Port Shepstone

About two weeks before I left, the Geurinks took me away with them to visit some friends down in Port Shepstone, South Africa.  With all the craziness between the coup attempt and trying to finish things up before leaving, it was great to get away, to take some time away from campus and process what was coming.

Along the way, we met up with Lisa, a friend from Lesotho who had just moved to South Africa.  It was good to see her and catch up a bit before leaving.

Then, we got to Port Shepstone, which is right on the Indian Ocean.  And it was beautiful.  Both full days we were there, we went to the beach.  It was so nice to sit on the beach and read a book.  Or go play in the water with the kids.

While at the beach I got most of the way through the book Re-Entry.  It’s a book lent to me by a friend to help me understand a lot of the emotions and things I might go through when going home.  One thing it had me go through was changes in me and changes back home. Going through this made me really think about the changes back home, such as my Mom moving to Florida or many of my friends who have moved to other states.  A lot of my friends and family have had children and a member of my family passed away.  My sister’s house was remodeled.  And so many other things.

Processing through that and thinking about how I’ve changed made me really think about what it will be like to go home.  I was thinking it may not be easy, but God will get me through

“I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down, relax My hold on you. — Assuredly not!”  ~ Hebrews 13:5, Amp

In addition to hanging out at the beach, we played in the pool and watched Duck Dynasty.  It was a lot of fun to catch up with the Danforths before heading home.

And I got to see the beautiful Indian Ocean one more time!

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Back in the States

So, I arrived back in the states a little over three weeks ago and it has been a whirlwind of seeing family and friends, buying a car, and moving to Florida.  I arrived in Florida tonight and I am ready to be settled for a bit.

I often get the questions of “what’s next?” or “Are you happy to be home?” and so many others.  The what’s next is a hard one, since I really don’t know.  I’m looking for a job, hopefully online so I can travel.  I’m also looking into where God is calling me next and a sending agency.  Am I happy to be home?  Yes, it’s good to see my friends and family, but I miss my kids!  A lot of things are unknown here right now.  I just moved to a place I’ve never been.  I’m going to be looking for a new church down here.  I miss Lesotho.  I miss my friends there and my kids.  I miss Beautiful Gate and my church, Victory.  It’s hard starting over, but this is where I am for now.

Over the next couple days, I hope to do blog updates on my last days at Beautiful Gate and my trips to Germany and England, as well as what it’s like to be back and how things are progressing.

I do ask for prayer, prayer for guidance on a job and the future.  Prayers that I will be patient and wait for God’s timing and where He wants me to be.  Thank you!

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Where is home?

As I’m about to head home in my travels, I sometimes wonder where home is? Yes home is where my family is, but I don’t really have a home to return to. My mom moved to Florida after I moved to Africa. I’m going to visit my sister for a bit before heading to Florida, but her place isn’t home either.

For the past two years home has been the volunteer house on Beautiful Gate’s campus. Home is where there are beautiful children running around outside free to be children because they trust in the love and care of beautiful gate. Home is where there is a family next door where the kids call me Aunt Kristen and the adults are really good friends, almost like siblings. Home is where I have lovely ladies as roommates. Home is where I can walk outside and here little voices calling “Ausi Mpho” as I walk past and where children run up and give me hugs.

They say home is where the heart is, but where is home when your heart is in two different places?

My home is in heaven and wherever God calls me. For the next season my home is in the states, in Florida.

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Saying goodbye.

On Thursday morning I left Beautiful Gate. I left the 63 amazing kids who have my heart. I left the 45 staff who have become friends and who I’ve served alongside for two years. And I left the people who have become like family to me. To say it was hard would be an understatement.
On Wednesday was my farewell. This was when I got to say a few words to the staff and volunteers of bg and where they got to say a few things to me. It was a wonderful ceremony and I felt very loved.
Later that afternoon I spent some time playing with the kids at playgroup. Then I went to each house to hug and love all the kids.
That night all the volunteers of bg and Kim gathered for dinner and some worship time. It was beautiful. And it was during worship where some of what was happening started to hit me. I was leaving my kids. I may not see some of them again. I’m heading to the unknown.
I then finished packing and went to sleep for a couple hours before getting up and going to hug all the children and staff before leaving,
To say it was hard would be an understatement. To say it will be easy to deal with saying goodbye to them would be inaccurate. I miss my kids. I miss Lesotho. But I’m having fun in Germany with a friend and I’m looking forward to what is ahead.
Pictures from all the above events will be posted at a later time. Thanks for the prayers and please continue praying as I make this transition.

