Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Striving for Obedience

In 2010, I felt that God was asking me to take a giant “leap of faith” and trust him by moving to Africa for 4 months. Since then, I have surrender everything to him and 4 months has turned in a full time passion of serving orphans and widows by sharing God’s promises to them.
When I started this journey, I felt the weight of the “leap” and rejoiced when I discovered God’s protection, provision and peace. The “leap” taught me more and more about God’s plan of redemption for all his people. Over the past few months, I have felt God asking something else of me. I believe God asked me to leap, and in doing so I discovered how to rely on him. Now I believe God is asking me “strive” for something else. I have experienced his joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control through the leap of faith, and now God is asking me to strive for daily obedience. Obedience in what it means to be his bride. Obedience in what it means to be his friend. Obedience in what it means to be his servant.

All too often, people see moving to Africa as a huge thing that they could never do. This may be true, but that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and ignore God’s redemptive plan for every one of his children. I have to be honest with you all, my life doesn’t look a lot different from yours. Mine just involves a lot of really cute children and house mothers who need to be loved, cared for and given a place to belong.
As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, we should be slaves who obey our master. Good slaves who strive to do whatever their master desires, so that their master can shine. My master is my Heavenly Father. Every day, I strive to remain obedient to him. I want to be faithful in completing whatever tasks he asks me to do, so that he shines. It is not my story, or “leap of faith” that I desire to be known, but the redemptive story of God’s plan and Jesus’ leap to the cross.  

I pray that as you and I journey together through God’s story, we strive to make our Abba Daddy shine.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed."
Psalm 139:13-16 (New Living Translation)
If the creator of the universe and King of all kings makes something, it has to be good. I love the NLT version of Psalm 139. God knew the "delicate, inner parts" of our bodies. I imagine Him sitting and watching us as grew and matured before we were born. As we took our first breathe, He cried with joy. When we opened our eyes and focused on something, He gave us peace knowing that He created the world for us. God puts value on the people. He created everyone and everyone has value. Today I am struggling with the fact that people think others have no value.
Yesterday a beautiful baby girl was brought to BG. She was 2 weeks old and fit perfectly in my arm. As I carried her around like a football, my heart was overjoyed that she was with me. I am a sucker for newborns. I love their sounds, facial expressions and yes even their smell. Her Sesotho name was not nice, so the staff started calling her Ausi Christina. For almost two hours, she stayed with me. I took her to the clinic, to her house, gave her a bottle, changed her and loved her. She had value to me. But the sad thing is to her mother, she did not have value. She was abandoned on the side of the road. Left out like a piece of trash. Thankfully someone heard her cry and took her to the police.
This morning I got up and went to her house to snuggle and found out that while I was off campus last night, the police came by with her mother. The department of social welfare was able to investigate and locate the mother. She currently is in jail for abandoning her child, and when released plans to come and get her daughter. My heart knows that it is good that this precious little girl has a family, but I pray that her mother will make good choices from now on and take care of her daughter.
Like everyone of His children, this little football sized girl is priceless to God. He knows the delicate parts of her and wants the best for her. Most days I sit back and hear the children's laughter at BG and am filled with grief that this place has to exist. Why can't everyone see people as God sees them? Why do we feel we can put value on another life? If the creator of the everything thinks everyone is priceless, why do some people treat others like garbage?
I took time today to snuggle with Ausi Christina. I want her to know that she has value. That even though her life had a bad start, she is priceless and deserves the world. I wish I could give the world to every child here. I wish I could give that to every family waiting to adopt their child. It is heart breaking to me that places like BG exists, but even worse that because of the number of orphans, most care centers are not as well equipped as we are, due to the volume of children that need care. My heart also finds peace knowing that these children have a place go to and is thankful for BG and the other care centers around the world.
Join me in praying this week for value. Pray for those who believe they have no value and are hopeless. Pray for those who feel their life has more value than another's and mistreat others. Pray for families whose family is not yet complete and are waiting to add more value. Pray for the children who have been treated without value, may they know they are priceless.
This week in Lesotho, there will hopefully be a matching meeting. In this meeting the government will look at the children who are available for adoption and match them with a family that desires to care and love them. Pray that as God matches these families together, redemption will be the theme of their journey.
As you read this, know that you have value. The creator of the universe knows your "delicate, inner parts" and He thinks you are priceless. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


The past three days, I have been putting gin a lot of overtime at the office, but the reason for it is so good, I would work 24 hours a day to accomplish the goal. I am so incredibly honored and humbled that the Lord would use me in this way.

