Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Time for Everything

I feel such sadness right now. I am really trying to process that my dear friend is really gone, and it is just sad. I have lectured myself a hundred times that she is in a better place so I should feel happy for her, but whenever I see a picture of her, I just cry. I know that this is just how I process things and everything will be fine.

It was her time to die, and it is my time to mourn.

I have a month with Elijah before he will be moving to MI and it is getting more and more real everyday. He poured his heart out to me the other day and it was just so heartbreaking. He is struggling with some very hard, but very real things. I can't imagine having this kind of conversation over Skype and it is just hard to let go of that closeness. I know that I can't hold on to him or any of his sisters forever, but it is just hard.

It is his time to uproot from Africa and start a new chapter in America and it is my time to weep.

I have begun to talk with Bryan and with others about moving away from Lesotho in less than a year, and I cannot even begin to imagine what that is going to be like. I can't even let my mind go there or my eyes flood with tears. To be torn between being back with those I love in the states, yet leaving those I love here. It is too much to process, so I will chose not to process this one yet...

I do not question or doubt God's plan because He is my Father and He loves me so much. He has seen how everything will play out and I trust Him. I just feel a very deep sense of sadness, but I know that in time, this will be healed.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8New International Version (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Birthday BG

12 of our children have gone into foster care. It is not a very developed program and is not used very much in Lesotho, but it has worked in a few cases. 19 of our children have been transferred to other care facility either because of their age or because they had siblings or family living at or near other centers. We always do everything we can to help children to return to their family if there is someone within their family who can provide them with love and care. We have had 145 children who have returned to their families here in Lesotho.
When children are abandoned or do not have any family members who are able to care for them, we then look into placing them into adoptive families. It is so amazing to see the way God brings just the right family for each of our children. We have had 216 children who have been adopted both locally and internationally.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Being Loved

For those of you who make the choice to adopt older children, I would just like to say that you are amazing. It is not an easy journey to welcome a child who has already lived several years outside your home, and who may come with a lot of baggage and heartache. It can be totally heartbreaking on the days where they beg to leave and go back to their other home or orphanage. It can be heartbreaking when they sit crying and won't tell you why they cry, or worse, they hide those tears behind anger. They may not chose you or like you for a long time because of the way they have been hurt in the past. I have heard stories of terrible struggles and heartaches for some families, but I have experienced and seen the blessings of taking the risk with many other families.

I share this because my youngest daughter has decided that she wants to be a part of our family. She has been asking to go back to Beautiful Gate, or to go and live with friends of mine who are more fun than us (seriously who could be more fun that my crazy family, hahaha) or have better stuff than us. These comments were expected because I know it is common for a child to struggle to attach and to struggle with transition and change. I always listened to her and told her that I was sorry, but she was a part of our family and couldn't go back or go live with someone else. I never showed pain or disappointment, just listened and said I was sorry. It isn't her fault that her life before our family confused her as to what family can be like. I continue to show love and hope that she will feel safe no matter what her heart is feeling.

What wasn't expected was the Mother's Day card I received last month and the comments I have been hearing this month. After 16 months with me as her mommy, she has chosen to keep me. Wow, what a blessing. I chose to adopt her, but I cannot make her want to be my daughter. She has decided that she really wants to be a part of our family. There is no greater gift than to receive love that is voluntarily given. Not forced nor manipulated, but given from the heart. It makes me understand why God lets us chose to love Him, and why He does not force us to chose Him. I have hoped and prayed that I would be loved, and it is amazing that it is happening. Sunday as we were walking into church, it was so beautiful to see her run ahead and grab her daddy's hand. She has decided to keep him too and there could be no better gift the week before Father's day. I know that the journey will continue to have ups and downs, but the best part is that we are a family and we will support each other through the ups and downs of life. God is doing something incredible in our lives, and we thank Him that He is walking with us.
I did not write this to embarrass or share too much personal information about my beautiful daughter. I wrote this because I know that many people face different challenges when adopting older children. I want to encourage you all to keep your heart open and don't give up. It may take 16 years instead of 16 months, but it is worth it. If you feel like you have already hardened your heart, pray for God to soften it because a child can clearly see a heart that is safe and one that is guarded.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Update on the Geurinks

I am all settled in again working full time at Beautiful Gate. My heart is always wondering about my dear friend Kim, but I have to leave her in God's capable hands. Thanks again for your love and support as I headed to the states to see her.

