My trip to the mountains

Last week, Bryan gave me a few days off and I got to go up in the mountains with an outreach team from a local church, Maseru United Church.  There, we passed out blankets, clothing and audio Bibles to shepherd boys and orphans.  It was an amazing experience, but also heartbreaking.

On Monday, eight of us headed out for our trip up the mountains.

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Most of this trip was windy and through the mountains.  The car we were in was having a few issues.  After driving up hill for a bit, it would stutter and we would have to pull over and give it a break.  That was an adventure, but through prayer and patience we made it to where we were staying.

On Tuesday, we spent the day in Katse, experiencing the wonderful hospitality of the village there.  We were welcomed by the Chief and other local officials and they explained how things were going to work.  It is quite beautiful there.

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And some of the local ladies made us lunch.

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Around 3, people started gathering.  Shepherd boys started arriving as people were available to watch their animals.  Orphans started arriving as schools let out.  The shepherd boys were dressed in the warmest clothes they had, as it was starting to get very cold in the mountains.  They wore blankets over their clothes and gum boots to try to keep their feet dry and warm. The orphans were dressed different.  Some wore school uniforms with sandals, no stockings.  Some didn’t have school uniforms, but wore old clothes.  All of the clothing was well worn.  At least one child arrived with no shoes.

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As people started arriving, the local officials called out the names of the shepherd boys to come forward for their new wool blankets.  They also got to pick a piece of clothing.

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All of the early group sorted through the pants/trousers available, wanting a warm pair of jeans.

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Next the orphans were called by name and they came forward for a fleece blanket and an item of clothing.  Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot children’s clothing with us, but we did our best to find something to fit these children.  A lot of them were older, so they got adult clothing.

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For a time it went back and forth when new waves of shepherd boys arrived and orphans.

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After receiving their blankets and clothing, they were given a warm meal and sent on their way.

Near then end, once we went through the list the Chief had, we started handing out clothes to anyone that wanted them.  People gathered around and it became overwhelming as people wanted just about anything they could find.  It’s hard to see that kind of need.

It was hard to see the little some of these children had and also to see how young some of the shepherd boys were.  It was hard to see children walking barefoot and having nothing to give them to warm their feet.  It was hard to see these children in this situation. A little boy with a torn coat.  Girls in short skirts with no stockings.  A girl in sandals when it was cold outside.  It also made me grateful for the resources given to Beautiful Gate from many donors world-wide.  Our children don’t go hungry, because donors provide food.  Our children are clothed, because donors donate clothing.  Our children have shoes because people donate shoes.  Our children are warm, because a church donated heaters. I could go on and on.  I am grateful for the opportunities given to our Beautiful Gate children.  Yet my heart was aching for these children in the mountains without these many opportunities.  I am grateful to all who donated so these kids would have something to keep them warm.

The next day we ran some errands around Katse and one of our team received a gift of a chicken which we took back to Maseru with us.  Yes, it was a live chicken.

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We left Katse and stopped at another village to pass out blankets to more shepherd boys.  We also noticed the weather was changing.  Wednesday was a very windy day and was colder than the day before.  A cold front was coming in. We wondered if we would have enough blankets for all the shepherd boys at this village, as we only had 29.  But God had a plan.  He knew exactly how many shepherd boys would need a blanket and there were exactly 29 in this village who needed a blanket.

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In this village, women had to wear head coverings and walk a different path to the circle where the meeting was held.  Here in Ha Thetsane, we have to wear a head covering and a skirt when we go to see the Chief.  There we had to wear a head covering.  I didn’t have one on hand, so a member of the team lent me his hat.  Women also had to stand in a certain place to the left of the Chief.  All of this is a sign of respect for the Chief and the traditions of Basotho culture.

The shepherd boys all brought their animals to the meeting, you could see groupings of sheep or cows all around us.

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From the village, we went to Thaba Tseka to pass out school uniforms to kids at a local school.  We were given a list of 105 students who needed uniforms and that is how many uniforms we brought.  These were children of all ages, the youngest around 5 and the oldest 15 or 16.  We gave them brand new track suit uniforms to keep them warm during the cold winter months in the mountains.  These children’s uniforms were looking pretty rough, some only having the sweater or the pants that go with the uniform, whatever their guardians could afford.  Some of these children were single or double orphans.

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While we waited for all the children to arrive, we sat and hung out with the kids.

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That is until there were too many kids for us to sit.

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We all introduced ourselves and then started passing out the uniforms.  When we got to the end, we found out there were more students who weren’t on the original list and we didn’t have enough uniforms.  This was heartbreaking and the kids looked so sad.  But we took down their names and ages so we could get them uniforms soon.  The hope is to get them new uniforms before the next term.

These are the beautiful children showing off their new uniforms.

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The kids played around a bit after receiving their new uniforms.  I noticed this backpack on one of this.  Kind of smart right?
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Some churches that support Beautiful Gate donate solar audio New Testaments to be handed out in Lesotho.  They are the New Testament in Sesotho and the Bibles are rechargeable using solar power.  Since Lesotho has about 300 days of sun each year, this is very useful.  We brought 10 such Bibles with us on this trip.  It was decided that the shepherd boys would use the Bibles while meeting once a week in small groups.  The Pastor from Maseru United Church hopes to get up their every once in a while to meet with these groups and pray with them.

It is exciting to see what God is doing in the mountains of Lesotho.  He is doing amazing things here in Maseru as well.  I am so thankful for this experience.  It has taught me a lot about being grateful for all I have and to be generous as well.  They beautiful people we met in the mountains didn’t have much, but they loved with all they had.  They were gracious and caring. Please pray for the shepherd boys, they they will attend the small groups and that many will know Christ.  Pray for the orphans to be cared for and loved.  Pray they will have proper clothing and shoes.

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