At the end of November, a team of 11 came from my home church to Beautiful Gate. This included some very close friends and some people I had never met, but got the pleasure of getting to know throughout the week.
It was a meeting of two worlds in so many ways.
Thursday night the first person arrived. Megs is from Cape Town, but she was an au pair in the states for a little over a year. I met her when I was trying to figure out where God was calling me in Africa. She attended my church while she was in the states. She returned to Africa a couple weeks after I moved here. I saw her one night when I was in Cape Town and I’m so glad she was able to join this team. We spent that night getting things ready for the team and just sitting and talking, catching up. The team thought she’d arrive Saturday, so it was fun for her to surprise them when they got to campus the next day.
Friday morning I met them at the airport with huge hugs and big smiles. I was so excited to see them. I brought them back to Beautiful Gate and got them settled in. 8 of the girls stayed in my house and the 3 others (2 guys and a girl) stayed off campus. My two roommates at the time moved into Benno and Wendy’s house, so the team could stay together.
As everyone got settled in, I started to get a pile of stuff on my bed. I had asked for Claritin D, as I’ve had a lot of allergy issues and that seems to be the only medicine that keeps it at bay. I am happy to say that I have enough Claritin D now to get me mostly through until I come home in October. I also started seeing a lot of Reese’s things. Not only the peanut butter cups, but reese’s baked goods. Again I am probably covered on candy until I make it home in October. Must eat in moderation. I’ve been missing random foods back in the states, Chic-fil-a and Panera being some of the biggest cravings. I already have a plan to go to Chic-fil-a on the way home from the airport as long as I don’t fly home on a Sunday. A couple members of the team risked missing the team bus to run to Panera and pick me up some bagels. Oh my goodness, so yummy! I enjoyed those for the next week! Friends from home sent presents and letters through team members. Andrea brought Christmas decorations and movies she knew I’d love. She even brought me a Redskins t-shirt! I felt so blessed and ended up with a huge pile of stuff on my bed once they unpacked. And throughout the week as they went through their suitcases, they still found stuff. I am one blessed lady with great friends!
After settling in a bit I gave them a tour of Beautiful Gate. At the end they got to meet a child. Unfortunately the rest were eating lunch or sleeping by this time. As I’m looking through the pictures, I think after the tour the team decided to play on the playground equipment (without the children).
Later that day they went and played with the kids in the afternoon playgroup. I made dinner for them and then we had team devotions. I don’t usually join devotions for teams, but I did for this one. In a lot of ways I was like a member of the team while they were here. For the first night’s devotion, they asked me to share my story of coming to Africa.
The next day we celebrated Thanksgiving. Yes, it was a Saturday and not actually Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving was the day before they left Lesotho and since it is not a holiday in Lesotho it was easier to celebrate it on Saturday. It was also the day of preschool graduation for a couple of our kids. Two members of the team went to the graduation and got to experience it and the cultural stuff that went with it.
After cooking most of the day, lots of different people in and out of our kitchen and the one next door, we all sat outside for Thanksgiving dinner, joined by Kaitie, Stephanie, Benno and Wendy.
On Sunday we went to my church. I loved seeing my friends from home in my church here. They danced during the song where everyone was dancing. That was different, my church from home doesn’t really have dancing during the service. They sang in Zulu and Sesotho, along with English. And there was a good sermon.
After church we loaded into the Quantum and headed to Tempelhof to see lions. That day we found out a couple members of the team were not fans of emus, as one followed us around.
The rest of the week they were working hard for Beautiful Gate. They painted bathrooms, kitchens, two murals in a baby house and a mural on the chapel. They helped cover houses and play with the kids while we held a training for some of our staff. They stepped in and did whatever was asked of them while they were here. It was so great to have them here!
Throughout the week I was able to have good conversations with many members of the team. I got to know some for the first time and others even better in a new environment. A couple members grew up in Africa either as missionary kids or military kids. One was South African. Many were experiencing Africa for the first time. They all had different reasons for joining this trip and I’m so glad God put it on their hearts to join the trip.
Having a team here is always busy, but having your church bring a team here is definitely a different experience. It was wonderful and hard all at the same time. It made me thankful I am in here and miss home all at the same time. I am thankful God allowed my friends to come here and see my heart. That He allowed them to experience the love of these amazing children and their need for love. He allowed them to love on these children even for a short time and to bless the children and staff of Beautiful Gate. And He allowed them to bless and encourage me.
So, I say to each of the team members – Andrea, Christy, Megs, Kristen, Laura, Courtney, Brittany, Greg, Naomi, Hannah, and Andrew – thank you! It was a pleasure having you here!