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.