Sunday, June 30, 2013


A few weeks ago, I went away with some other missionaries in Lesotho and spent some time at the Indian Ocean.  It was great to feel warmth compared to the Lesotho where most nights I can see my breath inside my bedroom.  I was able to spend some quiet time by the ocean and reflect upon the my time in Lesotho.  When I stood in the ocean I felt very small.  Looking out at what seem to be the never reachable horizon, I realized how small I am in comparison to the world.  My body is nothing but a speck of sand when you think of how big the world is and then go even bigger and think about how big you are in comparison to the universe. 

The great thing is that in my smallness, God still has a big plan for me.  As I stood looking out into the ocean, I thought about the things I have faced, both joys and challenges.  I thought about the people I have met and the relationships I have formed.  I thought about the family I have been blessed with at BG and how I hope I can reflect them well when I get back to the Untied States.  I then got overwhelmed with the task at hand.  I am in charge of making sure BG doesn't have to worry about finances.  I am striving to make sure that there will never be a month in which we have to go without. Those thoughts built up some major anxiety and I doubt the fact that I was the right person for the job.  How can I do anything in this big world?
Then I looked down...
I don't have to concur the world, I just need to impact the ground in which I am standing.  I need to remember my "tumelo" or faith in God that brought me to each point along this journey.  God doesn't call me to change the whole world, He calls me to be faithful to the places that He puts me.  I still get overwhelmed when I think about the funds that I need to raise for BG, but I know that through every step God is saying to me "Be still and know I am God."  God has this journey planned out.  He knows each step I take and He knows each person who will hear His story through me.  It is He who will raise the funds for BG, not me.
I also looked at my feet and reflected on my time in Lesotho.  I pray that wherever I walked, people did not see me, but God in me.  I pray that every child I held or person I hugged felt the love of God wrapped around them.  This journey has been one of extreme joys and extreme sorrow, I hope that through it all, people looked beyond my fleshly emotions and saw my heart. 
Tomorrow I say "see you later" to BG.  I will be back in January to do this all over again.  It is hard to say goodbye to this place, knowing that the next time I step back here, there will be new children and some of my old ones will be gone.  The constant "hellos and goodbyes" are hard, but I pray that through each of them, people experienced God's refreshing presence.  I pray that with each step, each hug and each hand held, I reflect God in a way that made others feel loved.
Monday I take off out of Maseru and will be back in Michigan Tuesday afternoon.  Traveling back home is a long 30 hour journey, including one 18 hour flight.  Please pray that everything goes smoothly and that if a hang up happens, I can reflect Christ instead of getting frustrated.
Lord willing, my next blog post will be from Michigan. 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Field Trip Day

I was excited about taking a field trip on Tuesday with the BG social worker.  Our plan was to go to a two villages and then check out a care center that hold children 4 years old to 13 years old.  The drive out to the first village was beautiful.  Because BG is in the capital city, sometimes my heart forgets the depravity of the statistics of the country I live in.  Driving through the mountains reminds me of the staggering facts of that 40% of the country lives on less than $1 a day.  The poverty that was before my eyes as we drove made me grateful for the perks I have at BG, such as electricity, running water (even though it is unsafe to drink) and Internet. 

On our way to the first village we picked up a social worker from the department of social work.  We had been told of a 2 month old baby that was born 3 months premature.  The mother had died at birth and the father had passed away before the child was born, so the child's grandfather was the only living relative to care for them.  We drove through some pretty bumpy roads to get to the village, and then when the road stopped, we made our own.  Praise God for 4x4's!  When we reached the grandfather's residence, he was not there.  We spent some time just walking around and yelling for him, but there was no reply.  After a while, we drove to the next house to talk to some women who happened to be grinding their corn by hand with rocks.  They told us that grandfather found a local female in the village to help him care for the child.  The women we spoke with were concerned, because they felt the women was not fit to take care of a child and that due to the child's premature birth, it was very small and sick.  The women took us to another place in the village to hopefully find the child, but we were unsuccessful.  My heart broke as we drove away without the baby.  I pray that wherever the child is and whoever is caring for the child they are okay.  I did not want to drive down the mountain with empty arms, but there was no choice.  During harvest time, people can leave their house for days to work in the fields.  I pray this child and care giver can get the help they need to allow the child to grow and get better.  Without electricity and running water, I fear what living conditions the child is in.

