High School Ministry Begins!

January 23rd was the first day of school for all our kids!

The week leading up to the start of high school was a bit hectic to say the least. We had so much to do before the kids were ready to head off to school!

If you saw our video about Reclaimed’s new High School Ministry, you know that high school looks a little different here in Lesotho. The kids board (live on campus) and have meals prepared for them each day. And, unlike primary school, there is a cost to attend.

Tyler and I were blown away by the response we received about High School Ministry sponsorship! Each student has a sponsor who is praying for them daily, will be receiving updates on the child, and is paying all the fees for their education.

Because they are boarding, there was a long list of supplies the kids needed before moving in. The list included things like a school uniform, a blanket, books, pencils, shoes, a mattress, and even a spoon. I worked hard to gather a list of all the things they would need before moving in.  Some kids already had items from the previous year, so that made the list we needed to purchase a bit smaller (and more complicated) That week, while we were busy filming the kids for the video, Brett took a trip down to Leribe to shop for all the supplies. I was so grateful he offered to do that for us. It saved us the trip, and a lot of time!

After only a few hiccups, all the kids had everything they would need and got a ride to school on Friday. It was a crazy day moving everyone in, but it was so rewarding to see them begin this new chapter of their lives. Without Christ in their young lives and without the Care Centers pouring into them, these children would never have been able to go to high school. The Lord has given them such an opportunity and I am so blessed witness it.

We have had two days of High School Ministry so far. The kids come over on Saturdays and we enjoy the “Four F’s”: Food, Family, Faith, and Fun. Even from the first to second meeting, we have seen a big change in how they interact with us and each other. I personally can’t wait to see what God does in their lives this year!

Please be praying for them as they face the challenges of being a high school student.

Pray that they would:
– Make the right choices and not fall into peer pressure.
– Have an understanding of their subjects and be given the knowledge and study skills to pass their classes.
– Grow in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and develop a bond with each other for encouragement.
– And find joy and happiness in this new phase, despite all the hardships they have already endured in their young lives.

We love these kids and really pray they feel the love Christ has for them.

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel


Well, we wrote that post a month ago but never got around to posting it. Life happens!
So here is an even more up-to-date update on High School Ministry since the first two weeks.

Each week it gets better and better with the students interacting with us! The first week everyone was quiet and didn’t seem to be very comfortable. But now, after many Saturdays with us, they are laughing a lot and really seem to be enjoying themselves.

Each Saturday we have games to play, a Basotho meal (the first week we tried spaghetti, and that did not go over well), a memory verse to learn, a Bible study, worship (which they love), and a time for us to hear about their week and tutor them in an subjects they need extra help with.

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Tyler has taught them all Uno. They love it!
We have the kids memorize the Bible verse from the previous week and if they can recite it to the group, they get a prize! The kids got really excited about it after we added little packs of cookies to the prize box. The kids have learned two great worship songs – No Longer Slaves and Oceans. They sing along and look forward to this time way more than I expected them to.

As for the tutoring time, we asked the kids to bring their notebooks for the subjects they have questions in. The first three weeks, no one brought books or had any questions, but then the fourth and fifth weeks we have students coming early and staying late to get extra help in their subjects!

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Tsepo showing off his drawing of a microscope. 

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Following along with the lyrics at Worship.

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Lebenya crushing us all at playing “pterodactyl.”

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Liteboho trying to get the cookie from his forehead to mouth!

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Lunch on the first week. Spaghetti was not a hit. 
With this new ministry the interns have been extremely helpful. We really don’t know how all of this would be happening if it wasn’t for their help. We’ll be in real trouble when they leave us in just a few months!

Thank you for your continued prayers over these students. Three of our girls haven’t come in the last two weeks due to “mandatory race practice” at school. We are hoping that after the day of the competition they will come back to High School Ministry because we really want them all to be there to have this time to grow in relationship with one another and with the Lord.

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

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Current Events

It’s been a while since we’ve written our last blog post. Before we moved to Lesotho, I had such high expectations for writing every single week and telling you guys about everything that was happening. I now see how just unrealistic of an expectation that was. Sometimes I feel like just getting through the day is a huge accomplishment!