About 10 years ago, I started goofing around with Power Point and video production. I wanted to be able to use it as a tool in worship services and youth group to show God's word in a visual way. As a visual learner, I knew how important it is to see something and have it click in your mind. The Lord took this tool and grew it. I was able to make videos for local events, school functions and a lot of things at church. In 2009, I was able to use the gift with Beautiful Gate and it has grown over the years because of that. Just sharing stories about these children is one thing, showing a person the children and hearing their laughter and voice is a powerful way to express what God is doing here in Lesotho.

This year, my video to-do list has been growing. So many projects and things to do. There was a point when I looked at Bryan and told him that all my videos look the same, because I am doing so many. I was feeling burned out with them. I wanted to change them some how but didn't know what to do. Last week we had a pediatric physical therapist on campus from Mississippi looking at our children. I was able to film her with the kids and now we have a 40 minute video for long term volunteers to see and be trained on how to help our children who are delayed. It was a good start to the week because God used a talent He had given me to help someone else.

On Monday Bryan asked if I would put together a special video. When he told me about it, it was hard not to tear up a little. One of our children who has special needs is being looked at by a family for adoption. This family wanted to know the child's specific needs and the severity of them before they would commit to saying yes or no. On Tuesday I filmed the child doing specific tasks. It was a joy to see how far this child has come over the past year. Their determination is a miracle to watch, I glad I was behind the camera, because a few times I had to wipe away the tears. With every task we asked, the child not only did it, but most of the time took it a step farther. I felt as if they were saying, "I can do that no problem. Give me something that is a challenge." Tuesday afternoon I sat at my computer and put together a video that is being sent off to the family.

I never thought that 10 years ago, God could take a hobby and use it for something as big as this. I am COMPLETELY humbled and honored that He would use me in this way. All the honor and glory goes to Him. If I have to work 24 hour days, so that families who are willing to take a child with special needs can "see" the children and discover the joy God has for them, I will do it!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Messengers from Mississippi

"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me" (Malachi 3:1).
Everyday, the Lord sends messengers around the world to bring his truth and love. He prepares their hearts and seeks them out before they even know it. He desires of them to be a refection of His love, grace and hope to those they meet. Last week, there were 17 messengers of the Lord staying at Beautiful Gate who were from Mississippi.
This team was different from all other teams we have had, because they didn't just serve at Beautiful Gate, but all over Lesotho with the specific gifts the Lord blessed them with. Some of the team members were doctors, nurses and dentists who went out to local clinics and prisons to bring God's healing to many people. Some of the team members were gifted with working with their hands and worked on houses of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) families who needed repairs done. Six of the team members had hearts of compassion as they served the children and staff at Beautiful Gate. The youth pastor on the team, went to prisons and delivered God's truth to the inmates there. Watching them throughout the week, using their specific talent to glorify God, was a humbling experience. All too often, we try to force our service and do things that may not be are specific gift, but we see a need and we do it. This team, embraced the gifts God had given them and their service came easy. They were messengers helping to prepare Lesotho for the Lord's goodness.
Every night, the team circled up for family time. As we all shared our God sightings for the day, you could see and feel God's presence. Even when adversity hit, they didn't wavier, they knew that the Lord was good and that he would provide everything they stood in need of.

MS Web
For me, this team was a breath of fresh air. To have teachers and a pediatric physical therapist at Beautiful Gate, improved not only the health of the children, but helped trained the long term volunteers in how we can better care for our kids.  Their heart's desire was to bring God to Lesotho and in doing so, they experienced more of him. Through their work at the clinics, they experienced his joy. Through their construction work, they experienced his strength. Through their work at Beautiful Gate, they experienced his love.
  MS group
To my friends at Getwell Road UMC, THANK YOU for using the gifts God gave you to be HIS messenger to the people of Lesotho. Your dedication to his service, allowed may people to experience Christ. Keep your eyes focused on the vertical path He has for you, it will only make your horizontal path brighter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Life in Africa for me means change. Not just change in environment, but change in emotion and behavior. I feel like my emotions do a huge change within minutes.  There is something different this year in my heart, and I am not sure what it is. I feel like Lesotho is extreme living. I do not mean I am jumping off mountain ledges, or living completely different from my life in the US, because I am not. But I do mean my emotions are extreme. I feel extreme joy as well as extreme hurt. My heart bubbles over with laughter and in minutes, it is filled with fear, anger and my eyes bubble over with tears. If I have a moment when I feel "normal," part of me is scared for how and when it will change. This happened today, as it does most days.