The second village we went to, also had roads that stopped, so we once again made our own.  Along the way we kept asking local herd boys to direct us to the chief.  Every other herd boy pointed us in a different direction.  At first it was comical, but after a while, it was frustrating, because we needed the chief's stamp on some documents so that one of the children at BG can be placed for adoption.  Finally we found an older shepherd who informed us that since the white flag was flying over the village, the chief was making and drinking his home brew beer and we were invited to join.  We joked as we hoped the chief would have a clear enough mind to stamp our paper work.  Once we found the chief, he said he would stamp the documents, but his stamp was at his house and we needed to drive there. So with the chief  in our truck (smelling of his home brew) off we went to his house.  He stamped the documents and we were on our way.

After spending some time at the post office working on birth certificates of our kids from that district, we were off to visit the other care center.  I heard rumors about the way this center was run and as we drove, I prayed for protection against anything we would experience.  The center had a beautiful facility, but the way the children were being raised was in my mind extremely wrong.  I won't go into detail about the center, but I will say that it effected me, the social worker and our driver in a big way.  I was grateful for our conversations on the way home to talk about what we saw.  I was also grateful for the classes I have taken lately to help me explain some of the things we experienced.

Life in Lesotho is hard, but I am a little jealous of it.  Being up in the mountains, I saw the simplicity of community.  There was no electricity, which meant no computers or television, so in order to communicate with someone, you had to talk to them face to face.  The children entertained themselves with very creative playing and everyone had a friend.  Rocks were being used for soccer goals and a big stick was the prize possession for a little boy.  The women were all gathered around one house, cleaning and grinding the corn and the men we were told were out in the fields.  Mountain living is living in community.  It is like the first church who shared what they had and ate together.  Living in community with other missionaries is the same.  Every one's house is open for conversation and sharing.  The community I am in, is one where I don't have to explain things because everyone knows what life is like and how some days you feel like you are advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and other days you feel defeated. 

I am grateful for community living and pray I can continue it once I am back in Michigan.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Prayer Update

I want to thank you all for praying for the little guy at BG.  Your prayers are being heard and he is growing.  It is amazing how some weight can change a person.  He looks healthier and loves to sit on your lap and just talk.  Of course he has a long way to go, but we are rejoicing that he is growing.  He is still on the feeding tube and with time we are hoping to wean him off of it.

Your Wheel Barrel

I have spent a lot of time sitting behind my house the past few weeks.  It is a great quiet place to reflect about the journey I have been on, but more importantly it gets a lot of sunlight, so it is warm. :)  While sitting there, a lot of people pass by with their wheel barrels.  A wheel barrel is a very important tool in Lesotho.  With it you can carry a lot of things including your water jugs.  Since the well is right by BG, most of the time the wheel barrels are full of any type of container that will hold water so it can be transported from the well to the person's house.  Today, there was a young man whose wheel barrel was very old and very well used.  It had a big bag of Maze Meal, some cabbages and 2 containers of water.  About 20 minutes after he walked past, he came back again, to get more water.  I thought about how easy it would be to just get a bigger wheel barrel, then he would not have to make so many trips.  But then I wondered if the wheel barrel was bigger could he handle the added weight it could carry.