At the end of January, Ashton Clark came to work with us for the semester. And then at the end of February, Beth Orr also came to work with us. They will both be in Lesotho until the end of May serving in orphan care and job creation. We are so excited to have them here and encouraged by their willingness to help us work towards our big goals. We are looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in their lives while they are here and can’t wait to see the impact their love for the Lord will have on the Basotho.

Speaking of our interns, we are asking for prayer for the situation with their vehicle. Over the past week, it has broken down twice. The first time, Tyler and Ntate Phoka were able to fix the issue. But the second time will take a bit more help.

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One of the reasons for having the interns here is so that we can divide and conquer. With only one working vehicle, it’s a bit more difficult to divide, but we can still conquer! The four of us have some great ideas to implement this semester to improve the Care Centers, grow the Marketplace, and share God’s love with the Basotho!

This past week, we were able to have some of the women start making an order of 110 journals for Spring! We even gave them two new leather colors to use. Check out the Reclaimed website if you’re interested in buying one. We also purchased new fabric for making my favorite things in the world – elephants! They are going to be so precious! We placed quite a large order of big and small elephants in the new colors. I can’t wait to see how they turn out! And the LovePoppy jewelry women will be able to start working again next week. We love it when all our job creation products are in production and we are able to purchase awesome crafts, journals, and jewelry from incredibly talented and deserving women. Be sure to buy products in the States and host trunk shows so we can keep these women employed!

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On another happy note, we got word a few weeks ago that we will have a very special guest with us all Summer (Lesotho’s Winter) and I cannot contain my excitement! More details to come on that. This Summer will be a great one for us. Our home church, Cool Spring, is sending a team to Botswana at the end of May and we are hoping to come and serve with them. Also, in June we get to see two very special families as they serve in both Lesotho and Botswana for a few weeks! We are counting down the days until we get to be with so many friends from home!

Update on the kids and Care Centers, everything there has been going well. It’s been just over a month since the school year began and everyone is getting into the swing of things. Some of the kids were moved from one school to another this year and that’s made scheduling more difficult because they are kept at school longer in the afternoons. Their new school is so nice and is doing a great job teaching them, but we have struggled a bit because the kids are getting to the Care Centers later than usual, giving us less time with them to play and learn. One of the women at the Care Center assures us that the kids are learning a lot and will have good grades as a result. We are praying the time at the Care Centers will be intentional and the kids will learn a lot, even though it is a shorter time.

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In just a few days, we will receive the largest team we will probably ever host – the Kappa Sig fraternity from Mississippi State. This group of young men have been some of Reclaimed’s biggest donors (just last week they raised a little over $160,000)! The fraternity will send 35 college guys to help with construction projects. Also joining them will be a team of 10 college girls from Pinelake Church in Starkville, Mississippi. When you count leaders and a few father-son groups, we will have over 50 people working with us next week!

No doubt it will be a busy week, but we are so excited just thinking of all the great things to come and all that will be accomplished in the name of Jesus. The girls will be focused on teaching how to make a new bracelet for Marketplace and orphan care in the afternoons, and the guys will be working on Care Center building expansions at both of the Care Centers. It’s time for some more room at both locations!

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So that’s our update for the time being. Things are going well and the work here is keeping us busy. I am reminded daily that there is no such thing as a “normal” day here and that no matter how much I plan something out, the plan will probably need to be changed before the day is done. I am learning flexibility and to rely on God’s plan for everything.

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Ntene’s New Home

Here is an update on Ntene’s journey to get into school. Click here to read a previous post all about his first trip to visit the deaf school in Leribe and to have his hearing checked by an audiologist in Maseru.

Over the past two months, Tyler and I have been checking in with Ntene’s Mme (his caretaker) often. We have asked about how the paperwork has been progressing, how she has been feeling about him moving, and how she thinks Ntene will do in school. Overall, we had received great feedback from her. She was still excited for this opportunity for him and claimed that he was also looking forward to it.

