Friday, February 22, 2013


Three little caskets.
Three white crosses.
Three babies more alive than me.

Yesterday was an emotional roller coaster of a day.  The morning started off with the funeral for the three babies that passed away earlier this month.  As a staff we walked to the cemetery behind a van which had the caskets in them.  The staff sang hymns and walked hand in hand to a field where the maintenance men and some men from the local village were digging the graves.  It was very hard to see.  In American, when you have a grave side service, the whole already is dug and it usually is covered so you don't ever see the dirt.  In Lesotho, you see the dirt.  As we stood exposed to the hot sun and surrounded by dirt, I couldn't help but think about how dirty death is.  Death opens up wounds that you thought were helaed.  Death is a goodbye is which you don't want to say.  Death is a reminder of the goodbyes you have said before that you continue to miss.

In Lesotho culture, all the women through flowers into the grave after the casket has been lowered.  As I looked into the grave and saw the little casket, my heart sank.  Inside that box was the body of a child whose life was too short.  I really felt no emotion, other then numbness.  After the ladies out the flowers in to the grave the men fill the hole.  This was the hardest part for me.  As the dirt pounded on the small casket, my body wanted to jump into the hole and take the child out.  How could we just throw dirt on top of God's little children?  (I am so thankful we don't have to see that part in America.)  As we walked back to Beautiful Gate, I looked over my shoulder and saw the three white crosses lined up, then I remember a quote from a service I attended once.  "The person who is most alive in this room, is the one in the casket."  The three babies whose bodies we buried are more alive than you or I today.  They are free from the world's heartaches and are worshipping with the King of kings.  I walked away quiet, knowing that those who have gone on before me are more alive than me and one day I will see them again.  My heart still misses them, but I grieve with HOPE. 

After a nice lunch of papa and mince stew (Lesotho's ham on buns) I took some time to check in with the staff.  They were all blown away seeing me in a skirt (I know I wore a skirt) and loved joking about it.  During the afternoon we received two new children.  My heart went to a familiar song "You give and take away.  My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name." 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One Month

A month ago today I got off a plane in Maseru and was greeted by my friends Bryan, Anita and Paige.  I remember on the flight from Jo'burg to Maseru, I was nervous and fearful of what I was getting myself into.  The peace that I had felt for months was gone and my heart was doubting the adventure I was about to take.  But then, I remember getting through customs and looking through the glass door and seeing Anita's smile and I started feeling like no matter what came my way, I was now a part of a team and that brought peace.  It was like God was saying to me, "I have you in my hand precious daughter.  I will not leave you.  I know the journey already."

Deuteronomy 31:6
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Taking a leap of faith is hard, it is one that requires true trust in God that His promises are true and His promises are the only thing that will help me along this journey.  During my first week at Beautiful Gate, we said good bye to 3 children as they were reunited with their families.  During my second week, we said goodbye to 3 children who took their last breath on earth and then their first breath in Heaven.  During week 3 we juggled having a lot of children coming and going from the hospital, we grieved, we sang, we worshipped our One True God and tried to catch our breath.  During week 4, we said hello to a new child and lived the journeyed through each day with the peace that only comes from God.

Philippians 4:4-6
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

To say this month has been hard, would be an understatement.  I feel like I didn't even get a chance to catch my breath from jet lag and we as a staff were faced with tragedy.  But this past month has also been full of laughter and joy.  That is the great thing about journeying hand in hand with God, He doesn't let you sit in your sorrow without giving you a glimpse of Heaven.  Sometimes you have to look for it.  Sometimes it seems like He has forgotten you and it takes time to see it, but He will never forget His children.  He is there and He will carry you through, you may just need to stop, quiet yourself and get away from the distractions of this world.  In all things, God will never leave us, He will fighting for us.

There have been moments along this journey in which I stopped and wondered why I was here.  I question if I am strong enough to handle the situations that are life in Lesotho.  It is in those moments in which I need to stop and remember I don't have enough strength for this, but God does and it is His strength that I use to run out in the yard each day and play with His beautiful children.  It is His strength I use when I make thank you videos for donors and other videos to present the situation of child abandonment in Lesotho.  It is His strength as I live in community with others and strive to reflect Christ in all I do.  Sometimes I forget the simplicity of this job.  I feel like I need to concur the world, but the world is too big and has too many problems.  It is in those moments that I need to stop what I am doing and go hold a child.  When your arms, lap and heart of full of the trust a child has for you, you understand a little bit more of God's love and trust.  As I hold a child, I remember He is holding me.  I am His little child.

