for her to be tested so that we know how best to help her. They think she is a lost cause, a future vegetable who would need 24 hour care, but I KNOW my God is bigger than that. In the 2 months I have worked with her, I have seen change and growth and she can hold her head decently now verses nothing at all 2 months ago. She responds to my touch and knows me so there is obviously some recognition and brain functioning. It is so sad and frustrating when you are dependent on a medical referral to go to the next step and they won't give it.
Yet, God has recently provided me with a new friend who is an OT and who has agreed to help me work with her and several other kids who are developmentally delayed and today a team from the states arrived with a pediatric physical therapist who is going to show me lots of exercises to try and brought very helpful tools. God is providing knowledge to help even though I have been feeling miserable about her situation. Please join me in prayer that these exercises will show such improvement that the doctors will change their minds and give us a referral to see a specialist and get a EKG and other testing that is needed for us to really make an impact on this little girl's life. I do not know her story enough to know if she is even able to be adopted in the future, but I want to provide her with HOPE for her future no matter where God places her.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Good Answer

Last month I posed a struggle that I have been going through with the verses in the Bible that talk about  having to hate your mother, father, brother, sister, or children in order to be a disciple of God. My friend Terp gave me the book, "Anything" by Jennie Allen for my birthday and I have just started reading it. So far it has been really good and today, I read a really good thought from her about those verses.
It reads;
"We know from Jesus' strong commands to love even our enemies that he is not advocating neglecting our relationships or those who depend on us (Luke 6:27) He is saying, 'Wake up! This pursuit of me , it may cost you everything you hold dear, everything you love here. It may cost even your life. And until that life gets small, really small, and I get big, really big, you won't truly follow me. Because loving this life too much will affect your love for me. It also will affect what you are willing to do for me.'"

When I stop and reflect on those words and the thought of not holding my family too tightly, not holding my things too tightly, being willing to give up the things I hold dear and the comforts of living in a first world so that I can put my trust and faith in God. Living completely sold out for Jesus, I cannot even imagine what that would look like. Loving my God so much that every other relationship looks like hatred in comparison. Yet, that is what my life needs to look like for Him. I need to die to my selfish motives and ambitions and put Him first. I need to love Him more than anyone or anything and then I can truly be His disciple. I especially need to love God more than my 3 children who I hold so dear to my heart.
Being a follower of God really means sacrificing, but I have a better understanding of what kind of sacrifice is required of me. God says to love Him first and then to love our neighbor and if we are always putting our neighbors before Him, then we have our priorities wrong. I guess that gives me more to think about so I can be a better follower of my precious Lord.