I returned to BG the day before some of our volunteers were leaving and now all of our volunteers who were here for 3-5 months have left and 2 new volunteers have arrived. We also had a team when I got here and now a new team is here, so it is our busy time again. The winter months fly by because of all the teams and volunteers who come through BG. It is good for it to fly by because it is so cold. The only hard part is the late nights as tonight will be my first night eating at home with my family in 5 nights. I think they kinda miss me ;)

In family news, this is the last week of school and sadly it is also the last week ever of our beloved KCAL school (the tiny missionary school we started with another MAF family). It has been amazing to see how much my kids have grown through this time with this school. They have been stretched and have grown so much, and I am very grateful that we were able to have this opportunity. I am so thankful to those who have partnered with us to make this school a success. Teachers who gave up a regular salary and were living off donations of others so they could teach missionary kids.

Our family is also in the process of packing up our house. We are going to be house sitting (which is a win win because the house won't be empty for them and we are paying less rent than our current house) for 6 months for our friend Tyler while he goes to America and gets married to his beautiful fiance' Emily. We are hoping to move into a Beautiful Gardens home in January and then leave it fully furnished for the wonderful woman who is going to be taking over my role as operations manager. We have no idea how long we will be living at Beautiful Gardens, because it depends on the visa approval for my littlest sweeties. I think it will be super cool to live there and know that the rent we pay is actually going to bless Beautiful Gate!! All that to say, we will be moving twice in the next 6 months, and then again once the visas are approved so your prayers for sanity and peace over our family would be appreciated.

Next month is also the month where Bryan's sister Kristin is coming with her daughters, Paige and Kelly. My kids are beyond excited for their cousins and aunt to finally see this amazing ministry, and are counting down the days! We have so much happening this year, but we are doing our best to enjoy each moment and be fully present and not always worried about the next thing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Praying for a miracle

Today I celebrated Mother's Day by sitting next to a very special friend. Thank you to all of you who made it possible for me to get here. Kimberly was so surprised to see me and it was a tearful reunion (yep, the tears were all mine as I am getting a little more emotional in my "over the hill" age), and it is amazing to be here and see her in person.
It is hard to believe that she left Lesotho at the end of January in relatively good health, and now she is dealing with cancer. Despite her pain and despite being stuck in a bed due to the pain, Kimberly has such a good attitude. She is grateful for every day that she has and seeks to suffer with an attitude of rejoicing. She is being so strong and courageous despite the diagnosis she has been given as she is told that her cancer is terminal.
Seeing her push aside pain to enjoy every second with her daughter, Lebo, is amazing. They read books together, snuggle and pray together when Lebo comes to visit. It was fun to surprise Lebo with my visit too because she seems pretty happy to have her "Aunt Anita" around.
Some of my thoughts are that really, I am totally unprepared for this kind of situation. I have never walked through a close friend's journey through cancer. Last night Kim's pain was well beyond manageable and she was in tears. All I could do was hug her and cry with her because I had already done everything I could to have the nursing staff increase her medication dose, but the doctor in charge could not be reached.  It was heartbreaking. The whole reason she is at the place she is at is for pain management, yet it wasn't even close to managed. Cancer is a horrible disease and seeing it's effects on a dear friend just broke me.
Today was a whole different story. Kim was able to get the medication changes she needs, and has been feeling much better tonight. I am so thankful that she has received some relief. She is scheduled for the gamma knife procedure on May 24th. We don't know if the oncology department at the hospital will contact her to start chemo and radiation before the gamma knife or if they will do it after, so we are in the waiting game.
Few prayer points:
Please pray that the brain tumor will not grow bigger while she has to wait for her appointment and also that it will not add any side effects to her, such as weakness of limbs.
Also that the pain management will continue to work. Once the pain gets too high, it takes a really long time to get it back under control.
Pray for a miracle and that God would heal her and show His glory by making the impossible, possible.
Thanks for your prayers!!!!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Help Needed

