Tons Of Travel & Abundance Of Amazing

Over the past two months, Rachel and I have had four teams, driven over one hundred hours in the car, said a few happy hellos along with a few sad goodbyes, and experienced some of the sweetest times of ministry we’ve had to date.

Towards the end of May, we had the privilege of hosting Beth’s (one of our spring interns) parents for two weeks. They were so excited to come and see all that Beth had been a part of during her time here in Lesotho. Mr. Tim and Mrs. Leah jumped right into ministry and found creative ways to serve alongside their daughter. Whether it was helping with construction projects, distributing jackets for the kids, or joining in discipleship in the villages, they served with awesome flexibility and great attitudes.

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We also spent far too much time playing Catan in the evenings!

Rachel and I were sad to see them go. Ashton, Beth, and Beth’s parents did a phenomenal job of building lasting relationships with our friends and children here. We wish Ashton the best as she begins a new job and Beth good luck as she begins veterinary school!

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However, we didn’t have long to miss them before our next group arrived. In fact, just twenty-four hours after the intern’s plane took off for America, Shane and Tanner’s plane landed from Botswana. Shane had just finished leading a young adult trip to Botswana (that Tanner had been a part of) and wanted to join us in ministry and see Lesotho before heading back to the States.

This was also the first time Rachel and I got to see Tanner since their family trip in January, and we are so happy that he will be spending the rest of the summer here with us, serving at the Care Centers!

Before heading to Lesotho, however, we all hopped on a quick flight to Cape Town. We probably packed a whole month’s worth of excitement into just three days. We went to Cape Agulhas (the southern-most point in Africa, also where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet), hiked up Lions Head (which is now my absolute favorite hike in the world), and went to Boulders Beach (where we were able to play in the water with penguins). On top of all the touristy attractions, we also found some incredible hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee shops, and even a tattoo parlor to spend some time at. All in all, it was an incredibly quick but much needed break. We are so thankful that Shane wanted to go on a quick vacation with us before heading off to see Lesotho.

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So after we left Cape Town, we loaded everything up in the car and headed to Lesotho. One thing that gives Rachel and I so much encouragement is seeing Lesotho and the ministry taking place here through a visitor’s eyes. We see these sights and do this work so often that it’s easy to get into a rut and forget how blessed we are to be doing what we’re doing in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Needless to say, Shane had nothing but positive things to say about his time in Lesotho. We didn’t give him any time to rest and put him to straight to work. On Friday, we visited both Care Centers and delivered some food for the kids to enjoy over the weekend. We also “dusted” all the chickens for lice (it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it). Then on Saturday, Shane and Tanner helped us host the last High School Ministry before winter break began. This has become one of the highlights of our week, and it’s been sad not having this awesome group of kiddos in our home during the school break.

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Sunday came as a bit of a surprise for Shane as we were both asked to preach at Khohlo-Ntso Baptist Church. I shared a challenge Paul gives the Thessalonian believers which says:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

And Shane followed by teaching about the parable of the mustard seed, which is found in the Gospel of Mark:

“And he said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.'”
Mark 4:30-32

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It was a wonderful day of worship, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing a sermon taught in my native tongue for the first time in a few months.

Finally, on Monday we had one last day at the Centers before driving Shane back to South Africa for his departure flight to the US. It was incredibly sad to have him leave, but just like when the spring interns left, we didn’t have a lot of time before the next group arrived!

— INTERMISSION —
We’ve reached the half way point, so if you need to stretch your legs, refill your snacks and drinks, or use the lavatory, now is a great time to make that happen!

Rachel, Tanner, and I were so happy when we saw three awesome, slightly exhausted kiddos bounce through the arrival gate followed by their two, slightly more exhausted parents. The Dupuis Family arrived late one evening and we quickly got some pizza in their bellies and sent them to bed.

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We stayed another two days in Johannesburg (mostly so the kids could adjust to the time change) where we spent some time at a craft market and took them to the Lion & Safari Park to see lions, giraffe, leopard, and several other African animals.

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After the very long drive we successfully arrived in Lesotho with the Dupuis family. Instead of splitting their three days of ministry between the two Care Centers, we decided it would be best for each family to “adopt” one Center for the duration of their time. This would give the kids and the Center the best chance of opening up and the kiddos from America an opportunity to pour into the same kids each day and build deeper relationships as a result.