The most important document Ntene needed to have before he could be admitted to the deaf school was his birth certificate. As we were meeting with his Mme during the first week of January, we began to grow worried that obtaining this document may not happen in time. Ntene’s caretaker said the birth certificate was in Leribe (the lowlands, the same town where his school is located) with his biological mother, but she wasn’t answering her phone.

Finally we got an update with good news, his mother begun to communicate with his caretaker and she was willing to send his birth certificate to Katse (about a three hour bus ride). She was supposed to send it on the bus with someone who would then bring it to us.

For a while we celebrated, but as the days before the term was to begin wore on, we began to worry that something would was wrong. Finally, we met back up with MmeMookho (from Khokhoba Care Center) and asked her to get in touch with Ntene’s caretaker just to confirm the plan was still in motion.

It wasn’t.

Come to find out, his mother had stopped communicating entirely, and it seemed there would be no birth certificate after all. We called multiple times as well. No answer. Worried, I called the school to see if there was any way around the birth certificate requirement and they suggested we go to the police station in Leribe and ask them to help us find his mother, take the birth certificate from her, and get a copy of it certified to bring back to the school.

We asked his caretaker to continue reaching out to his mother, hopefully it wouldn’t come to that.

On Tuesday, less than one week before we would have to take Ntene to school, word was she still hadn’t responded to Ntene’s caretaker or sent the birth certificate with anyone on a bus. By Thursday, we had met back up with MmeMookho and the women from the Care Center to figure out what to do. It seemed like heading down to the police station may be necessary after all. We tried calling his mother from different phones so it would display different numbers, we even texted her in Sesotho, “We need the birth certificate of Ntene.”

This is when the women shared with us that his mother is now married and has more children; her husband doesn’t know about Ntene. They suspected she may not be answering the phone while her husband was near for fear of him finding out about Ntene.

Next they told us about a woman in a nearby village who knows his biological mother and where she stays in Leribe. We wasted no time in calling her. We had her meet us on the road near her village. She jumped into our car and we had a little meeting sitting there on the side of the mountain. She knew where Ntene’s mother lived, and was more than willing to go down the mountain the next day to find her. This would save us a trip to the police station.

Praise God!

We called Ntene’a caretaker and she was excited to travel with this woman and finally get the birth certificate in her hands. We gave them some money for the taxi and thanked them both about a thousand times.

The next day when we got to Care Center I called his caretaker right away. Before we could even greet her, she said in Sesotho, “We aren’t there yet, we will let you know when we have it.” Okay, keep praying, I thought. We aren’t in the clear yet. The mother may not be home, she may not want to help, so many things were running through my head.

Later that day, we were loading up the car with Lebenya (one of the High School boys) and all of his things. We were getting ready to drop him off at high school when my phone started to ring. I ran to MmeMookho so she could answer the phone. She shouted, “They got it!”

What a sigh of relief!

The caretaker finally had possession of Ntene’s birth certificate (which they had been trying to get for over a year). Such a blessing!

School started the following Monday, nothing like waiting until the last minute.

Monday Morning:
At 5:00am we loaded up our car with everything we would need in Johannesburg for a few days (we were heading down to buy more supplies). We stopped at Ntene’s house and picked him and his Mme up. We also stopped to get MmeMookho who also wanted to go and see Ntene off to school. Ntene was grinning that big smile we have come to love so much when he saw us pull up in our car. I am certain he knew something was going on when his Mme started to pack up his things and they were waiting by the road. They jumped in the car and we began the three hour drive to Leribe.

When we arrived in Leribe, we went to the school and sat down with the secretary. Here, his Mme and MmeMookho told her all about Ntene’s background and asked some more questions about what his time at the school would be like. The school grounds are so nicely kept, and the workers, teachers, and other students were so happy and positive. It really helped for all of us to see the encouraging atmosphere Ntene would soon be able to call home. Lastly, they turned in his birth certificate, and the registration process was complete.

Wow!

I sat back and praised God for His provision to get Ntene into school!

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We unloaded his belongings and took them to his dormitory. When he saw us unloading his things, I think Ntene finally figured out what was going on. This began to make me sad because he seemed very nervous. As he was strolling his new suitcase to his dorm, a boy came up and helped him pull it. He kept tapping Ntene’s arm and making signs with his hands and Ntene kept looking at him and then looking straight ahead. It was so sweet to see this little guy befriending our friend. I am confident that very soon Ntene will reciprocate the kindness to this little guy.