This week, we have a great team from Mississippi staying at BG. During the day the team is spilt between three different organizations to serve. In the evenings they come to BG to eat, discuss the days event and then rest. It has been a complete joy getting to know them and serving along side of them. My heart gets so excited for teams. Being able to open up someone's heart to the cause of the orphan and widow, ignites a passion in me, I didn't know I had. I love coming together at the end of the day and opening God's Word as we share each other's experiences. Part of the team is staying at BG during the day and helping care for the children. It has been so fun seeing them run around the campus caring for and playing with the children. Each day I have been able to spend some time with the group and share stories. They ask me questions about BG, the children and my journey. I love when they ask, "The child in my house who is _____..." and I can tell them the child's name and a little bit of their story. It brings me joy to be able to know these kids, not just as cute, naughty, silly or cuddly, but to know who they are.

Today, Anita and I went throughout the campus with a children's physical therapist that is on the team. As she worked with the children who are delayed, she was able to teach us how to help them gain strength and overcome their obstacles. At one point she and I were talking about a girl on our campus who has a lot of set backs. As the therapist was working on the girl, we began talking about what would happen if she didn't overcome her obstacles. The emotion in my heart changed. My eyes overflowed with tears. At this moment, I realized that I would do anything for any of the children at BG so that they could experience joy, love, peace and hope. Each day I spend time with the children, not because it is a job, but because I desire to. If I miss a day, I miss them. When one starts to walk, talk, grow and mature, I want to take photos and share them to the world. I want to share their silly stories with friends and family. When a child is sick, I will hold and rock them all night, if that is what it takes to make them feel better. If they are really sick, I want to do everything I can to figure out what needs to happen to help them heal. Today as I worked with the children who are delayed, I realized that I would do anything for them to be able to get the resources I have back in the United States to allow their life to become full. I wanted to email donors and ask for funds to get medical visas. I wanted to email people and see if there was someone who would like to have a child live with them while they were treated.

The team from Mississippi has shown me how much I love these kids and that I would do anything for them. Sharing with the team, about the children they are working with, their personalities and traits, I have realized that over the past few months, I have become very attached to these children. Each year I do, but it is different this time. In the past, I loved them, wanted what was best for them, and enjoyed spending time with them but was content in serving them from a "fund raising/public relations" position. Today as I sat with a therapist and we rejoiced that these kids have BG, my heart rejoiced that God had them here so they could have a place to go and grow, but my heart was also sad because I know there is something better than BG.

As good as BG is, it is not a family. These children deserve more than what we can give them. They deserve parents who will love them, encourage them and strive to provide everything they need to grow. They deserve siblings who they may not enjoy right now, but as they grow, they will see how great it is to have them. They deserve a community that will come along side them and encourage them to strive to become the person God created them to be. They deserve friends to laugh with, grow with and be real with. My heart wants to badly to give that to each and everyone of the children here. If that means I need to work long, hard days with extreme emotions, so that they know I love them, I will. If that means I spend my free time brainstorming ways to present BG to people in a new way, so that they can truly grasp God's Kingdom purpose here, I will. If that means I tour around the United States and Canada for 6 months, in hopes that maybe one person's heart will be introduced to the power of adoption and orphan care, I will.

Is my heart tired from extreme emotional living? yes

Are there moments when I feel as though I am not making a difference and I struggle with how to do so? yes

Are there moments when I feel like I no longer know who I am and can control my emotions? yes

Will I stop? Not until ever child has a family and a home to call their own.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


This past week I have realized, that even though I want to say I have embraced the relaxed African personality, I have not.