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The Dupuis family was assigned to Khohlo-Ntso Care Center for their time in Lesotho. It was so incredible to see Evan, Adeline, and Malina jump in and serve selflessly. They didn’t hesitate to play, learn and teach games, and talk to the kiddos. At first, the children from the Care Center were a little standoffish, but as the days progressed, several kids had made great connections and were happy to play with our American friends.

Over the course of their time at Khohlo-Ntso, Bryan taught a few great Bible lessons and Penny taught several songs (that the kids are still singing today). They also made crafts, played with kites (which was a huge hit), learned to play wall-ball on the side of the church, and even made knotted fleece blankets.

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On the last day at the Center, the whole family participated in the telling of The Two Kingdoms. Bryan and Penny led the story while Evan, Adeline, and Malina all took turns sharing a part of the story and helping with the oil/water visual. It was really neat to see everyone participate in sharing the Gospel!

Overall, their time in Lesotho was a success. The Care Center kids had an absolute blast playing, singing, and learning with their new friends from America. It was very sad for their new friends to say goodbye, and I know the memories from this week will last a lifetime!

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The next morning we all climbed back into the car for another long journey. This time, however, there was an empty seat in the car because we left Tanner in Lesotho to help with Super Winter 2017. This weeklong camp, hosted by IMB missionaries Jim and Teresa Flora, was aimed at training two hundred Basotho youth and young adults to lead evangelism and discipleship lessons. Tanner was assigned to be a small group leader for several of our High School (and soon-to-be High School) kids.

If you’re interested in learning more about his time at Super Winter, you can read about it by clicking here (scroll down to his post from July 2nd).

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While all the Super Winter excitement was taking place, we drove the Dupuis family out of the mountains of Lesotho all the way to Botswana. It was here that we met up with another amazing family, the Feliciano’s. Mo, Alisa, Isaac, and Selah had just spent a week serving in Botswana. We arrived at Molepolole Baptist Church and Rachel and I had the privilege of serving alongside these two families for a few days as they worked together to host a VBS for Molepolole’s Care Center kiddos.

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It was amazing to be able to reconnect with the Feliciano’s and serve alongside them. While Rachel helped with the VBS time, I was able to join in on a project that Mo and Brent Turner (IMB missionary) had started a day before we arrived. We put together a swing set for the Care Center!

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For the Care Center to be allowed to officially open, it needs to meet several governmental requirements, one of which being an outdoor play area. It was great to be able to exercise the building and construction portion of my brain and get a little power-tool therapy. By the end of our time at Molepolole, the swing set was finished and the kids were soaring high in the sky. Rachel and I will be so happy when this Center is officially reopened and able to care for kiddos in the surrounding area on a permanent basis.

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As a special treat, we spent the next day at a game lodge and safari. After a great lunch surrounded by dozens of elephant, we loaded onto the trucks and headed out for a game drive. It was awesome to see the kiddos reactions to the exotic animals!

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The next day, we loaded back into the car and said our goodbyes to the Dupuis family. They were going to stay in Botswana for a few more days and continue serving with the Turner’s while Rachel and I took the Feliciano family back to Lesotho with us. We made a pit stop at about the halfway point for a day to break up the drive (going all the way from BW to LS would be a brutally long drive for the kiddos). We went to the Lion & Safari Park with them and were able to see some more of Africa’s amazing wildlife. It’s also really cool to be able to get super close to lions and feed giraffe, a big hit with the kids!

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Upon arrival in Lesotho, we didn’t waste any time getting settled. The Feliciano family jumped in at Khokhoba Care Center (just down the street from our house). Their kids, Isaac and Selah, did an incredible job playing with the children at the Center and didn’t hesitate to begin building relationships with the kids. Whether they were playing a structured game like four corners or just playing with toys like the spelling mat or marble run, they were encouraging, patient, and loving toward our sweet kiddos.

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Over the course of their time at the Care Center, Alisa and Selah were able to distribute scarves (made by Selah’s class at school) and blankets (donated by the Comfort Crew Ministry at Cool Spring Baptist Church), Mo did a great job teaching several Bible lessons, and Isaac helped the kids master the marble run game and loved kicking the soccer ball around!