I am writing this post to share some really sad news. One of my dearest friends, Kimberly, who has become like a sister to me has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer which is in many of her organs. She has been a part of our family for the last 6 years (she is a missionary through MAF) and comes over every Wednesday night for dinner. We have even taken multiple family vacations with her, we walked through the process of adoption at the same time (we were matched with our children at the same matching meeting and crazy enough, all 3 girls were raised by the same house mother at BG), she is on the board of BG and helped me pull off the best surprise ever when we had a Basotho blanket made for our handover ceremony this past January.
Kimberly waiting to go on her furlough until the day after Bryan and I had our handover ceremony so she could share in this special day with us. She was so excited to take her daughter Lebo home to meet her mother (who was just diagnosed at the end of last year with cancer and who is in treatments right now) and her sister, and nieces and all of her wonderful friends and family. She left Lesotho with every intention of coming back. We even made fun plans for August 12th....
But she is not coming back. She didn't even get to say good-bye and now she has been in the hospital for over a week and her situation looks pretty difficult. Not too impossible for God, but from an earthly perspective, it does not look good.
That being said, I have been feeling a need to go and see her and bring her some love from Lesotho. I am packing up a suitcase for her daughter and her of some of the things they may need since they are not coming back like they planned. I am bringing cards and videos of those who love her dearly and are not getting to see her again because they can't get to California. I am planning to go and spend time with her and hold her hand as she processes all of this life changing news. I am going to go see my little niece (Lebo calls me "Aunt Anita") and help her see a familiar face.
But I need a little help from others. Many of you have met her, and even if you haven't, I am asking you to pray for a miracle. Please pray that God would remove this cancer and allow her to be the mother she has always longed to be. I am also asking for anyone who has a little extra to give, to consider helping me pay for my plane tickets. This was not in our budget at all, but Bryan and I feel that this is what we should do, so if you are able to help, I would appreciate it very much. I have not told her that I am coming and plan to surprise her ,so if you are reading this and you know her, please don't share this with her. I am leaving this week so I can get there for her birthday!
You can give through our paypal button on this blog, but you need to select the down arrow where it says Bryan and Anita Geurink Fund or you can mail a check to:

AFBGI Ministries
Geurink Fund
100 Pine Street
Suite 107
Zeeland, MI 49464
Attn: Vern Meyaard

Thank you for your support and prayers. I look forward to sharing a little Lesotho with my friend!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thankful to be a Friend

There is so much to say, but  I don't have the words. Sometimes God allows us to be the ones to carry burdens for our friends, but those burdens can be so great. A dear friend of mine shared some very heavy and  heartbreaking things with me that left me speechless. I knew I needed to be strong and encourage her, but controlling my emotions enough to pray for her was very hard.

I was hurting so much for her that I just needed to pray the entire day. I had no words, but the Holy Spirit gave me words. I was searching for words I could encourage her with, and God gave me scripture. I felt completely helpless, but then God reminded me that sometimes, all we need is a friend to walk through a difficult journey with us.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

One thing that never changes here in Lesotho, or anywhere else for that matter, is the deep hurt and pain that people carry. They walk around with a smile on their face, but their heart is being shredded with deep hurt. I hope that I can always take the time to go beyond that smile because I want to be able to love people at all times.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Little Play Time

Today, I decided to leave my desk and go for a little visit to the soft play room (room for the 6 month olds until they are walking). It was really nice to spend a little time playing with the children. I had a few that really loved being lifted into the air and then they would just giggle. However, there was one that thought that was pretty terrifying so it turned into cuddle time instead of playtime for her. There have been so many new children being brought in to BG in the last few weeks, and I was able to see a few of them this morning. They have adjusted so well to their new environment. It is hard to believe that only a few weeks have gone by since their little worlds have been turned upside down. Children are able to adapt and adjust in the most remarkable ways, and I can only say that it is because of the grace of God.