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We asked the dorm moms to take good care of Ntene and they assured us they would. When it was time to go, we got pictures and hugged him goodbye. His caretaker had to step outside early because of all the emotions. This was really hard to watch. Ntene was still smiling and seemed okay with us leaving. Just outside the door there were other children playing silently with squirt bottles and signing to one another. This is going to be a great place for him. We pray that he will thrive and learn to sign and write so that we can hold conversations with him soon.

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When we got the car, we were all wiping away tears. His caretaker is an amazing woman. She has done so much for Ntene; taking him in when he had nowhere to stay and no one to love him, teaching him everything he knows and allowing him to move away and go to school.

We simply cannot thank her enough for all she has done for him. We are also grateful to the women and other children at Khokhoba Care Center who love on him everyday and include him in everything they do. Ntene is loved by so many.

And now that infectious, beautiful smile will be seen by even more lucky people at his new school.

With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Full House, Happy Heart

It has been over a week now since my family left. The two weeks they were here were completely fantastic! We loved getting to show them our favorite places in Johannesburg, our new home in Katse, and letting them see our ministry and meet the children. We jammed the two weeks full of things to do and kept very busy.

I have asked each of them what their favorite parts of the whole trip was – enjoy reading what they liked the best!

Rachel: My favorite part was getting to show them the Care Centers and meet with children, women, and pastors we work with. Now, when I tell them about my day, they will know what places and what things I am talking about. But, I have a favorite moment too. It was the time when Mom and I were heading home and I passed by the house and pulled to an empty lot that overlooked the water. We sat there in the car and just talked for a while. This was the most precious moment to me. Having her here working with me and being able to talk face to face meant the world! Love you Mom!

Tyler: I liked spending Christmas with family, spending time relaxing, grilling out and letting them meet all our friends and the people we work with up here. It was great to be able to talk face to face instead of just over the phone. I also loves some new games we played as a family each night!

Mom: First I’d say seeing you and Tyler, all of us being together, seeing where you live and minister and seeing the smiles on the children’s and women’s faces as the kids played with new toys. Hearing the singing at church. Working along side you at the Centers. Hanging out at y’alls house. Riding around and talking with you! Hard for me to pick one favorite, I loved it all!!!

Dad: Really, the best part was being with the whole family for two weeks. Like Mom said, hard to pick just one. Some other things I enjoyed were spontaneously seeing Star Wars at the beginning of week, and hearing the boys talking about it all week. Watching Tyler and Rachel interact with Care Center kids and adults. Watching y’all take care of the details of your ministry. I really enjoyed the dam tour. I was glad I went on the hike (almost didn’t and barely made it). I enjoyed both animal parks we visited. I Really enjoyed the steaks the boys cooked and the filet in the restaurant. The trout was delicious too. The views were awesome! And the worship service on Sunday was spirit lifting!

Little Brother, Tanner: Probably making sugar cookies for the kid’s Christmas party and other times just hanging out like that. I also enjoyed getting licked by a cheetah!

Big Brother, Hunter: The safaris were great, but I also really enjoyed being there with y’all!

Sister-in-Law, Kelli: My favorite thing about the trip as a whole was getting to be with everyone for so long! My favorite thing we did was either the Christmas party or our nights in Katse making dinner and working on projects at the end of the day, and then playing games!

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Tour of the Katse Dam
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The tiny specs on the top are the guys and Kelli when they went hiking!

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One of the biggest things they helped us with was the Christmas party we had for the Care Centers. The guys helped to build the Christmas presents, Kelli painted the presents and shared the story of Jesus’ birth, and mom prepared the cutest craft they probably had ever seen! The party took quite a bit of planning and work but it was well worth seeing the kids so excited and happy that afternoon.

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With Love,
Tyler & Rachel

Merry Christmas

As Christmas arrives, I have been thinking a lot about my last home. I absolutely adore seeing everyone’s pictures on social media, but it is a constant reminder of where I’m not. Please don’t stop posting… if anything post more!