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For our last day at the Center, we were also able to share the Story of Jesus for Children (Jesus Film). Mo introduced the film and set the stage for what they were about the see. The kids were hooked, especially because the film was presented in Sesotho, their own language! After the film was over, I led a debrief time and Isaac shared his testimony. It was incredible to see how much the children picked up on and absorbed. We are praying that they will continue to ask questions and seek answers about all the things they learned!

And the popcorn during the movie was also a big hit!

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Sadly, the next day we all headed back down the mountain to say our last set of goodbyes. It’s always bittersweet saying goodbye to friends and loved ones. However, Rachel and I are so incredibly thankful for everyone who has made the long, tiring, expensive, complicated, and at times draining journey to come into our home and join us in the ministry God has granted us stewardship over. It’s so uplifting to see the work being done here in Lesotho through the eyes of a “first-timer”, being able to share in their joy of new experiences! It truly helps keep us going!

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Also, it served as a great reminder to Rachel and I of how important it is to be intentional about missions with your family and children. It doesn’t have to be something as big as carting your crew halfway around the world, as long as you make serving others a part of your family’s DNA. Research a people group together to regularly pray over, find small ways to serve your neighbors or community locally, make memories with your tribe by serving another tribe, because those are the memories that’ll stick.

As Rachel, Tanner, and I headed back up the mountain for a few uninterrupted weeks of ministry, we are thankful for the opportunity to serve with so many awesome people!

Please keep us in your prayers as we spend some intentional time at each Care Center, and pray that Tanner will be able to plug in and have a blast serving at the Centers for the rest of the summer!

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

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Pulling Teeth

Here’s a ”quick” story about a dentist and his impact in Lesotho.

During the same week that Reclaimed Project had the large team from Mississippi (read all about that here), Jim and Teresa hosted a medical team that came with many healthcare professionals. One member of their team, who turned out to be a lifesaver, was a dentist named Dr. Leon. He, along with his assistant Mrs. Brenda, was gracious enough to see one of our friends who badly needed dental work done.

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Tsiliso (See-Dee-So), one of the boys from Khokhoba Care Center, had multiple baby teeth that had decayed and were making it difficult for his adult teeth to grow in correctly.

On Wednesday, the medical team set up their mobile clinic in the village of Ha Saui (about 45 minutes away from our home in Katse). We arrived early in the morning and tried hard to keep Tsiliso calm while we waited for the clinic stations to be set up. Beth kept Tsiliso busy in one roundavel (Basotho home) by drawing with him.

Then, Teresa gave him a quick pep-talk before we walked with him to the dentist’s station. She was honest and told him about everything that would happen once the dentist began working. He was also given a small baggie to hold all of his extracted teeth once the procedure was finished. We told him that he had baby teeth in his mouth now, but since he was a big boy, his baby teeth needed to come out. He asked the translator in Sesotho, “I am a big boy?”

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If you have ever had the privilege of meeting this boy, you can just picture his precious heart being excited about his new status as a “big boy.”

So sweet!

Well, that was the calm before the storm. On the way to the dentist’s roundavel, Tsiliso walked with newfound, “big boy” confidence. But, as soon as we got to the doorway and he saw the dentist’s chair, Tsiiliso lost his mind.

He was not having it.

We had him sit in someone’s lap for the procedure. MeMookho pinned down his arms and two other men were holding his feet incase he started kicking. I even covered the poor boy’s eyes so he couldn’t see the tools going into his mouth. Some parts were calmer than others, but Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda deserve so much credit for putting up with all the yelling and thrashing without becoming discouraged and giving up.

There was a lot of tears, yelling, squirming, and even biting. Dr. Leon said it was the hardest he had ever been bitten (I am still so sorry, Dr. Leon). It was quite the experience!

In the end, Tsiliso got 6 teeth pulled! He was a trooper and did great considering the circumstances. But the true stars of the day were Dr. Leon, Mrs. Brenda, and all the helpers in the room.

We laughed that during the fiasco, Tsiliso was screaming something over and over again in Sesotho. The Basotho helpers just cracked up, and after catching their breath from laughing so hard they were finally able to translate for us that Tsiliso was shouting at Ntate Molapo (the pastor of Khokhoba Baptist Church), “Do you know who I am? I am going to beat you!!!”