First, Wednesday afternoon, the water for the Maseru (capital of Lesotho) was turned off. We were told it was going to be 3 days, so a water main could be fixed. Thursday, I was fine. Yes, I missed my shower, flushing the toilet normally, instead of using pond water to do so, and being able to do my laundry, but it just felt like camping. Friday morning, the "whines" set in. After spending time with 60 children who crawl, pee, puke and poop on you, and who have also have not bathe, you just feel gross. It was hot, I was sweaty and I was getting very stinky. I usually do my laundry on Friday's so I was running out of clean clothes. My bathroom smelt like one of a campground, which is never pleasant. My housemates and I were washing dishes in a sink of cold, slimy water that had been there since Thursday morning. The orange film that was floating on top of the water made me question if the dishes were clean. Friday evening, the mosquitoes came out and I was so tired that I didn't care that I sprayed myself extra good with bug spray. If you already stink of sweat, urine and puke why not add bug spray?! I was trying to joke and have fun with it. Since we were conserving our clean water, I decided that I would "sacrifice" and drink more Coca-Cola to save the water. (I am addicted to the Coke here and only allow myself a few a week, but this weekend all limits were off.) I share these details to try and paint an accurate picture, but really it was not as bad as it sounds. Since everyone around me was stinky, no one really said anything. :)

The joy came Saturday morning, when I turned the faucet on and water came spitting out. My roommate and I started dancing around the kitchen, so excited for water. I took a quick 3 minute shower (because I wasn't sure how long the water would last) and it felt like Heaven. Being clean is a great thing. Saturday was full of dish washing, laundry, toilet flushing and joy. My roommate Grace and I talked about how the air outside even felt cleaner and lighter. We celebrated the day with a special lunch and the ability to feel clean again. It was a piece of Heaven on earth.

Then Sunday morning happened. I had to take a child to the hospital to be checked in for surgery. We all thought it was weird that her appointment was on a Sunday, but we went anyway. After waiting for a few hours, we saw the doctor who said there had been a mistake, because they do not have appointments on Sunday and surgeries are only done on Tuesday. We then asked if the child was schedule for Tuesday and he did not know, because he misplaced the appointment book. I had to laugh, because it only made since that only one book holds all the appointments and it was missing. So after 4 hours, we were back at BG with the child.

I have to say my eyes were open to Lesotho living even more while I sat at the hospital. I really wish I knew more Sesotho, because I was in the children's ward and there were many kids there alone. I tried my best to go and cheer them up, but my limited language hinder me. Looking at these children and the condition of their casts and treatments made me miss the health care I have in Michigan. I was saddened, because I feel every person and every child should be treated the same. This was even more magnified, when I walked into the ER of the hospital. The waiting room over packed with people groaning and moaning. There were children crying while they sat on the laps of an adult who was sleeping instead of consoling the child. There were 2 people who had been stabbed and were bleeding very badly. Their blood was pooled on the floor under them as their friends tried to put pressure on their wounds with their own shirts. It was a hard thing to see. People so desperate for help, just waiting. Waiting not knowing if the breath they just took would be their last. Waiting in hopes to see a doctor. Waiting... One patient went up to the desk and asked for a glass of water. The nurse informed them that they could not give them water, because their water had not been turned on yet. My mind went back to the previous day, when I was doing laundry, taking a shower, washing dishes and filtering enough drinking water for a week. I had no idea that the water supply to the hospital was not turned on yet. People who are at the hospital because they are sick, couldn't have water.

I went 3 days without water, and I have to say my attitude was not good. The second it came on, I started using it right away and later that day I forgot what it was like to be without. I whined. I complained. But the second the water came on, I became a glutton again. Sunday showed me that I had nothing to whine or complain about. BG has a water reserve tank, we had water. Yes we couldn't do everything we normally do, but we had water. Everyday around Lesotho, people take wheel barrels and pray that the wells they go to will have water. They do not know what a shower is, because they do not have plumbing in their house. The toilet pit in their yard always smells like a camp ground bathroom. BUT they sing, rejoice and are grateful for what they have. They do not whine or complain, but simply heat up a bucket of water and wash their bodies, their dishes and their clothes.

Friends, no matter what you face today, find joy in it. Do not allow our spoiled lifestyle over take joy. A shower is not worth having your joy stolen from you. Be grateful that if you feel sick, you can go to the doctor and get medicine. Praise God that the water you drink is not full of collar and other things that will only make you sicker. Give God glory, because in all things He provides exactly what you need for the day.