Matthew 19:14
"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"

This week I was given a link to a video that reminded me why I am here.  In Sweden there is a little girl named Christina, who touched my heart back in 2010.  Her family wrote her a song and put pictures with it.  In the moments when I wonder if I am making a difference here, I need to stop and think of Christina and the many other children around the world who are now living and growing in a loving family.

God never brings us somewhere that He cannot take us through.  Thank you all for your love, support and encouragement over the past month.  You too are making a difference in Lesotho, by allowing me to journey through this Leap of Faith.

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Unforgettable Valentines day

First off, sorry for the lack of blog posts.  It has been busy here at BG and at the end of the day I usually am very drained and tired, so blogging is not high on the to-do list.  I will try and update multiple times this week, about the events in Lesotho.  Now unto the blog...

The Geurinks invited my housemates and myself to celebrate their daughter Faith's birthday on February 14.  I was so excited, because it meant we were going to be heading to Templehoff and I was going to be able to hold and play with baby lion cubs.  We all piled into one of the backies (trucks) from Beautiful Gate and were off on our adventurous day.  Shortly after crossing the border into South Africa, the backie broke down and we were stranded on the side of the rode for some time before a BG worker came and "fixed" the problem.  While we were on the side of the rode, my roomie Paige and I made some really fun videos about our adventure.  Unfortunately I can't post them on here, but let's just say that I am not a good rapper and will not be pursuing that as a career.  While we were driving the backie it broke down 2 more times.  During the last breakdown, the owner of Templehoff, just so happen to be passing by (God thing) and offered to take us in his backie, and then get another backie to pull ours into town.  The only thing was those riding in the back of the backie would have to sit on top of three dead pigs.   Thankfully they were covered with a white sheet, so you couldn't see a lot of them.  I had to laugh, because it was a really hot day and riding with the African sun beating down on you could have been a hard thing to do, but thankfully my foot was wedged underneath a frozen pig, so my foot was cold and that experience made you forget abou the heat.  Only in Africa folks!!!  Our time at Templehoff was a lot of fun.  The lion cubs were awesome and I definitely loved being able to cuddle with them.  The youngest one even gave me a few kisses, and not matter what everyone says, I do believe they were kisses and not the cubs attempt to taste me!!  The backie was a quick fix and we were able to enjoy our day and trip home.

Before coming to Africa, I was nervous about living in community with others.  I love the Geurinks and didn't have any doubts that God was going to bring us closer together through this adventure, but in Michigan, I am alone a lot.  Working, living and being in community with people, means they see your junk, and beleive me, I have a lot of junk.  They see the moments of selfishness and the moments in which you try to hide in the safety of your home.  Now that I am living in community, I have to say that even though there have been moments of "realness" living in community is good.  As a group we have joined together to laugh, to mourn and to celebrate.  There always are struggles when taking people from different walks of life and placing them together on a crazy mission like this, but at the end of the day, the only thing that is represented is the body of Christ.  Jesus never said our lives would be easy, but He did say they would be full (John 10:10).  Living in community with the Geurinks, Paige, Kristen (my housemate) and the other volunteers that will be coming and going during my time here, has made this experience full.  I want to encourage you all to let go of your personal feelings and start living in community with others.  In the end you learn a lot about yourself and a lot about God.

Enjoy these photos from our day trip...

3 dead pigs

Broken Backie

"Can you feel the love tonight?"

 Finger licking good!

We love each other.

Note: if you kiss a tortoise, a prince does not appear.

Big Kitty!!!