One of the other things that is sweet about the soft play room, is the comments and knowledge of our local and international volunteers. They really know the children in that room as if it were their own child. How they eat, whether or not they like tummy time, moods, preferred toys, and so much more. It is not an easy job to care for 16 little ones daily, but they really take the time to know each child and it is nice to see. I think I will have to make a point to get into the playgroup more often because it was a highlight for my morning. A great reminder that through the ups and downs of life and ministry, each little child on our campus makes it all worthwhile (so do our beautiful staff, but I was focusing on the children today!).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I Miss You

I miss your strong arms
Your dear voice describing trollocs and farms,
I miss your rough tickling
our laughter making the birds take wing,
I miss the flickering flame
of the fire of which you all made the same,
I miss sitting with you
wearing fuzzy socks and drinking stew,
Oh how much I miss you!

I miss the meals of Mac & Cheese
and teasing you when you sneeze,
I miss your uncontrollable laughs
right after my evening baths,
I miss your jokes
and the sparks of the fire your hand stokes,
I miss our games of Legendary
when we laughed and lost all merry,
Oh how I miss you!

But there is no need for me to fear
for you are right here,
I thank God for you.

By: Faith Geurink

Bryan returned from his 3 week trip to the US and UK. To say he was missed by his children would be a gross understatement, so I thought I would share this beautiful poem from his oldest daughter. With a sweet girl like her around, I am pretty sure that he will never feel forgotten or under appreciated. And in the nice words of his youngest daughter, "It is so nice to have a mom AND a dad around again!" We can just enjoy our time together as a family of 7 until August.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Getting By

Just thought I should let you all know that I am still alive ;) You are probably wondering what has happened since it has been so long since my last post. Well, Bryan and Lindiwe headed to Michigan, Mississippi and the UK so he can introduce her to some of our supporting churches and friends. They left on February 20th, so I have been trying to hold the fort at our home, KCAL (school) and help Peter at Beautiful Gate. They are due to return to Lesotho on March 14th so just over a week to go. Sounds like they have been extremely busy, but things are going well for them and we are so thankful for that.
I cannot even begin to describe all the things that have happened or gone wrong in the last week and a half, but God is carrying us all through. Please pray for Mercy's teacher who has gone back to the states for a few weeks due to the sickness of a beloved grandfather. I have been sick for a week and a half now, so prayers for that to go away would also be great. My children have really stepped up in a big way while I have been sick, but I am sure they are ready for their normal mommy to return especially since they are missing their dad. There are several situations at BG that I have been focusing on as well that could use some prayer support too. Things are not easy, but we are getting by.
I have to say that the blessing in all of this is my kids. They are really getting along very well and being helpful. Elijah has been reading a book to us and helped me a lot when our gate got broken and the two days I had a fever. Faith is spending more time being an awesome big sister and playing with her younger 3 sisters, even though she would rather be reading, and she has been supplying us with some yummy baked goods. Mercy is a rock star big sister and has been playing non stop with Polita and Nthabeleng. They seem to love every game she comes up with and that is helping her be a fun big sister. Polita is always offering to be helpful and does nice things for people without even being asked (yesterday she put all the dishes away after I washed them and I didn't even know she was doing that. She loves surprising me). Nthabeleng has been listening super well, and she is always willing to give a hug or make someone smile even when they are sick (and she should probably avoid them so she doesn't get sick, hahaha). I am blessed beyond measure with my 5 kids.
Another blessing is just the time I am getting to spend with them. The 3 weeks before Bryan left, I had started working full time at BG. I am now the operations manager which is the role Bryan originally came to BG to do. I worked at the school and BG before, but I finished my days when the kids got home from school. Now I was working till 5/5:30 and then coming home to cook dinner and spend time with the kids and Bryan. Thankfully my mother in law was there for the first few weeks (they were here until February 2 and it was a great visit) because she helped so much, especially with dinner prep and keeping the kids entertained. Once Bryan returns, I will have to adjust back into the role of full time work and he will be the one working at KCAL. It is helping BG transition better with him not being there daily because it is just too easy for people to ask him questions when they should be asking Peter and Lindiwe.
All that to say - I am alive and we are doing well. We are just in the middle of a lot of transitions, and we could use your prayers. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hope Restored

It is very difficult to put feelings into perspective especially for those of you who have not lived in Lesotho, but I feel like I need to share my experience yesterday. To be very honest, by the end of the day I was so angry that I just wanted to march into the ministry of social development and rant and rave and spew all the things I have been stuffing inside for years. Poor Bryan got stuck listening to my tirade on our way to dinner, and thankfully. he is still talking to me so I must not have been too offensive.