I think Teresa’s pep-talk gave him a false sense of strength. I was thankful that Ntate Molapo didn’t take him too seriously and was able to laugh it off. MeMookho, however, began crying from laughing so hard.

With a few struggles, our boy made it through and Dr. Leon pulled numerous baby teeth that had begun decaying. Afterwards, Tsiliso and I went to show Teresa his teeth and he was so proud that he’d survived. The two of us sat outside for him to relax a minute after the traumatizing ordeal. It was a really special moment for me. He kept feeling his numb lips and cheeks with his fingers and trying to talk to me in Sesotho. It’s not usual for Tsiliso to sit still and let me wrap my arms around him, but this day he was craving some TLC, and I was soaking in every minute of it.

After Tsiliso had recovered for a while, we packed everyone up and headed back to Katse. Leaving that day, I felt so thankful for Dr. Leon, Mrs. Brenda, and the Floras, for letting us come to the clinic and caring for our boy. We took Tsiliso to the women at the Care Center who kept an eye on him for the rest of the day. Despite a few periods of crying, he was his happy self soon enough, telling everyone about his morning and how excited he was to get rid of his baby teeth.

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We thought that would be our last time with the dentist, but the very next day Tseko (Say-Ko), from Khohlo-Ntso Care Center, came to the Center with a swollen cheek and complaining of his tooth hurting. He had skipped school that day because of the pain and wasn’t playing with the other kids. A couple times during the afternoon, he even started crying because the pain was just too much for him.

Tseko is on of our littlest boys at the Center. He is still working on counting but will surprise you with what he will say in English. My favorite quote from helping him with his numbers is that 40 is said, “forty zero.” The struggle is real. This boy has the sweetest heart and loves to drive in Tyler’s lap.

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The pictures above were taken one day apart! You can see how big the swelling was and it came on so fast.

We called Teresa to see if the dentist could see him. God truly has a plan and always has His hand in everything. At first, I was so upset because we went to the dentist the day before, why couldn’t we have known about Tseko’s mouth then so he could have gone to see the dentist on the same day as Tsiliso? Tyler and Beth quickly helped me see that it was a blessing that the dentist was still here and able to see him. Just two days later and they would have been gone. Teresa said it wouldn’t be a problem and we planned for Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda to come and take a look at Tseko’s mouth after they returned from a full clinic day in the Matsuko Valley. I felt bad, knowing how tired they must have been after the long day. They seemed happy to help though, and we were very thankful.

We went by Tseko’s house and told his caretaker the plan. Of course, his caretaker didn’t seem to mind at all and was fine for him to go with us. Because the Spring Break team was here, we had dinner at the lodge and brought Tseko with us. Although you could tell he was in pain, he loved being at the lodge. He was mesmerized by the TV and just kept pointing at it. We finally had to pull him to the dining area to eat and he very carefully chewed his food on one side of his mouth.

While he was eating, a can of Coke caught his eye and he decided he needed one too. We kindly said no, and showed him how we were all drinking water. Immediately, he got up from his chair and walked over to someone from the team. This young man had befriended Tseko and had been playing with him all week. Rumor is, Tseko had just tried Coke for the very first time because someone from the team of guys doing construction gave him one to drink.

He went to his friend and asked him for a Coke, which he immediately got. That little stinker. He knew how to get what he wanted! We finished with dinner and got an update from Teresa. Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda were almost back to Katse and would come and see Tseko after they had finished eating dinner at the Flora’s.

While the team had debrief, Beth and I brought Tseko (with Coke in hand) to our house. It was around 7:30 by now, and because he loved the TV at the lodge (which was just the boring news) we wanted to show him a movie. We put on Toy Story and he was instantly glued to the screen. In the middle of the movie, he stood up and went to the front door. I asked him if he needed to use the toilet, to which he just stared at me (he only knows a little English). I brought him over to our bathroom and showed him the toilet. He looked at it with a confused look, turned around, and went out the front door. Beth and I looked at each other and laughed quietly. I really don’t know if he has ever used an indoor toilet before. He came back inside and continued watching the movie. After some time, he fell asleep.

After seeing the time, we decided Tseko would just spend the night with Tyler and I in our spare bedroom. We called MeManeo, who sent a message to his caretaker so she wouldn’t be alarmed when he didn’t return on time.