In life we all have wheel barrels.  We put many things in our wheel barrels that we need and some that we don't.  As we journey through life, our wheel barrels may become very full and we may see someone next to us with a bigger wheel barrel and think how easy it may be for them, because their wheel barrel seems to be able to carry more.  Sometimes in our wheel barrels we put things that hold us back from getting all the fresh, living water that comes from God our Father.  Sometimes our pride, lust, jealousy and gluttony take up too much space and we don't get as much of the living water that we need.  When this happens, we become weak and find it hard to function.  Lesotho is high in altitude, and if you don't drink a lot of water, you will feel the effects of it.  Sometimes in life we loose sight of the fact that we need to fill our wheel barrels with the living water that will never run out and never cause us to feel faint.  We need to surrender the things that are in our wheel barrels that don't need to be there.  We need to focus only on our wheel barrel and the things that God desires for us to have in it. God sees each of our wheel barrels and wants to fill them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control.  Anything else that is in there is not from God.

Take some time today and look at your wheel barrel.  Does it seem that the journey is heavy?  Does it seem that the journey is too much to handle?  What is in your wheel barrel? Are there things that shouldn't be, if so get ride of them, because you are not experiencing the joy and the life that God has intended you to have.

"Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of" (John 10:6-10, The Message).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I have been thinking through this blog post since this afternoon.  Today was one of those days when I sat backed and thought "Man have I grown since coming to Lesotho!"  Sit back and hold on to the roller coaster ride of events.

This morning I got up early to take four children to the hospital for doctors appointments.  I used to be very nervous about these trips, now I know what to expect.  First, it will be a long day, so pack snacks and water.  Second, I will have some type of bodily fluid on me by the end of the day.  Today was a special day, because one of the children I was in charge of was "my" little guy that I have been caring for.  Unfortunately, he lost weight again and we are at a cross roads with what to do (more on that later).  After the appointments were done, I looked at my watch and was so excited about how "fast" the morning went.  I actually was going to get back to BG before noon, something that has never happened.  When we got to our car it wouldn't start.  The BG nurse that was with us, sent myself and the house mother along with the four children in a taxi, so the children could have their lunch (FYI, we left for the hospital at 7am, so the children were ready to be home).  The taxi ride was an adventure!  The house mother sat in the front and I sat in the back with all four children.  Let me describe the taxi...

Seat belts...missing.
Doors...there, but not working well.

But it was a way to get back to BG, so we took it.  The first "humped zebra crossing" (speed bump) we hit the front passenger door opened and the house mother almost fell out.  I immediately put my free arm (the other one was holding "my" boy) over the three children sitting next to me.  My mind imagined hitting another bump and having the back door open and the children fall out, because there were no seat belts (there also are no car seats in Africa).  As we pulled out of the hospital, the driver stopped at a little road side shop to get lunch and cigarettes, so this delayed us 5 minutes.  As we were on our way, he realized he needed gas, so we stopped for that.  After getting gas, it took him maybe 5km to realize he forgot to get his change from the gas attendant, so back to the gas station we went.  While driving to BG, he spoke in Sesotho to the house mother and I was able to understand about every third word.  He looked back at me and told me he loved me very much.  I shocked him when I looked at him and said "thank you" in Sesotho.  He then told me that since I spoke Sesotho, he was going to marry me.  I told him (in English) that he needed to talk to my mother who was sitting next to him.  The house mother then looked at him and told him that if he was going to marry me, he needed to pay her 250 cattle, 100 sheep and 40 goats.  He said I was too expensive, but didn't have a problem yelling to people that we passed that he was driving his "white wife" around town.  He then made two more stops on the way to BG, for air time (cell phone minutes) and to chat with a friend (about his white wife).  We made it back to BG at 12:15 with a great memory!!!

After getting the children to their houses, I kept thinking about the morning and laughed at how none of the events seemed to upset me.  I am used to long waits at doctors appointments.  I am used to broken down cars.  I am used to crazy taxi rides.  In January, I probably would have been more upset, but now I see it as "normal."  Growth.