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A Jumble of Emotions

I have so many blogs in my mind, yet haven’t had time to write them.  This past week has been hard as I’ve been saying goodbye to so many people who have a huge part of my heart.  And I think some of the hardest goodbyes are yet to come.

Today is my farewell at Beautiful Gate.  Today I say goodbye to the staff and the children.  Tomorrow I leave at 9 am to go to Joburg and fly out.

People keep asking me how I’m doing and the response is really I don’t know.  I’m every emotion and sometimes no emotions.  I’m tired, because I haven’t been sleeping much.  I’m sad because I’m saying goodbye to people who have become family.  I’m saying goodbye to children I may never see again.  I know those children may not be at BG if I come to visit, because they will have families, but it is still hard to say goodbye.  I’m excited to see my family and friends.  I’m excited to go to Germany and England.  I’m anxious because I’m not done packing yet.  And there are some other random emotions stuck in there.

These past two years I’ve been writing for this blog, but also for the blog for Beautiful Gate.  Yesterday I wrote a farewell and thank you to all the supporters on that blog.  If you want to read it, click here.

And now I want to thank all of you for your prayers these last couple years.  They were/are felt and appreciated.  Please continue to pray for me.  Pray for the transition.  Pray that I get through all the goodbyes today and tomorrow.  Thank you!

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Rugby

A couple weeks ago I went to my first rugby game in Bloemfontein.  It was pretty fun.  I enjoyed the game, a lot of action.

A whole group of the volunteers from BG went.  We tried to take a selfie but had problems getting everyone in the shot, so here are two of them.

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SAM_5373We had a great view.

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The Sharks

SAM_5376were visiting the home team, the Cheetahs.

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I’m not fully versed on the terminology of the game, but here’s some pictures of play.

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SAM_5379The game ended in a tie.

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And the teams shook hands.

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Culture Shock

I’ve seen many people go through culture shock as they get used to living here.  What I’ve never realized before is you go through culture shock when you are about to leave.  Things that never used to bother you start to bother you.  You become extremely sensitive to everything around you and take offense so easily just like you do when you are going though culture shock when you first arrive or at least I did.

It’s a hard place to be in right now.  Everything I say seems to come out wrong or I just say the wrong things entirely.  I don’t mean to do it.  And I’m not sure how to fix it other than to ask for forgiveness from those I’ve hurt with offhanded comments and hopefully move on trying to not say them in the future.

Now that I realize it is happening and what is happening hopefully I can change it.  With two weeks and two days left, I want to be able to have a positive finish with all those around me.  I want to be able to enjoy my time and have everyone else enjoy their time as well.

I spent some time in prayer last night asking God for help and for peace.  I also asked for a good night’s sleep as I haven’t been sleeping the best.  Last night I did sleep pretty well even though I woke up at 3:30 for a short time (seems to be a common time for me to wake up).

So friends I ask for prayer.  Please pray for me, pray for my emotions and this culture shock I seem to be going through right now.  I don’t even know for sure if it is culture shock, but it is something.  Please pray for those around me, pray for all the new volunteers who are going through culture shock themselves.  Pray for open hearts and forgiveness.  Thank you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  ~ Philippians 4:6-7

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”  ~ Philippians 4:13

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Anxieties

I go home soon.

The realities of this statement are starting to hit.  And anxiety is starting to increase on multiple fronts.  I leave Lesotho three weeks from tomorrow and there are a few projects I want to finish before I leave.  I also want to make sure I get lots of pictures of and with the kids before I leave.

My health insurance ends at the end of September.  I can’t extend my current plan because I will be in the states, so I need to figure out new health insurance over the next two weeks, so I don’t lapse.

