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!