Friday, May 20, 2016

Reflections on 4 years

This week I was able to take a few days and drive to Johannesburg to drop off my friend Anita's brother at the airport. Anita and I decided to it would be fun to not just drop him off but have a two day getaway to show him some more of Africa before he left and to give the two of us some time together, since it would be the last time we could do that before I leave at the end of June. It was an amazing time of laughter, deep conversations and just plain silliness.

We stayed over night at a Airport En Route. It is a cute little B&B that I use every year and know the owners well. As Anita and I were laying in bed chatting I couldn't help but think of January 2013 when I was laying in the exact same bed. I remember not sleeping at all that night. I was so scared and questioned what I was doing. The day before I just had said goodbye to all my loved ones and I was headed out on an adventure that only God knew about the details. That night I remember crying and feeling so alone. I didn't think I had the strength for the journey of living a very split life in Lesotho as a missionary and then in North American as a traveling speaker and promoter of Beautiful Gate, at times being treated as a celebrity. Since I was the one creating the job and the first one in this position I had no idea what to expect and that night all the fears and thoughts of not being good enough came out. A big part of me just wanted to go home. The night before I left as I was saying goodbye to my family, my littlest nephew was not pleased with me leaving. At one point my brother had to take him out of my arms so they could go because my nephew was not going to let go. My heart broke for what this job was going to do to my relationships both in my family and friends. After one night at the B&B, I got on a plane and headed to Lesotho where I was warningly greeted by all the staff and children I love and I knew I was right where God wanted me. My heart felt full and ready to do whatever He wanted. He proved 10 days after I got to BG that it was Him alone that I needed to find strength in with the deaths of three children in four days.

The last four years have been ones of extreme ups and downs. Each day is full of moments of joy and moments of grief. Someone once said, "Adoptions have to be the best day of your job." I will agree that adoptions are great days. They are a physical representation of God's adoption of us and a child that I love gets to have a family, but I do not think they are the best. For me the "best" day on the job is when seeing a child trust. Most children come to us scared and very nervous. Some are very withdrawn and others just look at you like a deer in the head lights. Every child is different at how they respond to their first few days, weeks or months. Sadly some children stay withdrawn from others. The trauma that caused them to end up at BG was too much and they just don't understand any other type of life. Some children have no issues at all with the transition and it is hard to tell that they are the "new kid" have a few hours. So the best day for me comes when one of those children who is withdrawn and distance themselves from people, grabs your hand or sits on your laugh without you prompting it. The best day is when a child who has shown any joy, smiles and/or laughs with the other children. The best day is the day a child realizes they are a part of a family.

On the opposite side, the hardest days have been those when a child realizes that their life is not the way it is suppose to be. We call these "orphan days." It is when a child's whole personality just changes. They are extremely sad and sometimes act out and want nothing to do with anyone. It is those days, that I just pick them up and hold them. It is those days that I want so badly to get rid of the red tape of adoptions and give them to a family. It is those days that I find myself searching for answers and needing to spend extra time with Jesus, because it is those days that you discover there just are no answers. Nothing about Beautiful Gate is normal. It is a beautiful place created to bring love and hope into the lives of children and staff, but the truth is it should not exist. Orphanages, foster care, children homes, are names for a bigger problem that no one can fix except for the Lord. That problem is sin. When your life consist is living in a place that was created because of sin, it is understandable to have "orphan days" and honestly, I have also experienced a lot of orphans days myself.

There are so many things going through my head and heart right now. So many emotions and feelings. So many thoughts and reflections. May has been a slower month for my job at BG because we haven't had any teams, so I have been able to take time and just reflect on the past 4 years. Someone once asked me, "Now you know what you know and have experienced all the highs and the lows, would you do it again?" That question is easy...YES! As I think about the scared woman in a B&B in Jo'burg in 2013 and I think of that same woman four years later laying in the same bed, I cannot help but thank God for all the experiences I have had. I have been a part of adoptions and reunifications. Some of those adoptions have been families that have adopted twice from BG. I have experienced God's family in many child becoming a part of the BG family. I have experienced grief through the passing of 6 children, five in 2013 and one a few weeks ago. I met amazing people whose hearts have been affected by BG through mission trips and presentations. On another note, my waist line has also changed because of these great people who have fed me well when I am with them. (PS there is NO other place for BBQ than in Mississippi!!!)

I can honestly say, I am no longer the scared person I was in 2013. I have changed... a lot. My heart knows how to feel deeper joy and it also knows how to feel deeper pain. BUT through it all, the Lord is faithful. He was faithful to me before 2013 and He will continue to be faithful in the years to come. On my first trip in 2009, I prayed that the Lord would break my heart for what breaks His. There is no doubt, that is what He has done. My heart has been broken and rebroken and rebroken and yes, rebroken again for His people and I pray that no matter where the Lord leads me after December when I finish my responsibilities with BG, I will continue to be able to work with His broken people.

"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." 
1 Thes. 5:24

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