Eventually, Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda came over to our house and started setting up their equipment. Around that same time Tyler and Ashton came back after finishing with the team. Tseko was still sleeping as we slid him onto the lounge chair they used as a dentist’s chair. We tried stirring him so he would at least be alert and wouldn’t wake up frightened. He stayed calm as he woke up in the chair with new people in the room. Each intern held one of his hands as Tyler and I stood at his feet speaking the little Sesotho we knew to him. He was so brave the whole time. There were a couple of times as the lidocaine wore off that he would squeeze the intern’s hands and his legs would begin to shake as a tear fell down his cheek. My heart broke to see him in pain but yet so brave.

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After pulling numerous teeth, Tseko climbed into Tyler’s lap and curled up onto his chest. Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda cleaned and collected all their supplies and headed home for a well-deserved night’s sleep. The interns stayed and talked for a few minutes and then went home as well. Within 20 minutes, Tyler and Tseko were both asleep in the chair. I had the spare bed ready for Tseko but couldn’t stand to wake him. I laid down on the couch and fell asleep watching Tyler hold Tseko with so much care and affection.

Tyler and I woke up every time Tseko stirred, coughed, or breathed. About 3am, Tseko stirred enough to wake himself up and we took this opportunity to tuck him into the spare bed.

Worried he may wake up needing to go outside (because of how opposed he was to the toilet), I slept the rest of the night on the couch so I would wake up if I heard him trying to go outside. We all slept soundly until the morning. Tseko got up and immediately went outside. After using the “toilet”, he just sat on our front steps and felt his cheek. The sweet boy. I had him come inside, sit on the couch, and wrap up in a blanket.

He picked the Coke can up from the table. As he felt that  it was empty, he had the most concerned and worried look on his face. He seemed even more concerned than the night before when he was having teeth pulled! I quickly realized what he thought and took him to the kitchen, where I had put his full can of Coke in the fridge. He was so relieved, and held it close for the rest of the morning.

We tried to scrounge up some of my small clothes for him to wear because he had bloody drool stains on his shirt and his pants had “gotten wet during the night.” He wasn’t having any of my clothes, and I was feeling bad just thinking about him staying in those dirty, wet clothes all day. Tyler asked Seth O’Nan, one of the leaders of the team, who had brought his son, Ryder, if they had any extra clothes that Tseko could borrow. Thankfully, Ryder saved the day! They brought him a whole outfit, even new socks! Tseko was so excited! He said the socks were his favorite part. Although for the next few weeks he wore his new shirt every single day.

After breakfast, Tseko got a ride back to Khohlo-Ntso with the guys (without even telling me bye). I was kinda sad. I had really enjoyed having him in our home and looking after him. It was a special night for Tyler and I both. Later, when I made it out to that side, MeManeo told me Tseko was so happy when he arrived back home and he even told her that he wanted to be sick again (so he could come back to our house). My heart was so happy hearing that.

We joked with Dr. Leon about how different our two boys were. That one wouldn’t sit still for anything and the other was practically asleep the whole time. Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda were fantastic and showed us so much love by helping our boys so much.

We want to send a big thank you to Dr. Leon, Mrs. Brenda, and Jim and Teresa for being so willing to help and serving our children with a Christ-like heart! And to show Dr. Leon and Mrs. Brenda that we have scared the kids into brushing their teeth everyday! Although, there is a part of us that worries Tseko has told the other kids that you get to watch TV and drink a Coke if your teeth hurt.

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With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Snow Day!

Every Friday we give out food packs for each child and their caretakers to eat over the weekend. We started our day by picking up all the mealie, beans, soya mince, milk, and cookies for the packs.

The construction on Khohlo-Ntso Care Center’s “big house” is almost finished. All they need now are the doors to be installed and to have glass put in the last two windows. We went over this morning to prime the walls. Tyler, Ashton, Beth, and I spent almost five hours painting the newly finished cement walls. You could tell we had been working hard just by looking at us, the rollers splattered paint all over our hands, clothes, and faces!

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We got about a coat and a half painted before we ran out of primer. We will have to pick up some more when we are down in Johannesburg before we can continue the project. That’s one negative of living so far away from civilization, when something runs out, you have to wait until the next planned trip to restock.

