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.

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.