It all started off with bad news affecting a child whom I have loved for a long time. She just isn't going to be able to have a family. Through no fault of her own, but due to a person who didn't do their job right (not referring to anyone at BG). That is it, a person who didn't do their paperwork right just RUINED a child's hope for a family.

Then I got to be a social worker for a day and read up on some children's profiles for a special project I had to work on. There is a good reason that I usually don't read their stories. It just sucks. It is painful to read about their beginnings before BG. Stories of rape, incest, choosing a lover over a child, dropping a kid off and running away, being locked in a home for days, being dumped in a ditch and the list goes on and on and on. This is real life stuff that these kids have faced and not all of them were babies that could just forget this. This is their story, and while I firmly believe that God can and will redeem each life, each story, walking through their pain made my heart cry out. INJUSTICE!!!!!!!!! Oh my heart, these poor precious little ones have walked an unbelievable journey, and it isn't over yet. I closed the file cabinet with a heavy heart. I was not just reading a story, I had entered into the raw pain of children I hold, play with and take pictures of each week. I KNOW them and I liked being ignorant of their story and just loving on them. The story doesn't change the way I interact with them, it just weighs down my heart.

There was one more injustice to add to my day and it was more than I could bear. 2 precious children had been placed in a terrible place and needed intervention. They needed to be moved to a safe place, but they did not know how dangerous their situation was. Removing children from their mother, wow, that is heartbreaking. The crying, the look of fear, the shaking and terror are so real. How can you say that you are safe and they will be ok when you have removed them from their only comforter that they have ever known? Pray for the social worker, the nurse and the house mothers as they try to bring comfort and answers to some very hard questions. Pray for the kids who really don't know that we are doing what is best for them. I held one of them while he was screaming and it was so sad. I tried everything I could think of, and then I just started to pray out loud for him. It was a hard day. Disappointment, harsh realities and raw pain rolled up in one day.

After that we went out for dinner with some friends from England. I was able to vent my frustrations to Bryan on the way and then just focus on friends during dinner. Elijah was left in charge at home so we could go out for dinner and enjoy an adult conversation. Toward the end of our dinner we began to get some texts from Elijah wondering when we were coming home. I was surprised by this because he doesn't usually send messages. After dinner we headed home to a nice surprise. Faith had made us a cake, Elijah had made a British flag. They had plates, napkins, cups and drinks out for us, and it was a wonderful surprise. I am just amazed that on a day where it seemed there was just no good left in the world, my own kids showed me how a random act of kindness can really bring hope back.

I cannot change what I know. I cannot make someone do their job (trust me, if there was a way, I would be using it), I cannot stop abandonment, but I can offer little acts of kindness to restore hope to these kids

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tough Love

Many of you have followed our journey from  the start, and will recall some of our stories from pretty early on. One of those stories has been our friendship with Lucky who was one of Elijah's favorite friends when we first moved here. He has come and gone within our journey now that he is no longer living in Maseru, but he has been doing his best to keep us up to date with a random phone call every few months.

This week he stopped by the office to talk about his schooling needs, we have been sponsoring him in school for several years. After a long discussion, with help from our HR manager who called his school, I was able to determine that he actually failed all of his classes last year. It was so sad to see that we had paid for everything he needed for school, and he did not put forth enough effort to pass even one class. I was stuck in a really hard place as I needed to determine what the next step should be.