It brings me a piece of home.

No, this Christmas I won’t be going on a tacky light tour with my small group, I won’t be apart of the gift drawing with my cousins, and I won’t get to see the children’s play at Church. And this makes my heart ache for Christmas in Virginia.

But, the Lord has helped me focus on what I do have. In America, I never went with two Basotho women to pick out new summer outfits for 37 children, I never spent the day at a water park just days before the 25th, and I have never been on a safari with my closest loved ones to bring in the New Year.

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This Christmas will be more different than I thought. I am thankful my parents and siblings will be visiting and get to see our ministry here, but a part of me still longs for the worldly parts of Christmas.

And again, my Savior is reminding me that He is the only constant I have in this world.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting  Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The English’s!

With Love,
Rachel

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A Light Snack

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This little man’s name is Eketsang (Eh-Ket-Song). He is one of the younger boys at Khohlo-Ntso Care Center. Today’s story is all about him and it’s best told in two parts.

Part One (what we thought happened):
The other day Rachel, Allison, and I spent the afternoon at the Care Center. When we arrived, we saw Eketsang balled up in a corner crying.

Now it isn’t common for children to cry much here in Lesotho, and believe me when I say he was bawling!

Something was very wrong.

None of the Care Center workers had arrived yet, so we were left to figure out why he was crying all on our own.

Now standing near him were two of the older boys, Teboho and Seko. They looked like they were up to no good, and upon closer inspection we discovered Seko was holding a small bird in his hand.

We asked them what had happened and they didn’t give us a good answer. They didn’t tell us why Eketsang was crying, but they did motion up and down with the bird, as if to communicate that they were hitting the bird on the ground.

Obviously these two older boys had caught this poor bird, obviously they were hitting the bird and causing it pain, and obviously Eketsang, with his poor, sweet, innocent heart, was just completely broken up over this senseless act of violence.

Without a translator and very little actual proof we had cracked the case.

We asked Seko to apologize to little Eketsang and let the bird go. It flew away like its life depended on it.

But for some reason Eketsang didn’t stop crying…

Part Two (what actually happened):
When MeManeo arrived at the Center a few minutes later, Eketsang was still crying.

She questioned Seko and Teboho, and much to our surprise we learned a very different story.

You see, a few minutes before we arrived Eketsang had caught the bird and was hitting it on the ground.

Wait, what?

He was hitting the bird on the ground so he could kill it and eat it!

This can’t be true.

And the two older boys had taken the bird from him, told him not to eat birds, and were getting ready to let it go at about the same time we arrived.

Well I feel dumb.

Not only had we completely misread the situation, but we had made the hero of the story apologize for something he didn’t do. You should have seen us acting like a flying bird in an attempt to console Eketsang. We were telling him the bird was fine, it’s free and flying away now. No need to be sad.

If only we had known that we were rubbing in his face the fact that his snack had gotten away.

Some days you feel like things have really gone your way, and other days one of your kids is trying to eat a bird and you mistakenly accuse that bird’s rescuer of attempted bird-murder.


In all seriousness, while talking with MeManeo more and more about this, Rachel and I have learned a bit more about these kids and the difficulties they face.

Before the Care Center was opened, many of these kids were so hungry that they would catch and eat birds, bugs, and frogs.

This blew me away.

Over the past few years the kids have grown so much. They all receive a meal and vitamin each day at the Center, and the consistent nourishment has helped them grow so much.

This is a huge praise! Because they have full bellies at the end of each day, they are becoming better and better socially, emotionally, and educationally.

In fact, all of the kids at Khohlo-Ntso have passed their classes in school and will be moving on to the next grade in January!

We love them all so much, and are so encouraged by their progress and development!

Please pray that the kids will continue to progress in school and at the Center. Pray that they will value their time at the Center and use it to deepen friendships, seek answers to the questions they have about Jesus, and continue to learn the material they need to excel in school.

With love,
Tyler

Three Sweet Words That Mean The World

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Now for a sweet story that brightened my day. I shared a part of the story on Facebook earlier today, but I wanted to go into more detail.