This afternoon, the nurses at BG started a feeding tube in "my" little guy.  I am glad we have the ability to do this at BG, so he doesn't have to go to the hospital again.  In January, seeing him with a tube out of his nose and both his hands wrapped up to prevent him from pulling out the tube, would have upset me, today I just held him in my arms and carried him around campus like there was nothing wrong.  After his first feeding, his body was not too excited, so there was diarrhea everywhere (refer to second lesson in hospital day adventures), so he and I was also covered in poop.  It didn't bother me at all, in fact I made sure he was completely cleaned up and started hand washing his clothes before I took care of myself.  Growth.

You see, it is hard for me to describe Lesotho to people.  I want to be able to tell you the cries of my heart, but I can't. I am at a loss for words when it comes to my emotions.  In 19 days I will board a plane and head back to Michigan.  If is wasn't for the excitement of seeing my family and friends, I might extend my stay in Lesotho.  The past few weeks, I have felt "normal" here.  Of course things still shake me, but I have a new confidence in approaching those situations, because I know that God has already approached them for me.  Of course there are moments when I can't control my emotions and it only takes 2 seconds for me to go from laughing to crying or vice versa, but that is life in Lesotho.  Life is unpredictable and you just need to deal with whatever comes your way.

Living in two very different places is going to be an interesting adventure.  I feel like I finally have the "secrets" of living in Lesotho down, and now it is time for me to head to America, where things seem scary, but I am sure that after 6 months there, Lesotho will seem scary again and American will see safe.  I have had some time the past week to really think about what I am anxious about when I think about home (Michigan).  I am excited to see everyone who mean so much to me and just sit back and relax.  I am excited to start traveling and introducing people to BG that have no idea where Lesotho is.  But, I am anxious about the questions people will ask, like "How are you?" or "How was your trip?"  It is hard to describe my last 5 months and honestly most days I do not know how I am doing, but I pray that through every conversation and through my time spent with those I love in the States, God will provide for me the words to use in explaining this journey to others.  He knows who is willing to listen to my processing heart and mind.  I also pray for patience for those listening that they will be able to hear what God has used me for and how He did great things in Lesotho through some great and not so great times.

Friends, please join me in praying for "my" little boy.  He is at BG, but like I said on a feeding tube.  We are praying that in a week's time, we can fatten him up and help him get stronger.  We need to go back to the hospital next week Wednesday to see if we made any progress.  He needs the family of God, praying for him!

Monday, June 10, 2013

From Light Switches to African Adventures

The past two days have been tough emotional ones for me.  Tuesday morning the Geurinks leave BG and head to do a fund raising tour in England, Netherlands and Belgium before heading back to Michigan on June 26.  I am very embarrassed that my emotions have taken over my body, since I will see them in Michigan in 3 weeks, but when you have a relationship like ours the thought of them leaving makes tears well up in my eyes.

In 2009, I knew Bryan as the silly PowerPoint guy who would spend a lot of time laughing during our rehearsals at Haven.  I always wanted to know why he was laughing, now that I have lived and worked with him, I understand.  Bryan can take humor out of any situation.  In 2010, Bryan came out to see BG before he accepted the job as operations manager.  I remember being very excited the day he came.  One of the staff said, "Your friend is here."  I laughed because I really didn't know Bryan a lot, but I knew that he was a friend.  When I walked out the front door he gave me a huge hug and said, "Hey sis".  That is when the family relationship started between us.  Because of the conversations we have had and the things we have experienced together, I see Bryan as my brother.  God has given him a heart for shepherding people.  He doesn't want to do the work for people, but he wants to teach them to take pride in themselves and learn how to work with excellence.  The staff here have embraced his leadership style.  I love the relationship he has with each of them.  The office staff know he is working for them.  The maintenance staff know he is working for them.  The house staff know he is working for them.  He works to provide for his family, not only Anita and the kids, but also the 40 staff and 73 children at BG.  He cares for each of them.  Even though he doesn't have the opportunities to get into the houses and play with the children a lot, the second he picks up a baby, his focus is only on that one child.  Bryan, my brother, your heart is so full of love for BG.  You are an amazing shepherd.  Thank you for taking time just to talk, to laugh (a lot) and to listen to my thoughts about BG.  You have taught me so much about what it means to love what you are called to do through the good times, the bad times and the unbelievable times.  Take time this fall to get into the woods and feel God's embrace over you.  Take time to enjoy the things that God blesses you with.  Above all, take time to gaze upon your Abba Daddy. 