All morning the sky was ominous and we could tell it was going to storm. Throughout the morning it had rained and hailed. Then the sun came out briefly, just before it rained and hailed some more.

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By early afternoon (right as the paint ran out), we began packing things up and noticed the sky above the nearby valley. Dark, dark, dark. We picked up the pace and said our goodbyes to the women and the few children that had arrived from school. As the four of us carried everything back to the car, we turned around and saw white coming from the black clouds. We put the two Care Center doors (Tyler needs to trim them with a power saw at home because there’s no power at this Care Center), paint cans, and all our other supplies in the car. We felt the coldest wind imaginable, and the anticipation of what was coming was very exciting!

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As Ashton got in her side of the car, Releboghile, a young man from the church who was working with us (and speaks great English), jumped in as well, forcing Ashton into the middle seat and under the doors. He wanted a ride to a nearby village and we were all in such a hurry to get to the car that we probably didn’t hear him ask for a lift. Ashton now couldn’t sit up; she was hunched over with her head leaning on Beth’s shoulder. Mind you, Beth and I were both hugging the windows on our side because the door was on top of all the head rests. Tyler was hunched over with his head just above the steering wheel.

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As we got to the road, it began sleeting! We had made it to the car in just enough time. We laughed as we realized how uncomfortable the 20-30 minute ride would be for all of us. Then, we all had the same thought at the same time – our kids! Only a few kiddos were at Khohlo-Ntso when we left, which meant that more were either in route or decided to go straight home. We passed one child heading towards the Center and told her to run (mata)!

We made it past the school where we thought we would see many of our Khokhoba kids, but no one was there. Mind you, the freezing rain was coming down harder and harder each minute. We kept going, and found Tsepo (11 year old girl) walking by herself. She jumped into Beth’s lap and said two of our boys were just ahead of her. We found them further on the road and they got into the back (barely). We had a suitcase of donated clothes, two boxes of car parts, the food packs for Khokhoba Care Center, and don’t forget about the two doors overhead. Knowing there are many more kids who would need a lift, we kept looking all around for them. Each time we drove around a turn we would see someone else and cram them in!

In the end, we had fourteen people stuffed in our car. Honestly, that isn’t abnormal for us, but add in the two doors and the trunk full of stuff it was quite comical. Beth, Tyler (the driver who was already hunched over because of the door), Releboghile, and I all had a child in our laps and there were five in the back!

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Tsepo, who was sitting in Beth’s lap, wouldn’t let Beth put down the window to call for kids because it was letting sleet in. The girls in the back made the boys sit on top of the tools as they hovered over the suitcase. They had put their backpacks on top of the door; it reminded me of the overhead compartments on buses or planes. And Thabang, one of the last ones to be picked up, got in Tyler’s lap. One of the kids in the back yelled something in Sesotho and Thabang (who was already grinning from ear to ear) just chuckled. Releboghile told us they were asking if Thabang was driving. I so wish I could understand Sesotho so I could know what these kids are saying all the time

We got all of them to the Center where the women were huddled around the propane heater. We made a plan for them to eat quickly so we could take everyone home before it got worse. The four of us ran home for a quick, very late, lunch and then I went out to take the kids from MeMookho’s village home (4 kids) while the interns took the kids from MeMaselebeli’s village home (5 kids). The rest of the kids live in the village the Center is in and don’t need rides (although they asked if we could drive them up to their homes today).

Next, MeMatumisang and I waited at the high school for one of our girls. He grandfather passed away and she wanted to be home this weekend for the funeral. We had planned to drive her home (25 minute drive) even though the teacher said she could walk. I told the teacher I wanted to spoil her and that God has blessed us with this car, so the least we can do is drive our children where they need to go.

We got on the road headed back to Khohlo-Ntso and we started to see snow! Today is the first snow of winter in Lesotho. I dropped MeMatumisang off and then kept going to the house where our high school girl’s grandmother lives. When I was at her turn, I saw one of our little boys walking with his food pack on his head, wearing thin, torn up capris and sandals. He jumped in our car and we brushed all the snow off his coat. By the looks of the sky this morning when he was going to school, maybe he didn’t realize it was going to snow. I know he has warmer shoes and pants. Kids.