A few days ago, she was yelling something to me as I left the Center. The other kids were laughing. I asked an older child what she was telling me. She was saying, “Bye… I’ll come visit you!” Too funny! Girl friend, please come and visit anytime!!!

I have written about her before, little D we can call her. She has some developmental delays that we believe are from fetal alcohol syndrome. Her mother had been doing better, or so we thought. But recently she seems to be doing worse. MeManeo says every morning D is lying right outside her door when she wakes up. MeManeo says she is worried for her because she comes so early and doesn’t say anything. She isn’t sure how long D lays there and what time she is walking down to the creek and up to her house. D tells Memaneo she is hungry. Memaneo will feed her and let her go play behind her house until it is time for the Center to open.

I am worried for her. It is hard witness. She struggles too much for a little girl. A few weeks ago, she was walking with Tyler and I from the church to MeManeo’s house. We were holding hands and I asked her what my name was. She said, “MeMakgowa (Ma-Hooa-Ah)” and Tyler was “Ntate Makgowa.” Meaning to her, we were Mr. and Mrs. White Person.

So Funny!

We corrected her and told her our names. And every day since we have reminded her of our names. The other day, she knew my name when I quizzed her. I was so happy!

When we were at the Center today, D was not herself. Immediately when she came inside the church, she laid down and seemed to have fallen asleep. This isn’t too out her normal because she will often take naps during English and math time. But today was different, she was complaining of stomach pain. She wouldn’t even stand up to try on her new Christmas clothes. We went outside to take a picture of all the kids who had tried on their new clothes and while we were outside, she ran outside and around the building and collapsed down like she was inside. I asked MeManeo why she went outside to sleep and she said, “she wanted to vomit.” Her tummy was hurting so bad. I sat with her a few minutes and scratched her back while we encouraged MeManeo in some things to do to help her. MeManeo said she did not come to her house early today, so she did not feed her. Which is very different than the past few weeks when she goes there early in the morning. I was really worried about her. But trusted Memaneo would take good care of her and not leave her lying there by herself.

Later, I had to drive back to MeManeo’s house to drop something off. When I passed her village, I went slow looking for any sign of her. I wanted to see she made it home and was okay. I didn’t see anything. I kept going to MeManeo’s. I was going to ask for an update on D and how she was the rest of the day. But of course, MeManeo was not there so I got no answer. My worrying self thought, maybe D was so sick she had to take her to the clinic, I can be such a worrywart! I hopped in the car and headed back home.

This time though, going past her village, guess who was walking down towards the road? Little D! Now, why she was leaving home I may never know, but I was relieved to see her standing. I stopped the car and got out. She was looking at me like I was crazy, because we never get out of the car on the side of the road like that. I went over to her and got a big hug. I was speaking to her in English saying things like, “D where are you going? You need to go home. How are you feeling?” And all she would say was, “yes” and shake her head up and down. The sweet girl had no idea what I was saying and I have no idea how to speak Sesotho.

Then I remembered I had a protein bar in the car and thought maybe her stomach was hurting so bad because she wasn’t eating enough? And it was a chocolate protein bar, so it is pretty much a treat. Who wouldn’t want that? I called her over to the car and snuck the bar into her pocket. I said, “dijo (food) for you” hoping she would understand. She repeated “dijo” while holding her pocket.

I hugged her and said, “ke rata D” in my broken Sesotho expecting her to say “yes” and shake her head up and down. The sweet girl says, “ke rata makgowa.” My heart melted and tears filled my eyes. Who cares that she doesn’t know my name, she knows I love her and loves me enough to say it back! I was full of so many emotions. Happy to see her walking and not still in the fetal position. Worried to see the storm coming and her walking away from her house. Sad to know she wouldn’t have dinner tonight and wouldn’t feel love from her mother. Joyful to hear her tell me that she loves me. And thankful that our God loves us more than we can imagine.

With love,
Rachel

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I want to close with this sweet photo of D from a while back. We were all doing centers and we had set her up to practice writing her letters while we helped other children. We looked back to check on her and this is what we found.

Sweet sleepy girl!