Presenting Simba to Pride Rock

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Africa Won

Yesterday was one of those days when all I can say is "Africa won."  I was asked to take some children to the hospital for a check up with the doctor.  The plan was to leave at 8am, so we could get in the line right away and not sit there all day.  Well since "This is Africa" (TIA), it didn't go that way.  By the time we left BG it was around 9 and then we had to drop off a few staff members at different locations.  By the time we got to the hospital it was close to 10am and the line was extremely long.  The BG nurse told myself, and 2 other volunteers to take our children and wait in the waiting room, while she stood in the line.  We knew it was going to be a long time.  My roommate Paige and I, along with a local volunteer, tried our best to entertain a 10 month old and two 2 year olds in a very tiny space.  We had coloring books, crayons, snacks, and our ability to make them laugh.  We were able to have 2 of the children's test done, but then we were told the doctor had left the hospital for a meeting and they were not sure when she would return.  Since we were running out of food and diapers, we decided to leave.  So we were at the hospital from 10 to 2 and hadn't even seen the doctor yet.  We had one other child at a clinic up the road, so we carried the children up there and waited for them to be done and for the driver to come and pick us up.  By the time we got home it was 3pm.  Since it rained on Sunday I didn't get a chance to do my laundry.  The sun was out, so I knew it would dry in no time.  I quickly put the load in the wash machine and about 2 minutes later the clouds came.  It didn't rain, but I knew it was going to take a long time for them to dry on the line.  It was just one of those days when Africa won.  Nothing horribly wrong happened, but my patience with this culture was tested.

Today we went back to the hospital and saw the doctor right away.  We sat at the pharmacy for a little bit to get the medicine and then went to visit the one child we have still in the hospital.  While visiting her, the nurse and I went to go pick up the death certificate of one of our kids that passed away.  Of course the date on the certificate was wrong, so we had to wait and have them change that.  Finally we were on our way home after a day and a half of running around. 

I am learning not to get frustrated in moments when I feel tied down to the culture here.  I am learning to let go of the way I know things should go and be patient while in the situation.  Dealing with the medical system here, makes me very grateful for the way things are done in the US.  For example, when a loved one dies, you need to take the body from the hospital or doctor's office and transfer it to the morgue.  It was hard having to do that with a child, I can't imagine how people do it with adults.

So yesterday was a day, in which I say "Africa won."  I know things could have been done a lot more efficiently, but it didn't happen.  I didn't let it get me frustrated, but just dealt with it.  At the end of the day, my roommate Paige and I decided to try and experience a little bit of home because of the stress of the day and enjoyed a dinner at KFC.  Don't laugh, it is these little things that make you not loose your mind.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snuggles and Singing

I first want to thank you all for your prayers and encouragement during the past week.  To say it has been a hard week is an understatement, but the staff and volunteers are focusing on the over 55 children we have here at BG and giving them the opportunity to be children.  To give you a quick update, 2 of the children that passed away have family, so we are waiting to hear how involved they want to be the funeral.  Once we know this, we will have one ceremony for all the children.  Please be in prayer for the volunteers and staff as we honor the lives of these precious children.  Also, one of the children that was in the hospital has returned back to BG.  We are thankful for her health and pray the same for the two that remain.

A lot of people have been asking me this week, "how are you doing?"  I have to say, that is a very hard question to give an answer to.  There are moments when my heart is full of questions and grief.  I feel like I didn't even get over the jet lag of coming to Africa and we were faced with the tragic events of last week.  There are also moments of joy.  I have been trying to shine the "light" of Christ to those on the campus, which means walking around multiple times throughout the day and giving hugs to the nurses and house mothers, joking with maintenance men and making FUN videos with my roommate. (Here is one of our videos, when we taught our house mothers how to cup slap).  There are moments of when I question the will of God, and in those moments I pick up a guitar and am reminded of the promises God has given us.  All in all, to answer the dreaded "How are you doing" question I respond with "Hantle" which means fine.  I keep claiming God's promises for BG, the children and the staff.  I don't want to walk around with a downtrodden spirit, so I am choosing to find JOY in each day. Here is an example...

I have a new "son." He is over 2 years and melts my heart.  When he sees me across campus he will walk to me with his arms up, knowing I will always pick him up.  He then puts his head on my shoulder and snuggles in.  Yesterday I spent some time in play group with the older children and he quickly made me sit down, so he could cuddle.  His big brown eyes melt my heart.  It is in the moments of cuddling that I feel joy.  But then he does something else.  This precious little child, starts singing.  His voice is so pure and innocent.  He always sings the same song. "Hallelujah, Hosanna. Hallelujah, Hosanna. Hallelujah Hosanna. Hallelujah Hosanna. What a might God we serve. What a mighty God we serve. What a mighty God we serve. What a mighty God we serve."