I began to image if one of my children went off to college and failed all of their classes. There is no way I would pay for them to have another class. What a waste of money when there are so many people who would sacrifice so many things just to have a good education. I knew in my heart that I had to hold him to the same standard I would hold my own child to. I needed to teach him that you don't receive a gift and then throw it away and expect another gift. It was time for him to learn how to make his dreams a reality, this time by himself. Maybe this would be the push he needs to help Him learn to trust and rely on God because God is the only one who can help him bring about change.

Those things may be true in my head, but my heart was absolutely shattered when I had to share it with him. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I told him that I loved him too much to bail him out, he needed to find his own way into school. I told him that I have always thought of him like a son, and I was going to treat him the same way I would treat my own son. But tough love hurts deeply. He wouldn't look at me, he was so devastated. I could barely hold myself together as I hugged him and sent him back to his uncle's house. Then I came into the office and sobbed. I have been praying for him ever since and I will continue to pray for him. This was so hard for me, but I know that I did the right thing in teaching him to value the gifts he will be given in the future, and to help him take his education seriously. May this lesson in tough love make a lasting impression on him that will change his life for the better.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Weight on my heart

Just for the record...I don't think I am bi-polar, but if you read my blog from week to week, it may seem like I am! I can go from such a high, to such a low in a very short period of time. This week feels like a low to me. Maybe there was just too much going on in the last few weeks that now I am decompressing, or maybe it is the week of rain that has been happening, or maybe it is just living in Lesotho.

I feel weight on my heart that I can't unload. I feel troubled for so many people, and it is painful. There are more and more situations that I am becoming aware of and they are completely heart breaking. I know God sees those who I have been praying for, but it feels like He is silent. I know that He has a good plan for all who love Him and call upon His name, but waiting is very discouraging. I will not give up hope even in my discouragement, but there are days that feel a little more hopeless than others.

On top of the weight that I am carrying for those in Lesotho, my heart has been completely shattered in the area of abortion. I think that our living here for 7 years and trying to facilitate families coming together, and our own choice to adopt can clearly show that we care deeply for life. I care so much for children that sometimes when I hear their abandonment stories, I feel physically sick. Yesterday, Elijah had to watch a video about abortion for one of his online classes, and I decided that I needed to view the video so I know what they are saying and teaching my son. I was literally shaking and nauseous after watching a video of an actual abortion as well as many graphic scenes of tiny baby hands, legs, and faces. My heart is broken for those little ones who will never get the chance to experience life. They will not even get the chance to feel love, know the care of a parent, or even breathe a breath of fresh air. I am broken for those who feel this is a good option when I personally know many, many mothers and fathers who are sitting with empty arms, waiting for a child to love.

Please pray for the many jobless, hungry and hopeless in Lesotho. Also pray for those who feel stuck, confused and scared and run to the wrong solution whether it is abortion or abandonment, neglect or mistreatment, or any other thing than receiving the blessing they have been given and giving everything they have to do what is right, even if that includes adoption. Thank you for your prayers and for allowing me to unload a little of the weight on my heart.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Baptisms, Birthdays, and Profession of faith....oh my!!

On December 31st, Polita and Nthabeleng were baptized at the Semonkong falls. It was really great because we have our pastor from Michigan visiting along with several friends, and even Bryan's parents. It was a beautiful (and hot) day!

On January 1st, we celebrated Polita (8) and Nthabeleng's (6) birthdays! We had lots of friends and family with us to share their first birthday party. Polita was amazed that we had such a party for them and enjoyed all the presents, especially her new doll with hair she can braid!!!

Then on January 4th, Elijah stood before his friends, family, and adopted aunts and uncles ( aka the BG staff) and gave his testimony and profession of faith. Wow, what a beautiful moment for all of us to witness. He is an incredible young man who really takes his faith seriously. 

It has been a very full and wonderful week with my family. Bryan and I have committed to raise Polita and Nthabeleng in such a way as to teach them about God, and we have witnessed what that looks like through Elijah. We also got to see pure joy and delight from our youngest 2 girls as they had a special day all about them. Our hearts are full this week as we celebrate the blessings we have been given, and one of those blessings is that Oma and Papa are here to celebrate these milestones with us.