In 2009, I had no clue who Anita was, other than that we were going on a mission trip together.  Through our stressful travel route to Africa, I learned about her faith in God.  When things happened that caused us to miss flights, Anita was in the corner praying.  On the trip, I was trying my hardest to act like I thought the "spiritual leader" of an adult mission trip should be.  I joked and had a good time, but I wasn't fully being me.  One night after a long day, Anita climbed into her top bunk to journal.  When she was done she asked if I would turn the light off.  Simple request right...Well culture shock paired with being tired made the "real" Terp come out.  Talking very sarcastically, I told her that I would love to serve her by turning off the light.  From then on, a great relationship formed and we have been turning the lights off for each other ever sense.  There were a few times on that trip, that we "sacrificed" and stayed back to hold babies while the team went into town.  I will never forget those afternoons.  We shared each others journeys, we grew as friends and had our hearts broken to God's heart.  Over the years we communicated through many ways and the friendship turned into a sister relationship.  Since January, our relationship has grown through every hospital trip, funeral, new child, coffee date and late night chat.  In 2009, we prayed for our heart to be broken, never did we realize that that prayer would bring us back to Lesotho only to have our hearts not only broken, but at times having it feel like they were put through a food processor.  Anita, you shine God's compassion to your family, the staff and the children at BG in a huge way.  Your eyes radiate God's love and mercy to people who have been thought of as garbage.  You have experienced a lot in Lesotho, as hard and good as it was, it has grown you into a better person.  God is still breaking your heart, but He is doing it so that His light shines through.  Take time this fall to walk through the leaves, to talk with those that have reached out to you and to sit on your Abba Daddy's lap and soak up His love.

Every Monday night, I have had the awesome opportunity to steal Elijah, Faith and Mercy and go on a "Miss Terp" date.  Pretty much every date was the same, dinner at KFC and a movie at home.  Through these dates I have been able to get to know each of the Geurink kids in a special way.  Their energy and perspective is always awesome to hear.  Elijah, Faith and Mercy take time this fall to run and play.  Take a walk through the woods with Papa and Oma.  Enjoy the break God is giving you.

Now I would like to make one thing clear, the Geurinks as great as they are, they are not super heroes.  They are normal everyday people who just happen to live in Africa.  Living with someone for 6 months allows you to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  Sharing the same wall as their kids' bedroom allows you to hear their realness.  We have had a lot of laughs over our celebrity status that some people have given us.  Believe me, the Geurinks and myself are nothing special, it is just that our office is in Africa.

Friends, as the Geurinks head back home, after being in Lesotho for 2 and a half years, I pray you embrace the new people they have become and see them as God sees them.  I pray that as a community we can learn from each others experiences.  We all have hearts that God uses to reach out to different parts of the world.  I am so blessed and honored that He allowed me to serve with the Geurinks and have our hearts broken to the things in Lesotho that break His.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Dream Come True

This is my fifth time to Africa and secretly I had a goal for the trip.  I wanted to go on a Safari.  I have heard from so many others who have gone on trips to Africa about how awesome seeing elephants, giraffes and other animals was.  I know I have been lucky enough to hold baby lions, but they were caged.  I wanted to see a lion in the wild.  A few months ago the planning began.  The Geurinks and I, along with our friends the Beukers (who were in Lesotho picking up their new daughter) had a great vacation planned.  We were going to spend a few days in Jo'burg, because the Beukers had some doctors appointments they had to go to, and then we were off to the Black Rhino Reserve.