So many things that I need to do keep running across my mind, yet I just want to hug a kid or spend time with people here.  But these things do need to get done.  I need to set up car insurance for when I get home so I can at least be an insured driver.  I’d also like to have a phone when I get there, so trying to figure out the pay as you go plans so I don’t have to get roped into a long contract since my plan is to come back to Africa.  I’ve asked my sister and brother-in-law to look into cars for me so I’ll have transportation.  I plan to buy a used car when I get home for driving back and forth between MD and FL (where my Mom now lives).

I’ll be moving to FL when I get back, staying with my Mom, setting that up as my home base for when I’m in the states.  So, with that comes looking for a church and a job in that area or online.  I’d love to be able to travel around and see people, to have that freedom in my job, but I don’t know if that will work.  Does anyone know of a job where I can work online?  That way I could work from anywhere in the world?

I’m also anxious about actually being back in the states.  I’ve been living here in Lesotho for 2 years.  It is a completely different culture and life here.  Just the thought of going into a Walmart overwhelms me.  I can imagine my first grocery shopping trip.  The variety of things available in the states could make me just want to leave.  When I was in Cape Town I went to a grocery store and there were other flavors of ice cream than what we have in Lesotho.  I kept looking at it and looking at it trying to choose one, I ended up deciding I didn’t need ice cream.  By the way, they only had one freezer with ice cream in it, not a whole aisle like back home.

And what will it be like being with my friends who I haven’t seen in two years?  I’ve changed, they’ve changed, will we still share interests?

And so many friends and family members have had children in the past two years, I will have a ton of kids to meet.  Good thing I like kids.  🙂

So, friends, I’m asking for prayer.  Pray all these issues will be sorted and I can just enjoy my last couple weeks here.  Pray for the removal of my anxieties and for peace about going home.  Pray for me (and my friends who are also leaving within the next couple weeks).

And please continue praying for Lesotho and the political unrest here.  Thank you!

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Back in Lesotho!

Yesterday, after a couple days of calm, Bryan called the volunteers back to Lesotho.  We arrived back on campus mid-afternoon.

When I left campus on Tuesday, I wasn’t sure when or if we would be coming back.  My flight out of Africa is on October 2nd, so I have a only a short time left here.  I’m so glad things calmed down so I could come back.

But, this does not mean everything is settled.  Please continue to pray for Lesotho.  The police are back to work and the Prime Minister is back in the country.  Parliament is supposed to reopen September 19th.  There are reports that the Prime Minister will dissolve the Parliament soon after it reopens.  There is also a struggle with the leader of the Lesotho Defense Force.  One was let go, but he continues to say he is the leader.  Another was appointed, so there is confusion there.

Please pray for peace in Lesotho.  One thing I’ve notice is the Basotho people have continued to go about business as usual during the day.  Then at night, they just stay home.

We here at BG are going about business as usual.  There was an adoption ceremony Friday and children continue to be cared for.  Volunteers are not allowed to go off campus at night, as a safety precaution.  We also are not allowed to go into town by ourselves, again as a safety precaution.

Lesotho is a beautiful country with beautiful people.  I’m glad to be back here.  This whole situation makes me sad and I hope it gets resolved soon.

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Update on Lesotho

On Tuesday, Bryan decided to seen the volunteers to South Africa, taking the conservative approach to make sure we were safe.  So, my three roommates and I are hanging out in South Africa until we get the okay to go back to Lesotho.  Bryan and his family remain at Beautiful Gate.

Here is a post Bryan wrote on Tuesday which gives the background of the situation.

As of the time Bryan was writing this post, the police were not on duty and were told not to come to work for safety reasons.  Today they are heading back to work. Last night was a calm night and hopefully with the police back to work, things will get back to normal.  The Prime Minister also returned to Lesotho yesterday.

Pray for things to calm down and for tensions to seize.  Pray King Letsie, Prime Minister Thabane, and all of the government will work together to resolve this issue for their country.  Pray for the safety of the Geurinks and all of Beautiful Gate staff and children.  Pray for the Basotho people and pray for the ex-pats living in Lesotho.

Thank you for your prayers.

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