I am so blessed by this child's faith.  He lives in a house with 15 other children who are not his siblings.  His house mother, is not his real mom, but he loves her that way.  Because of his past, he could be distant and not connecting, but instead he sings to our mighty God.

I desire to have a childlike faith!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Thank you to those who have been praying and sending encouragement the past few days.  No matter where we are in the world, we are all connected in the same body through Christ and hearing from family is comforting.

Last week started out great for me.  I was transitioning well in to life in Lesotho and enjoying my time with the staff, children and other volunteers.  We had 3 children in the hospital.  We knew 2 of them were in very serious condition.  Through it all, life was going well. Friday afternoon tragedy stuck Beautiful Gate's campus and we lost a beautiful baby girl, who ws not in the hospital.  No matter how hard we tried to save her, it was her time to meet Jesus.  Grief affected the staff and volunteers as we tried to wrap our minds around what happened.  Bryan and I, as well as another staff member, took the house mother who was caring for the child home, so she could have so time to grieve.  While driving through the pumpy roads of Lesotho I just reached out and held her hand.  There were no words that needed to be exchanged, only love.  I was then reminded how amazing the staff members are here.

The staff members are not just care workers, they are family.  This staff member was not grieving the life of a child that just happened to be in her house, she was grieving her daughter.  She was not a care giver, but a mother.  The office staff and care staff didn't complain about having to work late on a Friday afternoon or come in on Saturday to cover help covering the care of the children, they just did it, because that is what family does. 

On Sunday one of the children that was in the hospital also met Jesus.  This child was there for the majority of his life.  As family we came together and continued to grieve.  Monday morning we were told another child that was in the hospital had also met Jesus.  Loosing three children in four days effects you in many ways.  We also have had more children that have had to been taken to the hospital.  Currently there are 3 children still in the hospital.  We are tired.  We are grieving.  We are weak, but we are claiming the promises that come from our Heavenly Father.  Philippians 4:7 says "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  We are seeking that peace to answer our questions and fears.

Through every emotion I have faced the past few days, I feel a huge amount of responsibility to the staff/volunteers and children here.  To the children I want them to be just that...children.  The Lord only knows how long each of us have here on earth.  These children have stories that can break anyone's heart, but while they are under our care, they need to be children.  They need to laugh, to run, to learn and to grow and I will strive to help them do that through caring, playing and raising the funds to allow the proper resources to be provided.  To the staff and volunteers, I will strive to bring hope, through a hug, a listening ear and laughter.

This morning there was a university student that came to help out.  The social worker at BG was introducting her to everyone in the office.  When she came to me she introduced me as the light of BG.  She told her I was not a volunteer, but a part of BG's family.  I pray that I can continue to be a light to my family here.

Please continue to pray and send your encouraging words.  We are family and we will get through this grief and strive to live in the hope of Christ.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Please Pray!!

Friends, I am writing to you with a very heavy heart tonight.  We at Beautiful Gate are in need of your prayers.  Yesterday one of our little baby girls passed away very unexpectedly (more blogs about this to come).  We have 3 little ones in the hospital that are VERY sick and in need of prayers for life.  Tonight, another baby was brought to the hospital and I was prepared to take on the night shift as a house mother went with them, but we just heard the child will not be admitted and will be back at BG soon.  We are tired.  We are grieving.  We need your prayers to carry us through.

On my last Sunday at Haven, the worship leaders asked what I wanted to play for my last song.  I choose 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman for a few reasons.  Getting to BG this song has carried me through the days when I have no strength to go on.  The first verse says it all...

"The sun comes up its a new day dawning.
It's time to sing my song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
let me be singing when the evening comes."

I want to be faithful, like this verse says. Whatever happens during the day I want to keep singing praises.  As hard as it is right now, I NEED to keep singing praises. 

Please pray!!! Also if you know of someone who is volunteering here, please send them an email, or message of encouragement.  We are all grieving.