While in Jo'burg the Geurinks and I ran a bunch of errands and enjoyed a DELICIOUS lunch at McDonalds!!! I didn't realize how much I missed this American staple.  We went to a few malls in the area and right away I knew I was no longer in Lesotho.  I was a little overwhelmed by the pace of life and the amount of white people that surrounded me.  Another thing I have always wanted to do was go to a restaurant called Carnivore.  This place was so good. I ate Crocodile, Impala, Kudo, Eeland and other Africa deer.  Imagine sitting at a table while a metal plate and the waiter takes a big screwier of meat am places it over your head and then takes his huge knife and carves off a little piece of meat for you.  Yup...that is Carnivore.

On Saturday morning we drove to the Black Rhino Reserve.  We drove in two vehicles with walkie talkies for communication.  Right when we drove into the reserve, I had 2 very good sightings of elephants.  They were hiding from the sun in the trees, so we didn't have a full view of them, but my adrenaline was already pumping.  After stopping for a while to watch the elephants, we started driving to our houses.  Bryan and I were in the lead and as we started turning the corner, a giraffe picked his head up above the trees.  I was SO excited!!! I started whisper-yelling into the walkie talking to inform the other car. "STRAIGHT AHEAD, STRAIGHT AHEAD!! 12 o'clock! GIRAFFE!! STRAIGHT AHEAD"  The other car had a good laugh about my excited tone all done in a whisper.  They asked why I was whispering, and I told them I was using my Safari voice.  Needless to say, I was like a little kid in the toy store who was just told they can get anything they want. 

Black Rhino is a five star, all inclusive park that was AMAZING!!!!  Pretty much I only did 4 things for the 3 days we were there.  I ate...I went on Safaris...I laughed and I showered outside. :) was a great trip!!!  Each day we woke up at 5:15am to make it to the 6am Safari.  Yes, it was early, but to see the sun rise over the African landscape was incredible.  That Safari ended around 9:30 and then we had time to relax.  Our next Safari was at 4pm in the afternoon and lasted until after sunset.  I was reminded of God's faithfulness through every sunrise and sunset.  We serve a great God.

On my first Safari, we were driving for awhile and had only seen some zebras.  They were cool, but I wanted to see something more.  As we rounded the corner, our driver slammed on the brakes.  Less than 8 feet away from our vehicle were 5 rhinos.  What an amazing thing to see.  To my Haven family, being a CRASH has a whole new meaning to me now. 

On Sunday we headed to the lodge for lunch.  The lodge was right on a water hole and when we pulled up we was about 20 elephants.  I have to say eating lunch with elephants playing in the water and spraying each other was an amazing thing.

There are too many stories to share on the blog about my trip, so here are some photos...





At first I felt guilty going on this vacation, but once we crossed from Lesotho to South Africa, my heart felt lighter.  I needed to get away.  For the past 5 months I have been working 24/7.  Most nights nothing happens and I can enjoy those around me, but there are some time when I get a knock on my door and there is a house mother there who needs help with something.  For the past month I have been struggling with anxiety attacks and the feeling like I can do more and I should do more.    While on vacation I learned that I need to do things for me.  I need to take time away to breathe, to relax and to regain focus on the passion that God has placed in my heart.

This trip was a dream come true.  Seeing elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, warthogs, many types of deer, monkeys and birds all in their natural habitat was something I will never forget.  being able to experience it for the first time with people I love was a blessing as well.  The Safaris were definitely the highlight of the trip, but the moments of just relaxing together were great too.  Bryan blessed Anita and I one night with a girl's night.  He took the 3 kids into their house and Anita and I stayed in mine.  It was an incredible way to end the journey we have been on.  The Geurinks leave on Tuesday for 3 weeks of fund raising in Europe and then they head back to Michigan.  I am going to miss our conversations and laughs, but I am not too far behind them.  July 1 is coming fast and I will be back in Michigan, journeying through the next length of this journey with fund raising and meetings for Beautiful Gate.
The things I have experienced in the past 5 months have made me appreciate every second of everyday.  I am so blessed by the love and support I have from so many people along this journey.  I serve a great God who knows the joy and sorrow of this life and walks the journey with me...hand in hand.