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I got both of these kiddos home and got back on the main road to find MeMabataung (another Care Center worker from Khohlo-Ntso) waving her hands for me to stop. She needed a ride to a village that I would pass on my way home and I was happy to have the company. The snow had picked up and the roads were getting a nice covering. Her and I spoke in broken English about how cold it was and how beautiful it was to see the snow. In just about 20 minutes, I was amazed at how bad the roads had gotten. I was thankful this was my trip home, and not my trip out. And, I was especially thankful that all our kids were home and hopefully warm and dry.

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Pulling onto our street, I was feeling many emotions:
Joy like a child out of school on a snow day.
Thankfulness for the vehicle, home, job, and husband the Lord has blessed me with.
Worry for our kids on this cold, wet night.
And sadness that walking miles in the snow are normal for many Basotho.

Please pray for our kids tonight to stay warm, dry, and healthy.

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Love One Another

As many of you already know, Tyler and I will have a special guest with us this summer (Lesotho’s winter). My younger brother, Tanner, will be coming to Lesotho for two and a half months while on his school break. He will begin the summer by serving in Botswana for a week with a small group of college-aged students from our home church in Mechanicsville. After that, he will join us in Lesotho for the remainder of the summer. We are very excited to have him here with us!

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Tanner will plug into the many projects we have going on here in Lesotho and will give some much needed love and attention to our kids at the Care Centers. I can already think of a handful of boys that will thrive on the quality time spent with him these next few months.

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As a way to raise financial support for his trip, Tanner is selling t-shirts of his very own design. They are inspired by John 13:34.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
John 13:34

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The t-shirt has “Love One Another” written in a ton of languages, together creating the shape of Africa. “A Re Rataneng” is “Love One Another” in Sesotho, the language spoken in Lesotho. These t-shirts are available in several colors and are sold for $20. Please consider supporting Tanner by purchasing a t-shirt and keeping him in your prayers as he finishes up this semester and prepares to come in just a few short weeks.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A T-SHIRT

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

March Madness

Spring break was a crazy week!

We, along with Brett, Allison, Ashton and Beth (our interns), hosted a team of almost 50 people from Starkville, Mississippi. The Kappa Sigma fraternity from Mississippi State University brought over about 35 guys to work on construction projects at each Care Center. Along with the fraternity, Pinelake (a Church in Starkville) brought a team of 10 college girls to help with job creation, orphan care, and evangelism.

The team arrived late Sunday night. Because there were so many people, we rented out Katse Lodge for all the team’s rooms and meals. It was a huge blessing to have all the meals catered for the team and not to have to cook for 50 people on our own! We had a few minutes of orientation and gave a quick rundown of what the week was going to look like before turning in for the night.

My group planned to do a home visit first thing Monday morning. We met up with Memaneo and Memabataung (from Khohlo-Ntso) and made our way to the Valley. Some of the group went to visit Thabiso’s grandmother, and the rest of the group went to a neighbor’s house. I went with the group to visit Thabiso’s grandmother. Mady shared “The 2 Kingdoms” and did a fantastic job explaining the Gospel. Sitting on the dirt floor and hearing the Gospel being proclaimed to an elderly woman who cares for one of our youngest boys gave me chills. Then, each of us shared scripture verses with her and she expressed great gratitude to us all for coming to visit. The other half of the group had shared with a couple of Basotho nearby and one man accepted Christ!

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All the while, Tyler and his group of guys began laying the first concrete blocks on the newly solidified foundation. At Khohlo-Ntso, the Care Center (which had been meeting in the Church) began construction on its own building. In it they will prepare meals for the kids, store all their materials, and have plenty of space to play and learn.

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Every afternoon, the Pinelake girls got to go to the Care Centers and grow relationships with the children and women. My group was assigned to Khohlo-Ntso Care Center (Center that is 20 minutes away led by Memaneo) for the week. Monday the kids were pretty shy, but as the week progressed they warmed up to their new friends. The team especially loved one of our newest little guys at the Center, Auchile, the brother of Limonta. Each day the group prepared a Bible Story and craft for the kids, and a couple of the girls got to help out with the centers (English, Math, and Bible) as well.

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On Tuesday morning we went to the Church and had a Bible Study with the women who were making elephant crafts. We spent a few hours with them helping to fill their elephants with stuffing, and while we were there a huge rainstorm (turned hail storm) came through. When it was time for lunch, we slid our way from the church to the van, and then the van slid its way from the grass to the road. After it rains in these mountains you have to walk like your on ice to avoid slipping in the mud. It’s so slippery and the mud gets plastered to your shoes and tires, giving you zero traction. It created quite the adventure for these girls!

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It was also cool to be at Khohlo-Ntso with Tyler’s construction crew each day. Even though we weren’t helping, it was awesome to see the progress being made and to watch the kids as they arrived each afternoon to see the building’s walls growing a little bit taller.

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On Wednesday, the two girl’s groups combined and we went to a village about 45 minutes away. The Flora’s were hosting a medical team and we had a boy from the Care Center who needed some dental work done badly. The Pinelake girls had a great time playing, singing, and loving on the children of Ha Saui. A few of the girls who had interest in going into the medical field shadowed the doctor, nurses, and pharmacy workers that day. It was amazing for them to see firsthand how medical workers can volunteer their skills on the mission field. We will post another blog post soon about our experience with the dentist!

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On the construction site, the walls were getting higher and by the end of the day the windows were set in place and had been blocked all around. The guys were working so hard to make sure we got as much done as possible in the week. Our goal was to go from foundation (which had been completed just days before the team arrived) to completed roof. So far they were on track to accomplish the goal!

At the other site, Khokhoba, they weren’t starting a new building but rather expanding the building that had been completed a few years before. This building was too small for all the Care Center’s activities and needed a bit more room. By the end of the day Wednesday, they had completed all the framing that would be required for the massive roof that would go up on Thursday and Friday. The guys were working so hard at both Centers and seeing all the plans come together was so encouraging.

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Thursday was a slower day for us all around. We combined forces again and joined Allison’s group of Pinelake girls as they worked with the women making bracelets for the Love Poppy jewelry line. The girls also made personalized cards to go alongside each of the kid’s Weekend Food Packs. That afternoon, we skipped English, Math, and Bible center and spent the day at the river near the church!

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Progress was slow at the building sites as well. The guys were hoping to start on the roofing at Khohlo-Ntso, but as the sun was starting to set they had just reached the block level they were aiming for. The roof at this location was going to be much simpler than the other side, so the boards should have just laid across the concrete blocks (at a good slope) and been wired into the walls. However, when the first board was laid across, it didn’t reach from one side to the other. It was clear that the wrong size board had been bought.

No problem, just an early morning drive to the closest tuck shop (about 15 min away) in the morning would get us back on track.

Friday morning we went out to visit the same people we met on Monday. The girls prepared devotions for the new believers and we went back to share “The 2 Kingdoms” with one of the women who had asked about the gospel when we were there last. The people were so happy to see the girls again and were very encouraged. Between the two days we went out to this location, four Basotho came to know the Lord! Praise God! We have plans to go back and begin discipleship lessons with these new believers soon.

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After we finished visiting homes in the Valley, we went to the Primary School where the kids had a day of “races”, similar to a field day in the States. We watched the races and found some of our Care Center children in the crowd. We laughed because we were the only white people in the crowd and felt like we were a distraction from the races. Everyone was staring at us.

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That evening before dinner, all 50 of us gathered at the river where 9 students chose to be baptized! What a wonderful time! Over the course of the week 5 guys and 4 girls felt called to profess faith in Jesus! Tyler and Brett were able to baptize the guys. It was a really awesome experience!

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After dinner, there was still a bit of work to do at the construction sites. The guys loaded back into the vans and took off with some lights to work under. Each site worked until the roofing was complete, despite the fact that they all had to be up before dawn to drive back to South Africa and fly home the next day.

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Tyler and I are so thankful for this team sacrificing their spring break to come and serve the Basotho. They accomplished so much over this week, and we can’t wait to see them next year!

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from the English’s!

Below we have shared 14 powerful passages of scripture that we are reading today:

And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to deathand deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Matthew 20:17-19

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
John 12:23-25

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14:32-36

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
John 19:5-6

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.
Luke 23:26-27

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Matthew 27:33-37

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
Mark 15:29-32

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”
Luke 23:44-47

And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
Mark 15:46-47

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Matthew 27:65-66

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Luke 24:1-12

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” – and that he had said these things to her.
John 20:16-18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
Acts 4:33

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With Love,
Tyler & Rachel